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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What it's All About


I'll be honest.

I avoided this place this week.

It wasn't because I was busy,

Wasn't because I didn't have the time,

It was because I was lonely.

There, I said it.


Between the ups and downs of the past year,

The endless work

And all the things I just haven't gotten done,

I've neglected this place.

I know I have.

And then I come back

And expect everything to be just the way it was before

And it isn't.

And I want it to be.


The excuse I used to start this blog was to share with my friends about my music

And it was just that -

An excuse.

The real reason I wanted a blog

Was because I'd been reading blogs,

I'd been encouraged by blogs,

I had seen the blogging community

And I wanted to be a part of that.


Well, it hasn't been easy lately

And I haven't been able to read my favorite blogs as much as I like to,

And then I come back and post,

Eager for the conversation and friendship I've found,

And end up counting the numbers of those comments

(Or lack thereof)

Rather than trusting His Grace.


So I didn't blog on Sunday -

Because I didn't feel like it.

You probably know how it is.

You wonder if you said something wrong,

Did something wrong,

If no one likes you anymore.

Then you tell yourself those are silly thoughts

And everything's probably fine

And other people are just as busy as you are, you know,

And you're sure they just forgot . . .

Maybe . . .

But then you're the one feeling forgotten,

And why,

Why, oh why,

Did this prayer ever stop being the one that I always prayed before I posted?

When did I start caring about who was listening,

And why is it so hard to stop?


I wasn't going to blog today.

Or, more accurately, I was and then I wasn't and then I was and then I wasn't and then . . .

Well, I was supposed to be watching the dryer

And plans got put on hold

And I had a few minutes

And I thought maybe I'd catch up?

See how everyone else was doing?

And I read

And I joined in the conversation

And, really, what does it matter if no one responds to my words?

I've been told by a few that one of my spiritual gifts is encouragement.

I don't know if that's true, but I know what my issue has been this whole time.

It's been me.

You see, I was trying to make it all about me.

Why weren't people listening to me,

Why weren't things happening the way I expected,

Why don't I feel like doing this anymore.

What is it that makes me forget

That it's never been about me?

Blogging?

This online world?

This community?

It was always meant to be about someone else -

And,

More importantly,

About SomeOne else.


Reasons 4388-4514 today,

Trying to remember that it's all about Him

Because He is everything:

