Thursday, May 30, 2013

Progress Report and Favorite Quotes!

One of this week's online bible study topics asks, "How are you doing so far in your study of Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles?  Is there a lesson you have learned so far that has had a big impact on your life?"  Short answer - yes!  Long answer - multiple lessons; this book is truly amazing and life changing!  

For me, the biggest lesson I have learned came from first two chapters.  The realization that my stress level is controlled by me, and not by anything going on around me, has really changed my life.  Some amazing passages include the following:  
  • Chapter 1 - Discovering the Real Problem: 
    • "It takes a lot of effort to stay negative, and, when it's all said and done, absolutely nothing is achieved." 
    • "As my journey progressed from the stress zone to the faith zone, I allowed God's promises to seep into every ounce of my being.  I slowly began to understand that I was the only person who had control over my mind.  I was the only person who had authority over the joy in my heart.  I was the only person who could determine my attitude on any given day.  I had to choose to be an optimist, despite negative circumstances.  I had to make a decision to live life on purpose, as God intended, or to just simply be alive.  I  was the only person who can control how stressed I felt.  Even when other people or circumstances were the external cause of stress, only I could allow those problems to suffocate my internal peace.  Only I could grant permission for the flame in my heart to be snuffed out like a candle."
    • "I realized that most of my stress was rooted in trying to control circumstances that I had no control over.  I was freed from trying to change people that I couldn't change, from attempting to fix things that I had no resources to fix, from focusing on the unfairness of life instead of the blessings that I had been given because of God's undeserved grace, and from worrying over problems that I had no power to remedy.  I was wasting infinite amounts of time, energy, and emotion on things that were completely, 101 percent, out of my control!"  
    • "As you continue to read through this book, my prayer is that you will learn to understand and believe without a shadow of a doubt that, despite your valid emotions, raw feelings, open wounds, and heavy heart, you are the only one who has authority over your attitude, your joy, and, yes, even your level of stress."  
    • "Stress typically does not come from the situations in our lives but rather from the ways we handle those situations." 
    • "You have complete control over whether you spend life stressed and depressed or happy and fulfilled, despite the circumstances you face."  
    • "So, since stress in every form is here to stay, what we must realize is that it is not the stressful situations in and of themselves that cause our stress but the way we process and handle those stressful situations."  
  • Chapter 2 - Does It Really Matter? 
    • "Ask God to grant you the courage and strength to let those problems go, and let him take over."
    • "A much better definition of peace is one that rests on the ability to rise above our circumstances, overcome our innate tendency to stress out over problems, and learn to remain calm and confident despite what is going on around us.  That is real peace - a peace based on Christ, not on people or circumstances.  A peace based on faith, not on personal desires being met.  A peace based on a quieted heart, not on a quiet house.  A peace based on the love of Jesus, not on an easy day at work.  A peace based on trusting God in all things, not just the easy things we can handle with no problem.  A peace that is present in our hearts, even when our entire life is overflowing with chaos.  That is the kind of peace only Jesus can give, and, once we get a taste of that kind of peace, we are never the same again."  
I love how Tracie does not sugar coat any of this!  It was like a slap in the face at first, but one I definitely needed.  I have been blessed to know people who have been incredibly happy and joyful despite cancer, despite loss of loved ones and jobs, despite bankruptcy, despite abuse, despite divorce, despite all kinds of life situations no one wants to be going through.  This made me look up the following definition:  

Despite - without being affected by; in spite of 

I wrote out some of my "stressors" using that definition:  
  • I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by broken or struggling relationships 
  • I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by financial difficulties 
  • I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by patients, clients, coworkers, or people in general who are unkind 
  • I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by my own mistakes 
  • I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by my initial reactions of frustration or anger 
I can be happy and peaceful without being affected by anything negative or bad in my life, and by being affected in a positive way by the joy of the Holy Spirit!  

I also thought of others in my life who are strong: 
  • My amazing and incredible mother, who is such a joy to be around (I could write an entire blog post just on how amazing she is!) - joyful without being affected by any of the multiple stressors in her life!
  • My wonderful and fun father (I could also write a blog post on how amazing he is, too!) - fun without being affected by any of the multiple stressors in his life!  
  • My amazing, incredible, strong single friends who are so much fun to be around, fill me with joy,and are encouraging to me and others - strong without being affected by divorce.  
  • One of my coworkers who is so much fun to work with, always ready to help, always smiling and laughing - delightful without being affected by financial difficulties and a son who has made some not-so-great choices.  
  • My office manager who is always calm, always willing to stop and help and answer questions, always forgiving, a great listener, is fair, and is just wonderful - wonderful without being affected by office drama, her mother-in-law living with her, and the stress of four children.  
I am sure they all have internal struggles, but I can only hope and pray that I can return the blessing to them!  As I was writing this list, I realized how truly blessed I am to be surrounded by so many amazing people.  

