Monday, November 28, 2011

I Believe...

There seems to be a magical quality about the Christmas season. There are discussions about holiday traditions and events for the family. If you have kids or are around people with kids, there tends to be talk about Santa Claus. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be nice to share my beliefs. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section.

I believe in a Creator (God). I believe that God created the universe, the earth and everything in it. I believe there's a heaven and a hell. I believe that Jesus is God's son. I believe that Jesus lived a sinless life and died on a cross. I believe that God raised him from the dead three days later. I believe that we all sin and are in need of a Savior. I believe that Jesus is that Savior and desires for all of us to come into a relationship with God through him. I believe that each one of us has a purpose for our life. I believe that God loves me (and you) even when I/we do not choose to seek him or his will. I believe that God answers prayer, though not always as I might prefer. I believe that we have an enemy who seeks to destroy us and his name is Satan. I believe that we can have victory over our enemy through Jesus.

Those are some of my beliefs. What are yours?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmastime Activities

Just ordered Christmas cards! Can't wait to get them in so that we can send them out. Better stock up on stamps!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Expectations and Gratitude

During my prayer time today, I was thinking about how much I appreciated Adam doing something special for me yesterday. I was trying to think of what I could do to show my appreciate for him and this thought popped into my head: EXPECTATIONS LEAVE LITTLE ROOM FOR GRATITUDE. 

 I realized that there are nice things Adam and I do for each other all the time, but they aren't always acknowledged. I think part of the reason for that is that some of these things have become expectations. If I expect Adam to do something, then I may forget to express gratitude even though I should. With expectations, often times an act is only acknowledged when it hasn't been completed. And then, of course, it is usually in a negative way (You didn't ____ ). 

I think that's how we are with God sometimes. God has faithfully provided for us in some way (or many ways, as is often the case) - perhaps keeping us healthy or helping us meet our financial needs or goals. After a while, that's what we come to expect. So when something changes - we (or a family member) gets sick - we lash out against God (Why is this happening? Why aren't you protecting us?). Somewhere along the way we forget that we should be grateful for all of God's blessings, provisions, and faithfulness. Instead, we place expectation on God and, when something happens that isn't what we want, we blame God.

Perhaps we ought instead to make ourselves more aware of the things God and others do for us, even the seemingly mundane, and say 'thank you' even when we feel they ought to be doing it without praise. It should help us, at least, to maintain some perspective.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fooling Myself

I have been reading Personality Plus for Parents. One chapter invites parents to take their quiz to determine where they fall in the personality four-square. I have taken it before, but thought I'd do it again just because I love quizzes. In this particular one, there are two sections: strengths and weaknesses. There are 20 lines in each section containing four words. You are supposed to pick which word fits you best. Definitions are included to help figure it out. The first four word options are adventurous, adaptable, animated, and analytical. I knew animated was not the best fit. I was trying to decide between the first two (I really WANT to be adventurous, but really I know that isn't the best fitting word). I decided to ask Adam his opinion and he said analytical. I responded, "Well...." Which, of course, helped me to see that I was thinking hard about each option - analyzing, you could even say. I admitted sheepishly that that was the best option.

It's interesting how the test is set up. You go through all of your strength options, which can get you feeling good about who you are. I'm persistent, controlled, self-reliant, faithful, thoughtful, perfectionist, balanced. Of course, I realize that some of these could have a downside, like perfectionist, which is made more obvious when I hit the weaknesses part. In that section I marked unenthusiastic, resentful, pessimistic, tactless, moody, critical. By the end I felt kind of bad about myself. I sounded like an awful person. But these are personality tendencies, not everyday behaviors. I had tried really hard to consider myself optimistic. Who wants to be called a pessimist? Not me, at least. But the book's definition rang true for me however much I want to deny it - while hoping for the best, generally sees the down side of a situation first.

