Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A love for reading

I recently finished a fiction novel, and it was quite enjoyable.  It was Christian fiction, and was filled with suspense and mystery.  It had twists and turns I was not expecting and an ending that left me wanting more.  Thankfully there is a part two which I have already begun!

I had not read any fiction literature in years.  When my oldest daughter was born, I loved reading books by the Christian fiction author Lori Wick.  My Nanny had several of her books. I read a few of her series and even checked out a few more at my local library.  In those first few weeks of my daughter's life, I didn’t want the TV on during the day.  So we would sing, sleep, nurse and read.  I kept up the reading after going back to work, but my reading turned to non-fiction after I stared staying home full time.

When my second child was born, I saw that reading and nursing were not able to go hand in hand this go round.  I needed to be mobile to watch my three year old, and dreams of picking up any novel were quickly diminished. 

I vowed at the beginning for this year to read at least two fiction books by years end.  I chose a few nonfiction books to focus on and one fiction book.  My goal was to have these finished by June and then reassess and choose another fiction for the second half of the year.   I was skeptical of my choice when I first began reading.  For one, it was a kindle book that I was reading on my ipad.  I had never read a book in this fashion.  I love the feel of paper. I love turning the pages and putting my bookmark in place.  But, I have to confess that I loved the kindle edition.  I never had to worry that my girls would pull my bookmark out, and it was always with me on my iphone as well.  So if I was ever stuck I could always start reading.  I loved it!  Second, the beginning was intense.  The main character, a little girl at the age of nine, was abused at the very beginning.  I really wasn’t sure if I could read this, but she finds the saving grace of Jesus by the end of the book and realizes He can heal any hurt.  It was truly a great read!

As I found myself wanting to stay up late during the last chapters to find out who was who and solve all the mysteries, I also found myself reading slower because I didn’t want the ending to really come.  This escape would be over.  This outlet for letting my mind reside in Texas (where the story is based) would be gone.  The ending was very good and not quite what I expected (which I always love because I can usually predict the ending after just a few chapters) but I hated to be done.

My heart ached as I realized a horrible truth.  I had looked forward to reading my fiction book everyday more than I had looked forward to reading my Bible everyday.  Oh No!  The guilt set in.  That is not supposed to happen.  We are to have a heart yearning to learn more about our Savior.  We are to relish our time spent with Him.  But as I looked back over the few weeks, I saw myself rushing through devotions so I could read my book.  I had spent less time with my heavenly Father in order to lose my thoughts in a novel.

We are to have a desire to spend time in God’s Word.  I read a quote by Charles Stanly this week that majorly tugged at my heart.  He says, “A person who delights in God's Word doesn't have to be told to read it, because he longs for it.  The Bible contains amazing riches for those who are willing to open it and let divine truth penetrate their hearts.  Scripture reveals the Lord, renews the mind, increases faith, and satisfies the soul.  But if we neglect it, we're going to live like spiritual beggars - always hungry and never satisfied." 

Today's Verse
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:  for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."  Joshua 1:8

These words are taken from the words spoken by the Lord to Joshua.  It shows the importance of meditating on God's Word.  Without diving into God's Word daily, we will miss out on blessings and success.  Without seeking His guidance we will not know which way He is leading us to serve Him.  These pages are filled with true stories that run the gamut from love to mysteries to suspense and wars.  It is the ultimate love letter from our Creator.  

In my older age I have developed such a love for reading...one I know my mom always wanted me to have.  And I pray that my heart will long to read the Words of my heavenly Father everyday. To soak up His truths.  To hide them in my heart.  To meditate on the love He gives us.  To love His Word more than any other words!

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Tour Guide

We had a wonderful but crazy week last week in the Allison household.  With dad away at a training session and the girls and I with one of the craziest schedules in history, I was facing the week with a little dread.  The girls had swimming lessons every morning that required us to be at the pool from 10:30-12:15.  We also had VBS every night that required us to leave home by 5:30 and return about 9:30…way past bedtime!  Then throw in a house showing one day and you have a little chaos. 

Thankfully we made it with relatively few bumps and with being able to see God’s hand walk us through the craziness.  The girls were exhausted every day at naptime and at bedtime.  I will have to say my laundry didn’t all get done on my usual schedule, but the house was fairly clean and “show ready” when the potential buyers arrived on Thursday afternoon. 

Although swimming lessons were fun, the highlight of everyday was definitely VBS!  Both of my girls had an absolute ball.  I got teary eyed on several occasions as I watched excited kids singing loudly about Jesus.  There was so much joy and enthusiasm it warmed my heart more than I could have ever imagined.  I was overjoyed as the memories of my own VBS years flooded my mind, and now these children (including my own) were making the same memories.  We sang VBS songs around the house all day, and I know we will continue for weeks to come.  

