Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Still Standing

Regardless of popular belief, I am still here. In spite of all I am facing right now.

I wanted to update you all so I won't risk loosing you altogether. I hope I'm not too late. Here goes...

We sold our home and have moved into a very small condo that my mother-in-law owns. We are living out of boxes and piled on top of each other, but thankful to have been blessed with a place to go.

Our new place of permanent residence is hanging in the balance as we await home inspections, appraisals, loan officers and underwriters to see things in a positive light and find favor with us.

Thanksgiving weekend, we took my dad to the emergency room because he was acting a little disoriented, sluggish and complaining of headaches The doctors dropped a bombshell and told us they suspected brain cancer. He was transported to Baptist Hospital (a wonderful healing place from which I now sit at a computer in the family resource room in order to catch you up) where he stayed for one week, was released and has now began radiation treatments. The cancer has spread to his lungs as well. They are currently treating only the brain because it is the most severe of the two and they are attempting to reduce the extreme swelling there. Next step will be to treat the lungs with radiation and chemo. We are expecting a miracle and hope you will join us in that prayer.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know we have witnessed some totally miraculous healing miracles this year, so I'm sure God can give us one more and heal my daddy. I am not ready to lose him just yet. He is only 65 years old and has lots of love and life and a positive attitude to share with the world. His name is Gary Clodfelter. Mention him as you pray every day if you find it in your heart to do so.

In addition to this, I got a severe case of bronchitis, my little one got a bad cold and a stomach bug, my oldest is struggling with anxiety, my sister has been sick with a severe cold and an infected tooth, my husband is stressing over our family struggles, my mom is just trying to stand on God's promises (as we all are), I had to find a new home for our family dogs whom we loved deeply and have had for many years because we have no place for them with us right now, and to top it all off, my 6 year old's hermit crab died.

Well, now that I have thoroughly depressed you, I want to tell you to smile! I am still smiling. I am still hoping and waiting for God to do His work in this storm of life because I am holding on to Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11. I know he will work it all out for our good and we will come through as stronger and more effective witnesses for His glory.

The Bible tells us to stand firm and see God's deliverance. Not to be afraid and not to be discouraged. He is with us wherever we go. (2 Chronicles 20:17)

I AM standing! I am strong in Him! But, in all honesty, I am leaning slightly. Though, I WILL NOT Fall because my Savior is behind me all the way and will support me with His strength when I am at my weakest. I wait expectantly to see what He has for me in the future and am excited at the possibilities that are ahead of me and my family. Good things are on the horizon!! I can see the flicker of the sun in the distance! Do you see it?

Stand strong with me and lift up your prayers on our behalf. We are traveling daily to the hospital for daddy's treatments and are running on fumes from our exhaustion. Even though I am so very tired, I am enjoying the time with my parents every day. I woudln't trade that for the world. I am praying for all of you as well and will try to keep you posted as I am able. I currently have no internet access except for at this hospital. Praise God they offer it here. Just another small blessing in the midst of the storm.

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,after you have suffered for a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever! (1 Peter 5:10-11)

Have a wonderfully blessed Christmas.

I love you all dearly!
Starr

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Spirit Of Fear

Ok.....Now that you all know that I'm not so great at playing the Waiting Game, I have another confession to make. I am a big scaredy-cat. Yes I am. Though, Not scared of ghosts and goblins and such.

Let me put it this way: Not knowing what the future holds is not only irritating me from the "waiting" standpoint, it is slightly freaking me out in a scary sort of way.

It's not that I don't trust God to take care of me and my family. It is just my human nature seems to be escaping from deep inside to rear it's ugly head out into the world. It's the bad kind of fear that I am experiencing.

Did you even know that there was anything BUT bad fear? Well, I'm here to set ya straight, my friends.

First, there is the kind of fear that scares us to death, That kind that makes one shake, tremble and get all googly-eyed. The kind that intimidates and places dread into your very core. That's the bad stuff I'm talking about. We need to avoid that kind of fear at all costs. (even though I'm not doing such a good job at it right now.) That fear is what sets in and grips us tight when we face uncertain things. Fear that maybe things won't work out like we want them too. You've felt it, haven't ya?

Then there's that kind of fear that we are supposed to feel. SUPPOSED TO FEEL??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? (I can hear your thoughts, people!) Yep.....SUPPOSED to feel. Let me explain:

The kind of fear that comes from God is a GOOD thing. It is a feeling of reverential awe, profound regard of God. That kind of fear does not grab you around the throat and choke the life out of you. That kind of fear brings you a peace that passes all understanding. That kind of fear should be DESIRED above all else. It BRINGS life!!!

Desiring fear sounds a little strange, I know. But, if you desire peace, then that good kind of fear is a fear that you need to experience. The fear of being so profoundly stunned by the awesomeness of your CREATOR that nothing else matters!!! The kind of fear that assures you that He has it all under control. He sees the certain future He has in store for you. He is seated well above any negative circumstance you can ever face in your life.

Do you fear Him enough to believe that??

One of my very favorite verses in God's word is found in 2 Timothy 1:7- " For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind."

He did not give us that "SCARY" kind of fear. He gave us a sound mind to get the revelation that we are to admire Him to the point of being so respectful of Him, we fall down in fear in His presence.

That same scripture speaks of a sound mind as an alternative to fear. What do you think of when you think of a "sound mind"?

How about wisdom? Read this verse:
Psalm 111:10- " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs all eternal praise."

WOW!!! How cool is that!!! Godly Fear = Wisdom. Wisdom = Good Understanding. Good Understanding = A Sound Mind. A Sound Mind = Peace. Peace is the OPPOSITE of Ungodly fear.

That's the only kind of fear I EVER want to experience!! The kind that leads me into such a state of mind that I can only ache to spend my entire eternity praising Him and experiencing His peace!!!!!

People, let's hunger for that kind of fear!!!

Read this in Proverbs 29:25:- "The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."

I'm breaking outta this snare!! I am soaking myself in the Fear of the Lord!!! I am going forward head-first into the unknown knowing only that I will be kept safe!!!

Will you join me?

Have a wonderful day in HIM!!

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Waiting

Waiting is not something I do very well. I am one of those people who wants it done yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. And, heaven forbid, a year from now! When I get my mind made up, I want to get on the ball and accomplish the task at hand.

I realize that patience is a virtue, but I am still working to acquire that one. I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I want to see it NOW!!!!!!
Forget the process of getting there. Show me the end result.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells me that "The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride". I am ashamed to say that I have way more pride that patience. Guess I need to work on that.

Lots of things are hanging in the balance right now for our family. We are currently waiting for our house to sell. We are still unsure that we are doing the right thing But, are trying desperately to follow God's leading. We don't have any idea where the house is that God has for us. No one is exactly knocking down the door to buy ours either. So, we continue to play the waiting game.

I really despise that feeling of "not knowing" what the future holds. But, when you think about it, we never really know anyway, do we? We just kind of think we do just because everything falls into a routine. It's when that comfortable routine gets all topsy-turvy that we get anxious.

One thing I have learned is to keep on keepin' on. Keep living life. Keep enjoying all the moments in-between when things are uncertain. Keep trusting in The One Who holds it all anyway. I am certainly glad that ONE is not me. I wouldn't even want that responsibility, would you? In that case, why do we so eagerly grasp things with our own weak hands and refuse to loosen that grip when God calls us to let things go and let Him work? I think it must be that pride thing creeping in again.

Oh well, No one ever said this life would be easy. In fact, God told us just the opposite.

John 16:33 NIV says: "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world."

What good news! These uncertain times will not last forever! I can honestly say that I have heard God in my siprit over and over again telling me to just wait and be patient, that He has things more wonderful in store for us than I can ever imagine. In that respect, I am excited. Even in the midst of my waiting, with no signs of the light at the end of the tunnel, no promise of when, where, or how.