Being happy and peaceful really is as simple as making a choice to BE happy and peaceful!  As I learned last week in Philippians 4:8, if I keep my thoughts positive, this will make my life more joyful and pleasing to the Lord!  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Working for the Lord!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were working for the Lord, not for man." 

~Colossians 3:23 (NIV)  

"Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters.  And don't just do the minimum that will get you by.  Do your best.  Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance.  Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ."  

~ Colossians 3:23 (MSG)  

This scripture is one I am trying to focus on at work.  How I am doing this:
  • Instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated whenever I get more word piled on to my plate, I want to think of it as more work I can do for God, and more that I can do to glorify Him!   
  • Each person I interact with I can be a blessing to.  Hopefully they will see God's light in me!  
  • I can help make the lives of others easier:
    • Patients - make the information about procedures or insurance benefits clear and easy to understand; make scheduling and paying (checking out) easy; smile and make them feel welcome and at ease.  
    • Coworkers - help make their jobs easier by going above and beyond; leaving rooms and things better than I found them; helping make their time at work more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Other scriptures:
    • Proverbs 22:9 (MSG) - "Generous hands are blessed hands, because they give bread to the poor."  
    • Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) - "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."  
    • Philippians 2:4 (MSG) - "Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.  Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." 
    • Luke 6:38 (MSG) - "Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing.  Giving, not getting, is the way.  Generosity begets generosity."  
    • John 15:12 (NIV) - "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." 
    • Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) - "You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."  
    • Galatians 6:2 (NIV) - "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."  
    • Galatians 6:9 (NIV) - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This morning, just like every other morning, I stepped out on my patio to water my geranium.  Yes, I only have one plant right now, as I am typically known in the gardening world as The Girl with the Giant Black Thumb.  I want to get several more plants to make my patio more of a beautiful space, but I decided to start small with a reliable, hardy plant just to make sure I can keep that one alive!  

As I was watering it, I noticed that the flowers seemed more beautiful than usual today.  I decided I wanted to capture a picture of this one bloom that seemed especially exquisite.  After grabbing my camera, I quickly tried several times to take a picture of this bloom.  This was the result:  

Ugh!  This simply does not capture the beauty of this flower!  I tried a few more times, but grew increasingly frustrated as there was a whispering breeze that kept blowing it around, and the camera just would not seem to focus.  Finally I realized I would have to wait until the breeze settled down before the flower would be still enough for my point-and-shoot camera to be able to focus correctly, and that I needed a better angle in regards to the lighting.  Soon enough, the breeze slowed and I captured this picture:  

Now, while this photo may not be award-winning photography, I feel that it captures more of the intricate beauties of this flower than the one above it.  Finally satisfied with my picture, I went about pruning the plant, trimming off all the old leaves and blooms.  

Then God whispered in to my heart several thoughts about how the past few minutes I spent with this plant are how He tries to spend all His time in our lives!  It is amazing how He can speak so many thoughts into my heart so quickly.  I realized that how I was pruning this plant is so much like how when we stay close to Him, He prunes our lives.  John 15:1-2 says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (NIV).  

According to Wikipedia, pruning is "A horticultural and silvicultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as, branches, buds, or roots.  Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.  The practice entails targeted removal of deceased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants."  Wow!  Just as I am removing dying plant growth from my geranium so that it can continue to grow, bloom, and be beautiful, God selectively removes anything in our lives that is harmful or non-productive so that we can continue to grow, bloom, and be beautiful too!  

I began to think of all the things that God has "pruned" back in my life, that at the time I resisted.  People that I no longer have a relationship with.  Jobs that I no longer work.  Activities I am no longer involved with.  The list could go on and on!  When things happened that I did not understand or enjoy, God was using this to prune back my life so I could move forward and grow - and I am so glad He did, as I absolutely love my life!  

I also realized while I was trying to capture the picture of this flower how much we ourselves can get blown around by the wind that is life.  A slight breeze can feel refreshing and relaxing, but a strong wind can make you feel unstable, disoriented, and unfocused.  These winds can come in the form of relationship struggles, financial struggles, working many hours, or anything else that you can get caught up in the whirlwind of.  You may never know when it will stop and you can just be still, rest, and breathe.  Once we are still we can finally see God's beauty that exists all around us and in ourselves.  Psalm 46:10 says it best: "Be still and know that I am God."  

