Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting off the treadmill of life~~

Do you sometimes feel like you are on a treadmill? Like everyday, you are going round and round, and it's hard to get off? I used to be like that back in my working days. I was super Mom to the nenth degree. I could do and did do it all. I took care of the 2 young kids and their busy school and activity schedules, a bustling and growing career, which included alot of travel, my husband, and my home. I was busy all the time. I loved my life, but I was headed for a crash and I didn't even know it. I joyfully did it everything, until I crashed and burned back in 1997.
It wasn't until I got through my diagnosis with MS and actually had time to stop and think about my life, did I realize that I had been on a collision course, and it took God Almighty to bring me to my knees to see it.  I think especially us Moms can get so caught up in the everyday business of raising a family, that we can ignore signs and symptoms of what's going on in our own lives. We tend to put everyone else first, ya know? 

I remember when my pastor came to visit, shortly after my roller coaster ride diagnosis of MS. He and his wife had been with me throughout that long month while the doctors tried everything to reach a diagnosis. When they finally did, my pastor made this profound statement to me: He said:  "Nicki, God didn't give you this MS, but he can take this thing that has happened to you and use it to His Glory, if you will let him." I've never forgotten those wise words, and I have spent much of my time these past almost 14 years, trying to bring God glory in all I do. That hasn't always been easy by any means, because I'm just a miserable sinner, just like all of us are, but it's a higher aspiration I have and I still try to achieve it everyday. I want my life to count for something. That's important to me. I want to make a difference in this world for the Lord. I have always felt His presence with me, and I have always felt Him with me,.

Forever and Ever copyright artist Greg Olsen
I think it's vitally important for all of us to take a deep breath and find the time to reconnect with our Creator, sooner rather than later. I know that it will make for a much smoother life if we do. He created us, and there is a hole in us that NOTHING or no one can fill other than Him. No materialistic "things" will fill that hole in our hearts, no person can fill that hole. Only He can fill it, with the Word of God and with his living presence in your life through His son Jesus Christ. Sometimes, its so hard to see that. I think many people go through their entire lives, seeking something that they never find, because they don't realize that the only thing that will ever satisfy their souls is a relationship with the Living God.
It's not easy to take the time to slow down and "talk to God." and reach out to Him. Our attention is always pulled away to the newest things: the latest computer, exciting new phone, or camera, or printer or video game. New clothes, new cars, bigger houses, nicer furniture. Getting what the Joneses have can become an obsession if we let it. The biggest and best vacations, the bigger TV's, making sure your kids go to the most prestigious schools. The best hair style, nicer nails, and the list goes on and on. There's always something that keeps nagging at us to do better or make a better impression and it all takes our time. But, it's all busy work, don't you think? If we really want to, we can take a few minutes out of our day to spend some time with the Lord. Spend time thinking about why we are here on this earth, after all? Every life has a purpose; finding it is the key to happiness.
So, I decided all those years ago to spend my time concentrating on the good things and thanking God for all the blessings I have, instead of complaining about what I don't have. After all, there's always somebody who has more, and there are always tons of people who have less, and it all comes from Him anyway. We are just good stewards while we are here on His earth, that's all.

After all, all these things we do and acquire while we are here on earth are just "stuff." We can't take it with us. Ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? Nothing we accumulate while we are here on earth is portable. God made it that way. He wants us to store up "treasures" in heaven, not here on earth. That's because what happens here is temporal, but what happens in heaven is eternal!  

So, get off your treadmill. Take some time. Slow down. Spend time with your loved ones while you still have them. Count your blessings, not your troubles. Make a list if you have to. Be joyful and rejoice! Store up some eternal treasures, and spend some time with your Creator. Thank the Lord for your life and everything and everyone in it. Life is good and we are truly blessed. He made us and He wants us to return onto him. He's waiting with open arms~

My verse for today is from Matthew 6:19-21.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourself treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."

My prayer for today:

Dearest Heavenly Father:

Thank you Lord for my life. Thank you Lord for my salvation. Thank you for my family and what they they mean to me. Help me Lord, to spend my days being used by you. Open my heart to others who are hurting. Help me to bring your message of mercy and salvation. I'm yours Lord, use me for your good purposes. Help me to help others leave the treadmill of life behind them and grab onto the one true thing that matters --YOU!

