Couch hunting, Singles shopping on a Budget, and Timing

Making financial decisions in times as these remains difficult as we look attempt to be good stewards of our money. I am reposting a shopping day experience over a year ago with a single mom friend in light of some of my recent purchases.

 

Saturday I went to a close friend’s for catch-uptime.

“Do you want to look at a furniture sale nearby?”

“I’d love to!” I said. We laughed on our drive to the shop reminiscing on our bargains.

She bought a used couch set for her living room at a mere $600 thirteen years ago.

I bought a ten year old couch and a table for $150 eight years ago.

At the time our couches looked great…now is a different story.

And so we arrived at the “up to 70% off” sale.

 

Of course, when do the things we like fall in the 70% off category?

After we scoped and bargained and she bought and I almost did—I chuckled realizing what the final determiner for each of us. The die was cast by those closest  to our hearts. 

 For my friend it was her teenage daughter. The couch or the loveseat?

She pictured her daughter lounging happily on the console, cup holding double recliners.

Later when her  daughter came to see the damage done, immediately she lifted  the console with a big smile on her face..” I can put this and this in here.”

  For me, the couch that matched my dog’s coat colour the closest was the winner! Also, I did consider my little nonshedding dog who likes to perch on the couch and keep watch out the window.  He had a hardy enough fabric to perch, that’s what I needed.

 God allows us to make choices based on who we are and what we value. At the same time, He chooses the path of our life knowing each of though much the same, have very different motivators and influencers in our life. Each of possess internal wiring that responds differently and produces a God-given surround sound we receive.

Peter and John traveled together with Jesus “for three years. Each was asked to prepare the Passover for the Last Supper, each was at the outer courts when he was on trial and each was there when Jesus appeared at the shore. Yet, when Peter asked Jesus his plan for John’s life, Jesus didn’t answer, nor would He. Peter was left to trust in God’s plan only for himself and not compare.

 I didn’t end up getting the couch. It wasn’t the best plan for me right now. Last time I spoke to my friend, the delivery truck was pulling into her driveway. We each have peace about our decisions. God pushed her forward and put a check in my Spirit. Peace came in the listening., the doing and the trusting, that God’s time is always best whether we understand it or not.

 

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn that shining ever brighter until the full light of day                                                                                 Proverbs 4:18

 

Fyi- Soon after I found a couch at a consignment store for under $200- Style and color that fit!

The Booksinging

The booksigning was “wonderful” as all my friends attested. And it was not because of sales!

 

Sunday morning as I prepared the music for Juvenile Hall and picked out a carol, I felt God leading me to bring my guitar to the booksigning afterward. Singing was not on my agenda for a booksigning.

 

 Are you sure? I questioned God feeling it might be a bit ridiculous. But the tug was real and He was right. It was a great Idea I found out a few hours later. It attracted people to come near our table in the busy store.

 

What an unexpected blessing to have friends and their children gather round the guitar and sing the Christmas song, “Do You Hear what I Hear?”  as white and blue balloons swayed above the white audiobook and royal blue paperback lying on the table.

 

 We could minister Christ’s peace and proclaim through music, the Christ Child is the reason for Christmas– at the Davis bookstore, a University town. God’s presence was powerful as we all sang out of hearts full of music and rhyme and reason because of His love in our lives, that is freely given to be freely shared, as the Master taught.

At one point I looked up from strumming. A young college boy stood squarely staring at us in line- just listening. Afterwards, when I mentioned an incarcerated youth told me his favorite lyric was,  “A Child, A Child shivers in the cold” (let us bring Him silver and gold)  scattered "Ah's" popped up around the bookshelves. God affirmed the verse He had given me concerning our faith—that morning: “Strengthen what remains….” Revelation 3:2.

 

Then Julie, the narrator for the audiobook, read the first devotional story of Lord of the Ringless under the Pursuit of God section. It was a Christmas devotional called Pink Tarantula describing a little girl’s wish list for Christmas. (Last December it was posted on CBN.com) The simple heart of an unselfish child glowed.

