The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Disappointments are reappointments

Romans 8:28    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

At the end of my  junior year in high school, I tried out for cheerleader.  I had been a cheerleader off and on since elementary school and I wanted so badly to spend my last year in high school cheering for our teams.  I had a great routine for the try outs.  I practiced constantly and put a great amount of time and effort into the preparations.  When try out day came around, I could not have been happier with how it was executed.  When the names were called, my name was not included.    I was devastated.   I could not understand it.  How could I enjoy my senior year when my plans had ended in failure?

I want to clearly state that this was 30 years ago and this disappointment does not rank at the top of the list in my life.  I have experienced much greater and deeper disappointments in the years since then.  I chose this example of a disappointment to show you that God has other plans for us when many times we cannot see past our own plans. 

We should not look at the disappointments in our lives as failures.  We should view them as reappointments in the direction of God's will.  This particular disappointment was God's way of turning my head in a direction that would affect the rest of my life.    Since I was not a cheerleader my senior year, I had a great amount of extra time to explore the direction of my life after graduation.  I explored new found opportunities to shadow in several medical professions and to learn more about each one.  I spent time visiting colleges and fine tuning my career path.  I even met my husband during this year--precisely 29 years ago today, a month shy of my high school graduation.   It was a very busy year which at times seemed to take many turns.  But as I look back, I realize that my disappointment was a reappointment-one that was the beginning of the rest of my life.

In our lives we will suffer disappointments.  They are inevitable.   Some are very large and will cause us to feel as if our worlds will end.  Some will leave us wondering if we will ever understand what is going on.   The most important truth to remember about disappointments is that we must seek the path that God is preparing for us.  He knows what is best for us.  Many times what we view as disappointments are areas of protection that God offers when he is taking care of us.   Trust that God is working in your life for your own good.                                   #TSS

Monday, April 28, 2014

Songs 2:7   Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right. 

We can all bring to mind that euphoric feeling of falling in love.  The giddy feelings of being on top of the world are invigorating and satisfying.   Those "sweet nothings", you know the candy, flowers and messages that leave us with tingly toes and thoughts of forever seem to beckon us into romance and wondrous dreams for the future.  

"Feelings" of love can develop faster than the commitment required to make love last.   We all want someone to love us, someone who thinks we are the best thing since sliced bread.  However, it is important to realize that feelings are not enough to support a lasting relationship.   Romantic gestures are nice, however in reality, romance does not equal commitment.   

Several years ago Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent co-authored a book entitled Love is a Decision.    A wonderful book that offers a detailed description about what it takes to make a relationship work-to make a marriage succeed from the Biblical perspective of what God expects from each person involved and how feelings are not necessarily a part of that commitment.     I believe this book should be required reading in high school, as well as a re-read in college.   Better yet, we should all read it once per year!   

A genuine, solid relationship requires a desire of both parties to purposefully strive to remain focused on the foundation of a godly relationship.  A true covenantal relationship includes a desire of each person to always have the best interest of the other in mind-to relinquish self fulfillment.   See 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 for a description of what true love is.

Feelings come and go and some people seem to be able to turn them on and off like a water faucet.  A true, lasting relationship is God centered and requires continual decisions to remain committed based on truth and not on emotions.        #TSS

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Anniversary

I will use today's post to celebrate the first year anniversary of The Sweet Stuff Ministry on Facebook.   When God spoke to my heart about this ministry, I could not see what he had in store for me. That is the beauty of faith, we are not supposed to see it all.  Through this ministry, I have experienced so many blessings; not monetary blessings or "things" but personal, and relational blessings. 

I have always heard that the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Through studying and teaching here at TSS, I have learned so much about God and myself.   I have much more to learn and I am excited to continue into this ministry to learn and to teach. 

One of the most valuable blessings that I have received through this ministry is that of healing.  A huge, gaping wound that was in my heart, a wound filled with bitterness, has been closed.   I am forever thankful for that!   I have met so many new people through TSS and have had the privilege of worshipping with many of you at retreats.  I have had the honor of being called upon  to pray for readers when they are hurting, to cry with some, to laugh with others.  These are ALL blessings!

My mission in this ministry is simply obedience to God's calling.  It is a bonus to share it all with you as readers.  My posts are inspired by the everyday situations and hurts that we all experience.  I pray each day for the post and for what God wants to say.  I appreciate each of you and your dedication to sharing in the journey toward healing and encouragement and to keeping a strong faith and deep relationship with God in a fallen world. 

