Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Last Days of 2012!

I've had a busy week with family, Christmas, cooking, and just enjoying the blessings of the season.  Yesterday Tim and I went to see Les Miserables.  I saw it a few years ago on stage and loved it then.  Also loved the book.  The film version is fantastic.  I remember seeing it on stage and not able to quite keep up with what was going on.  The movie version is unbelievably great and you know what each song is about!  Still singing the songs this morning.

Debating on whether to get an account on Facebook again.  I closed my account in November when the political fires were raging and all comments were quick and pointed and not so much of the trying to understand the other's opinion.  Has it gotten any better?

Husband is getting tired of having to show me pics from his account.  :)

Hope all is well where you are and you saw Jesus more clearly this week.

More later, after cleanup is done.

Peace,
Ronda






Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More Than Conquerors

From Streams in the Desert,

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."  (Romans 8:37)

"The Gospel and the gift of God are structured so wonderfully that the very enemies and forces that are marshaled to fight against us actually help pave our way to the very gates of heaven and into the presence of God.  Those forces can be used in the same way an eagle uses the fierce winds of a storm to soar to the sky.  At first he sits perfectly still, high on a cliff, watching the sky as it fills with darkness and as the lightning strikes all around him.  Yet he never moves until he feels the burst of the storm, and then with a screech he dives toward the winds, using them to carry him ever higher.

"This is also what God desires of each of His children.  He wants us to be "more than conquerors," turning storm clouds into chariots of victory.  It is obvious when an army becomes "more than conquerors," for it drives its enemies from the battlefield and confiscates their food and supplies.  This is exactly what this Scripture passage means.  There are spoils to be taken!

"Dear believer, after experiencing the terrible valley of suffering, did you depart with the spoils?  When you were struck with an injury and you thought you had lost everything, did you trust in God to the point that you came out richer than you were before?  "Being more than a conqueror" means taking the spoils from the enemy and appropriating them for yourself.  What your enemy had planned to use for your defeat, you can confiscate for your own use.

"When Dr. Moon, of Brighton, England, was suddenly struck with blindness, he said, "Lord, I accept this 'talent' of blindness from You.  Help me to use it for Your glory so that when You return, you may receive it back with interest' (Matt. 25:27)."  Then God enabled him to invent the Moon Alphabet for the blind, through which thousands of blind people were enabled to read the Word of God and thereby come to the glorious saving knowledge of Christ.

"God did not remove Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7).  The Lord did something much better - He conquered it and made it Paul's servant.  The ministry of thorns has often been a greater ministry to humankind than the ministry of thrones."

Peace,
Ronda

Moon Alphabet

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Me?

Disclaimer:  I wrote this early Friday morning.  Before.  Before Sandy Hook.  I took it off shortly after.  It's a question I have never seen asked after a tragedy such as Friday's.

I've been thinking about that question lately.  I hear it asked a lot by patients and by their loved ones.  I ask it myself when things are difficult and trying.  Kris Kristopherson wrote a song with that exact same title.

"Why me, Lord?  
What have I ever done, 
to deserve even one
of the treasures I've known."

One of the answers I've been given when I've asked "why me?' is...Why not you?  

Why not me?  

Why not you?

It's a humbling question, isn't it?  Especially for us whiny followers of Jesus.  We think, like the rest of the world thinks.  We have hardships, like the rest of the world has hardships.  We get sick, like the rest of the world gets sick.  We have deaths in our family, like the rest of the world has deaths in their family.  We have bad things happen to us, just like the rest of the world.

Why do we think that it should be any different because we belong to Him?  Why do we think that we should be exempt from trouble?  Our BC mind can get us thinking that and going over the cliff with that exact thought.  If I only had a stronger faith, I wouldn't get sick.  If I only went to church more, read the Bible more, my life would be better. If only, if only, if only.................................

But the AC mind, that one where Christ lives now, that mind can say to the BC mind....Why not you?  If we're guaranteed to have trouble in this world, remember that wonderful promise - In this world you WILL have trouble - yeah, that one.  Remember, if we're going to have trouble, agitation, compression, squeezing, tribulation, affliction, isn't it better to have Jesus going through it with me rather than going through it without Him, like the rest of the world does?

Why you?  Why not you?

Did you ever take a second to think that God chose you for the tribulations you're going through so that through them the unsaved and the struggling believer may see Him in you?  

Why not you?  What makes you so special that you think your trial is any harder than the next person? We all have trials.  We all have burdens we are carrying, some very silently, but we all have them.  

You've been picked for this trial you're in.  God could have stopped it. God could have prevented circumstances from ever involving you, but He didn't.  Why didn't He?

Why you?  I don't know.  We may never know the answer to "why?"  And we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out the whys of something.  

Why not you?  

In this world you WILL have trouble.  If we keep forgetting that fact the unanswered why me's are only going to frustrate you.  

God is not surprised by the troubles you have.  If you want to keep on whining by asking "why me?" go right ahead.  But if you really want to grow in spite of the troubles you have then agree with God and ask, "Why not me?"  

You can trust that there is a greater reason for the trials and tribulations.  He promised us that we would have them and God uses EVERYTHING for good.  

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son...

We like the first part of that verse, don't we?  We throw it out there often and in a plethora of circumstances.  But it's the second part, that conformed to his likeness part that we don't use too much.  That part we just let hang.  It's not as comforting as the first part.  We don't like to think that we have to be changed from the ALL things part.  We just want to see the good that's coming because we love God.  I don't want to admit that change in me is coming because of the good I'm waiting on.  

Why me?  To be conformed.  To give the same shape, outline, or contour to; bring into harmony or accord, to be similar or identical. To be given the same likeness, the "Eikon - to be like, resemble.  Eikon always assumes a prototype, that which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn and to which it answers. The reflection of the sun on the water is its eikon, and a child is the eikon of his parents. "

Why me?  To be a reflection.  The only way I can be a reflection of Him is to live in this trouble He promised me.

Why you?  Why me?  This is why.  This is why you and nobody else. 

To come through the other side looking like Him.  Jesus.  The one who accepted the why, even after begging for another way, He submitted to the plan.  Maybe His human mind couldn't grasp the extent of what the Divine's sacrifice would bring.  Maybe His human mind battled with the Divine Mind and said, "uh uh.  No way, not me."  Maybe.

Jesus was tempted in EVERY way that we are.  Tempted to whine, why me?  Tempted to find a way out of the trial He was in.  But He didn't give in.  He made it through to the other side so that He can help us through the trials that overwhelm and even those that are small on someone else's scale.

He's got a purpose for the trouble He promised you're in.  The question isn't Why me?  The question is, what are you using me for through this?

