Thoughts

So, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted here.  Life has been busy – but then again, when isn’t it these days?  With 1 teenager and another pre-teen, life is a list of appointments and social get-togethers…or so it seems.  I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my life and on how I want to move forward and grow. Part of this has been because of the study we are doing in our Bible Fellowship class.  We are doing a study called “Do You Think I’m Beautiful?” by Angela Thomas.  There is a lot of introspection involved, as well as a lot of looking back to the past and getting into sometimes very painful memories.  And partly this time of reflection has just been because I was already doing that.

One of the things that I came to realize, is that I do not know who I am anymore.  I never noticed that so much of what I liked or wanted or did was based upon what someone else expected of me or wanted from me.  Not that this is all bad because we are told to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).  But I don’t believe that submission means that we lose ourselves in the process.  God never told us not to think for ourselves and to know for ourselves – in fact quite the opposite.  So a lot of my reflection lately has centered on who I am and what I am hoping to get out of life – but mostly, what I have to give this life.

I have found that I have never been more joyful than when I was giving willingly of myself – whether it be money, possessions or time.  Yet, in recent years, I have found myself fearful of giving willingly.  Yes – I know I know….God promises to take care of us….and I do believe that.  It’s not the belief I have a problem with – it’s the putting into action.  I never used to have a problem with this, and I have seen improvement in the past year.  But I have a long way to go to get where I want to be.  So, that is one thing I know I want from life (or to give life) – I want to become a more generous giver.  I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet, but I am excited to see the possibilities – in fact, I have a few that I am working on: ESL Classes – I may be helping with these soon (already asked for more info), ReNew – my Bible Fellowship class (already made the first step to ask for a meeting to talk about it), and perhaps Choir – this one is iffy – I love choir but not sure whether I’m meant to do this right now or not….but the option is open. 🙂

But other than the above, I’m not sure where exactly God is leading me.  And I do know He is leading me…I have spent more time in the past 3 months (specifically) trying to pay more attention to what God wants from me, than I have in the entire time since I accepted Christ as my personal Savior at the age of 8.  Of course, some of this stems from the goals that I had at the beginning of the year – some of which I have been doing well with, and others that I haven’t been doing so well with.  But the three goals that I have that I have worked hard to ensure that followed through on are: 1) Read through the entire Bible this year and 2) Get involved in my church – specifically the Single Mom’s ministry (ReNew) and last but definitely not least 3) Work on a closer walk with God.  So far, I have managed to stay on track with my Bible reading – with only once or twice having to catch up the next day.  As I already stated, I am looking into several ideas for getting involved in church.  And as I also stated, I have really been reflecting on what God wants for me.

It would seem like I should have this down pat.  I mean in high school, Christianity seems so EASY…it wasn’t hard to maintain my integrity and keep myself pure and my language clean.  Something happened when I went out into the “real world” though.  I got distracted – I moved away.  My faith wasn’t personal.  It was ritual.  Yes, I did accept Christ as my Lord and Savior at 8 years old – I have rarely doubted my salvation – and never felt like I had “lost” my salvation.  But, like I said, my faith was not personal.  I had my parents who made me go to church, take part in youth group, and all that.  And I lived in a small town, so if I had messed up – EVERYONE would know lol – so there was incentive to not screw up.

When I left home, that incentive disappeared.  I was far away from anyone and everyone I knew – so I didn’t figure it would matter what I did.  Boy – I didn’t know how wrong I was.  Oh – did I forget to mention I was 17 and though I knew everything?? LOL  Typical!!  I let so many things distract and pull me away from God…and yet through all of that, I knew He was with me.  I knew I wasn’t hiding from Him.  Somehow I think I convinced myself that nobody – even God – could possibly love someone like me.  The sad part was – I knew I was wrong – but I didn’t want to admit it.  I regret many things that I did and many choices I made.  But I don’t regret what I learned.