When the winds of life are blowing us around, we must remember to cling to the rock:

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

~Psalm 18:2 (ESV)  

He will help anchor us to the ground, and will never be uprooted no matter the size of the storm.  Trust in the truth that God has everything under His control, and will use everything to His glory!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whatever Is...

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  

~Philippians 4:8 (NIV)  

Verse mapping! :)  

  • Whatever - used to emphasize a lack of restriction in referring to any thing or amount, no matter what
  • True - in accordance with fact or reality 
  • Noble - possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties 
  • Right - being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper 
  • Pure - free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes; without any extraneous and unnecessary elements 
  • Lovely - exquisitely beautiful; delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace 
  • Admirable - deserving the highest esteem, respect, and approval 
  • Excellent - extremely good; outstanding 
  • Praiseworthy - deserving approval and admiration
When I look at these definitions, I realize that if all my thoughts were aligned with these, then love, encouragement, and peace would just automatically flow from me!  Over the past week, I have really focused on watching my thoughts.  Whenever I had a moment to "think about my thoughts," I went through this list about my thoughts:
  • Is this thought true?  Is this actually a fact, or something that my emotions are leading me to think?  
  • Is this thought noble?  Does this topic I am pondering possess excellent qualities, or does it possess negative, harmful, or destructive qualities?
  • Is this thought right?  Is this thought in line with what is good, just, or proper?  Am I being fair to the subject I am considering?  
  • Is this thought pure?  Does this thought contain anything harmful or negative that will contaminate my view of the subject?  Is this thought free of anything that might weaken me or someone else?  Is this thought free of anything that is unnecessary to thinking about it, such as raw emotions that may not be based on facts?  
  • Is this thought lovely?  If someone else were to see what I am thinking, would they see it as beautiful, or ugly?  
  • Is this thought admirable?  If someone else were to see what I am thinking, would they respect me and my thoughts?  Is this thought respectful to others?  Would God approve of this thought?  
  • Is this thought excellent?  Is this topic I am dwelling on a good, healthy, positive topic?  
  • Is this thought praiseworthy?  If someone else heard this thought, would they approve of it?  Would Jesus approve of this thought?  Would others admire me if they heard what I was thinking?  
I found out that I did not have to get far past "true" to realize if I needed to change what I was thinking about or not!  :)  Also, I realized that while other people may not be able to see my thoughts, they can sense a "vibe" about what I am thinking and feeling towards them.  And God sees all of our thoughts!  

One example I found myself going through several times during the week was my thoughts towards others.  I was frustrated with myself that I even had these thoughts, but it was good to work through them!  When I found myself frustrated with someone else, I just walked myself through the list.  I would quickly realize that the person I was upset with is just another human being trying to survive in this crazy world, just like me.  This softens my heart every time I realize it, and immediately turns my day around.  

It really all does begin with our thoughts!  God bless!!!  :)  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sabbath

"If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, 
God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,'
making money, running here and there - 
Then you'll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all. 
I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob."

~Isaiah 58:13-14 

I came across this scripture as I was reading the Bible this evening, and I was amazed yet again at how God always puts the perfect scripture in our lives at the right time!  This is literally how I spent my day - with God.  I arose this morning and prayed before church.  I then went to worship, which was amazing as always.  Chatted with my family, enjoyed the warm weather and some coffee with a friend, then came home and spent the rest of the day reading His Word, working on my online bible study, typing up my sermon recap, and praying.  And I must say, this is the best day I have had in a long time!  

I had been debating on whether or not to pick up some extra hours on Sundays at my part-time job.  I realize now this is the answer to my question!  God answered by scripture and by my experience today.  I literally felt like I spent the whole day with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, learning from Him, loving Him, and being loved by Him.  As the passage said, I was free to enjoy God, and as I did He made me ride high and soar above everything!  I am so thankful for Christ, my church, and His Word!!!  

Sunday Sermon: The Most Important Commandment of All

Today our pastor concluded with the sermon series of "Finding Joy in Real Life - 5 Habits for Living Well" with "The Most Important Commandment of All."  

  • Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  ~Deuteronomy 6:4-5 
  • A lawyer asked [Jesus] a question to test him.  "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"  He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment."  ~Matthew 22:35-38 

Notes and Reflections:
  • Every decision you make and every action you take is a reflection of your love of God!  
  • Shema Israel - Yahweh is the source of all life and everything
  • The Lord is my God, and I am meant to love Him with all of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength 
  • Some reasons why I believe in God:
    • The beauty and order of the universe, and the laws that govern it.  i.e. Alphabet soup does not get poured out in alphabetical order, no matter how many times you pour it out!  The creator of the big band theory was a Catholic priest   In the universe we see God who's pattern shaped it, and we see His glory in it!  
    • The witness of other people - people I know and meet, and Biblical authors and characters, and modern-day people such as Mother Theresa 
    • Jesus Himself - was buried and rose from the dead
    • The impact of faith in the lives of others 
    • My personal experiences with God and my faith - my own life is radically different, and I feel most fully alive when I have been praying, reading the Bible, etc.  I have also become more loving, forgiving, etc.  
  • God shapes how I respond to circumstances in my life 
  • When I die, I think I will like having lived my life better believing in God than if I didn't! 
  • He is where I find hope in the face of death
  • Just like any relationship, we must spend time talking, listening, and nurturing the relationship with the other person - we must nurture our relationship with God!  
  • When you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you find joy and meaning in life!  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"But Seek First..." Verse Mapping

One of my new-found favorite activities...verse mapping!  This week in our online Bible study, we were challenged to verse map Matthew 6:33:  "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  

My verse mapping (in rough format):  
  • But = Apart from (this)  
  • Seek = to go in search of, look for; to try to acquire or gain; aim at  
  • First = Before anyone or anything else; before seeking ____ from anyone or anything else:
    • Help
    • Comfort
    • Love
    • Strength
    • Approval
    • Companionship
    • Wisdom 
    • Guidance 
    • Before anything else, seek HIM first! 
  • His kingdom = A realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant.  He needs to be dominant in our lives!  
  • His righteousness = His holiness and perfectness; set apart from 
  • All these things = Everything, including what is stated in the versus previous to this: clothes, food, water, body (health) = all of our basic needs!
  • Will be = Guaranteed they will be given, not "might be" or "may be" given, they WILL BE - how very reassuring!!!  
  • Given to you = gifted; bestowed as a gift 
  • As well = in addition to; along with all the other blessings He has given us 
  • Apart from all else, aim at searching for and living in God's realm and His holiness before you search for anyone or anything else for anything, and everything you need to live will absolutely be bestowed upon you in addition to a multitude of other blessings.  (This sounds rough, but it's my interpretation that makes sense in my head! :)  
*Do not focus on or worship earthly things!  Food (gluttony), clothes (materialism), etc!  Focus on HIM first, and we will receive all the necessities of life, and a multitude of blessings beyond that!!!  

*Place Him first in our lives, and we will be satisfied with everything we need in all aspects of our lives - basic needs, emotional needs, physical needs - everything!!!  

I also think a scripture that goes along well with this one is Luke 16:10-13:  

"If you're honest in small things;
you'll be honest in big things;
If you're a crook in small things;
you'll be a crook in big things. 
If you're not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He'll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can't serve both God and the Bank."  

Love this!  If I can't be responsible for a small about of friends, money, responsibilities, how can God trust me with more friends, a marriage, more money, and more responsibilities at work and at home?  

I love and am amazed every day at how powerful His Word is, and how it speaks to every aspect of my life!!!  :)  Have a blessed day!!!  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Secret to True Wealth Sermon Recap and Life Thoughts :)

It never ceases to amaze me how God places things/people/sermons/etc in our lives with just the right timing.  I had a lengthy discussion with my boyfriend of six years last night about this topic, and about being happy no matter what your income level is.  I am a firm believer that God's will is the best thing for our lives, and that we should focus on seeking Him first and finding His will for our lives, and doing it!  These scriptures are ones that I hold on strong to, and have proven true for me and my life:  

  • "There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"  ~Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) 
  • "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.  It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free - signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.  This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life."  ~Ephesians 1:11-14 (MSG)  
  • "Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."  ~Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)  
  • "Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally.  I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.  I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.  I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."  ~Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)  
  • "You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus."  ~Philippians 4:19 

"I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances."  Once I was able to be completely content with my life, and where I am at in life, I was able to experience for the first time the true joy and peace that can only come from God.  It is such an incredible way of living, following Him and His path - so much better than any way I was trying to live before!  

