Friday, April 27, 2012

Mirror, Mirror... Week 2


The table was ready for the arrival of the Premier Girls for week 2 of our Bible study.  This week was our first lesson and the beginning of discovering where we are spiritually on our journey with the Lord.

The PG's (Premier Girls) were very prepared to share what God had taught them this past week and it was a beautiful sight to see as they did so.

Mirror, Mirror, who can it be? Who is it that I really see?

The focus of this week was to take a good look at ourselves in the mirror; to stare deep into the eyes of our souls; to search for who was really staring back at us. What did our reflections reveal about who we really are? 

Then we allowed the Lord to examine our hearts using Psalm 51.  Wash, cleanse, renew, create, acknowledge, sustain, etc... were some of the verbs that we identified in this heart-wrenching prayer of repentance scripted by David.


The most difficult part of taking the next step on our journey towards Jesus, is being honest with ourselves, and with Him, about how He sees us and then, admitting that changes need to be made.  Real confession of sin, plus real repentance from sin, produces a clean heart.  When our hearts are clean, then the channel of our souls open up and allow Christ to flow in, through, and out of us. 

Sin clogs the channel.  Sin hinders our effectiveness for Christ.  Sin distorts the mirror image.


A renewed relationship, without the hinderance of sin, frees up the channel so Christ's love can flow freely through us and onto other people.  Confession and repentance are the keys to unlocking the door to a renewed and joy-full relationship with Jesus.  Renewing the relationship leads to a life that is effective;  a life that reflects His image in the mirror AND to the world.


"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me"
Psalm 51:10 NIV.

I can't wait 'til next week!

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Job for a Day


When you see a daylily what do you see? 

In the morning, it opens up. Fresh. New. Beautiful. 

It is on display all day long.

In the evening, the daylily closes as if to say,
"My work is done."

And guess what.  It's work is done.

The daylily's plant name is Hemerocallis
which comes from two Greek words
meaning "beauty" and "day".   

(Source:  www.daylilies.org/AHSFAQsNew.html

The daylily's beauty is only for a day, and then...it dies.

So what is the daylily's job for a day?

It's to proclaim the glory of God for one day and one day only.



Isaiah 6:3 tells us: 

"And they (seraphs) were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is
the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is filled with His glory."

Just look around you.  Do you see it?

Listen! 

Can you hear it?

God's symphony - played with perfection - by His creation!


Behind each gorgeous bloom are many tiny buds anticipating the right moment designed just for them.

Each one waiting their turn, their ordained time in history,

to proclaim the glory of the Creator;

for one day and one day only.


I wonder.

How would I spend today if I knew it was the only one I had?

Would I wake up with anticipation saying, "Today is my day to burst into bloom and proclaim the glory of the Lord!"? 



"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139:15-16 NIV

How are you going to spend the day? 

Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me to awaken every morning with the thought, "Today is my day to proclaim Your glory!" I don't know how many days are ordained for me, but please give me strength, and courage to proclaim You this day.  I want to spend my days well!  Amen. 

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Morning's Retreat

This morning's retreat was intentional time with the Lord.

Intentional.  I am carving time out for Him with a specific purpose. 

What is that purpose? 

To know Him more!

Participating in this study, which I've asked others to do with me, will help hold me accountable to that purpose and desire.

Follow along with me as I journal through the next several weeks. 


Wash, cleanse, cleanse, wash, renew, create, save, sing...

Words I wrote down in my journal from my reading of Psalm 51.  These are pleading words that David used to express his longing to be in a once familiar place. 

 A place of joy.  

David needed to renew his realtionship with God. Restoration. A fresh start. A clean slate. A pure heart that could sing again!

This is my desire too. 


Wash me. Cleanse me. Renew me. Restore me, Lord.  Keep me close. 
Keep my heart pure and away from sin. 
Fill my heart full of joy so I can sing praises unto Your name!
Amen.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" Psalm 51:10 NIV.

My Pleasure,
Melanie




 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Premier Day - Twelve Hours and Counting!


7:00 am. My alarm goes off. (My alarm is my husband kissing me goodbye.)
Then, my doorbell rings.  It's Kelly with the bread for sandwiches. 
Oh my!  It's here!  "Premier Day" - 
the day I've been preparing for all week (really all year).

But, first things first.  COFFEE! 
One of my pleasures and one of my needs.

Next, it's on with the day's final preps for tonight.


There are certain things that can only be done the day of, so...
I address envelopes for notecards, vacuum and set up chairs,
place the finishing touches on the table, swiffer the hardwoods...
Goodness, I have to hurry.
 My first piano student of the day arrives at 3:30 pm. 