Wait, maybe there is a promise. Jesus is the How. So, who cares about the when or the where!!

Habakkuk 1:3 NIV: "Look at the nations and watch- be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

I think what He has for us would be too wonderful for description. That is why we have to wait for it. I also believe that we will see it here in this lifetime, sooner than later. Why? Because He wants only the best for His children.

You know, when something is lost, something better is gained. That's how God's economic plan works!!


I would like to share a poem with you today. I got it from my former pastor, Rick Auten, many years ago. It is written, to the best of my knowledge, by Nancy Lee Demoss. The words say it all. I hope it touches you as it does me.
*************************************************
WAIT!
by Nancy Lee Demoss

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said, " Wait."

"Wait? You say wait", my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!"
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate,
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes' a 'go-ahead' sign.
Or even a 'no' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
we need to but ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply.

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumpled in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So I'm waiting... for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause the mountains to run.

I could give you all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me,
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love,
When the peace of my spirit decends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of my heart.

The glow of My comort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond just getting what you ask,
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
'WAIT' means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But oh, what a loss, if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see,
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me...
and though oft My answers seem terribly late,
my most precious answer of all is still 'WAIT'."
***************************************************

Are you waiting with me? Leave a comment so I'll know I'm not in the waiting game alone! God is with us, dear friend. And, we're in it together!!

Love and Blessings,
Starr

-

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This and That

Well, I certainly have been missing ya!! I hope the feeling is mutual. Life has been full lately; In a great way!.

By the way, I haven't forgotten about my series on "The Simple Life". Ironically, I have been so entertained with living it, that I haven't been posting my thoughts on it!! But, I WILL. I Promise!!

Funny story I want to share. It really has no meaning, but it is humorous.

We have an on-going joke in our family that I am my mom's favorite and my sister, Melanie, is my dad's favorite. (At least I am assuming it is a joke! LOL!)

Anyway, My mom sent out an email survey the other day asking what one thing did we think she would take with her if she were stranded on a deserted island.

My sister answered by saying, "Well, if you were stranded with me, you would bring Starr. If you were stranded with Starr, you wouldn't need anything else!"

We all got a big kick out of that!

Actually, my mom said she would bring my dad because he would probably be able to figure out how to build a boat out of "island junk" and they would be able to get back home in no time!

I am betting when they returned fromn that lonely island, she would head straight for my house! You know, since I'm her favorite and all.

My dad would call my sister first thing for sure!

Enough of that!

Speaking of children...............

I am really enjoying homeschooling Austin, my six-year old. We are doing all kinds of fun learning activities and he is taking a science class and a little class at the library. We are just having a blast! I am so thankful that God has allowed me the opportunity to do this with my children. I feel so blessed. I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Love on your kids all you can. Too soon they will be grown and gone. My 18 year old, Chase, has shown me that. It's weird when you look at your first born and see a man.

Seeing a godly man is a definite confirmation that devoting your life to them as they are growing certainly pays high dividends.

I thank God for the wonderful family I grew up in and can see that all their love and hard work raising Melanie and I gave us both very fruitful lives. We are now reaping the same benefits with our own children. A blessing come full circle.

One more thing, On my calendar today it says this:

Behind the face of every person we can see the face of Jesus, and hear Him say, "I died for this person."

What a thought to carry with you! Think on that today as you look into the eyes of those around you; Favorites or not. (ha ha!)

Keep it Simple!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Revelation Of The Simple Life (Part 2)

Urgent!!!! Does that word ever appear in the subject line of your emails? It does many times in mine. Guess what? Most of those emails are spam or trash from complete strangers! Ironic, isn’t it?

“Urgent” doesn’t always mean “urgent”. Very few things in life really require our immediate attention. For example: Is it really urgent to get the clothes into the dryer at this very moment, or is it acceptable to continue reading your child the book he is interested in? See what I mean? I am ashamed at the number of times I have opted to stop interacting with my child to finish another “urgent” task.

So many have-to’s!! Or are there, really? I don’t think so! As I said in yesterday’s post, we weigh our own selves down with our to-do lists. Read the following typical scenario from the LaPradd household:

I am skipping down the stairs with an armload of dirty laundry, headed to the washer, when I see a dirty glass and cereal bowl sitting on the end table. I drop the laundry to put them in the dishwasher before the cat knocks them over. Suddenly, my son wants a sandwich for lunch, so I stay in the kitchen to make him one. I then notice the cat hasn’t been fed yet, so I pour out some food for him. The phone rings and it is a friend needing some advice, so I talk a few minutes and then hang up. Austin now needs help getting his math paper finished, so we work on that for a while. I notice the dirty clothes pile that never made it to the laundry room. On my way to pick it back up, my husband calls and wants me to look up a phone number for him so he can cancel one of his appointments. I run to find the number he needs, give it to him and hang up. Then my teenage son walks in the door after his morning college classes. I stop to talk to him about his day. He tells me his car isn’t running right, so I call my husband back to see what he wants me to do about that. I run outside to get the mail and see a late notice for the power bill. Oh my! I must have forgotten to mail that in!! I run to find the original bill and start to write out a check. Then, I remember I am out of stamps. I grab my purse, decide to just pay the bill in person, and have to stop and get gas on the way. When I get back home, I want to sit down for a minute and catch my breath, but then I see the pile of dirty laundry that STILL isn’t in the laundry room, so I FINALLY pick it up and carry it down.

Is it just me, or is your life similar?

All that seems urgent is not urgent!!! I am running myself ragged for no reason and I am tired of it!! God is revealing so many things to me since I have started seeking Him on this issue. Here are some of the anecdotes He has shown me:

1)Choose to set some things aside for later. It’s ok, really. The world will not stop spinning if we just WAIT.

2)Put your “I really should……” list down for good. We can be responsible without becoming unbalanced. Remember, there are very few truly urgent things in life.

3)Don’t be afraid to give yourself some freedom. It is ok to say “no, not right now”. You may find that by delaying your task for a while, the very thing that seemed so “urgent” didn’t have to be done at all. At the least, it didn’t rock the world to postpone it for a bit.

4)Take an hour or so and just be calm and quiet. Do something YOU want to do for yourself. Your kids won’t waste away while you are relaxing. I promise. Your husband won’t die if dinner is a few minutes late getting on the table. The entire family won’t have to walk around naked because you let a load or two of laundry slide for a day. Believe me, I have started slowing down a bit and we have all survived.

5)Seek God first thing every morning and allow Him to guide you through your day. He will not place nearly the expectations on us that we place on ourselves. We cannot do it all. It is impossible. We certainly can’t do it all at the same time, as you saw from my poor attempt at getting the laundry to the basement. If we try, we only get sidetracked and end up accomplishing nothing but an exhausted spirit, mind and body.

I found this quote from one of my favorite authors, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She writes in Gift From The Sea, “If one sets aside time for a business appointment or a social engagement, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if anyone says,’ I cannot come, for it is my hour to be alone,’ one is considered rude, egotistical, or strange. What a sad commentary on our civilization.”

I suspect I would actually be enlightened to hear someone make that statement. I would begin to think maybe it is ok to spend some time alone and quiet. If we would all be honest and uninhibited enough to just say it, think of the release we could experience!! It’s really ok! We can set aside time for ourselves. We just need to accept that as fact and step out and do it.


Romans 12:3- “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you; do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

In other words, try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities. Delete that “urgent” mindset!

Next time, I will write about delegation. Join me as we continue to discover God’s secret for living in simplicity.

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Revelation of the Simple Life (Part 1)

Are you feeling a little weary and burdened lately, or is it just me? I certainly wouldn’t wish those feelings on anyone, but I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing them. What are we to do when we find ourselves caught in that trap of busyness and exhaustion? The answer is in God’s Word.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

That sounds all nice and easy, but for we women, it's not. Why?

