Grace in the Little Things

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How often have you heard, “God cares about every detail of our lives,” ?  Or, “If it matters to you, it matters to Him,” ?

I’ve heard it a thousand times.  And I believed it.  But, God has a sense of humor, and a perfect sense of timing.

Currently, my minivan is on the fritz – the transmission is out (YAY….not!).  So, I’ve been driving our old F350 – I really do like to drive it, though you don’t exactly zip around town in a crew cab long bed 1 ton truck!  Anyway, the front passenger window was rolled down but wouldn’t go back up (the windows are electric, and there are also two other windows that will not roll up completely).  So, while at home, we’ve kept the windows covered to keep the rain out (what rain, you ask?  ha ha).  However, when I drive around town, I don’t like to look too much like a backwoods hillbilly, so off the covers come until I get home – you can imagine that I tend to stay home if it’s raining!

Well, a few days ago, I had to go buy groceries.  Thankfully, no rain – and it was a beautiful day!  So, off came the ugly black covers on the back windows, and off came the florescent orange cover on the front window!  I drove into town, and asked God quickly, again, to please roll that window up.

Now, let me interject here that I have ‘asked’ for that window to be rolled up several times before.  “God, will you PUH-LEEZE roll the stupid window up?”  Sounds heartfelt and very Christian-like, huh?  If I were God, I would have ignored my request, too.  Much, in fact, the way I ignore the requests of MY children when they whine, or don’t use a respectful tone.

But, the day was wonderfully cool and the sun was shining, and somehow, God had used those things to change my attitude.   I asked Him to please roll it up, tried the switch, and nothing happened.  So, I paused for a minute.

(As a quick side note, I don’t know about you, but I always do my BEST praying in the car by myself.)

I told God that I knew He did care about the little things in our lives.  I knew He could roll the window up that instant, if He so chose.  But, if not, would He just protect my truck while I was inside Wal-Mart buying groceries?  Either way, it was up to Him, and I was going to be happy either way.

I left the switch alone.

A few minutes later, for reasons I can’t explain other than the Lord, Himself, caused me to, I pushed the switch to close the window.  It rolled up smoothly, without a glitch, perfectly!  As if nothing had ever been wrong.

I laughed at my stubbornness in previous prayers – how I sounded like a spoiled, whiny child!  I told my husband what had happened and he, too, thought it awesome.  I told him the story of how I had “prayed” for that window before, and he said, “But did you really think He would do it?”

“Shutup,” was all I said, laughing and jokingly, of course.

So, my question for you is, when you pray for something, are you like a whiny, spoiled child who just wants to have his/her way?  Or are you praying truly asking the Lord for His covering, His protection, His will, and His timing?  And more importantly, are you trusting Him to answer?

The truth is that the little things can teach us so much about God, and ourselves.  There are so many lessons for me in this little story about the window that wouldn’t roll up.  How many can you see for yourself?

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When you say, “I’ll pray for you”

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Your cousin’s mother-in-law is going for surgery in a week.  Your cousin asks you to pray.  You say you will.

Your best friend says she is worried about her finances and asks you to pray for God to show her what to do.  You promise to pray daily until He answers her.

Your brother asks you to pray for his marriage.  You agree to pray daily, without fail, until his marriage is back on track and winning again.

But, life happens.  You pray, but the prayers are for things you need just to make it through the day.  You ask God to help you find your lost car keys, make it to the doctor’s office on time, and to make that last $50 stretch until payday.  You remember your promises to pray for your friends and family, so you say a rushed prayer while you drive to the grocery store.  You know you should do more, but the time just slips away.

Does this sound like you?  I’m not judging, because I have been there all too often, myself.  The question is, who are we short-changing when we fail to pray like we promised?

In my humble opinion, we are doing ourselves a disservice.  Don’t get me wrong, the person we are praying for definitely receives a benefit, too, but we miss even more.  We miss the opportunity to go before the God of the universe and plead for a fellow believer.  And sometimes, we have the opportunity to plead for the salvation of another human.  We get to wrestle with demons for that person’s eternal destiny!

But, all too often, we don’t.  We miss the boat.  We throw up a quick prayer and hope God counts it as a real one.  Yes, quick prayers are good sometimes – sometimes they are all we can manage in certain situations!  But, when there is something big – salvation, health, marriage, etc – at stake, we owe God and the recipient more than a few seconds.

I challenge you to spend a minimum of 3  minutes of prayer for EACH person or situation you have agreed to pray for – daily.  For 5 people, that only adds 15 minutes to your prayer time.  You can do it!  (You may need to get up an extra 15 minutes earlier, but, you can do it!)

Why don’t you write more, Toni?

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I thought that some of you may be wondering why I don’t update my blog more often – at least daily, or every other day….so I thought I would explain, just in case you were interested.