Don't look for the obvious.  I dare you to go deeper.  If he didn't stop the trouble from hitting, where are all the places the ripples are touching? Who is being touched who would have never been touched if you hadn't gone through the trial you're in right now?

Why you?

Why not you?

Just Write



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Legs don't fail me now!

I was tired and had had enough.  Enough of walking, enough of people, enough of darting between cars and people.

But we had come all this way to see the lights and now, when I was only a short distance away I was saying I'd had enough and I didn't think I could walk anymore to see the lights.

We decided to finally, after living in the state for 14 years, finally go to see Opryland at Christmas time.  There are advertisements on TV for it starting in October, I think.  Each year, for I don't know how many they've been doing it, but I'd see the commercial to see the Rockettes, yes, the Rockettes, as in Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, that Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at The Grand Ole' Opry.

I've always wanted to go, but never enough to make the plans to go, spend the money to go, and just get in the car and GO!.

But this year, this year it all just fell into place.  We got the tickets to the show, we made plans on when we'd leave - after I got off work on Saturday morning, I'd sleep alittle and Tim would hook up the camper - we have dogs now and our regular dogsitters, i.e. daughter and husband, are now new dogparents and we didn't think it would be a good thing for any of them to be together for an extended amount of time so soon.  Hence, the camper.

So we made it to Nashville late Saturday afternoon, our tickets were for Sunday afternoon, and decided to go to OpryMills  and shop.  Well, that's about the easiest part of that plan.  Typing it out.  In practice it was grueling.  People, cars, kids, shoppers.  Everywhere.

We couldn't park close to anything so walking was the only sane option we had.  After two 12 hour shifts of being on my feet almost non-stop, then walking the vastness of OpryMills and Opryland, my legs were about put out.  I couldn't take it anymore and I just didn't care anymore if I saw any darn lights.

But we'd come all this way to see them.

All right, all right.  Come on legs, just a few thousand steps more.

I'm so glad the legs carried me.  If they hadn't, I would have missed this.  The lights.












Just Write



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pondering ponder

I watched, with one eye mostly, football Sunday.  There is an NFL player, I don't know what team he plays on and I don't really care, but his last name is Ponder.  I saw his name on the back of his shirt and ever since I keep thinking about the word Ponder.

I remembered back in 1996 or '97 during the Children's Christmas Eve program at our church where a little boy, about 4 or 5 years old recited Luke 2:19, "And Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." I'm not good at writing speech phonetically, but if you can imagine how a small child would say this, especially the words pondered and heart, I know you would agree with me that his dialect was absolutely precious.

So... ponder....

Ponder, ponder, ponder.

I started digging on the word ponder and I have to tell you, the riches I have found in looking up that one word have led me on a great treasure hunt.  I really need to learn some Greek though, because I hit a little bit of a bump and I'm not sure how to go around, over, or dive through it.

Believe me when I tell you, it's an awesome word!  Or more importantly, it led me to some exciting discoveries.

I'll get back to this, soon, I hope.

I hope if you read this blog that you are digging too.  I pray that if nothing else you are yearning to learn beyond where you are at right now.  I pray for whoever clicks on this blog, that you draw closer to Him and His Words for you.

I ponder how God works.  I wonder, stand amazed, at all the vehicles he is using on the internet to draw others to Him.  There are thousands of thousands in the blog world, some whose words are filled with healing, with wholeness, with God's spirit.  It is as if God's fingerprints are on the keys of the keyboard, reaching across cyberspace drawing us closer and closer to Him.

If you read my blog or anyone's blog and you feel touched by the words, don't stop there.  Please.  Don't stop there.  Pick up a bible, open a new tab on your computer and open up a bible there, open an app on your phone, whatever tool you have that says BIBLE on it, just open it!  Don't let mine or anyone else's faith be the coattails on which you believe.

Will you please, for your own sake, enter into God's word for YOU!

It's ok if you're nervous or afraid.  But don't let that stop you, just take a peek.  It will be ok, I promise you.

Ok, ready now?

Go!


peace
Photo pinned on Pinterest/Photobucket.com

Peace,
Ronda

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Wonder of Wondering



For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That sentence has been called "the gospel in a nutshell."  If someone only knew one truth from the Bible this is the sum of the whole Bible:  God so loved the world that he gave his one and ONLY Son.  His ONLY Son to save the world.  To prevent us from perishing.  

 Loved - agapao - to love, esteem, cherish, favor, honor, respect, accept, prize, relish; to be devoted to.  Agapao is a love rooted in the mind and will of the subject and means to value, esteem, prize, treat as precious. 
            
Believes - pisteuo - to believe in, have faith in, trust
                English - to accept something as true, genuine (actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character, free from hypocrisy or pretense) or real; to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something. 

Perish - apollymi - to utterly destroy, decimate, ravage, demolish, obliterate.
            English - to become destroyed or ruined

Eternal - Aionios - eternal, perpetual, the life which is God's and hence not affected by the limitations of time.
              English - having infinite duration; everlasting, existing at all times, timeless.

Life - zoe - to live. Life, the element or principle of life in the spirit and soul.  Zoe is a somewhat metaphysical term which denotes the very life-force itself, the vital principle which animates living beings.  This life is the very life of God of which believers are made partakers.

Here's my favorite part though.  The sentence that follows:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  

Condemn - krino - to discriminate between good and evil, select, choose out the good.  In the New Testament it means to judge, form or give an opinion after separating and considering the particulars of a case.
              English - to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation; to pronounce guilty

Save - sozo - safe, delivered.  To save, deliver, make whole, preserve from danger, loss, or destruction.  
            English - to deliver from sin, to rescue or deliver from danger or harm, to preserve or guard from injury, destruction, or loss

God so loved the world.  God agapao you.  He cherishes you.  He favors you.  He honors you.  He respects you.  He accepts you.  He is devoted to you.  His love for you is deeply rooted.  It's not just a feeling he has for you, like you say you "love" chocolate or you "love" to sleep in on a Saturday.  His love for you is out of pure devotion and He sees you as precious and worth saving.

He gave His only Son for the world.  He sent Jesus, who was true, genuine, free from hypocrisy or pretense.  He never had to or has to now, pretend that he loves you.  He is never hypocritical.  He is always true to Himself and who He is.  God sent that Son, that Jesus, to save you, to make you whole, to preserve you from danger and destruction.  That Jesus was sent to save you from being lost.  

God sent His Only Son, he didn't have a spare, he didn't have a line of boys after Jesus, He gave His only Son to save you from condemnation.  Jesus did not come to condemn the world.  He did not come to judge the world.  He did not come to judge you.  He came to save you.

