Thoughts


This week I have been frustrated with my messy house. I find it difficult to juggle my many responsibilities. My home most often gets ignored because it is not a “paid” position.

This week I have been reminded of other ways that having a clean, healthy, and safe home is a “paid” position. Strom writes of the influence that environment has on mood relating a study done. The study showed that subjects viewed pictures of people as generally more attractive if they were seated in a beautiful room. The study also found that an “ugly room created a sense of monotony, fatigue, headache, discontent, sleepiness, irritability, and hostility” (2009, p. 80). (more…)

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This week has stretched me more than I thought possible. However, I’ve heard that those who bend do not break. I am happy that I did not break! In the past year I have made many strides, in many ways in my life. However, there are still so many ways that I can improve. God is leading me to the life of peace and happiness that he desires for me and I am grateful for His leading. It may not be easy, but it is very rewarding.
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Week 2 of this journey has been a learning experience. I am pleased, but also frustrated. I am enjoying my learning, but also having difficulty keeping up with the reading. I seem to be fine reading the texts, but everyone’s post and comments on the blogs, even, are overwhelming to me. I read so slowly, especially on the monitor!

I have learned so much about learners this week. I think that the information on learner styles and learner behaviors will not only help me to learn in this class, but also help me in teaching others through Sunday school and even while preaching. Incorporating all kinds of learning should help my congregants to retain more information. I can also encourage them to learn how they learn and how they can make the most of every learning situation. I am looking forward to seeing what we come up with as a group for a final list of factors effecting success in online learning.

I also really enjoy our live session with Quentin Schultze. I really like how he turned Eat, Pray Love into Listen, Laugh, Love. I wish I were able to take the course, but I wanted to take COM605 even more, so I will not get to hear all of his thoughts on this subject. Even the texts sound wonderful. I may have to read Truth to Tell by Newbigin anyway (1991). Schultze’s ideas are stimulating and I am looking forward to attending Forum 4:15.

I took a look at the article on blogs titled, “Blogs: A Disruptive Technology Coming of Age?” I think that every technology has a life span. I can understand questioning if blogs are near the end of their life span. According to the 2007 State of the Blogosphere done by Technorati, there were 70 million blogs (Sifry, 2007). According to BlogPulse, there are over 155 million as I write this. We have to assume that of these numbers, many of them are splogs (spam blogs) and inactive blogs. Even, so, we can see that the numbers are increasing. The downfall of anything can come very swiftly, but I do not think that blogs are in any immediate danger.

Rather, I think that they have matured to an age where they are not just a fad to be part of, but a way to convey a person’s thoughts and opinions to the world or even just those with like interests. Kling states, “I sketched a model of blogs in which blogging serves as a filtering mechanism in the dissemination of information. The model is built on assumptions that make blogging very efficient. To the extent that those assumptions mirror reality, then blogging is not a fad. On the contrary, it could have a lot more potential for growth.” (2002) I believe that there is still plenty of room to grow.

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BlogPulse Stats. (n.d.). In BlogPulse. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from http://blogpulse.com/

David, S. (2007, April). The State of the Live Web. In Sifry’s alerts: David Sifry’s musings. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000493.html

Kling, A. (2002, June 21). Is blogging a fad?. In Corante: Tech news. filtered daily. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from http://www.corante.com/bottomline/articles/20020621-875.shtml

Long, P. D. (2002, November 26). Blogs: A distruptive technology coming of age?. In Campus Technology. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2002/09/Blogs-A-Disruptive-Technology-Coming-of-Age.aspx

Newbigin, L. (1991). Truth to tell: The gospel as public truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s.

How blessed by God I am! We had signed up to go on a Mission Awareness Encounter ( a tour of European missions and missionaries) with our District Superintendent, Brother Bill Leach. We were planning on using tax refund money for the trip, but we ended up using it on other things, some needful and some not, to be honest. As time wore on, we knew we would not have the money to go. Our finances were tight all summer, I couldn’t manage to save a single penny. On top of that we had a wedding to go to a week before that. We had planned on going to the wedding in Omaha, staying with family in Minnesota for a week and then we hoped to fly from Minneapolis to Detroit to meet the team. When we got home we would fly back to get our kids from their grandparents’ house and drive home.

