Posted by: pollyw | August 28, 2017

Hope in Hurricane Harvey

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(image courtesy of tpsdave from Pixabay)(Verse courtesy of YouVersion app)
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rose pic for blog with proverbs 16
Image by: Polly W. Caption by: YouVersion

 

Procrastination. It sounds like such an innocent word. I mean, it has the word “pro” in it, so it even sounds like it might be a good thing. And “nation”, that sounds pretty important. I am not necessarily the queen of procrastination, but I am definitely in the royal family. With six kiddos, if I were the queen of procrastination, we would probably starve, and never make it to events. As a member of the royal family, we don’t starve, but do repeat main dishes often, and we do make it to events, but sometimes a few minutes late.

All that to say, it can be an issue with me. Well, this morning, in my YouVersion Bible App, under the reading called “Proverbs to Remember Two”,  the Lord showed me a proverb that can help me think in a different way when I am leaning toward procrastination. Here are four ways He did that with Proverbs 16:3.  This is the verse (in the NET version):

Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

1. Commit… That first word says it all. So many times, when I am procrastinating, commitment is missing. I’m not “all in”. In the YouVersion app and in my handy dandy (free) commentary Enduring Word, they pointed out that the word used here in the original Hebrew means “roll to/upon”. Now what would rolling have to do with committing? Turns out it means “to roll”, as in to roll a burden to someone. Like it is too heavy to hand over, so you have to roll it over to the person who is helping you out. I can relate to this definition. When I am procrastinating, the burden feels soooo heavy. Something easy, like making a phone call that needs to be made, can seem as complicated as trying to solve world peace, just because I am procrastinating. A commentator (Watke) also pointed out that the original meaning of this word indicates a finality. That we are to “roll it unto the Lord and leave it there”.

2. So what are we supposed to roll? Our works. That can be anything. It doesn’t have to be the big stuff. Phone calls, chores, projects, dinner planning, it all goes in there. God created the universe, but He is also all about relationship, so He cares about our big and small stuff. He wants all of it…all of us. From the Enduring Word site, they pointed out that (Kidner) said, “Our activities and plans will be no less our own for being His, only less burdensome, and better made.”

3. Who are we committing them to? The Lord. Not our company, not our family and friends, but to the Lord. Then, what happens with Him will filter down into our relationships with our company, family, and friends.

4. What does it mean for our plans when we commit our works to the Lord first? The commentary (Enduring Word) points out that usually we commit our thoughts to the Lord first and then the works follow. It turns out that the Bible tells us it happens in reverse, too. We can commit the works first, and He will provide everything we need to make a plan, so the work can be done. This is great news for me, because when I am procrastinating, all I can see is the huge thing that needs to be done, and my thinking takes a vacation. This way, God’s Word says He will not leave me alone to flop around in my own confusion, He will establish my plans when I commit the work to Him. That makes me feel better!

So, there you have it. Commit your works to the Lord, and He will help you by laying out and establishing your plans. To me, that sounds like He will help me during the biggest phase of procrastination, planning how the project will get done.

Do you think you could pray this verse back to the Lord when you find yourself stuck? Leave a comment and let me know where this could help you. I’d love to hear from you!!

Posted by: pollyw | July 31, 2017

Infographic: How to Use Scripture Daily

How to Use Scripture Daily

Posted by: pollyw | July 20, 2017

When you don’t know what else to pray…

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This summer has been flying by at an alarming speed. We love the down time that usually comes with summer, but this year, it has eluded us. Our three oldest kiddos are now in sports that seem to go year round, or close to year round, so the merry-go-round of pick ups and drop offs occurs at a dizzying rate around here lately. My dSLR camera that I take everywhere for the kids’ events was stolen before summer even started. In addition, we are losing some good coaches who have really poured themselves into our kiddos’ lives, and now there are so many unknowns to deal with for their teams. It is heartbreaking to lose ties with someone who has added substance to your child’s character.

We did get out of town for a week or so, which was great, and a lot of fun, but restful, it was not. We tend to enter vacations with a competitive mindset that would challenge any American Ninja Warrior. When we go to an amusement park, it is to conquer the rides and survive the miles of hiking through the revelry. We don’t just set out for a road trip, we turn it into an endurance event fit for The Amazing Race viewers. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but just a little. We do have fun on vacation, and we can squeeze every ounce of experience out of it until the last drop of vacation has left the container.