May God bless and keep each of you! 
Your sister in Christ at The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pride goeth before the fall

Proverbs 16:17-18  The path of the virtuous leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe.   Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Self righteous pride whispers to us, "my way is best".   Pride blocks the view of the feelings and thoughts of others.   Pride causes us to look down on others.  Pride is controlling, self-serving, hurtful, destructive, and leads people to do evil things.   Pride can cause a person to become arrogant and contemptuous.  Pride is a sin.

I often hear of instances where self seeking individuals treat others with disrespect or in a haughty manner.  Power struggles in schools, sports and the workplace are common arenas for this type of behavior.  Pride goes beyond a healthy level of competitiveness.  Pride is a lonely sport!

Proud people seldom realize their problem even though it is quite obvious to others around them.  Self-satisfaction tends to blind people of their shortcomings.    Continuous acts of pride and haughty behaviors soon reveal what is truly in the heart of someone.  If you work around someone that acts in this manner or perhaps you are the recipient of some of the evil actions of a person filled with pride, remember that God knows the hearts of all people.  You may be anxious for "the fall" of a proud person, but the best thing that you can do is pray for them and continue to live your life in an upright manner.  God will deal with the proud person and you will be safe in his care. 

If you feel that you have fallen into prideful motives or thought processes, ask God to search your heart and show you any area of self righteous pride that you need to correct. He will keep you safe and prevent you from falling.   #TSS 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good times and bad times

Ecclesiastes 7:14   When times are good, be happy;  but when times are bad, consider:  God has made the one as well as the other.

As humans, we have a tendency to be very happy during the good times in life.  Sometimes we even credit ourselves for prosperity in the good times.  But then when the bad times come, and we will all have bad times, we want to blame God and wonder why we are being punished or forgotten.   Life is a blend of good times and bad times.  

During the bad times, a great opportunity exists to take a personal inventory.   We sometimes bring the bad times upon ourselves by being distant from God.    That inventory should include questions such as:
                   -Am I behaving in a way that is contrary to God's standards?
                   -Are there behaviors that I need to change or improve upon to line up with God's commandments?
                   -Is there a lesson for me to learn in this situation?
                   -Do I need to draw nearer to God and have a closer relationship with him?

God expects us to live a life full of trust in him, not relying upon human wisdom and power.   Through the bad times, we should recognize that God is still in control and we should thank him for the opportunity to experience situations that teach us more about him.   We are to seek the good that he offers from each bad situation and thank him for the lessons.  He can bring good things out of ALL our struggles.  The key is to allow him to guide us and show us the way out. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Obedience will change your life forever

Romans 6:16   Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?   You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  

When our children were small, we used "time out" as a punishment when they were disobedient.   I had a small stool in my kitchen and they would spend the time out on that stool.   Even though time out was only for a brief period of time, it seemed like an eternity to them.  There would be anguish on their faces, wiggling and physical discomfort, and a constant watching of the timer to see how much longer they were required to sit there.   It was not pleasant for them because they did not want to be there.  They wanted to play or run or be about the things that they wanted to do.   As I would watch each of them on the stool, they appeared to be suffering-of course there is a bit of drama that surfaces during a timeout.  As they were older, sometimes they would protest the punishment and try to understand why it was necessary. 

We know as parents that it is not always good for children to do "what they want to do".  We must keep them from danger as well as teach them right from wrong in order for them to learn to make good decisions throughout their lives. Time outs are designed to get a child's attention and allow them to think about what they did wrong and how the behavior needs to be corrected.   God will teach us lessons in the same manner.  He will hold blessings in "time out" when we are disobedient.  He will allow us to time to learn the lesson and correct our disobedient behavior.  In order to correct disobedient behavior, we must be willing to change some things or change some of the people in our lives.   Obedience to God means that everything in your life will change forever.  Let that soak in.  Everything will change forever.   Some of the changes will be uncomfortable as God prunes and shapes us into servants of his word.   We may lose friends, family members may become distant, co workers may no longer hang around when we choose to follow in obedience to God.  These occurrences seem hurtful and often do not feel good, but submission and obedience may require us to seek different people to spend our time with.  When we obey God, those changes are for our benefit!

