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Monday, January 26, 2015

Pretty & Fancy

I love watching Downton Abbey, Becoming Jane, Pride and Prejudice...anything from that time frame.  I like to see the costumes, the beauty and pageantry, classy lines, classy ladies, gentlemen...I love it all.

Last night after Bo and I watched Downton and then Grantchester (which takes place after WWII), I noticed something.  I like to watch these shows because of the beauty.  We don't "Dress" every day.  We are a sweat pants, sweater, Ugfg wearing kind of world.  In the times of Downton Abbey, the Aristocratic women dressed and undressed several times a day.  They had to have ladies maids to help them because it was like a full-time job just keeping up with the outfits of the day. 

When did we become so casual?  The only time people dress up now is for work, and that is only if they have to.  People walking around stores in their pajamas, looking like they just rolled out of bed, hair a mess, slippers on...a mess.  There was a time that most of the world would have thought the pajama wearing slobs had escaped from a mental ward.  Now it's the norm. The patients have taken over the asylum. 

Our first Easter together...I bought this dress myself.
First fancy lacy dress I ever bought.  I loved this dress.

I see women on "dates" with their husbands/boyfriends looking like they just rolled out of bed.  Now, I am not the prettiest of ladies, I have a TON of flaws but when I go out with my husband, I fix myself up.  I don't go to the grocery store without makeup and my hair fixed.  Is it vanity?  I don't know and I don't care.  I call it, "being kind to the world around me"...you are welcome.  I have noticed that some men encourage this messy behavior.  They think it is real and they prefer it.  NOT MY MAN!!!  He likes it when I am put together.  

To tell the truth, I like myself better when my hair is done, my nails are pretty, I have killer shoes, jewelry, makeup and purse.  I like to accessorize and I like pretty things.  When my girls were little, I loved to dress them up in frilly pretty clothes.  When they let me, I still love to buy them pretty things and get their hair and nails done.  

Me and my girls 2011, going to the Hotel DuPont
for dinner and The Nutcracker Ballet

So today, on this snowy beautiful day, I will look at pretty things and as my sisters and I call it, BE FANCY!!  I like fancy.  I like romance.  I like pretty. It's okay, I know not all will agree.  But I guess that is what makes me, me.  

My fancy sisters

I hope you all have a fancy pretty day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Acts of LOVE

Bo and I are so very blessed to live around family.  Most of our immediate family lives in the same small county as us or close by.  

I was telling my parents yesterday how thankful I am that we have such a good family...both sides.  We look out for one another, uplift one another, we are there for each other when everyone else is looking the other way.  I don't know how other families work, but I know how the Estep and VanDyke families work. 

Sunday Morning, the rain is falling and freezing on the roads.  We are concerned about our CtK Church family being out on the roads.  We are hearing reports of accidents on 95, Route 1, 222...almost every road around had an accident.  I tell Bo that he should call the Bishop to discuss canceling service instead of just postponing.  About that time, my brother in law, Roy calls Bo.  He is concerned about us driving to Havre de Grace because he's been out on the roads already and saw an accident.  FAMILY!  

Most of the VanDyke family Easter 2014

The more I think about Roy calling us, concerned about us, checking up on us...the more I am humbled and my heart is full.  What some would deem as a small act of kindness, I see as an act of love.  

Poppie and Kelcie before her Senior Prom

How many acts of love can we do today, this weekend, this coming week, this month?  How can we show our families, friends, church family, that we love them?  We can focus on what divides us, poke fun, be arrogant because we think we have it all together or we can focus on what unites us...our need for each other, we all have weaknesses, we all have flaws, we are all loved by our Creator, we are in this together.  I prefer to focus on what unites us.  

Love each other 
with genuine affection,
and take delight in honoring
each other.
-Romans 12:10 NLT

There is enough division in this world.  People are fighting and fussing everyday, sometimes about very important issues but when we come into the house, when we enter the threshold of our homes...let love reign.  Let peace fill our hearts, lives and homes.  

Just a smidge of the Estep family...
we are too large of a family to fit in one pic

I read this in my notes on my phone this morning...I think it is notes from a message by my Bishop.  

