Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Taking Time to Listen

After another conversation where my loving husband gently, but firmly brought to my attention my continuing failure to really listen and make sure I understand the words he is sharing with me, I have decided to truly commit myself to becoming a better listener.  Too many times I realize he is speaking halfway through his sentence, only hear and understand the last half, and make a false assumption concerning the first half.  This has led to many unnecessary, petty, draining, and discouraging arguments throughout our marriage.  It's way past time for me to overcome this flaw and improve my listening skills.

One of the first changes I need to make is to be "swift to hear" rather than being "swift to assume." James writes, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."  (1:19, 20)  How very true and practical are these words!

Another change I plan to work on is being a more humble listener.  I shouldn't be so proud as to think I heard correctly the first time.  I have misunderstood too many times to be confident I always hear people correctly the first time.  It makes for greater peace to ask my hubby to repeat himself, rather than make up after a 15 minute petty argument that could have been avoided.

"Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility." - Proverbs 18:12

God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Considering Our Words - Speaking Truthfully

"The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever."
-Psalm 119:160

God's Word is truth, and the best place to start studying about the conduct of our speech.

Psalm 115:1,2 teaches a good principle: those who desire to dwell in the presence of our Lord must "speak the truth in his heart."
 "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? 
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly, 
And works righteousness, 
And speaks the truth in his heart;"

Ephesians 4:25 tells us to stop lying and speak only what is true.
"Therefore, putting away lying,  
Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,
for we are members of one another."

May we all consider our words and make sure we only speak those things which are true.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SPRING! - Decor on a dime!

It seems that Spring has already arrived here in Indiana, and so it's time to create a warm, sunny atmosphere inside the Pugh home!

Since my husband works 56+ hours a week at a factory so I can stay at home and be the homemaker God desires me to be, I try to make each dollar stretch as far as possible to show him I value the hours he spends working to provide for us.  With this in mind, I searched the house for items I could re-purpose as decor pieces and found several glass bottles/jars I had washed out and saved.  I also remembered seeing several projects on Pinterest where people had used paint sample cards from a local paint department.

On my next trip out I stopped by the paint department and picked out some springy paint sample cards.

I decided I wanted to spell the word "Spring," one letter per glass jar.  Fortunately, I had ample glass jars to choose from, and in a variety of sizes.  I arranged the jars how I thought they would best showcase my letters and please the eye.  This is the arrangement I came up with.
Next, I arranged my paint sample cards somewhat randomly.  I didn't want there to be a pattern to the color arrangement because I wanted it appear "relaxed."

I then went to my laptop to find a font!  After trying out several fonts, this is the one I chose:
 I set my laptop on the table next to me and using a paint pen, painted the letters on the paint samples I had select.

Once the paint was dry, I simply slid the cards into the glass jars.  I curled them just a little to get them into the jars without bending them.
A few days after I finished the project I picked up some spring flowers from The Dollar Tree and added a couple to the "SPRING" piece by sliding the stem of the flower behind the paint sample card.

My final product! ...and the only cost was the flowers!

Our Spring Mantle

In Whom Do You Trust?

After thinking about thanksgiving and considering all the wonderful blessings God has showered down upon me I've realized that God ALWAYS takes care of the things I need, and even gives beyond the basic why don't I trust Him more?  He's never allowed me to  be "in want" of food, clothing, or shelter.  I need to trust the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding.

As we live here in the world, it is very easy for us to put our trust in the things/people which we can see, feel, and have a conversation with in which we have immediate answers we can hear clearly.  However, if we fail to put ALL our trust in the Lord, we will not cease to concern ourselves with how our life is going to pan out.

Here are some passages to help you determine where you should/should not put your trust.

Christ is on His way to Jerusalem and is passing through Samaria and Galilee; He had just cleansed 10 lepers in a certain village.  The Pharisees there have asked Him when the Kingdom is going to come.  This is the second parable He spoke to them on this occasion.
Luke 18:9-14 - 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Paul is writing to the brethren at Corinth after he and Timothy had suffered great tribulations.  In the previous verses he thanks them for he knows that the Corinthians are partakers in their sufferings (in that they care for Paul and Timothy, and suffer when they suffer) and that they also know they partake of the consolation, in knowing they are safe and well.
2 Cor. 1:8-11 - 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
Here, brother Paul is writing to the Philippians.  He has just praised Timothy and Epaphroditus in the previous chapter.
Phil 3: 3-6 - 1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
At the end of chapter 1, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians by expressing that God has chosen the foolish and weaker things to lift up that they might shame the wise and mighty.  He also says “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
1 Cor. 2:1-5 - 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 

Christ is hanging on the cross and the chief priests are mocking Him saying: 
Matt. 27:42, 43 - 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 

Paul is writing to the Corinthians commending them for being living epistles of Christ.  That they have the Word written on their hearts as they have been ministered to by Paul and the other apostles. 
2 Cor. 3:4-6 - 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 
Here, Paul is writing to the brethren at Philippi.  In the previous verses he has called them to be like-minded and humble.  He is also calling on them to be lights in the world, that they might profess godliness in all they do, rejoicing as they are being poured out. 
Phil. 2:19-24 - 19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But Itrust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. 
In the previous verses, Paul had rebuked Peter for being carried away with hypocrisy, not eating with the Gentiles because they were uncircumcised.  He has reminded these men that they are not justified by works alone, but by their faith in the law and in Christ Jesus, and that they are no longer under the old law which required circumcision. 
Gal. 2:19-21 - 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Am I giving thanks always for all things?

-Ephesians 5:20

Today's thought come to me as a result of: 1) Reading Gary Henry's Diligently Seeking God March 6th reading, 2) a realization that the less I worry, the more I give, and the more I trust God, the more He blesses me, and 3) the righteous leadership of my wonderful husband when he stopped us in the middle of something to thank God for a recent blessing.

Since I became a Mrs. my sweet and loving husband has been helping me become less focused on material things and more focused on spiritual.  Coming from a home where we had all our needs met and most of our wants, too, I struggled to adjust to a much smaller budget than what I was accustomed to.  I realized I had taken many things for granted, and that I wasn't genuinely thankful for many of the basics.  My husband has helped me set my "mind on things above, not on things on the earth." -Colossians 3:2

One thing that really helped me switch my focus was a very simple activity I have been doing for about a month now:  recording blessings of my day in a "Gratitude Journal" and saying a special "thanksgiving pray" thanking God for all the blessings of the day.  This has helped me to see and appreciate many of the blessings I had once taken for granted.

A special thanks to my husband for helping me "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) and not letting me get caught up in the things of the world.