In this whirlwind of summer days, we have found ourselves needing to find some intentional rest. The kind of rest where you have to carve out time to do nothing but take it easy. It is hard to do, when you feel like there are so many things that need to get done, but it is important. It’s not just important, it is necessary.

During these times, I don’t have the focus to sit down for an hour-long Bible study every morning. I am doing well to get up before my cross country runner leaves for his very early morning workout.

It is at these times that the Lord will give me a verse like the one written above. I can pray this verse back to Him all day long if I start to feel under attack from the unknowns that are coming around each corner. I find myself praying, “Lord, I don’t feel safe. There are too many things that seem scary and different right now. Help me to take refuge in You while I wait for You to reveal Your plan for all of this.”

I can ask Him to keep my children safe as we all take refuge in Him, knowing He has a plan for all of us, even in these busy, unknown times while He brings new coaches and new school years into their lives.

Sometimes, the best thing I can do when I am feeling pulled, is to just rest in His Word and pray the verse just as it is, thinking about how He is speaking to me with each word.

It would look like this:

Keep me safe (only He can keep me truly safe)

My God (It’s not my plan that keeps me safe, or my ideas, but my God)

For in You (not my friends, not my husband, but You, God)

I take refuge (like a port in the storm, an oasis in the desert, You are my protector and shield) 

How about you? Is there a verse that He has put upon your heart lately?

I really like hearing how He works His Word in others’ lives.

Leave a comment and  tell me about it —  you will make my day!

 

 

Posted by: pollyw | June 27, 2016

Do not fear…

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I love it when God uses His Word to encourage me. I especially love it when He uses His Word to remind me that He is my protector and my strength. So many times I feel less than capable for the big problems that come up in life. During those times, it really helps to lean on a favorite Scripture and talk to God through His Word. Isaiah 41:10 is a really good verse to pray back to God.  Here is how I like to use this verse when I am talking to the Lord.

First, I break it down into smaller sections.

The beginning says, “Do not fear“. That makes me think about what I am fearing in my life right now…today. I might even make a list. If I feel like journaling, I can write my fears down. Then I talk to the Lord about each of those fears.

“For I am with you“. It’s nice to have people with us during scary times, but when we remember that the Lord is with us, hope and help are just around the corner. So, with this part, I would talk to God about all of the other people and things that I might be leaning on instead of Him and ask Him to help me see where He is working in my life.

For I am your God” Here I would think about the things that are getting in the way of leaning on Him. Am I looking to other sources for help? Am I using something else to avoid my fears, like procrastination? I would talk to Him about these things and ask Him to help me really lean on Him as my one and only God.

“I will strengthen you and help you”  Where am I weak and need strength? Where do I need help? I would use this part of the verse to pray those things back to Him and also thank Him for being my help and strength. If I’m journaling, I might even draw a picture that would help me remember this part. I like to post Scripture around the house. This would be a great one to stick on a post-it note.

“I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”  Where do I need upheld? Where am I so low that I feel I will never be able to get back up again? God is reminding me in His Word that I don’t have to worry about getting myself back up, that is what He will do for me, with His own hand.

I can honestly say that praying Scripture helps focus my prayers when I am feeling scattered. It reminds me of God’s truth when I am surrounded by the world’s worries and it gives me a way to keep His truths in my heart as I make it through the hard days.

Is there a favorite Scripture you would like to pray back to the Lord? I would love to hear about it. Tell me about it in the comment section. You might encourage someone else!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pollyw | June 16, 2016

3 Life Lessons I Learned from My Son

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I had no idea that I was the pupil today. I was just the mom with a lot of stuff on her plate. The Lord planned on teaching me things from my 9-year-old — I’m glad I was paying attention. Today, this little guy had a follow-up to make sure that a surgery he had made it through in December was still giving us the results we needed. The surgery had helped solve a problem he had been fighting since he had been in the womb (womb — such a dramatic word). In the last few years, the problem had turned painful. At any time, on any day, he would say that his side was hurting, and the next thing we knew he would be lying curled up on the floor, moaning in agony. It started to take a mental toll on him. He began to wonder each day if it was going to be a good day or a bad day.