This exercise helped me to see that I do try to deny parts of my personality. It's probably the perfectionist in me wanting me to be all good, with no faults. What about you? Are there characteristics you possess that you try to pretend aren't there?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Improving Prayer Life

I've been reading Bill Hybels' "Too Busy Not To Pray" during my quiet times lately. I have been thoroughly enjoying it. It has helped me to see how I normally pray, inconsistencies I may have, as well as ways I can become more effective in prayer. Lately, my quiet times have gone like this: Prayer journal, read the Bible, read Hybels' book, more prayer journal to incorporate what I just learned. After several days of this I have contemplated reading Hybels' book first, but think it will be more beneficial to continue with my current order.

I picked up the book for the purpose of learning how to be more effective in prayer as well as, hopefully, improving my ability to listen to God. I know that prayer is supposed to be a conversation with God. I'm good at sharing what I'm feeling/what I need but am not very good at being still before God. I don't know if others are able to quiet their mind and hear God speak to them in the stillness. I have found that I am led by God through his Word, books I read, or other people. Usually when I sit quietly, my mind wanders and it feels like fruitless, wasted time. Perhaps I need to spend more time in this practice for it to become effective.

So, what have I learned thus far? I know in my mind that God is willing and able to answer prayers, but my prayer life doesn't always reflect that. If I truly believe that God is able to answer any of my prayers, would I not bring my deepest needs to him? I realized that there are things I would like God to do but appear to feel like he won't do anything about the situation so I do not ask him. That is ridiculous, I know, but that's what my actions say. I acknowledged that part of the reason I don't ask is because I'm afraid that God won't do anything and it will mean that I am ineffective. And if I were to announce that I am praying for something and nothing changes, I fear that someone else will take it as "proof" that God doesn't exist.

I have been encouraged by realizing my thought process. The book has also provided encouragement and help for changing my thought processes. One way is to pray through ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Spending time praising God for who he is and acknowledging what he's done helps me to get rid of my doubts that he has the capability to work in specific situations. Confession reminds me of how much I need God and how faithful he's been. The other two I've always been pretty good at, but I know that I don't always first remind myself of who God is or specifically name sin in my life and seek forgiveness and help. This method is good for shifting my attitude.

I also love that the book has reminded me that an answer of "no" is still an answer, though we tend to interpret God's "no" as God's silence. There is also a section where it suggests reasons why our prayers are not answered. The part that provided clarity to me was that sometimes there are areas in our life where we need to grow, such as eliminating sin in our life. Scripture says that sin separates us from God and closes his ears to our requests. It once again requires that I honestly examine my life to see if I am living as I should. I know that I can't be perfect, but if I am not seeking to live according to Scripture, then there is definitely a barrier between me and God.

I still have more chapters to get through and am interested in what I have yet to read. I already want to read the book through a second time. I may need to purchase a copy of my own so that I can make notes and have it on hand for those times when I feel ineffective in prayer, because I'm sure I will throughout my life.

I have some questions for you, dear reader. Do you also struggle with being still before God? If you don't, please share any wisdom that may help. Have you read "Too Busy Not To Pray"? What were your take-aways? Do you have any other prayer insights you'd like to share? Any additional prayer books or resources? I love learning more about prayer. I know that I have to be careful not to turn the things I read into a to-do list, but to use them to be more honest with God through prayer. Do you ever struggle with trying to incorporate great ideas into your life, even if they don't fit with your personality? I look forward to hearing from others!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Joy Ride - Women's Retreat 2011

This past Friday night/Saturday was our church's women's retreat. It was a wonderful time of insight and refreshment for me. I'd like to share some of them with you.

The theme of the weekend was Joy. During one session we had to share a joy stealer with the other women at our table. I told the story of the Breakup (Quick synopsis: I felt that God wanted me to break up with my boyfriend. I did not want to do it, especially since I thought he was the person I was supposed to marry. I struggled with the decision but was ultimately obedient to God's desire.) and was reminded of it's purpose. God was asking me if I loved him more than anything else - more than my relationships, more than my plans, more than my hopes and desires. Did I trust that his plan was better than mine - was best? Did I trust him with my heart's desires? Choosing obedience meant that I was going all in with God. I was laying down what I thought was my future for whatever God had in store. There was no safety net. During that time of heartache, what kept me going was this thought: Adam is an amazing guy. If we are not supposed to be together, then I am trusting that God has someone even more incredible in store for me as a husband. And I learned that yes, I can trust God with my desires and my future. He came through for me in that situation. Why not trust that he will come through again?