I was excited for my first VBS experience at our new church as well.  I was considered a “tour guide” for the 4 year olds.  We visited several stops every night (rally time, Bible story time, craft time, snack time, play time, and pick-up time), and it was our job as tour guides to make sure our groups got to the right place at the right time.  I immediately fell in love with all my children (which we had  16 or 17 four year olds every night). 

Yes they were very excited.  Yes they were sometimes a little hard to keep quiet and in line.  But they were all so unbelievably adorable, I didn’t mind the craziness of guiding them from one stop to the next.  (Even bathroom breaks went relatively smoothing but still proved to be very interesting...the stories I could tell would probably make you laugh really hard!) 

On the third night of VBS, we had several new visitors.  One little boy stood out with his huge blue eyes and a slight look of anxiousness.  I kept counting heads during rally time, (I didn't want my little ones running far.  It was hard to stay in our seats with all the excitement)  and I noticed the face of  our new little visitor looked very scared.  I went and put my arm around him and assured him we were going to have fun.  I started singing the songs with him and before too long he had relaxed and was joining in on the fun.  Then it was time to line up and head to the next stop.  His frightened look returned and he ran and grabbed for my hand.  He asked with pleading eyes, "Are you going to leave me now?"  I almost cried with him right on the spot.  I promised him I would not leave him all night long.  I vowed that I would be with him until the very end.  With each stop he would loosen up and start participating, but the question always came when it was time to move.  At the end of the night he was still by my side holding my hand as we made our last stop.  He promised me he had had a lot of fun.  I told him how proud I was of him for doing all the fun things throughout the night.  

My little friend has been on my mind a lot since our only meeting.  I pray for him and his family.  I pray that if they do not have a church home they will come to visit us soon.  I also pray that as he gets older, he will remember all he learned about Jesus during his visit to VBS.  I also pray that he will come to know that Jesus can be his Ultimate "Tour Guide".  Jesus can and will be with him through every stop, every turn, and every detour that he encounters.

I am so thankful to know the Ultimate Tour Guide.  I know God is guiding me.  I know that no matter how insignificant I feel, He knows me and loves me.  He cares about what is happening in my life.  And He is beside me where ever the road of life takes me.  He is holding my hand and He will never ever fail me nor forsake me (Josh 1:5)!  He is my Stronghold.  He is my Comforter when I am feeling anxious and a little out of place.  He is my Guide.  

Today's Verse
"And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought..."  Isaiah 58:11a

Even when we don't feel or see God's hand working in our lives, we must remember we are walking by faith not by sight.( 2 Cor 5:7) God is there with us every step of the way..."continually" guiding us.  We can find rest in that fact, knowing by faith He is there no matter what!  Some "stops" in life are so painful and can seem to last way too long, but God is helping me every step of the way, and for that I am forever grateful to my Tour Guide for His love, support, and of course His guidance!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Out of Shape

My fingers are barely able to type.  My arms feel like jelly.  Posting today may prove as a painful challenge just to work my hands and fingers and mind at the same time...I am completely out of shape!!!!

I tried a new fitness class this morning at the gym.  Now keep in mind, I do not work out every day.  I try to go a couple times a week, but it is not something I am super serious about.  I like taking the fitness classes.  It keeps me motivated and I just find it easier than going and trying to run on an elliptical for 45 minutes.  When I worked in the university settings, I liked taking cardio and step classes with my coworkers.  When we joined this gym at the beginning of the year, I was reluctant to try the classes.  It had been 6 years since my last group fitness class.  I would look silly and not know what to do.  But, reluctantly I went and I did find a couple of classes I liked.  I have tried to attend them as much as possible.

So when my husband encouraged me this morning to go and try a new class, I thought, "Why not?"

Well I barely made it through.  I was gasping and my arms couldn't function.  It was a combination of step and jump roping for cardio, different weights and movements for strength and lots of ab work for the icing on the cake.  (I probably should not use yummy cake analogies when discussing working out.)

I fear I will not be able to move tomorrow or get out of bed.  :)

As I was getting my little one down for nap earlier, I was thinking about feeling out of shape.  We know exercise is good for us.  We know it helps keep us fit and healthy.  We know it aids in the prevention of diseases.  We know it is recommended to do at least 5-6 times a week.  But somehow we find excuses.  Somehow we don't take the time.

How about our spiritual fitness level?  How are we doing on our devotion and prayer fitness routine?

Again, we know it is good for us.  We know it keeps us sane and healthy.  We know it aids in the prevention of meltdowns.  We know it is recommended to do at least once every day.  But somehow we find excuses.  Somehow we don't take the time.

Through Christ's strength we can get through any thing.  (It was only by His strength I made it through this morning. - And trust me I said several prayers in that hour!)  But we have to spend time with Him to seek that strength.  Daily time spent reading His Word is irreplaceable.  It does our mind good.  It does our mood good.  It does our spirit good.  It does our heart good.  We have to make time for God just like we make time for any thing else we do!