1) I learned that no matter how unlovable I am – God loves me – just as I am.  He is saddened when I do wrong, but He doesn’t stop loving me because of it.  He is the ULTIMATE parent.  Just like I don’t stop loving my children when they disobey me or misbehave, God doesn’t stop loving me  just because I mess up.  He is saddened, and sometimes He has to discipline me, but everything He allows me to go through, He allows because of His deep love for me. (Hebrews 12:4-11)

2) God is forgiving.  Ok – that seems like that should be a given – but I think many of us have a problem with believing this.  Yes, we KNOW it, but we don’t BELIEVE it.   Knowing is head-knowledge.  Believing is heart-knowledge.  No matter how awful the things are that I have done, God forgives me – He forgave me.  In fact, the forgiveness is already done!!  God provided for that when He sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins.  Yes, I need to confess when I’ve done wrong, but that’s not for HIS sake, it is for MINE.  See, without confession, how can I truly repent?  Without confession, I am lying to myself – telling myself it doesn’t matter because He has already forgiven me.  But that doesn’t bring about real change – that brings the guilt of knowing I am hiding something (which isn’t really hidden from Him anyway!!).  (1 John 1:8-10)

3) God has a plan for me.  And it’s a good plan.  It’s a plan that is for my good and to bring about His glory.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  In order to know that plan, I need to spend time in His Word and praying to Him and asking Him to make it clear to me.

And the good news is – that these don’t just apply to me – they apply to everyone.  What other belief system offers salvation as a free gift?  And yes, it IS free – God doesn’t expect you to change to accept His gift.  The gift of Salvation is free (Ephesians 2:8-9).  You don’t have to meet a minimum standard.  I don’t know about anyone else – but that’s a relief to me.  God’s gift is free to all – and He wants all to accept Him (2 Peter 3:9).

I would be remiss in writing this if I didn’t include how to accept Christ here, so here goes:

1) Realize you are a sinner and deserving of death (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23)

2) Christ died for your sins (in your place) (Romans 5:8)

3) Admit that you are a sinner and confess that Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9 and Romans 10:13)

4) Salvation brings eternal life – nothing can separate us from God once we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior (Romans 5:1, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:38-39)

There is no “special prayer” you have to pray to ask Christ to be your Savior – all you have to do is confess you are a sinner and ask God to make you clean and to become the Lord of your life.

If you are interested in more about Salvation the following web address has a more detailed version of what I just wrote: http://www.idlewild.org/plan-of-salvation.html.

Until Next Time

~~Gabby

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Do You Think I’m Beautiful?

This morning in our Bible Fellowship Class, we started a new study, which is going to be Do You Think I’m Beautiful? by Angela Thomas.  We watched a portion of the video for the first chapter of the book, and she started out by describing how she looked in Middle School.  Now, her description made her sound like the ultimate geek, but she included a couple of pictures in her study guide, and I really didn’t think they were that bad.  But they always say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder right?  And even if I didn’t agree that her pictures were that bad, I can still relate to what she was saying.  See, I thought the same thing.  I ALWAYS thought I looked horrible.  I had these huge glasses that took up half my face (just like she described) and my hair was unruly and unmanageable.  But looking at my old pictures, I don’t really see what the big deal was.  I wasn’t as dorky looking as I remember.  I’ve included a few pictures of me here, so you can get an idea of what I looked like – They are extracted from camp photos, since that’s really all I have to work with at the moment lol.

See, I wasn’t that bad…but I thought I was.  I hated my hair.  I hated my glasses.  I hated myself to be quite honest.  (But as you can see, I was pretty good at covering it up with a smile.)

So then, the next thing that Angela was talking about was how she was invisible, and she didn’t want to be.  I wasn’t completely invisible.  Some people noticed me, especially the teachers.  I was the one who always had the answers.  I was teacher’s pet.  I don’t say that because of any arrogance or anything, but I was smart.  Maybe not so much in high school, but in middle school, I was pretty darn smart, and I was well-behaved (that was through middle AND high school), and I did my work and tried to get it in on time.  I liked making my teacher’s happy because they always told me how proud they were of me.  I had a favorite teacher, though.  His name was Mr. Tei.  He has always been my favorite because even when I felt the most invisible, he never made me feel that way.  Was he the EASIEST teacher – no.  In fact, I distinctly remember him telling me once that if I didn’t stop whatever it was I was doing at the time, he was going to spank me.  That was when it was still “allowed.”  LOL.  But he didn’t do it in front of others, and he spoke to me privately.  He never belittled or made me (or anyone in my opinion) feel small for not knowing something.  I just loved Mr. Tei for how special he made me feel.