It's only fair
         those of you who don't believe there is a God, 

                   those of you who are mad at God, 

                              those of you who think God is a puppet master and only pulling strings, 

                                             those of you who believe that if there was a God he would stop evil, 
                                             stop killing, stop wars, stop devastation, stop pain. 

It's only fair that you look at this Jesus, the One who came not to condemn but to save.  

It's only fair that you look at Him, really look AT him.  Don't base your assumptions of him by what others say about him, what others do or not do in his name.  

It's not about the others. 

It's about you.

Jesus didn't come to condemn you.  Jesus didn't come to cause you harm.  Jesus didn't come to make life harder for you.  Jesus didn't come to leave you standing alone, facing your tragedies and pain by yourself.  Jesus didn't come to mock you, embarrass you, or reject you.  

Jesus came to SAVE YOU!  

Jesus came to give you life.  
Not just your day-to-day physical 24 hour scheduled life, but LIFE

ZOE !

The life that breathes into us his joy, his peace, his mercy, his goodness, his kindness, his guts, his patience, his faithfulness.  The life that is eternal, that will endure forever.

That Jesus.  

The Jesus who came in the only way He could to save us.  He came as a human being.  He came to walk the path we walk.  He felt the pain of rejection, disappointment, misery.  

He knows what you are suffering.

God so Loved you that He gave His ONLY Son for you so that believing in Him will bring you eternal life, not a life that perishes.  

God did not send His Son to condemn you but to SAVE you.

He didn't come so that you would  not experience pain or suffering or rejection or disappointment.  He came so that you would live in spite of  those things.  

You would live and experience life with Him, not without Him.  

Save your why questions for later.  Don't wait for all your questions to be answered.  You know the ones - why does God allow____________?  Why does God_____________?  Why, why, why, why! 

Just believe.  Just trust

 You say you have trust issues with people.  Well, those are only people.  God is not other people.  Jesus wasn't other people.

Just stick that big toe of yours in the water and believe.  He's not asking you to take a high dive and dive in head first.  Just take the first step and believe, leaving your unanswered questions to be answered later.   

Believe.  

Christmas didn't start out as it is now - fist fights over TV's, 24 hours shopping sprees, cooking and baking galore.

Christmas - the real celebration, the real Christmas -  started when a baby was born, sent by His Father. 
                                 
To a world that would one day kill him. 

 He knew when He left His throne what he would be facing.

He came anyway.





For you.






Because you're worth it.





For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.  
John 3:16-17 
Amplified Bible

Peace,
Ronda



Friday, November 23, 2012

TJOLC Part 2

In all the times that we have moved there always came a time when I was ready to go.  When we moved into a new home I would unpack the boxes as fast as I could to make our house look like "our" house quickly.  When our children were small and we were moving a lot, it seemed to settle their anxiety if their spaces were set up as soon as possible.

On the day the moving truck would unload our belongings, we would get the beds set up first and unpack as many lightweight boxes as we could, break down the boxes, and then move onto the next one.  After everyone was in bed, I would unpack the kitchen and get that set up.  By morning, when the kids were up "normal" was, for the most part, in place.  I always forced myself to get it all unpacked, put away, pictures on the wall within a week.

I did this not only for the kids security, but also my own.  I knew we were only going to be in our home for a short amount of time and I didn't want to live out of boxes.  I needed order as much as the little people.

I would try to limit the amount of talking we had about the next move coming up until about 2-3 months before we had to move.  It was important for me to just live in the moment we were in at that time and have our routines, without thinking about the next time we would have to pack it all up and start over again.

Usually, when we were 2-3 months out from the next move then I started feeling ready to get going.  I started looking at our routines in "Lasts."  The last time we'll go to the mall.  The last time we'll go to our church.  The last time we'll use this grocery store.  The last time I'll buy frozen food or meat in big amounts.  The last time we'll go visit a favorite spot in the area.  By the time the "last" thing was done and we were working on our moving list, I was ready to go.

Up until 2005 I wasn't going to move again.  Ever.  Never.  Ever.

Then I started hearing this still small voice in the most random places saying, "Go back."  I would wonder, I would pray, I would ask God, "Go back where?  To what?"  I'd never get an answer, but I would keep hearing, at very random times, "Go back."

For two years this went on and in 2007, when my dad and aunt auctioned off my grandparent's household items, I was sitting with another aunt at the auction,  when I heard "Go Back"  while talking to her and I knew, we were to "Go Back" to our starting spot. Home.

My Never was becoming a Maybe.  And my stubbornness to never move again was becoming, "oh, okay, one more time."

We attempted to purchase my grandmother's house and renovate it but it never worked out, leaving me puzzled about the whole "Go Back" thing I'd been hearing for two years.

Soon I was settled back into my routine, going to nursing school, graduating kids from college and planning weddings.  The idea of  "going back" now was becoming silly in my mind.

But then that changed.  Again.  My Never became Soon and plans started taking place, doors started opening and things are in motion for change to come.

So then I had what I like to call a God moment.  One of those times when confirmation comes not in a written sign but in a sign that can't be from anyone or anything else but Him who holds our life and purpose in His hands.

In our new house, the one waiting for us, there is not a closet by the front door for coats.  Not a big deal or a deal breaker, but I had been thinking about what we could do about that.

I went on Pinterest the other night, the first night in months and now I know why, it's not a "just for a few minutes" surf on that site... but I regress.  I found this little item there and thought it would be a perfect and cute solution to my front door coat dilemma.
 Turn an old door into a coat rack. 

Adorable, right?!  Just an old door with a shelf built onto the top and bottom and some hooks for hanging coats.  LOVE it!

The next day, my daughter and I went to one of my favorite towns here to antique shop.  I was not going to buy anything, because I am purging, I was just tagging along with my daughter.  (Yeah, right!)  I was looking for old doors though for my husband to make me the above item.  We found a few, so I was happy about that and was thinking of when I could bring him back to look at them.

Well, you probably know where this is going, but another little piece of the story is this:  My daughter's friend told her to go to a certain store on the square that I hadn't heard of before.  I hadn't shopped in this town for months and the last time I had shopped there it wasn't there, but this little town square has been working hard to revamp their business and voila! this new store was there.

So we went in and were browsing when in the back of the store, I mean BACK, by the cash register was this:


Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, I put it on layaway!

Another thing I bought, that I wasn't looking for but felt it was handpicked for me, was a 1943 copy of Streams in the Desert.  I have been very touched through the years by that devotional and have given my copy away several times.  The Bible speaks in specific ways to our souls at just the right time, and often, God would use this devotional to confirm what He had spoken in His word to me.  

