Thursday, January 27, 2011

Surprise Romancing

This morning I woke up to some romancing by my Groom. In addition to the orange rose he brought home for my "love language vase" last night, he left post it notes at random places for me to find throughout the home:

This was the first one I saw as I went to turn on the heat right after crawling out of bed.

I found my next note on the bathroom mirror. It's the second place I immediately hit when waking up.

This one was found third ... on the underside of the toilet lid, no less!

#4 was covering the light switch in the kitchen. My next routine stop after heat and bladder emptying.

Coffee - my cup of LUB - is the reason I hit the kitchen right after the heat and bathroom. This was sticky note #5.

Black coffee is usually my cup of choice but this morning I was in the mood for a touch of Italian Sweet Cream ... so I found #6 in the fridge.

The microwave window caught my eye as I waiting for my coffee to percolate, and it's where note #7 was left.

#8 was discovered as I went into the kids' room to wake my son up.

And the final note (I think, cuz I haven't found anymore) was waiting for me on the blinds of our living room doors that lead to our balcony and sunshine ... one of my favorite things of all time!

What an incredibly sweet way to open my morning today. It's the little things that mean so much to me and my Groom showed me his heart in understanding mine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

i [heart] Encouragement!

ok, so loved your article, and have been reading your blog as a friend of mine once said, "that girl got skills." You are an arteest with your words! Keep bringin' it!!!
Vanessa Howard

p.s. I, too have found an amazing connection with HIM when I write. :-) 
The above is a message that popped up in my FB email yesterday afternoon. [To my knowledge], Vanessa and I have never met, yet she took the time to write these sweet and super encouraging words to me. I am blown away!!!

During this fast I have been asking God about some why's and what's about writing, both for Destiny In Bloom and on my personal blog. Not that I'm considering bailing on either one, it's that I'm seeking God for purpose--making sure I'm writing with the proper motive and not one from selfish gain or motive.

I do not find Vanessa's note coincidental. It's not the 'compliment' in her comment that I'm focusing on (although I do smile at her use of the word "arteest"), it's the confirmation that God is using my writing to encourage someone else ... even my personal blog, which I didn't think had any reach beyond me and my best friend.

So, today I am thankful for God's continued faithfulness to meet my everyone question with an answer, especially in such a creative way and heart-infusing way.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Comment & Reply

Sometimes I have to record my thoughts/comments left on another's blog because the words themselves are life for me as God often shows Himself to an even greater degree in what He expands on as I write my heart.
"I was caught up in loving HIM and I found myself with my head bowed and my hands cupped to my face as if rolled into my heart."

What a beautifully written word picture. "As if rolled into my heart.." This just strikes me right to my heart and makes my spirit sigh in peace. These words immediately radiate a sense of protection, of hiding, of rest and security...a place where Jesus is waiting to meet me. And, as you said, a place we can all go at any time.

I love when I get to see a glimpse of how Jesus affects the heart of others and where he draws them for "a moment, a minute, or a message".

"Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it." Seeing this verse from The Message was just what I needed today. It's a perfectly timed reminder of the ease of learning from Jesus...being his apprentice. I think I struggle too often to just "be" like Jesus; forcing my own hand to do what I think Jesus would do or respond how I think he would respond. But this verse states the simplicity of HIM: Watch how I do it...learn from Me.

"Learn the unforced rhythms of grace"...I am going to let that one settle on my heart today. What a life lesson that even at first glance just feels easy to be drawn into.

Thank you, Mary Jo, for sharing your heart for prayer with us. I am so encouraged and fed by this today. 
Mary Jo's reply was just as meaningful and special to me:

Dearest Babs,
Oh, thank you for your comments - how they blessed me! We must be "kindred-spirits."
When I was writing the phrase "As if rolled into my heart.." caught me by surprise! It was so HIM.
I didn't dig or strive for that ... HE did it! That's when taking pen in hand is FUN!

I remember when I was first challenged to find the rhythm of the Holy Spirit for my life. I can't carry a tune, make up my own words to songs and failed piano 4 times ... but I do have rhythm!

Isn't loving HIM the greatest adventure ...

Thanks again for taking time to comment.

Mary Jo 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fast: First Week Wrap-Up

The first week of 2011's fast is coming to an end and God has been faithful and present in so many ways ... showing me that He cares about even the smallest detail of my life. Not that that fact is any different when I'm not fasting, but I guess fasting has made my spirit much more aware of His hand.

So, this is my First Week Fast Wrap-Up:

#1 - The night before our fast began was the beginning of our 7-week 20/20 small group. Anthony wanted to lead one, I didn't, but I acquiesced. Glad I did. Sunday (Jan 9) God showed me how to reach out in His leading. A woman caught my attention the entire service. At the end of it, after she came back to her seat from receiving prayer, I heard "Go ask her to your group". Ugh! Stepping out of my box is so not in my comfort zone! But I went anyway. Obey Radically, right? Glad I did. I asked, she said yes. She came to our group and we got the amazing opportunity to pray for her that night. God divinely weaves lives if we'll allow Him the room to move.