Angela went on about how middle school and high school shape our lives, and as a time that clenches in our hearts how we feel about ourselves.  If we women don’t feel beautiful by the time we leave high school, chances are, we take that with us through college and every other facet of our lives.  It colors our perceptions and drives our actions and reactions.

I started out 9th grade not wanting to be invisible.  I wanted people to notice me.  I thought I was pretty great – well – sort of.  See my “pain” had already started.  I grew up being told that I wasn’t as good as the other kids – not by other adults, but by the kids themselves.  I went to a Christian school from 4th through 8th grade, and I originally liked it, but you know how kids can be.  They aren’t very nice – especially in grades 6 – 8 (and I still see it’s the same way with my girls – one is in 6th, the other in 7th).  So, these girls would tell me that I wasn’t as good as they were because I wasn’t a preacher’s kid.  And while I knew better, I bought into that hook, line, and sinker.  It wasn’t long before I withdrew from everyone and lived vicariously through my books.  Oh how I loved books.  I still do.  They are the one thing that can’t lash out at you and make you feel bad.  They don’t talk back and you can imagine that you’re one of the characters and dream about what it would be like to live in that world.

People thought I was strange – I rode the bus, and I would read, and these kids would pick on me.  I was made fun of because I went to the Christian school.  I didn’t think much of it though because I loved learning about God, and I loved the classes, I just didn’t care much for how I was treated by the kids.  I don’t recall having very many really close friends there.

So, in 9th grade, I convinced my parents to let me go to the public school.  I started out not wanting to be invisible, as I mentioned, but I initially thought of MYSELF as better than them. Maybe it wasn’t conscious at first, but eventually I became aware of it.  Because I was a Christian, I thought I was better than everyone – while at the same time not thinking I was worth much.  Which is a study in contrasts if anything ever was.  I don’t know how that works, but somehow it was true.  It took almost a year for me to realize how stupid that was.  I was and am, no better than anyone else.  Just because I accepted Christ as my Savior, doesn’t make me perfect, nor does it make me better.  I am still a sinner – though I know that God has a place for me because I accepted His free gift of salvation one day when I was 8 years old. There is nothing like other kids to help humble you.

In 10th grade, I had a falling out with my very best friend.  I had been friends with this girl for a long time, it had to have been since like 3rd grade, though I truly don’t remember how we ever met since she was a grade behind me.  I was on fire for God.  I talked about Him all the time.  I was not ashamed to be a Christian, and I wanted others to know.  And I really wanted my best friend to know.  So much so, that when she asked me to stop talking about God, I wrote her a note (stupid) that said that I would not stop talking about God.  My friend refused to talk to me after that.  I was so hurt and lonely that she would do that.  That’s when I learned that I had to keep my mouth shut and stop talking about God.  Oh I still did once in a while, but not like that.  A part of me was lost – and my courage fled.  I could handle talking about God as long as I didn’t lose anyone.  I had forgotten that God said that whoever did not “hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, and his own life also, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26) This doesn’t mean to literally HATE them – we are just supposed to love God MORE than them.  And I did, but I let this bad experience shut my mouth to some extent, and I became afraid to talk about God with anyone except other Christians as a result. Something I still have a problem with today.

By the end of High School – I didn’t mind so much being invisible.  Factors that I will not discuss in a public blog had a part in that.  The ultimate result was that I wanted to be invisible.  If I wasn’t noticed, nobody could expect anything of me.  I didn’t have to worry about meeting anyone’s expectations because if I was invisible, they didn’t expect anything of me.  The problem is, that I wasn’t invisible.  And people had very HIGH expectations of me, and I let them down.  I let myself down.  I let everyone down.  And I hated myself for it.

Fast forward to today (since this is becoming a very long blog, that was unintentional, but apparently this is something that needs to be shared).  Today, I don’t want to be invisible.  But I spend much of my life feeling invisible.  I hide behind my shyness.  And I am shy – but it’s a self-inflicted shyness.  I hide myself behind my wall, where nobody can get to me.  Because to let anyone get to me, would be to open myself up to getting hurt, and I don’t want that.  So I hide behind this high wall that nobody has the time or the energy or perhaps even the desire to climb.  The only one I am truly open with is God, and that’s because I have nothing to lose there.  He already accepted me for me.  He took me with all my faults and all the sins I had committed and will commit.  He knew what I was before I ever knew what I was, and He loved me anyway.  Besides, He already knows everything about me anyway, so what’s to hide?

