Good is good, but best is better

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's that time again -- the start of a new school year.

If you are like me, you may already be juggling a calendar full of activity -- sport schedules, piano and language lessons, homework, school meetings, classes at the gym, Ladies Bible Study -- and it's only the first week of school!

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the "freedom" we have once our children are in school, but if we aren't mindful of our activities then we can find ourselves overwhelmed by them. You and I need to be wise and careful in the activities we involve ourselves with and the choices we make with our time. If we aren't, then we are prone to cross the line between good and best. How do I know this? Unfortunately, I've blurred the line too many times.

Good activities have value and may very well be important, but many times they distract us from God's best for our lives. That is why good is good, but best is better. The enemy can't destroy us, but he certainly can distract us. How? By filling our time with "good" activities, those things that, at first seem innocent enough, but over time rob of us of our energy, our time, and our peace. Let me share an story with you that I think illustrates this point:

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, " We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bible and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do -- distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connect throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels.

"Keep them busy in the non essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work. Over-stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio whenever they drive, to keep the TV, DVD, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature of reflect on God's wonders. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion. Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause."

In was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge.

I've had this story for several years and refer back to it often, because it really hits home with me. Too many times I've sacrificed God's best in my life, with my family, and in my ministry because I get caught up in the good things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against "good" activities; I've just learned that good is good, but best is better.

I know our lives are not all the same and what works for me may not work for you. It's my hope that as you start filling in the empty spaces of your calendar in the upcoming weeks that you will carefully weigh your options and funnel all your activities through the truth of God's word: "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Strange, strange Part II

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If you read my post "Strange, Strange" back in February, you would know that in a short time frame we had multiple incidents occur that could not be explained. Well, it's happened again.

We arrived home on August 5th and within 10 days had a variety of issues going on at our house:

1. Severe jetlag (okay, not that unusual considering our traveling circumstances but it certainly didn't help!)
2. Abbey's best friend came over and shared her lice! Thus, the cycle of hair cleansing, laundry, nit checking begins...
3. I developed a bladder infection (which as of this writing, I am still dealing with despite strong antibiotics)
4. My cat decided to retaliate for being left in the kennel for 2 weeks by vomiting all over the house at least twice a day
5. My husband develops a hacking cough and cold (a sick man, self-explanatory)
6. The official timekeeper for my 40th birthday shows up to start his countdown
7. I got stung by a bee

This is not a joke....ALL of this happened in the 10 days after my arrival in Germany!

So the question is this: Is this an attack by Satan? Is God trying to get my attention, to discipline me, or to teach me something? Honestly, I don't know. I've been too busy trying to survive all of it to take the time to figure it out.

All I do know is that I've tried not to whine and complain. I've been plugging along trying to get through it and praying that it will come to an end soon. I did find encouragement, though, from a verse I came across in Revelation (I know, of all the books of the Bible to quote from, right?)

(Jesus speaking) "I know your deeds, and your toil and have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary..." Rev. 2:2-3

During this crazy time at our house, may Jesus pour out these words on me and find them to be true in my life.

Are you going through a difficult time too, my friend? Toil, persevere, endure, and do not grow weary. Jesus knows; let Him find this verse and these traits true in you too!

My 100th post!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's taken me almost 3 years, but I've finally managed to write 100 posts. With my crazy life, that is no small feat!

As blogging etiquette dictates, I've decided to share 100 things about myself with you -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'll be as honest as possible, and pray that when you're done you'll still be willing to visit again!

