I Am Baker

focus

Many years ago I was in a neighborhood Bible study.  The book we covered was Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow; a wonderfully challenging book dealing with contentment, worry, insecurity issues and things out of our control.

Calm My Anxious Heart

The study was a complete disaster for a couple reasons.

1. I was leading it.

2. I was a brand spanking new Christian.

The combination of those two things lead to a drama-filled and poorly executed Bible study, and the second it was over I cast my book to the side and never opened it again. Not blaming the book so much as just not wanting to be reminded of how little I had done to further His kingdom and how disappointing it was to not be a good Bible study leader.

But tonight, as I stood in front of the fireplace in our bedroom, there it was. Just sitting innocently on the shelf.  The familiar binding that I had glanced at so many times over the years, but then moved on to something else.

Not this time.

I picked it up and opened it and landed on page 99. It was a new chapter called Faulty Focus.

Well, wouldn’t you know (and by you I mean Him because He knows all!), that is exactly what I needed a little pep talk in?

There is a devotional by Phyllis Stanley:

“I want to live life very purposely, regularly reviewing and praying over my purpose in life, loving God intensely, cherishing and inspiring my husband, praying for and keeping connected spiritually with my children, loving woman and seeking to lay spiritual foundations.”

Yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

God's Hand...

Today I lost focus.  I found myself judging others and thinking negative things about them.  I even took part in some pretty serious gossip.  Not only did I take part in it, I initiated it!

And then, for the rest of the day, my focus was lost.  I was not completing the smallest of tasks.  I was distracted and vague with my kids.  I was unmotivated.

That’s how fast sin takes hold of me.

I love the words from Phyllis above, “I want to live purposefully…

For me, that is the key to daily success.  Intentional living.

Begin Each Day...

Not just waking up and being in a fog and going through the motions… but making the CHOICE to live right.  To seek God’s will in the little things as well as the big.

Jesus

THREE QUICK TIPS TO STAY IN FOCUS:

1. Think of Him.  Let your first thoughts be ones of thankfulness and gratefulness.  Give a prayer of gratitude and let the first words from your lips be ones of love.

2. Find a verse that fits your need. Right now I want to be reminded of how important focus (and having the right focus) is, so I am meditating on this verse: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

3. Listen to worhsip music.  Have it on in the car, in the background at home, on your phone when out and about.  Surround yourself with the power of His name and the beauty of His grace and love.

If all that just seems to much to add to a hectic and stress filled day… do what God loves best.  Talk to Him.

Hoping your day is intentionally blessed!

I Am Baker

The Song

I did something today I rarely do, if ever.

I went to a movie, alone. As a matter of fact, it is the first time I have ever done that. I think it was something that I was scared of in my youth, before kids and before any semblance of maturity set in. Back then I didn’t want to be seen alone for fear others would judge me. Now, I willingly paid someone to come to my home and spend time with my children JUST SO I could be seen alone.

My how things have changed.

The Song

After a particularly rocky week (more on that if I can find a way to share without disrespecting a precious relationship) I just knew I needed to make some time for myself. Shopping was out, (wether it be grocery or anything else, just… no.) as was working.

I had one requirement for my self imposed “time-out”. It had to be for my soul. It had to be something that would leave me better off than before.

I saw an ad for a movie called ‘The Song’. It is based on the Song of Solomon. Probably my least read book of the Bible, with the exception of Numbers. Intimacy is not an easy subject for me.  But then again, either is math.

A Review of the new movie, The Song

But it looked like something based on God’s word and with passion and meaning and everything I needed to help me mentally disconnect… but yet stay present in honoring Him. If that makes sense? Probably not, but the words to express it differently fail me.

I walked into this movie loving it before I had seen it. The trailer (preview) had me sold, and that fact that it was Christian based-yet produced so beautifully-was another big plus.

I loved the first 45 minutes of it. Every look and word and plot twist. Never have I felt so content and happy with my conscious choice to be away from my family. This fantastic movie was so worth it!

A Review of the new movie, The Song

Then I got uncomfortable. Then sad. Then angry. There were moments I had to look away it was so raw and painful.

And then, peace. Not wrapped-in-a-pretty-bow kind of peace… just acceptance of the way things were playing out.

There are quite a few moments that stay with you, that linger in your thoughts and play out over and over again. It’s interesting, because as much as I love the theme of the movie (it being based on The Song of Solomen) there were other take-aways for me.

A Review of the new movie, The Song

At one point in the movie Rose asks Jed, “If you could ask God for anything, and you knew He would say yes, what would it be?”

This is such a great question! I have answered it differently 10 different times and each time was left with the same realization… just do it. Just ask yourself. And then… ask Him.

