Monthly Archives: May 2014

Garbage In – Garbage Out

Do you have a favorite psalm?

It’s hard for me to pick just one. There are so many that have special meaning to me. They have been my constant companion in my most difficult seasons, filling me with strength and hope, drawing me time and time again into God’s presence. And they are full of rejoicing and singing and celebrating our awesome Lord. The psalms are also filled with how to live a life pleasing to God—the life that brings blessing and light.

One of my favorites is Psalm 101. It is a psalm the Lord used to convict me of something harmful I was doing in my life. It may be something you are doing as well. It is very common among believers, and we often don’t recognize it as the danger it is.

I am excited to be writing for The Psalm Series on Katie Reid’s blog Deep Breaths. This series began on May 26th and will run through July 3rd. My post is featured today.

To read this post on Psalm 101, Garbage In – Garbage Out, please join me over there. (Click here.)

Have a blessed day!

Sabra

 

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Filed under Blameless, Godly Living, Guest Post, Lessons

When You Want to Give Up

Hey, friend.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Like you have given it all you’ve got and you just can’t go on?

I was there Tuesday morning. Stepping onto the elliptical machine, I had finally decided to take control of my body’s inflating fat cells and lack of energy. I was pumped…ready to go. But the dim light over the machine kept my aging eyes from seeing the control panel well. I could just make out INTERVAL. So I punched that button and took whatever workout was previously programmed. (Hey, I figured I could handle it.)

Elliptical

I was going great that first minute. Then…whoa. Suddenly it was like trying to trudge through a pool of mud. I had entered the work interval. And to my utter dismay, I saw it was going to last seven minutes. Seven minutes!

C’mon, Sabra. You can do it. I did my best to cheer myself on. But each and every step was growing more difficult and my muscles started screaming. Watching that timer only made me more aware of my weakness. Just two more minutes…keep going. I put more effort into my arms to ease the pain in my legs. And just when I thought they’d give out, the blessed rest interval rescued me. But it didn’t feel like much of a rest. Just slightly less work. And when the next work interval reared its ugly head a mere two minutes later, the thought of having to endure it again was overwhelming. I just wanted to give up.

No way, Sabra. It took you too long to finally get on this machine. You can’t stop now.

So I kept going and tried to focus on why I was there—to make my body healthy and fit. Knowing I had to keep moving in order to reach my goal and realizing I wouldn’t make it without help, I started praying. I needed more than my strength to keep me going. I needed God’s.

Philippians 4:13 popped into my head: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

And I prayed more. Lord, help me keep going. Give me strength for each step. Get me through this. I’m so weak. I need You.

Does this struggle sound familiar? How often does the same scenario take place in your life?  Trouble comes and you go on for a while okay. But then the difficulty kicks up a notch or two or a hundred, and you become overwhelmed. You feel you can’t go on, and you want to give up.

When you want to give up, give it to God.

Isaiah40.31

God promises to supply you with strength to keep going, one step at a time. And those steps, one by one, will get you where you need to go.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31

God takes our efforts, no matter how weak, and adds His strength to bring about His purposes. By trusting in the Lord to supply all our needs, we grow stronger in our relationship with Him and in faith to depend on Him the next time troubles trample us.

Hopefully with each struggle we face, we will more readily go to God, seek His wisdom, and rely on His strength to attack the problem head-on. The quicker we do this, the greater the possibility we won’t cave under pressure.

The Lord will help us not give in, not lose hope, not give up. He will keep us from crumbling when the pressure gets too great and seems it will never end.

Giving it up to God—letting go of trying to do it all on our own—allows God to do what He does best. He works by His strength, through our weakness, and lets His glory shine.

God kept me going on that elliptical machine. After twenty-five minutes, my wobbly legs stepped off…victoriously. They were worn out, but my soul was doing a victory dance! God supplied the strength I needed to go each step of the way. And I know tomorrow when I start all over again, He’ll be there. I just need to remember that!

Heavenly Father, thank You that we don’t have to face struggles on our own. Help us to turn to You for strength to overcome every difficulty. Keep us from giving up. Help us to persevere and trust in Your provision for all we need to be victorious. May Your glory shine through Your work in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May you be strong through His strength today!

Blessings,
Sabra
 
 

Other Scripture on God’s Strength and Provision:

Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Habakkuk 3:19 – The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. 

2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

 

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.

 

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Filed under God's Works, Hope, Overwhelmed, Prayer, Strength, Success

Simply. Fun. – Road Trip!

