Sunday, January 30, 2011

Having Patience

Lately, I've been thinking about what areas of my life I could be working on, especially in regard to the new year.
One of them is so obvious, it sticks out to me every day.

"You're taking forever to put your shoes on!"
"Mary Catherine, I'm trying!"
"They're going to leave without you!"

Every single older sibling that I know endures the constant waiting on a younger child. And sometimes - Okay, a lot - I get a little - Okay, a lot - impatient.
What can we do about it?
Did you know that patience is one of the fruits of the spirit? In James 5:7, the Bible tells us to be patient for the coming of the Lord. Imagine how patient God has to be with us, his little children. We stray off of the righteous path countless times, but does he get irritated or give up on us? No! He is patient, setting for us a Holy example. Sometimes we have to patiently wait for God to answer prayer. Psalm 40:1 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry."
Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary; They shall walk and not faint."
If we wait patiently, God will strengthen us. He loves and cares for us, and he never gives us more waiting than we can handle. God died for us. Don't you think that we can at least lovingly wait on our siblings?
Have a blessed day!
--Mary Catherine

Monday, January 17, 2011

Putting others first

[a very short devotion]

Read Philippians 2:3
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit, but in all things consider others better than yourselves."

Ouch! This very may seem impossible, but when we rely on God's power, we find the strength necessary to obey.
Followers of Jesus put others first. They seek to live this way every day. Of course they aren't perfect, but when they mess up, they ask for forgiveness and move on.

What is the most challenging thing about putting other first?
my Pastor's Wife's answer: I keep getting in the way. They don't say "thank you". Sometimes you can't do enough for them

The key to putting others first:
Listen first. Talk second. Always, always, always listen first and talk second. You many have the most fascinating life, but other people would rather talk about themselves. When you listen first and talk second then you give others the rare chance to express who they are, where they are, and what they are about. 

Most importantly: 
To truly listen first and talk second, forget about yourself and forget about what is important to you. Be able to listen to them without ever saying a word about yourself. You may be tempted to talk about yourself because we all have the need to have others notice us, recognize us, and give us attention. However, when we demand others notice us, recognize us, and give us attention by dominating a conversation, we end up ignoring others and we turn others off by letting them know they come second in our life instead of coming first.

I hope this has encouraged you to start(or continue) to put others first. 
Ashley Jean

PS- want a part 2 to this post focusing on listening tips/skills?
PPS- I would love to hear what you have to say!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walking in the Fruits of the Spirit - Love

Recently, I've been studying in my morning devotions how to walk in the Fruits of the spirit. I'm studying in the section of Love.

Love is such a powerful thing! It's not only about romance and marriage. Love is so much more. It takes so much love to forgive someone that hurts you, or to love someone that you don't necessarily like. I'm sure we've all crossed paths with that.

In my study, the writer uses an example from the Elise Dinsmore Books where someone had pushed Elsie hard down a hill and she fractured her ankle. When she heard about what his consequences would be (That he would be sent off to boarding school, away from his family}, she begged them not to be so harsh on him, for she couldn't imagine herself in his situation. Honestly, I must confess that I wouldn't have been so forgiving and loving as Elsie was. And though she is a fictional character, she is a great example. It must've taken great love to feel that way.

God says so many times in the bible to love others.
Doing good to those that hurt you, loving your enemies, loving others as yourself, etc.The biggest example of love that could ever be imagined is when God gave up His own son for us! Can you imagine doing so? He sent His son so that we might have eternal life by believing in Him {John 3:16}.

At church on Sunday,our pastor did an example of it. Taking a father and son and putting you in God's shoes. How hard it must've been to do that!


This week, I'm supposed to memorize a verse that I love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

If you don't have this verse memorized, I encourage you to do it!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spiritual Fitness

Hello there, fellow bloggers, staff, and teenagers!
Ah, the new year. It looms ahead of us like a giant present from a distant relative - it could be something really amazing, or something terrible like a scratchy yellow sweater that sits in the back of your closet until your mom yanks it out and gives it to Goodwill.
The point is, it's all in how you look at it. The other day, I made a goal/dream/resolutions list for 2011. It was mostly made up of things I want to become and goals I want to reach - such as saving up for a Nikon D60 camera.
But one of the first things on my list that popped into my head was my goal to have a better relationship with God. But I have to ask myself, what is the best way to do that?
Let's back up to another subject for a second. I recently started working out regularily at my local fitness center, and something very noticeable occured this week - there were three times as many people there in the mornings! The classes were packed. It was, of course, because of all of the New Year's resolutions that people made. However, by the end of the next week, the crowd flow is back to normal again, because those same people decided that fitness wasn't important enough to them.
It's the same with spiritual health. Have you ever vowed to get closer to God and then ran out of time for Him due to soccer practice, ballet rehearsals, etc.? That's where we go back to the relationship-with-God goal on the list.
How can you become spiritually fit in the coming year?
Think of God as your best friend - your BFFL (best friend for life). Wouldn't you want to spend a lot of time with your best friend? In fact, God is better than a best friend - he can be there for you whenever you need him - even late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
Even if you're busy, you can still make sure that you always have time to get to know God. It might mean getting up ten to thirty minutes earlier than everyone else for some quiet time, or staying up a little later with a flashlight for some Bible reading. If you can, find a special quiet time spot outdoors (well, not in this cold weather, but later in the spring) where you can sit on a blanket and just talk to God and admire his creation. We each give glory to Him in our own way. For me that means giving him glory through the things I love - I dance for Him, sing for Him, and take photographs of all He has given us in nature. Look deep inside your heart and find out how your talents can make Christ's name known. Through all of this, you can grow and make stronger your relationship with Christ throughout 2011.
That's my "spiritual fitness" plan for this year. Anyone care to join me?