No! Not My Coupon Folder…Beth Farley

No! Not My Coupon Folder!!!securedownload-4

A few weeks before I moved to Texas my daughter gave me a crash course on extreme couponing. I took notes, clipped my coupons, browsed the web sites and became hooked. I didn’t think I’d become a “stockpiler” but guess what? I am. I am unemployed with very little means of money so this is a way of saving, BIG TIME. I only stock pile on things that we can use. Anything beyond that boundary is donated to the food pantry down the road.

I had an unsettling day this week. I was so distracted by the chatter in my head. I couldn’t settle down to my devotions or Bible reading time. I was bopping all over the house, trying to keep busy from my feelings. Have you ever been there?

There was one thing though that was pulling me towards sitting at the table; it was my desire to do my coupon clipping. I made a cup of coffee, started clipping and sorting and stacking. I began to feel peaceful and content.

Once this blissful task was done, which by the way, takes quite a bit of time, I went over to my desk to get my purple coupon folder only to find it wasn’t there. I went out to my car and checked under the seats, in the trunk and glove compartment. I retraced my steps for at least 45 minutes. My body was gripped with frustration and anxiety. I was frantically looking for my purple folder. All of the Sunday coupons were in that folder. I had not even redeemed half of them yet. I think I might have even spewed a few unnecessary words while in my crazy attempt at finding the folder.

Plopping on the couch and feeling deflated, I realized that I had been so engulfed in the tantalizing coupon folder that I kinda felt ashamed of my behavior. I had not done my devotions. I had not looked at my Bible. I had not prayed nor done any writing which God had called me to do. Why hadn’t I been as passionate about spending time with God this day as I had been about trying to find my coupon folder?

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so engulfed in something that you just can’t wait to dig in? You know, the Sunday football game, your golf game, your pedicure, shopping or craft project; these are all great things and God wants us to enjoy them but we all know as Christian we need to find the balance.

John 10:10…A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. HCSB

One of the greatest things about being human is our tenacity. Life goes on. Sometimes worse for the wear, sometimes better for our efforts, but it always goes on. God takes these things, these daily distractions and files them under the category of “GRACE”.

We are human; He is ALL. We make mistakes; He fixes them. We get distracted; He pulls us closer.

There are times where you just have to drop the whole thing and start again. The purple folder is still missing but today I’m writing. Today I’ve spent time with Him and today…I set out for a new folder….

Psalm 96:1
Sing a new song to the LORD Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

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Brown Tail Moth and Generosity

Thoughts for the day: Are you a generous person? Is there someone that needs your help? Are you willing to give it?

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Have you ever heard of brow-tail-moth-rash? I never had until someone mentioned it. Actually it was several someones that told me about it when they examined the rash forming on my arm and neck.I learned a lot about the moth itself, the rash and the most effective treatments. But, what I really learned about it was GENEROSITY.

What do you think of when you hear the word generosity? When I looked it up on vocabulary.com, generosity is a quality that’s a lot like unselfishness. We have all been created to be generous but so many times we miss the mark.

Jesus teaches us to be generous in many ways. It may be with our financial contribution towards a worthy ministry, or physical help with the elderly. I never thought I’d see generosity  in the way I experienced last night.

I went up to the golf club and all of the women knew I was itchy and they all pulled out their sprays ready to spray me down. You see, if you get brown-tail-moth-rash, there is a very powerful prescription spay that works instantly. There I was, standing on the deck of the golf club, sweetly being sprayed from head to toe.

You would think that one would do that when you’ve known someone for years, but this my friends, was the generosity of some ladies that I’ve just met in the past month. GENEROSITY!

Acts 20:35 give us a great example of Jesus’ words:

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

And in Matthew 6:21 we are told that where our treasure is, there our heart will be. These ladies were spraying me with their whole hart, no strings attached, just wanting to help me. One woman gave me her magic spray to take home. That’s generosity!

Where’s your heart? When you’re being generous towards others is it for your own good or for their good?

Lord, help us to examine our hearts and give generously the way you ask us to. Amen.IMG_1158

Don’t Detach From the “God” Stuff in Life

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Is there something or someone you are trying to detach from?

Detachment doesn’t come naturally for many of us. In order to move on in our lives and live in the freedom that God intends for us, sometimes detachment is necessary. But, detach from what? Certainly not God; no, we are to stay attached at the hip with the Man who created us.