During the retreat I also realized that my personal insecurities and self-consciousness (and desire for approval and acceptance from others) was hindering me from being completely free in loving, following and serving God. I love music and I love singing - especially praises and worship to God. But I don't think I have a good singing voice - mainly because I have a deep voice for a woman. I have long been intimidated singing with others because I fear that I sound bad. And I know that we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, but no one wants to be off key, especially with all of the beautiful singers around us.

God had started to help me in this area by making me a mother and giving me a daughter who loves songs. Singing alone to her has given me some confidence. I will even sing at music time with other moms and around my husband (a huge deal). This weekend we had large chunks of song time and I felt God encouraging me to sing to him and forget about everyone else. I sang louder/stronger than I ever have in such a setting (though I can't tell you how loud I actually was). I didn't feel one hundred percent comfortable but I wanted to worship God without holding back out of fear. I think I will still be somewhat self-conscious int his area for a while but I feel that major progress has been made. Maybe one day I will be able to dance and sing with abandon like King David. I wonder if singing lessons would help or just be another stressful experience? (I think I secretly fear that it would be confirmed that I'm hopeless as a singer - an obvious lie from our enemy.)

I also had a wonderful time of meeting with God in prayer and Bible reading out on a dock by the lake. The view was beautiful. I spent time admitting my weaknesses and failures, praising and thanking God, and inviting him to work in and through me. I had really been wanting to be reminded of God's love for me. He blessed me threefold! First, he did something with his creation that he knows I love. Second, he spoke to me through Song of Songs 2:10 (My beloved spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me."). When we were handed that verse and I read it, tears spring up in my eyes. I so needed to be reminded that God calls me beautiful and pursues me.

Later that evening, God did a third thing that reminded me of his love and intimate knowledge of me which blew my mind. We had a time of communion followed by the opportunity to be prayed over and consecrate ourselves anew to God. I LOVE being prayed for - it is so encouraging. While I was standing in line I pondered who I hoped would pray for me (there were three women praying). At first I hoped it would be the one who knew me best because, I figured, she would know what to pray for me. I thought some more and then hoped it would be someone who didn't know me well because it would be exciting to hear that prayer. It ended up being a women I don't know very well. She prayed for self-confidence for me. I thought, "Whaaaa...?! How did she know what I needed?!" Then it hit me. DUH!! God told her. He knows me intimately and reminded me of that by speaking straight to my heart through her. There was nothing to do but admit how small I think God is sometimes. Of course he can (and will) meet my deepest needs! He formed me in my mother's womb. He planned the time and place I would be born and live. I am his. Why wouldn't he love and care for me? And this reminder/realization could (and did) yield only one response - repentance for my lack of belief and trust coupled with adoration and praise for how amazing and loving God is. And once again, it was confirmed that I can trust God with my heart and my future. God is so good! Praise him!

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's Like Comparing Apples to Oranges

A few weeks ago, I was really struggling with not feeling like I was cutting it in the wife, mother, and homemaker departments. Essentially I was questioning the successfulness of achieving my supposed identity. I'm sure that I am not the only one who has wondered whether they are meeting expectations. But the question that should be asked, is "Whose expectations am I trying to meet?" Are they God's expectations? My spouse's? Other people's? Or are they mine? (And are they reasonable?)

God, in His infinite wisdom, helped me with this issue through that Sunday's message called "Comparison's Curse" as well as through my amazing husband. I love how timely God is! Aaron spoke at church about how we, as Christians, look to the Bible and to other Christians to learn how to grow in our faith. The mistake we often make is to look at spiritual giants (or someone who excels in a particular area of spirituality) and then try to incorporate their "best practices" into our lives. There are a couple of problems with that. One - if we try to achieve everyone's best practices, we will be overwhelmed with all of this new work and ultimately fail in one or all of the areas. Two - we are different people and may not have been gifted in the same area(s) as others which will also cause us to fail. We then end up feeling miserable because we can't be just like those "super Christians".

