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Faith's Firm Foundation: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gettin' a Glimpse That God's at Work In My Children: Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday and I'm not sure where that week went!  Whoever said that life would slow down when the kids grew up didn't have any grown and living at home!  But, I digress.  It's Thankful Thursday, please visit Iris at Grace Alone, to participate and read other thankful hearts.

I'm thanking the Lord today for my children who love the Lord, and are walking with Him.  On Sunday, my son gave a testimony in church.  Our church is studying through the book of Exodus.  In his testimony, my son noted that in Exodus 16:10 the Israelites turned and looked to the Lord in the cloud.  He said that God had been there all the time, in the presence of the cloud and pillar of fire. But they hadn't looked to Him.  My son challenged us to trust that God is there all the time, that He's acting--He's at work--in the concerns of our lives (in his case, regarding work and a future wife and family).  And he asked, "Who are you looking to?"

My daughter challenges me in my walk with the Lord regularly, by her actions:  reading and studying the Word every morning and night, and handing out tracts everywhere she goes.  And, by her words, when my walk and my talk don't match up, or when I'm tempted to take the easy path, or when I need encouragement to keep on keepin' on.

My kids make me proud.  They honor us as parents, know what is appropriate behavior and manners, they dress modestly and nice, they are diligent workers, they're kind, they're trustworthy and they're listening to the Holy Spirit.  I've been praying that each one of us would be more passionate about our Lord Jesus Christ and our Christianity, to remember and return to our first love.  We're growing, maturing, and we sin, and we have to ask forgiveness:  a cycle that will go on until we die.  But, oh my, it does make my heart rejoice when the Lord gives me a glimpse, as He did on Sunday, that He's answering my prayers and He's at work in their lives.  So thankful. 
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friendship Through Good Times and Bad

Today, I'm processing, mentally and emotionally, all that's transpired in the last few days.  Here are a few of the things that have been going on and my thoughts on them:

  • I mentioned in my Thankful Thursday post that one of my best friends lost her father suddenly last week.  Early Monday morning her mom, who I have enjoyed getting to know the last few years, went into the hospital. (She was able to be released, Praise the Lord, and attend the funeral the next day.)  It's overwhelming when you're grieving your father's death, and then you suddenly have to worry about your mom, and be strong for her, too.  After my father died suddenly many years ago, for the next few years my mom, who lived about 45 minutes away, experienced anxiety or panic attacks, and I would be called to leave my husband and 2 small children to go the emergency room, sometimes late at night.  I knew how overwhelmed my friend must have felt, and I was honored when she asked me to go to the hospital to sit with her mom, while the family was all at the funeral home that night.  My friend and her family have been there for us, and done so much for our family over the years, that we could never repay them.  It was a pleasure, and no burden, to do this small thing for her.  My friend's brother, who had come from out of state, and who I had never met before, was at the hospital for a short while.  I find it fascinating and enjoyable to get to know the family of my good friends.  (You know, there's a genetic thing going on, which is so fun to observe!)
  • Yesterday was the funeral.  The service was so well planned and orchestrated, honoring to their dad and to God.  The 4 "children," including my friend, were able to give tribute to their father, while controlling their emotions, which is amazing.  Any one of them could be a public speaker.  The music was beautiful, and so appropriate: 23 grandchildren (all but 4 are young men so you heard mostly male voices--tall, good-looking young men, dressed in dark suits) sang the hymn, "The Love of God."  The sound of that many male harmonizing voices was stirring. My friend's son sings in a male quartet, which sang "The Mansions of the Lord" with string instruments accompanying, and I've never heard them sing better.  Just before a congregational hymn, "Victory in Jesus," there was a gospel presentation, woven into a tribute, by my friend's husband.  I would love to have every one of my unsaved family members hear what he said.  I'm praying that anyone who doesn't know the Lord who was there yesterday, is seriously considering his words, and that they'll surrender their lives and trust Christ as their Savior.
  • My friend's dad, though not perfect--none of us are--was a believer in Christ, and lived out and taught his children strong character and values, and was an example of the qualities which he spoke about as being important.  Extremely strong and hard-working, thrifty, outgoing (he would go up and talk to complete strangers), employed at the same job for 48 years, faithful to his wife of 60 years, loving to his children and grandchildren, they learned well from him.  The youngest son, speaking last, told of his dad's questioning him when he was young about whether he'd given his life to the Lord yet.  When the answer came back a negative, his dad told him, "Get with it!" A man of few words, but he left a Godly heritage.