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The lazy days of summer ~~

Ahw....Summer...where the air is still and pace of life slows down for just a little bit. The lazy, hazy days of this hottest of seasons will soon be closing down and life, which has been at a slowed down pace for these few short months, will be kicking back into full gear again. So, take the time now, if you can, to enjoy the laziness of summer while you still have them around.

Just for a little while longer, vacations will be enjoyed, pool and beach days are big events, and the shopping malls are full of energized teenagers and middle schoolers, checking out all the latest fashions, looking around for back to school wear, going to the movies or just being "seen" at the mall. There are camps for all the kids: youth camps, sports camps, art and theatre and educational camps, horse camps, etc., all in the effort of keeping school age children occupied while their parents continue to work during the summer.

I remember those days well. When my sons were still in school and my husband and I were both working and juggling our work and home schedules around their various camps, vacations, etc. It was a handful, but it was also alot of fun too, and I look back on those day with much fondness. Those precious few years go by too fast and before you know it, POOF, they are grown up and gone. Take it from me! I have one son, 26, whose getting married next month, and another one 22. Seems like were just my little ones and now they are all grown up!
                               Sons, Eric (Biff) and Jordy with their Dad, Steve, in a friends pool in 1992

Even though it is hotter than usual up here in Waynesville this year, I am still enjoying the beauty of the mountains and the refreshingly cool evenings. I love being able to go out on the deck and listen to the crickets and watch the lightening bugs dance around the yard at night. I miss lightening bugs. That's something I remember from my childhood in Virginia, that we don't have in Florida. And even though I don't love summer because of the intense heat, I do love summer for the wonderful and numerous opportunities it gives us to re-connect with our loved ones. I think it's actually the heat that forces us to slow down. And, even though we may not be able to go out during the hot summer days and evenings and do anything very productive, we can slow down and participate in things like watch movies with our kids, play games, talking and just spend much needed time with them. So, take a deep breath and relax. That's what summer is all about.

                         View from our deck - A beautiful summer evening in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Before you know it, fall will be here, all the kids will be deeply entrenched in school work and their busy schedules with school activities, sports and all the extra curricular stuff that goes along with it. Football will take over the television and the minds of many of the husbands and kids. Thanksgiving and then Christmas will be upon us before we know it and another year will have passed us by. Seems like they are going by faster and faster for me. Is that a sign of getting old?

I have to admit I miss those extra busy days when the kids and their friends were still around, but my husband and I have reached a "kid-free"stage in our life now, and that is something I am also looking forward to with excitement and anticipation.

I miss my hubby. Right now, he's in Florida working and re-doing our house with alot of enthusiasm. He says I won't know the place when I return home, after it cools off down there. He's sending me paint chips with suggested colors to repaint the kitchen, cleaning and throwing things out like crazy, and thoroughly enjoying the fact that there is no one there to stop him. After all, it's hard for me to say no to someone who's cleaning and straightening up our entire house! I've asked for pictures. He says no, he wants it to be a surprise. Oh boy, the anticipation is killing me, but I'm gonna have to be patient and wait and trust, like I have with everything else in my life.
Admittedly, I'm scared to death at what I'm gonna find when I return, but it's kind of an adventure we're having together, even though we're apart right now. After all, we're in the empty nest stage of life now and have to find new and exciting things to occupy our minds! We've always loved re-painting and re-arranging and re-decorating (that's me) so I guess it's only natural that we would return to it once the kids move on. Just another phase in the circle of life, and I am very thankful that I can enter it feeling better than I have in many years thanks to CCSVI! Praise the Lord for that.
For now, I'm gonna kick back, have a pina colada                         and relax and enjoy this limited time I have with my youngest before he moves on with his life too. So, in conclusion, my advice for the day is to take off those flipflops, run into that ocean (if you have one near you) or jump into that pool. Grill out or have a picnic with your family. Enjoy those precious moments with your family and friends, that none of us can ever get back.

Life is short, you gotta grab it with everything you've got and hold on tight. Every day is a blessing. Don't waste it a minute of it.

