Quote

“That all thing…

“That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.”

Brother Lawrence quote from The Practice of the Presence of God

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What’s Number One on Your TO DO LIST?

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I am absolutely bogged down with so many things to do that I started making lists.  I AM NOT a list maker.  I have decided to juggle so many balls in the air at this point that I feel the unnatural-for-me need to organize.  I have a To Do list with six areas listed in order of “needs to be completed immediately” to “this is last because the actual project will not be done for several years.”

I find that To Do lists are very helpful.  They are a reminder and keep me focused on the important tasks.  If I become unfocused then I tend to get absolutely nothing done.  I am the type that tackles all of the quick and easy tasks on the list first.  This gives me the immediate sense of accomplishment that keeps me chugging along through the rest of the tasks at hand.

I have recently become very unfocused and believe that is due to one unaccomplished task on my list.  I was faithful for several years in setting aside time daily for scripture and meditation.  I now read hundreds of pages of the Bible, commentaries and surveys weekly for my academic program in seminary.  I at first believed that this would be the same but lo and behold, it is not.  It is purely academic not spiritual. 

Spiritual renewal daily can be the defining factor between focused and unfocused.  I not only have to study theology but I must invite God to speak into my life everyday.  I must pray about doing what is right for the community of people around me.  I must seek guidance in my actions.  

” The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them” (Psalms 145:17-19).

The Ten Commandments with a Positive Spin

Thinking of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, put forth by God in Exodus 20, with positive wording is enlightening as well as refreshing. If “rewritten” positively, the Ten Commandments might appear as such: 

1) Worship Me and only Me
2) I AM, all that you need to worship
3) Speak of my Name in reverent and loving ways
4) Rest for everyone and all creatures all day every seventh day
5) Honor your father and mother
6) You will promote life in all that you do in every situation
7) You will be faithful to your spouse
8) You will give all that you are able
9) You will always tell the truth in everything you do
10) You will be content with all that you have regardless of how much anyone else has.

This list not only represents what may be considered a positive spin on the list of the Ten Commandments, but it is also a list of the characteristics searched for in a potential spouse, family, teachers, friends, spiritual leaders and anyone in which a considerable amount of time is spent.  Commandment 8, you will always give and commandment 10, you will be content with all you have are the 2 commandments I would like to discuss.

Do ALL that you can and give ALL that you can. This theory is that if everyone gives all that they can and does all that they are capable, the world would be a different place. Turning the commandment “do not steal” into a commandment of “give all that you can” speaks volumes. Paul writes about this very positive nature of the eighth commandment, “Thieves must give up stealing … work honestly … so as to have something to share with the needy” (Eph. 4:28). Giving to people in society who cannot support themselves is a repetitive command throughout the Bible. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God … to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) is a description of this giving nature that God loves. Giving of oneself is not always defined as a monetary measurement.  Some things that can be given in place of money are time, advice, help, knowledge and friendship. These are just a few of the many things that can be given with a missional attitude.

As for the tenth commandment, the idea of turning “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exod. 20:17) into “be content with all you have regardless of what anyone else has” turns an anxious situation into a peaceful scenario. It is so easy to fall prey to the American expression of keeping up with the Joneses.  Someone may think, I see it, I like it and I want it too. If I do not get it then others are somehow superior to me within the culture that we live.  These are thoughts that may cause uneasiness within the realm of discontentment with possessions. If someone is content with all they have, how could they possibly want more? It is written, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment … but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). With discontentment there also comes unnecessary cultural pressure to be superior. Wanting something that is not already owned, if there is not the means to acquire the particular desired item, may cause undue anxiety. Being content with everything that is currently under stewardship gives a sense of calmness and tranquility and keeps the godly person from sin. It is commanded by Paul to “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). With contentment comes peace.

It is amazing that the Ten Commandments are relevant in today’s American society just as much as they were in the ancient Israelite society.  Although the people of today’s American society may not treat the Decalogue with the same reverence as the ancient Israelites, it does not take away from the fact that these commandments have shaped the fabric of our culture, legal system and social morays. They have been passed down through the ages in these areas of every society and culture. Giving to the oppressed and being content with a simpler lifestyle, are just a couple of many trending topics in religion, politics and among social justice advocates.  It makes sense to put the positive spin on them from a theological point of view so that society is capable of appreciating the forgiving love and mercy of the sovereign God who wrote the laws.

Going Crazy Inside My Head

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Each day a I see a new need.  I want to help with everything.  I want to start a non-profit for this and for that.  I’m pretty sure I could do this and that.  I want to change the world.  I want the world to be a better place for every one of God’s lovely creations.  The outcome is that I’m going crazy.  Not just Coo Coo for CoCo Puffs crazy but completely out of my mind feeling-as-if-the-world-is-on-my-shoulders crazy.  The only thing I can say is that I must be doing something right.  I am certainly on the right track.  Among all these crazy unsettled jumbled thoughts inside my head, I feel peace.  Yes, PEACE. 

