Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Investing in Other's dreams

This week's prompt for our God-sized dream post was perfect timing, once again. Holley Gerth prompted us to spread encouragement to other dreamers by investing in them. To be honest, I wasn't going to do this week's prompt as I don't have contact with a lot of other dreamers and I have already posted an encouraging letter to my mother last week.

But then, I began having this tugging on my heart. All last week, this woman that we go to church with and her situation kept being brought to my mind. Her and her family have recently been looking for a horse for the whole family to enjoy. They have no experience with horses and are kind of lost. They have started talking horses with us and my mom found them a prospect horse and they are looking into buying it. They showed us where they would be boarding the horse and told us how much they were going to be paying a month to keep it there. We were a little shocked, as the monthly payment was extremely high for this area and the conditions at the farm were not ideal for any horse. But I really didn't think about it afterwards, they live in a different town than we keep our horses, and I don't know them that well, besides. Who knew if they would be responsible and make sure the gate was shut when they were done? What if my horse got out and was hit on the road, or injured in some other serious way? I didn't really want to deal with another horse that wasn't mine either. So I forgot about it.  Until God kept bringing her and the horse to my mind. Over and over, her name and the horse kept popping into my mind. Finally, on Saturday night, I said something to mom. Turns out we had both been thinking about offering her the option of keeping their new horse with ours. We both had the same worries about it as well. But we decided that we should say something on Sunday. So, Sunday morning, after church was over, we went over and very humbly offered to share what we have, which isn't much, but cheaper and better conditions than where they were going to put their new horse.

And do you know what? It turns out that this woman and her family are going to have to move from the rental house they were living in and they now wouldn't be able to afford the steep boarding fees at the other place and consequently would have to not get the horse, since there would be nowhere to keep it. But God wanted them to have that dream horse, for whatever reason, and He decided that we would be His instrument in making sure that they got what He intended for them. I could tell that the woman was ready to cry when Mom told her that she was welcome to put her horse out with ours, and that the place where we rent is so much lower. The relief was plainly written on her face. And in that moment, I was glad to have obeyed God.

I don't know what His purpose is in this. Why did it matter to Him if that woman and her family got the horse? A horse isn't a necessity. Why did He want her to have such a frivolous thing in her life? I know He did, otherwise, He would not have prompted my mother and I to offer our pasture. We had our misgivings, but He overruled us and pressed our hearts to share with her. One thing it does tell me, though, is that God is not against me having my horses either, and does not want me to get rid of them, even though it has been trial after trial to keep them. It is not He that is against us, but someone else, who does not want good for us. Someone who wants to kill (our hearts), steal (our joy), and ultimately, destroy us. Mom thinks the woman and her family might become a part of our dream, a part of the team. I don't know, time will tell. But I do know that it was God, prompting us to reach out to them. And we obeyed. And that is all that counts. :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fruits of the spirit and becoming a humble servant

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23


I want to post this verse everywhere. Every room in my home, on the dashboard of my car, in my cubicle at work, and I am considering tattooing it to my forearm...nah, not really! But wouldn't that be a handy reminder? I want my life to reflect these words. This is my deepest desire. 

Remember, this is my prayer.

"I will not stop praying for and asking you to fill me with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that I may live a life worthy of you Lord, and may please you in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to You, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance.... in the kingdom of light. In Jesus's name I pray, Amen."(adapted from Colossians 1:9-12)

I want to know His will, and be lead by the Spirit, so that I may live a life worthy of the Lord, so that I may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work. That I may show unconditional Love, that I may have deep Joy, unending Patience, constant Kindness, moral Goodness, unshakable Faith, tender Gentleness, and steady Self-Control. 

Why do I want to bear fruit in every good work? I hear a lot these days that being saved is not about good works. And I have been thinking about it a lot lately, trying to figure out what they mean when they say that.

I agree that we can do nothing to save ourselves. That Jesus died on the cross to cover all our sins and that we do not have to live by the law anymore. That by dying on that cross, Jesus set us free from the bondage of the law. I agree that it is not by doing good works and obeying the law which saves our souls, but by Jesus's blood only.

But, why then, does the bible talk about good works all the time? Does this confuse anyone else? Well, I think I have finally answered the question, at least for myself. I have been set free from bondage when Jesus died on the cross and set me free of my sins and the condemnation that comes from comitting those sins.

But being an obedient Christian, is about doing good works. And here are a couple of verses for proof.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. Philippians 3:11

The apostle Paul wrote many letters to the churches around him, to remind the Colossians that they couldn't do good works to save themselves, but then writing a letter to the churches of the Galatians  and Philippians to remind them that just because Jesus had died and set them free, they were not to use the freedom for their own gain, but to be humble servants and emulate Christ in a serving attitude.

