Candy Apples

“Life can be like Candy Apples: sweet and hard all at the same time!”

Oh.. This quote is from “me” … Just one of my many sayings my family kindly puts up with 🙂

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My sheep listen to my voice

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27 (NIV)

How can we hear Jesus when we fill our lives with everything but Him?

In the beginning of the New Year, traditionally for me has been a time of reflection, taking stock, re-organization, de-cluttering my heart, mind, soul and even the house. I also like to set some goals for the year ahead. I guess other people would make lists or make New Year resolutions. I take time out to talk and more importantly try to hear what God is saying and leading me to do and sometimes He tells me what not to do. This year is no different but a little easier than other years all because of a book called the Bible. My prayer is that He will speak, teach and lead me into all truth. I love the passage in John 16 that says “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…” Without having truth as a base line it is hard to change what you don’t acknowledge. Some of us need a little more challenging and tweaking than others 🙂 For me the New Year is also about letting go of the past, forgiving myself, other people and not worrying or being concerned over what I can’t change. Pressing on to the future. For me I try to drop the baggage and move on into wholeness. I have been and am working on being truly grateful for my circumstance wherever and whatever it happens to be.

Our family has had a difficult and also exciting year! It was a year to learn to trust and grow in faith. The end of the year was very busy with spending time with family and friends it was a true balm for my heart and soul. The beginning of this year has been a time of blessing, stepping out in faith and being courageous. At least trying to make courageous decisions. We have made bold steps with work and ministry. Tried to make bold decisions when sometimes all I feel like doing is being small, living a safe and small life and shrinking back into my comfort zone. We have also enjoyed having fabulous house guests and meeting new friends. Enjoying a loving church family and I have enjoyed hearing my husbands sermons. And with that said it is almost February and I haven’t been blogging much at all. Where has the time gone?

Last year I read the bible in a year. It was a huge deal for me to actually stick to it. It is easy for me to do Bible Studies, in fact I love Bible studies but to read the whole Bible through wasn’t so easy for me. It was a struggle at times. I decided to listen to the Daily Audio Bible everyday on the Internet. It was tricky sometimes as we didn’t have internet all the time. We travelled a great deal last year. So some days I would read the written word so I didn’t get left behind to continue in the word everyday. The more you read the Bible the more you want to read the Bible. The Bible changes you. It has allowed me to hold onto Jesus and do what I know God wants me to. You know like when difficult decisions have to be made or difficult conversations have to have. When all you would rather do is say nothing even though there is a “white elephant” in the room and everyone tries to pretend it’s not there.

Today I started thinking about how different our lives are from when Jesus walked among us. How many more distractions we have now days. There is a constant noise. Our culture and sometimes we do it ourselves, we think and obsess on material things. About our we have to wear the right clothing or the latest fashion. The most expensive everything… even perfume. We have to have the best car and best house. And then there is the most expensive and best and very latest “things” and products for inside our house. Then there is our work, television’s blaring, radio’s, movies, game consoles, computers, motor mowers, washing machines, shopping malls, dishwashers, cars, trucks wild friends, children and parents. Then there is all those reality television shows to live through other peoples lives and sit like a potato in judgement of them in front of television and not live your own life. Forever shrinking into the shadows. Not make your own mistakes or triumphs. All those material things and obsessions take our focus, energy and thoughts away from a relationship with Jesus and no time for hearing from Him. It is a sad way to live especially you “want” to be seen as a Christian. Life was simpler in Bible times but life wasn’t easy. To get food on the table could be a struggle for most families and there was little time for selfish hobbies. Hobbies and past times that is seen as “normal” in our culture today. Perhaps their minds were less cluttered too. Hard to know for sure really.

So how can we live a full life pleasing to God and hear Jesus with all this noise going on around us and filling up our heads all the time? The answer I have been finding is simplicity and balance. By the way, I haven’t got that down perfect yet but I am working on it. For me reading through the bible in a year gave me the time with God and grounding I have been needing. It has been a joy to simplify our lives especially in the last few months of 2010 and now in 2011. We have been able to go for walks, swim at the beach share meals with good friends. Make lovely new friends too.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying technology, T.V., work, computers and all those things in a balanced way. The key is “balance.” If you long to watch certain programs or work long hours or do anything and everything to avoid God. Then there is a balance problem. Really if you can watch an hour of television everyday then you can easily make time to pray or read the bible and go for a walk to hear God speak to YOU. Hearing God can be hard to do when you choose not to make time for Him. Instead of filling up my time and mind with everything else I choose to put Him first and filling up on Him and it helps me hear Him. For me it starts with reading the bible and praying. Sometimes He doesn’t say much to me but then there are those precious times when He speaks “as clear as crystal” like a waterfall flowing through my heart.

I hope and pray that you hear God today. Especially in the simple pleasure of reading His words in the Bible OR enjoying nature outside your window and seeing God’s finger prints in the world He created. I am always amazed by His mercy, glory, majesty, splendor and grace.