Friday, March 29, 2013

Caffeinated Randomness - In Christ Alone

I know today is Good Friday.  I wanted to give you a gift of praise that always reminds of Easter and what Easter represents.  I hope you enjoy it.  

What songs speak to you about the sacrifice that Jesus made?  Come link up with the other Java Junkies on this Holy Day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Caffeinated Randomness - A Dream of a Fish

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I am stopping the Caffeinated in the Word study.  I'm sorry if you were following it but I do have a good reason.  You see I had a dream.  Not Martin Luther Jr.'s dream.  Not the dream that Fantine dreamed in Les Miserable (although I will write on that dream later).  This dream was prophetic.  It was life changing.  It was awakening.  It involved a fish.

Ok, do I have your attention?  I should tell you this fish was more like a mini shark.  I guess you should also say fishes as there were quite a few of them.  There was a dark dingy tank where these fish lived.  It was almost inhospitable.  There was a 2nd tank with clean water.  

I was moving the fish from one tank to another.  They were fighting every minute of it.  Flipping around almost causing me to drop them.   Did I mention I was moving them with my hands?  They fought with every ounce of strength until I dropped them in the clean tank.  Then they swam around happy and content.

This was my dream Saturday night.  I awoke Sunday morning puzzled; trying to figure it out.  Then it hit me.  You see I have to confess, for sometime I have felt spiritually dead.  Oh, I was doing the 40 day study, more intellectually then spiritually or emotionally.  I had no prayer life.  I felt like a sham.  I was angry, resentful, frustrated because of all the trials in my life:  ones brought on by myself and ones I had no control over.  

This didn't happen overnight and shouldn't have been a big surprise to me as I kept God at an arm's length.  I had all but abandoned my prayer life (few contrite prayers here or there).  I was cramming through the 40 Days in the Word study and had totally abandoned my Good Morning Girls study (sorry Rubies).  I was struggling to breathe.  I was trying not to drown in the murky water I found myself in and I was fighting the one who only wanted to help me breath.  Who wanted to take me from the mire and bring me to the cool clean water. 

I will admit that I did not fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness.  I didn't breakdown.  I was in shock. I knew I needed to do something but what?   I knew I needed to start praying and setting a time for that.  I knew I needed to get back into the word.  I knew I needed to change.  However, I also knew me.  If I didn't do this slowly, I would be right back where I started.  

I had bought some index cards on a ring.  I printed out some prayer guides I had found on Pinterest.  I set out clothes to exercise in.  Set my study materials on my craft desk.  I had a plan.

I would love to say that I jumped out bed Monday morning in excitement when the alarm went off.  I pushed myself out of bed.  I did 15 minutes interval training on my treadmill listening to worship music.  I spent time in prayer.  I worked on my 40 Day study.  I felt great the rest of the day.  I have done this all week.  It's still difficult to get up, but I have noticed a weight lifted from me.

I have spent more time praying.   When I feel tempted, I pray.  I am currently reading a book on prayer (more on that one when I'm finished reading it).  I attended a Woman Inspired conference this week.  I feel more alive than I have in a long time.  I know it's not because of me or anything I have or have not done.  

God was patient.
God was merciful. 
God loved me not matter what and only wanted the best for me.
He knew what I needed.
He knew how to reach out to me.
He prepped me to listen and I have.

I am not writing this as a confession or to say that everything has been fixed.  Far from it.  I have lost it on the kids this week.  I have gotten angry and allowed bitterness to appear.  I know this is a process.  The beginning.  I also know that Satan will be around.  That I will be tempted to fall and slip back into the dark tank.  I would ask that you keep me and my family in your prayers.  That we would be protected.  That I would have the courage to persevere.  That I would continue to run the race.  That I continue to rest in His arms and submit to His will.

And to think....this all started with a dream about a fish!

What are you struggling with?  Have you taken it to God?  What has God been telling you?  Are you listening?  Come link up with the other Java Junkies this week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's Voice - Nigeria

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 
Colossians 1:9 NIV84

Please be in prayer for all believers. Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post. I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other. We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

NIGERIA: Most Dangerous Country for Residing Christians
Source: World Watch Monitor

According to the new 2013 edition of the World Watch List, produced by Open Doors, Nigeria is considered the most dangerous country for a Christian to live. The researchers report, "Between November 2011 and October 2012, we recorded 1,201 killings of Christians worldwide of which 791 happened in Nigeria." Since 2009, the attacks of Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group, have claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people. The majority of the attacks were made against churches -- spanning from the capital Abuja, across mid-to-northern Nigeria, and through to Sharia-law northern states. 