After that excitement of the door and the devotional we made our way to the store that we had intended to go to all along.  As we were walking, I said to my daughter, the only difference about that door I put on layaway is that it didn't have the glass doorknob that the one on Pinterest had.  She told me we could probably find one somewhere and I agreed.  

As we are wandering around in the last store she sees this.


I believe in Godincidences, not coincidence.  He is a God that LOVES to bless His children with good things.  He loves to show His workings in our lives, we just need to open our eyes and look for them.  They are all around you.  Ask Him to show you His sweet kindness to you.  No one but me knew about that doorway idea.  No one!  He sees into my heart and lavishes me with details that only He knows will touch me.  I know He has the same planned for you!

That readiness is in my heart now.  Firm, like concrete.  He's got us on a path that only He could guide.  I'm looking at my lasts, some of them make me cry, some make me laugh, some make me just simply sigh.  The path is clear, the way is before us, and the doors are opening.  

This is what that day's message was in the Streams devotional I bought:

November 21
"Roll on Jehovah thy way."  (Psalm 37:5, margin)

"Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of.  When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters.  Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on God. - R. Leighton.

Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
-Mary Butts

"We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves.  It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that "our way" is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it.  This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act.  However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands.  Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them?  There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views.  He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them.  Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful?  Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord.  They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again."






Tuesday, November 20, 2012

If I Could Do It All Over Again

I'd do it all over again.

If it meant that the mistakes, the sins, the disappointments, the rejections, the pain, the sorrow, the suffering, the joys, the heartbreak, the good times, the fun times, the painful times, the overwhelming times of sorrow times, all had to be done over again to be who I am today, to know what I know today....

Yes, I'd do it all over again.

If one event of my life, one mistake, one sin, one disappointment were to be taken out of my life's story, I would not be the same person.

You see, it hasn't been the good times, the good things, the good people, the good days that have made me who I am, it's been the hard times, the hard things, the bad people, the bad days that God has used to mold me and shape me into the person He created me to be.

Don't get me wrong, I am very thankful for the good things.  My parents, my spouse, my children, my extended family, my friends, my home and all the material blessings that I've been lavished with.

BUT.....

If my life had just been made up of those things, those good things, those "you have so much to be thankful I can see it on the outside things", yes I am grateful.  Sooooo many in this world have it soooo much worse materially than I do.

BUT...

If God came to me in the flesh and said, "Okay, Ronda.  Out of all the painful events that I've allowed to come into your life, if you could take one out and it would be as if it would have never happened, which do you want gone?"

Which would you take out of your life's story?  I can think right off the top of my head a few biggies that I wish not only that could be a do-over but that they had never happened in the first place.

BUT...

If just one of them were gone I would not have met some pretty awesome people because I would have had no need for them.  I would have missed some deep and abiding friendships.

BUT....

mostly I would have missed meeting God.  I would have missed the opportunity to lean on Him, to call on Him in my trouble, to come to Him when I was weary and heavy burdened.

I would have missed Him.

And I would have had no reason for Him.

When I look at my life from a day in 1966 to this present day, November 20, 2012, there is no day that I can pick from those years that I would do over.

Those were good years those tough years, those tough moments, those heartbreaking days.  They were good because God is good.  God was in those days. God was calling me to Him through those days.  God's voice was in the voice of those people he brought in my path, that I would have never met had the circumstances been changed or altogether gone.

I am thankful for those days and those to come.  Some days in life will be hard.  Jesus promised us that one.

Put that promise on your refrigerator.

 In this world you WILL have trouble.

He didn't say we might, or we won't if we go to church, give to the church, help the poor.

 He didn't say if you memorize my Word you will skate around trouble.

He said, "In this world you WILL have trouble."  In this world you will have thlipsis - to crush, press, compress, squeeze, tribulation, affliction.  Thlipsis conveys the picture of something being crushed, pressed, or squeezed as from a great weight.    


An ancient olive press in Israel.  Photo courtesy of Rhonda Piper Photography.

Trouble, in English, means to

agitate mentally or spiritually

to mistreat

oppress

to produce physical disorder in

afflict

 to put to exertion or inconvenience

to put into confused motion 

to become mentally agitated

Trouble came to Him and what did He do?  He gave thanks to God.  He kept talking to God.  He kept listening to God.  He kept on, even when He asked for this trouble to be taken away, He let God be God and kept walking through it.  His human mind looked for escape.  He wanted so badly for the pain and the misery to end.  Remember, if there were any other way for this cup to pass.....

He begged just like we beg for our momentary troubles to go away.

He pleaded just like we plead for the pain and sorrow to end.

But in the end, He submitted to the story of His walk with God.  It's probably not what his human mind would have chosen to save the world.  But His divine mind knew it was necessary.  His divine mind gave him what he needed to make it through living a sacrificial and troubling pain-filled life.

His divine mind lives in His children.  He's in us, cheering us on, giving us what we need just when we need it to keep on keeping on.

He knows each day of your life matters for some important purpose.  He knows each person in your life, whether they are there for good times or bad times, they are there for you.

He wants to walk this walk with you.  The entire walk.  Not just the walk that has you going in the church doors on a Sunday morning.  He wants to walk with you when you're going through the hard Wednesdays and the terrible Thursdays.  When you are getting squeezed till you can hardly breathe, when you are being crushed by your great burdens.  He is there for You.  Like no other human he allows in your life.  He is there for you.

Those people you depend on, they have a purpose but it's not for complete dependency.  HE is.

He's the ONLY one who knows exactly what this world's trouble is like for you.  The ONLY ONE.

He's not surprised by anything you're going through.

He made the promise that you would go through trouble.

Guaranteed us trouble.

But then, He said, "Take heart!  I have overcome the world."

When you're giving thanks this week (and I hope it's not just this week you're giving thanks, but every week, every day) give Him thanks for the things you wish had never happened.  Give Him thanks for the things you wish you could do over.  Give Him thanks for the pain.  Give Him thanks for the sorrow.

He promised you would get it.

Rejoice that He has overcome it!

May you have a thank-filled Thanksgiving Day and everyday.

Peace,
Ronda

Taking Courage  Belief's Bully

Just Write

When Thanksgiving and the Holidays Just Seem Hard



Friday, November 16, 2012

Conduct Unbecoming

Then God said, "let us make man in our image, in our likeness...."  Genesis 1:26

Image:  English - a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing
            Hebrew - Selem - image or likeness, resemblance, idol.  Selem does not signify an exact duplicate, but only the shadow of a thing, representing the original in an imprecise manner and lacking the essential characteristics of the original.

Likeness: - English - resemblance, the quality or state of being like
                Hebrew - Demut - to compare.  Likeness, resemblance; image, model, pattern, or shape.

