Oct 11

Let me start by saying I love yoga. I love it because it stretches you, helps you slow down your breathing, and keeps the blood flowing without having to break much of a sweat. So this is just my experience on this particular day.

It was Wednesday morning and I was super excited that it was finally yoga day. This was my first day back as I hadn’t done it for years; and my body was aching to feel like a wet noodle again. So in I went armed with my purple yoga mat in hand.

The class was full but thankfully there was enough room in the back for me to sit and hide. We began with some meditation. Usually during this time I tune out the instructor for a bit, use the time to pray, or just be still. This day was different.

The instructor began in her breathless, peaceful voice, “Lets all begin by quieting our bodies ….being still and acknowledging that we are present. Let us begin to be aware of the thoughts that we might be carrying with us, worries of work, concerns of our health, stress….. any thoughts that you might have let’s just release them now. Acknowledge that they are there, but do not address them…. simply know they are there, above you. Be still… relax…. and observe as you watch them float by.”

Watch them float by!! Lady, we can’t watch our thoughts float by. Immediately my very still moment was now my very upset moment. I kept thinking, “This is really bad advice. Our thoughts have power in them, they direct our feelings, and then our feelings direct our actions. Most of the time our thoughts are going all hairy carie, totally out of control. And you want us to just sit still and watch them float by?”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.

From this verse I think it’s safe to say that watching your thoughts float by is not a good idea. And although you may think you don’t do this, I believe most of us do when we find ourselves upset, angry, depressed, or fearful. It begins with one small destructive thought that we allow to live. This thought then gives way to another and before you know it the captive one is you.

In order for us to have victory in our lives, every thought needs to be accounted for. We need to check our thoughts and ask, “Does what I am thinking go against what I know of God and His word?” If the answer is yes, for the sake of everyone around you including yourself, bring that thought captive to Christ until it agrees with God.

Just like a soldier would do when taking an enemy captive, we also need to take out the weapons we have when we are battling our thoughts. Prayer, the Word of God, praise, Godly books, devotionals, a Christian friend who will point you back to Christ; whatever God has taught you or shown you, (Philippians 4:9), use them until your thoughts are obedient to Christ.

Now for all the perfectionists out there, myself included, this is not an easy task. You don’t just wake up one day and have this mastered- I know because I too am a work in progress. Just remember God is on our side, so keep trying, don’t give up, and you will see changes in your thought life you never realized were possible.

Oct 11

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

There’s a sound I’ve come to know, that always brings a smile.

Ding a ling ling ling. That’s the sound my phone makes when I have a new text. I just recently came into the texting world (yes, I was living in a cave) and I can’t tell you how much fun I have been having! From one of my texting sessions comes this story.

It was Monday afternoon, the day before I was about to LEAD my first ever (I didn’t ask to do this, I think I might pass out while I’m doing it) Bible study.

Truth be told, I was having trouble staying in the mentality that “I can do all things through Christ”. I was going in and out of faith so much I was afraid I would get permanently stuck out of faith. My husband noticed I was a little blue and being a sweetie offered to take me to lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant. A restaurant where the hot garlic bread drips with butter, the antipasto salad is loaded with pepperonis, salami, crisp iceberg lettuce, Italian dressing drizzled all over and the spaghetti and meatballs are to die for.

When the meal was over, it hadn’t made a dent in lifting my spirit. I knew then I was in need of some serious help. As we drove back home, the sound I’ve come to love came through. It was my dear friend and she was texting me some encouragement.

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– “Geri, you can do this! God has equipped you and the Holy Spirit will be with you.”

As I read the text a smile emerged but inside the knot in my stomach still remained.

Ding a ling ling ling.♫ – “Remember Psalm 23:3 – He guides you in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.“

The Word. It began to soften the knot but the feeling of doubt lingered. I wished I could just stop doubting that I could do this.

Ding a ling ling ling.♫ – “Geri, no matter what, I will still love you friend”

And with those words God broke through. Tears started welling up in my eyes and the truth began to flow. If my friend could still love me no matter what happened tomorrow, then surely my Father could. Even if I messed up the prayer, forgot scripture, or had a plain old panic attack right in the middle of the group, my Father would still love me because no matter what, I was willing to step out in faith for Him into a place that made my heart race.