When I choose to detach, I see things clearly and realize that it was never for me to have and control to begin with. As believers, how can we practice the principle of detachment when necessary?ID-10069211

First of all, we must stay in constant prayer. My all time favorite prayer is the Serenity Prayer. I have it posted on my refrigerator, it’s on my prayer altar and in most of my Bibles. God is the only one who can equip you with the wisdom necessary in deciphering to let go or not. Over the last few years, I’ve had to learn to detach from unhealthy people and situations. It was hard but necessary. Now, my life is being lived in freedom.

Detachment is not a curse but a gift. 

Dear God: Today I will only hold onto your grace and stay attached to you, I will detach from the unhealthy areas of my life.

What do you need to detach from? This is not a question to take lightly. You should give it much thought. Is there a coworker, a friend or spouse’s behavior that you need to let go of? Whatever it is, God will equip you with the right tools. Don’t detach from Him. If you go astray, you will l give up the best part of your being.

Matthew 10:38 NIV
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Come and join us at living by grace as we talk about detaching from harmful people or behaviors.

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Are You Afraid?

My Dog’s Fear

Thought for the day: What are you afraid of?

A few days back a family member came for a visit and brought her three dogs. They were well-behaved and friendly. Two were small and one was huge. My stinking dog was deathly afraid of them. They were harmless, especially the big dog; he had difficulty moving around and was extremely calm. While the dogs appeared to invade dog’s comfort zone, she climbed right up onto the top of the chair and rested herself on the back. She sat right on top of Bill’s head, so I snapped a picture. It looked like a fairly bald man was sporting a new wig. We were all laughing so hard. We found the whole thing to be very funny, however my dog didn’t. She was having nothing to do with the visiting dog thing and wanted everyone to go away.

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For those of you who know my dog, you know how cuddly she is. You know how much she loves people, loves to be on a lap resting with anyone who will allow her to. BUT, don’t bring your dog around; she will cower. I have tried all different types of enforcement in hopes that one of my methods would draw her closer to another dog, but to no avail. She’s just afraid. She’s eight years old and is not about to change now.

When the dogs left, she finally came off of the chair and regained her domain.

I started thinking about the things that I’m afraid of and how I don’t like to tell others. I will do anything to avoid talking about my fears. No one is really comfortable with sharing their feelings about their insecurities especially when they are meeting new people or seeking a relationship.

Have you had to share a fear with someone? Did they understand or laugh?

Sadly, I think in my youthful days, I’ve laughed a time or two about someones hang up. Ugh! It’s crazy how we judge like that and then the table turns on us. We become afflicted with a fear and someone doesn’t understand and chuckles under their breath. It’s just not right to judge the hang-ups of others.

God instructs us to not judge others!

James 4:11-12 ESV…Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Is there someone in your life that you need to be a little bit more patient with and try to be more understanding regarding their fears?

Lord, I am in no way perfect and have my own hangups. Help me to be very sensitive towards the fears of others. Help me to judge not.beth new pic

Shifting Winds

Waves on the Lake

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Thought for the day: Think about the turbulent times in your life. How did your survive?

I can watch the waves on this beautiful lake all day long. Sometimes the water looks as still as a mirror and just within a matter of minutes, the wind will shift causing rough violent white caps.

Does this description sound like your life at times? Is everything all calm and in order, then in a blink of an eye, it turns turbulent?

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Today all within a matter of fifteen minutes, I not only observed a calm mirror-like lake, then within an hour the wind shifted, picked up from the North which kicked up some violent waves. The funny thing is, I watched it as it was approaching from across the lake. The thunder started to roll, lightning strike and before we knew it, we were in a full-blown storm.

Being prepared just doesn’t cut it at times because storms are unpredictable. Knowing how to deal with them is the key. We have generators, flashlights, candles, extra water and plenty of food.

During the spiritual storms of our lives, we also need to know how to deal with them. When they hit, we can be still or act crazy. I would opt for being still. When we are still, we can be more in tune as to what’s causing the storm.

As the storm passed through, the lake was once again calm and content. I desire calm; how about you? I desire to be still and pay attention to what’s happening in my life so that I can come out on the other side maybe a less wounded or broken.

Matthew 8:24

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.

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A PLUNGE OF FAITH

What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.Genesis 17:5 NLT

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Thought for the day: Is there something that you need to trust and plunge into?