Hubby tells me about Naval officers, in positions of responsibility and authority that he once held, who have been fired for "conduct unbecoming an officer."  There are multiple activities that have caused these once trusted officers of our military to be judged with unbecoming conduct.

I've always thought that it was interesting, in all our years as an active duty Navy family, that a community, the military, has such standards, a code of conduct if you will, that can and will judge your behavior as unbecoming or becoming.  A service member's entire career can be made or broken based on his conduct, becoming or otherwise.

Then it ruminates around in my brain, this word, unbecoming and I wonder, what if all of life had such a plumb line?  Conduct unbecoming a mother.  Conduct unbecoming a father.  Conduct unbecoming a restaurant cook, a bus driver, a teacher, a nurse and here's the big one...drum roll....gasp...conduct unbecoming a Christian.  Ssshhhh don't say that too loudly.

A follower of Jesus was not called Christian as an esteemed title.  In fact, it wasn't used until after Jesus had died and ascended into heaven that the followers of Jesus were given the title in ridicule, not honor.  Not much has changed in the last two thousand plus years.  Depending on the day or the hour or the moment even, I call myself a Christian in two ways:  out of pride, or out of embarrassment.

When I look back on how badly I represent my Savior, I can understand why unbelievers say the word with such scorn in their voices.  I have done my part to give Christ a bad name.  I have stood with the multitude behaving in a way, many times, in an unbecoming manner for what a Christ follower should look like.

What exactly does a Christ follower look like?  What is it that we expect a Christian do and say and proclaim?  How do you expect a Christ follower to act, to conduct themselves?

Exactly like Jesus did?  The last time I checked, Jesus was the only one who lived perfectly.  Jesus has been the only one who died, and rose again.  For me.  No one else in my life EVER said, "Ronda, I'm going to die for you so that you can have peace.  So that you can have freedom from the sin that constantly is trying to trap you and entangle you."

Nope.  That person hasn't shown up yet.  So far, Jesus has been the only one who did everything I needed to be done to be declared holy in his sight.

But me and millions of others who call ourselves by His name, don't look so holy in the world's eyes.  The hurting world's eyes.

Nope.

For children of God created by God in His image and likeness, sometimes, okay, most times, we don't do a very good job reflecting the image.  Maybe it's because we aren't expected to be an exact replica.  We can't be an exact replica.  If we could, we'd have no need for Him.  We'd have no need for the One who created us in his selem, his demut.

I know in my mind, many, many times I have thought, "well that wasn't very 'Christian of you/me/them,'" with the tones of disgust making it's way through somewhat clenched teeth.

Well duh!  If I'm expecting a Christian to be Christ I will be disappointed because Christians are not Christ!  Christians are just people, hurting people, messed up people, disappointed people, abused people, neglected people, who don't look like Christ, but are simply drawn to Christ.  They're only the shadow of Christ.

Those of us who get it, who get the gospel, who know, believe, trust and understand that there is NOTHING, no-thing, no conduct that will save me and free me from the consequences of my sinful condition except Jesus Christ alone, still, over and over - I know I'm not the only one who does this - holds myself and other Christians to an unattainable code of conduct.  I hold myself and others to one, one that I made, not God.  

I heard a radio preacher once say, I'm paraphrasing here, ' Christ coming to earth, leaving the glories of his heavenly home and coming down and putting on the flesh of a human being would be like human beings becoming a slug.'

A slug?  Really?  A slug is a pest in a garden.  A slug is a snail without a shell.  A slug is slimy and when it's in a dry place it finds a wet place in which to hide - under rocks, under fallen trees, under planters.

A slug is made in the selem of a Holy God?  Somehow, someway, we slugs resemble Christ?

Selem  "does not signify an exact duplicate, but only the shadow of a thing, representing the original in an imprecise manner and lacking the essential characteristics of the original."

Boy, we slugs sure think we have it all figured out, don't we?  We think we know what sins are the big ones, the bad ones, the unforgivable ones.  We slugs like to point our fingers at the ones who disagree with us and sin against us and commit sins we find appalling.  We slugs like to think our mucus isn't all that gross.

Somehow, someway, from time to time, the hurting world sees Christ in us slugs.

Talk about a miracle.

Somehow, someway, from time to time, we Christ followers say the right thing, do the right thing, reflect the original in an imprecise manner, even missing some of the essential characteristics of the original, but still the hurting can see Christ in us.

If we're proud to be a Christ follower, we probably shouldn't be.  Christ wasn't proud.  Christ lived in the slug suit.  He felt the humility of being a slug.  He lived the limited life of being a slug.  He left behind his throne, his heavenly, glorious home, He left His dad, the creator of the world to come and live... like a slug.

If we're throwing our bibles at the hurting and calling them sinners instead of reaching out to them like a Selem of God, following the example He showed us, then maybe we need to step back and look at the original.

Out of, and in, his slug suit.

Even in his slug suit he spoke truth in love.  He never spoke truth without love.  He had all the essential characteristics of being God while he was living like a slug.

We slugs are good at speaking the truth, without a lot, if any sometimes, Love.

We slugs are good at serving but really like being served more.

We slugs like to point fingers at the sins of others but never take the time to let God search our heart to reveal the hidden sins in us.

Ugh. Slugs.  

Look at the detail of the Original.  Find His characteristics.  Study His voice.  Listen to how He spoke to the lost and hurting.

A shadow never walks by itself.  A shadow is only present in the presence of the sun.  We might not be able to see details in the shadow, but just because we can't see them doesn't mean they are not there.

A shadow means the Son is there.

Hurting world, you without Christ, forgive us for being such a poor reflection...In the shadow that we are lies details and wonder far beyond your hopes and dreams.  Look beyond our poor and limited reflective abilities and see Him.

He, not us, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.   For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

He's the One who loves you.  Perfectly.

He's the One who never says the wrong things to you at the wrong time.

He's the One who knows your hurting heart.

He's the One who died.  For you.

He's the One who rose.  For you.

He's the One who we slugs try and succeed horribly to reflect.

He's the One.

For you.


Peace,
Ronda




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Journey of Leaving Comfortable

We are getting ready to make some big changes.  I can hardly believe sometimes that we are doing what we're about to do.  God is simply  - amazing.  There's no other way to put it.

After digging my heels in for years and saying, "never", God has lifted those same heels out, put a song of joy and eagerness and willingness and joy and readiness in my heart and mind.  The "never" has become "soon".

Soon we will be packing up a home that our family has lived in for 14 years and moving to a new home, 700 miles away.

