Practice living in the now

It is really easy to get caught up in all the things we need to do tomorrow or the next day or week or whatever.

God says in His word, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) Focus on what’s in front of you; right now. Be all there and don’t put things off. Create goals, but work through them each day rather than constantly looking ahead.


It is wise to look at the big picture and attempt to foresee any coming obstacles and do what you can to prevent them in the first place. Ask God to help you if you are having trouble with determining what could be a possible obstacle. Do it NOW! Don’t put things off. We aren’t promised tomorrow. God will work through you to accomplish all that you ask, in accordance with His will, as long as you make yourself available to Him. We all want more time to do the things on our lists, but we must give our first fruits to Him in order to give the rest of our tasks life-giving, eternal purpose.

How does this relate to homemaking? Simple. When creating your micro-goals for each season consider home maintenance that may need to be done. Prevention is a key to fulfilling goals. Overall upkeep of the home contributes to the longevity of its strength and endurance as well as its value. You will want to train your children to do the same. If you want peace in the family then you should set micro-goals for eliminating clutter. The family mission statement and goals are your shield or umbrella for all of
these things.

If you need direction, don’t hesitate to pray and ask God to reveal to you what your children need. He is faithful! Seek Him and you will find Him.

If you’ve ever wanted to tear the 31st chapter of Proverbs out of your bible this book is for you.

She is a wife, mom, business owner, seamstress, she serves the needy, speaks life and wisdom, and seems to be quite the major overachiever, perfectionist type.

Except that…she’s not.


Come along and journey with Amy and take a look at the real woman of Proverbs 31. She isn’t as perfect as she seems. In fact, I think she is a lot like you and me.


If you want the Kindle version, get it here: Pursuit of Proverbs 31 for Kindle. You can also download the free Kindle app on your PC, iPad, iPhone, or many other devices.

For the downloadable, printable PDF version, get it here: Pursuit of Proverbs 31

 

Amy Bayliss

Amy is a small town Cajun girl living life in the big city. She and her husband Ryan have four children, all boys, ranging in age from toddler to teen! Amy is a full-time blogger and WP designer at My Southern Media. You can visit her at her personal blog, Cajun Joie de Vivre or you can follow her ramblings on Twitter and keep up with her mischief on Facebook.

 

The Lord speaks to me

As with every other confession in the alphabet, I could post one truth after another using ‘L’:

  • Lord of lords (Deuteronomy 10:17)
  • Love (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Lasting (Psalm 19:9)
  • Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5)
  • Life (John 14:6)
  • Light (Psalm 27:1)

But in considering today’s confession, I came across a blog post by Bird Martin that resonated with me. The reason goes back to the message my pastor gave in church on Sunday. In short, he encouraged us all to confess to someone we trust all of our addictions, issues, holdups. Anything that puts up a wall between us and Jesus. I cringed, having dealt quietly with something for several days.

Okay, I’ve been dealing with it for years. But quietly. I don’t go around advertising it. No, it’s not fear, though Bird’s prayer at the end of her post mentions doubt and fear. But my problem might well be the root issue to this fear. So (breathing, praying, breathing), here’s the advertisement:

I’m a terribly proud, vain person. Don’t judge me, please. Just hear me out, and see how today’s confession and Bird’s post relates.

It’s entirely possible that my fear issues stem from my pride. I don’t want to be found lacking, so I puff myself up and convince myself that I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m a good writer. (Actually, as long as I’m airing my pride here, I’ll go ahead and say I’m a fabulous writer.) I’m a decent mom. GREAT housekeeper and cook. My list of highly rated qualities goes on and on. Of course, it wouldn’t do to have everyone know that I have a pride issue, so I pretend I’m humble. Isn’t that the good Christian thing to appear?

God is so good to continue speaking to me in spite of my arrogance. What He spoke today comes from Job 38. The first line nails me: “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind.”

In the whirlwind of my pride and conceit, God answers me. So today’s confession reminds me:

The Lord speaks to me.

The rest of Job 38 tells of God challenging a suffering, yet arrogant, Job. It goes through all that God has done and the endless depth of His knowledge and wisdom. I’m marking this section of Scripture and reading it every day. And in the reading, I will give thanks that the Lord speaks to me.