During my recent visit to our family camp, I finally found it warm enough, not hot, but warm enough to entice me into the water. I am a swimmer and love the lake. Every time I visit camp, that’s all I want to do; plunge into the crystal clear blue water, swim, snorkel and float.

I am not a plunger though; I tip-toe in. First I get the toes in, slowly work the knees in, even more slowly step out to waist-high water then usually at that point, I will plunge. NOT THIS TIME!!! It was way too cold. From the shore my mom kept shouting, “Just plunge in.” I yelled back, “I’m too scared I’ll have a heart attack; it’s way too cold.”

Have you ever been faced with something enticing but difficult but you knew the only way to do it would be to just plunge in? Maybe it’s been a task at work, a ministry at church or in my case, a move to a new state.

I knew for well over a year that I needed to be with my mom but didn’t quite understand the direction my life was taking. I had to trust and just plunge in. This was a calling on my life and there was no negotiation. There was no sitting around waiting…This was a “GO” and it will be revealed later. This was a PLUNGE of FAITH.

We can look into Genesis 12:1-4 and see an example of God instructing Abram to GO. He told him to leave his country and family and go into a new land and promised to lead him and bless him there. Abrams was 75 years old. Can you imagine picking up your life and plunging into a move at the age of 75? I barely survived at 52…We know that at the end of the story Abram was blessed and his name was changed to Abraham, meaning: “Father of many nations” and those nations are blessed today because of his obedience to plunge in with both feet by faith.

We can easily bring up excuses to God as to why we can’t go all in. Instead of going, we hesitate a bit in fear of what might happen. I have not taken the plunge into the cold water yet, but I will. I DID however, take the plunge when God said, “Go to Maine.” Here I am, in a fantastic church, making great new friends, spending much-needed time with my mom and enjoying my life as it is. I’m trusting the journey.

Are You?

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Show and Tell

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Thought for the Day: Are you afraid to come out of your comfort zone?

Getting back into the world after a huge loss can be difficult. Believe me, I’ve been there, but at some point God wants us to break out of our comfort zones and share ourselves with other people.

Have you ever been afraid to share yourself with others because of your imperfection? I have. I have gone through cycles in life feeling less worthy of God’s grace causing me to feel imperfect. That emotion though, does not come from God, but rather from my own fleshly insecurities.

God gives each one of us our own individual talent but for some reason, we tend to keep it inside. Some of us won’t share because we may feel vulnerable; afraid others might exploit us and make us feel less than who we are.

Who has ever shared something personal with people who in turn didn’t respect your feelings? I have! I have participated in prayer groups and shared one-on-one where people felt it more necessary to gossip about a prayer request rather than pray over it. It has caused me more than a few times, to close up and desire to not share at all. Been there?

Maybe we share and scare someone into forming opinions? Was the timing off or were they judging where they should not have been? I think it can be both ways. We can say we’re going to pray but are so preoccupied with our own “junk” that we forget to really pray, but, if the opportunity arises, we’ll share with someone else that prayer request. Not for them to pray but for the judging gossip. Ouch! I’ve been guilty of that in the past. There were times I was too busy to pray and  formed opinions before truly knowing a person or their situation. I was never really much into gossip though. Thank you Lord. I’m much better at not judging, but rather, asking God to reveal if there is something I should be aware of. I do not want to make anyone feel imperfect.

God powers us with wisdom. He will show us how to choose safe people with whom we can share our vulnerability with and by this, we may allow others to be vulnerable too and participate in show-n-tell time with us.

Oh Lord, help us to be more aware each day of who is hurting and truly remember to pray for them. Help us to be able to share with others without feeling inadequate or fearful. Amen.

Is there something you need to share with someone? Please know that you may share here at Living by Grace. There are wonderful, loving Christian women who will pray for you. Please join our conversation as I host today’s discussion on coming out of our comfort zones and learning to share with confidence.livingbygracepic-jp

Who’s Shoes Are You Trying to Fill?

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Are you trying to be like someone else? Are you trying to fill someone else’s expectations? STOP! You can’t!

My gosh, when I was a young mom I wanted to be the entertainer, the chauffeur, the chef, the activities coordinator, the nursery worker, the VBS helper etc. I wanted to fill the shoes that were just not meant for me. I became drained and cranky. Sound familiar?

Now as an older single woman, I know where God wants me to minister. I am very careful not to step into shoes that were not meant for me. HOWEVER, every now and then, my co-dependent personality wants to rear its ugly head causing me to try on some shoes that are not my size.