So, we came to the conclusion that as much as we wanted to go, that it wasn’t going to work out. We were ok with that, too. I was surprised by peace about it. I called Lisa Nagle, Bro. Leach’s secretary (and a fabulous one at that) and told her our situation. To make a long story short, Brother Leach and Lisa worked to raise our funds and change our flights so we could fly from Minneapolis and meet the team in Amsterdam! And then, people started giving us a few dollars here and there (Evangel Life Assembly of God in Bad Axe gave us a very nice check) and soon we had spending money, too! Chris’ parents paid our way to the wedding. We couldn’t have asked for more. God blessed us richly.

We thank Mount Hope, Evangel Life, and the others who gave to our trip. We truly would not have gone without you!

It was an amazing trip. We learned about Europe’s background and current situation as relates to religion. I never realized how hard the ground is. It seems that people are either Atheists or Catholics who are not practicing most of the time. They do not see the need for God at this time. It is harder to evangelize there than the third world countries that we usually focus on with missions. Kudos to those who serve there for their faithfulness and tenacity.

We had lots of history lessons in order to see the background and I loved it! We got to see gorgeous castles, churches and many, many historical sights like Waterloo and Battle of the Bulge.

I pray that the district is able to this again next year and that many people will go. It was definitely an eye opener. It was great to spend a week so close to our district superintendent, too. He is an inspired man of God. I am so happy that I am in this district that is led by a man in tune with God and creative in his plans.

I think one thing I learned about myself on this trip is that I need to be more active. I was very tired (still am) as I traipsed from place to place, but I survived. There is energy in doing. What I am trying to say is that I am far too lazy at home. I have an ache or pain and I sit down to rest, but the more I rest, the lazier I get. I need to get going, have a plan of action, work for God, even if it’s only in my home. I feel energized when I have a task to complete. I usually push myself too hard to get the task of say, packing for a trip, completed and then end up sick. I don’t need to push quite that hard, but at the same time if I didn’t go from lazy to crazy, but rather from working normally to working on packing, I would not be so apt to get sick because I am unused to the work.

I also need to work on finding ways to relieve my stress. Lately I have really been feeling stress in my stomach. I feel my stomach roiling. If I don’t have an ulcer yet, I’m bound to get one going on like this. I need to find the best way to rest in God for myself.

Another thing I need to focus on is discipline. I need to continue and strengthen my prayer discipline and I need a schedule to keep myself on task.

I also need to figure out where my place of ministry should be. I feel a morphing coming. I am becoming more of what God wants me to become as I shed the weight of past hurt and unforgiveness. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me. Today I feel like I could do anything! And I can, “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJ

What a great District Council we had this year! Chris and I were both tremendously blessed! We were able to stay 3 nights! That with the new schedule of Monday –Wednesday instead of Tuesday – Thursday, allowed us to stay for the ordination service and the Thursday Leadership Seminar. I love the new schedule and I hope it is permanent. (Hint, hint to anyone in the district office.)

We went on Monday because I was on Teller Committee II and there was a meeting that afternoon. I was so excited and I enjoyed it, too. There were a few things I would have changed with that, though. We were in a prayer room and the lighting wasn’t too good. Also, we were in the same prayer room as the intercessors, which was unfortunate because while I was in there, I couldn’t hear what was going on in the meeting. The speakers had been turned off for the intercessors. So as far as resolutions 1-7, I have no clue how they went or what was discussed.

We didn’t go to the Monday evening banquet. Mostly because our kids came with us, and the banquet we attended a couple of years ago was a loud, cramped affair. I don’t think it was this year, but we didn’t realize it wouldn’t be. I’m glad we didn’t go because we had fun as a family and took it easy before the meetings on Tuesday. We did a little shopping (and VERY little buying) at a posh shopping center.

We were really built up during D.C. I got up and spoke in opposition of resolution 11?. It basically said that instead of ministers having to give 85% of their tithe from both ministerial and secular income to the district, we should change it to 85% of ministerial income only. The ministers would then be free to tithe the other to their church. I do see where this view is coming from. A lot of the pastors of small churches pay the church bills out of their own pocket and receive little to no pay from the church. It is a hard place to be. Chris and I have never been in that bad of a situation, but we do have a VERY limited income. It is hard to make ends meet and to be constantly worried about where the money will come from to pay this or that or just to make life a little enjoyable for our kids. I in no way mean to disrespect these hard working pastors.

