No Fishing from the Balcony!

There once was a hotel in Texas called the Flagship, built right near the Gulf of Mexico. Large windows around the dining room on the first floor gave a beautiful view of the water, but the hotel was spending a lot of money replacing the windows. Can you guess why? Some guests thought it would be a good idea to go fishing from their balconies! It was such a long way from their balconies to the water that they would put heavy weights on the fishing lines. Then they would cast their lines. . .whooshcrash

The weights would smash right into the expensive windows below.

The hotel tried to stop people from fishing from the balconies, but nothing worked. Finally, the hotel management took down the “No Fishing from the Balcony” signs in the guest rooms and, ironically, no one fished from them again!

Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. People always seem to want to do what they know they’re not allowed to. Babies do it. Children do it. Even adults do it! Of course, when children do it, we call it disobedience; when we do it, we call it liberty. But it’s rebellion, plain and simple—one of the most difficult sins to overcome.
Humans can be very stubborn, not wanting to obey God even though we know very well that His commands are good and right. In spite of our stubbornness and pride, however, the Bible promises that if we stop rebelling and turn to God, He will forgive us. Isaiah 55:7 says:

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

What is a sin you’re tempted to indulge in the more you’re convicted you must not? In what ways does your heart rebel against God? Unless, with His help, you forsake unrighteousness, it will continue to cause destruction in your life.

♦ Adapted from a shorter devotional that will appear in my upcoming book, Truth, Dare, Double Dare

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New Page: Mission Trips

It’s still a work in progress but I’ve added a new section to this blog: Mission Trips. You can visit it at any time by clicking on the first icon (the red one with three lines) at the top of this page, which will pull down the different sections of my blog.

I look forward to sharing about my upcoming trip to Armenia, which is in exactly one month from today! Eep! :)

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As You Sow…

reap

For many of us who live in the city and have little to no land to work with, “gardening” often means picking up styrofoam-boxed blooms at the local hardware or home decor store and transferring the flowers into window boxes or containers hooked onto our balcony railing. But even the blackest thumb among us knows that you get what you plant. You plant strawberries, you get strawberries. . .not watermelons. You plant a rose bush, you don’t expect tulips.

It’s just common sense and logic, right?

So why do so many of us forget this principle when it comes to our spiritual lives? The Bible says:

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

Where do we invest our time, money and energy? If our lives are completely self-focused and bent on experiencing as much pleasure as possible, we should not be surprised if we’re left empty and dissatisfied, nor if God disciplines us harshly. However, if we look for opportunities each day for spiritual growth, for serving God and for serving others, we will reap everlasting benefits!

 

Where’s the Panic Button?

Don’t you wish you had a big red button you could punch whenever life got crazy and suddenly everything would be okay? Your boss wants you to work overtime but your daughter has a music lesson, your father is sick, you have a dozen people coming over this weekend and you still haven’t cleaned the house or bought the groceries and you keep forgetting to pay your credit card bill and the rent!

panic-button

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Some of us may find ourselves under that kind of pressure on a regular basis and run ourselves so ragged that we don’t even realize the toll it’s taking on us—physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and spiritually. We know we have to do something about it but, well, we’re just too busy right now.

Over the years, God has taught me what to do when things get a little hairy:

  1. Don’t try to revolutionize your life in the midst of the chaos. Take time to pray, casting your anxiety on the Lord, asking for strength, and committing to making some changes—with His help—once the storm has passed. Then get back to the situation at hand.
  2. Keep things in perspective. Imagine the worst-case scenario in your situation. It’s likely not as bad as you think. Things can always be worse—and for the majority of the people in the world, they are.
  3. Ask for help. Whether you need more time, some hands-on assistance, a listening ear, advice, or prayer support, humble yourself and talk to someone. God always provides.
  4. Learn to say no. Don’t try to squeeze things into your schedule that sap your time, energy and joy. That might mean saying no to someone asking you to do something that God’s not calling you to do—or saying no to your own desires. It might even mean saying no to a job, a relationship, or long-held habits.
  5. Don’t forget to love. When we feel like the world is crashing down around us, it can be easy to focus on ourselves and lose sight of God’s will for us: to love Him and to love others.

Now then, wouldn’t that panic button be better used as a door stopper?

 

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

It’s been a while since I shared a list of favourite things so here we go! My latest top picks include:

1. DAVIDsTEA Honey Bee

There’s a DAVIDsTEA (a Canadian success just starting to trickle into the U.S.) less than two blocks from my house and I have to admit I’ve become a groupie. I don’t drink coffee so it’s fun to have a tea shop that allows me to explore interesting flavours and indulge once in a while. I love that there’s a rewards card and membership discounts (e.g. when you refill their tins with loose tea or, in the summer, their iced tea mug with the iced tea of the day) and the paraphernalia is really cute. As a bonus, the employees are always friendly and the shop itself is delightfully bright and cheery.