 

 

As we work together as believers side by side, whether singing, praying, helping…as long as we are together to glorify and worship Him, we can build a stronger church, an invisible temple that is stronger than any visible threat, where others also can find Him and come to Him and be safe.

 

May we all find joy this season in sharing, however and whenever we can, that This Child can conquer any Goliaths in our personal lives and This Child carries a government and peace upon His shoulders that will never end…

 

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…Isaiah 9:6

Fruitful Bough

Last week I picked fruit from branches heavy and bending under the weight of red, sweet cherries…and then I traveled for 5 days.

You know how it is when you come home again; unpacking the parachute. The day after it’s all about maintaining and catching up. On laundry. Groceries, slush piles of mail hands-on and on the screen.

I Watered potted plants out and inside donning yellow, sagging leaves. Everything needed watering. Frankly by the time I finished our dog walk and resupplied the boys bowls with fresh water, hosed the remnants of valley and coastal insects and birds from my car, put out the garbage for collection and reloaded the washer and dryer….I felt like I was used up. Dried out… and wilting…in need of water.

Feeling the pressure before I began to complete piles of paper projects, again God’s Word refreshed my perspective. The Word from Isaiah pulled me back to the wonderful cherry branches of last week.

Sing about a fruitful vine. I, the Lord, watch over it. I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. Isaiah 27:3

Water. An abundance of water for every venture to maintain my surroundings this morning. The laundry, dishes, dogs, car, plants. The outside of my world is fine.

Who will water us inside? Our soul? Renourish our dry branches? God will.
As single people, who will guard us and keep us from harm as diligently as we protect and maintain our homes and animals? God will.
He sings while He works, rejoicing over the fruit we bear even as we draw water from His grounding and goodness.

So this morning’s minute in the Word was another wash, similar to cleaning fruit before we use it.
It propelled me into a thankful mode. That He chooses to make us His priority: to watch, to water, to guard and sing over. And just as I happily picked the ripe and ready cherries off the tree to share last week—He is committed that we bear fruit and delight others by the evidence confronting others face to face on their daily rounds.

Furniture and Jesus

Saturday I went to a close friend’s for catch-uptime. It’s amazing how far we are into 08’ already!
“Do you want to look at a furniture sale nearby?”
“I’d love to!” I said. We laughed on our drive to the shop reminiscing on our past bargains.
She bought a used couch set for her living room at a mere 600$ thirteen years ago.
I bought a ten year old couch and a table for $150 eight years ago.
At the time our couches looked great…now is a different story.
And so we arrived at the “up to 70% off” sale.

Of course, when do the things we like fall in the 70% off category?
After we scoped and bargained and she bought and I almost did—I chuckled realizing the final determiner for each of us…the die was cast by those closest to our hearts….

For my friend it was her teenage daughter. The couch or the loveseat? Well, she just pictured her daughter lounging happily on the console, cup holding double recliners. Later, her daughter beamed in the furniture store at the big surprise. She lifted the faux suede console lid with a big smile on her face..” I can put this and this in here.”

For me, the couch that matched my dog’s coat colour the closest held my interest! I also considered my little nonshedding dog who likes to perch on the couch and keep watch out the window. The fabric was heavy and hardy for him to perch, and even root a bit and not tear…that’s what I needed.

God allows us to make choices based on who we are and what we value. At the same time, He chooses the path of our life knowing,though much the same, we have very different motivators and influencers in our life. Each of possess internal wiring that responds differently and produces a God-given surround sound we receive.

Peter and John traveled together with Jesus for three years. Each was asked to prepare the Passover for the Last Supper, each was at the outer courts when he was on trial and each was there when Jesus appeared at the shore. Yet, when Peter asked Jesus his plan for John’s life, Jesus didn’t answer, nor would He. Peter was left to trust in God’s plan only for himself and not compare.

