Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Votes Have Been Counted...

For those who may be wondering, and don't yet know, the Casino and Resort passed 62% to 38%. I trust that God, who is in control of everything, will work this situation out for good - maybe not on it's "face" but I trust in the promise of God that he is able to work everything out for his good if we continue to love and trust him.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vote Today!!

My heart was "heavy" as I drove to work today; the residents in Lyon County are voting today on a proposal to build a Casino and Resort in our county.

(I've taken some information from my friend's blog: "A bit of background on the debate: Kehl Management of Riverside, Iowa, is proposing a $90 million casino/resort to sit in Lyon County, just east of Sioux Falls.Proponents say the casino/resort will bring needed jobs and entertainment to our area. Opponents say the jobs and fun will come at a big price, because of the social ills of gambling." Jennifer Dukes Lee).

At first, I wanted to vote yes because of the benefit that it would be for me and my family; the thought of my property taxes being cut in half was enticing. Until I realized that everything that we gain as a family, or as a community, or school district, will be at the cost of someone else. Now, I'm aware that there are plenty of people who like to "play around" at a Casino and they use it as a form of entertainment; I myself like to throw a few dollars into a video lottery machine once in a while.

The problem for some though, is that the video lottery and slot machines and the black jack table aren't always for entertainment. I don't understand a gambling addiction because that is not something that I struggle with, just like I don't understand being addicted to drugs or alcohol; but these things are very real for some people and I can't imagine the day-to-day struggles of any of these addictions and how they affect a person professionally and personally (which possibly includes a spouse and children).

I knew from the beginning how God wanted me to vote but I tried to ignore him; the reasons for my "yes vote" were selfish reasons. Finally, I had a conversation with God about how he wanted me to vote and he answered my question with a question: "When will you trust that I AM taking care of all of your needs? I have, I AM, and I will." Not only will he provide for my needs and the needs of my family, but he will also provide for the needs of others, whether they realize it or not.

My vote today will be "no" to myself and, even if it is just one person who benefits from not having this Casino and Resort in our county, I'm voting "yes" for that person! I don't want my gain to come at the loss or cost of someone else.

"Do not take advantage of each other. Instead, have respect for me. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 25:17 (NIrV).

(For the record, this is post reflects my opinions and my belief in what God is requiring me to do; I will not judge or condemn someone who thinks differently than me and subsequently votes differently than I do. I think that Satan will have won a battle if there are more "yes" votes than "no" today - but either way, he has won a battle because this issue has divided our towns. I pray that no matter what the decision is after today, that our communities can reunite.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Choosing Truth

A few years ago I received a book mark that was simply called "Who I am in Christ." Simple title - simple message: I am accepted; I am secure; and I am significant. The great thing about this book mark is that it has just over 30 different messages for me from God supporting the fact that I am accepted (I am his child, his friend, I have been justified, I've been united with God, I was bought with a price, I am a saint, I have access to God, I have been redeemed, I am complete in Christ); I am secure (free forever from condemnation, I cannot be separated from God's love, I have been anointed and sealed by the Holy Spirit, I am hidden with Christ in God, I am born of God); and I am significant (I am salt and light, I have been chosen, I am God's temple, I am God's co-worker, I am God's workmanship, I am seated with Christ in heaven, I am a branch of the true vine).

My identity is addressed on the back of the bookmark and it says: "Understanding your identity in Christ is absolutely essential for your success at living a victorious Christian life!" (From Living Free in Christ by Dr. Neil T. Anderson). It also has these two columns:

Satan's Lie ************ God's Truth

You are a sinner ************** You are a saint
because you sin. ************** (one declared righteous by God) who sins.

Your identity ***************** Your identity
comes from what ************** comes from what
you have done. ****************God has done for you.

Your identity ***************** Your identity
comes from what ************** comes from what
people say about you. **********God says about you.

Your behavior tells ************ Your belief about
you what to believe ************ yourself determines
about yourself. **************** your behavior.

Adapted from "Resolving Spiritual Conflicts and Cross-Cultural Ministry" by Dr. Timothy Warner

Today is one of those days - I'm struggling with my identity. Wondering if I really matter; even as I write this it seems strange because I know that I matter to God and to others. So why do these thoughts creep into my head? Why do I even entertain the devil and let him try and convince me that I don't matter?

Well honestly, because I allow myself to fall into the trap of comparing myself to others and choosing to ignore the fact that God created me with my specific gifts and qualities, abilities and interests for HIS purposes - not mine. I just get selfish and truth be told, I want recognition.

I need to get past myself (which is my sinful nature nurtured by Satan's conniving) and choose to believe the things that God says about me. Today, despite my selfishness, I'm choosing truth - God's Truth! Will you join me in living like an accepted, secure and significant child of God?

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"I Spy...God"

Hardly a car trip goes by with my kids that I don't hear "Mom, do you want to play "I Spy?" Sometimes I play with them and sometimes I don't. It's a kind of "hide-and-seek" type game where one person picks an object and everyone else has to take turns guessing what the object is until finally, sometimes all choices exhausted, someone guesses the object. Sometimes my kids get so impatient with me because I don't guess the object as quickly as they'd like me to so they start giving me hints trying to speed up the process. Of course, when riding in the car, you should really try and guess the object fairly quickly - especially if you are travelling at 55-60 mph or more.