You know, I have found that most all women have two major flaws; Especially Christian women:
1) We worry about everybody.
2) We attempt to meet the needs of everyone around us.

Actually, those are not flaws. They are gifts. God created us to be nurturers. After all, we are wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. We are supposed to be caring and loving and eager to give of ourselves. Although those are wonderful characteristics to have, we often tend to go overboard in demonstrating them.

If you know me personally, or are a regular reader of my blog, you are aware that I was recently hospitalized due to my high levels of stress. My husband and I thought I might have been having a heart attack, so we headed to the emergency room. After spending the night in the hospital and going through a plethora of tests, my symptoms turned out to be a direct result of excessive stress.

That experience was a loud , spirit-jolting alarm to me. We are not wired to live our daily lives to the point of sheer exhaustion. God has revealed to me that He has never expected me to do all the things I have placed on my to-do list. He promises rest to those He loves. His burden is light! I have weighed myself down. It is not my job to be all things to all people. That is His role. I am stepping into His domain when I try to fill every need around me. True, we are His hands and His feet, but we can’t do it all.

Just because something is good and worthwhile does not mean we must do it. Sometimes we thrive on the validation we receive by trying to take care of everyone. We think we are somehow more respected by and considered more valuable to others when we can be their lifeline and support system. We do not have to protect everybody all the time. When we overload our schedule, we miss out on some of the most important things that God has called us to do.

God has said to us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

Why do we enslave ourselves with busyness? I am tired of being burdened. I am so ready to follow only where God leads me. No more following my own path of righteousness. Too many important times have slipped by me because of my trying to do it all. I have even unintentionally pushed my own family aside to accomplish other goals. I am so glad God has opened my eyes! I am finally on the path to simplicity and I am going to share my discoveries with you over the next few days, maybe even weeks! God is revealing new things to me every day on this topic and I am studying it intensively. It may take a while! I hope you will glean as much insight as I have.

“This is love for God; to obey His commands, and His commands are not burdensome. For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5 NIV)

I have faith that God will show me exactly what He requires of me on a daily basis. I do know it will not weigh me down. I now realize I am out of His will if I feel overwhelmed.

Proverbs 12:25 tell us, “An anxious heart weighs a man down….”

An anxious heart is not a heart filled with the things of God. It is not a heart that I want to possess. I desire rest for my soul and time to sit at the feet of my Savior. How about you?

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Contest Winner!!!!!

Well, I have been absent for a few days, but I'm finally back with the lucky winner of my tongue twister contest!!

Drum roll please.............

And the winner is............

Sonya over at "truth4thejourney". You can read her fine blog by clicking on the link to it in my sidebar. Her tongue twister that tickled the tongue of my little guy was "Six slimy snakes slid slowly southward".

Sonya, just email me and give me your mailing address and I will get the book "I Hate Whining Except When I'm Doing It" by Sheila Rabe out to you ASAP! With six kiddos of your own, you will love this book. It is a myriad of lessons learned at the knees of our kids.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I've been working on a series of posts discussing the topic of learning to live a life of simplicity. I think you will enjoy it.

See ya soon!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters can be tremendous amounts of fun. My six-year-old son, Austin, and I have discovered that this week as we have used tongue twisters as part of our homeschool. It is quite humorous to listen to a young child attempt to say the jumbled up words without getting off track. We have laughed at each other many times during this course of study! I have found that moms can’t spill out those tangly tongue twisters much easier than the child can! Twisted words are not easy to say!

Taming the tongue is not an easy task either, but a necessary one none-the-less. The Bible speaks on many occasions about the words that exit our mouths. We are warned repeatedly to take heed when it comes to conversation. Have you ever spouted out something and then stood in disbelief at what you just heard coming from your own mouth? I certainly have. It is not a good feeling to regret the words you have spoken. Self-talk is no different. Sometimes my words hurt me as much as anyone else. We are to speak good things about ourselves to ourselves, even if we don’t feel like it. That is one way we can tame our tongues.

I have quite a sense of humor. Often times, what starts in my mind as a funny thought, makes it’s way through my mouth and ends up not sounding so uplifting upon being born into the world and landing upon the ears of someone else. Not everyone shares my sense of humor thus; I have had foot-in-mouth disease more than one time. Thinking about the outcome before we speak is another way to tame the tongue. How will my words actually come across sounding to the other person?

The bible tells us in Luke 6:45- “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” (NIV) Now I’m not insinuating that just because one may make a conversation blunder that one is evil. In that case, I would certainly be in big trouble! But, what we think is a large part of what eventually flows from our mouths.

Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV)
What are we thinking about? In Romans 12:2, we are told “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

Is it going to uplift another person if we speak it? If it won’t, then it is probably not God’s will that we say it. If no good thing can come from it, just keep it to yourself. Even better, do not even think about it. Ephesians 4:29 is one of my all-time favorite verses. It says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV) Wow! Do my words benefit my family? Am I uplifting my friends when I talk to them, or am I dragging them down spiritually? Those are tough questions. I can honestly say I try hard to be a lifter-upper instead of a bringer-downer, but when things get tough for me, do I complain too much?

Maybe we all need to pray this prayer:
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3 NIV)

Is what I have to say honoring God? “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so; let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2 NIV)

In essence, it all boils down to this: We are to be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, not the things of this world. By doing that, we can be assured that the words coming from us will be uplifting, loving, and beneficial to everyone who hears our voice.

Everyday, I say this Psalm aloud when I wake up:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV)

Understand, I do mess up almost every day, but at least I am asking God to help me along the way. I believe He hears my petitions and forgives me when I miss the mark. He will do the same for you.

Just for fun, I thought I would share some of the hilarious tongue twisters Austin and I have penned over the last few days.

Baxter bought big beautiful brass bottles at the beach by the bay with his best buddy, Babar.


Tom tossed Teresa’s tooth to the trash Tuesday.

Gwen gave her guitar from the garage to Gilly Gasrrison.

Ancient armies attacked angry apes.

And, last but not least, here is a tongue twister that my oldest son, Chase (now 18) and I made up when he was a little boy:

The lion roared in World War One.

I bet ya can’t say that one ten times fast!

****Today in your comment, leave your favorite tongue twister; better yet, make one up! It’s lots of fun! I will reward the one who makes Austin laugh the loudest with a copy of one of my favorite books: “I Hate Whining Except When I’m Doing It” by Sheila Rabe.

I’m looking forward to reading them!
Have a blessed day in The Lord!
Love,
Starr

Thursday, September 18, 2008

God In The Chaos....This Is Only A Test

My "motif" around here is finding God in the chaos of life. Well, boy howdy (as my friend Joanne would say!), have I had an abundance of opportunities to "find" Him lately! Testing ground, indeed!

Yep....I found Him when I had a large stack of bills piled up on my kitchen table, staring at me profusely, waiting to be paid. Not enough funds to pay them within our reach, but He came through as always.

I found Him again while lying in the hospital last week for 24 hours, thinking I was having a heart attack. I think I had a mental breakdown lying in that hospital bed Thursday morning. Turns out, it was only stress and anxiety. Imagine that!!

I most assuredly found Him this past weekend at the wonderful women's retreat I helped plan and was privileged to teach for. It was one of THE most AWESOME experiences in my life...EVER!!!
If you were there, Just know that I love you and enjoyed every last minute spent with you.

I found Him again Monday morning when I woke up with a horrendous toothache, no... make that a horrendous throbbing entire face ache and headache... only to find later that I had an abscessed tooth and needed an emergency root canal that afternoon.

I found Him as I laid in bed for 3 days on pain meds and strong antibiotics, looking back over the past couple of weeks and sensing God's hand protecting me through it all.

Today, I am back to normal, well... as close to normal as I ever get (I can hear you snickering Dana, Julie and Tanya!)...and reflecting on what God has accomplished in my life.