In the militant group's ruthless attempts to overthrow the government for the purpose of creating an Islamic state, the resulting havoc and destruction has taken its toll in what is known as Africa's most populous country. And the aftermath of the tragedies affecting Nigeria's innocent victims can be described as excruciating. Deborah painfully recalls how her husband was shot dead in front of her, and how their two daughters, ages 7 and 9, were taken away by the perpetrators on April 25th, 2012. This distraught mother has not received any news of her girls since then. A few months after their abduction, her third child (a son) was shot and killed 

While many Christian families have been able to flee from these volatile areas, a small minority of remaining residents are now living in constant fear of further unexpected attacks. In an effort to provide some protection, the government has deployed a special army-police unit. However, it's reported that the security is still fragile in this part of the world 

  • Please continue to pray for the surviving victims of the attacks, May our Heavenly Father assure them of His comforting presence and tremendous love, while also providing them a safe place in which they can heal and be restored. 
  • Ask that He give the government officials wisdom and support, as they raise up a standard against the tide of evil seeking to overcome them. 
  • Pray that God will somehow capture the attention of the members of Boko Haram for sincere repentance and spiritual transformation.
Friday, March 15, 2013

Caffeinated Randomness - Crazy Birthday Month

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I have to admit that I haven't done anything this week in regards to the 40 Days in the Word.  Time change has really played havoc with my sleeping patterns and this is the first of the two birthdays of crazy birthday month.  I have decided to dedicate this week's randomness to crazy birthday month.  

March used to be the unbirthday month in my family.  It was typically Easter month and nothing else.  When I got married, my husband's sister had a birthday in March, but we rarely saw her.  The only other holiday was my in laws anniversary on the 17th.  They have the best date, if they were Irish.  Still March was a slow month.  Then another of my sister in laws delivered twin boys on the 8th and 9th respectively.  They were born so close to midnight.  However, we rarely saw them as well.  

This all changed in 2007 with I had Thomas on the 27th.  We now had a birthday.  The year I had Thomas, Easter was a week after his birth.  I have pictures of him in his bouncy chair all stickered up by his sister as she decorated him like an Easter Egg.  He started sleeping with one eye open after that escapade.  I didn't blame him.  I relished having my children's birthdays so far apart (Nicole's birthday is in June).  I could plan them both with relish and ease.  

March 2008 just before Thomas' birthday I found out I was pregnant again.  My due date was November 2008.  This was not to be as I miscarried.  I was understandably upset.  Two months later, I found out I was pregnant again.  I was elated.  Then I counted.  March 2009 was my due date.  I would have two birthdays in one month.  As my due date got closer, I started planning Thomas' 3rd birthday party.  I knew if I didn't, the poor boy wouldn't get one.  Luckily I had great friends who helped me in the execution.  Thomas wasn't too happy there was a baby in the house, so having a day with his friends and cake was a great thing for him.  

Since Sam was born, I've only had one friend with a little one the same age.  As a result, Sam has only had family parties with our family and very close friends.  This year Sam is having his first official birthday party with his friends.  I am having a Milk and Cookies party and at the writing of this blog (Thursday night) I am very disorganized and stressing.  I know though that everything will go well that it doesn't matter to the kids that the table looks amazing or that I used my cricut to cut out his name (hoping to get to that tomorrow morning).  I will be spending my morning blowing up balloons, baking some sugar cookies for decorating, decorating the table and keeping the house tidy until the guests arrive.  After that it's a free for all.  

Then it's on to the execution of the next party in two weeks.  Thomas has requested a Hotel Transylvania PJ Party.  I will be making the invitations this weekend and then next week working on the giveaways.    

In all the birthday planning and executions I thought I would share a gift with you.  My cupcake and chocolate icing recipes.  I hope you enjoy them.

Great Grandma's White Cupcake Recipe

2 cups A.P. Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Butter
1 1/4 cup White Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Milk
2 eggs

Pre heat oven to 350F.  Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.  In a larger bowl, cream butter.  Add sugar gradually.  Add eggs, one at a time while beating between adding.  Stir in vanilla.  Add dry ingredients alternating with the milk.  Disperse in cup cake liners.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Whipped Cream Chocolate Icing

2 cups Whipping Cream
1 cup sifted Icing Sugar
1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Cocoa

Pour cream into large mixing bowl. 

