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Archive for November, 2011

Thorn in the flesh

A thorn in your flesh sounds like a painful thing. I don’t know if I have one or if I am getting old.  But when I have days like today – when I have had a headache all day, I ponder about whether headaches are my ‘thorn in the flesh’.   The apostle Paul talked about these fleshly thorns in 2 Corinthians 12.  He had received some great revelations and yet he was being tormented by a ‘thorn in the flesh’.  He had determined that this ‘thorn’ was put there to keep him from being conceited or in more general terms – it was to take the focus off of himself and put it totally on God. We have things or successes that happen in our life and we think it is all about us and God wants us to rely on Him for our strength.  Paul continues explaining in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses….. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”   I don’t ‘feel’ very strong today but I do know that throughout this day, I was able to rely on His power since I continued on working through out the day even though this headache has nagged on all day.  Definitely a thorn, my headaches, but Glory to God that I made it through this day!

Now, I am heading to bed! Yeah!

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‘I owe my mom another apology’. A friend of mine and I have talked about this topic over the years as our kids have grown. Not being specific about anything – but during the little disappointments here and there in life, we see how history has repeated itself in our kids and now we see the world in the eyes of our mothers from years ago.  It is painful to see things happening before your eyes – the exact same thing that you did to your mother years ago and you had no clue that you were even doing it.  Why do we do this to ourselves – both as the kid and the parent?  Thinking back – I felt that I had a right to do whatever I wanted and they had to start letting me go.  Since I didn’t live there anymore, I didn’t have to listen to ‘everything’ they said.  I knew I had to listen to some things since they were helping with the college fees but that didn’t mean I had to listen to all of their ‘wisdom’.  Looking back, it was rebellious and selfish – these are the dear ones who had loved me and raised me since before I was born.  Now as a parent…. I feel like I am looking in a mirror and I feel the pain that my mother felt years ago.  Oh, how our heavenly Father must feel the same way when we disappoint Him!  He grieved that He made man because of their wicked ways (Gen 6:6) and had a flood cover the earth.  Thankfully, God had mercy on us and set the rainbow as a sign of  his promise to us that He would never again flood the earth (Gen. 9:15). So as a mom what is my response?  I have to keep letting them go but continue to be encouraging and wise when needed and stand firm on the important issues.   Those important issues need to be important and not simply how I think it should be done.  AND… keep apologizing to my mom for the hurt I caused so many years ago…somehow like God, she keeps forgiving me.

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A cup of cool water.  A visit at the hospital or prison. A warm and comforting meal.  All things we can do to show mercy to another person, whether in our body of believers or in the community around us.  This week I had the opportunity to make a meal for a couple who is struggling right now.  Last night as I made the meal and prayed for their struggle, I thought, what a great opportunity to truly bless someone.  I don’t have a real gift for cooking but I can follow a recipe.  I don’t love to cook but it is fun to try something new and see if it turns out.  And this case, I get to try it and hopefully bless someone.  Galatians 6:10 says that ‘as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”.  We are to do good amongst those in our church family, our prayer group, a Bible study group or your group of Christian friends that you hang out with.  So tonight, after delivering the meal, I was pondering this phrase….more blessed to give than receive.  The family that we dropped the meals off to was very thankful and kept saying how blessed they felt.  However, I have to disagree with them and agree with Jesus who said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35).  Way more blessed…..

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I have completed a 4 day scrapbook marathon this weekend ….and in some ways, I feel like I ran a “marathon”…(not that I ever have run a marathon but let me explain).  In order to go to a scrapbooking retreat, one must prepare for the retreat to make it be productive…..you need to gather supplies, get your pictures printed out, have a plan of attack and get all your stuff and gear packed for the trip.  In prepping for a marathon (or a long bike trip like I have done – 185 miles one way from the Twin Cities to Village Creek Bible Camp, Lansing, IA – see www.bike2camp.com for more details), one must train…stretch out your body, gather your supplies (water, shoes, iPod & helmet) start out with small training runs/or rides (7-12 miles biking for me) and then work up to long rides (25-40 miles in one day).  The preparation can be grueling for both….especially when you work full time and need to finish your work prior to leaving town ….the proverbial work so you can leave the office for a couple days in order to return to an email box that is full. 🙂  Like any vacation—there is always prep work so that when you get to the vacation…you are really tired and need a rest.  Once on a ‘vacation’ or a scrapbooking retreat in my case, you work your fingers off to complete the task ahead—finish that scrapbook project that you have on the table before you.  You work into the wee hours of the morning and are tired the next day…yet you have a sense of accomplishment in the pages of the book that are filling up in front of you.  At this particular scrapbook retreat since it is held at Village Creek, there is also a time of reflection of what God has done or is doing in your life and sharing that with the women at the retreat.  So once I leave the retreat…..not only am I tired from being up late but I feel emotionally spent.  The 4 days were a triumph over the hours spent on completing the task yet also the tears that were spent rejoicing and weeping with my sisters in Christ in how God has moved in the past 10 years this retreat has been going on wore me out.   The verses that came to my mind over the weekend…..”But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  (Phil 3:13,14).  I needed to leave my work behind and complete my scrapbooking goal but God was also working on me to leave some personal things behind and press on to becoming more like Him.   Through all the sweat, tears and lack of sleep…..I survived the scrapbook marathon.

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