What is the Lord speaking to you?

Nothing is impossible with God

The last two weeks have been an interesting time in my house. For the first time ever, I’ve battled panic attacks that threaten to lay me flat on the floor, gasping for air, sure my heart is going to come to a dead stop. Or I’ve nearly climbed the walls with anxiety that sends adrenaline soaring and blood screaming through my veins. The only thing that keeps me from showing this panic to my children is reciting Psalm 23. I’ve also watched my four-year-old son scream, unable to catch his breath, and almost throw up in fear. I have no idea what he’s afraid of, but it seems to control almost every move.

I make light of my own panic because there’s really no reason for it. (Not that the realization stops my fear, but it is true. Forget what seems to be real; the truth is that I have not been given a spirit of fear. Realizing it and confessing it is the first step to making it real for me.) But seeing it in my child is a different matter. Fear – and overcoming it – is hard enough inside my own head. How do I teach my son to recognize the truth and fight against the fear?

The only way I know is to speak the truth over him, over our entire family. We move forward with normal activities, and if I have to leave him with a Sunday school teacher or a Bible study teacher, I pray and trust God to take care of him. Doing this, I’ve seen the fear we both experience recede. I love today’s confession (the ‘I’ in our alphabet of confessions) because it speaks to the myriad of reasons I battle breathtaking fear.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Do you really believe this? We serve the God of the impossible. What are your dreams or goals? What are your wildest prayers? Here are a few of mine, and what I think of when I pray them.

Establish a successful storytelling career? Impossible.

Raise happy, healthy, Jesus-loving children in a world of pride, excess, and indulgence? Impossible.

Banish all forms of fear, and embrace the future and the hope He plans for me? Impossible.

But nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37 says so. For that reason, I’ll continue confessing the truth over myself and my family. My God will make a way, and the impossible will become possible. Beyond that, the possible will become achievable. Nothing is impossible with God.

What impossible things have you seen God do lately?

The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy

I have trouble believing in myself. My abilities, however developed or natural, do not speak to my brain and convince me that I can accomplish much. It’s ridiculous to feel such self-pity and depression when I have so much to be thankful for, but the day can be wasted fighting for the slightest sliver of joy. It impacts my life, my husband’s life, and the lives of my littles.

I’m praying for that to change, and I think it begins with one word.

In searching for today’s confession, it seemed that one word jumped out at me over and over.

Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).

Everlasting life (Galatians 6:8).

Everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Everlasting kingdom (Psalm 145:13), peace (Psalm 22:26), and joy (Isaiah 35:10).

According to the news reports, three people won the largest lottery in history this weekend. Over $200 million goes to each winner, and so much money must be hard to spend, right? But it’s not everlasting. It will come to an end.

Besides my own pity party, I look at the world around me, at the lives of people I love, and see heart-wrenching pain. Brokenness, confusion, isolation, and destruction seem to have no end. But they do end. They are not everlasting.

It gives me comfort and hope that something worthy in this life is everlasting. (The keyword there is worthy, by the way.) And two pieces of Scripture give me a window into a world that far exceeds this one.

Isaiah 40:28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

Isaiah 51:11 Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy.

That’s a powerful confession to me because I find joy hard to come by. When I feel defeated or hopeless, I’ll proclaim this truth. The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy, and I will move in the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to believe in myself as long as I believe in Him.

Do you struggle to find joy in your life?

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted

God is Almighty.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

He is compassionate and full of comfort.

Have you ever tried to go through the alphabet and ascribe one of God’s traits to each letter? I never did until now. It’s harder than I thought, but not because I can’t think of anything. (Okay, X and Z have me a little stumped.) I’m having trouble landing on just ONE of God’s traits for each letter. Today’s affirmation for C is no different, and maybe you have some thoughts on this one too.

I had the beautiful opportunity this weekend to talk to a few people about their fears and their deepest sorrows come to life. For one woman, it was an intense fear of heights that impacts time spent with her mother, who lives over several steep mountain passes. For another woman, it was a tragic loss that no one will ever understand. And for yet another, it was the fear of losing a loved one to the past. As I prayed for these women, God’s heart became clear. And so did today’s affirmation.