Ironically, I taught at the women's retreat on the subject of God's Peace and God's Provision. Isn't that funny? Leading the sessions was as inspiring to me as it was to the women listening to the words spewing from my mouth. That is, of course, because they were the words God had given me; Not words I had randomly selected within my own ability. He even gave me the extra true life examples (that I COULD have done without) to bring the point home.

Thank You Father for Your unfailing grace, Your timely provision, never a minute too late, and your unending love.You gave me peace in the middle of my chaos (after I had my nervous breakdown) in order that I might serve You better. It was only when I tried to figure everything out for myself, that fear overcame me. May I remember Your wonderful works in the future when I am tempted to fall to the wayside, filled with worry and despair.

May you, my friends, remember that He has it all under control. No matter what you are facing, God has great plans for you and He WILL bring them to fruition!! Walk in His peace today. Read His word and take it into your heart of hearts.

I think I passed the test. Because:

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for what I have not seen.
Amen!

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who Is Watching You?

I was watching Dr. Phil a while ago, and the theme of today's show was people getting caught in unflattering situations that later come back to haunt them. Funny how that was the topic of the day. I ,myself, was caught earlier at the grocery store in a not-so-flattering situation. Allow me to explain.

My six year-old son had been particularly mischievous all day long. He had talked back to me in a negative way several times throughout the day and I had corrected him over and over again. I had just about had it up to my eyeballs, I tell ya. I was on the verge of pulling my hair out between trying to bargain shop and stick to my list in the midst of keeping him still and obedient. It was not a good combination.

Now, I know many of you have an abundance of kids to drag along on your shopping trips, and I only have the one. But, sometimes, just as any child can do, that one can act like an army of 100. Anyway, by the time I had made it to the car, I was at my wit's end.

We were at the type of store where one bags their own groceries. I always wait to do that when I get to my van. It just seems easier that way for me. So, I had the back of the van raised, and I was attempting to bag everything and place it where it would not roll around or get crushed on the ride home. Austin usually takes the buggy back to the storefront for me and takes the quarter out. (That is how they keep the buggies from ending up all over the parking lot.) But not today. No sir. Today, I had instructed him to just get in and buckle up.

Do you think he followed directions? Absolutely not! He knew he was in trouble because of his disobedience inside the store, so he was trying desperately to "help" me get everything situated in the van. I insisted over and over again that the best way he could help me would be to just GET IN HIS SEAT AND BUCKLE UP!!!!!##%%&&***!@@!!

He finally obeyed, and as I finished my task at hand, I sensed someone standing behind me. As I turned around, I saw a very polite looking older gentleman standing there with a quarter in his hand, waiting patiently for my buggy. He smiled and said, "I thought it would help you a little if I took your buggy for you. It seems like you are having a rough day."

I gladly gave him the buggy and thanked him for his kindness and patience.

Smack me down! I never even thought about the fact that someone may have been watching me. I began to wonder how rude I must have appeared to onlookers as I lost my patience with my young son. Granted, most women would totally understand how a mother can get slightly irritated in that situation, but, what about the person who may have been watching me from a distance who had no idea what I had just been through inside the grocery store.

What about the person who may have noticed the fish emblem on the back of my van, not to mention the "fear not" sticker. I obviously was claiming to be a Christian, but was I obviously acting like one? Probably not. I had a bad attitude and I let it show.

What a revelation I had today. How often have I acted rude or self-absorbed, oblivious to the fact that someone was watching me? Probably way more than I care to admit.

Dr. Phil advised the guests on his show today to always be aware at all times of who may be watching you. One of the young ladies he talked to made the statement that she had never claimed to be a role model. She couldn't help it if someone caught her off-guard and photographed her doing something not-so-nice. Well, as Christians, we are role models, like it or not. People are watching. We live in glass houses and we need to be good examples of what Christ can accomplish in a person's life. How else can we win souls for His kingdom?

We have no excuses for acting less than desirable. No matter what, God sees us. He is not waiting up there with a big stick to swat us when we misbehave. Thank goodness. Instead, He is saddened by our wrong actions. That hurts me worse than the big stick would.


I am, above all, an example to my child. He has been placed in my care by God and I am to raise him in a Godly manner. I think I failed to leave him with a good impression earlier today (not to mention the poor man who waited on my buggy.) Even when Austin is testing my patience, I am to remain calm. I am to guide and lead with a loving and stern hand. I am to respond in a God-honoring way. I am to hold onto my peace.

"Be shepherds to God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; ....not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. " (1 Peter 5:2-3 NIV)

Next time I am out in public (or in the privacy of my own home) I will be more aware of who is watching me and attempt to act in a manner that makes God want to smile instead of frown.

Think back through your day. Did you do or say something that could possibly hurt your witness for Christ? Usually if we have soiled our witness, we have hurt another human being in the process; no matter how small a blunder we have made. Don't condemn yourself; God doesn't. Just learn from your mistakes.


"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1 NIV)

"For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (Psalms 1:6 NIV)

""From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth- He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do." (Psalms 33:13-15 NIV)

" And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you."
(Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV)


Love and Blessings,
Starr

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Celebrating A Life

I have been asked again to do something that I have done many times before, but it never gets accomplished without tears and trembling. I must say it is one of the most difficult challenges ever. It is:


Singing at the funeral of a loved one.


Many times before, I have stood beside my sister, or my husband, or my brother-in-law and struggled to belt out a touching tune for those hurting onlookers in the pews. I always attempt to stare out above their faces. If I look at their expressions, I begin to loose control. I tend to be an overly-emotional person anyway. This particular circumstance just pushes me over the edge.



As I have mentioned so many times before in previous posts, our family is very close. We are tight-knit and loosing one of us is almost unbearable.



This past weekend, as we were heading down the road from Tybee Island after a relaxing day on the beach, I received one of those phone calls that you never want to get.



"I have some bad news", my sister said from the other end of the line.


My heart sank imediately as I feared what she would say next.


It seems that my cousin David's father-in-law had suddenly passed away about thirty minutes earlier. He had been enjoying a nice meal at McDonald's with his wife, Vera, and, Haylie, a precious little girl they keep, when he just collapsed and fell from the booth where they were sitting together.


He never regained consciousness.


I couldn't believe what my sister was telling me. It just didn't seem real.


I began to think of all the special times we had shared together at the beach, family gatherings, Christmas, and backyard bonfires. How could he be gone all of a sudden? It was unfathomable.


I remembered the last time I had seen Bill a couple weeks earlier. I had been with my cousin, Timmy, and his new baby girl, Marissa, trying to help out when Marissa's mother was in the hospital. Bill was sitting at the dining room table while we were all in the living room. As I walked through the dining room to get a bottle ready for Marissa, Bill had said, "I just can't take all the noise. I need to be in here a while where it is quiet."


I laughed and said, "You know how we are around here! Never a quiet minute!!"


He laughed too. He knew I was right.



Later, I rummaged around the room where Bill was sitting trying to find the cat litter. I was going to help out Timmy by changing it for him. One less chore for him, I figured, since he was traveling back and forth from the hospital so much. Bill got up from his seat and helped me search. We laughed again when we finally found it right beside where he had been sitting. If it would have been a snake, it would have bitten us!

I remember that Bill loved to get out in the ocean. Sometimes I would sit and watch him from the shore, a little afraid at how far out he was floating. But, I knew he was enjoying it so much. You could just tell by watching him. He had no fear at all. He seemed perfectly peaceful as he flowed, enveloped by the waves of the sea. He rode along smoothly with each and every rise and fall.



Tomorrow as I stand beside my dear sister once again and sing the words to "Beulah Land", I will look above the faces of those I love so much and think of Bill, sitting at the dining room table in the quiet. I will picture him at peace, riding the waves away from all the noise and standing in the presence of our Lord and Savior. He is now flowing along in the midst of a love like we have never known before. In a way, I envy him.