Just as with every thing else, there is to be a balance in our lives. Be free of the condemnation of sin, but don't forget the one who died for you and what he was like. Don't forget that he, as God's only son, came to this earth in human form, so that he could be hung on  a cross for you. Take your freedom and use it to serve one another. Serve until your arms are tired, until your back is bent, until you can no longer walk. And do not do it for selfish or ambitious reasons, but to glorify God and show Jesus that you appreciate his sacrifice. To live a life worthy of the Lord, to please him in every way. Isn't imitation the sincerest form of worship?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What My Mother Gave Me

This week, in our God-sized dream post, Holley Gerth, author of You're Made for a God Sized Dream, exhorted us to write an encouraging letter to another dreamer in our life for our link-up this week. This is a perfect opportunity for me to take some time to thank a very special dreamer in my life for all that she has given me. So, there is a book titled What My Mother Gave Me. I haven't read it, but if you follow the link, it looks like a good book about women recognizing their mothers for all the gifts they gave to them over the years, whether physical, instructional or going above and beyond. I liked that idea, so I stole the title and the idea, and am going to do my own little version, as I think it would be a good way to encourage my mother, by showing her that she has made a difference in a least one person's life. It seems very appropriate as well, since Mother's Day is on the way.

Dear Mom,
     First of all, and most importantly, I want to thank you for raising me in a christian home. I know it has taken me almost 30 years to appreciate this, but I finally do. And God has fulfilled his promise, and since you obeyed and raised me in the way that I should go, I have not departed from it. Not very far, anyway. :)
     And that leads into the next thing I am thankful for. Thank you for never giving up on me, for not failing to mention God in almost every conversation, for refusing to compromise in your love and loyalty for Him when you knew that I didn't want to hear about God and what I should do according to his word. And yet, you also never forced it down my throat. So, thank you for keeping the balance just right, and allowing me to come to him on my own accord, in his timing. If I can accomplish this with my daughter half so well, I will be very grateful.
    Thank you for teaching me how to dream big dreams. You were dreaming God-Sized dreams since I can remember. Some of them came true, a lot of them did not. But you have never wavered in your faith that God listens and answers prayers. You have taught me that sometimes God says yes to our prayers and sometimes He can say no, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't love us or want the best for us. In fact, whatever he does say is always for our benefit.
    Thank you for teaching me how to work hard. If there was only one word to describe you, I would use the word Driven. And if there was only one phrase, it would be "Work hard and don't bother doing it if you aren't going to do it right."  It was a spirit of excellence, that you raised me in. It has sometimes been a heavy burden, especially when those around us aren't working hard or doing it right, but I am grateful for it, all the same. I look around me now and marvel at the number of people who do not have a work ethic or care about the quality of work they do, no matter what job they have.
     Thank you for setting a good example in morality and for being honest and open enough to share the stories of the times you failed and the consequences. These lessons were of utmost importance to me. Not only did I learn that we should do what is right, but that we are human and sometimes fall short. And when we fall short, we ask for forgiveness and we live to fight another day.
     Thank you for apologizing when you wronged me. Instead of treating me like a possession that you didn't have to apologize to, like so many do with their children. You recognized that I was a person, who had feelings. Telling me you were sorry when you said something or did something wrong made me trust you, that  you really did care for and love me. And it let me know that you knew you were not perfect as well. Which, in turn, seemed to make it easier to relate with you while going through the struggles of youth. If I had thought that you didn't go through the same trials and temptations in life, it would have been hard to listen to a word you said. But you were always talking, always teaching, and always being real.
     Thank you for correcting me when I was wrong. I can't believe the number of children that are raised these days without firm correction and direction in their lives. Thank you for teaching me the difference between wrong and right, and giving me consequences when I did wrong. Your constant watching has made me the upstanding person I am today.
     Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I know I wasn't everything someone ever wanted in a little girl. I hated dresses, bows in my hair, and pretty shoes. I was not sweet and compliant, but difficult, loud and bossy. I fought you tooth and nail on just about every issue. But you loved me anyway.
     You are not a saint, you will never be perfect. But you are my mother and you have done the very best you could do when it came to raising your children. You did a world of good and when you failed, you taught me to understand and forgive. You have made a huge difference in this girl's life, I know you could help so many more.
     One more time,Thank you. For your time, your love, your dreams, your prayers, your hope, your discipline, your teaching, your tears.  I love you and I pray he answers your prayers to help others, because you did such a good job with me.
           Your daughter,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Breaking the habits of the past...