I began thinking of the process that had just occurred to bring my break through. First, my friend had given me words of hope- and it helped. Then, she gave me the Word (faith) and that helped a little more. But, then she gave me love. It was love that put it all into perspective and let truth come in.

Love is the greatest and it never fails.

So the next time you find yourself with a loved one who is hurting, scared, or confused. Pray for them, yes, speak the Word to them, absolutely. But above all, LOVE THEM. Because in doing so you will have chosen the greatest and it’s power is beyond what you can imagine.

p.s. The bible study went perfect. The Holy spirit showed up, and none of the above fears happened. You gotta love God :)

Oct 11

Two weeks ago I had a noodle in my shoe. Maybe I should rewind a bit before I get into that.

It was Wednesday evening and I was frantically running around the house trying to frost 24 pink cupcakes, take care of homework, and get myself ready so I could leave to church to help set up for our monthly women’s event. I was supposed to be there at five, and it was five, but I was still home.

Once my husband showed up, he took the kids and they headed out for dinner. Like a bobcat, I ran up the stairs and loaded myself up with 12 cupcakes on each arm. Then I ran back down the stairs and carefully placed them in the car, ran back up stairs, got the giveaways for the night, a bowl of leftover spaghetti (dinner for the night), my purse, and carefully flew down the stairs thanking God for each step that I took without falling down.

Huffing and puffing, (half from anxiety and half from being severely out of shape) I jumped into the car, put my seat belt on, rested the bowl of spaghetti on the console and took off. It was somewhere between reciting some scripture on peace and praying for green lights that IT happened. Somehow, (I’m still not sure what I did) my elbow must have come down on the side of the bowl, flipping it over and landing spaghetti all over the car and me.

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Instantly everything became silent. The panic that I had been experiencing about being late came to a halt and I couldn’t even hear the cars racing by me anymore. All I could hear was my heart beating. What had happened? I was praying, I had my sword up. Why in the world did I have spaghetti all over the seat, the cup holders, and was that a noodle in my shoe?! I was already late and now I was going to be dreadfully late. For a split second I compare hgh HGH thought I was going to crack.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Trouble. That’s what I had and it was all red and making stains in my car. Instead of crying I decided I needed to have a little chat with God.  And after getting some perspective, and a little humor back (hence the picture), I made my way to church, where I was greeted with a sweet hello and no real awareness that I was late. God bless those women :)

Of course this illustration is simplistic for this verse because most tribulations are not usually that trivial. Sometimes the tribulation is like an earthquake shaking your life hard, leaving you dumbfounded. Sickness, loss of loved one, struggles in your marriage, financial problems, the list goes on. And when you’re in the middle of it, its hard to see if you will have any peace. When trouble comes these are some of the truths I hold on to.

God is the one who makes beauty out of our ashes. Isaiah 61:3
He is the one who restores our tired souls. Psalm 23:3
He is the one who causes all things to work towards good. Romans 8:28
He is the one who restores what the locusts have taken away. Joel 2:25

When times are tough just running these verses off in my head will do nothing. It’s when I take time to meditate on each word, letting the truth really sink in and take over that I begin to believe. Then the transformation begins, hope arises, and my heart starts to change. It’s not always easy but it always works. It’s true His word has the power to change you.

Finally remember this, trouble is not around every corner but when it does come knocking remember God told you these times would come. But He also told you, He has overcome the world.

Oct 11

I just got back from a short trip with the family and I have to say that even though we had some great moments and lots of fun there was somewhat of a battle going on inside of me. I had to work really hard at times to keep my joy.

As I was unpacking tonight and talking to God it hit me that maybe the problem I was having came down to not being very thankful. As I began pondering that thought and realizing the truth of it I remembered my dear friend had left a gift for me on my front porch while I was gone.

When I opened the door this is what I saw.

choosing gratitude

Wow!!!!!  When God shows up He really shows up.  He is so near and just waiting for you to open the door ( literally sometimes) that He may come in and speak straight to you.

As I flipped through the book I landed on  this page and it is so PERFECT for thanksgiving. May it penetrate your heart. With all my love. Geri.


VISIBLE MATERIAL BLESSINGS

Therefore, as Charles Spurgeon said, “ Let us daily praise God for common mercies-common as we frequently call them,and yet so priceless that when deprived of them we are ready to perish.”

