Day 8 Planned for God’s Pleasure Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

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The Lord takes pleasure in His people.  Psalm 149:4 

The best marriage advice my husband and I received was ironically from a priest who advised us to “keep dating.”   During our over 27 years of marriage we have chosen different types of dates but the commitment to reconnect and share has always been a constant.  When our children were very young we had a neighborhood babysitter come over once a week and we would have dinner away from the chaos and distractions of our home. When we both worked outside the home,  we started to have lunch dates  together.  I remember  my in-laws asking  my husband what he wanted for his birthday and Dave requesting that the grandparents would care for the children for a long weekend so he could spend time with me. These weekly dates  and occasional longer trips were important, but daily compliments and words of affirmation, phone calls and soft touches each day were needed to ensure that our relationship continued to grow throughout each season and challenge of life.

In Chapter 8 entitled Planned for God’s Pleasure, Rick Warren describes that God created us to worship God and give Him pleasure.  But God wants us to have pleasure too.  He is such a loving God that He desires to have a real love relationship similar to the passion and commitment of a husband and wife with both me and you.  Let me type this one more time as this mystery is beyond human understanding….the God of the Universe wants to spend time with you, enjoys being with you and knows that you will receive the same enjoyment from this as well.  

The last line in Ch. 8 states:

This is what real worship is about- falling in love with Jesus.

So worship Him with others at church each week in music, the scriptures   and in receiving the body and the blood. (date night) See if you can sign up for a day or weekend retreat or mission at your church.

But also seek to find little ways to worship and enjoy the Lord during each week day. For example:  Stop when a beautiful sunrise catches your eyes as you’re running out the door to work; stand still in appreciation and thanksgiving with compliments  “Wow.  Isn’t that Beautiful Jesus! thank you for sharing this with me. You are such a creative God”

Isn’t it wonderful that we were created to be loved by God? Remember Day one and the phrase “you were created by God and for God”?

I encourage you to keep all your senses open to the many ways God is showing His love to you each day. An encouraging text or word from a friend, a verse that seems written just for you and your circumstance, a stunning nature scene etc.

Then return this love with the worship of Thanksgiving and adoration.

I begin each morning with writing the words ACTS in my journal vertically.

A stands for Adoration. God you are so_____(fill in the adjective)

C Stands for Contrition    I am so sorry for ___________

T stands for Thanksgiving     I write three things I am thankful for                1.____2.____3._____

S stands for supplication    I write 10 people I am praying/ advocating for_

Following this framework helps me be less distracted and more focused in my prayer time. Notice that adoration is first. Give God the Glory He so deserves and by doing so all of your  problems will grow small in the face of the beauty, power and goodness of God.

So as a wise man once told me:

Keep Dating. 

The Grand Canyon Gap Between Holy God and Me #7 The Purpose Driven Life The Reason for Everything

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For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Romans 3:23 

Why do you and I often feel closest to God when we spend time in nature? It is because our Father God carefully created the earth and all the creatures in it and He speaks to us about Himself and His love through His creation.   A family visit to the Grand Canyon spoke to me about God’s character, the gap problem all humans face and God’s solution.

When I first approached the Grand Canyon I stood stunned with awed surprise.  I stood mute and spellbound by the vastness of the immense abyss in the ground that is so huge that the human eye can take in only twenty percent of the canyon at a time. Mountain after Mountain of pastel layers of crumbling stone contrasting against a desert blue sky spoke of God’s beauty, power and timelessness.  My oldest daughter wouldn’t walk up to the edge explaining to us the vastness of the Grand Canyon “makes me feel like an ant”.

When I asked my children later at dinner why they thought God Created the Grand Canyon, my son declared, “Because He Loves us.” My girls chimed in with, ” To show us how Big He is….and how Old”.

A ranger explained that a camera from a Jet cannot take a photo of the entire range but a satellite from the heavens is needed. The vastness of this gaping hole in the earth reminds me of how mighty God is but at the same time speaks of a God who loves us so much that He left His throne in Heaven to come to earth to fill the gaps in our hearts and to bridge the gap between our sinful hearts and the holy heaven.   Why would the mighty God of the universe who created all the natural beauties of the world leave His throne to become like us?

Only selfless Love beyond our human finite understanding would become flesh and blood as a helpless baby born to become a bridge between holy heaven and our selfish hearts. He provided a way so our hearts would be healed and someday His creation could then join Him in Holy Heaven.