I think the greatest shoes that were invented were the flip-flops, the slip on tennis shoe or clog. I am a person that loves to be barefoot. I like to kick off the shoes whenever possible. Wearing laced up or bucked up shoes are too restricting. But, it’s just the opposite in my ministry. I need my shoes buckled and tied so I don’t step out of them into ministries that are not intended for my feet.

We just can’t fill all expectations. We can’t be thin enough, quiet enough, work enough, volunteer enough, sing enough, etc. We are who we are. We all have our own shoes specifically designed for our feet. Now, step into your shoes with confidence knowing you are walking where they are meant to walk.

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Salvation! Where are You?

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How do we find salvation? Certainly not from intellectual understanding, monetary gifts, good works or church attendance. So I ask again, how do we find salvation? We don’t! Salvation finds us.

In reading Romans 10:9 this week, I was reminded of how much God loves me and desires to save us all and keep us  under His wings.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It’s a supernatural thing as we take a step of faith allowing the Spirit of God to come and reside in our hearts. Sounds so simple, right? It is, but, then following the walk of salvation sometimes becomes very difficult.

What do I mean by, “The walk of salvation?” It’s not the Sunday pew that we sit in or the choir we sing in; it’s the heart to want to serve and love other’s unconditionally. It’s the willingness to allow God to work in our lives and mold us into His image. It’s the faith in knowing that we can go to Him for forgiveness and feel cleansed by the blood of Christ on the Cross.

I have made tons of mistakes in my life; I’ve even made recent mistakes that I regret. I am a sinner who needs His grace to guide me along this journey. I will continue to make mistakes and will continue to fall onto my knees. BUT, He chose little old me, a sinful woman to write His love words for others. God, you’re so good!

Dear Lord, I thank you so much for choosing e and saving me from myself. When I see others struggling to know your love, help me to see their pain and comfort them. Let me waste not any trial I’ve gone through. Amen20150614_144541

When the Time is Right My Child

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All in God’s timing; how many times have we sputtered those words to comfort someone and yet couldn’t grasp them for our own lives?

We want it now~that job, pay check, car, relationship. We want our life to change: When will I get what I long for?

God tells us to sit and if we truly listen to Him, we will wait. So we wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes anxiously~but~obediently we wait!

We must not fall back into old patterns of predicting His timing and what the future is going to hold, circling dates and asking God a million questions. We are to wait until we hear His still small voice before we act. Oh Lord, please forgive me when I make it more about me than You.

When the time is right my child!

In His timing, all will be revealed. Take action to perfect your imbalance, but be willing to move according to God’s timing, not your own.

Read 1 Chronicles 17:1-15

Be inspired as David waits on God’s timing concerning instructions on building the temple before God gives him the go-ahead.

Oh God, I’m so sorry when I can’t hear you say to wait. I jump with both feet first without thinking about what you want. Help me to put the hurts down and step forward in faith knowing the time will be right when you say so.20150614_144541

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, do I Reflect God’s Love at All?

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The mystery in love, in work and in life is being ourselves. Our essential nature is not change who we are~it is to enhance what God has given us.

By enhancing the beautiful beings we are, we must stay close to God’s direction. We must take a look at ourselves and ask, do I reflect Your love God? When we pause, and truly think on this question, we will see all of His love, that fills our hearts as we become more of ourselves in Jesus Christ. The best part is that His love is unconditional; we don’t have to beg for it. We just have to accept it and enhance it by loving others.

Anything or anyone who asks you to be other than who you are in Christ is not in tune with God themselves. They will make you stumble and fall. This will cause a blockage in your heart, causing you to be unable to feel God’s love and worse yet, reflect it.

I pondered on today’s scripture in church and was reminded that people who cause dissensions and obstacles with their smooth talk are capable of causing me to doubt God’s love. I want to reflect Him in all that I do.(Romans 16:17-18) I can do plenty of stumbling on my own, I don’t need help from someone else who might trip me up even more.

The smallest stem of a damaged heart, holds the essence of who we are. We all have hurt and pain. We must take that damage that’s been done, saving the scraps of experience to help remind us of how powerful the Healing Heavenly Father is.

Thank you Jesus for every great experience you give me, and even for the not-so-great ones I cause myself. I just want to learn more, grow more and give more.