But God did not make us to be islands unto ourselves.  He made us social people with the need for relationships.  Yes, He wants our ultimate relationship to be with Him, but He told us to reach out to others – that right there ought to be the clue that we are to build relationships with others.  I live my life in a self-styled loneliness because of fear.  Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to.  I am afraid.  I am afraid to let others know me because if they knew who I am and all the stupid stuff I’d done, they might hate me.  And I don’t want to be hated.  And I don’t want to be rejected any more.  I have been rejected so often in my  life – and it hurts.  And I don’t want to get hurt again.  So I hide.

But I am trying to break down that wall, one brick at a time.  I’ve broken out a few bricks, but not enough to open up to others.  Oh I’ve felt the desire.  I know God has something for me to share.  But to do that means I have to tell others about me.  YIKES!!!  So, now I feel like most of the time nobody really notices me, and I am starting to want to be noticed – not for who I am, but for who God is making me.  God has a plan for me – I just know it.

All this is to share that God doesn’t just have a plan for me.  He has a plan for you, too.  Jeremiah 29:11 says He has a plan for you – a plan to “prosper you and not to harm you.  To give you a hope and a future” (partly paraphrased).  It doesn’t matter what you have done or how horrible you think you are.  God sent His Son into the world “not to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).  The Bible says that God is “not willing that any should perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  He doesn’t want us to, but He will allow it if we don’t accept His free gift.  He offers a choice – all we have to do is make a choice.

So, that’s a part of my story.  I didn’t mean for it to be so long, but apparently God had other plans for my blog today.  Perhaps, this is His way of helping me to take out those bricks.

~~Gabby~~

My Recent Thoughts

**Author’s Note** I apologize in advance that this is not quite as eloquent as I imagined it to be.  I have a tendency to ramble and go off on tangents.  Also, this is not meant for any particular person or group.  It’s just my thoughts – and more toward myself than anything.  **END NOTE**

I hear it all the time.  We’re supposed to be tolerant – to the point of denying our own personal convictions so that we don’t “offend” someone else.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.  I know I know – what’s new right??  I’m ALWAYS reading.  But I’ve been getting a little deeper in my reading material lately, and if you’ve never read anything by Randy Alcorn – you really should.  He’s a very gifted author, and I was impressed from the first chapter of the books I’ve read by him so far.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  I hear complaining all the time from other Christians about how Christians are getting a bum deal.  I mean, if we say we’re pro-life, we offend the pro-choice movement.  If we say we believe everything that the Bible says, with no exceptions, then we are told that we believe an outdated book that nobody can really prove is true anyway (of course I beg to differ, but that’s not what I’m here to write about today either).  If we say someone’s life-style or actions or words or whatever is contrary to what God’s Word says is true and right, we are told that we are intolerant and uncaring.  We’ve been told that in order to truly be tolerant we have to embrace these causes and make them our own.  And what’s really sad, is that many of us buy into this!!  What happened to thinking for oneself??

Now, I am proud to be a Christian, but I have to admit, I don’t show it all the time…I fail at this so often.  But I AM proud to be a Christian.  Some of what I have to say here may offend others, and for the offense, I am sorry, but for speaking what I know to be true and right, I am not sorry.  I should be doing that more often.  I shouldn’t be sitting in my chair afraid to speak up because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  Since when did God say share the Gospel only if you’re not going to hurt someone’s feelings?  Since when did He say, don’t speak the truth, just love??  He didn’t – He said to “speak the truth IN love”  (Ephesians 4:15) – we are supposed to speak the truth BECAUSE we love those around us.

But again, I digress.