When friends leave or reject us or blessings seem to be in "time out", seek God's will in each and every situation.  Seek the lesson to be learned or behavior to be corrected.   Ask him if you are doing what he wants you to versus what you want to do.  Remember, what we want to do is not always best for us.    Seek with all your heart (sometimes that will cause a great deal of chest pain), obey whatever it is that he wants of you and I assure you that everything in your life will change forever!  #TSS

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Salty Stuff

Matthew 5:13-16   You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

As I sat to write the devotional this morning, my mind was going in a couple of different directions about the subject matter.  As I began typing, my oldest daughter (away at college) sends me a text message with the above scripture that she had studied this morning and how it relates to a situation that we discussed over the weekend.  God inspired the following for today's devotion.

Salt is often used in recipes, even in baking sweet stuff.  The purpose is three fold:  1. the salt is a preservative.  2.  salt enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.  3.  salt helps the dough rise.   Notice that in all three instances, salt HELPS.   We usually think of salt as a substance that is rough, course and strong to the taste.   But salt helps to bring out the sweetness in recipes. 

This is also true in the world as Christians.  We must add flavor to the world and enhance the sweetness among the people.  We can add flavor to relationships by demonstrating Christ's love.  Sometimes love may get a bit rough or course like salt and God's truth will rub into and wound and sting.  Sharing God's truth is part of the saltiness that we are to sprinkle.

Let us as Christians not lose our flavor in the world.  Let us contribute positive, helpful things to all recipes involving Christians and non-Christians alike.   May we preserve, enhance the flavors and help all others rise in Christ.  May we maintain the worth of salt and use it effectively.

My daughter ended the text with #TheSaltyStuff, at which I laughed out loud! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Luke 23:   39-43   One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the Messiah, are you?   Prove it by saving yourself-and us too, while you're at it!"  But the other criminal protested, "don't you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn't done anything wrong."  Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  And Jesus replied,  "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."

At the time of Jesus' crucifixion, many followers had gone into hiding as they were somewhat confused about what was happening.  They had hoped that Jesus would rescue Israel and their hopes for the Kingdom were shattered.  The thought it was all over for them. 

The criminal hanging beside Jesus, saw the coming glory and on his death bed, had faith and believed in Jesus.   Near his death, the criminal turned to Jesus and asked for forgiveness.  A salvation experience up close and personal!    This proves to us that our faith alone is what redeems us, not our works.  This criminal had no time to perform any works of service, he was to die in a few minutes.  

It is never too late to turn to God!!!!  The important part is that you DO ask Christ for forgiveness. Turn to him, look upon his face with faith and belief.   That is what the cross means.  He died for you just as much as he died for the criminal hanging beside him.  He died for everyone, the people that lived THEN and the people that live NOW.  

Just as important as the crucifixion is the resurrection.  I encourage you to spend time this week in the Bible studying both.   To understand the sacrifice and love offering at the cross is an intense and humbling study.    He is risen!!!!   Matthew chapter 28.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asleep in the garden

Matthew 26:40    Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.

So many details relating to Jesus' crucifixion are profound, most are horrific.  Other details are not as profound but have such unspoken meaning.  When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he knew his time on earth was coming to an end soon.  The human side of him was anxious.  He went into the garden to have some time to talk to his father.  To seek reassurance and to restate his commitment to God's will.  Jesus asked his disciples to keep watch with him and to pray that they not fall into temptation.   I am sure that Jesus needed the comfort from his friends as he knew what was ahead of him. 

The disciples were tired and weary and they had fallen asleep.  This must have disappointed Jesus immensely.   He was getting ready to be crucified, had told the disciples all the details of his death, yet they could not keep their eyes open.   They had literally and figuratively fallen asleep to what was about to happen before them. 

How often are we asleep in the garden?  How often do we allow our fleshy feelings to overpower the need to pray and be attentive to God's will?   How often do we turn a blind eye on what is happening right before us?     How often do we know the details of someone's struggles or agony, yet we take a nap when we could offer help or spend much time in prayer?                                     

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Queen of Sheba

1 Kings 10:1   When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.   

The queen of Sheba had heard many great things about Solomon and his wisdom.  She thought of Solomon as somewhat of a competitor and in those days kings and queens found joy in outdoing one another.   She went to visit Solomon to test his wisdom.  She needed to see for herself if all that she had heard about him was true.  Once she completed her testing that consisted of many questions, she then became an admirer instead of a competitor.   The queen then blessed Solomon with many gifts and riches and she was a great supporter.