Forgiveness is loves greatest generosity

Provision is loves joy

Service is loves perfection

The Estep crew minus grandchildren and great grandchildren

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Intentionally Live A Life Of Love

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

I heard this morning, "Never develop a wounded spirit".  

I am finding out, the older I get, that life has to be lived intentionally.  No more letting things happen and then we deal with the aftermath...live intentionally.  

I was intentional when I raised my children in the house of God.  When I taught them about loving God most, tithing and faithfulness.  What was my intention?
For my children to KNOW God intimately.  For it to be more than just a Sunday/Wednesday kind of thing.  For Jesus to be such a part of them that we cannot see the dividing line where He begins and they end.  That was my intention.  

There are so many out there who are considered the "Walking Wounded."  We hear and read so much about how the church wounded me and how they cannot recover.  I am here to tell you this morning that, that is your choice. You can decide to live a wounded life or to live a healed life.  Be intentional.  
Decide to live healed and then refuse to let wounds take root in your spirit from here on out.  

Yes, I am aware that sometimes people hurt others/us.  And sometimes we need help getting through the emotions and physical wounds of such tragedies. I'm not saying, "Don't get help"...I am saying "Your spirit is the key to your future and above all else Proverbs 4:23 says, we should guard it with all diligence. (the Bible translates the word for heart and spirit interchangeably)"-Brian Houston  

My spirit soars...it is free from fears & wounds

I am doing a study on "My Spirit My Responsibility".  I just keep hearing in my mind, Live intentionally!  It's like screaming at me.  Don't be afraid to say I did it on purpose or that was my intention. 

The Lord is well aware of our motives anyway.  Even if we can fool the world around us...we cannot fool God.  

The LORD'S light penetrates the
human spirit, exposing
every hidden motive.
-Proverbs 20:27 

People may be pure in their 
own eyes, but the LORD
examines their motives.
-Proverbs 16:2

I have to guard my heart/spirit every day.  I cannot let things settle in that have no business being there.  I have to be able to recognize the bad and protect my spirit from it.  That means, I have to be so well acquainted with the good, the lovely, the pure, the right...with JESUS, that the bad, ugly, wounds have no place to take root.  I have to intentionally live a life of love.  

I love on purpose.  I love you on purpose.  I love me on purpose.  I love God on purpose.  I am not forced to do it...I do it because God taught me how to.  

Fear or beauty?
I choose to see beauty.   

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mirror, Manual, Power, Life

That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.
-Joel 2:12-13 NLT

How do I tear my heart?  

What does that mean?

When I read this scripture yesterday, it gave me pause.  It made me stop and take a look at my heart.  What is the condition of my heart?  The heart is deceitful and will lead me to places that I don't really want to go.  It needs to be watched closely and reigned in.   

The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse 
and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! 
Who can know it 
[perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?
I the Lord search the mind, 
I try the heart, 
even to give to every man according to his ways, 
according to the fruit of his doings.
-Jeremiah 17:9-10 AMP
As I read about the deceitfulness of my heart, how my heart needs to be torn in order to return to the LORD, I think of David.  How is heart was broken because of his sin when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had Uriah killed so as to not be found out.  I can still hear in my mind the cries of David, his cries of repentance.  David got a glimpse of the wickedness of his heart...it was not a pleasant sight. (Psalm 51) 
Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of my own heart.  It's a scary place.  The heart is sometimes like an unruly child in a store.  It's not sure what it wants, it just knows it wants something.  It could have every need met and every desire fulfilled but it just wants something new.  I mean, you can't go into a store and come out empty-handed.  Parents will sometimes have to say NO.  Oh how I hate that word.  I hate to be told no and I truly hate to tell people no.  And then if the child insists on throwing a fit, causing a scene, being disrespectful and unkind...well then he/she must endure the discipline.  TA DA...sometimes, we have to discipline our heart until we change our ways.  
The condition of my heart isn't always about lust or sexual desires (this is what usually comes to our minds when we talk about the heart).  It can be subtle things like un-forgiveness, bitterness, strife, glory seeking, fear, insecurities...the list is extensive.  
What resource do we have to discipline our own hearts.  What is scale?  How do we know?  