Moving is not unfamiliar to us, but we are VERY out of practice.  Back in the day when we were moving every 1-2 years, with a jaunt of seven months in one place and another of four months in another, we traveled light.  I did regular purges - purges of toys, clothes, and any other miscellaneous items that went unused for that tour.

When we moved into the house we now live in and  found ourselves staying longer than we expected I began accumulating stuff.  Stuff for Christmas, stuff for winter, stuff for when company comes.  Stuff, stuff, stuff.  Then, about five years ago when my grandparents home and belongings were auctioned off I made room for some more stuff, I mean Treasures.

It helped that by then the kids were beginning to leave for college and then living on their own.  Then their rooms, especially my son's, whose room was the bigger one, became a holding area for my Stuff.

I put a bedroom set of my grandmothers in his room and soon that room began to resemble the room that bedroom set sat in at Grandma's.  Her stuff room.

Now I'm purging.  We are downsizing our house, so much must go.  I've walked through the rooms with both of my girls asking them what pieces or decorative items they would like, so then my stuff will become less and their stuff will become more.

The pieces that once were for "just the right spot here" are now being looked at this way:

1.  Where will I put it in the new house?
2.  Do I still like it?

So, here I go.  Walking through memories.  Putting some in boxes to store for who knows how long, some in boxes to give away, and some memories will just float in and out of my heart.

A seventh, fifth, and fourth grader walked in these doors and left a sports reporter, a nurse, and a teacher.

Hubby and I walked in as a fairly young married couple and now have already surpassed the 25 year mark and are looking at 28 years.

Lots of growth times five.  Lots of tears, times five.  Lots of laughter, times five.  Lots of fights, times five.

Lots of friends coming and going through our doors.  Lots of games played around the dining room table.

Lots of memories.

My heels were entrenched in the sands of comfortable.  Now they are pulled out, ready to follow where He leads us next.

Just Write


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Living in after rather than before

I'm not going to lie.  My vote did not bring the result I had hoped it would bring.  My prayers did not get answered the way I had hoped they would.  My simple, if-you-can-prayers seem to have fallen on deaf ears. That's what my hopeless heart says to me.  The one BC - before Christ came to live in it - that heart.  The heart that can feel hopelessness and fear.  The same heart that can feel anger, jealousy, rage, pride and arrogance.  The same heart that tells me to depend on what the TV news says, what the polls said or didn't say.

 The same heart that got me into needing my AC - after Christ - heart.

The same heart that wants to depend on a living, breathing, I can see his or her image, I can see his or her chest move up and down with each breath it takes.  That heart.  That heart that is so easily disheartened, discouraged, disbelieving, bullied, fearful, and angry.

But my AC heart, the one that Christ lives in...  Jesus Christ, have you met Him?  The heart of mine that He lives in is at peace.  That heart is rested.  That heart is trusting.  That heart is leaning on the One that's living in it.  That heart is being drawn constantly to leaning on him more and more.  That heart is the heart Jesus is living in.  That heart is where Jesus is.  That's the place I want to be 24/7.

My BC heart is the bully heart.

But my AC heart is beating stronger.  My AC heart is throwing truth at the BC heart.

My AC heart knows the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE is in control.

My AC heart cannot be fooled into what man or woman can fool me with.

My AC heart can recognize TRUTH.

My AC heart can recognize lies.

My AC heart, remember, I told you about that heart, Jesus lives there.  Have you met Him?  Have you somehow lost track of Him?  Did your BC heart bully you into believing that He is nowhere to be found?  Did your BC heart convince you that your sin was too great for Jesus to break through?  Did your BC heart convince you that there is no way that Jesus could ever live in a heart like yours?

The heart knows.  The heart knows who is at its head.  The BC heart knows this too.

Christ is in you!  Christ is in me!  That's all we need to know.

That heart, the one where Christ lives, remember Him?  That heart is pumping rich, pure oxygen into your veins.  That heart is fearless.  That heart is courageous.  That heart has guts.  That heart has peace.  That heart knows who is running the show.

It's Jesus!  Have you met Him?

Let me introduce you.

Peace,
Ronda
November 7, 2012



Friday, September 28, 2012

Which Comes First, Better or Worse?

The hubby is dealing with some major sciatica pain. He spent 4 days in the hospital this week trying to find the root cause for the pain. We were told that there is some scar tissue in the area where he had back surgery four years ago and that could be impinging on the sciatic nerve.

Our life has taken a detour from where we were headed just a week ago. Now our day consists of rearranging his home space. Each transition to a different part of the room consists of moving heating pads, extension cords, his laptop, tv remotes, phones, pillows, pads and waiting for the pain to subside after each transition. He is feeling frustrated that the simple task of walking is so difficult right now. And of all things, Lord help us, I'm doing the cooking! We all know how much I like that!

This is the time of marriage that the part of the wedding vows "for better or worse" encompasses. Brides and grooms across the world say them everyday, saying them but not ever realizing what "worse" will mean in their marriage.

Better: in a more excellent manner
to greater advantage
to a higher or greater degree

Worse: of more inferior quality, value, or condition
more unfavorable, difficult, unpleasant, or painful
more faulty, unsuitable, or incorrect

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I, _______, take you,______ for times more excellent, greater, and higher. I take you for times more inferior, more unfavorable, difficult, unpleasant, or painful, for times more faulty, unsuitable, or incorrect.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I don't think any of us married longer than our honeymoon would admit that when we took our vows we had any idea of what "worse" could mean. I think it's safe to say that most of us girls took the vows with love in our eyes singing that old song, "love will keep us together."

If we could time travel and I could visit myself the day before my wedding and say to Ronda the bride, "you are going to have moments that are tough. You are going to have days that are tough. You are going to have weeks, months, and yes, even years, that are harder than you could possibly know," I'm sure the bride in me would have looked at the 27 years married woman and laugh and laugh and laugh, never really believing how much for better for worse will test me, grow me, weaken me, knock me down and pull me back up.

No young bride and groom can comprehend the toll it takes on a marriage taking care of a sick child, losing a job, moving away from family, the death of a child, the innumerable transitions and challenges that will force its way into a marriage. It's probably good that we couldn't comprehend it in the beginning, because who would ever get married if they could see all the ways that their marriage will be tested?

Is there any way to prepare for it? Probably not. For one can't predict what the future holds. Marriage is a lot like parenting, ever growing, maturing and adapting to the new needs and challenges that constantly surface. One trial is built on another, giving strength to face the challenges to come.

As I get older and have walked through some great challenges with my husband, I can say that each one we've had, in the end, did make us stronger, closer, and more committed. There are a few that I wish we could have avoided along the way, but if we had we may not have learned what we learned by going through it.

