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Delighting in my God, I desire to dwell in His pleasure and to help others experience true delight.

"Delight Yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your judgment as the noonday.  
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;..." Ps 37:4-7a

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading Through the Bible in 365 Days



I have been using an excellent reading plan to read through the Bible in 52 weeks, a year plan.  I love it for several reasons related to the way it is organized and recommend it for those who want to find a stimulating approach to reading through the Bible.

On the website, you can get the downloadable pdf at no cost.  The pdf has a chart with 52 weeks along the side and along the top the seven days of the week.  Each block in the chart has a little box you can check off when you have completed that reading, so if I miss a day, I am not necessarily tied to the days of the week listed along the top.  I can just check the block I complete and the next time keep going where I left off.  I may not finish in a year, but the chart allows me to follow along and keep track of myself in an orderly manner.  Instead of a year I can think of it as a 365 day plan.  I like that I can relax and not stress about making sure all my days are filled.  I spend a lot of time in the Word with Bible study and Sunday school preparations and our church home group (which we call care groups) study and my favorite devotional that I don’t want to give up, all while reading through the Bible in a year.  So the set up gives me more freedom rather than more stress.  I like that.

   Above each day, the readings are broken up by Bible sections, Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels.  What fun it is to read through the Bible this way.  Each day I read a different section of the Bible so when I hit a spot that is tougher to read, I am not bogged down.  It makes it much easier to read with enthusiasm even the long lists of genealogy  or the difficult trials of Job.  The next day I will have something different to look forward to, but I am also eager to get back to finish where I left off in these heavier sections the next week.  They are far enough apart not to be so weighty all at once, but close enough to keep the flow of the text.  And I have a tendency to want to just review briefly what I read from that book the week before, so I get an extra blessing of holding onto the text a bit more than I might if I was reading straight through.

Since I am using my study Bible in which I am supposed to place chapter titles as I study, I am using this opportunity to think about the themes of the chapter and record them as I go.  There is always so much to be gleaned from each reading of the Word of God.  I appreciate the challenge of considering the theme in each chapter and not having it given to me.  The more I think on the Word of God, the more I allow the Lord to shape me and transform me into the likeness of Christ.  That is my prayer and I know I have a whole lot of transforming left to have done.  

I am always delighted about what God has for me when I come to Him with open heart and open mind.  Another thing I really like about this particular Bible Plan is that I am always excited to see what the reading for the day will be and what God will be teaching me today.  I know that attitude is a gift from God as well, but it is a gift He is readily willing to give to all who ask.  I pray today you will seek and receive your delight in and from the Lord.  
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quiet Time with my Lord




I am again participating in Five Minute Friday on Sunday.  Oh well.  


Today's prompt is 'QUIET'.  Here goes:




“Amazing grace, How Sweet the Sound...”  My alarm breaks the silence of the sleeping household.  I turn it off and again it is quiet.  Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I rise slowly and plod to the bathroom for my usual morning routine.  Dressed for the gym, I descend the stairs to feed the cat and dog who wait in eager anticipation, the mewing of the cat now breaking the quietude.  


Then, with coffee now in hand, I sit ready for the quality quiet time so necessary for me to be who I desire to be this day and every day, the follower of Christ bathed in the necessary time with my God.  Oh how I need this time.  No one else is up.  It is just me and my God.  Sometimes I feel His presence and sometimes I just know He is with me, though the feelings I must wait to follow the knowing.  Always He is meeting me and growing in me what I need.  Quiet time with my Lord, the most precious time, makes all other times all the more precious as well.

(Five minutes up.)

Finding quiet is not always easy but it is oh so necessary... for my sanity.  It is oh so necessary for my well-being  It is oh so necessary for me to walk in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.  I need that time of quiet with my God, and I highly recommend it for all who desire the peace of God.  A world of delight opens before the one who will seek delight in the Lord.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Will Praise Him in This Storm


I will praise Him in this storm, for He is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in trouble.  God is sovereign.  Whom shall I fear?  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  To whom else shall I turn?  There is great joy and comfort in the Lord.  In Him alone will I seek my treasure.  He is my Rock and my salvation.  In the midst of any storm, I am safe in the cleft of the Rock.

A Storm over Liberty


And what does the Lord require of me?