God reveals His love song through His magnificent creation. A soft love song calls all of us throughout our lives; this love song echoes and never stops calling out our names. A love song sung by the God of the universe, who is older than time and yet desires to walk hand in hand with the crown of His creation, the men and woman who have been made in His image.

  1. List all the choices that have separated you from God. 
  2. Have you ever asked God to come in and fill your empty gap in your heart with His Love and forgiveness?  God’s love is stronger than your mistakes. 

To answer this love song we must humble ourselves just as the God of the universe humbled Himself so He could give himself away.

 

Day #3 What Drives Your Life? The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

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“You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.”   Isaiah 26:3

I am directionally challenged. In fact, my family insists that I will go the exact opposite direction that is required, if given a choice. When leaving an elevator, I will turn nine times out of ten the wrong way, even when I try to think about focusing on going the opposite way as I first came. I learned as a young driver to stop at the nearest gas station to ask for directions before I drove too far in the wrong direction. If I knew I was lost and didn’t ask for directions, I would drive faster in a frantic panic and make matters worse for myself. What a horrible feeling to be lost and not know which way leads to home.

What a gift my GPS is! My children cheered and jumped up and down when I first received one on a long past Christmas morning. If I now go off track, my GPS reminds me to just “recalculate”  and eventually I will get back on the right road.

My favorite part of all is to push the button “Home” and I can have peace that eventually I will arrive at my favorite destination.

What about you my sweet sister or brother? Do you have a spiritual GPS? A God Positioning System?   Have you pushed the “Home” button and now have God’s peace that no matter the detour that you will reach your heavenly home?  

Today’s point is Ponder is “Living on Purpose is the path to Peace.”

Sit in quiet and ponder what direction you are driving in and what kind of fuel is driving you.  How do you spend the majority of your Free time? Who are the people who have the most influence on you? Are you asking for and receiving the help of the holy spirit to guide you?

No matter how far you have driven off the “narrow path” to Heaven, at anytime you can “recalculate” and ask God for Help to direct you back to Home.

 

 

 

Day 2 You are not an Accident The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

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But as for you, O LORD, you are our Father, and we are clay, and you are out potter, we all are the work of your hands.  
 Isaiah 64:8

So if you were sitting in The Potter’s workroom what type of clay container would you be?  A container women would use at a well to carry home water on their heads to their family? A terracotta pot containing a small candle that would give light and warmth to others? A pot that would some day be full of rice and feed a banquet of people?

Or do you Sweet sister feel like a clay pot who has a crack from a broken heart? perhaps you hold the ashes of regret or past mistakes as an urn might hold ? Do you feel as if God has left you alone on the shelf? When you look at yourself in the mirror do you wish that the potter had made you a taller thinner pot like a tall vase? Do you wish you were covered with Gold and diamonds?

How this must grieve our father Potter that we would question His goodness and wisdom when He lovingly created us. You are His masterpiece and everything about you was carefully thought out for a good and noble purpose.  God doesn’t make mistakes. He waits for us to say “Yes” to the role His has established for you before He declared,

Let their be Light.

Mary said “yes” to being God’s vessel to carry the Light of the World even though she was young and poor.  King David was chosen not for what he looked like from the outside but God said that “Not as man sees does God see, because a man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart”. ( 1 Samuel 16:7)

Throughout history God has used the overlooked, the weak, the rejected, the barren, the small, the old, the young, the sinner, the sick, the lame, mute and  blind etc…to impact the world for God’s kingdom the most…………because light shines brightest through clay pots that have cracks.

So perhaps sweet sister your cracks and imperfections ( perhaps your broken heart) are just the part of you that will allow God’s light to shine through to others as your purpose on this earth is slowly revealed during our 40 day journey.

 

Day One: What on Earth Am I Here for? 40 Days

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40 days.  Forty days is what we have Sweet Sisters as we journey into 2017 and read The Purpose Driven Life together.   In the Bible, Noah endured 40 days of rain, Moses and His people 40 years in the desert, and Jesus was tested for 40 days in the desert. Forty is a time of Testing in the Bible that produces growth and depth.    In modern times, the reality show Survivor is also based on this 40 day time period. A lot of growth can happen in 40 days. We are going to spend two days on each of the 40 chapters so we really are going to do this over Eighty days sweet sister….So I am hoping for twice the powerful impact  on our lives.  Are you ready?

“I was made by God, for God”  Say it out- loud my sister.

The God of the Universe wants to spend time with you.