Often I hear about how all these special interest groups are allowed to get their agendas out there.  I hear Christians say, “it’s not fair, we have to keep being more tolerant of others, but they don’t have to be tolerant of us.”  It’s funny, this reminds me of Bible class when I was growing up…and our Bible Teacher, I think his name was Mr. Grist (or something like that) he always was saying “‘T ain’t fair! ‘T aint fair!” – he said that was what the Pharisees were always saying.  That’s how I always think of them now because of that class. But it gets me thinking – those who say it isn’t fair – were they really trying to get the message out there anyway?  I mean come on, let’s be honest now – how many of us honestly do that these days.  Again, I go back to my statement that I FAIL at this all the time.  I succeed at so many other things, but at THIS I fail…and this is way more important than anything else I do!!

But anyway, who said life was going to be fair?  Didn’t God say that we were going to have trials and tribulations?  Didn’t he say that if he was ridiculed we would be too??  We as Christians shouldn’t be surprised, nor should we whine and cry about it – we should “count it all joy” that we get to identify with Christ.  Our suffering is temporary, so what have we to complain about??

It’s not going to get any better just because we complain about it.  So, we might has well keep working toward getting the good news out there, but we also need to be aware that we are going to have set backs.  People ARE going to get annoyed with us.  Some of us might even get treated badly as a result.  But we are admonished to spread the good news.

I leave you with this passage (1 Peter 3:9-17 – NASB):

“To sum up, (K)all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, (L)brotherly, (M)kindhearted, and (N)humble in spirit;

9(O)not returning evil for evil or (P)insult for insult, but giving a (Q)blessing instead; for (R)you were called for the very purpose that you might (S)inherit a blessing.

10For,
(T)THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS,
MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
11
(U)HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD;
HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
12
(V)FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS,
AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,
BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”

13(W)Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

14But even if you should (X)suffer for the sake of righteousness, (Y)you are blessed (Z)AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,

15but [a]sanctify (AA)Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready (AB)to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the (AC)hope that is in you, yet (AD)with gentleness and (AE)reverence;

16and keep a (AF)good conscience so that in the thing in which (AG)you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

17For (AH)it is better, (AI)if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

~~Gabby~~

Blog Prompt: Today is Elvis’s birthday. What is your favorite Elvis song and what memories does it bring back?

This is a funny one.  Ok – I don’t know a TON of Elvis songs – I should, but the only one that comes to mind right now (and I do know more than this one lol) is “Blue Christmas.”  It’s funny because I always hated that song growing up.  We played it every year at Christmas and I just HATED it.  The “ooo ooo ooo oo oo” (and you know what I’m talkin’ about if you have heard this song lol) just drove me insane.

However, NOW, I have to say that while I still don’t “love” the song, it is one I would call my favorite – not because of the music itself, but because of the memories that come to mind when I hear it. I remember decorating the Christmas tree – sorting the ornaments – admiring the ones that we kids had made for our mom – stringing popcorn – making paper chains – laughter – fun.  Decorating our Christmas tree each year is one of my most treasured memories.  I don’t remember any fighting or arguing at that time.  All I remember is laughter and fun.

So – that’s why “Blue Christmas” is my favorite Elvis song.

~~Gabby~~

Blog Prompt: Tomorrow is Bubble Bath Day. Do you like bubble baths? If so, what is your favorite kind? If not, why?

Ohhhh a fun one today.  I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE bubble baths.  (Did I get a little over-enthusiastic about this?)

My favorite bubble bath scent is Sweet Pea (so far) – but I love all bubble baths – I have yet to find a scent I didn’t like.  My mom gave me some fizzy bubble bath cakes for Christmas (I guess that’s what you call ’em lol) and I can’t WAIT to use them.  In fact, I will get to have a bubble bath either tomorrow night or Saturday night to celebrate having lost 10 lbs 🙂  WOO HOO. 🙂

I just love the way that bubble bath makes me relax – and it’s fun too – it takes me back to my days as a little kid – and for just a little while I can forget about everything – about the bills, the job, the stress, the kids, everything – and go back and feel like a kid again – even for a short time.

So – that’s my bubble bath blog LOL.

~~Gabby~~

Blog Prompt: January is National Soup Month. What is your favorite soup and why?

Well – I had no idea that January was National Soup Month, but I can understand why it would be lol.  I actually have two favorites – and I cannot choose one over the other because I truly do like them equally.  They are chicken noodle soup and tomato soup.