How great it would be today if our local and national leaders would appreciate the knowledge and wisdom of fellow leaders instead of viewing it as a competition.   How great it would be if all could work together to advance the kingdom of God instead of focusing on personal agendas and self magnification.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The only healing that will be permanent in nature is a heavenly healing that only God can offer.

James 3:17   But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Yesterday I was in a doctor's office waiting room for an extended period of time and on the television in the waiting room was an afternoon talk show.  The show contained various segments about fitness, recipes, games, etc.  One segment in particular caught my attention.  Two ladies were on the show, both having been divorced because of a cheating spouse.  Both were having a difficult time letting go and moving forward with their lives.   A consultant was brought onto the  show to offer advice on some ways that the ladies could let go and move on.  Knowing that the show was not a Biblically based, I did not expect scriptural advice to pour into the script. 

The consultant advised both ladies to get rid of any "artifacts" that serve as reminders of the marriages that they both had lost.  Artifacts such as their wedding dresses, photos, any gifts that they had received, etc. were to be disposed of.  She told them to do some things for themselves; to treat themselves to something new or fun.  The list of suggestions continued and as I listened, the first thing that came to mind was that this list contained many things that focused on them as a person and not the source of their hurt and need for healing.  These ladies were deeply wounded and had a desire to overcome the hurt and move forward.

As I pondered this, I thought of my own emotional healing.  While I can not relate to what those ladies have been through since the source of my hurt was different, I can relate to that inner desire to let go and move on.  Deep hurts will take us to a place where we would pretty much try anything that anyone suggested to us in order to get rid of the pain.  However, from personal experience, I can tell you with certainty that no amount of trips to the spa, manicures, new articles of clothing nor steak dinners will help you to truly let go.  We can destroy all "artifacts" that remind us of the events, but if we do not repair our hearts spiritually, it takes very little to bring back a memory or recollection. 

Being able to put hurts, forgiveness and healing into perspective come ONLY when we seek wisdom from God and hear his advice.  The only healing that will be permanent in nature is a heavenly healing that only God can offer.   If you have a need for emotional healing, seek the wisdom and advice from God that he offers so freely.  It is a healing that is sincere and genuine.  A permanent healing that will restore your peace.   #TSS

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Psalms 10:4-5

Psalm 10: 4-5    In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies.

I know that we can all bring to mind some people that seem to prosper and succeed, yet they are not Christians or may not even go to church.  It can be discouraging at times trying to understand why individuals or  groups of people can be successful all the while participating in illegal or illicit business practices.  The wickedness may be inconspicuous or it may be overt.   We can spend too much time wondering why God allows them to have so much and for such activities to exist.   Why are we bothered when wicked people prosper?   Are we upset because of the damage that they do or are we jealous of their success and possessions?

We must keep our perspective and remember what God tells us about the wicked and about wealth and possessions.  God assures us that the wicked will be punished.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless well be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.    God despises the evil deeds of the wicked; they do not go unnoticed.   Wealth is only a temporary, earthly accomplishment.  No money, nor any amount of possessions will be needed in eternity.  Matthew 6:19-21  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  It is better for us as Christians to struggle financially and have the security of eternity than to be secure financially and struggle with eternity.   Rinse and repeat that as many times as necessary!

Do not be discouraged when you see the wicked prosper.  Try instead to pray for them.  Pray that they will come to know Christ and have a deep desire to live according to God's word.   Pray for their eternity.   It is sad to look around and realize how many people in our world truly do not have their place in eternity reserved.                                           #TSS

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Proverbs 16:8

Proverbs 16:8   Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.

There is an old saying that things in life happen in threes.  In the last couple of weeks, I have dealt with three instances in which students have attempted to cheat on exams.  As a professor, this is extremely discouraging on multiple levels.  I want to see each and every student enrolled in my courses to succeed.  I take pride in being a part of their educational experience and in moving them forward into their chosen careers.  To see a student cheating is heartbreaking for me, not only as the professor, but also as a Christian. 