The Holy God of the Universe wants to have a love relationship and just spend time with you.  We are selfish, broken and sinful and yet He continues to woo us.

How can we comprehend something so incomprehensible?

Just keep saying it over and over “I was made by God, for God”

 

 

 

An exciting 40 day journey is about to begin…. Because wise women still seek Him.

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Happy Three king day to you my sweet sisters! On this 12th day of Christmas,  celebrations are occurring all over the world to commemorate when the three wise men finally found the infant who was going to save the world. In Puerto Rico boxes of grass are put under children’s beds as a way to attract the camels of the three Kings. The children wake up to gifts (toys) to symbolize the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the biblical three kings presented to the King of Kings.  

What about you? Are you actively seeking the King of all Kings? Have you found out why you were put here on this earth?

Starting on Monday January 16th the local Bel Air, Md sisters will be seeking out God’s purpose for their lives by studying Rick Warren’s best seller, The Purpose Driven Life.  If you do not live close enough to join us physically, please consider finding this book and taking this 40 spiritual journey with us. I will be posting insights and questions from our small
group discussions and your sweet sisters will travel with you during the three months of January, February and March.

Come join us Wise Sister…..because Wise Women still seek Him.

 

A Mid-Life Christmas

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A Mid-Life Christmas

Husbands please be patient
I know we now both agree
Your wife is far from perfect
Just like your Christmas tree

Our needles are brown and shedding
Our bottoms have grown too wide
Once firm branches are now drooping
Too tattered for trimmings to hide

Don’t look too close is now our plea
Your search might be mistaken
And please don’t look around fretting
“All her youth has now been taken”

Let the wise farmer prune and weed
Be patient and explain with glee
“I’ve been given a perfect wife
For she is all God Knows I need

When Choosing a Christmas Tree

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Dear Sweet Sisters,

I wrote this poem 27 years ago as Dave and I were picking out our first Christmas tree. I remember shivering in the cold, being perfectly happy with many trees we spotted along the way. But Dave keep searching for the “perfect tree” which we all know is not a thing. (Or a perfect wife). This poem was my tongue-in-cheek way to find the good in having a husband who takes soooo long to pick out certain items. So I hope, sweet sister, you will look for the good in those around you this Christmas. Sometimes when I get frustrated or angry, I make a list of 10 good qualities about my husband. Focusing on the good changes perspective. Perhaps the best gift you could give yourself and your spouse this Christmas is to start making such a list right now.

Think and write on what is good in your life.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  (Philippians  4:8)

For Those Who Are Grieving This Christmas Season

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       My experienced friends warned me that certain days of the year could pull a bereaved person down into a quicksand-like spiral as the memory of the past rubs salt into the still-wounded present. Holidays and anniversaries magnify the loss of a loved one, each event having the potential to drag under the people left behind. As a new Christmas season approached, I hoped that during the second anniversary of my baby girl Megan’s birth and death, I would resist both fighting the pull of grief and trying to speed through this potentially heartbreaking time. For as a victim in quicksand soon learns, both thrashing around and trying to rush through it could result in more loss. Continuing to fight causes the quicksand victim to further sink, just as I could further sink into my grief and self pity. Panicking and trying to speed the process of escape causes the victim to sink faster, just as I could push myself further into the pit of despair by not taking my time to acknowledge and face my grieving.

The Key with both quicksand and with grief is to move slowly, take small steps, and be willing to let others pull you out.

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     Two years before, I gave birth to a premature baby girl on December 23. The most intense forty days of my life followed her emergency birth as my husband and I watched our baby girl go on and off a respirator and survive bowel surgery, only to watch her take her final breath in my arms. Megan weighed just 2 pounds 4 ounces, but she was perfectly formed, a true gift from God. As she struggled for her life, we struggled against two major snowstorms to bring her my breast milk. I felt so torn between visiting the hospital and caring for my other two daughters, Mary Jo and Katie, at home.

As Megan took her final breath, however, I felt God’s complete peace and an awareness of his sovereignty. She shared forty days with us on earth, the number the early church fathers held as “the necessary period of cleansing or testing and strengthening which allows the fullness of wisdom to become a reality.” According to the Bible, Jesus spent forty hours in the tomb between good Friday and Easter morning, as well as forty days in the desert while being tempted. Noah and his family spent forty days on the ark. Moses fasted for forty days before he received the Ten Commandments, and the Israelites wandered for forty years before entering the Promised Land. Megan completed her forty days on earth and was now free from pain, praising God in her own Promised Land – Heaven.

