Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Butterscotch Brownies....and other sweet thoughts

Just stuck the butterscotch brownies in the oven. Tomorrow night is our monthly ILNC Leaseholder's Potluck, and I'm taking lasagna and brownies. We always have a variety of foods to choose from, and it's fun to cook for each other once a month. This comes on the heels of Grandma's Cupboard...a food pantry program for our senior citizens and low income families. What a blessing this program has been for ILNC the past several years!! And now, with the economic belt having to be taken in a notch or two, we've seen the need all the more.

Well, now for some highlights of my reading this past week. I feel so in need of a daily tune-up, and I am grateful that God is faithful to highlight those things I need to give thought to and improve on. Here's a few:

1. Love is not rude. I must strive to be a person who is pleasant to be with. I must treat others in the way I want to be treated. Avoiding people, criticizing people, talking about them behind their backs....very, very rude...very unkind. I don't want people to treat me that way, so I must be careful not to do the same to them. I guess it's best summed up in this phrase from my journal: Learn to be a joy...not a jerk!

2. How I think determines my attitude, and my attitude determines my reactions. I often struggle with negative thinking, and it drags me down, leads me into feelings of anger, and it affects my relationships. I know that I should think on whatever is lovely and pure and beneficial to my mental well-being...I know that, but I don't always practice that. Big room for improvement in this department!

3. The Love Dare book has really been challenging me on a daily basis to reexamine what real love looks it displays itself. Going right along with thought #2 above, love will choose to see the positive and best in people, and not focus on the negative. When I determine to focus on the positive qualities of a person, I will find that it creates more blossoms in that relationship, and the garden will become much more fragrant.

4. Lately I've been a little concerned about our finances...or lack of. So when confronted with the question, "Worried about money?", I was reminded that I don't need to be, for God will provide. He gives me this promise in Matthew 6:32-33: Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern. Thanks...I needed that reminder!

5. Depression is something that plays no favorites. Not only have historical giants struggled with it (Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Ernest Hemingway), but so have biblical giants (Jonah, Jeremiah, David). Even Jesus was touched by depression when He was on the cross and felt abandoned by His Father, calling out "My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" But there is value to be found in depression. In the midst of our pain we find that God is right there with us, drawing us to Himself if we allow Him to. (I recall how I spent my days basking in His presence when I felt I couldn't face the daily routine of life. I leaned on Him for strength and guidance, and He saw me through that tunnel experience. In fact, He even rewarded me with a trip to His land....the land of Israel. I honestly felt that Jesus was my partner on that trip, and I can only say, "Thank you, Jesus!") So...there are many successful and famous people who suffered with depression prior to or during their greatest achievements. Depression is common, but one must go on with life to get through the tunnel...and we do it by hanging on to the hand of Jesus.

6. Regarding our passion for's much easier for satan to slip in and defeat us when we do not remain close to God...passionate about our relationship with Him. When the circumstances of life close in on us, that is all the more reason to draw in closer to the Source of our strength and purpose. Even as He hung dying on the cross, Christ's passion for us was uppermost in His mind and heart. In was His passion for us that put Him on that cross. It was part of God's overall plan to provide redemption for us. We are reminded, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength... Do what is right and good in the Lord's sight, so all will go well with you... For we are righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us. (Deuteronomy 6:5, 18, 25)

7. I'll end this blog with God's Word to me this morning: You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God... Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil. (I Peter 3:4, 11-12)

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