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Bath soap. Toothpaste.
Hot water. Dishwashing detergent.
Air conditioning. House plants.
Sunsets. Sunglasses.
Birthday cards. Blue skies.
Flashlights. Blankets.
Family Photos. Fresh fruit.
Measuring cups. Warm clothes.
Books. Bookcases.
Beautiful music. Clean sheets.
Autumn leaves. Sticky notes.

If we take it all for granted, if we think life just shows up with this stuff already in place,if we trick ourselves into believing that everyday household items come from the grocery rather than from a gracious God, we walk right past countless reasons for worship without even knowing it.

Oct 11

.

I think her name was Gwen. She was a nice woman, with a strong robust voice, and a southern accent.

And at 10:00 yesterday morning I was yelling at her.

Well maybe yell is to strong a word (I guess that depends on who you ask). Let’s just say I was raising my voice at her because the gifts I ordered for my mom and nieces online for Christmas had still not arrived on my doorstep, as promised. Christmas by the way was on the 25th and it was now the 28th!

Now when I got on the phone my plan was to speak directly to the supervisor. But “Bless her heart Gwen” wouldn’t let me. She insisted I tell her the problem first. That automatically put me in a bad mood. I wanted to speak to a supervisor, I wanted answers, I wanted a refund of some kind, I wanted heads to rollllllllll. Clearly I was no longer being led by the spirit.

But even in my snippy tirade over retribution of some kind, the feeling that I was being mean to a lady I had never met in my life was starting to bother me. I did not know anything about her but she was starting to get some ideas about me. And I don’t think they were pretty.

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John 13:35

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I am not saying that because we are Christians we are perfect. We are not. We are going to mess up. We cant achieve perfection in these bodies but we can achieve the ability in Christ to open up our mouth and say sorry when we do blow it. I had already failed at the showing love part so I knew I was now in the area of somehow apologizing (Ephesians 4:31, 32). And I knew God was telling me I better do it before I got off the phone.

The other thought God was pressing on me was what if I ever met Gwen, like in real life. (That happened to me this year at a Christmas party. I ended up talking to a woman who had randomly helped me find a dress in a department store about a year ago). There I would be meeting Gwen, she might be in her Kohls t-shirt and I would be in my I love Jesus t-shirt. And I think she might be a little shocked to see that I knew Jesus at all.

And what about after this world. I often imagine what it might be like in heaven. I suppose since it is eternity we are going to have a lot of time. First we will meet God and spend time with Him (after we can pry ourselves away from Him), then we will see our loved ones and spend more time with them.  Sooner or later we are going to get around to seeing who else is up there. I very well could bump into Gwen. We never know who we are speaking to in this world, when we encounter the postman, the store clerk, the pharmacist, the person on the the other side of the phone. The bible even says that the stranger we are encountering today could even be an angel (Hebrews 13:2)!

Apologizing to Gwen wasn’t easy. I was embarrassed and still feeling like I could justify my anger. I literally felt sweat coming off my forehead as I pushed out the words. But as soon as I did the anger left, and I crossed over to the good side once again and I was home. I told her I was sorry for getting so heated, and I knew it wasn’t her fault. She was silent but then finally said “It’s okay dear, I understand. And you know what, I really do hope your packages show up today. I hope they are sitting on your front porch as we speak.”

And with that we said goodbye and wished each other a good day. I was smiling once again and I think she was too.

Oct 11

From the beginning of time
Even before time began
it has always been about you
Jesus.

It has always been about you the Messiah
who would one day come
to break the captive free
to heal the broken hearted
to make beauty out of our ashes
and praise out of our despair.

It has always been about you the Saviour
who would one day save us from sin and death.
To take the burdens off of our shoulders
that we were never meant to bear.

There is no one out there who holds that one sin that your death did not cover.
Nor lived a life so clean that your blood was not for them.
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you were crucified for all of us.

That we would accept you one day as our redeemer
not just for the eternal
but for here on this earth.
That we would have an abundant life
and be called the righteousness of God.

So if you decide to trust Jesus and take His open hand,
hold on tight.
Because as promised in His word
He will set you free.

Jesus has been waiting for you.
He has been there for you yesterday,
He is here for you today,
And He will be there for you…….

Always.

Oct 11

So you won’t believe what happened to me at Costco. To be more specific, standing in line to get a hot dog at Costco.