Each time he was tested, we would ask the Lord to please help us find out what was wrong. We held him tight when he was hurting and prayed with him that he would be healed. We had nowhere to turn because no one could figure out what was happening. The Lord knew, but we had to wait on Him to let us know. It was hard to wait. Very hard. It seemed as if no one would ever figure it out. We knew a lot of things it wasn’t, but still didn’t know what it was.

Finally, through a series of events and recommendations, we found the doctor who would systematically rule out the “wasn’t” list and come up with a working diagnosis. With this diagnosis, he was able to scope and then surgically repair the kidney issue that had been plaguing my son from the time before he was born.

Why am I telling you this long back story? To bring you to today. This was the follow-up appointment. The day he had nuclear tests to make sure all had gone as planned, and that the kidney was working as it should. After the test, the doctor had arranged for us to visit him to hear the results.

We were sitting patiently in his office waiting to hear the results. He walked in, looked at my 9-year-old and said, “You’re cured! The tests look great.” My little guy threw his hands in the air and gave out a “Yippee!” as he jumped in the air. I loved it. A true celebration at such great news. My insides were shouting “Yippee!” too, but we all know adults aren’t allowed to celebrate like that in public places in front of doctors, right? We are just supposed to nod, hug our child, and say how grateful we are that everything is better.

Life Lesson #1: Really celebrate when the Lord answers your prayers. Don’t worry about your  “Yippees” being inappropriate when you see the Lord working something big in your life. Let Him see you celebrate! The Bible says He shouts for joy over you (Zephaniah 3:17), so join Him!

Life Lesson #2: Keep waiting on the Lord, even when waiting is hard. Especially when waiting is hard. Our little guy never gave up. He knew the Lord had his best interest at heart and held out for the day He would heal him. There were some rough days. Days when he could have given up, but he didn’t. Days when a grown up might have been tempted to yell at the Lord for taking so long. This guy just kept pouring out his heart and turning it over to the Lord to let Him handle it.

Life Lesson #3: When things are scary, like IVs and surgeries, ask others to pray for you and be there for you. The past year has contained some painful and frightening tests to try to rule out issues for him. He would let us know he was scared and ask us to pray for him. He didn’t think it was up to him alone to pray for help. He let us know when he needed someone to hold him up physically and spiritually through the rough moments. He also let his Sunday school teachers, friends, and school teachers know what was going on and asked them to pray for him.

It may be summer, but school was in session for me today. The Lord showed me some really neat things through my little guy. It feels good to be on the other side of an issue that has been going on for so long, but I want to make sure I remember the journey.

It’s funny, as we were leaving the hospital that has been the center of so much pain and suffering for him with all of the tests and surgeries, he looked around and said, “I sure am going to miss this place!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pollyw | October 16, 2015

The Disappearing Kid Trick

I like reading Bible stories and applying them to my life.  Usually, I read the story first and it reminds me of something that has happened in my life.

Yesterday, the opposite happened.  It was a crazy afternoon already, the kind where nothing was going as I expected.  I had finished the after school drop offs/pick ups of the older kids for their activities and raced home to meet the littles at the bus stop.  I was anxious to get there because the school nurse had called me and said that she was sending my second grader home with an ice pack from an unfortunate fall during “stinky feet” time at school (walking around with no shoes is a treat for these kiddos).  All that to say, I was relieved to see the bus pull up and my injured stinky feet participant emerge with a huge toothless grin, balancing an ice pack and her lunch box as she ran to hug me.  I waited for my third grader to hop off the bus, but he was not coming.  I asked his sister — she didn’t know where he was.  I checked with the bus driver, and a simple shrug with a, “He’s not on the bus” was all I got before she drove away.

Apparently, the school was trying to call me as I was trying to reach them, and I couldn’t get through.  In desperation, I called my friend, the school nurse, and let her know what was going on.  She immediately went to the office and found our guy sitting there, waiting to be picked up.  Relief flooded over me as I made the short drive to the school and found him calmly doing his homework in the front office.

Turns out he had missed the call for the bus departures because he was very involved in a computer presentation he was working on, and was hard to spot behind the big computer monitors.