Better isn't always better. Sometimes the worse is really the better. Both are temporary and change almost as quickly as the sun rises and sets, but I believe the worse is what makes us better.

When the worse hits, it makes us better equipped for the next worse. We aren't promised life on earth to be better. The better is still to come.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christmas in September

I've been somewhat overwhelmed, no, more like distracted this week. We've had several distractors going on all at once and a trip to Wal-Mart on Saturday was evidence that I was a little, yes, overwhelmed.

I was near the garden department and saw that the Christmas trees were already set up, lights aglow. Now normally I would have said, "I can't believe they have Christmas decorations out already and it's only September!" I remember when I was a kid and we saw no hint of Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. No commercials, no decorations in the store, nothing! Each year it seems that the sale of Christmas begins earlier and earlier.

But Saturday, I don't know, I just stopped for a minute and looked at the trees and thought, thank God I see a Christmas tree! I was so glad for the reminder that Jesus is coming, the celebration of his birth is coming, the reminder that Emmanuel is with me, even at Walmart! I immediately felt so much calmer realizing that the King was close by. The Christmas tree display was the reminder I needed to get focused on Who had my back.

Let me go back and add a sidenote to this story. Friday I was in Walmart (I was there 3 times this weekend!) and when I went to pay for my items, I couldn't for the life of me remember my PIN. The cashier let me try it a couple times and when it wouldn't come to me, I finally had him run it as credit. I was so...so...without my PIN number on the tip of my brain, my tongue, my mind!!! It was nowhere to be found!

Now back to yesterday. I got my groceries and other items and put my purchases on the belt. The cashier began ringing them up and bagging them. I was putting the bags in the cart as she checked them and when it came time to run my debit card through and put in my pin, I was sure I had it right this time, it wouldn't go. She tried one more time, then I had her try it as credit and it wouldn't go. (I'm guessing WalMart's computer brain was better than mine at the moment and recognized this card had the same problem the day before and wouldn't let me put a single cent through either debit or credit! So there I stood, my basket full of bagged items, ice-cream melting and all and no way to pay for them!

Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone I knew coming up to me and I told her what was going on. I told her of the problem with my PIN number the day before and asked her if she would be willing to pay for my bill. Without hesitating she pulled out her card, ran it through, AUTHORIZATION APPROVED!

She was heaven-sent. She was an early Christmas present.






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Lavish Lifestyles of God's Rich and Not So Famous

Do you ever think about the word lavish? It's ok if you immediately thought to yourself, "No! Who thinks of lavish?" Well, I do, or should I say, it's a word that has rattled around in my head since I first came across it in the Bible. It seemed an odd word to be used in the Bible.

I used to think of the word "lavish" in relation to extreme wealth. A television show that was on when I was a teenager was "The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and it was known for showing the lavish homes, cars, and vacations the rich and famous could afford. Materialistic wealth is one thing, spiritual wealth is in fact entirely different and that's what I find so peculiar about this word lavish being used in the Bible of all places.

As I am often compelled to do, I had to look the word up. So bear with me here for a minute, if this bores you, scroll down, I promise I'm going to make a point.

First, the English definition of Lavish according to Merriam-Webster 2012.

lavish - Adjective
1. expending or bestowing profusely
2a: expended or produced in abundance
b: marked by profusion or excess

Origin: Middle English laves, lavage, probably from Middle French lavasse, lavache downpour of rain, from laver to wash.

First use: 15th century

Synonyms: amply, bounteously, bountifully, freehandedly, freeheartedly, generously, liberally, openhandedly, unstintingly (not restricting or holding back

Antonyms: stingily, ungenerously, penny-pinching, frugality

lavish - transitive verb

to expend or bestow with profusion*
First use: 1542
Synonyms: heap, rain, pour, shower
Antonyms: conserve

There are only six places in the NIV (New International Version) Bible where the word lavished is used. Four places in the Old Testament and two places in the New Testament. Interestingly, one English word is translated for SIX different Hebrew and Greek words, but I'm curious about only one for now.

Ephesians 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Lavished here is translated from the Greek word perisseuo - to have abundance, more than enough, overflow

God's grace is LAVISHED on us. It is (down)poured on us, heaped on us, it is abundant, plentiful, bounteous, liberally given to us. There is no sin too big for God to hold back his love from us. We are His. When He lavishes something on someone He loves he's not just giving you one thing, forgiveness of sins or the riches of his grace, he lavishes ALL wisdom and understanding along with it.

His Grace is really too big for words to describe, for songs to be sung about, for hearts to reflect on. His love for us is abundant. He is not a penny-pincher when it comes to sharing. He is not frugal nor is he stingy. He is generous, He is liberal in his sharing. He pours on us, like a downpour of rain...

his love

and mercy

and freedom

and grace

and hope

and wisdom

and understanding

and love

and joy

and contentment

and forgiveness

and restoration

He pours it all down on His child. He will never run out of His love for you. He never runs low on His patience for you when you just don't seem to get it, when you get caught in the same vicious cycle you've been trying to free yourself from. He can free you!

You are His child. He is the One who gives all, and gives abundantly. Even in the rough stuff, the dark places, you are being drenched with his blessings. Even when you don't feel it or see it or have forgotten it, He is still pouring it on. That's what's getting you through the day. That's what is putting one foot in front of the other when you don't think you can go through one more bad thing.

His abundance is being poured on you when you're tired, when you're weak, when you're thirsty, when you don't know how the bills are going to be paid, or what the medical tests will find, or you wonder, "will my child EVER be normal?!"

Know this:

Lavishly...you are loved.

Lavishly...you are forgiven.

Lavishly....you are free from sin.



Lavishly...You are His.





*I had to look up a couple words from the definition (I'm a word freak, I know!)

expend: to make use of for a specific purpose

bestow: to put to use, to put in a particular or appropriate place, to convey as a gift usually used with on or upon

perfusion: to pour over



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Putting Our Stinkin' Thinkin' In Jail

2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."


Let's break this down and look at some definitions.

Demolish - to tear down, to break to pieces, smash, to do away with, destroy

Captive - taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war, kept within bounds

Every - being each individual or part of a group without exception

Thought - an individual act or product of thinking, concept of the mind

Obedient - submissive to the restraint or command of authority; willing to obey

When we get to know God by reading His word and we start trusting Him to show us the way to go in our lives, we can start to hear Him in our day to day lives and decision making. Sometimes when we ask Him for guidance on a decision, we "hear" Him by a peace that comes over us and we know which way to take. Other times we can read a passage in the Bible and it "speaks" as if it were for the very issue you were worried about. Still others can hear a small voice like Elijah when he heard a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-13). How God speaks to us is up to God, but knowing what we're hearing is truly from God can only be validated by knowing His Word.