You see, I love to write.  I could actually spend hours writing everyday and be perfectly happy.  However, I know that when I sit down at this computer, I need to plan to be here a while becauseI like to write.  So, although I intend to update this blog more frequently (my goal is daily), there is a distinct possibility that many of those will be scheduled posts. 

That said, there is one more reason I don’t post more often – and this one is the real doozie:  I’m waiting for God.  You see, God holds us all to extremely high standards, but when we start teaching, or leading, or giving advice based on Biblical principles, we BETTER be doing it right.  If we knowingly lead someone astray, we are in BIGtrouble.  And, I believe that if we lead someone astray simply because we have failed to do our own homework – aka, laziness – we are likewise in some serious hot water.  So, as you can see, this is a situation where I want to be sure I stay out of the hot water…..I’m hot-natured as it is….don’t need any help….LOL.

So, I wait for God to lay something on my heart strongly before I write it out for you to read.  In fact, right now, I have a post that I started at least 3 weeks ago, and haven’t finished because I don’t feel its what God wants me to write just yet.  Mind you, I believe someone should, but right now, He doesn’t intend for that to be me.  I’m sure sometimes I miss the boat – I’m sure there are times when the Lord wants to tell you something through me (and I say that in humility) that I just somehow miss (READ:  don’t listen) His voice telling me to write it. 

I do plan to update this (HIS) blog more frequently – and I hope that in the meantime you’ll stay on as a faithful reader.  I have some big goals for this site, and one of those is to have a book written by mid-year!  I’m going to need your help! 

Also, Cindy Rushtonannounced that she would be issuing a challenge sometime in the near future to her readers who are also writers:  the 30-Day Challenge to write an article for their blog everyday for 30 days.  This is something I also plan to accomplish – so, with God’s Grace, for at least one month my blog will be updated daily!  I’d like to ask for your prayers for this though, as I want to do this to please God, and write about the subject He chooses – not me.

So, I said all that to say, I’ve missed you guys!  (Wait, I am NOT a Yankee!  LOL – j/k to all from north of the Mason Dixon line….sort of…lol)  Let’s try that again – I missed y’all!  (Now that’s Texan!)  See you again soon!

And, um….where are all who took up the Bible Reading Challenge????  I know you’re out there……we can’t give up already!  Tomorrow is a great day to catch up!  Go to the last reading schedule post and leave a comment about this week’s readings…..we’re waiting to hear what you think!

His,

Toni

New Year’s Goals….

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After reading the blog of a friend on MySpace, I decided to do this….here goes!

I am choosing NOT to have New Year’s Resolutions.  They’re too easy to break, forget, or ignore.  As a society, the definition of the word “resolution” has become so watered down, that New Year’s Resolutions offer nothing but disappointment to the ones who adhere to that tradition.

However, I do believe that the New Year is a great time to begin to make changes in our lives.  Although we can certainly do it anytime, the beginning of a year marks a new start, and therefore seems a perfect time to BEGIN!

With that said, here are my goals for the upcoming year:

1.  Spend more time playing with my children and my family

2.  Teach my children more about the character qualities I want them to have

3.  Spend more quiet time with my husband – he is home now, and our time together in the morning must be protected…its the perfect time to talk

4.  Read through the entire Bible this year!

5.  Spend more time in prayer – and more of that time praising rather than just asking

6.  Take better care of my health:  get control of my diabetes to a point that it becomes second-nature;  stick to my gluten-free/CELL program diet;  not beat myself up when I slip or make a mistake

7.  Exercise at least 3 times per week

8.  Write at least one ebook to offer through my blog

9.  Reach a goal of 1000 email subscribers to my blog!

10.  Get closer to becoming the wife/mother/friend/sister/daughter/cousin/aunt/PERSON God desires me to be

So, what about you?  What are YOUR goals this new year??

Leave a comment and let us know!

Will you accept my challenge this year?

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I have been feeling a need to do this, so here it is:

I am issuing a challenge to each and every one of you – EVERYONE that reads this blog!

The challenge is this:

Read through your Bible in one year with us!

Now, if you have done it before, GREAT!  Do it again!  And if you haven’t, PERFECT!  Do it now!

Here’s how it will work:

I will post a reading schedule at the beginning of each week.  It will list the daily readings for the week, and be the catalyst for comments during the week on the readings we are doing.  I plan to have some free goodies for those of you who participate (by participate, I mean, leave at least one comment per week on that week’s readings!).  And, there is a distinct possibility of having a drawing mid-way through and at the end of the year….if not quarterly!

So, join with us today….we begin on January 1st!

Leave a comment on this posting if you will be taking up the challenge to Sharpen Your Sword all year long!

