Friday, July 31, 2009

The Wall of No's

I have some great news!! The A/C is back on! WooHoo!! However, I was given this heavenly breeze yesterday that made it bareable. That, my friends, was a blessing from God, INDEED!

This morning as I sat down in my very cool A/C, I decided to do my devotion. I had attempted this same devotion yesterday but just couldn't focus. The current devotion that I'm doing is incredible but sometimes it's over my head a little. Who says it's only blondes that are airheaded? LOL I'm here to prove that theory wrong. ...Okay, so I sit down, I pray and I try it again. The Lord just opened it up for me and I'm going to share that "opening up" with you :) Aren't you glad? LOL

"By the miracle of Redemption Saul of Tarsus was turned in one second from a strong-willed, intense Pharisee into a humble, devoted slave of the Lord Jesus" *

Well, for me it hasn't been a "one second conversion" at ALL. I'd say the belief has been a lifetime but the living it...well, the first thing I noticed being changed was my taste in music. Certain music made my skin crawl and I just couldn't listen to it anymore. So much for all those Pearl Jam tapes that I listened to at the time. That was over. Next came my mouth. He cleaned that up rather quickly, as far as curse words are concerned.

But my faith walk came in stages for the longest time. I accepted Jesus in my heart when I was around 14 but I didn't start trying to live for Him til I was in my early twenties. Then came a lull where I walked away. I didn't go to church, I was surrounded by people that believed but didn't LIVE it and there IS a difference.

Next, came The Weigh Down Workshop and WOW that totally sparked the spark again. I was in my late 20's at that time. I thought God had made a complete turn around and this lady was discribing someone completely new. This God was amazing and wasn't there with a pointed finger in your face and angry at you all the time. I grew closer to him with each passing day. He removed some things from my life that definitely needed to be removed, my love of food, another addiction that I needed to give up and I did. But then he asked me to give up cigarettes. Are you kidding me Lord?!?!

"But woe be to me if when I see HIM (meaning Jesus) I say---I will not. He will never insist that I do, but I have begun to sign the death warrant of the Son of God in my soul."*

And that's exactly what happened. I stopped the Weigh Down Workshop and stopped my nightly bible study. I picked everything I had lost back up again and lost Jesus in the process. I had said no, Jesus, I won't.

Fast forward several years, mid thirties, I believe, and I'm lead to a wonderful church. I fall in love with this church and the Lord let me know that this is where He wants me. I eventually fall in love with the people. The Lord brings new friendships to my life, a new love of church to my life and an actual ministry to my life (youth Sunday School). Everything is running smoothly, nothing stands out really until we hit the line on the timeline of a certain bible study that I took. I can't recall the name of the study but I remember it was about prayer. We were told to pick two people to pray for, people that we thought needed the Lord in their life. I picked them and then the next assignment was to send a card to those people telling them that they are being prayed for...Are you kidding me?!!? These people don't even LIKE me...I will not. And I didn't. It wasn't long after that a truck ran over my mailbox, just plowed it down. LOL I KNEW I had done it again, I had said no, Lord, I will not. I still believed, I still went to church but honestly, I didn't study His word like I should, I didn't pray like I should, I wasn't walking in His ways like I should. I was in a rut.

Fast forward a few years to now. We did the Jabez study as the last study before summer and boy did I LOVE that one. I decided to do what it said to pray that prayer for a month. It was amazing, my earlier blogs speak of that time. Everything was running so smoothly, my relationship with the Lord had been rekindled, I was flying HIGH and I was on the mountaintop again. I couldn't get enough of His word, I devoured it like I devour lasagna =0 and I could feel the Lord moving me, molding me, shaping me, making me truly His again. Well one night I got the thought to start going to prayer time on Tuesday mornings at church. The problem was, they started at 8am and I was normally getting up at that time on days I don't have to work. I didn't go...and things weren't terrible but I could feel a pulling away that I can't describe. I didn't know what it was but eventually it dawned on me. I had said it once again, Lord, I will not.