The reason these two are my favorites is very basic – they are what my mom used to give me when I was not feeling well.  You would think that being associated with being sick would make them undesirable, but there is something oddly comforting about these two soups.  She would make me toasted cheese sandwiches and give me soup and crackers and even if I didn’t feel completely better, I would feel better – safer – stronger.

It gave me such a sense of security and love to get these from my mom when I wasn’t feeling well.  I don’t know why, it just did.  So, that’s why they are my favorite.

~~Gabby~~

Failure and Success

I don’t always share what I think of the sermons that our Pastor preaches, not because I don’t like them or agree with them, but often I get distracted and forget – something I’m pretty good at.  However, tonight I wanted to share what we learned, so I made it a point to remember to do so.

Tonight’s message was about failure and success.  Pastor said that Failure is always right next to Success.  Every single person has the potential to fail or to succeed – and every person does both at some point or other.  I am going to share the points of tonight’s message because our Pastor hit the nail right on the head.  This  message really spoke to me because I have spent the vast majority of my life believing that I am a failure.

Now – just to be perfectly clear – the points are NOT mine – they were given by Pastor Ken Whitten.  I will add my own “commentary” afterward – but the points were from his message.   So – just to be clear anything in quotes is directly from Pastor Ken Whitten – I can’t take credit for any of it. 🙂  However, everything else – that’s my thoughts on what he spoke about tonight.

Point #1:

“There is a strategy behind failure.”

The fact is – that Satan works toward our failure.  When Christians fail that means that Satan has won a battle – not THE battle, but a battle none-the-less.  So, in order to try to win the battle, Satan chooses key times in which to attack us – and never forget “Satan fights dirty.”

Satan attacks:

A. “During times of pressure” – When we are feeling stressed or discouraged, Satan chooses those times to attack.  He doesn’t attack when we are strong – he waits until we are weak and worn down.  That’s why it’s so easy to fall prey to him sometimes.  We get so focused on our stress and discouragement – the distractions of work, family, etc – that we lose sight of our faith and we “fail.”  Satan is such a deceiver too.  That pressure we are feeling may be a result of a failure – and Satan will take those opportunities to hit us when we are down – and he will keep reminding us of our failures – if we let him and don’t arm ourselves with God’s Word to be able to combat his attacks.

B. “During times of pride.” – When we let pride take over, we think we have it made.  We all have weak points and strong points.  Pastor Ken pointed out that often we will protect our weak points, but we don’t protect our strong points quite so much.  That means they are left vulnerable.  We get so focused on protecting ourselves where we are weak that we forget to protect our strong points too.  We let pride get in the way and tell ourselves – ‘oh I won’t mess up there’ – and then what happens?  We fall – we fail – we leave ourselves vulnerable to attack.  We need to be sure to protect both our strong and our weak points.  We need to keep fortifying both and focusing on keeping those walls high and strong against Satan’s attacks.

C. “During times of potential/promise.” – Often this is the time when we least expect to have Satan attack.  After all – we are doing all the right things.  We have done well to this point, and we are ready to move on to bigger and better.  And that’s when it happens – Satan swoops in and does one of two things. 1) He puts prideful thoughts into our heads that make us feel like we’ve got it made or 2) He puts doubts in our minds, and reminds us of all the others times when we’ve failed.  Either way, we need to be on our guard at these times.

Point #2:

“There is tragedy because of failure.”

See, as Pastor Ken spoke about tonight, Satan asks for permission to “sift” or “test” us.  And God allows him to do so.  He gives permission for Satan to test us.  During those times of testing we have an opportunity to succeed or fail – each one of us.  However, when we fail, there is tragedy involved because of we are one or all of the following:

A. “Boastful” – Some of the biggest failures have happened because someone got boastful and believed that they were “set.”  We all have things that we think we would never do or that we are best at.  The truth is, until we are in a situation, we don’t know what we are going to do.  Pastor Ken used an illustration in tonight’s message that hit home.  He said “I’ve never stolen a million dollars.  But then again, I’ve never been in a position to.”  He reminded us that until we are put into a situation, we never truly know what we will do.  What seems to black and white now, may not seem so later.