Going through this last week with our friends, one of the deepest impressions I'm feeling, is that when you've experienced Christian friendship for almost 20 years with someone, and you've gone through heartache and loss, been with each other through weddings of children and funerals of parents, through good times and bad...

it forges a bond.  There is a tie that is deep and strong, and you know you'll be there for one another. That's a good thing.
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Monday, March 28, 2011

"A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan," Part 2

A young woman named Lisa Shoreland contacted me one day about the possibility of writing a guest post for my blog. Because of our family's connection to Japan through my husband's sister and her family having been missionaries there for the past 32 years, I was very interested to learn that Lisa grew up in Japan and her parents still live there. We have had many Japanese people in our home, and still correspond with a number of them, who we are blessed to consider our friends.  While Lisa and I were emailing back and forth, a momentous event crashed upon the world's consciousness:  a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  I knew that Lisa has a unique perspective on this event and I asked her to write a personal post.  I think you'll be touched and profoundly moved, as I was, by what she shares.  Thank you, Lisa. To read the first of this two-part guest post, go back first to Part 1, "A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan."
Keep the Japanese people and the rescue workers in your prayers.

A look at the pictures or videos of the devastation is enough to bring a tear to any one's eye. In many, one can see a stretch of water--black with dirt and collecting a wall of debris--growing and growing until it moves entire houses and drowns crops and city streets. As a dual Japanese-American citizen, however, there's something about this that drives the number 18,000--the number of estimated dead--close to home.

I was born and raised close to fishing villages like the ones up north, at least one of which--Otsuchi--has lost over half of their population to the tsunami. I have felt a fraction of Mother Nature's wrath and dashed through the house after my two frenzied cats and cowered in my mother's and father's arms beneath a fortified doorway. For 18,000 people, such measures had not been enough.

A Culture of Community

My mother is a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She knows what it's like to grow up in a city where people are found shopping, attending school, or playing in the park one day and found dead the next.

She also knows that the Japanese are nothing if not resilient. The 350,000 people displaced in northeastern Japan will survive this with exceptional stoicism. Every day, they and citizens of nearby cities line up quietly and without complaint outside convenience stores to receive or buy food. Stores in the area have even slashed prices to help locals.

"Everyone is going through this together," my mother said over the phone one night. "This is no time for anyone to be making a buck. It would be shameful."

As with New Orleans after Katrina, the media crews that visit areas after natural disasters repeatedly cover a rise in lootings, crime, and even socio-political uprisings. There has been no such thing to cover in quake-damaged Japan.

"It's in our culture," my mother explained. "We have a history of valuing our community first and individual desires second. Many other cultures feel the opposite way. When disaster strikes, some people feel justified in 'getting theirs.' Japan has a shame culture, and nobody wants to feel the shame of looting a store or complaining about things being tough when everyone else is going through the same thing. We're taught that we are stronger when we hold together."

Not long after this call, I received word from Yasue that he had found his family. They were injured but alive in an evacuation center.

"We just have to work together," he said. "We're helping each other, and the world is helping us do it. In all this bleakness, that's our one glimmer of hope."

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Bio:  Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching doctoral grants programs as well as poor credit student loans.  In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan, Part 1

A young woman named Lisa Shoreland contacted me one day about the possibility of writing a guest post for my blog. Reading her sample writing, I learned that she is of Japanese descent and grew up in Japan.  Her parents are still there. While I considered her offer of a guest post and thought about a possible topic that would fit my blog, a momentous event crashed upon the world's consciousness:  a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  You will be touched and profoundly moved, as I was, by what Lisa has to share.  Please welcome Lisa, and come back Tuesday for Part 2 of "A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan."  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing from your heart with us.
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When I was 12, home alone one day after school while Mama had gone out grocery shopping, I heard the walls begin to groan around me in a low tremor--nothing unusual in Japan--but the tremor turned into an all-out rumble and my books began falling from their shelves.

My knees wobbled but I was unharmed when my panicked mother called.  I turned on the TV and saw that it had been a 7 magnitude earthquake, the strongest I'd experienced yet.

I wasn't in Japan the day a 9.0 struck off the east coast of Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku.  A mere bump of 2.0 magnitude destroyed highways, bridges, and homes, but its destruction wasn't as fearsome as that caused by the 10 meter (33 ft) high tsunami that struck less than 15 minutes afterward.