I will be at that prayer time next Tuesday morning, sleeping til 8 is just plain lazy anyway. I want to go where He sends me, I want to be His hands, be His feet and I don't want to ever say "No, I will not" to the Lord ever again. But above all, I don't want to lose Jesus again. There's a freedom and joy that you only experience when You are truly walking with Him that I don't want to not have. It's not the blessings that He rains over my life, it's HIM being IN my life, that I love. It's the fact that I can feel His pressence; that I know HE's in control if I will just do what He says! Ahhhh, the freedom of that, the fretlessness of knowing that He's in control!!

"It is a matter of indifference to God's grace how abominable I am if I come to the light; but woe be to me if I refuse the light."*

Oh Lord open our eyes to Your ways and Your will. Help us to see clearly the paths that You choose for us to take. Teach us to always say YES when You call. We ask that You give us the courage and the strength to stay always in Your sight, Your light and Your will. In Jesus Name we pray! Amen.


*Quotes from "My Utmost for His Highest"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Heat is On!

If there is one thing that stops me in my tracks, it's the heat. I live in the south, at the beach but I don't like the all! When it gets hot, I sweat....alot! I know you've heard that southern women don't sweat but I'm here to tell you...that's NOT true, this one does. It starts at my hairline and my hair is ruined for the entire day. It pours down my face in a way that is most embarrassing. I recall a time, at church, that it had happened to me and as I'm sitting in the sanctuary, someone that I considered being a close friend, started making fun of me and my bad hair. I looked and all the friends, that I considered closest to me, joined in the laughter. Wow, I was so hurt. Especially with the one who knew of the true way I felt concerning it. If I could have left I would have but I was sandwiched in and there was no retreat in site. Don't you hate it when you are being made fun of and you can't even leave?

I learned last week that there was alot of making fun of each other and calling each other names. All this at church. I was even a target...I didn't have to hear it but my son did. Unfortunately, for myself and my kids, I have alot to be made fun of, about me. It hurt me so bad that my son had to deal with something I've had to deal with all my life. What and how do you handle it when you are being made fun and your child has to deal with it? Talk about a heart breaker and a reason to be down on yourself. I did go there with the "guilt" thing but I didn't stay there. I explained to him that I was sorry but I can't help that, if I could I would...believe me! We discussed different stategies to handling it when it happened again. Because it will happen again. I'm sorry I'm talking in circles...but it's not something I like to talk about, it's rather embarrassing but something the Lord has given me to deal with.

One thing I've learned over my lifetime of being the butt of jokes is I don't make fun of others. I really try NOT to make fun of others and I don't laugh when someone else is being made fun of. Because when you laugh, you are giving the bully a huge high five and you are helping the person being turtured go lower and lower. You would think as adults we have fine tuned this area but I've noticed, some of us, haven't. We get it when it's us who are the victim but not always when others are the victim.

The Lord calls us to a higher standard than the world. He calls us to love our neighbor as ourself. There is not one of us who likes our weaknesses put on display. We need to watch our words constantly so that we are constantly aware of what we are saying and to whom. Would what I'm about to say hurt them? Embarrass them?

I realize I fail but I DO try. I never want to make someone feel as I have felt over the years. We all fall short of the Glory of God however, we should never stop trying, til our last breathe is drawn. Here's to lifting others up instead of tearing them down!!!

Today , at work, the A/C is off and I'm currently melting as I sit here typing. I have a pencil in my hair holding it up and I'm wishing I had my visor so nobody could see the damage being done to my hair. Please, if you happen to come by...don't make fun of my hair OR my other issues. The heat in me can't take it ; )

May the Lord make the words of your mouth pleasing in His site and may He restore all broken A/Cs asap. Praise the Lord for A/C!!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For Women Only.

So far 2009 has not been the best for my health.....or has it?

In January of 2009 I ended up at a doctor's office with chest pain. Turns out it was an ulcer. That night I was in the ER because the pain was so great I couldn't deal anymore. They, too, said it was an ulcer. Two EKGs in one day confirmed it wasn't my heart. As the month wore on, it got better and better. I weaned myself off the meds like the Doc. said to. I was left, however, with this burning pain in the center of my chest everytime I did something the slightest bit strenuous. I didn't tell anyone for quite awhile but it happened when I walked fast, just to the mailbox and it just got worse over time...

