It’s the Little Things

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s the little things?”  These little things are unique to each one of us.  They refresh my soul day to day.  Unfortunately, I get stuck thinking about the BIG things.  When my focus is on the bigger, harder things of life, I get overwhelmed and the “little things” that keep me going, slip by.

Last week my husband and I bought our first home together.  I found myself focused on the BIG and forgetting to appreciate the little.  With it being summertime, there is an abundance of weddings, family gatherings, and traveling.  These things normally feel refreshing, but I quickly became overwhelmed trying to move and yet still do things that give me life.

The big picture said I’m not doing enough, I’m lacking in certain areas.  I was physically present, but emotionally I was stressed out and not living my best life. The enemy wants to rob us of our joy and make us victims of our circumstances.  Once I got my focus back on the little things, I was quickly reminded by God that He supplies everything we need according to His plans, His riches.

During these last few months, if I had focused on the little instead of the big, I might have noticed that…

  • The mountains displayed God’s Glory.
  • The graduate needed encouragement.
  • My husband is feeling blue.
  • God speaking to me, “Child, get up and pray.”
  • A song on the radio that could have healed a hurting place in me.
  •  Sometimes I need to cry.
  • Sometimes I need a hug.

God also has a way of refreshing my soul by speaking to me at unexpected times.  Like when I am on my way to work or home and the perfect worship song comes on.  One that will bring me to tears, exposing my heart, my fears, my thoughts, and bringing attention to my vulnerabilities and the power of God.

God is a God of details.  The instructions God gave the Israelites were very small and intricate.  David used five stones to take down Goliath.  Jesus used mud, five barley loaves. and two fish.  His disciples were deemed small in this world.  The small things of life seem so insignificant, unless we look at them with God’s perspective.

It just takes slowing down and intentionally recognizing and appreciating the moments that refresh your soul.  I can easily slip into negative thinking and allow my circumstances to dictate my feelings.  In those moments, I should be intentional in my thinking and ask God, “Where are you in this moment?”  When I focus on Him and what He is doing, my soul is refreshed.

Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8-9

We would like to thank Vanessa Talmadge for writing this blog!

Loving Your Husband

Titus 2:3-4 says that older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands.

The word love in that verse (philandros) is only used once in scripture, and is an affection shown specifically by a wife for her husband. This leads me to believe that a wife has the unique ability to show unconditional love to her husband in a way that nobody else on earth can. Wow – what a privilege!

Through living out this gift of marriage and walking with many wise women, the Lord has taught me a few very practical ways to love Kirby that have helped us cultivate a rich, life-giving marriage.

Pray for Him

Pray that the Word of God would dwell richly in your husband. Pray that he would prosper in all he does. Pray for him as you fold his laundry. Find specific passages of scripture to speak over your husband. Our prayers are powerful and life-changing.

Serve Him

In the middle of writing this, I asked Kirby to share some practical things that I do that communicate love to him. To no surprise, dinner made the list. If you know Kirby, that statement won’t surprise you either. The man can eat! But through his sort-of comical response, he reminded me that service doesn’t always have to be extravagant. It’s the everyday. He serves me in more ways than I could number, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to love him through serving him right back.

Protect and Build his Reputation

Proverbs 31:23 is a statement that, at first glance, seems a little out of place. The whole passage describes a woman that we all desire to be, and simultaneously get frustrated with because she sometimes seems out of reach. In verse 23, it states, “her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders.” I believe that his wife had a role to play in building her husband’s reputation and in his being known and respected. Ladies, we’ve been given a true privilege in being able to know our husband so intimately. Let’s use that privilege in a way that highlights his strengths, builds his reputation, and sets him up for success in life. We really do have more power in this area than we usually give ourselves credit for.