This post is about enjoying life. That's what Simply. Fun. posts
are all about. No careful writing. No great biblical insight. Just 
sharing the fun things in life.

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 8:15

 

It’s been a whole year since we left town to go anywhere overnight. As we used to travel several times a year, my hubby was ready to go…anywhere! Our destination this time: San Antonio, to meet some sweet friends.

Road trips have always been enjoyable for us. We have special things we like to do along the way: listening to the radio, looking for photo ops and snapping a pic or two, planning ahead for the best place to eat, searching for some fudge, and timing our stops to include points of interest. And we’re always on the lookout for a Dairy Queen (as Blizzards are, regrettably, a favorite).

100_5731We love taking the back roads and seeing the sights, keeping an eye out for wildflowers and wildlife (which is pretty important or wildlife can turn into road kill pretty fast). And as I love taking photos, taking the road less traveled allows me to pull over, snap a few, and then quickly jump back in the car. That just can’t be done well on the interstate. So back roads were the way to go for this trip.

Transfer from 2007 Laptop 153Always in the past, David has been our driver and I’ve been the navigator. But now, because of my husband’s disability, he can’t drive. That leaves me to sit in the driver’s seat. I’ve driven plenty, but it isn’t my preferred spot in the car. I like riding shotgun. Being the sidekick. Taking a nap. I can’t take a nap when I drive, so now I drink lots of coffee. And then I have to stop more often. (Sorry…TMI.)

100_5752

Picture-taking is always on my mind when we travel. It isn’t as easy watching for the perfect shot when I’m watching the road. But, I did manage to find a few.

100_5748Why is it that when a there is a beautiful landscape just waiting to be photographed, there is absolutely no place along the highway to safely pull over and take a photo? I long for a stunning vista, the sunlight and shadow to fall just so, the animals to be near the fence or wildflowers that take your breath away. And then I see it—the perfect picture. Unfortunately, I’m doing 75 in a 75 and the shoulder is only 3 feet wide. Not one single drive or turn-off in sight. A then it’s gone. Like the proverbial big fish that got away.

100_5945And then there’s country music. Now, we may live in Texas, but we don’t usually listen to country music on the radio. We stay on the Christian music station most of the time. But when we’re out on the open road, we take whatever we can get. And in Texas, that’s country. Since we don’t listen to these songs much, it’s always interesting to listen to the lyrics. You can learn a lot from country songs. Like guys best not mess with country girls. They don’t take kindly to bein’ cheated on. Country boys apparently only drink two things: sweet tea and beer. And if they drink enough of the latter, all their troubles seem to disappear.

100_5955I have to say we were glad we made it to church Sunday morning to be fed some true theology. Otherwise, all we would have been fed was: “God is great. Beer is good. And people are crazy.”*

If we’re gone from home on Sunday we always make it a point to visit a church. This time we were blessed to hear Max Lucado speak in his home church during a wonderful worship service where they baptized…I don’t know…maybe 30-40 people? What a special day to visit!

Transfer from 2007 Laptop 145We stopped in Fredericksburg, a sweet little German heritage town, and walked around historic Main Street. Eclectic shops. Mild temperature. Sunshine. Soft breeze. Prime parking spot. Fudge. What’s not to love?

100_5944Dinner was a stop at a Dairy Queen for a delicious (if not so nutritious) Blizzard while sitting by the creek.

100_5951Two days of traveling the open road. And another item on the bucket list was checked off for the year.

100_5959Road trip.

A blessed weekend. Full of treasures. Full of friends. Full of joy. Full of love.

A precious gift indeed!

Have you been on a road trip lately? If not, do you have a bucket list for this year? Why don’t you tell us about it in the comments below?

Blessings to you,
Sabra

 

* Lyrics from "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington.

Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
All photos by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Bucket List, Enjoy Life, Family Time, Fun, Joy

How to Be the Best Mom Ever

Prov. 31:28 – Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Excellent wives make excellent mothers.

Indeed, the excellent wife described in Proverbs 31:10-31 is a mother.

Not a perfect mother. An excellent mother.

This is an important distinction.

I’ve certainly not been a perfect mother. And if you’re a mother, I know you haven’t either, for no one is perfect. But take heart!

God’s word doesn’t say “A perfect wife who can find?” No. It says “excellent wife.”

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This word translated excellent also means able, strong, efficient. We need these qualities as wives and mothers if we are to serve our families well. But we cannot depend on our own strength and abilities. We’re not made to do it on our own.