When I recently discovered a student cheating, my heart sank into the pit of my stomach.  This particular student is outstanding with the highest grade average in the class.   I have had no suspicion of the student having cheated before and I monitor my classes closely for such behavior.  When I confronted the student about what I had seen, the student denied it.  As I pondered what I would say next, the way that I felt brought to mind the way that God feels each and every time that we let him down.  When we make poor judgment calls, his heart must be broken.  Even so, he is always ready to offer grace and mercy.

Then came the confession.  About 30 minutes later, the student came to me and confessed that what I had seen was indeed correct.  The student had panicked and realizing an unpreparedness had planned to cheat.   Pressure within the student to make a good grade on the quiz overpowered honesty and doing what was right.    This is an example of how Satan is ready to talk us into doing things for our fleshy selves at all costs.  

As I counseled the student I couldn't help but feel like a parent.  The student is young, going to college for the first time, learning lessons of life and growing into adulthood.  As I explained the consequences of the behavior, I talked about character and making decisions that have an effect on life in the future.   Satan does not present the consequences and damage to us when he presents temptation-he only shows us how actions will help us or make us feel better.  What we lose in these types of situations far outweigh any gain.   This student lost a great deal besides a good grade on the quiz. 

In a split second, Satan can tempt any one of us with offers that seem so wonderful.  Offers of self accomplishment, improvement, personal gain and fulfillment.   We must take the time to pray for strength, guidance and the foresight of consequences of any such temptations.   Life is hard minute by minute but with a close relationship with God, studying his word and making a commitment to do what is right, no matter the situation, we can gain many of His heavenly rewards.         #TSS

Monday, April 7, 2014

Forgivness is a willful attitude

Corrie Ten Boom said this about forgiveness:  “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  
 

Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner in a Natzi concentration camp for helping Jews to hide during World War II.  Her sister, Betsy, was executed at the concentration camp, while Corrie was released because of a clerical error.  She had been schedule to be executed the next day.  

Corrie Ten Boom is a wonderful example of how we as human beings can find it within ourselves to forgive.  She is a model of the fact that forgiveness is an attitude and decision and that forgiveness can occur, no matter how much anger or hurt is in a person's heart.  

Not only did Ten Boom willfully forgive the acts of evil that she witnessed in that camp, but she also came face-to-face with one of the men from that concentration camp in a church service some years later.   The mercy and forgiveness that she offered him was astounding.  She made it look easy, although if you have ever dealt with forgiving someone that caused deep hurts and wounds, you are aware of all the inner emotions and difficulty that may be present.   The bodily flesh wants to kick and scream and hold on to the hurt and anger.   

2 Corinthians 2:5-8 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.

An attitude of forgiveness comes from our love for God which should, in turn, contain a love for our fellow brothers and sisters.   Forgiveness is a mindset, a decision and a lifestyle that we must learn to live.   Forgiveness means that our love for God is more valuable than the wrongs that others have bestowed upon us and that relationships are important.

Forgiving another person does not mean that he/she will change.

Forgiving will not change what another has done to you.

Forgiveness is more about how your life can be changed.  This is a key life principle that contributes to our relationship with God, improves our peace and restores joy in our lives. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Letting go of vengeant urges

Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

A part of dealing with bitterness and learning to let go is dealing with feelings of vengeance. The need to get even can cloud our minds. While we may not plot to do destructive and hurtful things, we may have thoughts of wanting those that hurt us to suffer in the same ways that we have suffered. We think about lashing out, letting them know how we hurt. We need for them to feel what we have felt, to know how badly the things they said and did hurt us. We want them to be as miserable as we are.

We may question how some people can do or say things that hurt us deeply, yet seemingly have no remorse whatsoever. We may never know the answers to those questions. We are not promised to know the answers.

In my dealing with letting go of the bitterness that had taken root in my heart, there were days when these emotions were strong. Many days I questioned over and over in my mind. I would question how can people do these things? What are they thinking when they do? Why are they so happy when they have done such things? Too many days were ruined by these thought and feelings that I allowed to linger in my mind. 

What I learned in order to let go:

1. God knows everything. Everything that has been done to me as well as everything that I have done and has gone through my mind.
2. Others are responsible for what they have done. I am responsible for what I have done and thought.
3. God will deal with them in the end. God will deal with me in the end.
4. It was time for me to improve my way of viewing it all because I was losing. Losing time with God, happy times with family and friends and losing the flavor of The Sweet Stuff.  
5.  God intends to replace your hurts and bad memories with good things.