"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life."  ~Henry David Thoreau 

"A simple life is a happy life."  ~Philip Arnold 


Notes from the sermon:
  • Generosity - three types:
    • Generosity of Spirit - Act with kindness and graciousness to all, look past the fault of otheres and considers their best.  Encourage others.  Do small acts of service.  Say thank you often.  Realize that what everyone does for you is a gift.  All relationships work better with generosity of spirit!  
    • Generosity of finances - Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also! 
    • Generosity of time and talents - Jesus was constantly interrupted, and always stopped to help others.  You will always feel more alive and fulfilled after you have taken the time to serve others!  
Scriptures referenced in the sermon: 
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 - "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless."  (NIV) 
  • Provebs 22:9 - "The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor."  (NIV) 
  • Luke 12:15 - "Then he said to them, 'Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"  (NIV) 
  • 1 Timothy 6:18-19 - "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  (NIV)  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Surrendering It All

This week while reading through Stressed-Less Living, one paragraph from Chapter 5 really stood out to me:

"Being a Christian not only means serving God with our bodies but serving him with our hearts, souls, and minds.  It means being totally sold-out to Christ in all aspects of our lives - surrendering all of our thoughts and actions to him.  It means seeking the Lord with such great intensity that everything else pales in comparison.  In turn, it is this intensity that helps us to be keenly aware of our need for his help to deal with our stress in the most effective ways.  Once we are fully connected with Jesus, we will begin craving an insatiable daily portion of him to nourish our souls and fill our spirits with the peace we are starving for."  ~Tracie Miles, Stressed-Less Living

I have always known and understood that all of our actions must be pleasing to the Lord, but my thoughts?  I knew from the Bible (Philippians 4:8), that I should focus on good things, but all my thoughts?  Even though I know God knows everything I think, those are still my thoughts!  Everything else in life I have learned to love sharing and giving away to others - my time, my resources, my love, my companionship, my prayers, etc.  But my thoughts are the one thing I have for myself!  It dawned on my while reading this passage that to truly be changed and transformed by the Lord, I must give Him absolutely everything - including my thoughts.  By surrendering all my thoughts to Him, He can truly begin to change me where all actions start - with our thoughts!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Sunday sermon recap:  "Six Words to Set You Free"

  • Colossians 3:13 - "Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive."  
  • Luke 17:3 - "Be on your guard!  If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive."  
  • Matthew 6:14 - "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."  
  • Matthew 5:23-24 - "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."  
  • James 5:16 - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  
  • Matthew 18:21-22 - "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?'  Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" 

  • Without forgiveness, it is impossible to have relationships or joy in our lives   
  • A true apology includes the following: 
    • An awareness of how you wronged the other person
    • An earnest feeling of regret or remorse
    • A confession accepting responsibility for the action
    • A commitment to change
  • Repentance is an authentic apology
  • When forgiving, you relinquish what feels like the right to get even
  • Grace is forgiveness you don't deserve 
  • You find life when you extend forgiveness
  • We need to extend grace and mercy to each other 
  • Prayer: God, I give this to you.  I'm not going to hold it anymore! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

His Promises are Kept!

Promises He has fulfilled in my life:
  • He always provides: Philippians 4:19 - "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."  Even when the numbers in my bank account don't seem like they should add up, somehow they always do - He always provides!!!  
  • He gives us strengthIsaiah 40:29-31 - 
    "He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
    Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
    But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
    They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint."  
    When I draw close to him, I always feel renewed and much stronger than when I try to face the world alone!  
  • He gives us hope:  Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  Without his hope, life feels hopeless, pointless, empty, and the future seems dim.  With his hope, I feel that all things truly ARE possible - I KNOW all things are possible with Him!  This gives me a much better attitude, and makes life so much better, more rewarding, and truly helps me to excel in life!  
  • He gives us restMatthew 11:28-29 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  When I draw close to the Lord, I find peace and am able to rest.  My soul feels calm and rested!  There is nothing else that calms me down enough to rest peacefully except focusing on God!  
  • He gives us peaceProverbs 1:33 - "But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”                     John 14:27 - “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  Nothing else has ever given me the peace of mind and spirit that focusing on and drawing near to the Lord!  Nothing even comes close!  When I am close to Him, I feel so much less stressed, frazzled, and worried - He is amazing!!!  
I pray you receive all of God's blessings too!  He WILL keep His promises to you, just draw near to Him, and put Him at the center of your life!  :)  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Flower Blessings!

Today, I am thankful that it is Thursday - we have made it through the bulk of the week, it's almost Friday, and I do not have to work this weekend!  :D  That is a blessing for sure!  I am thankful it has been a good week at work, everything has been going pretty smoothly.  I am thankful for my family, the beautiful weather we've been having, my church, my friends, and all the beautiful trees and flowers in bloom!  I was able to take some beautiful photos this week at our local arboretum, while enjoying time with my wonderful, amazing, beautiful mother!  :)  

Tulips are my favorite flowers, and this one brought to mind Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  

Such beautiful coloring!!!  So amazing!  And it's awesome to think that God sees us beautiful and amazing!!! :)