Mix the sugar and the cocoa together, then sift them into the cream a little at a time, beating with an electric beater.  Continue beating until the frosting stands up in stiff peaks and is thick enough to spread.  Ice cupcakes when cooled.

Do you have a crazy birthday month?  How do you celebrate birthdays?  Come join in the randomness with the other Java Junkies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's Voice - Burma

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 
Colossians 1:9 NIV84

Please be in prayer for all believers. Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post. I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other. We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

BURMA: Military Destroys 66 Churches and Assaults Numerous Women
Sources: Religious Liberty Commission, VOM USA, Mizzima News

To date, a total of 66 churches have been burnt down in Kachin state, the result of a conflict that reignited in June of 2011, according to a report provided by the Kachin Women's Association of Thailand. The figures in this report have been confirmed by the Kachin Baptist Convention based in Myitkyina. 

Julia Marip, spokesperson for the women's association, believes that the burning of churches by government forces is a matter related to religious persecution. Compounding the seriousness of this situation is the fact that 30 reported incidents of sexual assault, involving 64 women or girls (cases that include gang rapes), have been committed by Myanmar troops. "Half of those women raped were killed afterward," Julia Marip sadly announces. 

Ask the Lord to grant these suffering Christians in Burma greatly needed strength and protection. In the midst of these seemingly insurmountable trials and times of chaos, may they be encouraged of His unfailing love, faithfulness and ability to provide divine intervention, healing and restoration. Also pray that He will work mightily in the hearts and minds of the perpetrators, including all those in authority.
Friday, March 8, 2013

Caffeinated in the Word - Pride in Week 3

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Ah quiet time.  Where did you go?  There was a time I got up without any trouble.  Where I didn't hit the alarm button and then turn over and go back to sleep.  I have been struggling for some time on getting up.  I know what I should do and yet.....I don't do.  This was no exception this week.   I am going to make myself and you a promise that this week, I will get up and do my quiet time.  I want to get back into a routine.  To go to bed earlier and get up earlier so that I can spend some quiet time with God and get re-energized.  

This week God was really talking to me about Pride.  It hit me in last week's verses and while reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.   I started this week struggling with a situation with some friends.  I won't go into particulars but this quote by Beth Moore really spoke to the situation.

"Sometimes people and situations make us feel insecure because they nick our pride, plain and simple.  all the blows of life aside and every other root yanked out of the ground, we wrestle with insecurity because we wrestle with pride"

I hadn't thought of that before.  I was so focused on myself and my feelings in the situation.  I felt the victim.  But why?  Why was I allowing this to control me and make me feel less?  Why was I questioning what kind of friend I was?  It was because my pride had been bruised.  I thought I was something to someone only to discover I wasn't.  Then who was I?  

This week's verses dealt with pride.  In Mark 9: 33-35, the disciples argue with each other as to who was the greatest.  Talk about pride and vanity.  Jesus never walked around saying He was God and therefore the best and all should bow down in awe to Him.  He was humble.  He was sacrificial.  He was loving.  He didn't hang out with the "cool" kids, He hung out with the rejects, the troublemakers, the messies.  He didn't judge them, He accepted them as they were.  He was about others, not self.  This is something that I need to remember.  I need to lay down my pride and embrace humility and sacrifice.  I need to remember that others should come first, not me.  I need to accept that I am not in control of things.   Only by doing so will I become more like Christ.

This week we are going to look at the verses through the Paraphrase method.  We are to first read the verse or passage over and over.  Think about what God is telling you through the verses we are studying.  Then put the scripture in your own words.  See how this applies to you and then pray about it.  I know I have a problem memorizing verses, but can paraphrase verses quite easily   It should be interesting where God leads us this week as we are studying James.

This week's verses:
Day 22 - James 1:2-4
Day 23 - James 1:19-20
Day 24 - James 1:22-25
Day 25 - James 2:17-18
Day 26 - James 3:13
Day 27 - James 4:10
Day 28 - James 5:19-20
This week's memory verse:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

What did you glean from this week's verses?  What is holding you from growing in your walk?  Come link up with the other Java Junkies with your randomness this week.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday's Voice - Egypt

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 
Colossians 1:9 NIV84

Please be in prayer for all believers. Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post. I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other. We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

Egyptian Businessman and Associates Imprisoned  Sources: Middle East Concern
Egyptian Christian businessman Sherif Ramses manages a bookstore in Benghazi, the capital of the Cyrenaica province (in eastern Libya). On February 10th, he was arrested because the inventory of his store included Christian books which he made readily available to Arabic-speaking immigrants who either lived or worked in the city or the surrounding metropolitan area. While he has not yet been charged before a court, it has been reported that Sherif has experienced repeated physical mistreatment while in detainment. 