This is my first post that is not a part of the God-sized dreams series. And mostly, it is just a journaling exercise because I feel icky inside today. I am again feeling whiny and let down, and on top of that, I feel like I could bite someone today. For no apparent reason, I keep having all these really unpleasant thoughts about everything. Just ugly. I push them down and before long, another comes bubbling up from somewhere. And before long, the struggle to keep them out of my mouth is going to fail and I am going to unleash something nasty into the world.

Why I am I looking so nasty on the inside? Stress, worry, fear, fatigue, need, want....all these things are weighing me down today. I have dealt with this before. I used to live here quite frequently, in fact. But since I have come to have a better relationship with my heavenly father, this type of mood has barely raised it's ugly head. I knew it would come sooner or later, and now that it is here, I am trying to fix it on my own.

Hmmm, I haven't learned much, have I?

So, after suffering for half the day for no good reason, I have remembered where to go with this ugliness inside.

NEVER AGAIN will I confess or focus on fear, because the Word says: "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) 

NEVER AGAIN will I confess or focus on worries and frustration, because the Word says: I am "Casting all my cares upon Him who cares for me." (1 Peter 5:7) 

NEVER AGAIN will I confess or focus on frustration, because the Word says: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3) 

NEVER AGAIN will I confess or focus on troubles, because the Word says: Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) 

NEVER AGAIN will I confess or focus on discontent, because the Word says: "I have learned in whatever state (circumstances) I am, to be content." (Philippians 4:11) 

These came from a website called Encouraging Bible Quotes and I have decided that I am going to work on making some of my own, that better fit some of my specific worries or troubles for times when I will need them. But I really like the discontent one...it's not that I am greedy, but that I want so much! Lol....I really need to work on just being content in whatever state I am in. It would be nice to have a place of  my own to keep my horses, but as long as we have a place for them, I need to be content. It would be nice to have all the tack and tools I need for training my 2 yr old. But as long as I can work with him, I need to be content.  And remember to praise God for those things, instead of constantly focusing on what I don't have or what I would like to have. This is where Satan gets me. He likes to point out all that I need to be successful and tell me that because I don't have this or that,  I will not be doing it right, and therefore I will mess it up. That is just plain lies.

Thank you, heavenly Father, for my horse, for the physical ability to work with him, the physical ability to take care of him, and for the place to keep him. I will not stop praying for and asking you to fill me with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that I may live a life worthy of you Lord, and may please you in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to You, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance.... in the kingdom of light. In Jesus's name I pray, Amen. (adapted from Colossians 1:9-12)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

All Work and No Play.....Makes Jack a Dull Boy

We all know the truth in this little proverb. But I was still unable to do as Holley Gerth encouraged us this week and take time to play. It is crunch time and with all the rain that my area is receiving, I have to make sure that every bit of decent weather is spent working to get the horses moved to their new place. I am sure that Holley would understand as she has probably faced deadlines before herself.

So, instead of telling you all about my weekend of hard work, I will show you what I want to accomplish someday with my horse, when I again have time to play, and why I keep hanging on so fiercely to keep these wonderful animals. Hope you enjoy the video!

Maybe I will post a video showing where we are starting and then post another at the end of the fall, when I have had plenty of time to play with Brego (that is my boy's name) for you all to see the progress we have made as we will be basically starting at square one this spring! ;)


Thursday, April 18, 2013

What I hear when I ask...and actually listen

This week, in our God-sized dreams post, Holley Gerth encouraged us  "For this week: “Sometimes we feel alone not because we need to be with others but because God wants to be with us. Our lives are busy–especially when we’re pursuing a dream–and God may want to pull us aside for a bit” {You’re Made for a God-sized Dream, Chapter Six}. The most important part of any God-sized dream is the Giver of it. Set aside a particular time this week to be with Him–to pray, journal, take a walk or simply sit quietly and listen. Write a post sharing what your heart hears or receives then link it up below." 

So, I have prayed and spent time with Him in His word, learning what He has to say about so many subjects that are major players in my day to day life. And this is what I have heard. We have whined more than worked, dreamed more than prayed, and cursed more than blessed. We have not done our work, set before us by the Lord, so how can we reap the harvest? Yes, we are decent people, with good hearts and we try to do the right things. But we haven't been doing the right thing, not even most of the time.