A year or two (or more) ago, Iowa decided that people were no longer allowed to spray the weeds in the ditches along the roads. For most of the summer these ditches look like they are full of undesirable weeds; but around the middle of August, something wonderful starts to happen. Here and there, in the ditches, beautiful wild flowers start popping up and sometimes you may be fortunate enough to see a patch of wild flowers or even a 1/2 mile stretch with various varieties and colors. I love looking for these bursts of color along the sides of the road on my way to and from work because it helps fill the monotony of my 40 (or so) minute commute with interest and beauty.

A few weeks ago I stopped on my way home from work because along the very edge of the road, as if they appeared overnight, there were brilliantly colored and perfectly shaped wild sunflowers growing. Both sides of the road displayed sunflowers and it felt almost as if I was on a path and not on the same road I have travelled for the past 10 years - two times a day; give or take a few days. I have watched these sunflowers continue to grow and get exceedingly tall; I am amazed at how they grow so tall and stay so strong.

Today is the anniversary of one of the saddest days in recent American history; as I was driving to work thinking back to 9-11-01 and remembering those who lost their lives so senselessly. In addition to that, my daughter's boyfriend lost a good friend on September 4, 2008 in Afghanastan as a result of an IED; Pvt. Vincent C. Winston, just 22 years old died. (

Then, in the midst of the sadness and heaviness on my heart this morning, "I spied" God. He was in the ditches and he was in the fields; he was in the trees and along the side of the roads. He was in the faces of the people I was meeting; he was in the sky; and in the water in the river and on the sand; suddenly God was everywhere. I also felt him in my chest - so big that I had to breathe in to make more room. It was if God was telling me that in a world that doesn't always make sense, he is still always close to us and a very real God. Psalm 46:1 says "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

My prayer is that those who are trying to make sense out of a seemingly senseless situation, may feel the peace and VERY PRESENCE of God - whatever your situation is.

God wants to love you; he wants to hold you and he wants you to know, more
than anything, that he loves you so much that he made the decision to have his very own Son leave heaven, come to earth to be born as a human; and then,

as people denied Jesus,
and laughed at him,
and called him names,
and spit at him,
and beat him to a bloody mess,
and mocked him,
and put a crown of thorns on his head,
and pounded spikes (not little nails - SPIKES) through his hands and his feet,
and then left him on the cross to die,

God watched...not because he didn't care - but because he cared SO much.

I pray that as you go about your day, you "spy" God in his various forms.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The "House" is a Mess

Lately I feel as if I just can't catch up, much less keep up; school has started and that adds to the list of things that need to be done in a day (helping my 5th grader with homework and studying every evening takes up a significant amount of time for this working mother).

Even before school started, I felt as if I couldn't get my house in order; I've been missing deadlines; books have been returned late to the library; I've missed birthdays of people who are very important to me; I've misplaced things; I've missed payments on bills; I've even missed preparing meals - and the list goes on. Then there are the stacks of mail on the counter; the notes of people that I need to call back; the notes that I write for myself of things that I want to do for other people; etc. It seems like in the last two or three months I have not been able to get things cleaned up or put away or organized.

Today, like most every Friday, I have the day off, and my intention was to "get organized." I got my kitchen clean and some laundry done but feel like most of the stuff that didn't belong in the kitchen didn't find its permanent home; rather, I moved it from one place to another - therefore, I'll get to deal with it another day.

Something was different today though; I finally surrendered to what God has been telling me for quite some time. Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God." Not only is my physical house unorganized, but my spiritual house is as well; I've been neglecting my spiritual house and I have not been setting aside time each day to spend with God to hear what he has to say to me or even just to be with him.

When I did stop today (surrender) and talk with God about my messy houses, I was comforted with Isaiah 58.12: "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." I've had this scripture on a recipe card stuck in my bathroom mirror for probably two or more years; I don't know what made me write it down in the first place and I can't tell you how many times I've looked at it and wondered what it meant for me. Today God spoke directly to me with this scripture and encouraged me by the fact that no matter how much time passes, or how lazy I get in my spiritual life, he is always there helping me start over. I stand amazed again, at how God works and how much he loves me and that two or more years ago he was already preparing a message for me for today.

God spoke very clearly to me today and I know that he's not so concerned about my physical home as he is my spiritual home; and I believe that my Savior loves me so much and desires a close and personal relationship with me so much that he will use whatever means necessary in order for me to get the message - and today, he chose to use my messy and disorganized house. God pursues each of us so passionately and it is my prayer for anyone reading this that you see that God is running after you and he will do whatever he needs to get his message across to you. If there is an area of your life that seems too much to handle or out of control, or just too sad or difficult - I challenge you to look for Jesus in that situation.

Because God is so kind, I do believe that, along with the spiritual cleaning that happened today, because it is important to me to have my home organized and clean (not messy) for my family, that if I honor him and nurture our relationship like he is asking me to do, that he will help me with the day to day things that seem so overwhelming to me right now; that he will restore and raise up and rebuild things in my house that seem so out of control right now.

Thank you Jesus for loving me the way you do; I am humbled at the lengths that you CONTINUE to go to show your love for me.

Trusting that this is Part A of the messy house post.