B. “Neglectful” – When we neglect spending time in God’s word, we set ourselves up to fail.  We aren’t armed for “battle.”  We aren’t ready to stand against Satan.  This doesn’t just apply to our spiritual life either.  When we are neglectful of things in our personal life or work life, we also set ourselves up to fail.  We need to be careful that we are not neglecting necessary activities and tasks, so we can be ready to succeed.

C. “Fearful” – Often we do not do what we know to be right because we are afraid.  There are all kinds of things we can be afraid of – failure, ridicule, gossip, etc.  We need to remember that ‘God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NASB)  God gave us everything we need to succeed when He sent His Son to die for our sins.  And best of all – it’s FREE.  We don’t have to do anything to deserve it – the truth is – there is nothing we CAN do to deserve it.  Yet He gave it to us none-the-less.  We have nothing to fear if we are in Christ – because through and with Him, we can do anything.

Point #3:

“There is victory beyond failure.”

The truth is, each and every one of us will fail at some point.  But we have a choice when that happens.  We can let it rule us, or we can learn from it.  There are three reasons that we can have victory beyond our failure.

A. “Conviction” – When we fail, God can work through that failure to help us be convicted about the wrong things we have been doing.  That conviction can lead to change.  But we have to be willing to do what is necessary to change – we have to trust God to be able to help us.

B. “Compassion” – Christ feels compassion for us when we fail.  Pastor Ken used Peter as an example in his message.  When Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, Christ looked at him after his third denial with a look of compassion.  If Christ can feel compassion for a man who denied Him three times, then how can there be anything we can do that would keep Him from feeling that same compassion for us?  That compassion for us can provide us with the strength and courage to move forward and learn from our failures, but only if we let it.

C. “Contrition” – The conviction of our failures and the compassion of Jesus because of our failures can lead us to be contrite – sorry – for the failures we have committed.  When we become contrite, we give ourselves the chance to grow and change.  We can admit our failures, and that allows us to move on and to grow.

So – you may be feeling like a failure right now – you might feel that you have nothing to offer.  But God doesn’t agree.  He sees something valuable in you, something of worth, and it doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, He can still work in and through you.  He can use you to do great things – but only if you let Him.

I leave you with this one last thought that Pastor Ken said in his message tonight – “You are one step away from success or failure depending on what you do with the Lord Jesus.”

What will you do?

~~Gabby~~

Blog Prompt: Today is National Bird Day. What native wild birds are flying around your area and which ones are your favorites?


Here in Florida, the birds I see most often are different types of wading birds.  There are specifically 2 different kinds of birds I generally see, black/gray tall wading birds and smaller white wading birds.  There are TONS of them.  I’ve included some pics of both because I am not certain what types of birds these are, but I just love them.

The first bird, below, is my favorite.  The reason is that these birds are practically fearless.  I can almost walk all the way up to them…in fact I’d try if I wasn’t so worried about them biting me LOL.

These are my favorite birds that I've seen since being here.


These are my other favorites.  They are just beautiful and I see them all over the place.  I just love them.

These are my favorite white birds here in Florida.

So – those are the birds I like here in Florida.  I wish I knew what they were called.

~~Gabby~~

Blog Prompt: Today is Trivia Day. Please share a tidbit of trivia that you think no one else knows.

Ok – something about me that nobody else knows.  Hmm…I’m usually an open book, but let me dig into the recesses of my memory and see if I can’t come up with something.  Here are a couple of things.

1) Most people don’t know that I can play the clarinet.  I actually used to be quite good.  I don’t practice as much as I used to, but I still have the clarinet I played in High School and I take it out every so often, just to make sure that I can still play. I really enjoy playing.

2) Most people don’t know that I enjoy cooking – in fact, I love to make new recipes and try new things.  This may surprise some people because I often won’t try something new.  However, it’s not because I don’t like to – it’s often because I have to be careful because my stomach is often very sensitive.  I love to try new foods, and I actually have pretty eclectic tastes.  Just because I’m picky doesn’t mean that I am not a little adventurous. 🙂

So that’s two pieces of trivia about me….not very interesting though LOL.  But then – I’m not the most interesting person – and I kind of like it that way lol.

~~Gabby

Happy New Year – My Top Ten Goals for 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!!