Today's Seeking Verse -
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."  Deut 4:29
"Glory ye in his holy name:  let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.  Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually."  1 Chron 16:10-11
"but they that seek the LORD shall not want (lack) any good thing."  Ps 34:10b
"Seek the LORD, and his strength:  seek his face evermore."  Ps 105:4

Walking/running helps keep our bodies in shape, but praying and seeking God is what actually keeps our heart's in shape.  It is hard feeling out of shape physically, but it is even harder feeling out of shape spiritually.  So let's make a plan to strive to spend at least 20 minutes in prayer and reading everyday...and maybe we can even throw in a 10 minute walk to get our whole selves feeling better!

Just on a side note - I know my arms feel completely useless right now after a hard workout...can you imagine what Moses felt like???   If you have never read the story of Moses holding his arms up during a battle in  Exodus 17, I encourage you to do so.  If Moses arms started to lower, the Isrealites started loosing.  My arms feel so out of shape right now, I cannot fathom what Moses felt like after that great feat!  Thankfully Moses had friends to help hold up his arms...I am thankful for my family that I know would stand by me and hold my arms if need be :)


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


In the many sermons I have listened to in my years I can't recall a pastor saying, "Now turn to the book of Nahum."  Now I in no way am saying I have never heard that phrase, but I am sure it has not been but a very few instances....if any.  That is why I found it so interesting that I was reading a short devotion this week and was touched by a verse found in Nahum.

Nahum 1:7 "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."

Now as I took my Bible to further investigate this comforting verse, I realized I have at least read it at some point because it was underlined in my Bible.  There in black and white it is waiting for me to memorize and lean on in my "day of trouble".  Three powerful statement in one short verse.

He is good.
He is a stronghold.
He knows those that trust Him.

I am not just a number to the Creator of the universe.  I am His and He knows me.

As insignificant as we may feel sometimes, as troublesome as our days my seem, if nothing good seems to every happen...we must remember we have God to be our stronghold.

Today's Verse
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his..."  2 Timothy 3:19a

Nahum has inspired me to look for other nuggets of truth in the lesser known books of the Bible...I hope to share what I have found in the future.  But for now, I am so glad to find a verse to remind me that I am known by God!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Talking and Listening

The summer storms are popping up today, and it brings such needed relief from a long hot stretch.  We reached triple digits six days in a row, and I for one am ready for a cool down.  The lightening is sharp outside my window; the rain is pouring, and the thunder is rolling.  There are many explanations we give to our children for the sound of thunder and the flashes of lightening.  "Smile, God is taking your picture!"  "God is clapping for you!"  "The angels are bowling in heaven!"

I remember as a child wishing that the thunder could just be God talking to me.  Wouldn't it be amazing if He could just audibly send us the answers to our questions the same way He audibly sends the thunder down to earth?  We talk to Him and He answers right back.  Like in Acts 22 when Paul is telling of His encounter with Jesus.  He asks in verse 10, "And I said, What shall I do LORD?, and the Lord said unto me..."  Paul audibly heard the Lord answer his question.  Oh how I long for those audible answers some days!

The topic of prayer has been woven throughout my life the past 2 weeks.  I listened to a wonderful sermon by Charles Stanley last week on talking to and listening to God.  The lyrics to the old hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus" was in one of my devotions, one of my girls' devotions and then we actually sang it last Sunday (That one was really amazing - same song - 3 times in 1 week!!!).  And then I heard another great sermon on prayer from my own pastor yesterday...God are you trying to get my attention????

Prayer involves so many aspects...praise, adoration, confession and truly expressing our desires to God.  After praying and truly talking to God, our hearts feel relieved, our burdens less heavy, our spirits are lifted, and we know He heard us.  But when we neglect that time with our Savior, we carry so much on us that we can physically ache.  As the lyrics to the song says, "Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer."

I will be the first to admit I struggle at times with talking with God, but more than that, I struggle to truly listen for God.  He may not speak to me as the thunder claps, but He does speak through the Holy Spirit and through His Word.  I ask for help, but I do not sit and wait for an answer.  I am antsy and ready to move on.   There are other things calling for my attention, and sitting and waiting is not something I do well.  Being still, which is something He tells us to do in Ps 46:10, is so hard for me!  Listening for that nudge, for that small silent voice seems impossible some days.  I love to read.  I love to pray.  But I do not like to just be still and silent.

Today's Verse
Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

He is there to listen.  He is our refuge and our strength.  Another way my Women's KJV Study Bible puts it as "an abundantly available help in trouble."  God is abundantly available...ALL THE TIME.  We just have to be willing to put our time in, pick up our end of the phone line, talk and then be still and listen for the help.  It is a two-way conversation and I am so glad He is my "very present help in trouble."