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

We can rejoice in the God of our salvation and know that whatever He determines, He does to fulfill kingdom purposes.  If we align ourselves with His kingdom purposes, then whatever happens, we can look to Him for the answers and for the questions.  Lord, what do you want me to learn in this storm?  Lord, where do you want me, us to go from here?  What’s next Lord? 

As we seek Him, His wisdom, His knowledge, we can then get excited about the answers and direction He provides.  No matter what is happening in the world around us or in our own little microcosm of that world, He is with us.  He is leading.  He is in control.  Yes, we can praise Him in this storm as we walk humbly with our God and greet Him with gratitude.

Part of my devotional this morning was Isaiah 12:

  
Thanksgiving Expressed 
Then you will say on that day,
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
And You comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”

Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.

And in that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted.”

Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.

Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

The Lord knew I would read this today. The Lord knew I would need this today.  The Lord knows His plans, and they are far above mine.  I will praise Him in this storm.


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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Troublesome Unseen Roots of the Bradford Pear


I have not kept up with my blogging as I had hoped.  Here's an attempt to jump back in via Five Minute Friday.  Thanks Lisa Jo for inspiring so many including me.

http://lisajobaker.com/2012/11/five-minute-friday-roots/

Roots.  
I worked out in the yard yesterday, work that needed doing.  We had so many leaves that needed raking from fall and remnants of hurricane Sandy.  And there was the trimming of bushes for their dormancy through the winter.  The most problematic of my outdoor tasks, however was dealing with the ever troublesome, returning Bradford pear tree that does not seem to want to go away.  It’s roots are apparently very comfortable with the spot in which they were planted some 20 years ago.  So even though the tree fell years ago, during a previous storm, the roots continue to bear fruit, or plants as it were.  This tree continues to come up dividing fence posts, trying to kill another very nice tree which was planted to replace it, and generally making a nuisance of itself.   It was quite the task trying to pry each of its tentacles from their infestations and cut, cut, cut it away.  I have the sore muscles to attest to my fight with this monster.

How much this reminds me of what God is teaching me about sin.  You know you cut down the tree and even think you have dug out the stump.  But there are often hidden roots that will come back to haunt you in all kinds of ways you may not be expecting.  These roots may be invisible, they may be from plants long gone in your own life or in the life of someone else.  However, they can still bring forth burdens which have to be dealt with.

STOP.

I have since learned that this pesky problem with Bradford pears apparently is quite common.  The nuisance growth is called a sucker and those of us who have to deal with them are certainly suckers as well.  And those who plant the Bradford Pear are suckers for falling for its outward beauty without considering the long term implications of planting them.  We didn't plant them.  They came with the house.  But their allure is certainly understandable.  I am sure there are many life lessons, physical, spiritual, and horticultural, that can be gained by considering the Bradford Pear in more depth.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Want to be that Person


Five Minute Friday Prompt:  Welcome

Grass and Blue Sky


I want to be someone who always meets and greets and makes others feel welcome.  I want to have a home where when you enter, you feel at home.   Welcome!  It Is a state of being.  It is the comfort you experience when you are with someone who allows you to be yourself, to let your hair down, to let go of pretenses.   That is who I want to be.

Warm and Snuggly

Welcome.  As I close my eyes,  I see the door opening and the blanket strewn across the couch calling to me – welcome.  As I cuddle up in that blanket, I see a hand reaching out to me with a cup of hot apple cider and a smile on the greeter’s face.  Welcome.   I feel welcome and I think, “I want to be that person.”

Hot Apple Cider

I want to meet and greet and be a warm blanket, not a wet blanket, an open door, not a slammed door, a hot cup of cider, not a lukewarm sour drink.  I want to offer a smile and a sense of comfort and wellbeing.  Welcome.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Simple Truth of Life



Why is it so hard to grasp the simple truths of life, so much so that we let them slip through our fingers like water.  These truths should be drunk in like living water, but instead we fill up on pop which gets us farther away from holding onto the essential.

Relationships are essential.  We were made for relationship, yet relationships DO take effort and time and some grasping.  We don’t often grasp this simple truth as we let other things, pop, take priority.  The ‘pop’ of life can be all sorts of glitz and glamor, fun and exciting and time consuming.  