Get to Know Him

I know this one sounds redundant, considering we’re talking about the man we married. But I didn’t realize when I first married Kirby that he doesn’t express or receive love in the same ways I do AT ALL. We’re polar opposites. I feel loved most through quality time, physical touch, and acts of service. Coming into marriage, I thought that that was how to make anyone feel loved. However, I learned that Kirby feels loved the most through words of affirmation and gifts. Get to know how your husband receives love best. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages can help get you started in discovering your spouse’s love language, as well as your own. It’s well worth the investment.

God gave us a true gift in our husbands. I pray that as women we would make the most of every opportunity to show love, honor, and respect to our men. As we do, may our homes and our marriages be blessed beyond measure.

This post was written by Catherine Dunn. To learn more about her, click here.

An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

Starting my mornings off in my cozy bed with my personalized Bible verse has really been a positive action for me. Rise and shine!

This is the day the Lord has made. Let ME rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

I try to say it out loud and declare it to be so. 

 It is very important for me to talk myself into a positive grateful mood to begin my day and often to continue that positivity throughout my day. You see, my precious husband of 46 plus years has had Alzheimer’s Disease for a long time. I have been a caregiver for others with Alzheimer’s also. My husband’s aunt, my wonderful Mother, my special Mother Mother-in-Law, and numerous patients. I have been a RN for over 45 years. 

 Forming the habit of being positive in each situation that arises is difficult, but not impossible with God’s help.

l can do anything through Jesus Christ who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

Find something affirmative in each situation that arises. Even if whatever is taking place at the moment is not so good, expect God to bring good out of it.

Surrounding yourself with Christians, such as your family, church family, neighborhood friends, colleagues, support groups, etc., is extremely important. You can cry, laugh, express your anxiety, get angry when you need to, and hopefully without judgement. Praying with a group is so refreshing, healing, and empowering. 

The act of grieving is so very hard when your loved one is leaving you mentally while his body is shriveling slowly away. Gratefully, he’s not in pain. I have laid next to him reminiscing about our life—especially how we met, holidays, birthdays, trips, harvesting, sport events, friends, etc. Not crying, for his sake, was extremely hard, but then on my long drive home from Lubbock back to our farm a flood of tears came. Many times I had to stop off the side of the highway to get my crying over with so I could drive home safely.

I truly enjoyed my days of laughter with my husband. I could not laugh AT him with his very bizarre actions or things he said caused by his Alzheimer’s. I did laugh about those things later though. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

Making out a list of your blessings is cathartic. Thanking God for the love of my life, our 2 wonderful sons, our 2 fantastic daughter-In-laws, and our four terrific growing-up-way-too-fast grandchildren is at the top of that list. Having the finances for my husband’s care is such a blessing. I am so very grateful for the good care he is receiving though the nursing home and hospice staff. What a blessing these hardworking loving people are.

Care givers, take care of yourself!! Ask for help. Accept help. Take care of your medical needs. Exercise, find some form of activity that you like so that you will do it. Get with a buddy so you will be accountable. Make your exercise a routine habit. You’ll feel so much better. Feed yourself healthy meals. Your body is a temple of God. Treat it that way. Show your body the GRATITUDE it deserves.

~*~*~*~

Helen Teeple is our guest writer today. She has been married for over 46 years, and has 2 sons, Brian & Keith. They have 1 granddaughter and 3 grandsons. Helen has been a BSN, RN for over 45 years. “I knew I want to be a nurse when I was 6 years old. When a RN friend called me to come to work as a Hospice Nurse I felt God was preparing me for the season of my life I am experiencing now.”

Helen is a member of the  First United Methodist Church of Floydada, TX. She grew up in Irving, TX, and graduated from TWU in Denton, TX. She lives on their farm in South Plains. “I never thought or dreamed I would marry a farmer, but God sure had other plans for us, and I’m glad I followed His directions!”

Thankful for My Happy Mommy Moments

thankful-drawingThe week before Thanksgiving break I was so ready to be home from work and school. I am a wife, a mom, a teacher and a grad student. I wanted to be home and enjoying Thanksgiving break with my family. On this Wednesday I had a list of things on my mind. So, needless to say I was a little “consumed with things.” I don’t like being in survival mode, but I was in survival mode in everything. I was physically and mentally exhausted.