The comforter nature of God is so evident in the Bible. I could confess His Creator-nature or His companionship. I could pull out Scripture about being committed to Him, or about how He cleanses us from sin. All those things are true and worth considering. And yet, it’s His compassion that people often overlook. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Okay, kindness is a ‘k’ word, but you get the point.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Today’s confession comes from Matthew 5:4, but the Psalms are chock-full of evidence of God’s comfort.

Psalm 10:17: “LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.”

Psalm 23:4: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Psalm 94:19: “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

Psalm 119:50: “Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”

God comforts us, but what a blessing it is to comfort others in the name of the Lord. It builds my faith and reminds me of the truth. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. And for those who mourn, I pray that God’s promise comforts them, and that His comfort will give them renewed hope.

What troubles do you face today? How do you feel God’s comfort in the midst of them?

You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety

Happy Friday, Confess-ers. Today we have a special guest post by Beth Vogt, author of Wish You Were Here, a May 2012 Howard Books release. Beth talks about personal fears that authors hide in their fiction writing, and the truth we can all realize by reading fiction. Enjoy!

Here’s Beth:

The Truth Hidden in Fiction

It’s said that novelists weave little bits of themselves into their characters. We’d never put a footnote at the bottom of the page cluing readers in: The main character just recreated a moment in the author’s life. So distracting, right? But rest assured, you’re catching glimpses of the author within every novel you read. And why not? We know our strengths and weaknesses so well.

In my debut novel Wish You Were Here, I gave my heroine, Allison, one particular personal characteristic. Not my hazel eyes. Not my love of jelly beans. Not my size ten feet.

My fear.

Fear and me? We were companions for far too many years. I know what it’s like to be afraid … and to find blessed relief from unrelenting fear.

Rather than share a time when I was anxious, I thought I’d share a time when Allison battled fear.  But remember: you’re catching a glimpse of me.

Setup: Allison’s off-kilter since pulling a Runaway Bride redux on her wedding day. In this scene, she’s scared she’s about to make another disastrous mistake. She’s crawled into bed and is talking on the phone to her best friend.

“. . . I’m going to bed. I’m tired, that’s all. It’s been a long day. A long week.” Allison twisted onto her side, moving her legs back and forth, trying to create some body heat.

“Okay, Allison. I can only imagine the stress of putting your life back together after canceling a wedding … Are you going to be okay? Do you want me to come over?”

“No, I’m good. It’s late. We’ll talk tomorrow. ‘Kay?”

“All right. Tomorrow it is, then.”

“And Meggie?”

“Uh-huh?”

“Thanks.”

“What are best friends for? Talk to you tomorrow.”

Allison flicked her phone shut and tossed it onto the end of her bed. She turned her back toward her bathroom, wrapping her arms around a pillow.

Just stay in bed. In peace I will both lie down and sleep . . . in peace I will both lie down and sleep . . . just stay in bed . . .

What helped fictional Allison resist the oh-so-strong pull to give into fear and make a wrong choice? The same truth that very-real-me clung to when I laid awake in my bed: Psalm 4:8, which reads “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  (NIV)

Sometimes it’s not about being brave enough. Sometimes it’s all about resting in the sweet assurance that we can crawl into bed, too tired to fight the battle, knowing God is awake all night long. Trusting He is standing watch over us – and that we dwell in supernatural safety.

Beth K. Vogt’s novel, Wish You Were Here, debuts May 2012. (Howard Books) Beth is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor–or anyone in the military. She’s a mom who said she’d never have kids. Beth’s discoverd that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Join the conversation over at Beth’s blog, In Others’ Words.

*****

A big thanks to Beth for standing in for me today! I’ll take a note and begin confessing Psalm 4:8, one of my favorites because it’s gotten me through many terrified nights.

You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Whether I’m afraid of the dark (and what seems to be hiding in it) or afraid of the daytime and the living I must face, the Lord makes me dwell in safety. I’ll be confessing this into the weekend as I meet with someone who will challenge me to confront my fear of speaking – and of being found lacking. “You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

What fear will you confront this weekend?