My verse for day is from the book of Psalms 18:24

"This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

My prayer for today:

Thank you Lord for this beautiful day and for the blessings of this day. Thank you for my family; my wonderful husband and my grown up young men. Watch over them all and bless them and keep them safe in your arms. Thank you that I can take the time to enjoy my family, help me to remember that they are a gift from you, not to be taken for granted.

In Jesus name I pray,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Christian & a Republican & PROUD!

Yesterday, an old acquaintance from high school kinda let me have it on Facebook. After I posted something about TV news anchor Neil Cavuto saying I thought he was smart, followed his news program and like the politics of conservative Fox News Network, she made this statement about me: 

"It is amazingly hypocritical to be a Republican and a Christian." She went on: " I am not going to get into a religious debate with you-but suffice it to say if you were going to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ you would care for the sick (Obamas Healthcare plan), the old (Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid) and the poor (a variety of programs that republicans have striken down) your rhetoric and platitudes don't match your politics."

That's a pretty bold and judgmental statement, don't you think? I really started thinking about it. Am I truly a hyprocrite? Are all Republicans hypocrites? The definition of a hypocrite in Websters is ' a person who acts in contradiction to their stated beliefs or feelings.' I'm not doing anything that is against any of my beliefs.
Jesus does talk many times in the Bible about helping others and it being the duty and responsibilities of Christians to care for each other and I take that very seriously, because I follow Jesus' teachings very seriously.

1 John 3:17 says "But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him?" 

Matthew 6: 1-3 talks about hypocrisy this way:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Just because I choose a political party that doesn't want the Federal Government to pay for everything that I need and everyone else needs, doesn't mean that I'm not a Christian. I'm not a separatist. I pay my taxes. I believe in Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security and pay taxes for that.

But, I believe the responsibility to care for the sick, needy and hopeless ultimately lies within all of us, as individuals. It is up to each of us, according to our own abilities and economic situations to help our fellow man. I'm sure there are millions of us who have helped others who need it. That is what makes American the great country that it is. We all pull together and work together to help others. Many hands lighten the load, right?

I help my brothers and my sisters in need whenever possible. My husband and I together have given thousands of dollars over the years to various churches and outreach ministries which help others in need all over the world after earthquakes, tsunami's, and floods, as I'm sure many others have. We've adopted children from overseas to help in their education and the basic necessities of life. I've visited others when they are sick and reached out to them with phone calls and homemade cards. We've helped local families in need with furniture, food. clothes and counseling. We've invited children into our home from other local needy neighborhoods who were in dire need of clothes and food. We've helped out on an ongoing basis for years, picking up and taking home children from the other side of town who needed rides so they can participate in school, church or sports activities. We've given to missionaries all over the world, who reach out to others in need, in Jesus name.
The difference is we don't shout it to the world. This is the first time I've ever talked about the things I've done or my husband has done, and I do it now only to make a point. We have done these things because we feel Christ has called us to do reach out to others, not because we belong to one political party or the other. I have always lived my life to help others and do for others, and I continue to do that. But what I do is no bodies business but me and God Almighty. I will stand in judgment in front of the Lord, and be accountable for my actions on this earth, to Him and to Him alone.

I am a blessed to call myself a Christian. I work hard to spread the Word of God to people I meet in person, on the internet and on Facebook. I believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings and I am also a proud Republican. I know lots of Christians who are also Democrats, but they don't stand on their party to do all the work. They are out there, just like I am, loving people, one person at a time because that is what God has called them to do. It has nothing to do with their political party. Jesus loves us all: Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party Patriots and everyone else on this earth regardless of their political offiliation. He could care less about your politics, He cares about what's in your heart, and what's in your soul.
John 13:35 says,"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” I stand on that verse, because I do love others, regardless of their color, race, political agenda or other beliefs that do not agree with mine. Why? Because I am called to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me, so that is what I do. Plain and simple, over and out.
God Bless the USA!
My verses for today are above in red.
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord Jesus
Help me to be tolerate of others. Help me to reach out to them in love and prayer. Your Word in Matthew 5:44 tells me to "love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute me" and that is what I am doing. Thank you Lord that I have the freedom and assurance in You to do that.
In Jesus Name I pray,