Davids-Tea

My hands-down favourite flavour? Honey Bee. The aroma alone makes it worth brewing this tea. So wholesome and comforting and not too sweet. If you have a DAVIDsTEA near you, you must try this flavour! I just refilled my tin and am going to try it chilled soon.

2. Q&A a Day

q&a

I’ve become too busy to journal regularly so the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal has become a fun way to jot down one thought or memory each day. I think the publisher’s description is better than anything I’d be able to articulate:

Do you ever stop to wonder how you got where you are? The Q&A a Day Journal shows you what was going through your head each day—for five years of your life. Simply turn to today’s date, answer the question at the top of the page, and when you finish the journal, start over. As you return to the daily questions again over the years, you’ll notice how your answers change (or don’t)! With questions that are sometimes provocative (“On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you?”), occasionally quirky (“What can you smell right now?”), and inevitably interesting (“If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?”), this classically designed journal—embellished with beautiful details—is the perfect gift for anyone embarking on a new phase of life.

3. Chipper Bars

I made these for a BBQ last weekend and someone said, “This is the BEST dessert I’ve ever had! You should sell these!” Well, I wish I could take credit for the recipe but I must admit that first batch was prrrrrrretty yummy. I’m going to make these again later today to take to a family gathering tomorrow.

chipperbar

Here’s the recipe so you can try them, too!

The only thing I would add to the recipe is: Store the bars in the fridge if it’s really hot out. If you chill them overnight, they come out with a chewy but firm cookie consistency. If you leave them out, they’ll be softer squares. Either way, I love these because they’re sweet but the touch of peanut butter gives them a slightly salty edge. Enjoy! 

4. ProFoot Pedi-Rock

If you’ve ever scratched your ankle to the point of bleeding while using a pumice stone on your heels, you will understand why I was excited to discover this product.

profoot

While the exterior texture of this “stone” is sandpaper-y enough to get the job done, the interior is basically a big firm sponge that you can squeeze. It’s also ergonomic so it naturally fits into the palm of your hand, allowing you greater control of where it goes. You can use it wet or dry and it washes clean quickly.

Hmm, I wonder if ProFoot will pay me some kind of commission for promoting its product. :)

5. Microsoft Surface RT tablet

I finally did it! For over a year I’ve been saying I need a tablet to travel with (this became especially apparent when I went to Armenia last year and had to lug around my seven-pound laptop, which is now five years old. What’s that, eighty in human years?) So last month I shopped around and picked up one of the newest tablets on the market, the Microsoft Surface RT, along with a detachable keyboard. It took me a few days to get used to the Windows 8 operating system (I’m still on Vista on my laptop!) and the touch screen—not to mention figuring out the apps and cloud computing—but I’m generally a quick study and now I’m enjoying it.

Microsoft_Surface_RT

One of the handiest apps for me is the basic Calendar. I’ve always been a paper-and-pen kind of girl when it comes to keeping track of my projects, deadlines and appointments but I must admit that organizing my schedule on a tablet has given me a bit of a productivity boost. I’m not ready to get rid of my sticky notes and desk agenda yet but I’ve taken a tiny step out of the dark ages. :)

I’ve only had it a month but if anyone asked me for a tablet recommendation, I would definitely suggest this one. (What was I saying about commission?)

I’d love to hear from you if you try any of these products or the recipe. Or tell me about some of your latest favourite things. Maybe there’s something I’d like to try! :)

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Rejoice!

An art journal page from May 2013.

May 25 b 13

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Thanks. . .No Matter What

Here’s a sample devotional from my next book, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, which will come out in October. It’s written for preteen girls but the message is universal. Enjoy!

1 Timothy 4:4 — “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”

TRUTH: Thankfulness comes from our attitude, not our circumstances.

green chairHave you ever noticed that some things seem to change colour depending on the time of day or how the sun is shining into the room? I have an old armchair covered with a velvet fabric that sometimes looks green and sometimes looks yellow. I’m really not sure what to call this strange colour! But on a bright, sunny day the chair seems to be a cheery yellow. On dull, gray days, the color looks more like the inside of a ripe avocado.

But the colour never changes. What changes is the way my eyes see it.

A lot of things in life are constant—they just are whatever they are. But how we feel about them can change depending on whether our hearts and attitudes are dark or bright. For example:

  • When you have to clean up your room you can grumble about it or be thankful that you have clothes and toys to put away. Many children don’t have any.
  • When you have to do homework, you can complain or you can be thankful you get to have an education. Many kids around the world don’t.

God’s Word tells us to be thankful in all situations.

DARE: Give thanks for everything!

Double Dare:

  1. Can you think of three more examples, like the ones above, of how you can have an attitude of gratitude in a situation you might be tempted to complain about? Write them in your journal.
  2. If you know you grumble more than you’re grateful, confess this to God and ask Him to help you change.

(c) 2013 Ann-Margret Hovsepian