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with my spirit

I love words. Originations, definitions, variations. Little wonder I’m a writer, because I could spend hours lost in the depths of a good dictionary. The older the dictionary, the better, and a concordance… Well, I think I might have died and gone to heaven when I get my hands on a good concordance and a few hours to spare.

The word I find myself interested in lately is ‘grace.’ We use it so easily sometimes, but do we really understand what it means? What the Bible says about it? It’s a powerful foundation for our belief, and it carries incredible freedom when we grasp it.

My Bible (Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation Second Edition, copyright 2007) says grace is God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity. Did you get that? Free and unmerited. From the creator of the universe. We can’t earn it. We can’t deserve it. We can’t stop it.

As if that’s not heavy enough, it points me toward the word ‘favor.’ “Gracious kindness, approval from a superior, a special privilege or right granted or conceded.” Another definition says, “to show partiality toward.”

God shows gracious kindness, approval, and partiality toward you and you can’t earn it, deserve it, or stop it. Take a minute to let that soak in. How does it feel?

I’m completely humbled.

The reason I’m so interested in grace right now is that I feel like I’ve ignored it. I’ve trivialized it and made it something I can earn with well-behaved children or a clean home. Healthy dinners, folded laundry, bills paid on time, good books, and a solid marketing plan for those books will surely make me good enough. If I can just fit all that in, plus Bible reading and daily prayer (and don’t forget pleasing everyone in sight while I’m at it), no one can find fault with me. I’ll be a good Christian, worthy of God’s favor.

But that’s ridiculous. I know the Bible says I can’t earn His favor. It’s a gift. Today’s truth, taken from Philippians 4:23, is to simply rest in that gift. To begin believing that God bestows His grace on me and I can accept it and relax in it.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with my spirit.

May it be with your spirit, and may we take a few minutes today to recognize its significance and simply accept it as we would a beautiful bouquet from a loved one. This is the best smelling flower we could ever receive.

What is your challenge in accepting God’s grace?

Make the darkness flee

Confession: The sun shines today, but my soul hides in darkness. I cower from what I think is the truth. That God will not provide, that He doesn’t think enough of me to bring me out of the disaster that I’ve become, that I’ll never get better. Self-publishing my books won’t happen because I don’t even have the measly amount required to put out a decent product.

In the midst of this downpour on my mind, I pray. Please show up, God. Forgive me for my unbelief.

God shows up in two ways this morning. Probably more, but these two I can see for being His.

First, my critique partner sends me a very encouraging blog by an author who recently began self-publishing. The author didn’t listen when people told her something wouldn’t work. She found out how to do it, and she did it.

Second was the verse of the day on Biblegateway.com. It amazes me how the dark always flees when I turn to prayer and the Bible. I leave that verse of the day as today’s Truth.

Truth: Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. Hebrews 10:35-36

And this: The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

BONUS! Yahweh Yireh: And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:14

What about you? Are you discouraged today? How has God spoken encouragement to you in the darkness?

Marketing apples

Apples. Plump, red, juicy. Bite into the best one, and you’ve got a sweet mouthful of crisp and tasty life. True wisdom is like biting into that apple.

Wisdom in today’s culture of immediate gratification seems hard to come by. Even moreso is understandable, easily applied bits of wisdom. Apples of gold, those bits are, and highly valuable.

Marketing is a pursuit that never dies, no matter the state of the economy. There will always be things to buy, services to help others, ideas to stimulate the masses. What is your product, service, or idea? How have you put yourself out for the world to see and hear? Well-spoken words, or words you’d like to take back? No worries. This is a field of constant change, learning as we go, determining what works and what needs adjustment.

Marketing is a pursuit of immediate gratification, but the best marketing efforts are lasting, like wisdom. Listen to, believe, obey the world in your attempts to reach your audience, and perhaps you’ll be satisfied for a moment. Listen to the still, small voice that beckons within, and your satisfaction will be eternal. That’s the  difference in the types of wisdom you’ll find out there, and my goal here is to bring encouragement and lasting wisdom that you can easily apply to your marketing efforts.

Apples of gold in settings of silver. Sweet, crisp, and tasty life.

Come back often, and ask lots of questions. If I don’t have the answer, we’ll find it. We’ll go on a journey together to create well-spoken words and to make your marketing efforts last with real wisdom.