How often do we ignore our little girl who just wants to talk in favor of the email that calls for our immediate response?  How often does the tv drama take precedence over an intimate conversation with our spouse?  How often does an entertainment of some sort or an important task crowd out our prayer time with God?



Lord, help me grasp the simple truth that my relationships are of greater value that most anything I may put before them. 

Five Minute Friday
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life-Scape in the Wide Angle Lens



“I love you this much,”  she says as she spreads her arms as wide as she can and her smile just as big. 

“Well, I love you all the way around the world and to the moon and around the sun and back again!”  I respond, and we both laugh and hug.  



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ride Out Depression



photo source
Dealing with depression is like being out in the sea without a boat and no sign of land.  It seems to be never ending all around you without hope of escape or rescue. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Graceful, Powerful and Gentle

I was too late for Five Minute Friday from last week but thought I would write on the prompt of graceful  anyway just for fun.  Here goes:


To think of one who is graceful is to picture someone who exudes confidence and discipline and power.  As they enter the room you know that this one is someone who has an authority over their area of expertise, one which could even elicit fear, yet because they are trustworthy with that power, you know that you can be free from fear if you have the right relationship with them.  In fact you feel at peace in the presence of the graceful.  


Though we often think of someone graceful as a woman or perhaps a dancer, graceful is most excellently captured in the person of Jesus Christ Himself.  He enters your presence and you know you are with someone of great power, someone confident in His authority and in His abilities, yet someone who offers grace, protection, and understanding.  When you are with Him, you can rest; you can be comforted.  You know that you are in the presence of someone greater than yourself, but also someone who gently reaches out to give you some of Himself.  Graceful and full of grace is my Lord.  In this I delight.


Lisa-Jo Baker

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Church Family is Worth Our Commitment


Five Minute Friday - The prompt for last Friday was Join and I am joining later that usual.


Every Wednesday, A Holy Experience hosts a community link up and last week's post topic was The Practice of Relationship.
I am sad to admit that though I thought of myself as an active member of my church, teaching or attending Sunday school, helping out where I could on Sunday morning, even hosting our church’s home group, I had not really joined the family.  Oh, I was a member of the larger family of God, but I had not become a part of my church family.
Photo Source

Recently a sister in Christ from my church and I were talking about the differences between our generation and that of our parents.  What she said has stayed on my mind.  
“We are different from our parents generation because for them, church was more than just another activity in their lives; church was their family.  It was a priority.  It was the center of their social life.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Physical Fitness in Home School



Clipart source


“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)
No matter when we start our school year, most of us tend to have a sense of beginning or or transitioning to something new in September.  Children usually move to a new grade, classes gear up, new programs begin.  Even as home schoolers we have many patterns ingrained in us that adhere to the common cultural norms like this and there is nothing wrong with that.  Having standardization works in a number of ways.  However one area that I hope we can break out of standardized thinking is in ‘the check in the box’ mentality to learning in general and physical fitness in particular.  
There are some subjects we want our children to learn simply to have a familiarity with the information, to help them be well-rounded, or to give them a taste of it to see if it might be something that would help them find their bent.  Exposing them to that subject matter and moving on works fine.  Other things we know we have to build upon like reading, writing, and arithmetic.  In the early years these are foundational for what will come later, and most of us understand that these are not learn and dump studies.  Spiritual development is a category all to its own.  As Christians we should train our children to have their faith inform all of their studies and not fall into the trap of  just exposing them and laying it aside. Bible study is more than a separate compartmentalized subject which may be foundational for more Bible study, but rather it is applicable to all of life, throughout the day, across all subject areas.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stretching for Health




This week's Five minute Friday prompt is 'Stretch.'  
Click here for additional stretching help.

Alright, stretch a little higher.  Expand those abs.  Nice deep breath and relax.

My twelve year old daughter and I began a daily strength and stretch exercise program.  Well it isn’t really a program because we are using a variety of dvds, but we do have a regular time and we are trying to be committed.  My favorite of the ones we are using is called “Classical Stretch” with Miranda Esmonde-White which my friend Mindy told me about.  Within three days of regular stretch and ab work, I noticed a significant improvement in my mobility.  It was great to be able to move more fluidly again and my racquetball game improved as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Lifter of my Head


It was a beautiful day, among the best of the summer;  so I was especially enjoying my afternoon walk.  As the sun was shining, there was a spring in my step.  Taking a deep breath of the outdoor air, I noticed in the rear view window of a car:
Be 
   Joyful!