I'm sure he will have expressions of joy spread over his sweet face as he listens to us sing. Maybe he won't even notice my whimpers as I try to hold back the tears.


We love you, Bill. We will miss you. And, we look forward to the day when we can celebrate being together with you in eternity.
Bill and Vera





I'm kind of homesick for a country


To which I've never been before.


No sad goodbyes will there be spoken


For time won't matter anymore.





Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.


And some day, on thee I'll stand.


There my home will be eternal.


Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.





I'm looking out across the river


Where my faith will end in sight.


There's just a few more days to labor,


Then I will take my heavenly flight.





Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.


And, some day, on thee I'll stand.


There my home will be eternal.


Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.


No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. ( 1 Corinthians 2:9)


I ask that you pray for my sister, Melanie, and I as we sing tomorrow at 2:00 EST. Lift up Vera (Bill's wife), Their daughter Pam and her husband David, their sons, Jason and Mark, and their grandchildren. And all other members of the family as we celebrate the wonderful life of a good man and the blessed privilege we had of him gracing our lives with his presence.


Love and Blessings,


Starr








Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When God Is In The Room

We have just returned from a trip to Savannah, GA. My husband's family lives there and we went down for a lovely visit.

What fun we had! We, along with our two kids, piled into the van for the long 5 hour drive Friday evening. It is so unusual for our 18 year old son to travel with us anymore, so we thoroughly enjoyed our time together as a family.

Our 6 year old sat in his carseat all the way, listening to his ipod, coloring, and singing slightly out-of-tune while wearing his headphones.

Our 18 year old sat listening to his ipod, no singing (just air guitar and tapping), mostly snoozing, and reading occasionally from his college textbooks.

Hubby and I talked about our future, listened to our favorite cds, and discussed how wonderful it was to have both our boys with us on the trip.

We pulled into my brother-in-law's driveway at exactly 12:10 am. As tired as we were, we stayed up a few more hours talking and laughing. It is good to be with family, talk about old times and catch up on new ones.

The next day we spent exploring the river front in downtown Savannah. On Sunday, we spent the day relaxing and playing at the beach on Tybee Island. Nights were long and enjoyable as we ate and ate, talked and talked, laughed and laughed.

My mother-in-law lives with my husband's brother and his family now. She has suffered many strokes and they kindly took her in to care for her. She is living like a queen, I tell ya! She has her own private area of the house, gets lots of attention and eats well! She walks a mile or two every day and has made new friends in the neighborhood.

She sometimes tends to get her words mixed up when she speaks. She knows EXACTLY what she is trying to say, but we have to decipher it. It's kinda like playing charades. We all spout out different words as we attempt to finish her sentences for her. It is quite comical, really. Even she laughs!

Saturday night, she kept telling us the same story over and over again. It had gotten to the point of being annoying. She just wanted someone to acknowledge what she was saying. We had been, but she was so busy telling us her version, that she never once heard our acknowledgement.

The main point of her story was that "God is in the room." It took about ten times of her saying it and my brother-in-law shouting it back to her before she finally just let it go. It was hilarious! I have never seen my husband laugh so hard in our 30 years together! She joined in our laughter as we all tried desperately to catch our breath from lack of oxygen! Laughter truly is THE best medicine!

And, yes, God was in the room. His presence was felt as we shared life with family that we seldom get to see.

His presence was felt as we explored Savannah with our unusual little group which includes my brother-in-law, his wife, his middle daughter Melissa, his youngest daughter Jamie, now 25, who has downs syndrome, my husband, myself, our 6 year old, our 18 year old, and the one who started it all, my mother-in-law. We joked about how we all need to tie ourselves together with a long rope on these journeys so we would not keep getting lost from each other in shops and when crossing streets!

God's presence was felt as we rode to Tybee Island listening to Jamie sing the touching words to "I Can Only Imagine" and "How Great Is Our God" as the music echoed from the radio. It brought tears to my eyes.

God's presence was felt as my sister-in-law prayed with me about some difficult decisions we are facing just before we left to head back home.

We decided that we needed a tv crew to follow us around and we would probably have the highest rated reality show on television!

We could show the world how it really is when "God Is In The Room" or on the beach, or leading us down the streets of Savannah, or riding with us in the van.

Yes, God was with us as we pulled into our own driveway yesterday evening and saw a newly placed "for sale" sign in our front yard.

And, God will be with us as we face whatever He has in store for our future.

As the saying goes, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future."

God is in the room. I am listening and I am following. I am feeling His peace and thanking Him for a wonderful weekend. I am thanking him for family, health, and a future full of good things.


Do you feel Him, too?

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great Expectations

We were sitting in the drive-through window at our bank. The drawer opened. I removed my deposit receipts and drove away.

"Am I invisible?", came the small disappointed voice from behind me.

Then it dawned on me. My six year old son had been waiting patiently in the back seat of the van, expecting to receive a lollipop from the teller. I felt sorry for him. I did not even think about the fact that he had been excited about getting a treat until he muttered those sad little words.

Have you ever felt that way? Invisible, I mean?

I certainly have.

How many times I have walked down the halls at church, expecting a "hello" and a smile from a passer-by, but didn't receive one.

How many times I have wanted my husband to notice I cleaned up the house so it would be nice for him and he didn't.

How many times I have wanted my teenage son to give me a hug before heading out the door, but he forgot.

How many times I have wanted to be a part of the group of friends, but wasn't invited.

The list is endless. I'm sure you have a list of your own. The funny thing about that list, though, is our level of expectation. We are expecting things and reactions from people who aren't even aware of our desires. They do notice us. But, they cannot read our minds. They have no earthly idea what we are expecting from them.

Why do we place such high expectations on others, but often forget how we are treating them?

You be the one that smiles and gives a cheerful hello to that passer-by at church. Especially that new family who doesn't know a soul there.

You greet your husband at the door when he gets home from work with a warm welcome and a haven of rest. He will definitely notice that!

You grab your teenager before they head out for the day and tell them they are loved immensely.

Why not call a group of friends together for a Girl's night out? You can be the initiator. Don't wait until they realize they have overlooked you.

Today is the day! Find a person you can bless. Even if they have never lifted a finger to patronize you in any way at all. Commit a random act of kindness. Think of someone who may feel invisible and make them feel worthy and loved.

Believe me, after doing that, you won't feel invisible anymore. You will feel 10 feet tall! You will feel gratified! You will feel the love of Jesus flowing all over and through you!

That is something worthy of expectation.

I'm off to get my little guy a lollipop. See ya tomorrow!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturation Saturday


Yesterday I talked about our "Teeth Troubles" and touched on the fact that the "suit" we wear in public sometimes gives us our sense of security (or insecurity).
Today I would like to speak further about that subject of keeping up appearances.
Does it really matter if your smile reveals a couple of flaws in your appearance?
Hebrews 13:2-"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
Psalms 34:5- "Those who look to Him are radiant; Their faces are never covered with shame."
What really matters is that you do smile at those in your path, encourage those that need it, and spread a bit of God's love and mercy along the way.
Does it really matter what kind of house you have or what neighborhood in which you reside?
Proverbs 3:33-"The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous."
2 Samuel 7:10-11- "And I will provide a place for my people and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed.........'The Lord declares to you that the Lord Himself will establish a house for you.' "
What really matters is that your house is a home. That it is established by and honors God and blesses all who enter in as a place of refuge and a haven of peace.
Does it really matter if you are "keeping up with the Joneses" with your lifestyle or your material possessions?
1 Samuel 16:7- But the Lord said to Samuel,"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
What really matters is that we are living a life that is pleasing to our Creator, our Savior and Our Lord. No matter where we live it, what we possess materially, or how others view us in accordance with worldly standards.
What if you had to give it all up today? Could you remain at peace and know that God provides all you need? Could you be satisfied with only Him if your "suit" was not as attractive as you would like it to be?
Luke 12:15- "...Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Romans 15:13-"May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Our satisfaction comes from Him. He will fill us. Lay the "suit" down and trust Him.
Just a little nugget for thought.
Stay saturated today with God's love and peace and the truth of His Word.
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Friday, August 22, 2008

Teeth Troubles

Teeth. That has been the topic of interest around our house this week.