Remember that scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where George Bailey gets rescued from bankruptcy? When his community and friends rally around him and give him the money to save his life. Remember that touching moment? Okay, so hold that thought. Hold it. Hold it.

It was one of those days. Those days where everything that could go wrong was going wrong and in order to keep it together I just kept muttering, “I may be hard pressed but I am not crushed.” over and over, again.

On this not so great day my mom, having perfect timing, came over and deciding to make things just a little better pronounced we should hop over to Costco where she could treat me to lunch and a little shopping. Hebrew National hot dogs, smothered in ketchup, mustard, and relish, accompanied by a diet coke, in my world equals a bit of happiness. Yes folks, sometimes that’s all it takes.

So there we were, my mom and I waiting patiently in line as I was getting really excited because my turn to bite into a hot dog was approaching very quickly. Finally we were up and we placed our order.  The grand total came out to $3.28, my mom pulled out her debit card and before you knew it all heck broke loose.

“We don’t accept debit cards M’am.”, the cashier said with a smile.

My smile on the other hand completely evaporated. Because I knew two things.

1. My mom had zero cash and neither did I.
2. My mom freaks out and gets embarrassed easily and I knew “flusterville” was right around the corner.

“What do you mean you don’t accept debit cards, you can’t be serious, that’s all I have and…”  her breathing was starting to become a bit labored.

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“I am as serious as a heart attack lady.”  he said, still smiling.

Important note here: My mom was born and raised in Peru and some sayings she just doesn’t understand.

“What do you mean a heart attack, Huh? What Gerita? What is he saying? Oh my gosh, let me see how much change I have, Oh my gosh!” Her voice was cracking.

And with one frantic move she pulled out her coin purse and out spilled all of her change onto the counter. Which  mostly consisted of pennies and a few dimes.

Mind you, its 12:00 in the afternoon, there is a huge line behind us, there is a huge line on either side of us, and we are now becoming the center of attention on a very hot day. Then out of nowhere I see this hand coming toward our pile of change with a quarter in it. This blond woman from the line next to us was donating a quarter to our cause. After that the lady behind her dropped in a quarter and said, “We can’t let you go hungry; its lunch and you should have your hot dog.”

All of a sudden I was in “It’s A Wonderful Life” and all these strangers began happily pitching in and within minutes and a few quarters and dimes later, we made it to 3 bucks! Without missing a beat, the still surprisingly happy cashier said he would put in the last .38¢ , completing what we owed.

Proverbs 3:27
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act.

This proverb came alive to me on that one Costco day. Many times we are going to find ourselves with the ability, the power, to do good for someone else. It could be making an encouraging phone call, offering someone a ride, helping someone who is lost, visiting someone in the hospital or something as simple as donating a quarter to some strange girl and her mom so they can eat a hot dog at Costco.

God is telling us in His word, that when it is in your power to act,

Act.

Oct 11

“So how did Chuck E Cheese with Grandma go? What did you end up buying with your two thousand, five hundred and five tickets?” I asked my son with great anticipation because that’s no typo he really did save up 2505 tickets and it took him 4 years!

“I didn’t buy anything mom. I just couldn’t let go of my tickets.” he nervously added “I want to keep saving and see how much more I can get.”

It’s times like that when I am just flabbergasted that he’s my child. Because if you give me the means to shop, I will shop.

“Okay I understand.” I answered, making sure he knew I supported him. “Well, why don’t you give me the ticket stub and I will put it in a safe place.”

“I don’t have it. I gave it to Grandma.” he said plainly and ran off.

Cue the dramatic oh no something terrible is going to happen music, as you imagine my eyeballs begin to dilate and my heart begin to beat faster. Because…

First, let’s begin with the fact that Grandma is the best grandma in the world. She is giving, loving, caring, selfless… the list goes on and on, but lets also just briefly say Grandma is not the kind of person you want to give your nouveau casino en ligne bonus sans depot legal
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ticket stub to in the middle of blaring, loud, kids running all over the place, Chuck E. Cheese and not realize that Grandma just might accidentally throw away or misplace the ticket stub you have been holding onto for FOUR YEARS!

