Friday, October 2, 2009

God Speaks

In my bible study class this past week we talked about how God speaks to us. I want to share a dream I had last night. I was dreaming that I was in a situation with a grandfather type figure. He was an older man who was struggling to put something together. I could see that all he needed to do was place this one item into another and he'd have accomplished his task. I wanted to help him. It was a simple task and I knew I could do it quickly. I went over and placed the item inside the other one. I was quickly chastised by other people in the room (who seemed to be aunts and cousins in relationship to me) and they said that I need to let him do these things for himself. I felt very hurt and embarrassed so I quickly got up and left the room. I was running around trying to get away from the grandfather type figure. However, no matter where I ran he was there ahead of me. At first I was very frustrated and I just wanted him to leave me alone but after a while it became a game. I would try to out smart him but he would always be ahead of me. I thought I had the advantage because I knew this place from my childhood and could find the places to hide but he was always there first.

When I woke up I realized that in a way this is similar to our relationship with God. We try to do things on our own to "help" the situation along instead of waiting for him to complete his work on his own. And as a reminder He showed me that no matter where I go He is always ahead of me laying out the way.

I've been struggling with an area in my life recently where I've come to realize that the more I try to control it the more unsatisfied I will be with the result. By letting go and allowing God to create his plan the end result will be so much better than anything I could have created. This dream confirmed this idea in my heart.

How has God spoken to you in your life?


"But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed." Job 33:14-15

Monday, August 3, 2009

Worship

I've been thinking a lot lately about worship. I know that it is important to come together with other Christians and worship. The most obvious place to do this would be on Sunday morning in our local churches or chapels. I, however, work on the weekends and can't get to the chapel on a regular basis. This has been an area of my life where I have felt guilt for not being able to make that simple gesture for the Lord.

I have been blessed here at Fort Lewis with a wonderful group of women who meet every Wednesday morning to join together and praise the Lord and study together. The women of PWOC have made a huge impact on my life and have been such an inspiration to me. This has been a place of regular weekly worship for me but I continue to feel I need to be also worshiping with others outside of this group. When I am able I attend the Main Post Chapel for Sunday services. I love that my son can go with me and attend Sunday School and he too can learn about the Lord. One Sunday I picked him up from his class and all he said was, "Mommy, we learned about Jesus again." Or having him attend VBS and hearing him shout at random, "God is good. He is with me always. Fear not!"

In the past weeks I was feeling particularly guilty because I was scheduled to work and would not be able to attend chapel that week. I work with senior citizens and was scheduled to be with a retired Army Colonel. I was there to assist him but his wife was happy to sit and visit. She asked if she could watch a program called "The Hour of Power." I had not seen this program before but it was a church service that she could watch from their apartment. We quietly listened to the program and when it was finished she started telling me about how she enjoys to watch it on the weeks she can't attend her regular service. Now that her and her husband are older they can't attend as easily as they once did. She likes to turn the program up loud enough that her husband can hear it in the next room.

This was a great lesson to me in other ways to worship. Her and I joined together that Sunday and praised the Lord. We shared together and we prayed together. I really felt like I was meant to be there instead of my regular weekly service.

That was the last time I worked with the Colonel because he passed away later that week.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

"But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God." Psalm 55:13-14

"Come let us bow down in worship, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." Psalm 95:6

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flourish


The Lord moves people in and out of our lives at specific times. He orchestrates everything so perfectly that we each move on to our next purposes at the perfect time. As a military family we see these people move in our lives fairly often. Recently a dear friend of mine, Tracy, moved from Fort Lewis to her new home. This was one of the hardest good byes I've had to say. I can't put into words the impact she had on my life while she was here. God truly used her to speak to and encourage me. Through a time of struggle she was the voice of the Lord in my life.


Before she left she gave me a plant. Now those of you who know me know that I am HORRIBLE with plants. I've never been able to keep them alive whether it's because of over watering, under watering, not enough sun or whatever. I've never been able to find that perfect balance of caring for a plant. When Tracy gave me the flower I was just hoping I could enjoy it while it lasted.


I am excited to report that not only is the plant still alive but the flowers on it have doubled. It got me thinking about all the people in our lives. There are weeds that we must pluck and there are flowers that we must nurture and care for and if we find the balance our relationships can flourish.


"But the Godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God." Psalm 92:12-13 NLT


"The house of the wicked will perish, but the tent of the Godly will flourish." Proverbs 14:11 NLT

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Psalm 37




For our anniversary my husband brought me two dozen pink roses. During the week he received six red roses from his company and was asked to give them to someone that supports him no matter what. I added those roses with the others. After a week the roses are drooping and I was thinking it's about time to empty the vase. I was sitting on our couch and looked up at the vase and I saw this one red rose standing tall and still looking very pretty. It made me think of Psalm 37: "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away." (v. 1-2) "In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." (v. 19)
I invite each of you to read Psalm 37 if you've never done so. Please leave your thoughts.