My six year old lost one yesterday. He looks so cute!

I lost one, too. I don't look so cute.

The Tooth Fairy didn't even pay me a visit. I tried. Put my big, ole ugly tooth under the pillow and everything. Didn't work though.

Austin got a dollar for his tooth falling out. I got nothing but a gaping hole in my mouth and a lot of pain. I've been on pain meds since yesterday afternoon. (Hence this weird post!)

I had an infected tooth and put it off as long as I could due to lack of dental insurance. That left me with no choice but to have it pulled. Bad thing is that it is near the front of my mouth. As a person who struggles with self-esteem, this is NOT good.

I am praying, though, that God will make a way for me to be able to get it fixed. Just so I won't look too goofy. I am scheduled to speak at a women's retreat in three weeks. I'm guessing at least I will probably be able to keep their attention as they gaze into the "big black hole" while I am talking. It will give them something to focus on. Oh my! Pray for me.

Anyway, Austin and I got into an interesting conversation this morning as he climbed into bed with me after his daddy left for work. It went something like this:

Austin: "Tooth feelin' better today, mom?"

Me: "A little."

Austin: "Just do like I do. Put all your food and drink on the other side of your mouth and then it won't hurt so much."

Me: "I'll have to try that. You give great advice for a little guy. Maybe you should grow up and be a dentist."

Austin: "Yeah! That would be great!! Then when you need to get a tooth fixed, you wouldn't have to go all the way to the dentist's office! I could do it for you!!"

Me: "Yeah! Like when you need a haircut, you don't have to go all the way to the salon. I just do it for you here."

Austin: " Well, I think I WILL be a dentist when I grow up. Do I have to go to school for it?"

Me: "Yeah."

Austin: " I don't know. Don't dentists have to pull teeth and see blood and look inside people's gross mouths?"

Me: "Yeah, but they make lots of money."

Austin: "Enough to buy us a really big house?"

Me: "Yes."

Austin: "I don't think I like the blood thing too much. If I go to school to be a dentist, do I get to keep the dentist suit even if I quit being a dentist?"

Me: "I guess."

Austin: "Well, I think I WILL be one!"

I reckon the suit is all that matters, huh? Guess we are all caught up a little in how we look! Just so long as we have a cool "suit", all is well.

I'll be back again tomorrow. Maybe I won't be on meds then and my next post will have a much deeper spiritual meaning. Until then.......

Blessings,
Starr

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturation Saturday Praises!


For those of you who have asked about Andrea, my cousin's fiance, I have some wonderful news!!! (If you aren't familiar with the story, read the blog posts under "New Baby In The Family").
Andrea is now off the ventilator, out of ICU and in a regular room, and actually walking and eating a little!!!!!! What a true miracle that is!!! God is still in the miracle business, just in case you ever doubted that fact! We all now have tangible proof that He is hard at work, still healing and answering prayer!! She has been at death's door three or more times since giving birth to a precious baby girl 5 weeks ago. Now she's standing at life's door, almost ready to come home and fill the roll of new mommy!!!!
Because of that exhilarating news, today's Bible verses will focus on God's amazing and sovereign power and our heartfelt praise to Him for it!! Get set to saturate yourself in His Word:
Psalm 9 verse 1 (NIV) : "I will praise You O Lord with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. (V2) I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
(verse 9) The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (verse 10) Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (verse 11) Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done!"
Psalm 18 verse 1 (NIV) : "I love You, O Lord, my strength. (verse 2) The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in Whom I take refuge. (verse 6) In my distress, I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. (verse 16) He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. (verse 32) It is God Who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (verse 35) You give me Your shield of victory, and Your right hand sustains me; You stoop down to make me great. (verse 46) The Lord lives!! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!! (verse 49) Therefore I will praise You among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to Your name!"
No matter what you are facing today, God is holding you in His mighty right hand. He is strengthening you every step of the way. Focus on His love for you and His provision in your distress. He is there. He will bring you through to victory!!! Feel that victory in Jesus flowing over you right now!! He still does miracles, no matter how big or small your situation may seem. He is handling it and has unimaginable good things in store for you! May you enjoy a day saturated in His great love for you!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Kink In The Chain

Have you ever tried to untangle a necklace? It is a daunting task to say the least. It can drive a girl CRAZY, I mean!!! I have been known to just throw the chain away instead of struggling to straighten it out.

Life can be the same way. You get motivated to step out in faith and then things get all tangled up. Frustration sets in. You start questioning your decisions. Then you get tempted to just throw it all away and forget about it.

When things get messed up, then is the time to dig in and trust in what you know God instructed you to do. Keep working on the tangles. Look for ways to reverse the damage. Trace your tracks and make sure you are going in the right direction. Just like Abraham, know that God is guiding you every step of the way. He will never call you and then leave you alone in the desert. He won't leave you twisted and going down the wrong path.

When a chain is tangled, it is weak. God will untwist the mess. He is strongest when we are weak. Don't let the kinks throw you!

1 Corinthians 1:25- "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12- "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But, pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But, how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

A necklace cannot untangle itself, can it? Neither can we. Trust God. Confide in friends. Seek wisdom from the wise. Things WILL straighten out! God's will prevails every time we allow Him to work out the kinks in our mess.

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Steadfast Spirit

Today, I am posting this devotion instead of the usual "Saturation Saturday" article. It is a word in due season for me as I hope it will be for you. I had written it a few months ago and it now ministers to me in a very special way. Funny how God can take my own words to teach me something. Maybe they weren't my own words at all, Huh?

Isaiah 51:16- "I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand- I Who set the heavens in place, Who laid the foundations of the earth, and Who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' "

You may do a word study on "Steadfast" and "Endurance" to enhance your understanding of what God wants us all to learn; The same God Who covers us under His protecting hand...Who leads us through change safely...Who guides us every step of the way...Who grants us the faith to have endurance. He Who put the heavens in place loves us and wants the best for us. Enjoy!

Read: By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls.
(Luke 21:19 AMP)



Have you ever had a dream? Not the kind that slips into your mind at night as you sleep; I mean a true vision for your life. A mission from God.

I have those dreams. Lots of them. Our children are full of those dreams, too. But, they look at them in an entirely different way than we parents do. They see them as something they can actually accomplish. They see them as a challenge and they are eager to conquer!

I saw a perfect example of that childlike perseverance while I was lying on the beach the other day. When I had arrived a couple hours earlier, the surface of the sand was pristine. Beautiful and white. I set up my "spot", greased up with sunscreen, and positioned myself for a nice relaxing afternoon. I must have zoned out for a while, because when I opened my eyes, the clean pristine beach had been covered over with mounds and mounds of seaweed. It went on endlessly as far as my eyes could see in both directions.

My mom and I noticed a little girl. As we watched her, we realized she was on one of those missions only accomplished through childlike faith. She meticulously picked up armload after armload of seaweed and ran to the water's edge to toss it back in. She had a vision of depositing every last piece of that messy stuff right back into the ocean where it belonged. She did not see it as impossible, though to onlookers, it seemed a daunting task beyond any hope of completion. In her mind, she saw the end result: a nice clean beach that she could be proud of! She had hope! She had endurance! She had perseverance! She had a vision!

I don't think you would ever see an adult trying to do what that determined little girl was doing. We would see it as useless. Why even try to take on something so tedious, so impossible.

You see, kids look at something like that with possibility thinking; Nothing is beyond their accomplishment as far as they are concerned. They are born with a natural faith. If they have an idea, you can bet they are going for it; full speed ahead! They don't ever think of the obstacles.