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power 
[making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; 
it is sharper than any two-edged sword, 
penetrating to the dividing line of 
the [a]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, 
and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging 
the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12 AMP
The Word of God is our mirror...it shows us the condition of our hearts.
The Word of God is our manual...it tells us how to rid our hearts of sin.
The Word of God is our power source...it keeps us safe from future attacks of our unruly hearts, if we turn it on.  
The Word of God is our Life Line... Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. -Mark 13:31 NLT
How do I tear my heart?  Turn it towards God!!!  Guard it. Be mindful of it's wickedness.  Be ready to repent...turn from your way of doing things.  Open the WORD and learn from it, do what it says, stand on it, write it on your heart, write it on the walls of your home, speak it, rehearse it, sing it, live it.

I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
-Psalm 119:11 NLT

My new BRAVE necklace...I love it.
link here

Friday, January 16, 2015

Consumer Christian or Servant?

While my Mom was driving down the road yesterday, we started talking about seeing beyond ourselves.  How do we as Christians get beyond living, giving, praying, interceding for ourselves?  When do we have enough and stop living a Consumer Christian life and start being a servant?  

If we can never get past seeing our own needs and wants than we will forever be needy and greedy. We become hoarders.  When we refuse to give because we are fearful that someone might have something we don't, our hearts become hardened to the needs of others and our ability to truly see becomes altered and filtered through selfish lenses.  

Not a good look

As Christians, we are instructed to be servants...servants of all.  

But Jesus called them together and said, 
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, 
and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  
But among you it will be different. 
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 
and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 
For even the Son of Man came not to be served 
but to serve others 
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
-Matthew 20:25-28 NLT
Even Jesus came to earth as a servant.  He washed the feet of the disciples at the last supper.  He humbled himself and took on the sins of the world...stripes upon His back...for us.  
I know, we hear it all the time.  We know the stories inside out.  But what happens when a hoarder has consumed so much that he/she doesn't even know what they have in their home or car?  Things start to rot and the stench starts to permeate the outside.  Their homes become cesspools of waste, vermin, disease.  They are killing themselves because something has happened and now everything is sentimental...they are unable to part with anything because they might need it, miss it or want it.  It is an altered sense of reality. Their ability to see beyond themselves is gone.  Our "Stuff" becomes our idols, our "Stuff" (in our altered state) becomes our source of happiness and peace. But that is not what God intended for our lives.  

 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, 
and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, 
and you will no longer worship idols.
 And I will give you a new heart, 
and I will put a new spirit in you. 
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart 
and give you a tender, responsive heart.
 And I will put my Spirit in you 
so that you will follow my decrees 
and be careful to obey my regulations.
-Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT
How can I get out of this me, me, me, mentality?
Start by praying for someone else, more than you pray for yourself. (Not pointing out all their shortcomings but by praying blessings on them...when they are blessed, you will be blessed.)
Meet a need for someone, silently.  Just sit back and watch.  Let God get all the praise. (It doesn't have to be something big.  Do what you can...God will always give a giver something to give.)
As you start to become a servant, watch God give you a tender, responsive heart.  One thing that is 100% certain, You cannot out-give the LORD.  
Look how God blesses (My parents with all 8 great grandkids)
I know the "old" man has been there a long time.  They say that it took God a couple of plagues to get the Israelites out of Egypt but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Israelites.  So, it takes time.  But we should be making progress.  Eventually, the walls have to fall...the "old" man has to die.  I shouldn't be the same as I was 20 years ago.  I shouldn't be the same as I was 10, 5 or even a year ago.  I want to be made new.  
When David had Uriah killed and the prophet Nathan called him out on it, David didn't rise up in rebellion against God and Nathan.  No, David cried out to God.  In Psalms 51...you can feel the repentance of David.  You can feel his grief over his sin.  Oh, how he let his lust and greed turn him into a murderer.  But David repented and his words are repeated throughout the ages..."Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me."  This is my hearts cry today and everyday.  

This is how we become servants of all.  This is how we get our vision corrected and see beyond what we want and need.  This is how the world is changed.