We are made to depend on God. All the qualities seen in this amazing woman flow from her relationship with the Lord. She knows Him and fears Him. She follows the wisdom found in His Word. And everything she does comes from a heart of love.

Three Steps to Become the Best Mom Ever:

  • Fear the Lord
Prov. 31:30 – “…a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
 

A mother who has knowledge of the One True God has understanding and wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10).

An excellent mother trusts the Lord, acknowledges His sovereignty, rests in His presence, seeks His righteousness, and depends on His power.  Her relationship with the Holy God is her top priority.

  • Follow God’s Wisdom

Look at this correlation between the excellent wife and wisdom:

Proverbs 31:10 – “…she is worth far more than rubies.” (the excellent wife)
Proverbs 3:15 – “She is more precious than rubies.”(wisdom)
 

Isn’t that fascinating? The same value is placed on wisdom and the excellent woman in Proverbs 31.

These attributes are given to wisdom in Proverbs 3: having riches and honor, pleasant, peaceful, life-giving, blessed/happy, competent, discreet, confident, loyal, faithful, praised, strong, prosperous, good, generous, caring, friendly, gracious, trusting, disciplined.

An excellent mother seeks to know God’s wisdom and strives to live by it. It is seen in everything she does. All of these qualities can be found in her life and her home is blessed by them.

  • Do Everything Out of Love

You won’t find the word love listed in Proverbs 31:10-31. But it flows through the entire passage. Love for the Lord, her family, and her household is behind all that this mother does. Every activity listed here is to benefit them and bring honor to them.

An excellent mother lives by 1 Corinthians 16:14: Do everything in love.”

Love is what spurs her on when life gets tough. Love helps her to respond in godly ways to difficult circumstances. It helps her to give of herself when she wants to give up. It moves her to shower blessings on her family and those around her. Love is her strength. Love is her power.

And that love comes from her Lord.

best moms

The goal of a woman who wants to be an excellent mother can be summed up in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:

“…what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”

This side of heaven we’ll never be perfect mothers. But if we strive for holiness, hopefully—with God’s help—we’ll make it to excellent. And we just might hear our kids say, “You’re the best mom ever!”

Precious Father, help me to be an excellent mother. Let me never forget the great privilege and responsibility You have given me. May I always fear You and follow Your ways. May I live according to Your wisdom. Please fill my heart with Your love that I may pour out that love in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
 
This post has been linked up with my friend Meredith Bernard
on Woman-to-Woman Wednesday at www.4hisgloryblog.com.For 
more posts on Proverbs 31,just click on the link below.
4hisgloryblog.com
Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images:
Mother child in park by artinfarct via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Graphic by Sabra Penley

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Filed under Godly Living, Lessons, Love, Marriage, Motherhood, Wife, Woman-to-Woman

Sweet Encouragement

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

This weekend was a getaway of sorts. A getaway from the everyday.  A time to enjoy the fellowship of sweet friends, to encourage and be encouraged, to enjoy a little travel along the countryside, to snap some photos, and spend more sweet time with my sweetheart.

Our friends from Pennsylvania were visiting family a few hours away and generously invited us to come down and spend some time with them. These aren’t just any friends, these are friends that write the blog Daily Encouragement Net. And right now in our lives, encouragement from these two in person sounded like just what the Doctor ordered.

And encourage they did! As I’ve written before, life is changing for us. As we seek God’s direction for our future in light of my husband’s disability, it is good to hear the thoughts, suggestions, and encouragement of others. Our sweet friends were the perfect ones to share this with, as they are chaplains, have worked in ministry for decades, and have so much wisdom to share.

Our Friends - Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Our Friends – Stephen and Brooksyne Webber

We haven’t known each other long. In fact, this is only the second time we’ve been with them. My husband started reading their blog a few years back and connected with them online. When we traveled to Pennsylvania for David to preach a revival, we connected and met them there for the first time. Even then they graciously opened their home and welcomed us with loving arms.

As a new blogger, I was especially interested to hear about how they got started with their online ministry and share some ideas we have for possible projects in our future. They listened and asked questions. They took a look at this blog and offered suggestions. We laughed, we shared, we listened, we worshipped, we prayed. And we came away from our weekend refreshed.

Refreshed. Restored. Ready for more…of whatever God has for us.

That’s what encouragement does. It lifts up those who are weary and worn and gives them a boost. It is like fresh air being blown into a room that’s stale and still and stuck. It breathes new life into it.