I just wanted to share.

In Him,
Jami

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take the time to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I am a Christian and I believe in saying, "Merry Christmas."

This time of year it's hard to know what to say to people. Some people become offended by saying, "Merry Christmas." They want us to say, "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or some other form of greeting that doesn't reflect our personal beliefs. My question to you is, how do you handle this? I'd be curious to hear your responses on what you believe should be said this time of year.

Here in Olympia we've been having an interesting time at our capital building. Among the traditional Christmas decorations an atheist has placed a sign stating his/her belief that there is no God, no Angels, no Hell, etc. It has created a pretty big uprising among the Christian community. There were even protests held at the capital against the sign.

My belief is that we live in America and that means we have freedom of speech. My husband fights daily for this freedom. While don't agree with the sign I don't feel it is my place to protest it. I am not here to judge what another person believes. God will be the judge, not me.

History repeats itself and there will forever be non-believers in this world. Acts 14: 2 says, "But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers." There will forever be people of different faiths and different beliefs trying to turn our minds against God. It is how we react to these situations that shows the kind of belief that we have. Acts 19:9 says, "But some of them became obstinate, they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them, He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus." Paul set an example in his actions.

Romans 14:22 says, "So that whatever you believe about these things keep to yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves."

What do you believe?

My prayer: Dear Lord, I praise you. Thank you for giving us free will to come to know and love you by our own choice. We are able to know you in such an intimate and personal way. I pray for those who have found you and love you and ask that you continue to bless their lives. I also pray for those who have not come to find you and do not know your love that they may be led to you and saved. I know you are leading them, help them to open their eyes and see the wonderful things you are doing in their lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Share Your Story

First of all, I would like to apologize for the delay in a new topic for this blog. I’ve been without internet for almost three weeks now but am finally back online. With this site just getting started I’ve been trying to think of some topics to cover. Thank you to those who have commented on the topics thus far and I encourage those who read these to leave your thoughts.

My topic for this entry is from one of my Bible study classes that I’ve been participating in over the last few weeks. The study is called “To Live is Christ” and is a Beth Moore study. Anyone who is familiar with Beth Moore will know how wonderful this study has been so far. It follows Paul on his journeys in the book of Acts.

In my last class the teacher challenged us to come up with our story. Because of that challenge I decided to tell my story for the class and also share it here in this blog. I encourage you to share your story with all who read this site as well.

Picture two cliffs roughly 20 miles across. On one side you have me as a 16 year old high school student getting ready to go through her confirmation class. On the other side is God and I’m just learning how to build the bridge across the cliff to reach Him.

When I was 16 the year was 1995 and I was a sophomore in high school. I had attended the same church my entire life. I had been active in Sunday school, junior youth groups, choir, and various musical productions. This confirmation class was the next logical step for me. I attended the class with two other students and week after week we listened to our pastor lecture on various topics. We worked from the same work book my brother had used three years before. The majority of what I had written was copied from his book. I finished the classes, put on the robe, and took my first communion in front of the congregation. Never once did I question anything. This was simply the process I was to go through.

I finished high school in 1997 and headed off to college. Being away from home, I never considered finding another church. I just figured that if I was home I would attend but being away I didn’t need to.

That year I met the first person I had ever seen who was committed to the Lord on a daily basis and lived her life to serve Him. She was my roommate and I would see her daily reading from her Bible and writing in her journal. At the time I didn’t realize the impact that memory would have on my life. At the time, I didn’t appreciate what she was doing or ask her why she was doing it.

After that year we parted ways for the summer and I think both of our lives changed. By fall we were on very different paths and living across campus from each other. After the first semester she left our college and, although we kept in touch, we didn’t see each other much.

I want to jump ahead to my senior year of college when she came to campus to visit and attend a worship service. She came by my sorority house and invited me to attend with her. I went along more to spend time with her than to worship. It was my first experience seeing people sing with their hands raised. It was overwhelming for me and I felt very out of place. After the service we went back to my room and just talked about things that were happening in my life. Before she left she gave me her Bible. I didn’t want to accept it and even sent her an email later telling her I shouldn’t keep it. I knew how much it meant to her. It had her notes, markings, pressed flowers, and inside the front cover it said that her grandparents had given it to her. That Bible is now what I consider one of the most precious gifts anyone has given me.

For a long time that Bible sat in a box with a lot of my other items from college that were stored in my parents basement. My husband and I moved from Kentucky to Alaska. When my husband deployed to Iraq in 2005 I moved home and my son and I lived with my parents. During that year I started attending church again and eventually dug out that Bible. Looking back now I realize that I had always been searching for something more and not really knowing what it was I was searching for.

