New Year Change

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Change is hard for many of us.  We tend to enjoy the routine of things, knowing exactly what is coming.  Some change is good like a new car, a fresh coat of paint, or a new piece of furniture. Other changes bring stress into our lives like a move, job change, or a new medical diagnosis.

What about change that we bring on ourselves?  Since it is the beginning of January, we tend to look over our previous year and desire to change come things in our lives, so we make some “New Year’s Resolutions.”  It may be to exercise more. Eat less. Get up earlier so we can spend time in God’s Word.

I have struggled with making New Year’s Resolutions in the past because I end up not going through with them or I don’t make them at all because I struggle with keeping up with what I am already doing. How would I add anything else to my full schedule?

This year, I decided to make some changes and make them doable changes. Small easy goals that are easily attainable, and yet when I get to the end of 2019 I will feel as if I accomplished some good things in my year.

By putting these things out here in a public forum, it will help keep me more accountable. Maybe my small goals will help encourage you to start small.

Danna’s goals for 2019:

  1. Bible memory-I have been working on memorizing Psalm 145. I am not moving that fast on this, but I am memorizing Scripture which is a good thing to be meditating on. It may take me a week to memorize one verse, but for me this is better than the many previous years when I was not memorizing any verses.
  2. Journal-I used to journal, but haven’t for years. This helps me to contemplate what I read in Scripture and also direct my prayer time with the Lord.
  3. Thankful Journal-I was doing this pretty well too until I used my last journal and forgot to buy a new one. This helped me so much when I was doing it. I would start my day thanking the Lord for things from the previous day, and at night as I was going to sleep I found myself thanking the Lord for the things in my day. It was a wonderful way to start and end my day.
  4. Read 10 pages in a book every day. I love to read, but never seem to find the time to do it. I wanted to make this a manageable goal. 10 pages in a book that requires some thought takes me about 20 minutes. (I timed myself…I am a slow reader). By the end of the year, I will have read 3650 pages.  Seems manageable at 10 pages a day.
  5. Cross stich 30 minutes a day. I have this beautiful cross stich I have been working on for Delaney. I have done one for each of my girls. Danielle got hers when she was 6. Denise got hers when she was 13. Delaney… I am still working on it. I have always thought in the past I needed to spend an hour a day on it or it was not worth it. I couldn’t seem to find an hour, but 30 minutes, that is more doable.
  6. Be more intentional with people either by calling them, sending a text, or meeting them for coffee. We all want to be more intentional, but if we don’t quantify it or put exactly what we will do, we won’t be intentional.
  7. Take Millie somewhere every day, preferably a new place. Millie is my Leader Dog Puppy. She struggles in new environments so the more new places I take her, the more she will be able to adapt to new surroundings and not be frightened.

We all can make goals in our lives. We all desire change in our lives. If the change or the goals are not doable, we set ourselves up for another year of failure. I have a limit on the amount of time I spend on Facebook. This helps me to spend more time reading or being intentional. It is so much better for me to hear about someone’s life from them in a personal way rather than read about it in the public forum of Facebook. Facebook certainly helps me stay connected and up to date with people, but I want to strive to be a better friend.

Hold me accountable if you see me. Maybe my small goals will encourage you to set some small goals and see by the end of the year what great things you have accomplished.

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My Parents

 

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I was blessed to spend a week with my parents.  It has been over 20 years that I have spent time with just my parents.  Life changes after we get married and have children.  Our priorities change and our responsibilities change.  All are good things.

Now that I have begun this new chapter (Some refer to this as empty nest, but that sounds so sad and lonely. A new chapter sounds much more exciting.) in my life and have time to devote to different things, I can spend time devoted to other things and people.  So I was fortunate to spend time with my parents in St. Martin.  They travel to St. Martin every year for a few weeks to get out of the cold and into the sunshine.  We spent time walking on the beach, sitting on the beach, eating, sitting by the pool, driving around and seeing different sites, hiking, going to church, and just being together.

We talk every week on the phone and text some, but there is nothing like spending time together.  It helps to see where people live and see what people do and become a part of their experiences.

