31 Days of Praise {Day 18} Happiness

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. ~Psalm 16:11

Abraham Lincoln once said that “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

While there is some degree of truth to this, we would all do well to remember that God has outlined some pretty specific ways for us to be happy in His Word:

  • The Bible says that those who fear the Lord are happy. (Ps. 128: 1, 2; Prov. 28: 13, 14)
  • Happy are those who keep God’s laws. (Prov. 29: 18)
  • Happy are those who have children. (Ps. 127: 3, 4)
  • Happy are those who do not condemn self. (Rom. 14: 22)
  • Happy are those who trust in the Lord. (Prov. 16: 20)
  • Happy are those who require wisdom. (Prov. 3: 13)

Isn’t it great to know that God cares so much about our happiness that He tells us things we can do to be happy in our lives? We are truly blessed – and should praise Him for our Happiness.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:
Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 10} Better Plans

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jer 29:11

Though this story has been told many times and it is lengthy, I believe it is worth retelling, especially coming off of the Christmas season as we just have. It is the story the the Three Little Trees, and is a beautiful reminder that God has plans for us, plans that are more beautiful than anything we could dream up. I’m not sure who to credit the story to, as it’s been all over the internet for years, so if you happen to know, I’d love to give them the credit!

Three Little Trees

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked at the stars and said, “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world !”

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world !”

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in the busy town. “I don’t want to leave theh mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone and the three little trees grew tall.

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. “Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure,” the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong, it is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters,” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kinds !:

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenters shop, but the carpenter fashioned her into a feedbox for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold nor with treasure. She was coated in sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and saved into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. “”What happened, ” the once tall tree wondered ? “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God.”

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a woman and her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said. And suddenly the first tree knew that he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat The traveler fell asleep as the second tree sailed quietly out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered, she knew she didn’t have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew that he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldieries nailed a man’s hands to her. She felt ugly harsh and cruel. But, on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’ love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

So the next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you wanted, just sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Praise God today not only for what he has done for you, but what he is GOING to do for you!

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 7} – When We’re Busy

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  – Proverbs 31:13-19

Okay, confession time. It’s now 8p.m. on Day 7 of 31 Days of Praise and I’m just now finding time to write this post. When reading about the Proverbs 31 woman above, I get exhausted thinking about all that she does. I aspire to be her, but there are some days that I just can’t quite measure up to her, much less even imagine my children rising up to call me blessed.

Today has been ‘one of those days’. Between homeschool lessons, three conference calls, four website designs in progress, two blog moves, and church responsibilites, I was left feeling a little deflated and a LOT overwhelmed at the tasks on my plate. I wasn’t sure I had the energy (or much less, brain power) to write this post, and then the Lord brought Proverbs 31 to my mind. I hadn’t even come close to doing all she does and yet, I was ready to quit!

Of all the things we allow to “slide”, one thing we should keep front and center is our relationship with the Lord. He’s well aware of what is happening in our daily lives and how quickly we can become overwhelmed. We never intentionally stop spending time with God or praising Him, it just sort of happens somewhere between that third and fourth load of laundry. If we are able to steal a few moments, they are usually spent on basics things such as taking a shower. {Can I get an “Amen” on that one?}

So all of that to encourage you to grab a few minutes {just do it now} and spend some time giving a prayer of thanks and praise to God that He knows what we go through on a daily basis. Ask Him to instill a genuine desire to spend more time reading His Word and praying. Ask Him to nudge you when you forget to give Him the praise He deserves.  In Isaiah 65:24 God says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will answer.”

He’s waiting…are you willing?

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 3} Praising in the Storms

He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. – Psalm 145:19

As the rain poured heavily on the road in front of me, my windshield wipers beat a steady rhythm as I drove through the pitch black night of downtown Austin during a citywide blackout. The year was 2000, I was a single mother and had just relocated to the “big city” with my 3-year old daughter to take the job of my dreams and start a new life. Katie and I were on our way to meet my new boss and his wife for dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate our move and to better acquaint our families, but the freak power outage was not something we had planned on, nor were we prepared for it.

The glare of oncoming car headlights combined with the white-hot flashes of lightning made it difficult for me to see anything at all and I silently bemoaned the fact I hadn’t replaced the  wipers when the Wal-Mart tech told me they were worn out. Pretty sure I had already missed my turn a few roads back, I struggled mightily to make out the street names, slowing my car down to a crawl in order to read the approaching signs. It was becoming increasingly obvious that we would arrive late, if we made it at all. I didn’t own a cell phone and didn’t have a way to even contact them to let them know we were lost…this was most certainly NOT the impression I wanted to make.

Hot tears of frustration slipped down my cheeks as I gripped the steering wheel of my car. I pulled over into an empty parking lot to clear my head and attempt to calm my jittery nerves. I had to make a decision.