I make the tea and the lemonade with fresh strawberries, and then, after my students,
I make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Because I love to wrap gifts,
 I wrap each sandwich individually with saran wrap,
 and then with decorative tissue paper to add a personal touch.



The time has arrived!
The girls will be coming through the front door any minute now.


Light the candles.



As the flow of company poured into my home, some of my frequent Bible study girls
arrived early to help with greeting, nametags, serving, etc.


The food, the ambience, the sweet fellowship, graced with the presence of the Holy Spirit,
blend together to create a fragrant aroma.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
 and through us spreads everywhere
 the fragrance of the knowledge of Him" 2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV.

Tonight?  More than wonderful. 
God continues to amaze me as to how He
brings women together of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences,
to one place, for one purpose; to know Him. 

17 ladies circled around my den walls,
signed the Red Carpet Pledge, prayed together,
 discussed why they chose to come,
 and selected a secret accountablity sister for the duration of the study. 
What a night! 






"The Premier Girls"
Let the journey begin!

See you next week!

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Friday, April 20, 2012

Prepping for Premier!




This week has been full of preparations
for the arrival of the "Premier Girls"!
Dusting, cleaning bathrooms,
shopping for just the right special touches,
has filled my week with such fun and anticipation.











As I've stated in an earlier blog, God has given me the gift of hospitality.  I love to entertain people in my home!  It gives me such a sense of satisfaction, purpose and pleasure. 
Handwriting each name of the Premier Girls!



As I prepared each name tag, I prayed that God would do a mighty work in each one's life. 
Each lady has been designed by the Master Designer to reflect His character. 
Each of His creations is unique and has a specific purpose. 
AND... He knows our names


From the door prizes....

 
 to the table...


every detail has a purpose.



 I've hosted and facilitated Bible studies in my home for years,
but this one is different and especially exciting. 
God gave me a study to write. 
Preparing and writing with the Lord for almost a year has been phenomenal.
To write what God has placed on your heart, 
and to be able to experience it with a group of women 
who have expressed that this is what they need...WOW!! 


Prepping for the Premier has been...

My Pleasure,
Melanie


 "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand" Psalm 16:11 NIV.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Place of Retreat

What does this room say to you? 


It speaks many things to me.  "Come into the light."  "Come on in and sit awhile."
It also beckons to me, "Stillness and quiet await you."

This is the view from my breakfast room out onto my enclosed patio.
A serene area of my home where I plan to spend a lot of time over the next 8 weeks.


I am truly looking forward to the premier of a new Bible study
 beginning this Thursday night. 
I'm calling it a "premier" because this study has never been done before. 
You see, I wrote this study.
It's something that I've always wanted to do.
And now, God has given me the opportunity and a "study" to write.
I'm so excited about what God has instore for the "Premier Girls".

18-20+ women will grace my home with their presence this week. 
They've agreed to be my guinea pigs, and
they will be accountability partners for me and each other.

The study is called "Renew, Refresh, and Refine...
Your heart, soul, and mind"
A journey in becoming the reflection of Christ you were created to be. 

 So, as I make my way to my place of retreat this week, and the weeks to come,

This room says to me...

 Come.  Christ will light up His truth.  Read His Word. 
 Come.  He wants to sit a while.   Seek His face.
  Come.  He is God.  Be still and quiet.
Come.  He will speak.  Listen.

 With Great Anticipation...

My Pleasure,
Melanie
 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Resurrection Friday and Saturday: Escape!

Yesterday we escaped.  Charleston was beautiful.  A perfect day to spend with friends.

 Two Southern ladies trying on hats. You're looking good, Jennie!


As we strolled the uneven pavement of the sidewalks, we talked, looked, and dreamed. I love to gaze into the backyard gardens, search window boxes for ideas, and stare at front door designs.  Each  perfectly manicured home seems to whisper, "Welcome! I'm glad you dropped by."

Every time I'm privileged to go spend time in Charleston, it makes me want to spruce up my yard, freshen up my home, and then invite everyone I know to come over as I imagine my walls whispering, "Welcome", with a typical southern flare.



Then... I'm jolted back to reality.  The "escape" is over. 


The disciples' escape was coming to an end as well.  They were so thrilled to have Jesus back after they thought He was gone forever.  Wouldn't it have been such a joy to just stay with Him in their upper room hide-away, hidden from the world, and feeding off of the Bread of Life?

Jesus appeared to many people over a 40 day period after the Resurrection.  He eventually would not be with them in the physical form.  Their "escape" of literally sitting at the feet of Jesus would soon be over. As Jesus left this earth to go sit at the right hand of the Father, He gave the witnesses an assignment.  "Go ye into all the world..." (Matt. 28:19)  Their responsibility was to get the word out - "Jesus is alive!"  He promised that He would return the same way that He left, but until then, they were to go and tell!