I was interested in Bible studies and when we moved to Washington in 2007 I became a part of a group that has changed my life. Before I got here I had everything planned out that I was going to do and right off the bat my plans changed. When that happened I decided to attend a meeting I had seen advertised in our post paper. I had never gone to anything by myself before but I just really felt drawn to attend this meeting. They offered free child care so there was no excuse to pass this up. The first week I went with the attitude that I would just try it once and see how it went. Again, this meeting started with singing and people raising their hands. I immediately felt out of place and that all of this was way over my head. However, when the program started the women I was sitting with were very welcoming and I felt like I had been around them forever. When the lady that was leading the program started talking I felt inspired. She was someone around my own age and you could just feel the excitement for the Lord coming through her. I found myself surrounded by women my own age, each somehow connected to the military, all raising children, and truly ladies I could relate too. Through them I have grown in my studies and truly started on my own journey.

My journey across the bridge has begun and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me. God has placed many people in my life that have inspired me in my faith. It's amazing to me to see how God works and how he places people in our lives.

My prayer: Lord, I praise you and I thank you for bringing these amazing people into my life to lead me on my journey. I have been blessed continuously on many occasions through family and friends. I’m excited about the support I have around me as I study your Word and grow in my relationship with you. I pray that everyone who reads this sees the people you have placed in their lives to help lead and inspire them on their journeys. In your name I pray, Amen.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12

Check out this website: http://www.sudieniesen.com/ My cousin is on an incredible journey and I admire her courage

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finding Gratitude

For this post I decided to take a topic idea from the comments that have been posted on this blog. Thank you, Kari, for the idea of discussing finding gratitude.

When I first started researching the idea I wasn’t sure what I would find. Being thankful and having gratitude is one thing but finding it in our lives seems to be much more complicated.

In general what I learned from various articles is that to find gratitude you must fist practice giving it. People who regularly practice giving gratitude seem to find much more fulfillment in their lives.

The foundation of many of the worlds religions revolve around gratitude. The scriptures teach it by telling us to be thankful for what we’ve been given. (http://www.religionlink.org/)

One article I read entitled “Gratitude Leads to Happiness” states:
“A grateful people will feel an obligation toward others—toward God (for believers) the source of all we have, and toward those les fortunate than we—toward those with less, especially those in need. If gratitude dominated the minds and shaped the values of the majority of the population, what a wonderful world it would be! Gratitude can be the foundation for the exercise of morality
That’s why I think it’s great for non-believers to celebrate Thanksgiving. Let anyone start expressing and experiencing gratitude—if not verbally toward God, at least horizontally toward others in the human community—and you find a person holding a new lease on happiness.” (Byron)

Another article, “The heart of our faith,” discusses the ethics of gratitude and that what we give out will be returned to us. There’s an idea of a certain obligation in gratitude that makes us responsible for the gratitude that returns to our lives. (Guengerich)

An article by Robin Skeen talks about how gratitude can help us find purpose I our lives. Just by having a more “grateful state of mind” can create incredible changes in our lives. (Skeen)

Through all the articles it seemed to me that the main theme was that we can only find gratitude by giving gratitude. If you focus your gratitude to the right places then it will be amazing the impact it will have on your life.

A suggested exercise for finding gratitude is to start a gratitude journal. At the end of the day reflect on where you saw gratitude in your life that day. It will help give you a different perspective on what you are receiving in your life and give you the responsibility to give more.

Quotes:

“No duty is more urgent that that of returning thanks.” ~Unknown~

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of live. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie~

“Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.” ~Unknown~

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach~ Simple Abundance

“True thanksgiving means that we need to thank God for what He has done for us, and not to tell Him what we have done for Him.” ~George R. Hendrick~

My Prayer: Dear Lord, I praise you. Thank you for all the wonderful things you have been doing in my life. Bless those who read this post. Inspire them to go and show their appreciation and reflect on what gratitude they are seeing in their own lives. Amen.

“Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” Eph 5:4 NLT

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Col 3:16 NIV

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;” 1 Ti 4:4 NASB

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;” Hbr 12:28 NASB

References:

Beliefs & Practice: The Science of Gratitude. (2007, Nov 15). http://www.religionlink.org/tip_071104.php

Byron, William J. (2006, Nov. 22). “Gratitude Leads to Happiness.” http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/william_j_byron/2006/11/much_obliged.html

Guengerich, Galen. (2007, Feb. 15) The Heart of our Faith. http://uuworld.org/assets/php/printer.php

Skeen, Robin. (2007, Nov 12). “Gratitude: Finding Purpose Through Gratitude” http://www.selfgrowth.com/artman2/publish/gratitude_articles/Finding_Purpose_Through_Gratitude_printer.html