Saturday, July 25, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Ten

When I saw "ten" as the prompt, my mind went a lot of different places.  Here is what I settled on:

I use God's Holy Scriptures in my life every day.  I turn to them for guidance, for reassurance, for comfort, and for peace.  There are certain ones that I use over and over, and certain ones that I send to other people in their times of need.  These are ten that I rely the most on:

1). Genesis 1:1. In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

   This really is the foundation of everything else I believe.  It all starts when God spoke life into His creation.

2). John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
  Again, this one is foundational.  If I don't believe that Jesus gave up His very life for me, none of the rest of it matters or makes any sense anyway.

3). Ephesians 3:20-21. Now to Him, who is able to do immeasurablely more than we could ask or even imagine, all glory and power on earth be given.

Ever feel like something is impossible or too big to handle?  This verse speaks P-O-W-E-R!  God can do so much more than we can ever even dream of.  Just ask Him.

4). Psalm23. (I learned this one in the King James, and it is so much more poetic that way.)
The LORD is my shepherd, and I shall not want.  He maketh me lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies.  Thou anointeth my head with oil.  My cup runneth over.  Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  

When I am stressed or anxious or feel threatened or even just sad, these verses give me so much comfort.  God's got this all under control.  He is guiding me, restoring my soul, and I don't need to be afraid.

5). Joshua 1:9. Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.  For the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.  

Do not fear.  Don't get down on yourself.  God is with me.  Everywhere.  All the time.

6). Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This one keeps me going when I can't do it on my own.  Do you know how many yoga moves I have gotten through by reciting this verse over and over?   

7). Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.

I often don't know why something is going on, but God does.  Acknowledge Him, seek his will, and let Him show me the path one step at a time.  "Trust and obey, trust and obey, for there's no other way..."

8). Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans  I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to give you a hope and a future.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you."

When the future seems uncertain, when it seems like there is no way,  I can remind myself that God has a plan.  A perfect plan.  He has it all figured out.  He will work it out.

9). Matthew 11:28-29. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you for the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

Sometimes I forgot to rest.  When I feel frazzled, worn out, and empty, this is a good reminder to rest in the One who made me.  Just taking five minutes to focus on my Savior can mentally turn me around.  Even Jesus retreated into solitude to have time with his Father.  Shouldn't I make time to do that too?

10). John 10:10. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.

The father of lies wants to destroy me.  Deceive me, steal my joy, and kill my soul.  In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, There is Truth and Love and Eternal Life.  It doesn't get much more abundant than that.

So many other verses I could talk about, but these ten are on my heart today.  Do you have a Top Ten list of verses?  I would love to hear which ones you turn to over and over again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grace By Cookie Dough

 About a month ago, the kids and I were heading home from somewhere.  I asked them who wanted to help me make chocolate muffins.  There was a loud chorus of "Not Me" that followed.  When we got home, they plopped on the couch and started watching TV, leaving me to make the muffins all by myself.

When I was about to put them in the oven, Hannah decided that she did want to help after all.  I told her that she was too late.  She had waited too long and missed her opportunity.

She asked me if they could still lick the beaters from the mixer.  I looked at her very carefully and asked, "Do you know the story of the Little Red Hen?"

At first she grinned and was excited.  "Yes!"   But then her face fell, and she became very distressed.  She knew exactly what I meant when I said that.  "But you always let us, Mama..."  She alternated among putting her head down on the table, making noises of frustration, and saying "But you always..."  I have to admit that I egged her on a bit by continuing the story of the Little Red Hen:

"Who will help me plant the seeds?"
"Not I," said the Duck.
"Not I," said the Cat.
"Not I," said the Pig.
"Then I will do it all by myself."  And she did.

"Who will help me cut the wheat?"
"Not I," said the Duck.
"Not I," said the Cat.
"Not I," said the Pig.
"Then I will do it all by myself."  And she did.

I just kept telling the story as she continued to get frustrated.  I was trying to make a point, and she knew it.  Before she was too far gone, I asked her why she should get to lick the beaters when she didn't help.  She gave the best answer she possible could have.  In her sweet little way, she looked up at me and said, "Because you love us, Mama."

Well, of course, I had to let her and her brother lick the beaters after that.  That's hard logic to argue with.

Flash forward to Friday:  I was needing to make some chocolate chip cookies for my family reunion this weekend.  It has been my sole duty to bring the chocolate chip cookies for the last 20 years.  (It's a rough job, but somebody has to do it!)  Anyway, I didn't even bother to ask for help today.  I needed the kids to clean their rooms, and I was more interested in getting this one done fast more than anything else.  And quite frankly, I was needing a little bit of space today.

So I sent them off and mixed together a batch of dough without any trouble.  God gave me a different idea as I worked this time.  I called the kids into the kitchen.  I handed each of them a mixing beater, and I announced, "This. Is. Grace."  

They wanted to know what I meant by that.  I asked them if they knew what grace meant.  Without even having to think about it, Seth said it means getting something you don't deserve.  (So proud of that boy!).  I explained that the beaters were an example of grace today because they did absolutely nothing to deserve them.  It was only because of my work that they got any.

As they licked every bit of cookie dough off the beaters, I explained that me giving them the beaters was just like Jesus dying on the cross.  He did every bit of the work for us, and we did absolutely nothing to earn it.  No amount of work we do can ever equal what He did for us.

After they finished, I was feeling oh-so-proud of myself for the profound object lesson today.  I explained an abstract concept in a very real way to my kids, and they seemed to get it.  

And that is when it hit me.  I so needed that very grace.  It had been a rough morning for me.  For reasons I can't totally explain, I was feeling depleted and overwhelmed that day.  Negative, irritable, emotionally spent.  On the verge of a meltdown.  And that is when I realized that I had been neglecting the One who renews me.  Although I have still been doing my reading every day, I hadn't been spending any real time in prayer or just seeing what God might have to tell me.  

The grace that came through a batch of cookie dough was not just a lesson for my children that day.  It was very much for me.  Wonderful, Counselor, my much sweeter and more extravagant than any amount of chocolate chip cookie dough.  Reminds me of one of my favorite verses:

"Taste and see that the LORD is good."  Psalm 34:18