I know that I have been guilty of this. It is definitely not bad to want to grow in our spirituality. It is not beneficial to try to be someone else. God did not make me Beth Moore Jr. or Donna Adams #2. He made me Megan Byrd, the one and only (although I do know a Meghan Byrd, but obviously the "h" makes us different). My job is to learn what God has gifted me with and then work to hone that ability for His good purposes.

That Sunday evening, I also had a conversation with my husband about my struggles with feeling inadequate/like a failure and he reminded me that he married ME, not some altered version of me. It felt so good to receive such acceptance and love from my spouse. He loves me as I am, not as I think I ought to be. Trying to gain the characteristics of other amazing women that are not compatible with who I am, will only cause me frustration and I don't need it.

Now I am focusing on accepting the present me, delving into using the abilities I've been blessed with, and seeking to know and follow God's purpose for me in everyday life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

External Righteousness

At church we are going through a series called ReThink (Following Jesus is simpler than you think). It has been very good and I've been specifically challenged through the messages.

Last week, the title was "Inside-Out". Aaron talked about the misconception many Christians have that as long as we behave well then we are a good Christian. Jesus taught that what was in our heart/mind was just as important, if not more, than our actions. If we are harboring negative thoughts about someone, it is just as bad as if we were voicing them for others to hear.

We are called to be internally righteous. But it's not something we can do on our own (thank God). God is the one who is able to work in us to change our sinful desires into righteous ones. Philippians 2:13 says "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." We need to seek God in prayer for him to change our hearts to want to please him.

Something that really struck me was when Aaron said that trying to be good on your own will either cause you to continually beat yourself up for falling short or cause you to judge others for not being as holy. I have definitely been on both sides of this.

I have been reading back through my old journals lately. In high school and college I judged people all the time for not being as externally holy. I could claim that I did not curse, drink, smoke or have sex so I thought I was doing great. But by judging others I was showing the sinfulness of my heart but did not realize it. Not that I don't still struggle with passing judgment, but I now know that it's not my place (and I recognize that I'm not perfect) so that's an improvement.

I definitely have also struggled with feeling like a failure for not living up to my own expectations of how holy I should be. I see all of these other Christians who are amazing prayer warriors, or whose compassion spurs them to do amazing things for others, and those who are so generous with their time, talents and money. I have felt like I am so far behind where I should be. Or I decide that I am going to start doing something such as memorizing scripture, set a goal, and then fail to meet it or get so far behind that it seems hopeless.

I'm not saying that it's not good to desire to grow in your faith, but what will really make me grow is drawing closer to God himself and letting him lead me. Perhaps if I focus on spending time with him in prayer and Bible study, it will help me learn more scripture or develop a more compassionate heart for others. God knows what he desires of me and what my gifts are. I should trust him to work in me rather than trying to do it on my own.

What about you? Have you ever fallen into one of the two categories above from trying to be "good" on your own?

Friday, April 29, 2011

In Need of Resurrection

This past Sunday's Easter message focused on John 11:17-37, the story of Lazarus' death and subsequent resurrection by Jesus. We were reminded that Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." He was speaking not only about resurrection after death, but power for our lives right now.

In small group, we were posed several questions about resurrection and its application to us. In your life, where have you experienced resurrection? How are you/how is your life different because of Jesus?

They are definitely very good questions to think about and answer. The question that really made me think was our challenge for the week: What is dead in your life right now that you need resurrected?

It's a very good question and one that really requires me to be honest with myself. One of our members seemed to have an immediate answer that they were unreservedly not planning to share. I can understand that. Sharing something like this requires vulnerability. I have to be willing to get past the shame or embarrassment I feel about it in order to bring it into the light. Only then might I truly be able to seek Jesus' power to raise it back to life.