There had been a very similar resolution two years ago and Pastor Dave Williams from Mount Hope Church had suggested we tithe 10% each to both our church and the district. We had a conversation going on a forum before DC about the resolution and that was his suggestion to all of us, I believe. Anyway, Chris and I took it to heart and decided to do it. Our church had been receiving our tithe back from the district for the church. That is a thing they will do under special circumstances and for a short period of time. We had run out of time and the church was feeling the crunch. As a church, we have been blessed in so many ways since then. Of course we were before then as well, but we haven’t been so close to financial ruin since then. We just recently bought a new lawn mower with money God provided. As for Chris and I, we have our ups and downs. We are not great steward of our finances. We find that finances are a weak area and we are constantly trying to keep on top of them and be good stewards and grow in this way. It is difficult with little income, though. At the beginning of this year, another church in our section has come along beside us and is supplementing Chris and I’s income with over 50% more than we were receiving! Praise the Lord! I truly believe that if we had not been faithful in tithing extra (giving a sacrificial offering) we wouldn’t be receiving this blessing now.

So, that is basically what I stood up and said. I thought maybe my personal story of provision would show that giving extra tithe to the district brought blessing to us, while when we gave the minimum, we struggled. I don’t believe we should change it.
We ended up sending the issue for more research on how it would affect the district financially. Having more exact numbers would be a good thing, but I will still vote against it the next time it comes up.

Well, there were some who came and thanked me for saying what I did. I give the glory to God though, because I didn’t want to go up there. It makes a person very nervous to stand up in front of all your colleagues and say what’s on your mind. You are putting yourself out there hoping no feels bad by what you say if you are disagreeing with them and hoping you say what God wants you to say without stumbling all over your words. The thanks built me up though. They made me see that I do have value to God and others. I hope to remember these words of thanks on the days when I feel useless. That is mostly why I am writing them down. What really shocked me were the thanks from the District Superintendent and others in the district office. A very prominent pastor of a large church told Chris and I that we amazed him! I didn’t know what to say to that, as we are amazed by the Godly ministry that has grown from his intimate relationship with God. That we should amaze him just floored us. I could only say, “whatever!” I know, great response, eh?

We also had lunch with the pastors from Bad Axe and had a great time with them. Later, the pastor’s wife and I had our complimentary spa treatments together, as well. We are hoping to get together once a month for lunch. I would love to have a friend nearby. They have been through a lot lately. Their son died about a year ago in Iraq. I can’t imagine how that feels. I also had a great conversation with Mary Beth. I told her about our Ella difficulties and she prayed with me about them and for our ministry. It was a great little chat! All of that was going on while I should have been at the Leadership Seminar. I missed about half of it, but I was where I needed to be.

We also go to have dinner and ice cream with another couple. She is in a pastor’s wives yahoo group I’m in. He was making us laugh too hard during the first business session. We had a great time! I hope we get to do it again sometime. They live on the other side of the state from us, unfortunately. I just love DC for the opportunity to see other minister that we only see one time a year, generally.

The ordination service was wonderful and I really appreciated the sermon. Pastor Dave Williams spoke on how to plug into God’s power. It was a very useful sermon and it led into his leadership seminar very well, too.

So, all in all, it was a great council. The kids did really well sitting through all of that, too. It is hardest for Ella and she did great. I thanked her. We went to see the State Capitol after the Seminar on Thursday. I’ve never seen it and I have lived here a long time. It was great to get to see it and share the experience with the kids. I’m thankful for all the intercessors that prayed for us while we met. More prayer is what we need. We can always use more prayer!

I think that all of us feel unappreciated on some days. Today is one of those days for me. Right now my family and I are on a mission to make ourselves feel appreciated. Chris isn’t feeling too great, either. It’s interesting how you can know in your head that you are appreciated and loved and not FEEL that way.

Just this morning, Ella told me she loved me and it was in that way that I knew she really meant it at that moment, that she was really feeling it just then. That made me feel nice, but I later found my purse soaked with milk from Ella’s spilt cereal. Then it was as if she didn’t say that at all. She hadn’t bothered to even try to clean up the mess. Her thoughtlessness hurt my feelings, but I knew in my head that it was just her being a normal 7 year old. And once I thought about it, I grasped at that loved feeling that I got when she told me she loved me earlier in the day. I decided that it was going to stay and I was going to make the feelings associated with the milk go away. I’d much rather be happy.