It is wise when facing decisions to pray first. Pray for God's will to be done, for His guidance, and also, I think, it's ok to pray for peace when the decision is made.

But there are things that can get in the way of "hearing" God's voice in our lives, and prevent us from understanding His will and His ways. That's where the above verse comes in handy.

Paul paints a vivid picture of almost a battlefield in getting to know God and His ways. We have to demolish - get rid of, smash, destroy - everything that goes against God's knowledge. How do we get to know the knowledge of God? By studying His Word!

We need to know WHO we are in God's eyes. We need to know WHAT our purpose is. We need to know HOW to be Who God says we are. How do we know WHO, WHAT, and HOW? By reading HIS WORD! For a place to start in finding these things out - read the book of Ephesians in the New Testament. If you are new to the Bible it's almost to the end of the book.

When you read these words, believe that they are for YOU! They are ancient words but for modern times. Nothing has changed about their meaning. They are for you and me to chew on, breathe in, absorb, and believe.

But what do we do with the things that we find in our thoughts that don't line up with the words of Christ and the knowledge of God? Paul tells us in this passage above: "Take captive every thought and made it obedient to Christ." In other words, capture that thought - if you have an imagination, think of it this way - you are a rodeo cowboy or cowgirl and you take your lassoed rope and catch the calf with it and bring it in. Or, think of it as a police officer putting handcuffs on a criminal. Whatever picture works for you, place that thought under arrest and ask it - "Does Jesus believe this about me? Where in His word would he ever say this about me?"

If you find that your thought is either something Jesus wouldn't say about you then proceed to make that thought a Jesus thought. Instead of calling yourself worthless or dumb or not good or bad or any other lie that you hear in your head and/or heart, take a verse from Ephesians and put your name in it.

For example: Ephesians 3:16-18 would say something like this - *(in these you could put me or your name, whatever speaks most to you)*.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you(me)with power through his Spirit in your(my) inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your(my) hearts through faith. And I pray that you(I), being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you(I) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

When you are doing this you are taking captive your thoughts and lining them up with what Christ says about you. You are precious in His sight! It's time to believe that. If you've got sin that keeps getting in the way of owning this, then get the sin out! Repent, confess, receive the forgiveness that Jesus bought for you.

But above all else, bask in the love that the Creator of the Universe has for you. He who made thousands of species and has put trillions of cells in the human body Loves you!

You!

You messed up, sinning, doubting, fearful you.

He loves you and has cleared the way to make you new.

Just believe.

Peace,
Ronda

Saturday, August 18, 2012

School year resolutions

Although my children are all grown and living on their own, the start of a new school year brings back many memories of the days when a new year brought with it new pencils, new boxes of crayons, new folders, new notebooks, new backpacks, new everything!

What a great way to push a restart button. Sort of like a New Year's resolution in August! How many of us didn't say to ourselves when we were starting a new school year: "this is going to be MY year! I'm going to study everyday, I'm going to get straight A's, this is going to be a great year!" Such great expectations!

As a Navy family, our children moved several times and went to several schools in the elementary years. I think my oldest child, my son, went to 5 or 6 schools by seventh grade. It was par for the course in our life.

When our children were in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade my husband got orders that caused us to move in the middle of the school year. We had been at the current duty station in California for over two years (a long time for us!) and leaving behind our neighborhood and friends was difficult to do. But we made the 3000 mile journey to Florida in nine days and began to plant our roots quickly.

We enrolled our children in a large school system (2000 kids in one elementary school alone) that ran on a 5 track school year schedule. This means that at any given time, there were five different school years going on at once. The tracks were labeled by colors and each track was in a year round school year. Our children were placed on the Green track and the day that we registered them, school was in high gear. We were given a tour of the two story elementary school and there were children everywhere! Overwhelmed would be putting it lightly, we were terrified for our children!

The morning of the first day of school, our oldest daughter, Hannah, who would be in the 3rd grade, was very anxious. We were staying in the Navy Lodge while we waited to move into our rental and so we were all in the hotel room as Hannah began crying and saying she didn't want to go. She begged us to please let her stay with us one more day. "Please, please, please, let me stay," she begged.

In hindsight maybe we should have let her stay back one more day, but at the time we felt that it was important for her to go, scared and all. It wouldn't get any easier by delaying the inevitable.

So we all got in the car and made the drive to school. When we pulled up to the front of the school, our daughter again begged us not to make her go, "please, just one more day." But we insisted she go and we walked her and her younger sister in.

The children were all lined up outside their classrooms, sitting on the floor, talking to their friends. It was noisy and the hallway seemed to go on forever, with all of these children sitting with their backs against the wall.

We walked our youngest, Sarah, to her classroom and then it was Hannah's turn. We hugged her and reassured her that she would be ok, that she just had to make it through the first day and things would be better. And then we left. When my husband and I got out to the car and sat inside we both started crying.

How hard it is to let our children go into the world and make their way! No matter what our children face in life, we are not always going to be there to face it with them. It's so important to give them the right tools for them to use.

The first few weeks at her new school were hard for Hannah. She didn't sleep well the first few nights and by the third or fourth night when she still wasn't sleeping, we sat down and looked at what her weekly schedule was going to be.

We started with Monday and she told me what activities there are on Monday and so on down the weekdays. When we finished with Friday, I said to her, "Ok Hannah, now you know what you can expect each day of the week. What is there to be afraid of?"

She looked at me and without missing a beat said, "The whole year!"

We laugh about that now, but at the time, she was very serious. I remember praying for her at the time that God would give her what she needed to make it through and to give me the wisdom to know how to help her.

It was a tough tour of duty for us. My husband had a hard job and each of the kids and myself were tested with very difficult circumstances that we couldn't have prepared for except to know that God was with us through each and every situation.

Nothing that we would face during that tour was a surprise to Him. Everything that was to happen had already been filtered through his loving hands. It's hard to remember that when we're in the fire, but it doesn't make it any less true. God knows what He's doing with our lives, in our lives, and through our lives.

When we are faced with difficulties, our children are watching how we handle them. I knew, as a Navy wife and Mom, that I was my children's only consistent human ally. I had to live confidently, even though I was shaking on the inside.

It is a difficult thing to watch your children suffer. Whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Yet, who better to understand watching your child suffer than God Himself? He watched His ONLY son be tortured, humiliated, and put to death and there was no child more innocent than His son, Jesus.

He knows what we parents go through when our children suffer. He knows. We just have to trust when we can't see that good is following ALL things that are thrown our way.

By the way, that little scared third grader now holds a BS in nursing and is a wonderful nurse!