God created us to be dream-catchers! Who do you think He gives us all those great ideas? Even those little 'inklings" that tell us to bless someone, give away some money, or speak to that stranger. I know me. I am too eager to second-guess those little "inklings", not to mention the big dreams. I tend to focus on the obstacles and the seeming unlikeliest of those big dreams ever coming true. Most adults do.

God is willing to provide us with all we need to carry out His plans for us. But, we usually want to see the whole blueprint before we even get started. That's not really how He works. In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to pick up and go to a land that He would show him. Abraham went. He didn't ask how, when or where. He just went. He just had faith he would get to the land God had set aside for him. He didn't have the slightest idea where he was headed in a physical sense. He just knew in his heart what wonderful blessings were waiting for him there. (Wherever "there" turned out to be.) He certainly faced obstacles on the journey, but he just kept trudging through the mire to complete the mission the Lord had given him.

Go ahead. Write down those dreams. Write down the awesome possibilities and blessings that await you when you get there. Don't ignore those "inklings". And, DO NOT focus on the obstacles. Instead of seeing the endless piles of seaweed, envision the pristine, white beach. Work hard and be patient. Your perseverance will pay off! You will get to that land, that true life, the Lord has waiting for you!


Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and give me the faith of a child, that I may have a persevering and steadfast spirit within me.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Love and Blessings,
Starr

Monday, August 4, 2008

Change

Change.

Change is often Exciting.

Change is often Intimidating.

Change is often Unexpected.

Change is Always Inevitable.

Even so, I don't usually adapt well to it; Not a good trait for me to exhibit, because My family is facing quite a few changes. Some good. Some we aren't sure are good at all.

For this one thing though, I am forever thankful: Jesus Christ is ALWAYS the same (Hebrews 13:8).

He is my strength when I am weak.

He is my refuge when I am afraid.

He is my constant in this world of change.

I am glad I have Him to hold on to when change sneaks up on me when I least expect it.

Otherwise, I would go into a tailspin. I would lose control. I would hide in fear.

Funny how you think some things will always be a certain way, then they up and, you know..... change.

Please pray for my family as we face a world of new opportunities. Some we are excited about. Some we are leery to step into. Some things we are reluctant to let go of.

One thing I know is that God is in complete control of our lives. We want Him to be. We would not have it any other way. Because, after all, He NEVER changes!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturation Saturday


Welcome once again to our special Saturday Soaking in God's Word. I'm so glad you joined me today!
This week, I have faced a varying schedule. I am usually pretty routine about how I spend my days; Certain days for certain things. Don't misunderstand, though. I am about as unsystematic as they come, but I basically do the same thing every week, in a very chaotic way! Go figure.
I had a rare opportunity Thursday to spend the day with a dear friend. I even got another friend to babysit! Talk about rare. That is something I NEVER do. Taking time for myself is a rarity.
The time my friend and I relished together was so refreshing. Over lunch, we had a conversation concerning our tendency to get blown out of the water when things don't go according to our "plan for the day". One little unexpected bump in our schedule can get us in a tizzy. Funny for two Christian women who completely trust the Lord and His wisdom, isn't it?
Do you ever find yourself feeling that way? I think most people do. Probably we women most of all.
God has laid on my heart this week to pour over Psalm 34 on a daily basis. I have read it several times each day. God has given me much insight through those words. Today, on this Saturation Saturday, I will post them here for you, also, to be drenched in.
Does your schedule leave you feeling dry? Do you lean on God when things go askew? Do you stop and give Him praise in the midst of the chaos? Steep your dehydrated self in His Words. Let Him speak to your spirit. Dive in with me:
Psalm 34 (AMP)
v1) I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Even when things get all thrown off schedule)
v2) My life makes it's boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.
(I will bless Him in my coming and in my going as an example of His goodness)
v3) O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
( Let's praise Him together in every circumstance!!)
v4) I sought (inquired of) the Lord required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
(I boldly speak with the authority of His word out of my need for Him and He acknowledges my faith!)
v7) The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers.
(He is always with me, even when I don't see Him working. He is standing in the gap for me!)
v8) O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is Good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.
( People will see me as blessed and joyous! They will desire what I possess! I lean on His wisdom every day and he frees me from distress!)
v9) O fear the Lord, you His saints, [revere and worship Him]! For there is NO WANT to those who truly revere and worship Him with Godly fear.
(I will want for nothing if my desire is for Him above all else!)
v14) Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!
( I will go about my day serving others in His name; Thirsting for His peace and His provision. He will fill me!)
v17) When the righteous cry out for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.
( How cool and awesome is that!!!)
v18) The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.
( My God forgives me of my faults and heals me when I am broken before Him.)
v19) Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers Him out of them all.
( I am not promised a life of ease, but I am promised deliverance by a God of mercy!)
v22) The Lord redeems the lives of His servants, and none of those who take refuge and trust in Him shall be condemned or held guilty.
( Once again...how cool and awesome is that? SELAH)
I pray you will have a Saturday submerged in His love and His grace! Do something radical today...get out of your comfort zone. He is right beside you and wants to lead you to undiscovered places! Dive in!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moments Filled With Beauty



My garden is not without a few weeds here and there, but to me, it is beautiful. I am inspired every day when I walk outside to water my plants and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Maybe it is just because my marigolds are the most low maintenance thing in my life right now!


When I planted my flowers this spring, I wanted my garden to be a place of inspiration to all who walk past it. Since I teach piano lessons in my home and also operate a beauty salon in my basement, there are a lot of individuals who have the opportunity to see my garden on their way into my house. Why not take advantage of that and bathe each one of them in God's Word?



Psalm 34 verses 1-3 are some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. Here is what it says in The Amplified:


v1) I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.


v2) My life makes it's boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.


v3) O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.



You wouldn't believe how many conversations about our Lord have sprung up from the vision people get of my garden! Isn't it wonderful? They see, they get inspired, they get joy-filled, they smile!

We bless Him together as we learn music. We boast of His goodness and loving-kindness as we explore new hairstyles. He is magnified in my home as I greet my visitors. What a perfect way to bring to fruition Psalm 34!



I have a calendar that I turn over every day. On the pages are inspirational words that touch my heart as I begin each new morning. Today, the words inspired me to take some photographs of my garden and share them with you.



Under each photo, I will place a caption from my calendar's verse today. I hope you are inspired just as my other visitors are as you, too, enjoy my garden of "smiles".



I Wish You



Some Quiet Time For Dreaming





An Unexpected Pleasure






Moments Filled With Beauty





May You Have A Day To Treasure!



Do All The Good You Can, By All The Means You Can

In All The Ways You Can, In All The Places You Can

At All The Times You Can, To All The People You Can

As Long As Ever You Can!


From My home to yours, Have a beautiful day in Jesus!

Love and Blessings,

Starr

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tag, I'm it!!

Well, I've been tagged by my buddy Sonya over at Truth4thejourney http://www.truth4thejourney.blogspot.com/! You all will have to forgive me as I do not yet know how to add links to the text of my blog except by the old-fashioned way.

The game has been fun to follow and now I get to participate!! Alright!!!!

These are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them (This is only a game)
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Here are the six VERY random things about me, myself and I:

1) I am addicted to, and I mean ADDICTED in the most severe way to Dr. Pepper. There....I've said it. (Rather, I've typed it).

2) I adore stealing an afternoon nap when at all feasible amidst the chaos of my life.

3) I am shy when I first meet you, but hold on tight, 'cause after we are friends, I will talk your head off!

4) I have been known to forget what I am saying in mid sentence. (Please tell me I am not the only one....PLEASE!)

5) What is it I am supposed to be doing again?

6) Oh, yeah ...and I am not a natural blonde (it comes from a tube) even though I have all the traits of a true "blondie".

Now, Your job is to keep all the above to yourself. (Just kiddin'!)