What is amazing about my parents is their zest for life.  They hiked up a hill that many 70 years olds would never consider. They hiked along the beach on some rocks that would cause fear in many 70 year olds. They are cautious and careful and pay attention and help each other, but they don’t let their age get in the way of their zest for life.  They also look for opportunities to serve others.  When they are in St. Martin, they attend a church that knows them by name.  They also know them because of their heart for service.  They willingly volunteer their time to help those in need amongst the church body.

Staying connected via phone calls, texting, and social media is nice; but face-to-face interaction is much more personal and meaningful. Thank-you, Dad and Mom, for your kindness and taking such great care of me. I had a great time and enjoyed our time together.

I Bless You, Lord!

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Have you stood by a waterfall and been overwhelmed by the sound of the falling water?  Have you stood at the edge of the ocean and heard the crashing sound of the waves?  Have you listened to the gentle rustle of the leaves as the wind blows through the trees?  Have you sat in utter silence and listened as the birds sang their melodious song with other birds singing their song in return? What about that wonderful sound a watermelon makes as you cut it open, that delicious thirst quenching sweet tooth satisfying sound? Have you seen the tall redwoods in all their glory stand straight and tall with extra-large trunks and been amazed at their size?

I could continue to recite the things I see, the things I hear, the things I taste, the wonderful aromas that I smell that repeatedly make me stand and be in awe of their Creator. I have been reminded, as I have memorized Psalm 145, that all of Creation sings of the glory of God.

“All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and all Your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and tell of Your power.” (Psalm 145:10, 11).

If the waterfall could speak in English so I could understand it, it would be thanking God and telling of His great power.  It would be doing nothing but bring God glory. Yet, without speaking English that is what the mighty waterfall does-it thunders God’s power.

As I reflect on the waterfall, the ocean, the leaves, the singing birds, the watermelon, and the giant Redwoods, I cannot help but be in awe of the might and power of my Creator who made these things.

All of God’s works sing aloud of His awesomeness, they thank Him for creating them, and yet Psalm 145:10 says I am as one of His saints to bless Him.

Blessing God?  How do I do that?  He doesn’t need anything.  The God head, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have perfect relationship with each other. God owns the world and everything in it.  He doesn’t need anything. When we think of blessing someone else we think of giving them something: a material good, money, a promotion, or a kind word,

So how do I bless God?  The Bible is full of clues and hints of how we bless God.  Here are just a couple thoughts.

Jesus gave us a big hint when He told us that the first and great commandment is to “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).

I need to be in awe before God over His amazing creation and seek to understand how to love God with all my being and how to also love others.  None of these things have anything to do with what I will get out of it, rather it is what I will give.  The waterfall, the ocean, the trees, the birds, the watermelon never give a thought of what they will get, but rather what they can give.

I pray that every day I find ways to bless my Lord, rather than seeking for Him to always bless me.

I bless You , Lord!

Tradition

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Traditions!  Many times during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we celebrate by observing traditions.  Traditions are customs that are done every year and become so much a part of the celebration that the celebration would seem empty without the observance of these customary routines.  During Thanksgiving this year, I learned of a few yearly traditions that have made it into the Dykema annals of tradition without me even realizing it.  Here are a few examples: we have to have hot apple cider on Thanksgiving morning, the Christmas tree cannot be put up and decorated without a glass of egg nog, and sometime during the week-end there must be monkey bread.  (We are very food orientedJ)

There is comfort and familiarity and a feeling of home when these traditions are observed.  There is joy in knowing what there is to look forward to and comfort in things always being the same.

Many of us have heard the story of the Mom who made ham every year for a particular holiday and before cooking the ham she cut the ends off the ham.  One year, her daughter asked her why she cut the ends off the ham.  The mom replied, “That’s what my mom always did.”  So the little girl asked her grandma why she cut the ends off the ham. To which the Grandma replied, “That’s what my mom always did.” So the little girl asked her great-grandma why she cut the ends off the ham.  To which the Great-Grandma replied, “That was the only way I could fit the ham in the pan.”  Tradition sometimes carries on without any reason or story as to why it has always been this way.

God in His great wisdom does not want this to be the case for His children.  He wants us to be purposeful in what we pass on.  He wants us to be intentional. He wants us to communicate.

“One generation shall commend Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4).