The name Megan means “will achieve might and strength,” and I knew in my innermost depths her life was complete at forty days. While most days I could trust in God’s perfect wisdom for my family and me, as a sensitive and shortsighted human I still felt the loss of a loved one. Grieving is a healthy and necessary process whose emotions and tears should not be buried or ignored. I spent the following year writing in my journal and creating a scrap/photo album to include the photos, cards, and letters sent to commemorate Megan’s short life. A room was dedicated to her at my home church and Mary Jo, Katie, and I made frequent stops to hang bulletin boards and set up supplies. A year and a half later, a baby boy named Jacob blessed our family (Jacob means “the supplanter”). The waves of grief diminished as time and understanding increased. I turned to Jesus and His Holy Word for comfort and I felt my own faith strengthen. At times, I relished in the thought that I had a child in Heaven, for is that not our ultimate goal as parents?

However, as Christmas and Megan’s second birthday approached, my fears of how I would handle the days increased. Christmas was centered on a baby boy who was miraculously born. The absence of a miracle for Megan would seem greater with one less stocking to fill. On the other hand, if I filled a stocking as some bereaved parents do, I have one less child to unpack all the goodies. The sore empty wound that I still carried (and will always carry in a lesser degree until I am reunited with my baby) seemed such a contrast to the cheery hustle and bustle of Christmas. What could I do instead of planning her birthday party? What could I buy instead of party favors, cake and ice cream? Would anyone but me remember Megan’s birthday?

     Christmas surrounded me with its cinnamon smells, jingle bells, glitter and gold tinsel. Could it have been only two years before, alone in my cold sterile hospital room that I spent Christmas morning? I was supposed to be six months pregnant, I thought. Instead, my little baby girl struggled for life in intensive care. My staples stung from the emergency cesarean, a physical reminder of the stinging feeling of sitting alone in a hospital bed trying to imagine the reactions of my girls as they opened their gifts at home. Two years later, especially during anniversary remembrances, the sore emptiness of loss was ever present and I feared I would sink into the quicksand of self-pity and depression. “Lord, I can’t let Megan’s birthday take away the peace and Joy of Christmas from my other children. Help.”

     The Sunday before Christmas, we stopped by Megan’s grave after church. Before I opened the car door, I spotted something lying on her tombstone. I burst into tears of joy as I realized someone had left a tiny Christmas tree in Megan’s memory. Little ornaments of angels, Mary and Joseph, adorned the little tree. Attached was a card inside a plastic bag. Who could have been so kind? Who remembered Megan? With trembling hands, I ripped open the bag. As I read the card, my questions melted into understanding. Of course –  It was from Irene and Rich, friends of ours who had lost their own baby a year before mine to SIDS. “Merry Christmas, Megan,” the card read.  “Keep an extra eye out on your Mommy and Daddy, Mary Jo, Katie and Jacob this Christmas. You are forever in their hearts.”  

     I felt God’s love through the gift of that tree. As I thought about how Rich and Irene were able to comfort me because of their own loss, an idea sprouted. Now I had a plan as to how I was going to celebrate Megan’s birthday. My excitement grew as I planned our birthday surprise, and I no longer felt the quicksand pull of self-pity. On December 23rd, I bundled up my children and stopped first at a florist shop and selected a colorful bouquet with roses.

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Next, we stopped at a local bookstore. I did not know the owners personally, but I had briefly met their preteen daughter before she died in a bicycling accident years before. She had watched my older daughter at church, and so five-year-old Mary Jo handed the father our bouquet. “What’s this?” he asked. I nodded to the picture of his daughter behind the cash register.  The words sputtered out and my eyes blinked back tears. “This is in memory of your daughter.”

     Later that night, as I pulled into our driveway, I noticed a white rose with a note attached lying in our path. I recognized my friend Terry’s handwriting, but the message felt straight from heaven.  “Mommy, Thank you for giving me a ‘birth’ day.  Love, Megan.”

     Tears of gratitude and release flowed. Like a balm for my wound, the tears flowed as I again felt God’s love and understanding through a friend. More ideas began to spring up as if my tears provided the moisture necessary for germination. Many neighbors, relatives and  friends were approaching quicksand pools of their own, and I hoped to help pull some of them out. The strongest pull is love, I will tell them, and the only escape from a pool of quicksand is to receive God’s love and then to love-pull a friend out of their own.