Monday, November 22, 2010

Wild Wild West

I woke up this morning to let the pups out and realized something. I look out the window, scan the horizon, open the door, and scan the horizon before letting them out now. I expect to find the mountain lion. And I don't want the puppies to fall prey to the mountain lion or be an easy scooby snack! It struck me in an odd way today. We live in the wild, wild, west. A very different approach to life than we had in our neighborhood (come to think of it similar in some ways)! There are many things we have to spend time and energy on in a very conscious way. The water consumption has to be managed, as well as the propane. We are constantly in a state of gathering wood, both green and dead, for the wood stove. The road is in a constant state of flux depending on the weather and how much it is being used. And don't get me started on the dust and dirt! It is a daily battle keeping the outside...outside. And then there are the wild animals. I have an awareness that they are always there. Sometimes it is very obvious. Just last night Maggie was growling to the side of the house when I let her out. And this next morning I went out to feed the horses and they would have no part of it. Usually they are all over me and very impatient to eat. But this particular morning they were spooked and would not come down to eat for a good hour. You could just feel it in the air.

I've been learning a lot about the enemy lately. This is how we are supposed to be...having an awareness that our enemy is always there. Lying in wait for us. "With this in mind, be alert" and then use the resources God has given us to fight...the armor of God as found in Ephesians 5:10-18 "so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" with the Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, Feet Fitted with Readiness, Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit. We never know where the enemy is or how he will try and launch an attack. Sometimes he even uses the people in our lives at a weak moment. (Like snapping when you are having a bad day or your expectations are not being met...guilty as charged). Sometimes it is the circumstances in our life, or the pride or fear we do battle with daily. We are called to live lives of righteousness and be strong in the Lord. Sometimes we take shots because we are walking with the Lord. Sometimes we take shots because we are not. I just want to heed the words in Ephesians 5:13-14 "and put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND. " And then in verse 14..."STAND FIRM".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apartment Fire

My hubby's department ran an apartment fire over the weekend. I was trying to find some info on it and found this amateur video posted on YouTube of it. It's pretty cool to see in action...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Books and More on the Wilderness Experience

I woke up to this rainbow a few days ago. I guess you could say I'm still in my Wilderness Experience. Maybe I'm not lost deep in the woods, but hanging out on the edge of the forest now. After finishing my 'reading through the Bible phase', I went through a month period where I wondered, "what now"? And so, I am doing a condensed version of a Bible reading plan I found on my amazing phone called 'The Essential 100 Challenge' which journeys through the 100 most significant passages in the Bible, which sort of seems impossible. And yet, it is just simply taking me on a hop, skip and a jump back through the Bible to highlight some things I oddly need to "remember"! The point of all the rambling is to say, "Wow!" I feel like I've been studying for a four year degree in just two short years. And now, I'm in review mode, but I am in a better place to pick up my other book reading. I've never been much of a light book reader. It's usually big heavy topics like: how to have the best marriage, how to teach your kids to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul, how to give until it hurts, and how to really become more like God. Somewhat for posterity sake and somewhat to give others ideas on really great books if you want to know any of the books I have read or am getting ready to pick up, as suggestions from my pastor, Bible studies or God-fearing, God-loving is a not so comprehensive list of "you've got to read" books that have touched me, transformed me and made a definite spot in that scary place called my memory...

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby

Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis

Walking with God by John Eldredge

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (a man's heart)

Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge (a woman's heart)

Just as I Am by Billy Graham (and franky anything he writes is fantastic)

My favorite Christian female novelist:
Francine Rivers and the books I love by her. I love the way she uses stories of the Bible and weaves them into something easily tangible and indentifiable is incredible!
Scarlet Thread
Redeeming Love
Mark of the Lion trilogies ***MUST MUST READ***
The Lineage of Grace series (5 women of the Bible I call the "un" series)
-Unveiled, Unashamed, Unshaken, Unspoken, Unafraid
The Sons of Encouragement series (5 men of the Bible)
-The Priest, The Warrior, The Prince, The Prophet, The Scribe

My favorite Christian male novelist:
Max Lucado. I love the way He 'gets' the Bible and paints a beautiful picture for us. He must have a million books out there. You could close your eyes and point and not go wrong. Here's just a few:
It's Not About Me
Six Hours One Friday
No Wonder They Call Him the Savior
God Came Near
And the Angels Were Silent
When God Whispers Your Name

I haven't read any of Francine River's or Max Lucado's latest books. I've been a little busy but plan to do some catching up but have quite a list of other authors I'm planning on working on.

Right now I'm reading JI Packer's Knowing Christianity. He's bringing up the point that we know of God what He shows us. And that a part of knowing God is knowing ourselves and how much we need Him to really know God. Very good book. Highly recommend it. Small but packed!

And next on the agenda is Thomas Keller's Prodigal God, Reason for God and Counterfeit Gods.

Although, I just saw at the library today, Phillip Yancey's book Prayer and think I might interject it in there somewhere.

And still on my list of "gotta read"...