#2 - The kids' computer died on Wednesday. Extra money to spend that's NOT in our budget. Planning on taking the computer to be diagnosed in two weeks when some expense check money comes in. Anthony's paycheck on Friday included the expenses we thought we'd have to wait for until the end of the month. God cares about the small things.

#3 - Sunday's message was on Healing and God showed up in my living room to allow me to experience some healing. This was so special to me that I will write about it a separate blog.

What's a bit frustrating to me--but a learning lesson nonetheless--is that I know there have been way more moments throughout this week where I was made aware of God's work in my life. I'm now finding out that if I don't make a note somewhere about those moments, I cannot count  on my own brain to neatly log them for future blogging. I'm going to ask God to brings those back to me, but going forward I now know to jot them down or they just may be gone by the time I sit down to blog them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Many Red Flags Does it Take?

I am coming to realize already in the short span of one week of this new year that God intends to show me--and highlight--the small ways in which he takes care of me. It's not that big isn't expected, but I believe he desires to sharpen my focus, and it's in the little ways that my perspective will become more clear.

Since learning of the payroll change, I've been scanning our monthly budget looking for pocket-sized ways to decrease our monthly outgo. One of those was found under the heading 'monthly finance charges', with the subheading of Frost Bank. Seeing that we pay a monthly fee for our checking account, I began the search for a free checking account ... at another bank. Surely if Frost had one we would have signed up for that in the first place, right?

Narrowing our options, I chose a local bank and held onto a refund check that we could use as our initial deposit until we could get direct deposit and all sorts of online banking transactions switched over. And on New Year's Eve, needing this switch immediately so the next payroll check could automatically be deposited there, Anthony and I went to the bank and opened our account.

Interestingly enough, the only thing I looked forward to after our dealings with the Branch Manager was the fact that I got to choose a pink debit card. The bank was very old and sparse and smelled like, well ... age. (Red Flag #1) The account set up process was like walking through a klutz's mind, with one blunder after another, but I was determined to chip away at our budget and this bank worked. (Red Flag #2)

A few days later I emailed Anthony the bank info to forward to the HR assistant. That same afternoon our debit cards came in the mail--or so I thought. His came in the mail...twice. A duplicate card for him, none for me and his name was spelled incorrectly on the cards to boot. (Red Flag #3) Great! It was Friday afternoon and now I'd have to make a trip to the bank the next morning to see if my card could be expedited so we could close our account at Frost before our monthly finance charge was incurred.

When asked later than evening if he had forwarded the direct deposit information, Anthony shook his head and said he hadn't even seen it at the bottom of my email. (Red Flag #4) I was frustrated but decided not to dwell on it.

The next morning, in my list of errands to run, I stopped by the bank to rectify the debit card situation knowing I had only 10 minutes to get this accomplished before having to head home and pick up Teighlor for rehearsal. Wouldn't it figure that the bank had only one desk representative available and the very women who walked in the door just ahead of me needed the desk rep too. (Red Flag #5) So I sat down and waited, and when it was obvious I was not going to be helped within my 10-minute window, I left even more frustrated than I had come. (Red Flag #6)

As I got into my car, all of my transactions with the bank were playing over in my mind. I then asked God out of mocking despair, "Are you trying to send me a message when it comes to this bank? One trip up after another is all I've experienced and now I have to come back again later after being beaten out to the desk by the woman I opened the door for?"

His immediate response: "Why don't you try calling Frost and see if they have a free checking account?"

Huh? Why hadn't I thought of that before? It seems like such a 'duh' answer.

So call I did. And low and behold, they DO have a free checking account! Problem solved and we didn't have to hassle switching accounts and all that means when you pay bills online. I kind of laughed when I got off the phone and realized just how hard God had to wave those red flags to get my attention. He knew I didn't need to switch banks. He knew I loved where I currently banked. And he finally got my attention by divinely appointing another woman to reach the bank at the exact same time as me but walk in the door one step ahead of me. Without that pause in my life, I wouldn't have been in the place to question all that went into that red flag alone.

This made me realize that God really does care about the seemingly insignificant details of our lives--like where we bank. And now I'm asking for my focus to be sharpened even more. Next time I don't want to have to get to Red Flag #6 before I stop and ask, "Is this really the right way?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Fast Confirmed

"I want to learn the heart of sacrifice and the returning gift of a joyful heart because of sacrifice; that my sacrifice may be a fragrant offering to God, just as Jesus offered himself for me." [me to anthony this morning]

Since December, I've been thinking about and asking God a lot about the upcoming 21-day fast we're heading into for Gateway starting this coming Monday. I've played over in mind last year's fast when I know I was called to juice/water fast. For the most part, it was a fairly easy fast. The first few days were really difficult, but then as my body got used to only liquids and a severe decrease in the calorie load, I fell into a place that was peaceful.

