Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Only One Thing, part 2

As I said on Monday, I feel like God is trying to teach me to focus on the one thing that is most important - my relationship with Him.

After re-reading my Monday post, I feel like I left the impression that I am a worry wart or that I go around stressed out about everything.  I don't.  I'm not a worrier - I used to be, but thankfully I have learned that worrying is a huge waste of time and energy.

My struggle isn't with worrying or stressing out (although I will admit, I still do have moments of both).  My struggle is this:  where is the focus of my mind in my day to day activities?

When I'm working in the house, when I'm cooking, when I'm paying bills, when I'm planning church activities or visiting people.  How about when I'm doing nothing?   Where is the focus of my mind?  Jesus told Martha that there was only one thing worth being concerned about.  Is there only one thing that I allow myself to be concerned about??

Like I said, this question has come up several times in the past few weeks, in several different ways.

Here are some more convicting nuggets from the Jesus Calling book:

"As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be..."

"When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place...."

"Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me.  Whenever your mind wanders, lasso those thoughts and bring them into My Presence.....  Confused ideas are untangled while you rest in the simplicity of My Peace."

"Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god."  (OUCH!)

"Let Me be your positive Focus.  When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy.  This is according to My ancient design, when I first crafted man.  Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere:  in sports, sensations, acquiring new possessions.  Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives.  I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it.  Delight yourself in Me, let Me become the Desire of your heart."

Another teaching moment came when I was running the other day.  I had decided to listen to a sermon podcast and chose one by Britt Merrick.  We have several of his sermons downloaded on iTunes, but I had never listened to one.  In looking for something that would hold my attention and get my mind off of the long run I was facing, I chose one called "A 4-year-old's Theology".  You can download it free on iTunes -Reality (Audio).  (click here and then scroll down to #144).  I highly encourage you to listen to this.  There were lots of good points made and you will enjoy listening to it.  The part that jumped out at me was what his definition is of a "Practical Athiest".  A person who believes in God, but doesn't necessarily include Him in his day to day activities.  That really made me think.

Well, I hope you are getting the idea of what I've been thinking about.  In the next day or two, I'll share more about what I'm trying to do about all of this!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Only One Thing

Have you ever come across something in the Bible that just stuck out - like it was written just for you that day at that moment?

And then you hear a song about that same thing?  and then a book falls into your lap about that same thing?  and then your friend talks to you about it again?

I think that is God trying to get a message across - and many times it seems like the Spirit says the same thing to different people to get a message to the world.

Well, that is what has been going on with me.  So this week I just wanted to share what I feel like God is trying to teach me so far this year.

It started with the book Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  I love this book.  It has helped me finally learn to have a consistent quiet time on an almost daily basis.  I always read the devotional thought, then look up the scriptures given and write them out.  Then I write or meditate on what God is trying to say to me that day through the book or the scriptures.

On January 2nd, we were directed to read Luke 10:39-42.  The story of Mary and Martha:

     As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
     But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I have read this story and even studied it many times.  But this one line just stood out to me:

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. 

What is the only thing worth being concerned about?  Well, there's your kids, and your marriage, and your  church family, and your lost friends, and your parents, and all the sick people, your house, your grouchy boss, that hard test coming up,  etc....
According to this passage, it wasn't (and isn't) any of those things.  Mary had discovered what it was.

In this story Mary was doing two things:  Sitting and Listening.

Martha was:  Worrying, Preparing, Complaining, and Upset over Details

The only thing worth being concerned about was just sitting and listening to Jesus.

Let's be honest - most days do you focus on listening to Jesus or on worrying, preparing, details, etc...

That's what got me to thinking.  How can I get to the point where the only thing that I'm concerned about is listening to Jesus - learning from him, growing my relationship with him.

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. 

(more tomorrow...)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 bags in 40 days (aka...teaching an old dog new tricks)

Today I am starting this little project:  40 bags in 40 days

I made my list of 40 areas to clean out, declutter, straighten up, whatever.

I have had good intentions of doing something like this before, but never followed through.  My hope is that since I am actually BLOGGING about it, then I will actually DO it.   I am good at some things, but keeping things neat is not one of them.  I could list excuses (too many kids, too busy, too HOT, too COLD), but they would be just that:  excuses.  The bottom line is that there are things more important to me than my house being neat.  However - I do feel so much better when it is neat!  It seems like my brain can think better when there is neatness and order around me.

Last year we moved into an apartment.  It is big for an apartment, but not as big as a house.  And there is no outside area or storage at all.  That means we had to get rid of a bunch of stuff (junk).  That felt so good!  I love that I can divide my apartment into 40 little sections that I can actually consider doing in 40 days.  I love that our family can straighten up the house in much less time - which gives me more time for doing fun things that I want to do.

So, I'm all ready to start cleaning out!  Here goes to teaching an old dog new tricks.   I will try to update you on how it is going.  (You know you want to see inside my kitchen cabinets!)