God wants us as parents to be intentional in talking about Him and the awesome things He does.  This process happens through both verbal and nonverbal communication.  There needs to be consistency between what we say and how we live our lives or our children will be more likely to reject what we say.  They must see us living out our faith and communicating with them about it.

The Old Testament heroes did not have the Bible in print form to read.  Rather, they passed down the precious words of God and the precious stories of their history verbally.  God challenged them in Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Tradition is not just what foods we eat during various holidays.  Tradition should include being diligent in talking about God’s great works, His mighty acts, and most importantly who God is!

God encouraged the Israelites to set up stones after they crossed the Jordan River so their children would ask their parents, “What is meaning of these stones?” (Joshua 4:6).

God has done many great things for us.  Do we share these things with our children?  Do we share with them the things God is teaching us through His Word?  Do we get excited over the works of God and His mighty acts and praise His name over these things in the presence of our children?

“One generation shall commend…and declare…to another.” (Psalm 145:4).  If Christianity and living Biblical lives is to continue to my grandchildren, I need to be talking about and living out my faith for my children to see.  Then they can in turn teach my grandchildren.

Just like the ham, traditions can be passed on without meaning.  Let’s be sure that we tell the next generation about God’s wondrous works and then demonstrate them throughout our daily lives.

What are you thankful for?

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Thanksgiving brings different thoughts into all of our minds.  Some think of the meal itself that many of us as Americans will eat and enjoy- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, corn, and pumpkin pie.  Many think of being together with family and celebrating this meal.  Some people will be alone for thanksgiving.  Some families will be missing a family member this year; death has taken this loved one from our presence. So many different memories this holiday brings to mind.

At the heart of Thanksgiving, we are to count the blessings that we have in our lives.  We easily grumble; do we easily give thanks?

“On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate.” (Psalm 145:5).  As I have spent time memorizing and meditating on this Psalm, I have been overwhelmed by the glorious splendor of my God.  His Creation “speaks of the might of His awesome deeds…” (Psalm 145:6).  God’s Creation day in and day out speaks and even shouts of His awesome deeds.  The sunrises. The sunsets. The snow. The intricacies of the body. The earth being the perfect distance from the sun. The seasons. It all proclaims with explicit detail the awesomeness of God.

God’s creation:

“Speaks” (Psalm 145:6)

“Pours forth” (Psalm 145:7)

“Sings aloud” (Psalm 145:7)

Of God’s wondrous deeds.

The physical world around us cannot help but speak, pour forth, and sing aloud of God’s wondrous deeds, and yet God did not send His only Son to pay the penalty for their sin.  He sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sin, mankind’s sin.

During this time of Thanksgiving, how thankful am I for who God is and what He has done for me?  How much do I speak, pour forth, and sing aloud of God’s wondrous deeds?  If the magnificent colors of the trees, the beautiful sunsets, the roar of the mighty oceans can sing aloud of God’s greatness, how much more should I?  Jesus died for me.

Give thanks during this thanksgiving season in a new way.  Praise God for who He is and His magnificent Creation.  He made it for us to enjoy, shouldn’t we thank Him for it and proclaim to the world of His mighty deeds?

Extol

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Have you ever asked the Lord for something for what seems like forever and know the answer to the question is in His Word, but can’t quite figure it out? I have been on a quest asking the Lord for a deeper and more meaningful prayer life. I sometimes feel like those Jesus used as an example in the New Testament who “heap up empty phrases…for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7).  I have been praying to the Lord to show me how to deepen my relationship with Him.  I have been asking Him what is it I need to do so my prayer life brings honor to Him.  I so desperately want to be a better communicator with my Savior, so I have been pleading and asking Him what or how to pray and communicate with Him in a more effective way.

We go to school and take speech class or a communication class.  We read countless books on how to communicate better with our spouse or how to more effectively love our spouse.

So what do I do to learn how to pray more effectively? I have bought books, lots of books on prayer.  I have been reading God’s Word looking for all the clues I could find so my prayer life would be more pleasing to my Savior.

Since I am more of an extrovert than an introvert, people energize me.  Hence the driving need in my life to experience a deeper and more effective prayer life. I don’t want to just pray in a way that checks the box.  I don’t want to pray always looking at God as the “genie in the bottle.”