On this particular Wednesday, Shelby, my 9-year-old daughter, shared something with me. In her excited voice, she said, “Mom I did the Question of the Week!” The question this week for the school was, “What are you thankful for?” Shelby had written with all her big 9-year-old heart: “I am thankful for God being on the cross, and my family and my pets.” I smiled, hugged and kissed her, and my mommy heart was overwhelmed. My eyes began to well up. What a blessing Shelby is and the message she had written spoke to me.

A few minutes later I heard Paxton had responded to the question of the week. Paxton had written with all his big 8-year-old heart: “I am thankful for God because he made us and created us. I am thankful for my family.” My mommy heart was overwhelmed once more.  What a blessing Paxton is and what a great reminder to be thankful.

What blessings my children are, and what a blessing their messages were on those little index cards. Those sentences, messages written by my children, had completely overtaken me.  God was speaking to me. He was saying “Be thankful.

He knew my heart was tired and I was exhausted. He was saying, “Be thankful.” I had allowed myself to become overwhelmed and consumed with things, and with life. I needed to see all this from a different perspective. I needed to be thankful for ALL the blessings in my life. I needed to be thankful for being a wife, a mom, a teacher, and a grad student. God had given me all these gifts in my life and that day I wasn’t seeing things from that viewpoint (and it was the week before Thanksgiving!).

God has blessed me and I needed to see things as my children saw them. My children were thankful for so much.

My two happy mommy moments reminded me of two things:

  1. From which perspective am I viewing life? EVERYWHERE around me there are constant reminders of the blessings God bestows on us.
  2. God speaks to me through my children. I need to listen more often!!

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

 

Children are a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3

This post was written by Rachel Ramirez. To read more about her, click here. 

Preparing for the Holidays

family-picThe leaves are changing, the air is turning cooler, and the expectancy of the holiday season is upon us!  My heart leaps when I think about the holidays!  I still feel the same expectancy that I did when I was a child, eager for Christmas morning!

However, I have found myself a little anxious about the holidays this year because of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, finding the right presents, scheduling family events, and already feeling behind in my normal holiday routine.

Recently, the Lord has been impressing on my heart a few things that have brought me a lot of peace and joy.  Instead of the focus and attention being on what gift we are going to receive, the perfect gift we are going to buy, the menu for Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner, the schedule of who goes where, when, the endless parties to attend, and let’s not forget about teacher gifts…let’s look for the “new” in our traditions and the people we enjoy!

Many of us have the same traditions year after year.  Looking back, as a child, some of the happiest memories I had were during this time of year.  Instead of taking for granted the “process” and people we love this year, how about we notice and really “see” them? Look for the amazing qualities that we may have missed over the past year (or years).  Let’s live our traditions out this year like it could be our last, really taking the time to enjoy the moments we get to spend with family and friends.

The years go by fast, and time is fleeting before us. Our children are getting older, our parents are getting older…our “normal” becomes just memories!

I don’t want to miss a thing this year!  I don’t want to take one thing for granted.  I want to go to every event with expectation in my heart for something new!  I want to buy something for someone that brings meaning to their life.

The Lord has brought forth blessings overflowing in my life.  This holiday season, I want to be grateful for every person, every gift, every smile, every endless side dish full of carbs, every Walmart line, every pile of leaves in my backyard, every cup of coffee filled with holiday creamer, and most of all Christ’s love and sacrifice for me!

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

This post was written by Amy Meek. To read more about her, click here. 

Blessings To A Thousand Generations

a thankful heartDeuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

For some, this time of year can affect people in different ways: a divorced mom or dad raising their kids, unemployed individuals, those with sickness. Sometimes, this time of year can bring hopelessness and loneliness.

I was there once. I know it is hard to believe, but please allow me to share.

When I was a young single mother of four, life was tough. For the first couple of years, I lived in doom and gloom. I really didn’t have family outside of my four kids. I was struggling to provide a shelter to live in and food to eat. The thought of the holidays being here caused my stress level to sky rocket. I reeled with anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness and anger.