This year, I had kind of settled in my heart that I would do the Daniel Fast - no meats, no sweets - and focus on recharging my body through a large increase of fruits and veggies. Then this morning that all changed.

As I was writing Anthony an email not related to fasting, I wrote the first-half of the above sentence:

"I want to learn the heart of sacrifice and the returning gift of a joyful heart because of sacrifice."

Later in the morning during some study time, God pointed me to a scripture [Hebrews 12:2] which speaks to Jesus' sacrifice and the joy set before him to endure the cross. He then put a second thought to my earlier sentence: that my sacrifice would be a fragrant offering to him. That's such a deep thought for me right now that I haven't even begun to break it down, but it was in that moment that God's heart invaded mine for this upcoming fast...

I am going to water fast. No juice this time. Not even the one cup of coffee I allowed myself each morning last year. (it was liquid after all and it brought me such joy) Nope, not this time. Just plain, old, life-giving water.

In the same way that hearing God's heart stirred me to be excited, instead of dreadful, for embarking on a 3-week period of no food last year, I am now filled with that same excitement and expectation of what will come of this fast.

I've tried fasting, even for a single day, when I thought it was what I 'should' do to help move something along in the spiritual realm. And let me tell you, that kind of fasting was always hard. When I can make it through, with relative ease, a 21-day juice fast and yet grumble 6 hours into a one day fast, I know I'm not fasting for the right reasons or with the proper heart. And yet being 3 days away from a 21-day period of water only, my spirit is aroused by the possibilities that await me:

A complete cleansing of all the toxins I've accumulated this past year.
A stripping away of layers of fatty tissue deposited by over-indulging.
Possible healing and re-aligning of symptoms of unhealthiness that I've grown accustomed to living with and are no longer aware of.
A journey of learning the heart of sacrifice and discovering the fragrance of its offering.

While I know there will be days that are easier than others, I want this fast to the best thing I've ever experienced in my walk with the Lord to-date. My heart is expectant and my spirit is smiling!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fulfilling Already


Firsts all around with the beginning of this new year. And not even half-way into the day God showed his hand in the promise of this year and gave a gift ... or two.

Background: I've been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone for years now. Anthony had the iPhone back in 2008 and then switched over to the Evo this past September. Justifying his for business was easy. Justify the cost for me for personal use was not. So I chose to wait until we would have $200 or so that we could take from our usual bills and apply towards and 'not necessary' desire of mine.

When Anthony got his Evo last year, I vowed to find a way to save for mine, once and for all. Around October, when our move was in full force, money that I thought could be used for this purchase ended up having to go elsewhere. I was not happy. As a matter of fact, I was downright ticked and made sure Anthony knew it. It wasn't his fault the hope of upgrading was put on indefinite hold, but I let the fact that I was tired of waiting for something he'd had for over two years be known!

Well, God got a hold of my heart soon after and settled me with this thought, "Your time is coming. Good things come to those who wait." So I refocused my perspective and once again was thankful that I had the privilege of a cell phone, when some can't afford it all.

Around the end of November I began regularly checking the Sprint site for phone discounts. I had earned a $150 instant upgrade bonus for being a long-term customer and wanted to see what kind of difference it would make. Needless to say, smart phones don't come cheap, and even with the upgrade discount, the price of one was still out of justification range. So I settled on this: Anthony gets an expense reimbursement every month. I'll take some out of that until I have saved enough to cover the difference. That meant knowing it would be April 2011 or so before we could afford it.

Then some financial news changed that plan when we learned the expense reimbursement would be cut come January. The whole "good things come to those who wait" took on another meaning for me. Wait was not anywhere in my near future but somewhere down the long and winding road.

And then came January 1st. The kids' phone also had an upgrade bonus attached to it and eventhough I knew we couldn't afford to upgrade them to a smart phone, the thought to check out Sprint's site for text phones for them popped into my mind ... just like that.

I grabbed the laptop and pulled up the online offerings. About three phones down I noticed a new phone had been added to Sprint's line up. I'd never seen it before, and I had been on Sprint's site looking at text phones just a couple weeks prior. Not only was it new, but it was an Android phone. Not only was it an Android phone but it was also ... what??? ... FREE!

Okay, not really free to anyone, but free to me! With our $150 upgrade bonus applied, that left a remaining out-of-pocket expense of about $175. BUT, get this, for online purchases only, they were offering an instant savings that took away all out-of-pocket expense. I was shocked and asked Anthony to get some info on the phone to see if it was worth its weight. Sure enough, it was reviewed really well.

So in a span of 10 minutes from initial prompting to discovery, I went from looking for a newer texting phone for the kids to ordering a smart phone not only for me but also for them. Two smart phones for the huge price of ZERO dollars ... no phone cost, no shipping fees and no activation fees. How God-crazy is that?!?!

And all that kept running through my head after the purchases were made was:

"Your time is coming. Good things come to those who wait."

All praise goes to God for not only fulfilling his word, but choosing to do so on the first day of the new year. I know it was his way of confirming to me, "I gotcha, kid." And he did it through a gift!