I have given a lot of thought to what my resolutions for this year are going to be. I don’t generally make them, but I do have some goals I would like to reach this year. Some of them are just fun thing, but others I think could and probably will change my life for the better. Here are my TOP TEN goals for 2010.

1) It is my goal in 2010 to read through the entire Bible.

I have tried to do this on occasion, and I always start out well, but then I somehow get off track and don’t finish. This year, I intend to finish this goal.

2) Get involved in my church – specifically in the single parent’s ministry.

I already took step 1 and talked about it with different people in the group. Now, it is time to take step 2 and actually meet with the Single’s Ministry Pastor and start getting involved. This is going to take me out of my comfort zone because I have NEVER worked with adults (outside of work of course lol), so this is a new thing for me.

3) Get out of my house more often.

I am a homebody – I admit it. I like to sit at home on my computer (scrapping, playing games etc.) or reading a book or whatever it is that I decide to do – at home. It is time for me to get out of the house, and do some fun things with my kids – and sometimes even without my kids.

4) Yes – the age-old lose some weight.

Ok – so this is not a new one – in fact, I’ve already been working on this, so this is not just a New Year’s resolution. This is a lifestyle goal. I want to lose about 100 lbs in the next year. I can do it – but it’s going to take work. What I really mean by this is that I am going to eat healthier and in moderation. I am going to exercise and I am going to become stronger physically. I am going to have setbacks – after all, I AM human. But I truly believe that this is going to be MY year to shine. 🙂

5) Write more often.

My goal is to publish a book. Obviously that means I have to actually WRITE a book. LOL So, my goal this year is to work on my writing. I need to get back into practice. I’m not going to make some promise to write for 1/2 hour every day (or even 10 minutes), but what I am going to do is to write more often. I AM going to try to write at least 3 times a week for half an hour.

6) Make some ME time.

This one sounds pretty selfish – but in reality, it would be more selfish of me to not make any ME time. Let me explain. I have this tendency to want to do and be everything for everyone. I am a perfectionist in every sense of the word. If I can’t be or do something for someone, I feel guilty and I get down on myself. But the reality is, if I don’t take time for myself, I burn out, and then I’m not any good to anyone. So I am going to make some ME time.

7) Be more spontaneous.

I admit it, I’m a planner. This can be good, but sometimes it’s also good to be flexible. I get a little bent out of shape when things don’t go as planned, and I have a difficult time doing things on the spur of the moment. However, this year, I am going to try to be a little more spontaneous. If it’s not going to keep me from getting done with what I need to do, then I’m going to try to do it (that is IF I really want to lol).

8) Try something new every month.

Again – I don’t like to get out of my comfort zone. However, I DO like to learn new things – so each month, I am going to try to find something to learn or try something new – whether it be a new skill, a new food, or a new activity. This could be fun. 🙂

9) Turn the TV off for a whole day – at least 1x per month.

I like to watch TV. In fact, my TV is generally on from the time I get up to the time I go to bed (well when I’m home of course). So, this year, I am going to turn the TV off for one day during the month. The entire day – a full 24 hours at least. My kids will ALSO not be watching TV. This is in an effort to get us doing other activities – going for walks, having a family night, playing board games, etc. This is to draw me and my girls closer and help us forge a deeper bond, and hopefully help them to be more open with me. 🙂

10) Last, but definitely NOT least, I am going to work on getting a closer walk with God.

I already mentioned reading the Bible in a year and getting involved in my church. However, there is a deeper need here. I need to really get to know God. I have lots of book knowledge. I’ve studied God’s Word for years. But book knowledge does nothing if my relationship with God does not grow deeper. So this year, I am going to spend more time with God – reading His Word, studying His Word, and praying. And then I am really going to try to listen for His leading.

As I said earlier, this is MY year to shine. Only I have the ability to make these decisions for me. It is my responsibility to choose to shine or not, and this year, I want to be that bright star that draws others to Christ. I am going to step out of my comfort zone. I know that I am going to fail sometimes – everyone does. But I am going to use those failures to learn new lessons, and I am going to let God use those lessons to draw me closer to Him – He truly is able to work all things for good.

So, with all that said – Happy New Year everyone!! And may your dreams come true, and may God richly bless you and your families all year.

~~Gabby

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