Rising Tides and Tension
I called home on Friday morning as soon as I heard about the quake.  My father frequently travels through Japan, sometimes as far up as Misawa, as part of his job with the U.S. military.  I began to wonder if he had been up north when the quake had struck.  I wondered if the tsunami had traveled as far south as Hiroshima, my hometown, and if my mother was evacuating my brother's seaside home for the mountains.  The longer the phone rang, the bigger the knot grew in my stomach.

It took seven hours, but my mother finally picked up. She had been asleep and my father, the lighter sleeper, had spent the night in his office in the nearby Marine Corps base, manning the phones while the disaster unfurled up north.  My brother, his wife, and their newborn child were safe in their home.

Closer to the Disaster
My childhood friend Yasue was not so lucky.  He lived in an apartment in Tokyo, where major power blackouts went on for days before he was able to respond to my frantic e-mail.  He was alive but scared, and his livelihood--the guitar he had played alongside famed bands on several Japanese TV programs--had been shattered beneath a fallen bookshelf in the quake.  Worst of all--worse than the radiation scares that even now have thousands of people stocking up on food or even leaving the city--was that his family had yet to call him.  They lived on the coast in Sendai, a city directly hit by the devastating tsunami.

A look at the pictures or videos of the devastation is enough to bring a tear to any one's eye.  In many, one can see a stretch of water--black with dirt and collecting a wall of debris--growing and growing until it moves entire houses and drowns crops and city streets.  As a dual Japanese-American citizen, however, there's something about this that drives the number 18,000--the number of estimated dead--close to home.

I was born and raised close to fishing villages like the ones up north, at least one of which--Otsuchi--has lost over half of their population to the tsunami.  I have felt a fraction of Mother Nature's wrath and dashed through the house after my two frenzied cats and cowered in my mother's and father's arms beneath a fortified doorway.  For 18,000 people, such measures had not been enough.

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You can read Part 2 on Tuesday--Keep the Japanese people and the rescue workers in your prayers.

Bio:  Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching doctoral grants programs as well as poor credit student loans.  In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Brunch Recipes on Food Friday: Recipe for Quick Quiche Cups

I'm posting my recipe on Food Friday a little later in the day, because I'm running behind after suffering migraines all week, and Kelsey (my "right arm") being sick--we're finally taking her in to the doctor, but I think you'll agree these were worth the wait.

I've been pouring over recipes in preparation for a Spring Celebration Brunch which I'm hosting in a couple of weeks for a special group of young moms I've been blessed to get to know.  I've told you about this group before, called "A Mom Thing."

Today and next week I'm going to post Brunch recipes which I hope to try out and maybe use.  If you try them, please let me know any helpful tips you find that would help me!  I'm praying for all the food at the Brunch to be delicious!  And the cooking part of the Brunch is the part I worry about the most!  This recipe sounds delicious!

Recipe for Quiche Cups
(The photo above is not mine--I haven't made this recipe yet:)--but a different recipe and they're cute, and you can go to that site to see how they made them, but first please read this post and the links here--Thanks!)
Serves:  10
1 pkg (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tube (10 oz) refrigerated biscuits


  • In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth.
  • Add eggs; mix well.
  • Stir in Swiss cheese, bacon, red pepper and oregano; set aside.
  • Separate dough into 10 biscuits; flatten into 5-inch circles.  Press onto the bottom and sides of 10 greased muffin cups.
  • Divide the egg mixture among biscuit-lined muffin cups, using about 2 tablespoons for each.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts:  1 serving (1 each) equals 205 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 7 g protein.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Part 2: PMS and MSG--When the Letters of Your Life Don't Spell Happiness

Go here to read "Part 1: PMS and MSG: When the letters of your life don't spell happiness."

My strange symptoms began to multiply.  My inner ears would itch to the point of driving me to distraction!  I developed a bad and itchy hives-like rash near my neck and collarbone that never went away.  I also occasionally had rashes behind my ears.  Ten years earlier, during the years that I had "PMS" badly, nervousness and temper flare-ups caused my husband to teasingly ask if it was a "child-eating day".  Now, my behavioral symptoms would sometimes be far worse! They included such a sense of intense irritability, a feeling of tightness and tenseness moving up the back of my neck, and severe flare-ups of temper, that it was best on these days if I was not around people at all, and I knew it!

Depression and Migraines
I would suffer extreme depression, which would come over me overnight, and I spent whole days where I couldn't stop crying, but for no reason.  Migraine-like headaches (without the vomiting) would incapacitate me.  Sleeping them off sometimes helped.  The frequency of one or more of these symptoms, and the unrelenting fatigue that came with them, along with just feeling "unwell" so much of the time,  caused my family to tire of hearing about it, and I tried not to mention my "problems".