I also deal with an issue that most women have no issue with but for me it's rather irritating, neverending sometimes, or never coming at others. It seemed to have straightened itself out in 2009, it was rather normal but incredibly heavy. Move forward to July....I had a terrible experience with it this month. As a matter of fact it sent me to the ER because of the pain. I'm not kidding the pain was horrific. I was writhing in pain and actually drove myself to the ER at 3:30 in the morning, my husband wasn't very happy but ...I had my reasons. Once I got to the ER and explained, through the pain and believe me it was intolerable, my symtoms they took me back to the who I believe must be the meanist nurse in exsistance. She was so rude to me. She informed me that I should be telling my Gynecologist about this and not them. Wow, it's sorta hard to reach him at 3:30 am...Anyway, she could tell she had mad me angry, I'm sure by my facial expression but I was as nice as I could be under those painful and rude situations. The ER doc came in, gave me some pain killers and sent me on my way...

Well, this incident really scared me, not the ER but the experience with the pain. It scared me enough that I actually made an appointment, with the Gynecologist, that was nine years overdue. Once seeing him, I explained the chest pain and he sent me on to a general practitioner for that.

Turns out the chest pain is still the ulcer!!! YAY! My heart is fine. YAY!

What I went to the ER for this month however left me severely anemic. He said that if it hadn't stopped when it did I would have been back there for a blood transfusion. He said if "it" comes back anytime soon to head back to the ER, my body can't take that right now. Turns out I'm not just being lazy, I truly don't have the energy to do anything. That was a relief. Because since then, I haven't done much of anything. I feel drained and sleepy ALL the time. And now I know why and I can tell my hubby why =)

So, 2009 started out with a BANG. An ulcer BANG. But, 2009, has also sent me to some much needed doctor visits and I'm praying that the ten pills I'm currently taking will get me back on track. I still have August 10 to look forward to with a return visit to the Gynecologist and reports of tests taken. He did make me feel better, however, because he told me he didn't think it was anything serious, just something we needed to get under control.

God is good and He sent me where I needed to be. He also sent me where all I need, except meds, aren't costing me anything. WOOHOO to free medical care =) And yesterday I found out that it's possible the meds might be free too. So the Lord is taking care of me and He's trying to get me into shape...He's got His work cut out for Him but I know He's perfect for the job.

Here's to your health and to going to the Dr.!!


Monday, July 27, 2009

A Split Second

The other day at work, I was so bored. I had done my devotions, read my Bible, done a blog, read those that I follow, which honestly aren't many and the boredom set in. I went to Facebook and started looking around there. I started seeing what all the fun was about. I hung out there for quite awhile. Then I noticed my ex-boyfriend, over 20 years at this point had posted something. I went to his page to see how he was doing. I saw the cute wife, the cute kids, the nice house and the trip to New York. I then went to another ex's page and saw the same thing there and just for a split second I started wondering what if...

It didn't last long because as I thought of those past relationships and honestly they were high school relationships so they weren't that serious, I started remembering mine and Rusty's beginnings.

I remembered, with a smile on my face, the time we were hanging out at the beach and he pointed up at the sky and saw a shape in the clouds. I think that was the moment I knew I loved him and the reason for that was my first boyfriend had told me I was immature the time that I pointed out a shape in the clouds. I remember looking at Rusty with stardust in my eyes and I remember his returned look of what?

Then my memory jumped to the Christmas that he gave me my dream jewel. Basically I had wanted a blue topaz ring for as long as I could remember. I mentioned it once, he remembered and surprised me on our first Christmas as a couple with a blue topaz ring and the cutest teddy bear you've ever seen. He had even cut the ribbon off and replaced it with a blue one so it would match the ring...