It helped that she thought of me again by suggesting to Daddy that they get me flowers and a balloon, which they did. I have a wonderful family. I had been thinking flowers would be nice. I was also wishing for an early Mother’s Day. I just needed it. And I got both! Chris later mentioned that it was like an early Mother’s Day and he was right! I got to choose where to go for lunch and what to do this afternoon.

We went and had pizza for lunch and we are now on our way to the zoo. It’s open early because of the nice weather we’ve been having. Not all the animals are out and the train isn’t running, but it will be fun and it’s free! Whee! Ella says I get to choose for dinner, too! We will be in Saginaw, so that opens up my options! I’m thinking Famous Dave’s right now.

The Five Love Languages book talks about how we need to keep our love tanks full. I feel that mine is on empty. I was trying to soak up love from Chris’ hugs, but I realized that it was not really possible. God must be my source of love. At least for a tank that stays full and especially when Chris is feeling empty as well. He can’t help me like God. I’m realizing lately that I must rely more on God for these things. I expect more out of Chris than is humanly possible. Really. Literally. God is the only one that can give me what I need. Just writing this, admitting it in writing, out loud, so to speak, gives me joy. I know I’m on the right track always growing and allowing God to stretch me. It’s good to be teachable and always learning.

While I was still sad, I told Chris that I felt that I had been giving love, but not receiving enough back. With our concern over Ella, I’ve been making a concerted effort to make sure she knows we all love her, including God. It is a rewarding, yet tiring job. I only wish I had noticed that her love tank was on empty sooner than I did. It is much harder to bring and keep recovery and wholeness now. I am seeing progress the last couple of days. She seems to see that I am there for here now. I wasn’t before, while I was escaping the world through the computer. But after many weeks of my focus on the right things, she is beginning to benefit. All I can say is, “Thank you God!”

My dear hubby bought me a great book recently. It is called Praying in Color: Drawing A New Path to God. It was written by Sybil MacBeth. There is also a Kids’ Edition. She talks about how she has difficulty focusing during prayer and how she discovered that this was effective for her. Then she writes about why and how it works. She has little tips throughout as well. The kids’ edition is a short, quick version of the original book.

I am generally overwhelmed by “deep” books at first. I much prefer the light reading of fiction. I am not sure why, but I generally have to take time before I decide to read something that makes me think. Chris bought both books for me and the kids. The longer one was intimidating, so I started with the kids’ edition. I read a few short chapters but then I started getting excited about the concept and switched. The kids’ edition broke the ice for me.

I would highly recommend these books if you are like either the author or me. I have a terrible time focusing. My mind, my hands, my body all want to move and move on. Thought after thought flood my mind when I try to pray. This way of praying is great for me because it’s just doodling! You don’t even have to think words, much less write or say them. You just focus on the person or whatever it is you are praying for and let your hand run wild. I do this same thing all the time when I am on the phone. I doodle all the time!

You can pray whatever kind of prayer you want. She even goes over how to use this method for lectio divina. I have prayed for myself, but I have also interceded for others, tried a little lectio divina and done a combination. The doodles are just that and don’t have to be prefect. They aren’t supposed to be. However, if you are like me, you will think your prayers are the most beautiful works of art you’ve seen when you are done with them.

Here is a prayer for my daughter. She is having some difficulty with school again. I think the troubles are both because she does have her own will, but also because she seems to be having self-esteem issues and other things that stem from that. I know that with God’s guidance she will pull through her difficulties, but she has really been on my heart and mind lately. I’ve also been reading another book lately that talks about saying blessings over people, so that is why I changed delicate to strong on the leaf. This particular prayer is more polished than most are, but it was just right that day!

My Strong Flower

Oh! And in case you wondered, the supplies I use are a Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook (I am currently using a Moleskine Cahier Plain Notebook because Chris had one when I started, but I will switch when that runs out. The marker goes through the tiniest bit, but won’t on the Sketchbook.) I use Sharpie Ultra-Fine-Point Permanent Markers. I bought the pack that is linked at Wal-Mart for 15 or 20 dollars. It was a bit spendy, but for this purpose, well worth top-notch supplies.

I hope this post will encourage someone to get the book and try this method of prayer out. I have been really enjoying it the last couple of weeks.

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