Immediately I called Grandma and the fear instantly became a reality because she had no ticket. She said Matthew had it. He said, he saw her put it in her purse. She said she saw him put it in his wallet… she said and he said until tiny beads of sweat started forming on my forehead. After hanging up with a now panicked Grandma, Matthew and I started ransacking the house hoping that just maybe, somehow the ticket had made it home in his pocket and had fallen somewhere. I also called Grandma back and had her look through all her stuff, then I called Chuck E. Cheese and had them look through all their stuff and then I called the National guard ~well, I wanted to. Because all I kept thinking of was how totally bummed out my son would be if we couldn’t find the ticket he had been saving for so many years, faithfully, never spending it, all to have it gone just like that.

Then came the voice of wisdom and it was my son walking up to me saying these words.

“Mom, remember last night when we were doing our devotional and we learned that we need to cast all our anxieties on God. Well, I want to do that now Mom.” He paused “I don’t want to feel like this anymore, I feel bad and I just want to cast this away and be happy again.”

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was proud and stunned all at the same time. Proud, that he had actually been listening to the devotional and stunned because now he really wanted to apply to his life what God had taught him.

It wasn’t easy at first because it’s really hard to do a 180 when you are that emotionally charged. But he was right and I knew I had to support my son in what God was calling him to do and what God was calling me to do. So we prayed together. And as I prayed for his care, I threw in one of mine that I had been holding on to since the morning ~ because by now I knew that this lesson wasn’t just for him, it was for me too.

A couple hours later Grandma called, and before I could even finish saying hello, she ecstatically shouted “Guess what? Guess what?” To tell you the truth, hours after having launched our cares away, I had no idea what she was talking about. But as God would have it….

She found the ticket! And you will never believe where it was.

She found it in her purse, tucked away between the pages of her promise book, the one she carries with her everywhere she goes.

There nestled between all of the promises of God, was the care that my son had cast away.

Oct 11

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For those who are “waiting on God” read this devotional by Oswald Chambers, take your time reading it for it is full of wisdom and inspiration. Take in every word.

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord.Believe that if he keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for thee in the full conviction that thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.

Oct 11

Let me tell you a story about a few lucky ducks.

Last summer my kids decided once again that we should hatch duck eggs. We had been hatching eggs for the past three summers or so but this time around there was an added tension.  This year was the first year we had… a dog!

Now this dog came out of nowhere, literally. He was found roaming the streets and while his unexpected arrival had brought many new dimensions to our undogged life, the one thing we were hoping not to change, was the summer hatching.

So we built a fence. A sturdy one at that.  We prayed.  We researched dogs and ducks. We prayed. We hoped. And in a few weeks they arrived.

I love that picture. That’s my Isabelle holding her beloved ducks. It’s hard to explain how much my daughter loves her ducks, except to say… well just look at the picture again. It is worth ten thousand words.

For a while everything was fine.  The dog and the duckies were cohabiting peacefully outside and it seemed like the precaution of the fence plus all our prayers was exactly what was needed to prevent disaster.

But we were wrong.

I remember so clearly that night when Isabelle’s panicked shrills turned my body cold as I raced down the stairs to the backyard where she was.

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There she stood screaming in the yard in the middle of what we had feared.  I rushed her crying little body inside the house, leaving behind 6 dead ducklings.  The dog had jumped the fence and in attempt to play with them, went too far and killed them.

God had spared six of the duckies and from then on they were called the “lucky ducks.”  But that night, my daughter for the first time, felt the deep sting of losing something she had loved so very much.  And it hurt.  That night when we prayed I promised her that one day, God in time would heal her hurt and one day it wouldn’t hurt as bad as it did that night.

Isaiah 61:3
~To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Many weeks passed by from that one night.  But then one summer evening as she was riding her bike around the park she abruptly stepped on her brakes, made a U-turn back to me and said “Mom, guess what?  It doesn’t hurt anymore.  My heart doesn’t hurt.  God really did take it away. I still miss my duckies but I’m not sad anymore.  I’m happy again!”

And with a smile on her face that lit up that summer night, she rode off.

You know what? I wouldn’t take back that horrible night for anything in the world, because she learned a truth about God that can only be learned through tears and heartache…

God can work a miracle in our hearts.

I don’t know how he does it.  How he makes this great exchange of mourning to joy, despair to praise but He does. And I guess if we could figure that out, it wouldn’t be so miraculous.

And because Isabelle experienced this clearing of pain for herself, the truth in those verses are real to her.

And they are to me too.

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