 I encourage you to let go, do not waste any more time being bitter and unhappy.  Ruminating in the memories and emotions of the hurt will prevent you from enjoying The Sweet Stuff.  
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

 
 
 
 
Time for a cupcake crown. This crown goes to a lady that is not afraid to stand for God and to stand up for what is right. A co-worker asked her to falsify some documents so that the production of their work group could appear on paper to be better than it was in reality. This would enhance their evaluation and they would receive better marks. She was told that others had done this before and gotten away with it. This lady said NO and she was non-negotiable with her answer and unwillingness to participate in such activity. It will cost her an outstanding evaluation, work relationships will become strained and she could possibly lose her job. However, she is a winner in God's eyes and I know he is giving her great marks on his evaluation of the situation. Integrity matters!!! God expects our characters to be non-negotiable in any given situation. #TSS

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In the Valley

Hosea 2:15  I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

"Down in the valley, valley so low.  Hang your head over.  Hear the wind blow."   

I vividly remember both my grandmother's singing to me for many years in my youth.   I especially remember one of my grandmother's singing "Down in the Valley"  to me.  It is a lullaby.  Soothing.  Sweet.  When I hear the song, I can picture a valley. 

If you live in my part of the country, this is what a valley looks like:  lush, green grass, flat land that is easy to traverse brilliant flowers growing throughout, a stream flowing near or around the valley, hills and mountains in the distance, a gentle breeze blowing.  Open beauty waiting to be explored and enjoyed.  Possibly a breathtaking cascade of water flowing from a  cliff or mountain top. 

Valleys were highly sought after in the Medieval period for their natural defenses.   In the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge served as encampment for George Washington's army.  Nestled between the mountains, it provided safety for the soldiers as they trained for battle.  If we plan a hiking trip to the mountains, we will not camp on the mountain, but in the valley. 

When we think of the "valleys" in our lives, we think of those as dark times; times of trial and difficulty.  Times that we really would like to forget.  Church hymns speak of being in the valley and the desire to be on the mountain. 

Being on the mountain offers us a sense of accomplishment; we have reached a goal or milestone.  We feel on top of the world.  However, can the mountain top provide us with all that we need?   Mountain tops have rugged terrain, basically no vegetation.  The water supply on a mountain is flowing downward and is a challenge to catch.  Building a dwelling on a mountain is difficult and time consuming.

There is much beauty to be seen and many things to explore while living in the valley.  In those times of life, God wants us to explore and learn more about him and mostly how to be like him.   Even though the valleys seem like rough times and the trails to the mountaintop seem rugged and impossible, we should savor the beauty and relish all that is provided for us in the valley.  We should "hear the wind"  that blows through the valley-God's voice will be there.   He will lead you out of the "valley of trouble" and show you the "gateway of hope"  Hosea 2:15

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sin of comparison

Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

It is easy to fall into the sin of “comparison”. This is especially true with a variety of social media where people can present themselves in a “perfect” light. On Facebook, others can be portrayed in our minds as “Mother of the Year”, model wife, Betty Crocker, a perfect housekeeper- a woman with everything in order, a beauty queen, and just the image of perfection. I think of social media like this: When we put together our family photo albums and scrapbooks, we choose the best pictures and best memories to display in those. We will buy matching clothing and get dressed up, find a picture perfect setting for the background so that everything can look “perfect”. Now, don’t get me wrong, we should memorialize the great things and events in our lives. What we should not do is allow ourselves to feel inferior by viewing and reading about others lives and their comings and goings. Social media does not validate who or what we are. Rinse and repeat that!!!! SOCIAL MEDIA DOES NOT VALIDATE WHO OR WHAT WE ARE. The number of "likes" or comments we receive does not indicate our greatness.

Every woman that I have ever known has experienced heartache, pain, fear, worries, insecurities and problems. Period. No exceptions. Beyond the PERCEPTIONS, facades and all happy photos, each one has a story to tell with wounds and battle scars. Along with the story, each one has a different journey and purpose in life. Each one of us was created by our loving, thoughtful Heavenly Father. He created every little detail of each of us and has purpose for each of us. We are wonderfully made. He created us to DO for Him, not to compare ourselves to others and try to OUTDO their purpose and journey.

I encourage each of you to seek your purpose, enjoy the journey and taste the Sweet Stuff. In doing so, we can learn to enjoy the Sweet Stuff in others’ lives.