There is another point where Rose asked Jed (a musician), “Do you need more money?  More fans?” I was taken aback when I heard it, because the context and perspective was different than my circumstances, but it was so easy to make the transition. As a blogger, the readers are sometimes referred to as “fans”. Here I was sitting in the movie theater asking myself… do I need more readers? Or am I content with the friendships and relationships that have already developed. Am I content with writing and sharing just as an honest expression of my life, even if no one ever reads it? Am I doing this job for the right reasons?

Most of the time I think so.

A Review of the new movie, The Song

This is a fantastic movie. A roller coaster of emotion for sure, but when you have the hope of Jesus in your heart, it’s easy to find the happy ending.

Highly recommend!

Oh, and be sure to stay until after the credits for s special treat.  :)

I Am Baker

Top Ten Things About Sending Your Daughter to College

Today’s special guest is Karen Hossink from the blog Surviving Motherhood.  I have known Karen for many years and find her heart and dedication to Jesus truly inspirational.  She is a talented writer, author, singer and mentor.  Karen’s blog, Surviving Motherhood, is a sacred, happy place full of encouragement and support.

 

I saw a post with a title like this last year and decided to save it for my own encouragement – knowing “my day” was coming. And, since Elizabeth is leaving for college today, I decided to re-read the list – and write one of my own.

So, here it is:

*cricket*

*cricket*

That is, I got nothin’.

I can’t think of a single “Top” thing about sending my daughter to college.

*I’m going to miss her.

*I’ll be the only girl in the family now.

* Dinner table conversation is going to be AWKWARD.

*We’re losing our dish-washer, and our towel-washer/folder.

*That sweet smile won’t be dancing around the house anymore.

*And the random outbursts of silliness. I’m going to miss those!

*Have I mentioned the benefits of having a daughter with a sweet-tooth? She makes delicious chocolate-y goodness whenever her heart desires. But how can I taste it when she isn’t here anymore to make it?

*No one is going to ask me to braid their hair.

*M, and L, and M, and K, and H won’t be coming over for dinner and sleep-overs.

*And “Head of the Herd” just won’t be the same without Elizabeth.

 

Well now, that wasn’t a very up-lifting list, was it?

Honestly, it was a little painful to write…

 

hebrews 13:8

Image Credit

However, in my attempt to construct a list of the Top Ten Things About Sending Your Daughter to College, I have come up with ONE good thing: GOD is faithful. And HE always will be.

And that ONE good thing has led me to this list:

*I know that God is going before Elizabeth and preparing her path.

*HE already knows the challenges she’ll be facing.

*And HE knows how to lead her through them.

*God knows exactly what Elizabeth’s future holds.

*God has been preparing my daughter for Wheaton for the past 18 years.

*And HE will continue to shape and make her.

*God has done beautiful things in and through Elizabeth during her years at Okemos High School, and I trust He has just begun.

*Having Elizabeth at home has only given me the illusion of control. In reality, God has always been in control.

*And that isn’t going to change!

*Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

No matter where my daughter is living.

 

Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness. Thank You for holding my daughter for the past 18 years, and for Your promise to never let her go. As she begins this new chapter in life, please continue to draw her close to Your heart – and remind her every day how precious she is to You. And to me!

 

Your turn: Is there something in your life right now for which you need this encouragement to trust God?

I Am Baker

calming my anxious spirit

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Gina Horkey.   Gina is a freelance writer, with a background in finance. She’s passionate about Jesus and designing a flexible lifestyle suited to meet the needs of her young family…while honoring God of course! She hopes to inspire others to do the same and shares her story via her blog. Next year at this time she hopes to be writing and traveling around the U.S. in an R.V. Please stop by her Facebook page and say hello!

 

“For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” ~Philippians 4:11

 

Do you struggle with an anxious spirit? If you’re nodding your head yes, you’re not alone. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the whole wide world that can’t get out of your own head or that can’t shut off your brain, but it’s not true. Tons of people struggle with anxiety, me included.

 

This weekend’s church sermon was one that I felt was spoken directly to me. I’ve felt this way before, but never quite so directly. Our church is ending a message series on being “More Than Happy.” The context is that like Paul in the book of Philippians, we as Christ-followers should find joy in all circumstances, rather than being focused on finding temporary happiness.

 

The final message was for those of us specifically battling anxiety. Personally, I been having my most intense battle this past year with this very thing. My ears perked up and I found a pen to take some notes. I wanted to share in case there were others like me that could benefit from hearing this message.