Extraordinary Women and various Bible studies by Beth Moore
Idols for Destruction by Herbert Schlossberg
Unexpected Adventure by Strobel
God Wants to be Wanted by AW Tozier
Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Your God is too Small by JB Phillips
Suburban Spirituality by Dave Getz
Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas Woods

I get several daily email devotions if you are in need of some daily direction, renewal, and growth (like me):
Girlfriends in God
Our Daily Bread
Proverbs31 Ministries
Max Lucado

I have a heart that desires to walk with God and to teach my kiddos to learn His voice. I heard a quote somewhere that says "God whispers to His friends and shouts at His enemies".  I want to be quiet enough to hear His whisper. It takes time, practice and discipline (which I sorely lack all of). Even coming out of this one on one time I spent with Him these past two years, it seems it is easier to get caught up in the moment of the here and now so-called emergencies and dole out a few minutes here and there for Him. We are prone to wander as the song goes. Don't I know it! But I want more of Him and less of me. And for that reason, I keep coming back to Him for rest and so that He can finish the good work He started in me.

And to that end, if you have a list of "gotta reads" that I can add to my list, I'd love to know what your favorite Christian books or authors are. I need all the help I can get (and a little extra reading time would help, too)! J

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Joy and the Wilderness Experience

So, I've been on a journey, of sorts. It's been going on a couple years now. God gave me a verse a few years ago. I didn't understand it which made it hard to receive. I committed it to memory thinking that was His point. I'm sure that was just His first point. There would be many others. He, unlike me, is just not that simple-minded. Nehemiah 8:10 "For the joy of the Lord is your strength". He gave it to me at a time in my life that I was struggling with my health. Eventually it would be given names...Surgeries, low estrogen, low thyroid, B-12 deficiencies, Iron deficiencies, and Vitamin D deficiencies. Needless to say, I was T-I-R-E-D. And as a result, everything and everybody around me struggled. I kept asking Him what it meant. I needed His strength. I meditated on the strength part because it seemed I needed a LOT of that. I couldn't get through my days without His help and strength. Thank you Lord, for being my strength. I felt happy so it must be strength. And one day He showed me...I had lost my joy. I wondered if I had ever had it. I sort of felt punched in the stomach. What happened to my joy? He eventually showed me the times in my life in which I had joy, but first He showed me the areas I had lost it and then He led me up and over the mountain, into the valley and then beside quiet waters. His first order of business was to show me how much He loved me. I thought I knew. I've known His love all my life. I was raised with it, I spoke it, I taught it to my kids. I accepted His saving grace and love as a child. But it wasn't enough for my Heavenly Father. And looking back now, I think this point had to get through. He knew I'd never be able to love others the way He wanted me to until I first loved myself. How do you love yourself that way; God's way? He has to become your filter by which you love yourself, see yourself, forgive yourself, feel worthy of that kind of love. For someone who had been abused, abandoned, left behind, neglected and forgotten as a child, really receiving that kind of love had to be the hardest, most difficult and treacherous road I've traveled yet. The first step was to really see that I didn't fully receive it. I think that was my biggest battle. Evidently, my enemies knew that and really fought hard to keep me from hearing, receiving and truly wrapping my brain around that. Letting God's love permeate every part of me somehow made me feel like I had to air all my dirty laundry and keep asking him, "what about this" and "did you forget about that" and "how could you love this"?  And then I got angry at Him. I know. I can be pretty stubborn. I just could not understand how I wasn't "getting it". What do you MEAN? So, I kept asking Him, "How do you love me? Show me plainly so I know it is You". It sort of reminds me of the children's book I used to read to my kiddos that is answered, "Let me count the ways". And that is precisely what He did. Every day for weeks He did this very thing. But I had to learn to have His ears and His eyes so I didn't miss all the huge and miraculous ways but also the mundane, everyday things I miss. But each time He showed me something, I felt overcome, overwhelmed and unworthy to receive such blessings. Oh! The stories. I learned to write them down, too. Because at the same time (yup, this has truly been an epic journey and has felt like a wonderful lifetime of experiences in just a few short years) He was showing me over and over the word "Remember" which I then asked why, how, what, when, get it. Him revealing His mysteries is no easy task...I struggle through it and go back for clarification, revision, contemplation and beat a dead horse until I KNOW I have it right. He truly does love me. :) I know for a fact He does. Nobody else would have that much patience. And He showed me in so many ways. Still does. But I had to learn to receive it, let it get into me and make me over. As I was doing "battle", I began reading through my Bible. Not just read it. But digging into it. And then something began to happen. I couldn't get enough of it. Every time I picked it up, He was speaking directly to me. And then someone would say something in passing that confirmed what I had just read. Or someone would be struggling with something that directly related to what I was reading, or I'd just have to share something to my kiddos and then they would bless my heart with their precious hearts and understanding of the Lord. Every day was like this for two solid years. I can't even began to describe what was happening and didn't dare. It wasn't until we moved into the mountains in a valley beside a bubbling stream that the Lord showed me I was in His own version of a Wilderness Experience. And there I am. To some extent, I feel like I've joined the real world again a few months ago. I finished reading through the Bible. And then I heard this quote from A.W. Tozier, "I didn't read through the Bible, it read through me". That is it in a nutshell. The Lord has restored me, renewed me, given me His joy and drawn me closer to Him all at the same time. He is just that awesome!