Then there was the time we were in a very heated argument. The place I was staying had huge holes in the ground because the landlord was adding on. As I screamed my point at Rusty, I stepped in a hole and fell face first...I was humiliated and it made me even angrier. But HE, my knight in shining armor rushed to my side and asked without the first hint of a smile, Are you okay? Wow. Even I thought it was funny deep down but he didnt' because he was afraid I was hurt.

I remembered the time he took me shooting and the rifle kicked and almost knocked me down. He was so scared that it had hurt me and rushed to my side once again.

I remembered the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, he did. It had snowed here one year and we never get snow. We got inches and inches (I don't remember how many) and we had been snowed in for days. We were dating and couldn't stand being apart so long. So he made the trip. He got stuck on that long dirt road (surely it was two miles or longer) twice before we made it safely to the paved main road. We stayed out til after dark and when we reached home, he offered to walk me all the way home. I took him up on it because the thought of walking all that way in the dark, by myself, didn't appeal to me. I've never forgotten that act of love he showed me that night. Not only did he have to walk there but he had to walk back on that dark, snowy, freezing night. And he did it without one single complaint.

The Lord shined brightly on me the day I met Rusty. He makes me happy like no other could and he loves me like no other would. He loves me in spite of all my many faults and flaws. We dated for six years before we said I do and I can honestly say I've never regretted it, in our 15 years of marriage, not even for a split second!


Friday, July 24, 2009

What a Difference

Oh what a night! Last night was the perfect VBS experience. WOOHOO!! As a matter of fact last night one of the victims of my venting sessions said, " Aren't you glad it's over?" And I can honestly say that No I'm not. I'm sorry that I didn't have last nights experience all week. I hate that my attitude ruined the whole thing and that the problem wasn't fixed sooner.

It's amazing how God works because my devotion this morning said "The test of our spirituality comes when we come up against injustice, and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritual sluggards." OUCH I was a spiritual sluggard this week and I failed the test. However it also spoke of how God will put you in situations over and over again until you get it right! WooHoo! A chance to redeem myself, Thank You Lord. Although I'm truly not looking forward to being overwhelmed again I pray that the next time I will be able to handle it better.

I learned so much this week. I realized last night that your attitude is half the battle. I realized that things don't bother you or ruffle your feathers as much when your eyes are on the Lord and not on the situation. With the attitude change and problem solved I was able to see the Lord working in the youth. I was able to spend time with them, cut up with them and glimpse the Lord working through them. That is such a beautiful thing!! Some examples of this was students including Amber, a downs symdrome child who is an absolute pleasure. I saw kids sitting with her at supper, I saw kids talking to her and helping her at crafts. I even saw one certain Austen praise her when she colored all over a picture he had worked so hard on. That's when you are so proud of them. OH it was great. Several others that were a "problem" all week shone when I got the chance to speak with them and cut up with them.

After everyone had left, we had a pizza party for the workers and the biggest gifts of the night were revealed to me. One was when a young lady who is blind gave a braille thank you letter to the director and her husband. It was so beautiful, watching her read it and hearing the words of her heart come through on that page. I don't think there was a dry eye to be found from those who were blessed to hear it!

The other gift came from a parent of one the Youth Sunday School class that I coteach. This girl wasn't able to be there this week but her mom came up to me and told me that her daughter had truly been listening. It appears that all the talk of doing a daily devotion and daily bible study wasn't lost on her. She is currently after her mother to get her a teen devotion that she can do daily! WOOHOO!!!!! She is also taking praying for her prayer pal very seriously which just so happens to be ME this month! And YOU know how I need those prayers =)

It's gifts like these that make it all worthwhile and with all that was learned and taught I'd say that this was the best VBS ever!

I thank You Lord for teaching me this week at VBS. I thank you for showing me the error of my ways and for opening my eyes to not only the problem but the solution. I thank You for opening my eyes to the fact that "I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus". Please make my aim be to "secure the realization of Jesus Christ in EVERY set of circumstance I am in". In Jesus name I pray. AMEN!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh What a Night!

This week has always been my favorite time of year. It's VBS week and I LOVE VBS!! WooHoo! I have worked with the youth for probably 3 years and I've always enjoyed it... until this year. I will not go into the details and I will not explain any further but let's just say it hasn't been a very good week for Erika.