We needed this encouragement from our friends. God knew that. And God sent them our way and gave them such generous hearts to reach out to us and offer their gift of love.

Encouragement

We all need friends. Friends can come from many different places and circumstances. But brothers and sisters in Christ are special friends. We just connect. We’re family.

 Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

God brings us together at specific times for specific purposes. Sometimes God gives us close-by friends. These friends are around us a lot and know us well. Other times, God sends us special friends right when we need them—at a certain time in a certain place.

I want to be both. I want to be the kind of friend that is always near, standing ready to share and uplift, give a hug or be a shoulder to cry on. And I want to be that certain kind of friend that God places in others’ lives for a special purpose, encouraging them as they go through those weary and worn spots in life. Generous and gracious and loving.

Like our friends, Stephen and Brooksyne.

Thank You, Father, for the blessing of friends. Thank You for the encouragement that flows from You into our lives through the love of another. May we be an encouragement to everyone you place in our lives, to lift up the weary and worn, to refresh and revive those weighed down by troubles, and to point them always back to You. Help us to be instruments of Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Stephen and Brooksyne's ministry at www.dailyencouragement.net has been 
such a blessing to us. Please click on the link and check it out. I 
know you will be blessed, too.
All Scripture is from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images: Sabra Penley

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Filed under Encouragement, Friendship, Joy, Love

Would He Marry You Again?

(Hi, friends. Today’s passage from God’s Word is once again about the excellent wife. So it is to all of you women who are married I address this post. But I pray the truths revealed might bless everyone.)
 
 

 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. She rewards him with good, not evil, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).

Why did you marry your husband? Or an even better question is: Why did he marry you? Why did he choose you, above all others, to be his life’s companion?

Couple holding hands

I’ve thought about this the last few days as I read the verse above and wondered just what these verses mean. I like how the New Living Translation puts it: “Her husband can trust her and she will greatly enrich his life.” Wow.

Could that be said about me? Could it be said about you?

What do you think your husband would say about that? Do you think he might say there is something missing in his life…in his relationship with you?

As I pondered this question myself, I thought about what I want from my husband…what I hope to have from him as his bride. See if this list matches yours:

    • To be loved
    • To feel as if I am the most important person in the world to him
    • To be held in his heart as his one and only sweetheart
    • To be appreciated
    • To be trusted
    • To be respected
    • To be his best friend
    • To have a partner in raising our children
    • To know I am valued in his eyes as priceless
    • To spend time with him to talk, to share, to enjoy
    • To be comforted and feel secure
    • For him to encourage and support my walk with the Lord

Your list may not be exactly like mine. But I’m guessing it is pretty close.

Now, go back and read the list again. This time, however, read it as the things your husband hopes to have from you. Go through each one and ask yourself if you are fulfilling that need well.  Is anything missing? Anything lacking?

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Proverbs 31:12 says, “She rewards him with good, not evil, all the days of her life.”

ALL the days…the good, the average and the just plain hard.

It’s pretty easy on the good and average days. But what about those hard days?

The days when you don’t feel very well…or you’re just plain tired…or the kids are out of control?

The days when your hormones are raging…you feel like you might burst into tears at any moment…and you feel bloated and gross?

The days when there’s not enough time and not enough money and not enough energy?

The days when you just want to be left alone?

The days when you want your man right beside you, but he has to be somewhere else…or he chooses to be somewhere else?

EVEN on those days, the excellent wife does her husband good and not harm.

HOW can this be done? Through CHRIST alone!

My life must be so consumed with the Spirit of Christ that everything I do is blessed with His fruit. Only then can my home and heart be filled with the wonderful aroma of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Only then will my husband trust that when he walks through the door he will be met by his beloved sweetheart and welcomed with open arms.

heartandhome

Am I this kind of wife? This kind of sweetheart that my husband desired when he asked me to marry him? Are my thoughts, words, and actions showing him a heart of love and rewarding him with good, not harm every single day?

I long to be that excellent wife—that treasured jewel. And I bet you do, too. Let’s strive to be the kind of loving wives that would make our husbands say they’d marry us all over again…because it’s just that good.

Lord, please help us. We need You.

Blessings,
Sabra

 

This post has been linked up with other friends at 
www.TimeWarpWife.com 
Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and New Living Translation.
Images: Couple holding hands by Search Influence via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Hanging Basket by Julie Falk via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) Porch by Sonja Lovas via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Filed under Doing Good, Love, Marriage, Trust, Wife, Woman-to-Woman