This morning, as I was thinking about the whole incident.  It reminded me of the Bible story when Jesus was 12 and the family discovered He wasn’t with the group as they were returning home.  Here it is:

Luke 2:41-52 New International Version (NIV) (courtesy of Biblegateway.com)

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

When I’ve read this story in the past, I have thought about how scary it must have been for his parents when they didn’t know where He was.  Yesterday, I lived a mini-version of it.  Mary didn’t have a friend like a school nurse to call and see if He was in Jerusalem.  She didn’t even have a phone.  I wonder if she sent some of the cousins ahead of the caravan to see if they could track him down.  I’m thinking that some scary possibilities went through her head of what could happen to Him.  Thankfully, my ordeal lasted less than 15 minutes.  Mary had to live with it for — three days, did it say?

On teaching note, I went to one of my favorite commentary sites to see what he had to say about this story.  Here is his take on it (from Enduring Word by David Gudziak):

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover: Attendance at the major feasts was commanded in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16. It was customary for the faithful of Galilee to make these pilgrimages at feast time in large groups

It would not be difficult to lose track of a young boy with such a large group of travelers – we shouldn’t accuse Joseph and Mary of child neglect. But Mary must have felt badly enough, losing the Messiah.

  1. They returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him: As we would expect from diligent and godly parents, they took the effort to find their son Jesus.

  2. I must be about My Father’s business: In that day, there was nothing more natural than a son taking up his father’s business. Jesus did follow in Joseph’s footsteps as a carpenter, but His words here show that He was at least beginning to understand His unique relationship to His Father.

  3. It is impossible to say when, in the context of the self-imposed limitations of His humanity, Jesus realized who He was and what He was sent to do, but it was early – this is probably the not when it began, but when it was in full flower.

  4. I must be about My Father’s business: These first recorded words of Jesus are significant. The surprise implied by these words of Jesus means that He knew that Mary and Joseph did know of His special relationship with God His Father. It means that it must have been an item of discussion and perhaps instruction in the upbringing of Jesus in their home.

  5. They did not understand the statement which He spoke to them: Jesus’ statement told them something about His identity as a unique Son of God the Father, though they did not understand it. In Judaism of that day, a boy began to learn his father’s trade at about 12 years of age. Jesus fulfilled this by instructing the teachers in the temple.

How about you?  Have you had something happen that gave you a new perspective on a familiar Bible story?

Share it with us in the comments section!

Posted by: pollyw | May 13, 2015

God even uses ordinary days…

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  Photo by Polly W.

We were running late, as usual, to get to school this morning. My elementary schoolers and I were racing out the door to get everyone in the car and on the road. We arrived at school, parked, and pushed our way out of the car to walk in. Then, God pressed the pause button on our morning.

There, right beside the curb, was a little river of sorts flowing down the street. There had been a steady stream of rain all night, and the streets showed the evidence of it. I am not one to pass up a river, even if it is kind of an artificial one. We had to stop and play a while, even if we were cutting it close on time.

So, the four kiddos I had with me all found leaves and threw them into the little “street” stream. We had a wonderful time watching them speed to the storm drain at the corner. We even saw one set of leaves get caught in an eddy and swirl around like they were dancing. For five minutes or so, the Lord put the day on hold so I could enjoy some much needed fun time with my kiddos.

You see, this has been a very stressful week, with more to come.  I love that the Lord just covered us in a bubble of His grace to enjoy His creation together and get us started off in the right frame of mind today.

As we had a wonderful time watching the leaves, what we didn’t realize was that we were drawing quite a crowd. When we finished with our activity and headed into the building, everyone asked us what had been so fascinating that we had stopped and stayed there for so long.

They thought we had seen an amazing animal or something along those lines, when all we had done was enjoyed something they had passed up without noticing just moments before. We would have passed it up, too, if the Lord hadn’t given us that gentle nudge to look around and enjoy His creation for a moment.

I love it when He does things like that!

It surprised me that our fascination with the little stream had drawn so much attention from the others around us. It got me to thinking. What if our daily walk with the Lord drew that much attention from others?

What if we shared what He was doing in our lives more often, especially when He was doing something within the confines of our ordinary day?

I think it would draw attention to what the Lord might be doing in their lives.

How about today we try to really keep our eyes open to what He is doing in our lives and share it with someone at the end of the day? It might be a neat way to draw others closer to Him and remind them that He has His hand on the ordinary things in their days, too.