Proverbs 28:19
He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

I am not saying that this verse says we shouldn't dream God-sized dreams. I am not saying that our dream is a fantasy. But I am saying that, in our situation, God has showed me that we have not been working our land (doing what we should with what we have) but chasing fantasies (day dreaming about what we want to do, when there is plenty of work to do in front of us). Saying things like "When God makes our dream possible, we will do this and we will help those. But all along, there have been people and situations in front of us where we could have done God's work, but we didn't. We weren't paying attention or we acted out of human emotion and not with godly compassion. Have we helped or blessed anyone yet? I kind of doubt it, when I look back at some of my actions. And I know I am not perfect and that I never will be. But I haven't made very much effort at making myself more like Him. I've kind of always had the attitude that I was doing better than most, so I was fine. Wow, that is horrible and I am ashamed to admit it. But it is true. And after coming to terms with this, I don't feel condemned or oppressed. I actually feel freer. Because I can change this. I can do better. All I have to do is ask for His help. Through Him, I can walk in more love, more forgiveness, more kindness, more hope, more faith.....the list just goes on and on. I have found my God-sized dream...to do a better job of following Him and the example Christ set while on this earth. And remembering that when I fail, God's grace will allow me to try again and that the ability to do better is just a prayer away.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dear Chihuahua of Fear....

Great title right? Well, guess what? It is time for another God-sized dreams post. This week, Holley Gerth (Click on the link, it will take you to her blog ;) asked us to write a letter to our fears, to have a  little talk with them, and that is how we were supposed to start it.

Dear Chihuahua of Fear,
   I have some things I'd like to say to you....

I started this post for last week's God Sized Dreams, for April 9th, last Tuesday. But then, fear struck. Sneaky pest, it didn't attack in the obvious way. And it was completely unrelated to doing a blog post. Fear, in the form of worry, stole slowly in while trying to prepare a place for my mom's horses and my horse to live this summer. To make a long story short, it has always been a bit of a struggle to find places for our horses to go. It seems that for whatever reason, we are always having to find a new place to go with them every few years. Boarding is not an option, there are none remotely close enough, and people never want to rent their pasture to horses. Almost all pasture ground has cows on it or is in CRP, which stands for Conservation Reserve Program, in which the governement pays farmers to put pasture ground into CRP to allow it to grow native weeds and grasses for wildlife. And guess what, even though the state of Illinois is broke, they can still afford to pay more than I can to rent this ground. So anyway, here we are again, trying to find somewhere to put our horses that is reasonably priced, convienent distance from our town, and easy to access to get them food and water on a daily basis, not to mention, just to be able to see them. And it has been super hard this year. I am suprised that I don't have permanent tear streaks down my cheeks from the disappointment we have seen. So last week, when I was supposed to be talking back to fear, it took over a huge part of my life. And it has not left yet, even though I spent all weekend building fence on our newest place. I just feel like or fear, that we are going to do all that work and then something is going to happen and they are going to tell us to leave. I am in fear of losing my horses, which I have worked SO HARD to hang on to. So, I have all this fear in my life right now. But it has nothing to do with being afraid of doing something God has asked of me.

Or does it....? I am afraid. I am afraid of losing my horse, who I have dreamed of for so long. I have had horses in the past. The first, she was crazy. And after a million battles that broke my heart, I finally sold her. Then, the black gelding that hated people and broke my collar bone. Then, briefly another mare that I just wasn't ready to handle yet, not being healed from my fall, either physically or emotionally. Now, after much trial and tribulation, I have my boy, who is stable, loving and likes people. But.....I have struggled so hard to have him, and now it seems that the last leg I have to stand on is going to be ripped out from underneath me. I have told God that I am ready to let him go, if that is what God wants. I understand that God has final say of what is in my life.  But I am afraid of the answer. What if God does want me to sell him? That scares me. I don't want to lose him. Is God asking me to deny myself, to die to myself, so that I may follow Him? If so, it will break my heart. I know that you don't come upon a horse like mine everyday, I know because I have tried.

But then, I read Holley's post. In it, she quotes from her book that
“Fear hangs out right next to whatever it is you’re most called to do. That means the closer you get to your calling, the louder fear sounds. Keep going–fear is a chihuahua that sounds like a Doberman.” — You’re Made for a God-sized Dream, Chapter Five

Mom's God-sized dream about a place for helping abused girls and women. And in this dream, horses have always been included, because, as it is well documented, horses have a way of showing us ourselves and helping us to see what we need to do to help bring about healing in our lifes. If Holley is correct, then maybe we are on the edge of our big dream, and Satan is trying to steal our horses from us, because he knows we need them to do our work. He knows how hard it is to come by the horses that we have, the sweetness, the willingness, the love they have for people. These qualities are hard to find, trust me!

I am unsure of what I am supposed to do. Is this God? Does He want us to have our horses? Does Satan want to steal something that God intends for us to use in His big plans for our lives. I have some praying to do....