I kept asking God, “What did I do to deserve this? Why don’t we have family like everyone else does?”  God was so gracious to answer me, and this is what he said: “You have family.”
I answered him and said, “No I don’t!”
He said, “Yes you do! You have Rowena, Stephanie, Tigo and Sara.”
Wow! I then realized the greatest gift I could ever give was to be selfless and invest in the people God put in my life: my children.

Here are some questions, statements and answers that have gone on with my kids and I:

“Mom, I wish we had a dad.”
My response: “I know sweetie, remember one day, your kids will have a Christ-centered dad. You will be a great dad to your kids and a great husband to your wife, or a great wife to your husband.”

“Mom, I wish we had aunts and uncles.”
“I know it’s hard, but one day you will be a great aunt or uncle. You see, kids, maybe right now we don’t have the family we want, but as we allow God to change us and as we surrender to who He is calling us to be, we will see his blessings for generations to come.”

We have a choice to wallow in what we don’t have, or to change so that one day, those who follow us can have what we didn’t: a home full of God’s blessings.

We look forward to carrying out traditions we created years ago. Prayer, reading The Word, Worship, Thanksgiving dinner, putting up the tree, inviting friends to join us, and blessing others during the holidays.

Today, I have to say I am glad I listened to Dad. I am blessed with selfless kids and grandkids and in-laws who have become sons to me.  The blessings of obedience have come to three generations. Hallelujah!  I AM BLESSED!

This post was written by Becca Cruz.  

 

Gratitude: Changing Your Destination

Gratitude-BlogFor the next 5 weeks, all three HCF campuses are tackling this issue of gratitude. All of us will be experiencing more of what it truly means to be grateful–and, no doubt, be challenged–during this series. Learning how to practically cultivate a thankful heart in the midst of everyday “life” is going to be a game-changer for all of us. (Don’t forget to post what you are thankful for at http://www.harvestchristianfellowship.org/gratitude)

As the women of Harvest, let’s take time to really dig deep into this. What does it look like to cultivate gratitude in our hearts?

Writing Gratitude

One book that has been life-changing for so many people in this area of gratitude is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts (you can also check it out under the Bookshelf tab above). In this book, she talks about taking the time to write down things that she is grateful for. Sometimes these seem like small, insignificant things. But it still grows in us a heart of gratitude. Writing down the things that we’re thankful for somehow writes thankfulness on our hearts as well.

Some of you may already keep some kind of “gratitude journal” from our Women’s Retreat last year. Or you can keep a running list in the “Notes” section of your phone. There is also now a free 1,000 Gifts App for smart phones, that allows you to take and download pictures of the things you are thankful for (if you are more of a visual person).

Ask God what cultivating gratitude looks like for you. Learning to be grateful is not a formula. It is not a list of steps. It is not instantaneous. But it is necessary if we want to learn to live an abundant life.

Cultivating Gratitudeflower bulb

So what does it mean to cultivate gratitude in our hearts? Let’s review:
Cultivate = to prepare; to prepare and use (for growing plants); to grow and care for

As we cultivate gratitude in our hearts, we are preparing our hearts to receive revelation from the Lord. (if you were at the Women’s Retreat, this should sound familiar!) Sometimes that means weeding and tilling and compost. It’s hard work. It gets messy. But the results are worth it.

In Tammy Maltby’s book Lifegiving, she writes this:
“As in all successful gardens, lifegiving begins with the soil of our lives. Having good soil means we have the nutrients within our own souls to provide adequate support for lifegiving. In adding these proper nutrients to the soil, we give the seed the best chance for growth. This garden becomes a place where others can put down roots that will help them absorb the lifegiving elements so vital for healthy development” (p. 36).

Let’s ask God during these next several weeks to soften the soil of our hearts, so that we can sense His Spirit in our lives and respond with gratitude.

**What are some of the ways YOU will commit to cultivating gratitude in your life this week?