1. I'm married to the most amazing man! He's patient with me and puts up with me way beyond the marriage vows. He's more than I deserve...
2. My girls are teenagers -- what more do I need to say??
3. I love to read. My fondest childhood memories are those spent in the public library on Saturdays. No wonder I worked in the library in college and volunteer every Friday morning at the elementary school library.
4. I love sports! Tennis and NFL football are my favorites, but I'll watch anything really; especially when it's the championships or dead-heat tie breakers.
5. I'm an organization freak -- a place for everything and everything in it's place.
6. My favorite color is red.
7. I love the warm weather, 75 to 80 degrees with no humidity is my ideal.
8. I've seen every Seinfeld episode there is and can usually relate any circumstance or situation to the show. Pathetic, I know.
9. Traveling the world is my hobby. "I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list" is one of my favorite quotes.
10. Speaking of quotes, I collect them.
11. My ideal vacation is the beach (warm weather girl here); that would explain why I've never taken my girls snow skiing.
12. I am a creature of habit and routine. Take me out of that and I'm lost.
13. I usually have too high of expectations of people and myself.
14. I'm a perfectionist.
15. I consider myself to be loyal, faithful, and devoted.
16. Transformations of any kind - personal, interior design, etc. - are my favorites!
17. A 100? You've got to be kidding...
18. I would define my style as casual elegance.
19. I prefer quiet over noisy.
20. Although I don't have a "green thumb", I do enjoy gardening.
21. I'm not very transparent and will usually not share a lot about myself or what is going on with me -- something I need to work on.
22. I don't like feeling vulnerable.
23. I'm very independent and don't ask for help often -- something else I need to work on.
24. I majored in journalism in college and then switched to teaching.
25. I taught in public schools for 2 years and that was enough for me.
26. I lived in Mexico for 6 weeks while studying Spanish in college.
27. I come from a lineage of Chinese and German -- funny that I would end up living in those 2 countries!
28. My kids don't think I'm funny.
29. I find that as I get older, I talk to myself a lot more. Is that weird?
30. I am not a fan of exercise. I do it, but I don't like it.
31. I know the lyrics to most Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus or any other Disney related music.
32. I've been known to watch Disney shows when my kids aren't around and I don't know why.
33. I'm a firm believer in reading the book before watching the movie.
34. My favorite Bible study teachers are: Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Joyce Meyer.
35. I don't drive manual transmissions well -- I'm a perfect candidate for whiplash when I do.
36. I make my kids do schoolwork during the summer -- I say if you don't use it, you lose it. My kids say it's mean.
37. I have a funny thing about personal space -- I don't like it to be invaded!
38. I'll probably never win the Mother of the Year award because I don't let my kids sleep with me, ever. It's a #37 thing.
39. I can't think of my FAVORITE ALL TIME movie.
40. Strange, but I can't think of my FAVORITE Bible verse, book of the Bible, or Bible character either. I like them all!
41. I'm not fond of ice cream; I think it has to do with that fact that it's cold.
42. I'm not the best at cooking. You would think following a recipe would be fool-proof, but I usually manage to mess it up. My family eats it anyway...
43. I didn't become a serious Christian until I had kids. I figured if I wanted them to be strong followers of Christ they would need someone to lead them. You can't lead others where you haven't walked yourself.
44. I don't watch much TV, but when I do, I enjoy: Lost, American Idol, Survivor, and America's Next Top Model.
45. An hour into this, and I haven't even reached the half-way point. Mercy!
46. I'm a spoiler, which means I will read the last page of the book first, I will find out who won the game before it's televised, etc. Bad, bad, bad.
47. I'm a literary geek. I listen to Grammar Girl and Vocabulary podcasts for fun!
48. I could eat Tex-Mex food every day of the week. If writing/teaching/speaking doesn't work out for me in the future, I think I'll be a salsa contest judge.
49. Even though I don't have a favorite Bible character, I think I can identify with Sarah the most. She spent most of her life following her husband around too.
50. I hate to admit that I'm wrong. I'm usually not, but when I am I don't like to admit it -- in need of humility, I know.
51. I can be very stubborn.
52. My neighbors can confirm that I yell really loud.
53. I'm a take-charge kind of girl. The "submissive wife" is something I've had to work on for years.
54. I'm a neat freak. Mess overwhelms me.
55. Making my bed is usually not a priority for me. I probably make it 3 times out of a week.
56. One of my greatest joys is traveling with my kids. I have always wanted them to share that experience with me, rather than do it by myself while they were in college.
57. I'm a list person. Heaven help me when I don't have or can't find my list!
58. I get giddy checking things off my list! If I do something that wasn't on my list, I'll write it down just to be able to check it off. Come on, I know I'm not the only person who does this...
59. I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent. How do I know this? I can usually answer most of the questions correctly on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
60. I have a short temper. Over the years this has been my biggest area of improvement (glory to God), but it's still something I struggle with.
61. I don't like anything scary -- movies, books, etc.
62. Although I don't have a favorite movie (refer back to #39), I do enjoy inspirational/overcoming type movies most -- i.e. The Rookie, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Coach Carter to name a few.
63. When I asked my daughter, Abbey, what she would add to this list she said, "My mom likes to write a lot." Thanks Abbey!
64. I worry too much about what other people think, and allow that to paralyze me from doing things or being myself.
65. My favorite land animal is a horse; water animal, the dolphin.
66. This is kinda of dorky, but every time I snorkel or scuba dive, I find myself singing, "I want to be part of your world..." from The Little Mermaid and I don't know why! I guess I think I'm Ariel when I'm under the water like that.
67. I don't think of myself as that interesting of a person.
68. I have 3 simple things my husband has to do: keep me rested, keep me fed, and keep me cool or warm, depending on the weather. I don't think he realized how much of a high maintenance kind of girl I am.
69. I have a low tolerance for pain. Yes, I'm a wimp!
70. Abbey decided to help me some more...she added that I'm loving, caring, and persistent.
71. I tend to obsess over frivolous things. For example, I'm wondering if I was right to italicize the movie and TV titles above or if they should have been in quotation marks. That will bug me all day! See what I mean???
72. My favorite board game is Scrabble. I LOVE WORDS!
73. I'm a Facebook voyeur. I don't have an account of my own, I just get on my husband's to find out what all our friends are doing!
74. Impatience is one of my weaknesses. I'm the poster child for the world's demand of instant gratification.
75. Donated by my hubby, Clint - according to him I have a great laugh.
76. I like my email inbox to be as close to empty as possible. More than 10 messages hanging around in there and I get clutter-crazy!
77. I'm blessed to have a personal retreat in my house where I can go and study, read, and just get away from it all.
78. The 6 books on my bookshelf that currently represent my "favorites" are: Visioneering by Andy Stanley, Never Give Up by Joyce Meyer, Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni, The Shack by William Young and A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George (no relation)
79. Some of my favorite authors include: Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, John Grisham, and John Maxwell.
80. Almost there....
81. I've mentioned this in a post before, but one of my childhood dreams was to be a Wimbledon champion. I probably would have tried out for tennis in school if fear hadn't held me back.
82. Over the years I've studied 4 different languages. I can only speak one well.
83. I'm not a morning person or a night person, so basically I only have a few good hours each day!
84. I'm not a girly girl -- I only have 7 dresses and 7 skirts and I rarely wear them.
85. I tend to be very observant and detail-oriented. Depending on the situation, that can be a good or bad thing.
86. I've never really broken any bones, just fractured a few ribs.
87. I haven't had a perm since 1991, when I got married and moved out of my parents' house!
88. I've traveled all over the world, but I've never been to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. It seems almost anti-American!
89. I received a full scholarship to college, but gave it up to get married to my one true love and transferred schools.
90. I graduated college with honors, but because I transferred from one school to another, they wouldn't recognize me as graduating with that.
91. My favorite arcade game is Ms. Pac-Man.
92. I hate politics.
93. Duran Duran and Madonna were my teenage rock idols.
94. Dr. Pepper is my favorite type of soda.
95. I haven't always been adventurous, but I have worked at an elephant orphanage in Thailand, hot air ballooned in Australia, and rode a camel up Mount Sinai in Egypt.
96. Spontaneity is another thing that I'm not known for.
97. I can dance like Elaine Benice on Seinfeld, which is not necessarily a good thing!
98. My favorite snack is cheese dip and chips...Yum!
99. I love my life and wouldn't change it for the world.
100. I'm not where I need to be, but I see how far I've come and through it all I know that I'm simply a woman transformed. For that I will always be thankful.