Preparing for Battle,

Toni

The Christmas Gift

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I wrote this originally in my personal journal (don’t you feel like a special friend, now?) as a Valentines poem. But I have been wanting to share it with you.  I changed a few words so it pertains to Christmas…hope you like it…let me know.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 The Christmas Gift

Lord, I have forgotten Your ways

I haven’t read Your Word in too many days

I have missed the mark time and time again

Who am I to say that You are my friend?

 

But, Lord, in Your grace I want to grow

And I’ll need Your help, this I know.

To find my way back to Your Throne

This is a journey I can’t make alone.

 

Lord, I have called upon You only when in trouble

Perhaps that is why lately, all I do is stumble.

I’ve cursed and I’ve cried, I’ve felt I could die

But, Lord, You never left. You were always at my side.

 

You’ve never forsaken me, you’ve always been there

In the morning, at night, and when I say the occasional prayer.

You’re there when I sleep and there when I cry

You’re there when I slip, though I sometimes wonder why.

 

I wonder how a Lord so sovereign and good

Can still love a sinner like me – I’m not so sure I could.

But You do Lord, and I’m blessed

For of every gift in life, Jesus is the best.

 

So, Lord, this Christmas Day, I want to tell You

That whatever it takes, that’s what I’ll do

I’‘ll do what’s needed to get back that fire.

Lord, I just ask You to teach me to desire

 

The things that are good, righteous, and just

And to never lose faith in Your love, but to trust.

To trust in Your provision, Your love, and Your promise

For You o Lord, cannot be dishonest.

 

Lord, You have my heart from now until forever

I will love You Lord, and not lose faith, no never.

So, Lord, be with me as on this new journey I start

And Lord, please accept this Christmas gift – my heart.

Love letters

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Imagine this scenario:

You pick up your mail, like usual. As you sift through the endless amount of bills, credit card offers, sales flyers and more junk mail, you see a long white envelope with an actual stamp on it. You pull it from the stack and realize it is a letter from a dear friend you haven’t heard from in years! You pull into the driveway and read the letter before you even put the car in park!

Or, how about this one:

Ladies, you’re being courted (or dating as is said now, though the two are not interchangeable), and your betrothed presents you with a handwritten letter. The letter tells you about the way his life was before you met. It tells you about how great of a love he has for you and talks of future plans and dreams. And deep within, in the middle of the letter, is a wonderful surprise – a marriage proposal. This is definitely a letter you will read again just before you walk down the aisle. In short, it is a letter you will read over and over again, breathing in each and every word as if your very life depended on it.

Try this one:

You receive a poetic love letter from your spouse. The letter is very long, and handwritten, with all types of prose. It begins with the story of your lives together. It tells of the good times, and the bad. There are pages that talk of nothing but hardship, and other pages that are full of blessed memories. There are poems and beautiful language. You read this letter everyday, especially since your spouse is now deceased. You treasure every single word, and you can almost say the entire thing by heart. It is, by far, your most valued possession.

Now, imagine this one:

Imagine getting any of those letters, and only taking it out once a week to read one or two sentences. Imagine only reading the parts that are happy, and not ever bothering with the parts that are hard to understand.

Instead of reading it all, you pick out little bits of information here and there, but you miss the big picture since you never read the whole thing. But, after all, you don’t have time to sit and read the whole thing. Dishes must be washed, laundry folded, errands run, and emails to check. So you miss out on the wonderful words and sweet poetry your friend or loved one put together, specifically for you.

Are you wondering where I’m going with this? It’s been said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. And it struck me tonight that if it is indeed a love letter – or a letter at all – we have ignored it unopened on the desk corner for far too long. Unlike the long-lost friend’s letter, or the letter from our beloved husband or wife, we open it and read only a verse or two once a week. And we wonder in the meantime why there are days when we just don’t understand what’s going on. There are days when nothing makes sense, and when we ask God to explain it, we wonder why He doesn’t speak to us.

The truth is, He does speak to us still, and has given us something that the early church would have gladly died for – a book that contains His words and thoughts. We have in our hands something of such great value that people die for it everyday. And we leave ours all too often on a shelf or coffee table to gather dust.

Why don’t we give our Bible the same attention and care we give those love letters? After reading those love letters, we can quote so much of it word-for-word, and yet we have a hard time remembering much more than a few scriptures, and then may only know the jist of it. Knowing its address (the book: chapter and verse) is another thing.

So my challenge is this: treat your Bible and the word of God as 1000 times more important than any other love letter you could ever receive. Read it every single day. Read it all the way through (not all at once, of course!) – and then do it again. Carry it with you when you travel. When you feel worried, scared, happy, sad, or blessed, read it. Memorize it – hide its words in your heart.

Do that, and its guaranteed, when the hard times come, you’ll have a direct line to God – His written word. And you’ll have a much easier time of knowing how to handle everything that comes your way.

Spend time in His word today – and be blessed.

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