One of the songs that we are currently learning is Psalm 100 that our very talented director put to music. If we learn the song, we learn an entire Psalm. I think that was brillantly put together and brillantly chosen.

Last night was really rough and at the end of the night we sang the song. As I sat there fuming, I heard the words "Serve the Lord with gladness" being sung all around me and although I Heard them, they bounced off me and didn't penetrate. I was too angry. I didn't come before Him with singing either, I was too angry. I also, in that angry moment didn't know the Lord or that He is my God, I was way too angry.

I was so angry that I vented to my husband, my friend, and yet another friend. I woke up this morning Still angry and I was still venting to yet another friend, to that friend, to this friend, everywhere a friend, friend.

I was in some kind of funk let me tell you. Well, I think this morning after the 5th vent session it hit me like a lead balloon...when are you going to go to the Lord? Remember Him? The one you are doing this for anyway? The reason you are there at all? What about Him? Did I call on Him in the midst of the chaos? NO. I didn't. I never called on Him at all. I called just about everyone but Him.

I realize now that it wasn't the ratio that was the true problem although, it would have been a major help if the ratio had been better, the true problem was I was relying on myself. I was relying on my skills and abilities, I was relying on others to provide mercy, myself to be able to handle it all and guess what? I never even called on the Lord for help, not once. He was the reason we were all there but I forgot about Him. That was the true problem.

I have also realized another problem. Instead of consulting others, I should be consulting the Lord. When we vent, it really doesn't help us, it fans the flames. Not only does it fan the flames but it "poisons" those that we are venting to.

Last night I was revelling in my anger. I was seeking justice for the way I felt that I had been treated. Not that I realized that at the time but now looking back, I can see it. And the Lord doesn't call us to seek justice for ourselves. He calls us to give justice to others . I felt like I was being punished or something, crazy I know, but I really felt like it. No more finger pointing. Maybe the finger does need to be pointed at me? I can't see it yet but I now realize that it's unimportant who was at fault. The problem was there, it needed a solution and it has been solved.

So, tonight, I will actively choose to serve the Lord with gladness. I will actively choose to close my mouth and pray instead. I will not point fingers, I will not seek justice for myself
and if arrows are thrown in my direction I will take them head on and turn the other cheek.
I will accept my part of the blame and I will truly put into action: humbleness is strength. Tonight, I will actively work to make this truly an "Oh what a night" night.

May the Lord open your heart to your life lessons and may He truly change you with each revelation.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Finding Freedom in the Valley

I have a great friend that I actually know in the real world. She also has a blog and she's started something fairly new called Friday's Blessings that I rather like. You can check it out here: (I think I figured it out Michele! Yay me!) I especially enjoyed it this week because I have had a pretty rotten time of it lately. I haven't been blogging because my positivity seemed to have got up and went. It appeared to me that a friend's joke of a curse on me and my family had actually not been as funny as previously thought. Everything was falling apart, my car, my computer, my body, my banking account, was all just falling down around me. I tried to praise the Lord in the midst of the storm however it seems my praise kept waxing and waning...where was my faith, where was that positive attitude that I'm fighting to learn? I had it when God was pouring His blessings down around me but when things started to unravel, I plummetted off that mountaintop and found myself in a valley that was filled with this ugly voice that kept magnifying the bad NOT the good.

As the friendship felt threatened this same voice (surely that's not me?!?!) kept recalling past hurts and blows and bringing to light new ones, trying to keep me in this pit of bitterness. Trying to put the focus on the bad things instead of the truly great things that I've learned during this friendship. Which in turn probably didn't help this 'ole body and as the worry/anger stirred in me over that issue my body started to scream loudly and I ended up in the ER one night this week due to the pain. I don't truly believe it was related but...who knows.

However the light at the end of this tunnel is shining brightly. My husband repaired the computer(I didn't realize he could even do that and the repair was completely free, can't beat free!) the night he returned from his mission trip (that was free for my son and him, talk about a blessing!). The car runs, it needs tires, an inspection and the check engine light is on BUT it runs!