Temporarily forgetting that I had a tiny passenger in the backseat, I slapped my hands against the wheel and yelled out to no one in particular, “I can’t see SQUAT!” I like to think that Jesus made some intercession on my half-hearted prayer that went something like this, “Lord, I’m lost and need your help. I am in a city I don’t know and I’m scared and alone. Please help me find my way.”

My decision made, I turned around to tell Katie we were heading back to our little apartment to wait out the storm. It was then that I noticed my daughter’s tiny nose pressed to the passenger window. When I asked her what she was doing, she remained steadfast in her task of looking out of the window and simply replied, “I’m looking for SQUAT!”

Sometimes we just need to know that through our trials, there is someone in our corner. We need to know that God is listening. I was so thankful to have my ‘storm buddy’ with me – someone who was helping me find my way and cheer me on. I gave thanks to God at that moment for the gift of my daughter and began singing one of the praise songs I had learned as a child, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountains of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King

Looking back, my situation was not all that bad, but at the time, it felt hopeless until He reminded me of what was truly important. Often, we are faced with much larger problems, mountains that are so high we can’t see over them and valleys so low we can’t see how to cross them. On that night, it was something as simple as being lost in dark city with some rain coming down.

What storms in your life has God seen you through?

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

Movin’ in and movin’ on

The past two weeks have seen me prepping my family and my mom’s house for her homecoming. She has been in rehab for three weeks after spending a week and a half in the hospital recovering from knee surgery.

Never mind that she didn’t have bad knees – until she fell off a stepladder in her pantry and drove her femur into her tibia, dislocating her kneecap and splintering the crud out of her leg. Surely you think I’m horrible. I know she didn’t mean to do it…I do. Sometimes I wonder if she’ll ever listen to her doctors or any of her children, or if she’ll continue the rest of her life “knowing what’s best”.At what point is it okay for a child to “take charge”? There are no easy answers, I don’t think. I’m trying to put myself in her place, even when she frustrates the living crud out of me…because it has to be hard for her.

It must be difficult to give up control of your life – have your daughter, her husband and three kids move in to take care of you. There’s a loss of dignity in the realization that you just can’t take care of yourself BY yourself anymore. My heart breaks for her in that regard.

There is a teeny tiny part of me that wants to be angry with her. Angry for putting everyone else through what we must go through in order to take care of her. I’ve not been able to work one day this week – between home school, caring for her, and prepping for our home school co-op’s first actual day of classes (I’m the Life Skills teacher) – my days fly by with little accomplished on my ever- mounting list of to-do’s. I’m letting people down and I don’t like it. I feel like this is more than just a scheduling problem and it’s more than overwhelming at times.

But. God is still in control. He gave me a verse last week that has stuck with me, and keeps popping into my mind when things have seem particularly hard or unjust – Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” I can’t explain what that verse has come to mean to me – I’ve heard it in church a hundred times, maybe more. But now I have understanding, because God is allowing me the opportunity to apply it to my life. I’m so thankful for that, even if I don’t always sound like it or show it.

So I’ve told you we have moved in with my mom for a few months, but I haven’t shown you where we are staying. Oh..and the reason we moved in with her is her house is about 5,000 sq ft, our is 1,350 – so hello. That should be fairly self-explanatory. 🙂 So here’s where the accident happened (the infamous pantry incident):

What is it about older people (my mom is 79) that they stockpile food like there’s no tomorrow? Tell me it’s not just my mom.

Here’s my room:

Don’t mind the clothes – I was still moving our stuff in. It’s all put away now. The only thing I can’t figure out is what the heck to do with all those pillows on the bed when we’re sleeping on it. Seems wrong to throw them on the floor….but there’s no where else to put them!

The girls have a nice little room. Abby has already put her stuffed animals all over the bed, thus “marking” her territory:

I would show you where the boy is sleeping, but he doesn’t have a place. He’s on the couch. Poor kid. We didn’t want to put him upstairs by himself and we needed to be on the first floor in case my mom needed me.

My absolute favorite thing about my mom’s house is where we’ll be doing our school. It’s in her sunroom and I el oh vee ee love it. I’m a sucker for light – and this room is perfect to me. We’ll get lots done in here:

And I’ve set up my temporary workstation in the corner of the room – until today, it looked like this:

Now it looks worse. Bwuahahaha. Okay, not really…but I didn’t take an “after” photo. I miss my desktop -I’m used to working with both a laptop and a desktop and this will definitely be an adjustment for me. See the little electronic gizzywidget in the bottom right hand corner? That’s what a Life Alert station looks like. It saved my mom’s life June 25th, 2010.

So that’s pretty much it, unless you count this huge mailbox I found while cruising one of the older neighborhoods in town a few weeks ago. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with ANYTHING, but I wanted to show SOMEONE. So pretend it’s relevant. Thanks.

Why on earth would someone need a mailbox that big? I’m just sayin’…

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