I simply want my prayer life to be pleasing to God most High, my Savior, and my King.  This gnawing search will never be complete until I reach glory, but I feel like God has shown me a clue in His Word that will shed light on my search. Let me confess that this “clue” may not strike the same chord with you as it did with me.  That is the beautiful thing about God’s Word.  It is so vast and deep that different parts may show and convict each of us in different ways.

I started reading Psalm 145, and it was so rich with truth for me that I could not even complete the entire chapter.  My soul was blessed and enriched in a way that caused me to slow down and begin to dig for even more treasure.  As I read this chapter, I realized I would have to finish it the next day.  I was still so enamored with this chapter that God challenged me to just read and memorize and meditate on one verse a day.

What a rich and rewarding time this has been for me.  If you will allow me to take you on this journey with me, we will begin to look at Psalm 145 together through this blog.  It may take a while, as I have felt so enriched by the depth and breadth of what my Savior is teaching me. Let’s begin.

“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless you name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1)

The word “extol” means to praise enthusiastically.  This reminds of a man watching a football game, or any other game for that matter.  They jump up and down and yell and scream in rapturous joy over the magnificent play on the field.  We have all seen this behavior.

Do I extol or praise my God and King this enthusiastically?  I was exceedingly convicted, but also exceedingly encouraged by the revelation I had received.

As you consider your walk with the Lord today, let me encourage you to think about praising our Savior as we do a magnificent play on the field or the court.  Our God is much more magnificent than this.

Extol…Praise God today enthusiastically, I challenge you.

Uncle Butch

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Life is short. I am reminded of this after the passing of Dave’s Uncle Ron (we called him Uncle Butch) last week. He liked to fish, garden, and bake. He was able to fix just about anything.  When he talked about the things he loved, his eyes would sparkle. Uncle Butch had a love of life. He did not start living for the Lord until the last few years of his life. What a transformation we saw. In May, he was baptized. He had COPD so breathing was a daily challenge for him. He also had many other health problems that made the process of getting baptized a real struggle. But he was persistent and wanted to push through the physical challenges and be a testimony to those he knew. We as a family were able to watch this miraculous event in his life.
When Dave and I picked him up for the surgery he needed a couple of weeks ago, he showed us two lung CT scans: one before the mass and one after the mass. The Doctor had no explanation as to how the mass had disappeared since there had been no treatment. Uncle Butch gave all the glory to God. Right before his surgery, the pastor came to pray with him. We found out that Uncle Butch wanted to teach children about God and His Word. What a switch from the Uncle Butch that I had known for years. He didn’t go to church for as long as I knew him, but in the last few years he not only attended church but was usually there early.
Now to find out, he wanted to teach children about the love of God and the important truths from God’s Word.
A true testimony of the transforming work of our Savior.
Uncle Butch is in heaven now. He is breathing easy, and worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
I have had a lot of thoughts the last few days as I have sat by his bedside watching the man who always had a sparkle in his eye and a quick witted word slowly leave this earthly life to enter a heavenly life with his Savior.
1. A personal and growing relationship with God needs to be the center of our lives. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and because of this sacrifice, God looks on me through the righteousness of His Son if I accept this free gift. It is never too early or too late to accept this free gift.

2. What is the dream that God has given you? Do not wait to begin reaching for that dream. Make it a priority and begin planning a way to make that dream a reality.

3. We are made for relationship. There have been volumes of work written about relationships so I do not need to repeat what has already been said, but there are a few things I feel the need to recap. Relationships are a two way street. Sometimes one person sacrifices, sometimes another person does. Relationships take two people: talking together, spending time together, and making memories together. It is hard to have a relationship if both people do not make it a priority. It is hard to make memories if both people do not seek to spend time together. Celebrating life together. Living life together. I am so thankful that last Thanksgiving, most of Dave’s family was able to come to our house for Thanksgiving. It was our last time together as a family with Uncle Butch. I am so glad we have this special and cherished memory.
Thank-you, Uncle Butch, for reminding me how valuable people are. We may have a few people in our lives or many people in our lives, but no matter the number, do we treasure those relationships just as God treasures our relationship with Him.