Help, At Last:  There's A Name For What I Have
I had been praying and praying for help and an answer.  Finally, one week, I was sick with the flu for days, but upon feeling better one day, and with time on my hands, I did some research: I Googled swollen lips, which had been my first symptom, and which still continued.  With a little time and research, the Lord allowed me to finally find part of my answer:  Salicylates intolerance.  (Please make sure to go to this link to read about its symptoms, the foods which trigger them, and a testimony of someone who suffered far more than me.)

All the symptoms I have listed are symptoms of intolerance to salicylates.  Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals in foods. Foods which we eat every day and consider healthy! Salicylates (sal-iss-a-lates) can occur to varying degrees. Some common  foods containing salicylates are berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries), apples (especially uncooked and with the skin on), apple cider vinegar, grapes, and grape juice--any juice is worse because they are present in a more concentrated form--peppers, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Many foods which I had associated with healthy eating were making me sick.

The Bucket Theory
Over the years I have learned to manage, for the most part, my worst symptoms.  First, I eliminated the foods I had identified as trigger foods:  apples, green peppers, apple cider vinegar, and berries.  I saw relief from the blistered lips.  Occasionally, my lips would still swell.  (I couldn't stop taking communion!)  The Bucket Theory seems to be my experience.  Starting with an empty bucket, each "drop" (eating a food with salicylates, for instance) didn't produce any symptoms.  When the bucket became more and more full and finally overflowed, I experienced many symptoms.  When I reduced the contents of the bucket, my symptoms subsided, but reoccurred when the bucket became full again.  Completely removing certain foods from my diet for awhile (berries, for instance, and apple cider vinegar and peppers), plus greatly reducing my intake of tomatoes, (we used to eat a lot of Italian recipes) emptied the bucket a great deal.  Now, I am able to occasionally eat berries without major incident.  Sometimes, I admit, I choose to suffer mild to moderate symptoms, because I love fresh berries!  However, there was one thing that caused more trouble than all the rest, and became Enemy Number 1 for me:  MSG.

MSG and Salicylate Intolerance:  Ugly Stepsisters
MSG is linked to salicylates.  MSG is something which I cannot tolerate well at all.  It causes the migraines, severe mood swings, depression, irritability, and what one mother described in her child as, the "bad and sad" days.  These are days when I can become almost intolerable to live with, by my family, or myself.  Rage, violent mood swings, deep depression and loneliness.  These are some of the worst symptoms.  These are days when I would question "why even bother".  Another symptom is feeling a deep lack of self-worth.  An excellent site which explains symptoms, and the relation between MSG and Salicylate Intolerance, and gives helpful steps to take if you or a loved one are suffering from any of these symptoms, is: MSG and Salicylate Intolerance.  (By the way, the symptoms of Leaky gut, IBS, and other conditions can be related to salicylate intolerance, as well.) 

First Steps To Help and Healing
  • First thing to do is remove from your pantry, fridge or freezer anything containing food colors, additives or preservatives.  Doing this, I found, was immediately helpful. 
  • Secondly, click on the links I have included here and inform yourself.  And do research online.
  • Thirdly, keep a food diary and symptom chart.  And read labels.
  • Fourthly, avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate) at all costs.
Major culprits containing MSG
Some major culprits containing MSG are Aspartame (Nutrisweet)--I drank a lot of diet pop in my major "PMS" days--canned soups and most broths, (don't be fooled by their saying "no msg").  Other things to avoid are Chinese restaurants, most bottled sauces and packaged mixes, and anything which says "caramel coloring" or autolyzed yeast extract. And be very wary of the word "flavorings" or "natural flavors".

Be aware that your children, because their digestive systems are not fully developed, can be even more susceptible to these naturally occurring chemicals, than you as an adult.  (ADD and ADHD symptoms have been linked to salicylate intolerance also.  Click on the links to read more.) 

I believe that much of what I thought was PMS, and PMS-related depression in my earlier days, was actually salicylate intolerance and sensitivity to MSG.  I encourage you, if you or a family member experience any of these symptoms, to take action!  Read, study, and take some first steps.  Because there is a spectrum of sensitivity, and your bucket may be at differing levels, an elimination diet is the most effective tool I can recommend to you for finding out just which foods are the worst for you, and gaining relief.  Also, you may want to participate in a discussion or forum. Educate yourself.  Talk to others who can help you. Do an elimination diet.  Don't give up.  You can manage it and you can feel better!