“Amen!” I say! “Thank you, Lord.”

Then I think.  “Lord, when did it turn around for me or rather how?  How did I leave that state of loneliness, feelings of isolation and depression?”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Good Morning, Lord.


This weeks Prompt at Five-minute Friday is Connect.



Good morning, Lord.  Thank you for this day.  Thank you for granting me another day to walk in this world with You and to be a conduit of Your love here to my family and the world around me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Confessions of a Chronic Multi-Tasker



I am a multi-tasker.  Even when I am relaxing I have to be doing at least one other thing to make the best use of my time.  So taking time just to be be alone with the Lord can be a challenge for me.  Because I so need that rest with Him, I do notice if I have missed my quality, devoted, quiet time each day alone with God.  I don’t have a problem praying while driving or listening to sermons in the car, but taking that time in the morning to do nothing else but commune with God, that singleness of purpose both stretches me and relieves me simultaneously.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; 
Consider my groaning.

Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:1-3

Living the busy American lifestyle that we do, especially in the greater metropolitan Washington area, I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the torrent of what must be done more often than I like to admit.  So, I like the efficiency of doing phone business while walking, eating meals while cleaning up, folding clothes or working on the computer while watching tv.  I think I can more successfully reach the shore of ‘isle complete’ if I bail out my boat while simultaneously rowing in the midst of the deluge of so much to do.  

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have  relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1

Nothing wrong with multi-tasking.  However, like so many things in life, it is a strength and a weakness.  It can help one be more efficient and more effective, but it can also can cause one to miss some very important facets of life.  If I don’t stop work on my computer while talking with my daughter, if I am taking phone calls or responding to every text message while meeting with a friend, if I am working through my sudoku puzzle while having breakfast with my husband, am I giving any of them the attention they or I need?  Sometimes multi-tasking does not stem the tide of flood overwhelm at all, but rather adds to it.  In fact the rain and reign of ‘to do’s’ can fill the boat faster than I can empty on a regular basis. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.  Psalm 139:23-24

I don’t need a special label like ADD to experience the distractibility of a thousand things to think about or to do.  With so much going on about us and within us seemingly non-stop, is it any wonder that there is difficulty shutting down, getting sleep, having peace.  Restlessness rather than restfulness is the product of multi-tasking overload. 

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Praying without ceasing, also a Biblical principle (1 Thessalonians 5:17), is so important as we go through the day and is multi-tasking at its best.  I do want to thank the Lord for the parking spot I just got close to the door or far from it;  I want to pray for the unfriendly cashier who needs some Holy Spirit intervention.  I want to seek the Lord throughout the day to stay connected to the power and peace that only comes from Him.

Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually. Psalm 105:4                                              
The only way for that power and peace to be there for me to draw from, however, is if I am being completely immersed in prayer and the Word with Him regularly.  And I am learning also how perhaps my church worship has been marred by not truly preparing my heart before hand or being fully engaged as I think of those within church with whom I have business.  By the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I began joining in the prayer group before church.  How I have seen a significant difference in my whole-hearted attention to the Lord and the richness of my worship with this little change.

Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.  Psalm 119: 28

As a chronic multi-tasker, the singleness of focus, especially with God is essential to my well-being on a number of levels.  For a number of years, the Lord has been teaching me the importance of stopping and centering on Him, investing myself in my devotional time, my worship, my prayers without accomplishing anything else.  There is nothing else that sets me free, nothing else that empowers, nothing else that provides the peace that passes understanding.  It is in the exclusivity of devoted time with my God that I find all of this and the delight of my heart.

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.  Psalm 32:6

Friday, August 3, 2012

Here is Where I Want to Be






Link up at  Five Minute Friday.  Today's prompt:  Here

"Where is the best place you have ever lived?”  

“Well we have always decided to make where ever we are living, right here, the best place we have ever lived.  In fact, my husband goes one better, he makes right here, where ever he is the best place to be.”