I didn’t end up getting the couch. It wasn’t the best plan for me right now; but I am one-step closer to the real thing. Last time I spoke to my friend, the delivery truck was pulling into her driveway. We each have peace about our decisions. God pushed her forward and put a check in my Spirit. Peace came in the listening, the doing and the trusting, that God’s time is always best …after all He is the Master of Design and Designers.

Hair and Hands and other blessings

So today I was doing some sit ups at the gym. Hands clasped behind my head I came up to a long dog hair on my stretch pants. Sam. Reminded me of yesterday. I rolled my navy blazer to confiscate every last notice of dog hair, only to find long blonde hairs protruding from my plaid kiln (getting ready for St Patty’s) pleated skirt I wore to church.

There’s just no escaping the fact that Sam is my dog. His traces are everywhere. He leaves his coat everywhere, something he can’t help and I can’t prevent. If I didn’t let him live inside with me, it would be better. But I could never do that. Shedder or nonshedder, my dogs stay with me. And whenever I see those traces of his presence, I find myself whispering a little prayer of protection for Sam and then his brother Benji-b0.
In a way, we are like that to Jesus. He lives with our brand on his body. He carries it around with him wherever he goes, because he chose to come down here and walk with us. To rub shoulders with us mere humans and live with us.

And so he remembers us. He speaks our name. He prays for us all the time from heaven whenever he thinks of us. The Bible says that he thinks of us more than the sands of the sea. He is always aware that we are His forever. He has only to look down and see his hands.

True Grit

So I was thinking about the title “True Grit” after watching an old take of John Wayne receiving his Academy Award.
Grit is like a grainy piece of something. Something small enough to get into my garbage disposal rings and strong enough to stop them from turning. I learned about the rings last month when it stuck. A single gal friend stopped by. “I can help you! I just learned to fix my disposal last week!”

Yes, my garbage disposal is stuck again thanks to real—true grit.
Grit is also in another sense, the stuff that a good life is made of.

I think it’s what Harrison Ford was talking about in an interview when he said he wants to be remembered as a good collaborator both personally and professionally meaning…”that I put something into it—that I tried.”

Grit is needed to succeed.

A successful writer spoke about people looking for a secret ingredient in a brochure or magic bullet to succeed at our current undertaking. It would be nice to find a quick shortcut to growth, success, competence, excellence. He summed it up by talking about the strength of …you guessed it…grit.

“It is after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not the pearl-making seminars with other oysters.”

So once again it is Monday and the Scripture speaks. Proverbs 21:5 is filled with promise of grit for all of us venturing into new careers and pursuits. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

We will ride the tide and survive the crashing waves with true grit in our belly, a nice hard, durable shell that God gave us and an ocean of opportunity ahead. Who knows what we may discover or what we can become if we learn to thank God for grit…

Whoever Compels YOu

Whoever compels you to go one mile go with him two….Mathew 5:41

“Hear that?” My friend laughed on the other end of the phone. “That’s Napolean. He makes these sounds when he wants to go out in the morning. It’s 8:40 and he’s use to us going at 8:30.”
So we hung up and they went.
However I’ve been writing and now my dogs are frustrated.
Sam’s been sticking his big pink nose on my keyboard and grunting for 2 hours.
Benji’s paws are on my knees.
So I need to get up and go…and take my dogs out who are compelling me whining and moaning and and nudging. Sometimes with people, it’s not so obvious (and sometimes it is) when they need our attention or are depending on us for something…we can do, but haven’t.
Today may be a good day to listen, for what we do not hear.
To feel the nudges and heed them.
To listen for the groans (in the form of sighs)
To go the extra mile.
After all it’s Monday. The beginning of the race for this week. We might as well run as to get the prize…

which is the Nod from our Master…
Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I Corinthians 9:24

Praising God

The heavens declare the wonders of the Lord. Who is like Him?
You are mighty and all faithfulness surrounds you.
“I desire to do your will,O my God; your law is within my heart. I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips…Psalm 40:8,9

• Is praise a part of your spiritual walk with God?
• Read Psalm 40:10 Why is it important to proclaim God’s praise before others?
• What specifically did the psalmist thank God for?
Faithfulness in Hebrew means “firmness, stability, truth, surety, continuance.”