Helpful Websites:
If you think that you may have a food intolerance, or are experiencing some of these symptoms, please click on at least some of these links, read, and begin an elimination diet of the worst offenders in your diet.  Let me know if this article has helped you, or someone you know!
*Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or medical expert; these are just my experiences, and opinions, and they may or may not be helpful to you. Always consult a doctor if you have any serious concerns about your health.

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MSG and Migraines: Something to Be Thankful For? on Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday, and I started out the day depressed.  It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon--I could almost tell you the exact hour. (That's unusual.) Didn't know why. Yes, there are some very sad things:  the death of my very good friend's dad yesterday (but after the depression had already begun), and other friends who have recently begun counseling and are going through some serious problems.  But, the depression didn't coincide with these events.  This morning, again, feeling hopeless and down. Why?

Then I realized that there was a connection:  I've spent most of the week with a migraine.  Moments when it wasn't winning, I would run around trying to get something done.  Today I googled migraines and MSG, because I have come to realize that most of my extreme headaches (I fortunately don't get them often) are triggered by something I ate containing this 3 letter torture-bringer, MSG (monosodium glutamate).  I have not been as diligent  as I should have been lately at keeping this horrendous ingredient out of my system, but I was wracking my brain to think of what I had eaten that could have triggered this depression.  Really paying the price this week with the migraines.

I was surprised to find through my online search that many natural foods which are considered healthy can trigger migraines:  citrus fruits, such as oranges and clementines, nuts (all kinds), and bananas:  guess what I've been eating quite a lot of lately?  Studies on MSG consumption have shown headaches to be a common reaction.  (Read this informative article on MSG for what other names it is called, and what foods you can eat safely.)  I am glad that I have the internet at times like this.  My searches have solved the mystery, on more than one occasion, as to what was causing my physical and emotional symptoms:  swollen lips, headaches/migraines, rashes, extreme emotions/crying--all of these were due to salicylates and MSG present in the foods I eat.

Though painful and difficult when I'm experiencing these symptoms, these trials cause me to go to the Lord.  He is always faithful to hear and help me when I cry out to Him, as He was this morning.  He points me to the answers which will help me.  He lets me know He is near.  He reminds me of Scriptures that will touch my heart, and strengthen my faith.  He encourages me.  Today, He did all that.  I was able to feel encouraged (a specific prayer request) and get going around the house accomplishing some necessary work.  Another answer to prayer was that Kelsey was feeling well enough, after 4 days of being sick, to do a little cooking--that is something that actually makes her feel better, and it allowed me to go through a large pile of papers which had accumulated--and that was a huge help to me.

I still have a dull headache. But, God helped me so much today, and I am so thankful that He is my Lord, Savior and Friend.  There is no other like Him.
To read other thankful hearts, visit Iris at Grace Alone--thanks, Iris, for hosting this month!
Related Article:  "Part 1: PMS and MSG: When the letters of your life don't spell happiness."
"Part 2: PMS and MSG--When the Letters of Your Life Don't Spell Happiness"
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bringing Romance Back Into Your Marriage: Love and Marriage

You've seen them.  Sitting in the semi-darkness of the candle-lit restaurant, leaning in across the table, their eyes are magnets pulling them to one another.  When you see them, you stop talking, and stare, and with difficulty look away.  There's just something that draws you to them, and makes you want to watch them.  She looks up at him with eyes of adoration.  She throws her head back and laughs delightedly.  He takes in and notices every little thing about her.  They drink in each other.  That electricity plucks at your heartstrings, and wakens a yearning someplace down deep.

Is this a picture of a married couple out on a date?  Not likely.  And yet, perhaps every couple who is married was once in this place, acting this way.  What changed?

Life changes our situations, and our actions.  Busyness.  Children.  We can't stare at one another like this forever.  We'd never get anything done! But, does it always have to be so?

10 Tips to Re-Ignite the Flame in Your Marriage and Encourage Your Husband

  1. Have a date night.
  2. Listen to him. Really.
  3. Talk about something other than the children and the leak in the sink, and put a lilt in your voice.
  4. Look up at him and smile.
  5. Laugh at his jokes.
  6. Be attentive.
  7. Change your face: look pleasant and thankful.
  8. Twinkle, appreciate, sparkle, rejoice, be happy!
  9. Have eyes only for him.
  10. Look at him with eyes of love.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feeling In Need Of Encouragement?