The banking account isn't what it once was but the bills are being paid, there isn't any money left over for fun stuff but we've done just fine this summer without spending money on entertainment. We just entertain ourselves. It's actually been nice and the Lord has provided some free entertainment, like concerts, river digging, a week mission trip for the boys and an almost all girl week for us girls.

The body is going to a much needed Dr. visit on Monday and that is a good thing.

But HERE is the blessing that I couldn't believe this week. We sat down to dinner one night and I couldn't believe it. We had:

Fish = Rusty caught Mahi Mahi while fishing on my Dad's boat.

We used Limes - free from a friend

and Lemon Thyme - a plant which was given to me by my Mother-In-Law

to season it.

Fried Squash = Squash, grown in our garden and seed for that garden given to us by my in-laws.

Oil to fry squash - free from a friend

Eggs and flour - free from same friend

Green Beans = grown in our garden and seeds given to us by the in-laws.

Flavorings- free from a friend

Pepsi = left in our cooler from the mission trip, free to us

Mountain Dew = "

Sweet Potato Pie = free from the friend

The ONLY thing that cost us money for that meal was my husband's glass of green tea! But the sugar used in that tea was FREE! We were eating a meal that was completely and utterly provided by from our Lord and Savior! Oooh what a night when I realized that! We were being shown just how He will provide for us when we rely on Him. My kids marvelled, my husband and I were in awe. I realize everything we get is from the Lord but when you didn't even have to BUY

I am currently back on my feet(as of this morning), I've rebuked that curse (just in case ;), I'm no longer stressing about the outcome of the Dr. visit, the friendship or the tires on my car. The Lord has provided, He will provide and He's currently lifting me up and out of this valley. Wow, freedom again! There's nothing like it ;)


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning to share...

My husband has been out of work since March. It's been interesting having him home ALL the time. I love it and don't love it all rolled into one! LOL He's gotten so much accomplished while he's been home...

He's planted us a garden and all summer we've had yummy fresh veggies to eat. That's been truly wonderful but next year we need to plant a bigger garden so we will actually have some to share with friends and family.

He's completely cleared the back yard and where there was this wild woody area in our backyard it's flat and we've actually discovered some trees that we didn't even know we had!! That was awesome, I love an unexpected tree ;)

He's organized the garage, he's made a compost pile, he's made a scarecrow and something for the beans to grow on. He's helped friends with projects, he's fixed the driveway by weeding it and fixing the rocks so that we actually have a rock driveway again.

Our plants, flowers and grass have never looked this good.

He's cooked supper most of the time and boy he's a great cook! He's even learned to go on a grocery store run on occasion.

He went on a week long mission trip to Kentucky with youth from church.

He repaired my broken computer the day he came home from the mission trip. He replaced three capacitors...who knew he could repair computers too?!?!

He's made several items out of my son's old bunkbed and it currently working on a weight bench.

However, I think the best thing about him being home is the time he's spent with the kids. He's done more with them and for them than he ever has before. He's always been a great daddy but now that he's home, he's taken them places. It's not unusual anymore for him to load them up and take them to the beach for an hour or two. He did the annual waterslide trip and I didn't even have to go! He's taken them fishing AND to the grocery store. C'mon you know what it's like taking two kids to the grocery store, it's not fun.

It appears that the more he's home the more wrapped around my little girl's finger he becomes...

Tuesday he finished the land clearing project and he was exhausted! My little girl decided that she needed her school supplies THAT very minute! It was 5pm and time for me to start supper, I wasn't going on a school supply run that day. One little pout and she honed in on her daddy. She ran, got him a shirt and said ok Daddy, let's go! And HE WENT!! What?!?! =0 OH Yes, my hubby that isn't the "run to store type" went! They came back after leaving me at home, by myself, for a little over an HOUR!!! WooHoo!!!!

It's been a joy having him home. I know my kids have loved it and have been so blessed by it. Now, if we could just get him away from my computer...