PS.  Sorry about the lack of blogging lately.  Today was our kids' first day of school, so maybe I'll do better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Chicken Kabobs and Homemade Salsa

One of the great blessings from our recent furlough was that we got a new sponsoring church.  It is the Monrovia Church of Christ in Madison, Alabama.  We feel very blessed that they are so excited to be sponsoring our family and getting involved with our church in Porto Alegre.  This church is also the home church of my parents and I know many of the members from my growing up years, so it is a double blessing for us to have our sponsoring church know and love our family so well.

While staying at my mom's house, I noticed that she had a cookbook from the Monrovia church.  I told her I would love to have a copy (I love church cookbooks).  After finding out that there were no more copies available, my mom ended up giving me her copy (that's the kind of mom she is...).  She says that they are going to reprint the cookbook so she can get one then.

I have already tried two recipes from the cookbook.

One was called Easy Kabobs and it was submitted by Donna Schrader who I have known and loved almost all my life.  This recipe is super, super easy and we all loved it.   I didn't take a picture of it, but here it is for you to try:
(Next time, I might try substituting olive oil for the butter to make it a little healthier.)

(photo from
The second thing I made was Homemade Salsa.  I have made my own salsa for years, and mine basically has these same ingredients.  But this recipe had a few different touches and was really, really good.  It was submitted by Amy Hendrixson, a friend of mine from high school.  Here it is:
(note:  I don't peel the tomatoes.)

I love looking at all these recipes and thinking of these people that I know.  I really look forward to using this cookbook more!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Computer Time

We spend a lot of time (probably too much) on the computer.  Blogs, e-mails, newsletters, keeping in touch with kids and family far away - it turns into a lot of time.

We have a Macbook that Kevin and I use.  The kids have a desktop that they use.  And, thankfully, Giovanni has his own laptop.

I know, I know, he is probably too young to have a computer of his own.  Actually, this is really Anderson's laptop, but has recently been adopted by Giovanni since he has been helping his dad send out newsletters this week.

We are thankful every day for this little guy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Step Back in Time

While we were at my parents' house on our furlough, Carys and Kennedy (her cousin) asked to explore Granna's attic.  Granna, being the cool Granna that she is, let them.  (By the way, my sister and I used to do this at my Nanny's house when we were little.  Except then, it was called "prowling", not "exploring".)

The treasure they found was what seemed like EVERY fancy or semi fancy dress that my sister and I had in high school, bridesmaids' dresses, our wedding dresses, and even a formal from my mom's high school years.

Hope you enjoy the fashion show.....


  • I love that these two, who get to see each other about every 2 years, can still have so much fun together.
  • There is something just so cute and funny about a little boy in a pink dress with a lace collar.  In case you didn't know, the black cape and red boots is him being "puss in boots without the sword".
  • My mom was a sewing freak.  Many of these dresses she made.
  • My sister and I had really small waists.
  • Making silly faces just runs in our family.  What can I say??
  • They are both beautiful girls and they're only 12 and 13!!
  • Thanks, Granna, for saving the dresses and not prohibiting "prowling"!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Right now I have two kids who have lost their computer privelidges for the day because of fighting and being mean to each other.  I don't think there is much that distresses me more than when my kids can't get along.  Kevin says I am crazy, that brothers and sisters always fight with each other.  I may be remembering wrong, but I don't remember having trouble getting along with my brother or sister. (My mom and dad can correct me on this if I'm wrong.)  Kevin says that is weird.  (Evidently he remembers fighting a lot with his sister.)

Anyway,  Ansley and Garrett used to drive me crazy with this. 

"Ansley is always being mean to me..."

"Mom, you don't see what he does when you leave the room..."

and more....

It would drive me crazy.

So, I was really happy to see Ansley's sweet blog post of encouragement today for her brother.  He has a big soccer opportunity coming up.  Garrett saw her post, and in his typical, quiet fashion said, "Cool."  So, evidently, despite all the bickering and meanness, they do love each other. 

It makes me feel good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Talented Family Members

My mom, my sister, Cheryl and her husband, Mike at Thanksgiving this year.

I mentioned the other day about my sister's birthday and how much I love her.

She is also a great writer.  I have some talents, but writing is not one of them. It doesn't come easy or naturally for me.  But, my sister Cheryl has always written poems about special people or things in her life.

She actually married another good writer, Mike.  Mike has written a book called Growing Up in the Church of Christ.  I loved reading his book.  If you have grown up in the Church of Christ, you will identify with what he writes.  What I loved about the book was that he wasn't mean or bitter about anything in his past, just honest.  And he graciously sees beyond all the customs that now seem silly, to the loving people and good intentions behind it all.

So.... I would encourage you to buy his book and read it.  It will make you think, remember, smile and even giggle.

He also has a blog.  TODAY on his blog he has posted a poem written by his talented wife, my sister.  She (again) sweetly captures a description of our childhood.  I loved it.