Posted by: pollyw | December 22, 2014

Rainy days, gotta love ’em

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Photo by Polly W.

It was the last day of school before Christmas break.  My elementary school kiddos were running around the house trying to get ready for their few hours of school that day.  My girlie who has to eat gluten free was busy packing her “party box” full of her favorite goodies to eat for the class party.  With all of this stuff in tow, I decided to take them to school instead of sending them on the bus.

The rain was pouring down as we got out of the car and headed for the crosswalk.  My kiddos huddled under the umbrella as we worked to get our cadence in sync to keep from tripping over each other and make it into the school semi-dry.  We made it to the door, prayed for the day, and off they went.

Feeling successful, I headed back out to my car.  The other school children were still streaming in from the car rider line.  One little girl was dressed up for the big class party and was getting soaked as she was trying to hurry up the sidewalk.  I put the umbrella over her and turned to escort her into the school.  Her big smile was a wonderful thank you.  Further up the sidewalk, another little girl’s umbrella flipped inside-out with a big gust of wind.  I tried to help her with her umbrella and put her under mine so I could get her into the school quickly.  Turned out she knew my youngest daughter.  That was neat.

As I was leaving the school, I was thinking about how easy it was to help those girls, and how it seemed to make a big difference in their days.  Using the one thing I had in my hands at that moment, I was able to keep those girls from spending the next hour or two in soggy clothes.  Not that it had anything to do with me — I was available, so the Lord used me.  What was really cool was that He used me without even letting me think about it.  I love it when He does that!  No thinking involved, but good works are done.  No hard decisions to be made, but people are helped.

What are the easy ways He uses you to help other people?  If nothing comes to mind, ask Him if He will show you some, or ask if He is doing it already in your life.  Leave a comment and let me know what you come up with.

Posted by: pollyw | December 17, 2014

Cookie houses were meant to be eaten?

 

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It’s not often that I post a picture of food with a pair of bare feet visible in the background.

I made an exception in this case.  The little feet belong to the artist who created this Christmas masterpiece.  Our youngest kiddo proudly brought this home from preschool last week.  I love graham cracker houses and was ready to proudly display it on the kitchen table for all to see during the Christmas season.  As it turned out, that wasn’t even a consideration for the young artist.  I mean, after all, it was made of candy — what other use could there be for a candy house but to be enjoyed as a dessert after lunch?  The maker had different plans for the house than those of us in the crowd.  It delighted him to be able to eat that yummy house after lunch, even if he did have to wait while Mom took a few pictures (note the patient crossing of the feet in the background).  He shared pieces of candy with his siblings (although Dad did have to bargain pretty hard to get a piece at first) and it did turn out to be a joyous thing when we followed his plans as the maker of the house.

It reminds me of how God, who made us, sometimes has different plans for us than we think He should have.  Not to mention when His plans for us are different than those in the crowd think we should have.  He is our maker, and His word promises that the plans He has for us are more than we can think or imagine and that they are meant for good, not harm.  (Side note: That’s where the analogy falls apart for the poor cookie house — it got eaten)

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 3:20Living Bible (TLB)

20 Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.  Give the Maker control, and He promises that you will fulfill His intended purpose for you.  Oh, and don’t forget the part about it being more than you could ever dare to dream of, or even know to ask for.

I remember reading this verse a long time ago.  We were post-marriage ceremony, but pre-kids.  As I was doing my Bible study that morning, I remember looking up into the big oak tree in our backyard and asking Him what He meant by “more than I could hope for or know to ask for”.

Well, I can definitely tell you that He has lived up to that verse in our lives in so many ways, and continues to do so on a daily basis.  Six kids in almost nine years?  Who would have thought or known to ask for that?  A husband who likes the idea of me staying home with those six kids — I didn’t even know I wanted that, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  A freelance writing career starting up — that didn’t even seem possible two years ago.

I’m not saying my life is perfect, I get in my own way far too often to say that.  But I do know that I serve a God who continues to live up to those words He showed me so long ago.  He continues to promise that He has a hope and a future for us.  We just need to let Him show us the way.

How about you?  Do you have any stories about how He has brought things into your life that were more than you knew “to ask of or even dream of”?  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.  I would love to hear about it!

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