"Prayer is the Language" by Leland Francisco

“Prayer is the Language” by Leland Francisco

 

“I want you to know that what’s happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” ~Philippians 1:12

 

The teaching pastor offered us three ways to overcome anxiety:

1.Don’t bury it! The worst thing you can do is to keep your feelings of anxiety and worry all to yourself. That’s what the devil would prefer of course, but that’s not what God wants for you. God wants for you to share your burden with others and especially with Him. The pastor went on to say that we as a church sometimes project perfection, but the truth is that we are all broken. “It’s okay to not be okay.” Ask someone to fight alongside you. Tell others. Be vulnerable with God and with your Christian friends who will lift you up.

 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all that He has done.” Philippians 4:6

2. Work on it! It’s best to do this BEFORE anxiety inducing events arise, as the last thing you want to do when in these situations is oftentimes what will help you the most. Pray without ceasing. Get in the habit of praying more often. Pray when things go right, as well as when things don’t. Pray when things are status quo. It’s easy to see what we’re lacking; instead let’s work on seeing what we’ve been blessed with and thank God for it instead.

 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

3. Defeat it! With God’s power you can defeat anxiety, instead of letting anxiety defeat you. You can’t change anything by worrying about it, but if you give it over to Him, God can! You are not helpless; you are powerful and in control not due to your own actions, but because of Jesus. He has employed the ultimate strategy of defeat on our behalf already. Accept it and own it!

 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” ~Philippians 1:21

 

I’m sure that for me anxiety could easily be a lifelong battle if I let it. As a young woman dealing with the stresses of raising kids and figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, there’s no shortage of things to worry about. Showing up and letting others see me warts and all, is the real challenge. Maybe by me sharing a little of my story I might be able to help someone else.

 

Have you dealt with anxiety? How has it affected your faith?

I Am Baker

What am i saying?

Today’s special guest is Karen Hossink from the blog Surviving Motherhood.  I have known Karen for many years and find her heart and dedication to Jesus truly inspirational.  She is a talented writer, author, singer and mentor.  Karen’s blog, Surviving Motherhood, is a sacred, happy place full of encouragement and support.

 

Last week the sermon at church was all about our words.

A few days ago someone asked me, The peace that comes over you hearing a graceful melody – is that how you are heard?

And every day since the beginning of the month, I have been reading a chapter of Proverbs.

Words – what I say, how I say it, and the way in which it’s heard – have been heavy on my mind. Because I am becoming more and more aware just how powerful our words are. To build up, or to tear down.

I am a woman, so – by nature – a lot of words come out of my mouth. My husband hears them. My kids hear them. The folks where I work hear them. My friends hear them. And when I am particularly excited or angry, my neighbors hear them, too.Words, words, words!

But what are they accomplishing?

Proverbs 10: 11a says, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” Verse 21 of the same chapter says, “The lips of the righteous nourish many.” And I find myself drawn to that image – a fountain of life, nourishing many. Yes! That is what I want my words to accomplish.

So, I’ve started doing something.

Proverbs 10:21

Besides being more intentional about speaking my love to others, and handing out compliments and encouraging words on a regular basis, I have started copying a few biblical authors. I noticed at the beginning and ending of just about every letter written in the New Testament, the author uses words like, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Peter 1:2) “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” (Titus 1:4) “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” (2 Timothy 4:22)

Titus 1:4

Photo by Marina Bromley on Meet Me in the Meadow

And I thought, Wow. How great would it be to receive a greeting like that on any given day? But – who talks like that???

I mean, really. Nobody talks that way anymore, do they?

Well, I decided I’m going to start. I am using greetings like those when I end an email or a text message. I am working on practicing those greetings verbally, too. I realize I might sound strange to most people, but I want my words to be a fountain of life which nourish many people. And if that makes me sound strange? So be it!

 Will you join me in this quest to speak life?

I Am Baker I Am Baker

Sharing Faith the Duck Dynasty Way

I am a new convert to Duck Dynasty.

Duck Dynasty

I really like the show… its funny, its interesting, and all the people on it seem real. Like, really real.

But my favorite thing about it is the story behind the people.

They love the Lord and they testify His name.

They go on national television is proclaim the way of Jesus of Galilee.  They share the true message of the Gospel.

And I cant help but think its totally awesome.

Have you seen Duck Dynasty?  What do you think of the unabashed proclamation of God’s holy word?

(check out some funny Duck Dynasty quotes here!  They are also on facebook in case you want to follow along)

 

I Am Baker

What is Love?

God answered the question for us over and over again.  I have heard it a million times, but have I really listened?  I just wanted to share a little trick a friend taught…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  New International Version (NIV)

Love is Patient...

(picture origin unknown)

Now, replace the word LOVE with your name.