We can only escape for a little while too because we have work to do.  Our responsibility is to tell everyone that we know, "Jesus is alive!" 


We have spent the last seven days continuing Sunday's celebration of the Resurrection.  The Resurrection celebration will go on until He returns.

GO and TELL!

My Pleasure,
Melanie




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resurrection Thursday: Anticipating Great Things!

I spent a portion of today addressing letters and mailing them to the ladies who will be premiering my new Bible Study.  I enjoy hosting/facilitating studies in my home. There's just something special about gathering in a home to study God's Word together and to encourage one another.

One of my spiritual gifts is hospitality and I just love to go all out when I know the girls are coming!  I want them to feel welcomed, at home, and comfortable from the moment their foot hits the foyer. 


On this Resurrection Thursday, I'm thinking about and praying for the ones who will enter these walls next week. Some will bring laughter and smiles. Others will bring heavy hearts and hurts. Each will bring their individual journeys with Christ and claim their space on the red carpeted floor in my den.  We have a saying at all of the studies that take place in our home, "What is said on the carpet stays on the carpet."


As they all arrive next Thursday, each will be bringing something unique to contribute to the group and all will have a different reason for coming.  That's what makes these special times so fun and fills me with great anticipation.



It's the little things that we give attention to that helps make our homes a place that people will want to keep coming back to.  Soothing scents, a clean and fresh look, appetizing foods, a pleasant greeting- these are what people remark about as they first arrive. 



I've even had the guys that meet on Tuesday nights with my husband remark about how our home always smells so good.  What a compliment!




Resurrection Thursday is filling me with great anticipation for how God will work in and through our lives as we continue to make ourselves and our home available for Him to use.  It's one of our greatest pleasures!

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" I Peter 4:9-10 NIV.

My Pleasure,
Melanie



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Resurrection Wednesday! Go Make Disciples!


As we continue to celebrate, this morning I read through Matthew, Mark and Luke's accounts of the days following the grandest of all events in history, thus far. 

What excites me the most is that we, the Church, have been given the awesome responsibility and privilege to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ just like the original twelve!

Just before Jesus ascended to the Father, into heaven, He spoke these words:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 NIV


I am so amazed, even as unworthy and incapable as I am of following through with this task, that Christ has chosen me, covered me with grace, and is continuing to pour Himself into me, just like His first disciples. 

Through Him, I can make disciples too!  His power and His strength are available to me through the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. 


Discipleship begins in the home.  Our first and foremost responsibility is to make disciples of our children.  Rick and I have taken that call very seriously and, although it is not always easy, it is the most precious parenting job that we have. 



Teaching them about Jesus, praying with them and for them, reading God's Word with them, living Jesus in front of (and behind) them, taking them to a Bible-believing, teaching, and discipling church. These are some of the ways we have discipled our children.  We aren't perfect parents by any means. We've made many mistakes. And in doing so, we have taught our children how to ask for forgiveness and what it means to say, "I'm sorry."  Life mess-ups are teachable moments.  Life lessons come from life experiences.

So, as we celebrate this Resurrection Wednesday, let's focus in on our children.  They are God's gift to us.  He has entrusted them to our care to disciple them by pouring ourselves into them so they can, "Go and make disciples!"   I pray that this cycle continues.

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Resurrection Tuesday- Take a Deep Breath!


I've made an intentional decision to leave the table set as it was on Easter Sunday.

A reminder to continue to live with the "He is Risen" attitude and heart.





What Happened on that first Resurrection Evening?

As I was reading in John 20 this morning about what took place after the Resurrection,
 in the closed room in the evening,
 of the first day of the week, Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples. 

 Mary Magdalene had already told the disciples that she had seen Jesus. 
 The disciples were fearful of the Jews, thus the reason for the closed (locked) door.
Jesus came into this room without opening the door. 
His words to the disciples were, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19b)

He identified Himself through His nail scarred hands and His pierced side.

Once the disciples realized it was Jesus, they were glad and I'm sure relieved.

Jesus again said to them, "Peace to you!" (vs. 21)


The next action that Jesus took was to breathe on the disciples.
With His own breath, He breathed on them the Holy Spirit.
He said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (v.22)

The breath of the Lord is powerful.
We experience it every time we take in a breath.
 His breath is what gave the first Adam life.
Now, the second Adam is breathing life again into the disciples.

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us the breath of Jesus everyday!
Let's breathe Jesus on everyone we come in contact with today.
Today is Resurrection Tuesday!
Breathe deep!

My Pleasure,
Melanie