Really, Your job is to visit all these wonderful ladies whom I am about to tag and encourage them as your read their six random things, OK?

A) Dana, my lovely hilarious friend over at Filled With Laughter (http://www.danamelton.blogspot.com/) is one of my dearest friends. We attend church together, laugh together ALOT and our kids are the best of friends. Visit Dana when you need a good dose of holy cheer!

B) Natalie over at http://www.koinoniacommunity.blogspot.com/ is my buddy from church as well and a terrific writer with lots of posts that make you ponder things. She has 2 lovely little girls who are also friends with my little man. One of the most giving people I know.

C) Joanne from http://onesoblessed.blogspot.com/ is my greatest encourager. We met at She Speaks and I truly believe God placed us together. I will consider her a friend for life. She is one of the best writers I have ever had the privilege of knowing. You will miss out greatly if you don't visit her. She will make ya laugh too! (Go and grab a glass of sweet tea before you sit down to read her blog.)

D) I also met Lynda at She Speaks. We saw each other at the Bloggers Reception and hit it off from the get-go. Her new blog is up and running at http://www.lubylu.wordpress.com/. She is doing a wonderful job and her dear husband encourages her to write. He saw a gift in her and I certainly see it too!

E) Heather has a testimony like no other I have ever heard. It is AWESOME!! She has been through so much and uses it all to glorify the Great God whom we serve. She doesn't hesitate one bit to give Him all the credit for bringing her to where she is today. You cannot read her blog without wanting to just jump up and shout to Him for His great healing power and His loving-kindness. She is a precious young lady. I had the honor of meeting her in person at She Speaks and she just glows with the love of Christ. Visit her at http://www.swallowingamoose.wordpress.com/

F) Last, but certainly not least, is Kay over at http://www.thrivechristian.blogspot.com/. We met at She Speaks trying to find "Kannapolis A". I think God had us on that wild goose chase just so our paths could cross. You will enjoy the wisdom she has to share. A charming lady indeed!

Have fun blog-surfing! Give these gals a day or two to write their random six things, but don't forget to check them out.
Have a blessed day!
Starr

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome To Saturation Saturday


The Dictionary says that saturate means, "to soak thoroughly, of the greatest intensity, to steep, to drench".


My favorite part of the definition says, "to cause to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance."


Interestingly enough, in Physics saturated means "Charged to the fullest extent of it's capacity."


I love that, don't you? For that reason, I have decided to put Saturdays aside as a day to saturate myself and my bloggy friends in God's Word. No other substance can adequately "charge us to the fullest extent of our capacity".


Though I will use many parts of scripture on Saturation Saturdays, I will focus mainly in the Psalms.




The past two weeks, my trust in God has wavered. I have questioned Him many times.


I cannot fathom why on earth He would allow a precious and perfect newborn baby girl to spend the first few weeks of her life without her loving mother.






I cannot begin to understand why He would filter through His hands an illness that would keep an ecstaticly happy first-time father from enjoying the experience with the mother of his baby daughter.

I can't imagine why a perfectly healthy woman would go to a hospital to give birth and face the beginning of the fight for her life the very next morning.

I do know this. God is in control. He did not cause this to happen. He sees the big picture. He has a plan.



His plan for us during trying times like these is to pray and trust in His promises; To praise Him for His loving-kindness.



Maybe you are facing some difficulties in your life right now. Maybe things are not as you would prefer them to be and your trust is wavering like mine. Maybe you are just wondering "Why". Let's jump into the pool of God's Word together and unite ourselves with Him completely. Let's steep in His promises. Let's drench ourselves with His peace and healing.


I will begin with Psalm 41 from the Amplified Bible and add a few drops from other Psalms for us to soak in.


Dear Father,
Your word tells us that blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is he who considers the weak and the poor; the Lord will deliver him in the time of evil and trouble (v1). You promise You will protect us and keep us alive; that we shall be called blessed in the land (v 2). You promise to sustain, refresh, and strengthen us on our bed of languishing; that on our bed You [O Lord] will turn, change, and transform in our illness (v 3).


God, You are our Refuge and Strength (mighty and impenetrable to temptation), a very present and well-proved help in trouble (Psalm 46 v 1). Therefore, I will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas, Though it's waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at it's swelling and tumult, SELAH (Pause and calmly think of that!) (Psalm 46 v 3).


There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God (Psalm 46 v4). God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her (Psalm 46 v 5). You will make us glad again!! You will bring us out of these times of turmoil. We will see Your mighty hand at work!

We will call on You in our day of trouble and You will deliver us, and we shall honor and glorify You!! (Psalm 50 v 15). The world will have no choice but to see Your power working in our troublesome situation! You will conquer and restore!


We will rejoice in You, O Lord! We will give You thanks in the great assembly; we will praise You among the mighty throng! (Psalm 35 v 18).


Your hand is at work for us behind the scenes. You NEVER leave us alone or forsaken. You are holding us in the palm of Your mighty right hand and we can feel assured in Your protection and divine wisdom.


Our inner selves wait [earnestly] for You Lord; You are our help and our Shield (Psalm 33 v 20).
For in You does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in Your holy name (Psalm 33 v 21). Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You (Psalm 33 v 22). May our trust in You never waver. May we stand strong on Your Word.


We Praise You as we claim all these promises from Your Word in Jesus' name. Amen (So Be It!)




Do you feel a little stronger now? Are you charged up? I certainly am!

Have a wonderful Saturday in the Lord!
Love and Blessings,
Starr

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Image Of The Father

Six year-old Austin wants so much to be like his dad. Everything my husband does, Austin wants to do, too.


My husband is an avid bike rider and you cannot imagine how excited Austin was this morning when he discovered a bike shirt in his drawer! The screams could be heard throughout the entire house.


You see, yesterday my sister brought over some clothes my nephew has outgrown and I had placed them all in Austin's drawers without him even noticing it. I never realized those shirts would have such an effect on my little guy.


"MOM!!! Can I go ride my bike right now!!??", he yelled from his room as he excitedly dressed himself in the bike clothes.


Next thing I knew, he was standing at my bedroom door all dressed and exclaiming, "Look Mom!! I look just like dad does!!"


"Of course you can go ride." How could I say no to that little face.


He wouldn't set foot out the door, though before calling his dad at work to tell him all about how his new bike clothes matched his bike and how he was just like dad. Then, he took off like a professional. How adorable he was as he rode away!













The other day, my husband was working on his car, so Austin went and grabbed his toolbox. Next thing I knew, he was under the car "working" hard. What a cute little mechanic he made!





My husband is also a guitarist and Praise and Worship Leader. Here is a photo of my oldest son, Chase.




Do you see a pattern here? I certainly do! My husband has an important task set before him if he is to influence our children for God. I think he does a tremendously good job at it. Just look at the evidence!

Parenting is a large calling on one's life. It is a big role to fill. To our children, we are heroes. Little do they know, they are our heroes! Someday when they become parents themselves, they will know firsthand just how much they influenced us.

I found this poem by Lee Fisher. It says it all. My husband keeps on his dresser.

A Little Fellow Follows Me

A Careful man I want to be, A little fellow follows me;

I do not dare to go astray, For fear he'll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes, What'er he sees me do, he tries;

Like me he says he's going to be, The little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine, Believes in every work of mine;

The base in me he must not see, The little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go, Through summer's sun and winter's snow;

I'm building for the years to be that little chap who follows me.

(Lee Fisher)

May we strive to be the kind of people our children believe we are.

1 John 3:2- "Beloved, we are [even here and] now God's children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God's children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is. (AMP)

May we strive to be like our Father, our Creator.

Colossians 3:10- "....renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. (AMP)

Have you influenced your child today in a positive manner? Tell me your stories of how your little ones follow in your footsteps. Can't wait to hear from you all!

Love and Blessings,

Starr