Amanda is patient, Amanda is kind. Amanda does not envy,  does not boast,  is not proud.   Amanda does not dishonor others,  is not self-seeking,  is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.   Amanda does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I dont know about you, but that humbles me and inspires me simultaneously.  I cant say with honesty that I am any of those things.

God calls us to be love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith Hope Love
While Valentines Day is commonly called a man-made holiday, I do appreciate the idea that we are given an opportunity to show love to others.

Even if we dont spend one cent, just try and be love to others today.  Replace your name in 1 Corinthians, then model it.  You could be giving someone a priceless gift.

I know that is what I am going to focus on, as well as trying to be an example for my kids!

May your day be blessed and full of faith, hope, and love.

 

I Am Baker

Whole World vs. Soul

I just wanted to share a story with you that really touched my heart.  I hope it will yours as well!

 

 

Not a lot of press coverage was given to the tough Argentine golfer Robert De Vincenzo, but one story from his life shows his greatness as a person.

After winning a tournament, De Vincenzo received a check on the eighteenth green, flashed a smile for the camera’s, and then walked alone to the clubhouse.  As he went to his car, he was approached by a sad-eyed young woman who said to him, “Its such a good day for you, but I have a baby with an incurable disease.  Its of the blood, and the doctors say she will die.”

De Vincenzo paused and then asked, “May I help your little girl?”  He then took out a pen, endorsed his winning check, and then pressed it into her hand.

“Make some good news for the baby,” he said.

A week later as he was having lunch at a country club, a PGA official approached him saying, “Some of the boys in the parking lot told me you met a young woman after you won the tournament.”  De Vincenzo nodded.  The official said, “Well, she’s a phony.  She has no sick baby.  She fleeced you my friend.”

The golfer looked up and asked, “You mean that there is no baby who is dying without hope?”  This time the PGA official nodded.

De Vincenzo grinned and said, “that’s the best news I’ve heard all week.”

 

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

1 Timothy 6:6-7

The preceding story is from Gods Little Devotional Book, published by Honor Books.  Its a great book and I encourage you to get it if you need little boosts of faith.

I Am Baker

Family Holiday Gatherings: A Biblical Perspective

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Having hubby home, the spirit behind the seasons, the amazing food… its all enough to make me dream about these holidays for weeks before hand.

But there is another side to gatherings, one that can be sometimes stressful.

The truth is sometimes we just dont get along.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I deal with family.  Sometimes I look for the negative and not the positive in the people I love.  Sometimes I react to them in defensiveness based on my own issues, not on what they have actually said.  Sadly, its been easier for me to be in a pattern of critical thinking during those long holiday gatherings.

I forget how impactful the words I say are, and how lasting their impression is.  Even if what I am saying is not a true reflection of my heart, but simply an indication of a sour emotions or a bad attitude.

I came across these verses and I believe they have a direct correlation to how I can choose to think about extended time with family.

1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT

For the Scriptures say,  “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.  Turn away from evil and do good.  Search for peace, and work to maintain it…”

I love that part, “search for peace”.  What if I looked for good in others?  On purpose?

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NLT

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.  For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.

This is Paul talking to the Corinthians.  One interpretation I heard of this message was that he was saying to them, “I am not here to listen to the gossip or the quarrels.  I am not focusing on this things of this world, I only want to focus on Jesus.”

I can only imagine the changes that others would see in me if my focus was truly on Him!  If I did not get caught up in strife, yet set my focus to the Lord.

Proverbs 19:11 ESV

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

One observation that I have noticed is that the deeper you love someone, the more vulnerable we are to feeling hurt.  I dont know about you, but I have heard words from family or close friends that cut like a knife.  Coming from a stranger would not have nearly the impact.

I know that those people love me,  and want the best for me, but I cant help but be torn up at how painful their sharp words are.  The above verse speaks to that so acutely for me.  I know I would want my family to forgive me when I say things I shouldnt, and here God is telling us that it is wise to do this right away!  Dont let things fester and turn into bitterness.  Forgive and let go.

Here are a few more versus that can help a troubled heart:

1 John 4:19-21 ESV

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Romans 12:18 ESV

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

John 13:34 ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

From the OpenBible.info.

 Heavenly Father,

I pray that your holy words will be permanently cemented into my heart.  That I will look for the good in others always.  That I will seek positive and loving words when speaking.  That I will honor you with my thoughts and actions.

Lord, please bless my family and our time together.  Help me to overlook things that may hurt, and to forgive as readily as You forgive me.  Help me to be an example of Your peace and love.  Help me to love others as You love them.

Thank you for this wonderful time we have together, where we can celebrate the birth and life of your Son.

In Your precious name I pray!

Amen.