I'm just thinking today that there may be some of you who need encouragement.  You're feeling like a failure. You're feeling alone.  I'm not a good wife, I'm not a good mother.  I'm lousy at so many things.  Everyone else has it all together, but not me.  If I try hard enough, maybe no one will know how bad I'm doing--I can hide it. But my heart knows. My heart is condemning me. God knows how badly I'm doing.
I'm just thinking that maybe you need to know that you're not alone, and that God loves you.  I'm just thinking that maybe you need a hug, and need to know that there's hope for you, and your family.

Rest In Me
Without the love of God, without His grace, none of us could stand.  Wherever you are in the journey, God is there with you, and He's giving you another chance.  "Come," He says.  "Rest in Me.  Trust Me.  Learn from Me."  He loves you and He is your answer.

"Ten Easy Steps to Perfect Children"
Sometimes I can sound like there are "rules" that, if you follow them, will magically produce perfect children.  That's not what I'm trying to do. God has taught me some things through the raising of our children, and I see what's "working" in other families. My motives are probably good, but I don't want to ever forget to share that you are on a journey--a journey with God.  He's going to take you through a different path, creating a very unique testimony for your family, and for each of your children.  He will allow trials, testings, problems, and draw you to Himself over and over again.  Go to Him with all your fears, questions, each individual child, and each individual strength and weakness of theirs, and yours.  The "times that try men's souls" bring us to our knees--draw us deeper into His Word.

We Need You, Lord
We get to know the Lord in new and more personal ways.  There aren't any shortcuts. You have to personally dig deep in His Word.  You have to pour out your heart in prayer.  You have to repent of sin in your own heart and seek Him, and live transparently before your children.  If your heart is in a living relationship with your Lord, pursuing Him, striving to live holy lives, as you teach them humbly, that's half the battle.  You need God's grace and God's leading to raise your children, to train them in righteousness, and it takes a ton of prayer.

It's not only God working on them, though, and then they're grown up, and your work is done! Surprise.  He's working on you as a parent. He's working in your life through them, and He's never done with you, and your prayers for your children will never stop being needed.

He's More Than We Can Imagine
He is so infinitely more faithful, infinitely more loving, more full of grace and mercy, more able, than anything we ever dreamed of--bring your bruised heart and fears and doubts to Him. Ask Him what to do, today and every day, about every situation and problem--He knows, He loves, He's able to help you. Climb into His loving arms right now.  Hope in Him. It's going to be ok.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's Competing With God For Your Heart? Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday

Is there a competition for first place in your life between God and something else?  Have competing affections crept in?
Can't think of anything? Need suggestions?  Maybe blogging? Facebook? Twitter? Texting? Music? Romance novels? Food? Having house beautiful someday? Crafts? Your Etsy shop? Making money? Saving money? Being Super Mom?
Ouch.  Maybe I'm hitting a little too close to home?
Do you get it? Even something good can get between us and God!  Even my ministry FOR God can come between Him and me.

For the LORD thy God is
a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Deuteronomy 4:24

"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is,
Hear, O Israel;
The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:29-31

If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, He's not just first, there are no other gods.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exodus 20:3

The One True God is God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit:  He is three in one: The Trinity.  
We are to have no other gods before Him.  This is the first of the Ten Commandments.

I don't want to let my love or affection for something or someone compete with God--what about you?  How can we tell if that's happening? What signs would indicate that something or someone is starting to compete with God in our life?

What Do People Do For, Or To, Their gods?
  • Worship them
  • Praise them with their words
  • Think about them
  • Praise them with their actions
  • Go to the House of their god, alone and with others (their families)
  • Bring gifts to them
  • Make one time, regular, or ritualistic sacrifices to them

    1. Sacrifice their time
    2. Sacrifice their money
    3. Sacrifice whatever is precious to them
  • Make requests of them
  • Make promises to them
  • Expect them to enact on their behalf
  • Attribute to them power, benevolence, and authority
  • Give them control, and authority to impact/affect  their lives
  • Give them their affections

Signs of Competing Affections:
These questions may also help us: 
1. Who or what do I delight in?
2. Who or what do I talk about?
3. Who or what do I look forward to being with; what do I dream about spending my time doing?
4. What do I daydream about?
5. What do I spend my money on?

Identifying Competing Affections
For me, one significant indicator is what I spend my time thinking about.  Remember when you fell in love? You thought about the one you loved all the time.  You were either thinking about the next time you would be together, or the last time you were together.

What's consuming your thoughts? Is anything competing with God for your affections?  Have you lost your first love for the Lord?
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