I am ecstatic that I can recognize the fact that I would be going out of my mind with anxiety if I did not depend on God.  Regardless of where the next paycheck is going to come from or whether or not I make a right or wrong decision in the direction I should be going, God’s got this.  He has my back.  If I do make a decision that is not within His will, I know He will let me know, one way or the other.

In the meantime, I will continue praying to God, going to seminary, forming a non-profit, becoming a foster parent, caring for my children, caring for my husband, caring for my animals, helping others, helping myself, thinking about how I can form one non-profit that would address all of the problems in the world, change the world.  So far my non-profit is addressing adult education/skillshare, elementary age children who are failed by public education, animals who need rescued, other people who want to change the world and how they get started, churches coming together to address community needs … crazy, right?

God is the ONLY one that could pull this all together! 

Andy and Ace … Dogs from the Rescue, to the Rescue

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Meet Andy and Ace.  They are both rescue dogs in once sense or another.  Andy was rescued by very good friends of ours approximately 6 years ago.  It was a story of the owners moving and not being able to take him with them.  Our friends already had 3 dogs but took him in as well because they couldn’t stand the thought of him going to a shelter and possibly not making it out.  They couldn’t find a home that they thought was suitable for him so they kept him until they met our family.

Our family was not ever going to own a dog.  We have no need for another mouth to feed.  We always said that we love dogs, we’re just not dog people.  Our decision to get a dog came when I had been working a job over a hundred miles away.  I left on Monday morning and came back Friday evening every week for 2 years.  Our daughters needed extra love.  A dog was the perfect solution and our friends had an amazing dog that they wouldn’t give to just any family.  Yes, if you are reading this right, I, working mom, was replaced by a dog.

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Andy (rottie, lab, bloodhound mix) turned out to be the best decision that we ever made.  The girls had found an unconditional love that they desperately needed while Mom was gone.  He is a patient snuggler, always listens and a protector of the family.  He is 14 yrs old though and we know that the blessing of having him with us will not last forever so we began our search for a younger dog to join our family.

I saw Ace (mastiff shepherd mix) online through a dog rescue.  His picture seemed to speak to me.  I inquired about him.  He comes from a rough background and has diabetes insipidus which leads us to believe that he was hit very hard on the head.  The rescue is closer to Ohio.  I called to find out if they would consider adopting to me even though I’m about 3 hours away.  Come to find out, Ace was being fostered 7 miles from my home.  This was taken as a sign from God that this was meant to be!  From the first day that we had Ace I couldn’t imagine our family without him.  He is playful, loving and an extreme guard dog.  If someone is physically ill or emotionally distraught, he WILL NOT leave their side for anything or anyone.

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These dogs have provided my family, and especially my daughters, with so much love.  They went from the role of being rescued, to the role of rescuer.

Today is the beginning of another journey…

Today I am beginning the process of making our spare room upstairs into a bedroom.  We want to be a foster family.  It is a part of our personal family “Do What You Can” campaign.  We are a family that despises the fact that there are neglected and abused children out there in our own neighborhood.  We have decided to do what we can about it.  We are beginning the process to become a foster family.  We don’t have a perfect, Martha Stewart looking house.  We don’t have amazingly nice furniture.  We do have a lot of love and compassion.  We do have a mission to help others.  We do have an extra room.  We even have a Chevy Suburban to fit our family of 5, two big dogs and one or two others.  We can use what we’ve got to make a difference.

James 1:27 says this: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Who are the widows and orphans of today’s society?  I believe they are the people that have no way to support themselves in the society that they live.  Widows and orphans in ancient times were the people who were unable to feed themselves.  They had no one to support them.  They had no way to support themselves.  In my mind, the term “widows and orphans” applies to many more than just that.  I realize that not everyone can become foster parents.  That’s not what it’s about.  It’s about what you can do to help others.  Figure out what you can do, then DO WHAT YOU CAN!

The Tent I’m Living in Right Now

I love camping.  It is my favorite past time and I cannot wait for a good week-long camping trip.  I don’t believe in campers, popups, RV’s or anything else that isn’t a tent.  I will give in to the comfort of inflatable beds but the tent is non-negotiable.  It is an integral part of my camping experience and what I believe the family experiences.

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I’ve just started seminary classes.  Every time I go to class my mind is blown in  new and unexpected way.  I’ve decided that the Bible is like a camping tent.  I have a brand spanking new camping tent now and I’ve taken it out of the bag it came in.  I’m trying to put my camping tent back into the bag.  It won’t fit.  It never fits back into that bag of what I believed to be true before.

The only difference about a real camping tent and this tent of belief that encompasses me is this.  A real camping tent that doesn’t fit back into the bag frustrates me to the point of screaming and high blood pressure.  This new tent of belief is one that I never want to go back into the same bag.  It’s an adventure!!!!