That is a delight attitude.  Where ever God has placed me, that is the place I need to be, right here right now, making the most of every opportunity.  I would like to say that is the way I live.  Unfortunately, I fall prey too often to the bitterness and pettiness that rises up in my selfish self when something doesn’t go my way.  But getting back on track each morning with the Lord and as frequently as I possibly can by being attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit helps to keep my attitude mostly in check.
Here is where we are with the people we are with in the present, not waiting for a better offer to come along, not dwelling on past failures or losses, but living now rather than wallowing or wishing.  That’s not to say the past and future aren’t important and shouldn’t be considered.  However, when you can be here, you are also preparing for what’s to come and appreciating what has come before, building on lessons learned to take you on a better course forward.  
I want to know how to stop, to be, to breathe in the beauty about me.  I want to love, to enjoy, to bless those I am with.  I want to be here, right here, rather than anywhere else this moment.   


Five Minute Friday

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Focused Beyond What's Here


Beyond
We had the joy of attending a Bible study this week on 1Peter1.  In this chapter, Peter is encouraging Christians who are suffering to keep their focus on the big picture beyond what they are going through.  This can be a difficult task when one is in the midst of troubled circumstances that seem to be pressing in.  As a Christian though, keeping our eyes fixed upon our hope and our God can get us through the most trying of events.  
I have to remind myself that my response to trials is part of my mission as I am called to die to self and live to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in me.  When I am struggling, I yearn for the peace of God, so I spend more time with Him, and His Spirit stirs me to keep my focus beyond my present condition.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow, who is our hope and our provision, within and beyond, omni-present.
He is my delight!


Five Minute Friday

Friday, July 27, 2012

Goals and Reality


For my blog, my goal is to write twice a week, one regular entry and one for Five minute Friday, both with the intent of helping others to find some delight in a trying world.  However, I am the newsletter editor for our local Christian homeschool group here in Prince William County, VA.  During my crunch time it may be difficult for me to get to my weekly blog article as I realized this week.  


Since I have found so many wonderful inspirational, uplifting blogs on the web, no doubt my meager attempt at encouragement will not be missed.  However, I would like to recommend ICR’s Days of Praise as an excellent source of godly devotional readings.
Be blessed,  Maria

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Enough yet Never Enough



We have just finished a week on a short term mission project with our church.  It was a wonderfully enriching experience for us all as we worked to build a deck and paint a house for a family in need.  Unfortunately we did not quite completely finish the building project.  We did get to the point where all the important parts to avoid leakage and have access and for safety were complete, but the finishing work had to be left for someone else.
As our carload was returning to our campsite from the worksite, I commented that many of the projects reach this point and never go much farther around my house.  My husband chuckled, “That’s right; Maria has had to get used to being married to a good-enough kind of guy when it comes to projects like that.”
In reality, I wasn’t talking about my husband but about my own tendency to reach the ‘good enough’ point and then to get involved with other things so that I never quite get back to finishing up.  It works and it seems like good enough is often what I am left with, though I’d like to get to the completion point.
Our God is not a good enough God; He is rather enough to make us complete and yet someone we can never get enough of.  Enough is a funny word when it comes to God because He is enough for us, and we can not ever get enough of Him.  He is always a complete provision, and yet we will always need more.  He is our all in all.  
Stop.
Five Minute Friday












Monday, July 16, 2012

Persevering in Our Calling


Deuteronomy 6: 5-7 “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when thou sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”


I am a bit eccentric.  I like being left-handed, thought my most attractive feature growing up was my feet - alas, no longer the case, - and am glad that I am part of the 5% of the population who doesn’t have wisdom teeth, not because I don’t have wisdom teeth, although that is great, but because I am part of the 5%.  So it may not be a stretch to say I was initially drawn to home-schooling simply to be different.  It also shows I am a bit dull to just now be realizing this.  Eccentricity and denseness is not what got me to actually begin home-schooling or what kept me going, however.  It was clearly a gift from God.
Before we even had children, we attended a small church in Tennessee which had one home-schooling family.  I had never heard of home-schooling, but I was intrigued and wanted to know more.  This kind, godly family invited me into their home to spend the day watching how they home-schooled.  It was delightful chaos as this mom nurtured the growing minds and hearts of her children.  I was in awe.  Now attracted to this concept, I attended a home-schooling conference with my new friend, bought books on the topic, and examined different views on education, all before my first child was even conceived.