• How specifically can you praise God for his faithfulness in your life?

• How do people put their trust in the Lord according to Psalm 40:3?

• In Psalm 105:1-3 what are the verbs associated with praising God in a believer’s life?

• In Psalm 107:1, 31,32 For what reasons can we always praise God and where can we do it?
• What is an example of a wonderful deed you thank God for or have thanked him for in the past?

Psalm 43:3 says “Send(shoot out) forth your light and your truth, let them guide me” The truth gives us hope to go forward.

Now read all 5 verses of Psalm 43 and notice how the Psalmist is praising God in a difficult time. Underline the phrases ”will praise.” Can you praise God right now irregardless of how you feel?

• If you are hung up by bitterness for any reason, don’t let it rob another day of your life. Ask God to help you forgive people or situations that are unfair and begin to set your heart to praise him. When we cannot dig ourselves out of the muck and mire of life, we have a Mighty Arm extended to us so we can experience as David did and proclaimed to us in Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

Psalm 51:10-12 says
• Ask God to show you how he is trying to love you even if it is a discouraging time and then…praise Him for caring for you, his faithfulness, praise His attribues

We are His workmanship

My brother spoke to the kids at Juvenile Hall about washing cars this weekend.

In the same way a young man details his car and knows every crevice of that vehicle and proceeds to immaculately clean it and polish the coat, so God knows every detail of our being. He is in-tune to keeping us tuned-up and tuned-in. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has already ordained for us to do…this year!

He washes us with the Word and renews us daily encouraging us so we can thrive and encourage and bless others.

Each day we can receive His washing and cleansing from our past sins and old ways for brand new experiences and living a life holy and wholly good honoring, blessing and glorifying our Creator…the One we were made to take after!

We were created to serve Him forever with the angels as proclaimed in Revelations 22:9. The angel said to John, “I am a fellow servant with you and all who keep the Words of the Book…then he ended ….Worship God.”

What a privilege to serve God alongside those invisible helpers and to Worship God with them also.

Seeds of Change

Fall is planting season. We all know the principles of sowing and reaping. It’s a wonderful spiritual concept, especially if the ground of our lives seems a bit barren.
Have we experienced a long dry summer of the soul or mental lull? It’s an indication that seeds need to be planted, seeds that will bring life and fruit or shade and relief for tomorrow.

As singles we can let our minds run free and be open to possibilities near or far. One woman I know has feelers out for a medical missions trip, something she’s always wanted to do. Another is selling her house and moving…abroad.

But it isn’t necessary to change location to reboot our lives.

If we’re feeling dry with God, we need to plant those seeds of time in his word. Journaling and praising Him with music can ignite us, touching his heart again and rekindling the joy of our salvation.

Plant seeds of friendship today by writing letters (or emails) to your friends. Call up some friends and express your desire to plan some time together in order to maintain and strengthen those relationships. It may be fun to do something new together, like a beach trip or drive to a nearby foothill trail, or even take a class together from the community catalogs or Learning Exchange circulating for the fall season.

Giving of our time and money reveals to God we are stewards of the life he has given us. Planting those spiritual seeds of purpose and the blessedness of giving, which Jesus said, “is greater than that of receiving.” Call someone new. Join a Bible study or Missions group. Volunteer at Community shelters or offer to help at your own church.

If today is not what you want it to be, don’t worry. Get your Godly gloves on and start digging. It is time to plant seeds of change. And if we’re not quite sure where to start, we can ask the Vinedresser, our Heavenly Father.

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at the evening let not your hands be idle
For you do not know wihich will succeed, whether this or that,
Or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:4,6