Other believers in Benghazi who had in some way associated with Sherif, whether through business connections or socially, have also been recently arrested. All of these associates were working in the area as language teachers or businessmen. Though formal charges have not been made against any of them to date, they are all accused of proselytizing Christianity. 

Pray that God will protect and preserve Sherif and his Christian friends during this difficult time while facing opposition and incarceration, that peace and the presence of Jesus overshadow each of these suffering believers and their families. 
Pray for those in authority, including the officials responsible for making these arrests 
May God pour out His Holy Spirit on the entire nation of Libya so many will be brought to repentance and faith in Him!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Caffeinated in the Word - Week 2 with Mark

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Week two.  How did you do?  Did you get your study done everyday?  Or did you cram it all into one session.  Confession time - that's what I did.  For some reason this week I have been unable to get out of bed early to do my personal devotion time.  As a result, this week I have been overwhelmed, depressed, in a fog, set adrift, lost, angry, frustrated,......I could go on, but I won't.  I have no one else to blame but myself.  I could have gotten myself up.  My alarm went off.  I could of rolled out of bed instead of rolling over.  This week I have been running on fumes, when I could have been running on a full tank.  

When I do this it reminds of my own hypocrisy of telling my daughter to do her homework daily.  Of putting in the time to get good grades instead of watching TV or playing video games.  I can't expect her to get it right when I myself am failing.  I need to set good guidelines, not just for her, but also for me.  I need to lead by example.  Right now the rules seems to be "do as I say, not as I do."  Doesn't really seem fair and it isn't.  I need to get my act together so that I can teach her to get hers in order.

I loved the "Picture It" method.  I loved envisioning myself in the place of one of the characters in the Bible story.  It was a great way of thinking of what it would have been like to see Jesus and hear Jesus. Even though I crammed I got a lot out of the weeks study.  Funny enough the truths that came out at me were ones I needed to hear this week.  They were ones about Jesus' healing relief and freedom (Mark 1:40-45; 5:21-45; & Mark 7:31-37); about trusting Jesus to provide (Mark 6:35-44); and about where Jesus is in the storms (Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:45-51). Another good reminder why I should be in the Word daily.  These are all things I need to be reminded of and need to embrace.  

My favourite word also came out this week in the study - "Ephphatha".  It used to be my signature line for my blog.  It means "be opened."  I wrote a blog about it when I first blogged.  How I still long to be open.  How I long to be completely authentic in my walk.  How I long to be free from the bondage that I cling to.  God again placed this verse in my life to remind me that I am free.  Free in Him if I would but believe it.  I do believe it and will embrace it.  I already feel a fresh wind flowing around me and renewing me.  I feel lightened and embraced.  I feel open.  I long to stay open.  

This week as we read we are to try the Probe It method or the SPACEPETS method.  It is more based on action then complete reflection   I am interested to see how this goes and can't wait to write more about it next week.

This week's reading:
Day 15 - Mark 8:34-38  Jesus teaches about taking up your cross
Day 16 - Mark 9:33-34  Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God
Day 17 - Mark 10:17-31  Jesus meets the rich young man
Day 18 - Mark 11:25  We must forgive to be forgiven
Day 19 - Mark 14:3-9  A woman anoints Jesus with perfume
Day 20 - Mark 15:33-39  The crucifixion
Day 21 - Mark 16:1-20  the resurrection
This week's memory verse:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  James 1:22 (NIV)
What did you learn from Mark this week?  Are you a crammer or do you get things done when you should?  If you are, can you teach me?   Even if you aren't doing the study, please join your randomness up with the other Java Junkies this week.   

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Alberta, Canada
I'm a 39 year old (oh yeah I'm telling you my age) Stay at Home mom. A former Bad Girl now reformed sinner, I'm married to my Y2K guy and raising 3 great children from God. Proudly Canadian, however, missing the West Coast, I currently live in the prairies watching the farmers fields produce as I learn how God produces the fruits in me.

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