Open my heart,
as I open my Bible.
Open my eyes, 
as I open Your Word.
Open my ears,
as I open Your teachings.
Open my thoughts,
as I open Your guidance.
Open my self,
as I open Your answers.
Open me.
Use me.
Show me Your will!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Butterflies Part 2

I have been anxious for nap time to get here.  You may or may not believe the story I am about to share, but it was pretty amazing!!!

After finishing yesterday's post (which if you haven't read you must read to fully grasp the meaning of my story) I hopped up to continue some chores.  We have been doing some major rearranging, organizing, and cleaning out closets and the attic this week.  It has been hard but very rewarding to start this task.  I was trying to decide what to do next.  I was going through the list of what I had wanted to accomplish by the end of the day. (which had been going extremely smoothly - YAY!)  I decided to take out a bag of trash...and here is the amazing part.

I stepped out on the back deck and my goodness was it hot.  As I walked to the steps I saw it fluttering towards me.  It was a beautiful monarch butterfly.  It was headed right for me and it didn't stop.  It brushed by my shirt and then my face.  It fluttered all around me.  A lump formed in my throat and tears welled in my eyes.  Thank you God for sending this butterfly my way.  Thank you for this awesome gift!  I couldn't believe it as it was all happening.  It was so surreal.  The butterfly landed on a flower next to our trashcan and just lingered for a while.  I watched the beautiful creature intently, and it flew away a few moments later. I stood watching it till I could no longer see its flutter and it was out of sight.

I needed that touch yesterday!  I hadn't specifically asked for the touch, but my heart had been a little heavy this past weekend and the butterfly sure lifted my spirits.  I talked with God a brief moment after my encounter before I headed back in to work.  I couldn't wait to share my story!!!!

Today's Verse
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  2 Corinthians 5:17

Just as a butterfly becomes a new creature when it emerges from the cocoon, when we have asked Christ into our lives we have become new as well.  Our sins are forgiven and forgotten.  We are His.  We are changed.  We are new.

Here is the link for a short Youtube video of butterfly world...it is very relaxing to watch.  I hope you enjoy and I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July holiday tomorrow.  Be thankful for our freedoms we have as a country and our freedom to worship God.

 God Bless America!


Monday, July 2, 2012


While in Florida, my daughters and I went to a place called Butterfly World.  It was spectacular.  The girls loved every minute.  As we stood there and watched the hundreds of butterflies fluttered around us, I thought of just how awesome a butterflies' story is.  They start as a small egg, a baby caterpillar is born, it forms its own cocoon, and then the beautiful butterfly emerges.  How could such a transformation and thing of beauty occur from a big bang?????

This has been on my heart so much recently...seeing our Maker in the world around us.  While we were in Florida I posted on seeing Christ in creation.  I was more prone to noticing the little things while we were away.  The gigantic ocean, the beautiful sunsets, the stars at night and the moon reflecting over the waves.  I saw His thumbprints on the butterflies as we watched in amazement at the wide spectrum of colors on their wings...each a creature of beauty and each one slightly different (just like us humans).

We were even able to go to a drive-thru safari where we saw so many of God's animals up close and personal.  Each animal different and unique and amazing in their own way (again like us).  We learned that the zebra's stripes are like our fingerprints, and no two are alike.  We learned that a monkey cannot swim nor float, so they just put water around them to keep them in their play area.  Each animal was a thing of beauty.  Each animal made by Him.

When we arrived home we had the privilege of receiving fresh produce from some of our families' gardens.  I fried squash, made homemade salsa, and boiled fresh corn on the cob.  Each veggie and fruit so delicious and so pretty...and God made them all.

Every unique tree we saw in Florida (and we saw a lot)...made by God.
Every amazing animal we saw...made by God.
Every sunny day and moonlit night...made by God.
Every person we saw...made by God.
Every colorful fish we saw...made by God.
Every colorful flower that bloomed...made by God

It didn't just happen.  We just didn't appear.  So many plants and animals weren't just an accident.  He designed each thing.  He created it ALL!

Today's Verse
"Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee."  Nehemiah 9:6

I received this email this weekend, and it put a huge smile on my face for many reasons...but mainly because of the butterfly.  I know I encouraged you a few weeks ago, but I will encourage you again...look for God's handiwork in all of creation.  Thank Him for all He has done for you and the beautiful world He made for us to live in and enjoy!

   The man whispered, "God, speak to me" and a meadowlark sang. 

   But, the man did not hear.

So the man yelled, "God, speak to me" and the thunder rolled across the sky.But, the man did not listen.

   The man looked around and said, "God let me see you." And a star shined brightly.

But the man did not see.

  And, the man shouted, "God show me a miracle." And, a life was born.
  But, the man did not notice.

So, the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you are here."
Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man. But, the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.