So, what is my thing that is dead and needs resurrection? Compassion. I just don't think that I truly feel the hurts and struggles for others. Yes, I pray for others and seek Jesus' power in their lives and various situations. But when Jesus was in Bethany with Mary and Martha, he saw their hurt and he wept. He saw AND FELT their pain and sorrow. I see it, but I don't take it on myself. I haven't felt so concerned and burdened that it pressed me to my knees in fervent and desperate prayer. It sounds awful, right? Like I am a cold, unfeeling person. I'm really not. I think I have just focused on my own life and family. I know that as one loved and cared for by God, I should also love and care for others. So I guess my new prayer should be for more compassion, for a heart open to taking in the hurts of others. It sounds a bit scary and potentially overwhelming, but "I can do all things through him who gives me strength."

Is there something in your life that is dead and needs resurrection? Are you brave enough to voice it out loud?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


We had a great small group meeting last night. Our message on Sunday was about boldness. Our leader presented us with several questions that challenged us and asked us to do something in the coming week. I like that our leader prompts us to come up with and share an action step. Especially since we know we will have to report back the following week.

What keeps me from being bold in evangelizing? What am I afraid of?
>Uncomfortableness/awkward situations, difficult questions, feeling stupid.

Do people look at me and say, "I want that"? Filled with the Holy Spirit, what character of who I am will I let shine this week?
>Contentment and confidence with who I am and where I am right now.

This topic of boldness is very timely for me. A couple of days ago I was talking to another woman who is also a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) and I got the impression that she felt a little guilty for her status. As a SAHM, I do sometimes feel like others think I'm not contributing or doing enough with my time. However, I am confident that being at home with Kaitlyn is where God wants me to be right now. I am contributing a great deal to her growth, development and well being. Who else is going to love my child like I do?

Yesterday I felt the Holy Spirit's prompting to write a note to the woman. I was a little nervous about it as she didn't say she felt guilty but I am trusting the Spirit's leading that the little bit of encouragement and camaraderie is what was needed. So last night's assignment was confirmation that I am doing what I ought to be and encourages me to continue. Eventually the awkward feelings will fade.

What about you? What keeps you from being bold? What part of your character will you allow to shine through you this week?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

God First

The other day, I was on my way home from running an errand. I was stopped at the light at Jiles Rd and Old 41. I was staring to my right at the shopping center and started reading the electronic message sign at the Barber Shop. It first read "$10 Tuesday" which made me wonder if that was a deal for barber services. I watched to see what else was advertised and was surprised to read what appeared next. "God First" it said. A completely unexpected message and yet something that was a wonderful reminder. Our day is supposed to start with God - mindful prayer at the beginning of our day to help us remember what is most important and seek guidance for whatever we may encounter.
It also seemed like the perfect answer to many questions. What do I do about an issue in my life? God first. How am I going to get everything knocked off of my To Do list? God first. How do I show love to my neighbor? God first.
I was encouraged by this seemingly random message. If a barber shop can encourage others in the faith, I certainly can. We are supposed to invite God to be part of every aspect of our life and, I assume, that's what the barber shop owner is doing. I am now challenged to be bold, or at least not self conscious, about expressing my love for God every day in my life. How can I do this? God first.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Manna From Heaven

A few days ago it snowed. The grass was covered, but the roads were clear. The picture shows how the snow looked on the ground. My thought was that this is what the manna might have looked like (Exodus 16). Doesn't it look kind of like pieces of bread? It reminded me of how God always provides for us, even in ways that seem strange or have never been witnessed before. God does what is best, even though we may not completely understand it.
The manna also reminds me that God's provision is daily. He gives us just what we need for that time - no more, no less. I wonder if I would have tried to store up extra manna if I had been in the desert. That sounds like my personality (be prepared/save for the future). Though it would also have meant that I chose not to follow God's directions to me. Which, I must admit, I have been guilty on a number of occasions. I must be faithful to seek God each day, bringing to him my current needs and not worrying about anything that may or may not be in my future.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

Today in Genesis, Isaac and Rebekah were living in the land of the Philistines and told the men of the land that Rebekah was his sister. I immediately recalled earlier in Genesis when Abraham did this not once, but twice (and yes, technically Sarah was his half-sister, but still). Did Isaac know that his father had done this when he was afraid, or was it some sort of genetic trait to not trust God to protect husband and wife in foreign land? Kind of funny and yet it sort of hits home a little.