So there you have it, 100 things about me. Honestly, this was a labor of love and took 2 days to create. I had fun doing it, but after a brain break I'll be ready to get back to normal posts! Thanks for taking the time to read all about me. Hopefully it will help you understand the person behind the posts a little more. Oh, and feel free to leave a comment about anything you've read. I love hearing from you!

Hello and Hello Again

Monday, August 03, 2009

First, let me say "Hello" to my She Speaks friends who are visiting the site! It was such a blessing to meet all of you and I hope we'll be able to stay in touch long after the dust settles from the conference. I'm excited you've decided to visit me and I pray you will be blessed! Since it's been awhile since my last post, I hope you'll read some of the archived blogging I've done and find out what this site is all about. Enjoy!

Next, I want to give a big "Hello Again" to my faithful friends! It seems like forever since I've written anything, but most of you know that I've been back in the States for the summer. I'm excited to get back to writing after learning about the blogging world at the She Speaks conference. I have many new post ideas and I can't wait to share them with you soon.

I'm praying that as you read this you will notice my new layout. Thanks to Designs by Summer for all the hard work and the wonderful patience she displayed while dealing with a perfectionist like me! If you have a chance, let me know what you think of the new design.

Hard to believe, but my next post will be my 100th! I know that according to blogging etiquette you're supposed to tell 100 things about yourself. I usually don't like to follow "the rules", but I guess I could forgo that philosophy and open myself up to you. I'm just not sure I can think of 100 things...we'll see!

It's good to be back friends. Until next time...