No, I have never told someone that Adam is my brother. What I am talking about is having all of these personal experiences of God's provision throughout one's life and yet having one small area where you just can't seem to believe that God will also take care of you there. There always seems to come a time when you think you had better take care of a situation on your own because God wouldn't want to intervene. Are we afraid that it is something too small and unimportant for God to be involved? Or are we holding on to it too tightly because we think we know best? Either way, if we say that Jesus is Lord, we have to allow him to be Lord in EVERY area, not just the "big" ones.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Abraham's dilemma or Isaac's childhood trauma?

I'm still reading in Genesis. The other day I read about Abraham and Isaac going up to make a sacrifice. What I wonder about is what Isaac thought about his dad planning to kill him. I'm sure he knew that God saved him with the ram in the bushes, but did he also believe that God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son? Abraham didn't tell Isaac that God told him to do what he was prepared to do. I think I would have been quite wary of my father after he almost killed me. Did Isaac tell his mother and relatives when he got home? Did he resent or hate his father? I'm quite curious about the conversation between father and son, if there was one. The only thing we do know is that Isaac believed in and trusted God throughout his life. Did the event cause him to believe and trust that God would protect him and provide for him?

Whenever I read this story or have heard it preached, the focus is always on Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his only son, God's promise to him. I haven't every heard anyone talk about what Isaac must have felt and experienced.

What about you? Have you ever wondered these things? Ever heard someone preach about it?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Long time no post

I had no idea it'd been over six months since I had posted anything on my blog. I am hoping to spend more time on here this year. Still working on getting the little one down for a regular nap. If I am successful, perhaps I will be able to carve out small bits of time to write on here. I'd do it after she goes to bed, but I prefer to catch up on the day with my husband. Perhaps I can make time for both.

Time is even more of a commodity for me these days. I keep a "to do" list on my phone of things I'd really like to accomplish so that, when I get a small window of time, I can work on one of them rather than wasting it. I think blogging is now on the list. So is sending out my book query letter. That will take a bit more time, but we will get there. I'm confident. :-) Anyway, here's to a new year and a new day!

The first birth

As I am a new mom and reading Genesis, I have been thinking about Eve and her experience becoming a mom. Eve didn't have a mom or any other women to tell her what the birthing process was going to be like. As a matter of fact, she had just been told that it was going to be painful. So I had a bunch of thoughts/questions about that first human birth. Did God tell her what to expect? Did he let her know that she would feel pain in her stomach and back and that meant the baby would be coming soon? Did he suggest positions for her to get into to help birth the baby? Did he instruct Adam about the umbilical cord and when/how to cut it? Was God Eve's birthing coach? And if so, what was that like - the creator of life helping to bring forth new life? Did she know about birth and how to nurse from watching the other mammals birth and care for their young? Or did God tell her that she could nourish her child from her breasts? All of these things that are hard to know. However, Genesis 4:1b says, "She said,'With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.'" And, of course, we should have known all along that God would provide Eve with what she needed. He provides for all of us. Thanks, God!

In the garden

I've started reading through Genesis. It seemed like a good place to start for the new year. Chapter three was interesting and really got me thinking. In the chapter, the man and the woman eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. They then hide from God when he comes to meet with them in the evening. God asks the man if he ate from the forbidden tree. His response is not admission, but blame. "The woman you put here with me". He's blaming both God and the woman, shifting all blame away from himself. For the moment, God ignores it and asks the woman what she did. She places blame on the serpent, claiming deception. This is a clear illustration of mankind's first response to getting caught in the wrong - try to deflect responsibility. It's so hard for me to admit wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and I'm not sure how comforting it is to know that it's never been the natural response.

So they get kicked out of the garden among other consequences. But one thing I noted was verse 21 "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Even though, they had just blatantly sinned against him, he still loved them and cared for them. He lovingly provided them with clothes to help ease their shame. It is so amazing to see how much God loves his creation. I know that when I've been hurt by others, my first reaction is not to consider how I may help them. But God shows us the best way to care for others.