  1. He is the God of gods (Psalm 136:2)
  2. He is the Lord of lords (Psalm 136:3)
  3. He alone does great wonders (Psalm 136:3)
  4. By His understanding He made the heavens (Psalm 136:5)
  5. He spread out the earth upon the waters (Psalm 136:6)
  6. He made the great lights (Psalm 136:7)
  7. He made the sun to govern the day (Psalm 136:8)
  8. He made the moon and stars to govern the night (Psalm 136:9)
  9. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt and brought Israel out from among them (Psalm 136:10-11)
  10. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt and brought Israel out from among them with a mighty hand and outstretched arm (Psalm 136:10-11)
  11. He divided the Red Sea asunder (Psalm 136:13)
  12. He divided the Red Sea asunder and brought Israel through the midst of it (Psalm 136:13)
  13. He divided the Red Sea asunder and brought Israel through the midst of it but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13)
  14. He led His people through the wilderness (Psalm 136:16)
  15. He struck down great kings (Psalm 136:17)
  16. He killed mighty kings (Psalm 136:18)
  17. He struck down Sihon king of the Amorites (Psalm 136:19)
  18. He struck down Og king of the Bashan (Psalm 136:19)
  19. He gave the land of Sihon king of the Amorites as an inheritance to His servant Israel (Psalm 136:19-22)
  20. He gave the land of Og king of the Bashan as an inheritance to His servant Israel (Psalm 136:20-22)
  21. He remembered His people in their low estate (Psalm 136:23)
  22. He remembered His people in their low estate and freed them from their enemies (Psalm 136:23-24)
  23. He gives food to every creature (Psalm 136:25)
  24. He has so exalted His solemn decree that it surpasses His fame (Psalm 138:2)
  25. He greatly emboldens His people (Psalm 138:3)
  26. His Glory is great (Psalm 138:5)
  27. Though He is exalted, He looks kindly on the lowly (Psalm 138:6)
  28. He is lofty (Psalm 138:6)
  29. Though He is lofty, He sees the lowly from afar (Psalm 138:6)
  30. He preserves the lives of those who walk in the midst of trouble (Psalm 138:7)
  31. He stretches out His hand against the anger of His people's foes (Psalm 138:7)
  32. With His right hand He saves His people (Psalm 138:7)
  33. He has searched His people (Psalm 139:1)
  34. He has searched His people and He knows them (Psalm 139:1)
  35. He knows when His people sit (Psalm 139:2)
  36. He knows when His people rise (Psalm 139:2)
  37. He discerns His people's thoughts from afar (Psalm 139:2)
  38. He discerns His people's going out (Psalm 139:3)
  39. He discerns His people's lying down (Psalm 139:3)
  40. He is familiar with all His people's ways (Psalm 139:3)
  41. Before a word is on His people's tongues, He knows it completely (Psalm 139:4)
  42. He hems His people in behind and before (Psalm 139:5)
  43. He lays His hand upon His people (Psalm 139:5)
  44. His knowledge is too wonderful for man (Psalm 139:6)
  45. His knowledge is too lofty for man to attain (Psalm 139:6)
  46. No one can go somewhere away from His Spirit (Psalm 139:7)
  47. No one can flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7)
  48. He is in the heavens (Psalm 139:8)
  49. He is in the depths (Psalm 139:8)
  50. His hand will guide His people if they rise on the wings of the dawn (Psalm 139:9-10)
  51. His hand will guide His people if they settle on the far side of the sea (Psalm 139:9-10)
  52. His right hand will hold His people fast if they rise on the wings of the dawn (Psalm 139:9-10)
  53. His right hand will hold His people fast if they settle on the far side of the sea (Psalm 139:9-10)
  54. Even the darkness is not dark to Him (Psalm 139:12)
  55. The night shines like the day to Him (Psalm 139:12)
  56. Darkness is as light to Him (Psalm 139:12)
  57. He created people's inmost being (Psalm 139:13)
  58. He knit people together in their mother's wombs (Psalm 139:13)
  59. His works are fearfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  60. His works are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  61. His works are wonderful (Psalm 139:14)
  62. People's frames are not hidden from Him (Psalm 139:15)
  63. People's frames are not hidden from Him when they are made in the secret place (Psalm 139:15)
  64. People's frames are not hidden from Him when they are woven together in the depths of the earth (Psalm 139:15)
  65. His eyes saw people's unformed bodies (Psalm 139:16)
  66. All the days ordained for all people are written in His book (Psalm 139:16)
  67. All the days ordained for all people were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16)
  68. The sum of His thoughts is vast (Psalm 139:17)
  69. The sum of His thoughts would outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:17-18)
  70. When His people awake, they are still with Him (Psalm 139:18)
  71. He is His people's Strong Deliverer (Psalm 140:7)
  72. He shields His people's heads in the day of battle (Psalm 140:7)
  73. He secures justice for the poor (Psalm 140:12)
  74. He upholds the cause of the needy (Psalm 140:12)
  75. The righteous will praise His Name (Psalm 140:13)
  76. The upright will live in His Presence (Psalm 140:13)
  77. He watches over His people's ways (Psalm 142:3)
  78. He watches over His people's ways when their spirits grow faint within them (Psalm 142:3)
  79. He is His people's portion in the land of the living (Psalm 142:5)
  80. No one living is righteous before Him (Psalm 143:2)
  81. He trains His people's hands for war (Psalm 144:1)
  82. He trains His people's fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1)
  83. He is His people's loving God (Psalm 144:2)
  84. He is His people's shield in whom they take refuge (Psalm 144:2)
  85. He subdues peoples under His people (Psalm 144:2)
  86. Human beings are like a breath, yet He cares for them (Psalm 144:3-4)
  87. Mere mortals are like a breath, yet He thinks of them (Psalm 144:3-4)
  88. The days of human beings are like a fleeting shadow, yet He cares for them (Psalm 144:3-4)
  89. The days of mere mortals are like a fleeting shadow, yet He thinks of them (Psalm 144:3-4)
  90. He gives victory to kings (Psalm 144:10)
  91. He delivers His servant David (Psalm 144:10)
  92. His people are blessed (Psalm 144:15)
  93. His Greatness no one can fathom (Psalm 145:3)
  94. One generation commends His works to another (Psalm 145:4)
  95. The generations tell of His mighty acts (Psalm 145:4)
  96. The generations speak of the glorious splendor of His Majesty (Psalm 145:4-5)
  97. His Majesty has glorious splendor (Psalm 145:5)
  98. The generations tell of the power of His awesome works (Psalm 145:4-6)
  99. His deeds are great (Psalm 145:6)
  100. The generations celebrate His abundant Goodness (Psalm 145:4-7)
  101. His Goodness is abundant (Psalm 145:7)
  102. The generations joyfully sing of His Righteousness (Psalm 145:4-7)
  103. He is rich in love (Psalm 145:8)
  104. He is slow to anger and rich in love (Psalm 145:8)
  105. He is good to all (Psalm 145:9)
  106. He has compassion on all He has made (Psalm 145:9)
  107. All His works praise Him (Psalm 145:10)
  108. His faithful people extol Him (Psalm 145:10)
  109. His kingdom is glorious (Psalm 145:11)
  110. His kingdom has glorious splendor (Psalm 145:12)
  111. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 145:13)
  112. His dominion endures through all generations (Psalm 145:13)
  113. He is Trustworthy in all He promises (Psalm 145:13)
  114. He upholds all who fall (Psalm 145:14)
  115. He lifts up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14)
  116. The eyes of all look to Him (Psalm 145:15)
  117. The eyes of all look to Him and he gives them their food at the proper time (Psalm 145:15)
  118. He opens His hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing (Psalm 145:16)
  119. He is Righteous in all His ways (Psalm 145:17)
  120. He is near to all who call on Him (Psalm 145:18)
  121. He is near to all who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:18)
  122. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him (Psalm 145:19)
  123. He hears the cry of those who fear Him (Psalm 145:19)
  124. He hears the cry of those who fear Him and saves them (Psalm 145:19)
  125. He watches over all who love Him (Psalm 145:20)
  126. All the wicked He will destroy (Psalm 145:20)
  127. His Name is Holy (Psalm 145:21)


Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:


 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Writing to Sponsored Children: Organizational Ideas


I am fully aware that I am writing this after taking an entire week (well, technically more than a week, because I spent some time one night labeling . . . and then I worked on a birthday card . . .) compiling two large envelopes to send to children through Compassion.

So, I am not about to make any sort of claim that, because this works for me, it's going to work for you.

It doesn't even work for me.

(What would probably work better is to not be me, because I have a tendency to want to send lots of little trinkets and presents with my letters, and collect them in large piles until I get a letter mailed off . . . and write extremely long letters.)

But, it's taken me this long to get this far,

And it really does help me to get this done faster.

(Just imagine how long it took me before I discovered a way to get this done faster.)

So, for anyone who has the same difficulties I do and is interested in how I organize,

Here's what I do:


Last winter, I purchased a 13-pocket expanding file folder.

In the first pocket, I have return address labels and envelopes.

(This would also be a good place to put stamps, but my letters are rarely light enough to send through the regular mail.)


The folder also has a front pocket meant for a CD.

In this I keep a shopping-list sized paper

With reminders of my sponsor number,

My children's numbers,

Important holidays,

Birthdays,

And days that my sponsored/correspondent children celebrate.

(This means that I don't have to be on the computer looking that information up as I'm writing letters!)


With twelve pockets remaining inside,

There is one for each month of the year.

I labeled these with the main, easy-to-read month being the month my children should receive their letters

And the smaller month to the side being the month I should send it.


Inside of the pockets for each month, I put

Stationery,

Stickers,

Coloring pages,

Sudoku puzzles,

Printables,

Pictures,

Bookmarks,

Books (free PDFs are awesome!)

Inspirational cards,

Birthday cards,

And anything else I might find that I want to send to my sponsored child.


One of the major advantages I've found to having a system like this is that I can just slip in items at any time.

When I'm at the store around Christmastime, I can pick up some Christmas stickers, slide them in the appropriate pocket, and they're all ready to be sent a couple months before the next Christmas.  Then my sponsored children can get their Christmas stickers on Christmas rather than after Christmas.  (Of course, after Christmas would be perfectly fine, but OCD people like me might prefer this method.)

When there's a cute gratitude printable available around Thanksgiving, I have something to stick in next Thanksgiving's letter that will help as I tell my sponsored child about the holiday.

When I'm surfing the web and find something that would be so cute, but I just wrote a letter two days ago and I'm sure that I will lose it in the mass of papers around our house before I get around to writing again . . .

Well, you get the picture.  That's the main reason I use this kind of system.


I recently came to the realization that taking the time to pull everything out of one pocket and sort it into two piles for two children adds to the amount of time it takes me to get letter-writing accomplished.  It also makes little sense since I usually know when I print things what I'm sending to whom.

Therefore, I purchased a second folder.

I now have one for each child.

This should mean that, in the future, when I have loaded my folders with goodies, I will still be able to close my folders!  (This was a problem last year after I fit goodies for two people for an entire year into just one folder.)

I used the same process for this folder that I used for the previous.


I labeled the months in the same way.

(I apologize for my terrible handwriting.  This is why I use a keyboard.)


I stuck the labels on


And I moved all of one intended recipient's goodies to that folder.

Not too difficult, and all I have to do later is pull everything out,

Write numbers on it,

Writ a letter,

And stick it all in an envelope.


This leads me to two other things I've found helpful:

1.  Sticking sticky notes with the intended recipient's name on the envelope.  This was a huge revelation for me because it takes me a couple of days to get the letters themselves written vs. a couple of hours to get things numbered.

2.  Numbering items before putting them in the folder.  This takes a lot of time while I'm doing it, but I obviously have some time, since I'm working on it anyway.  Later I might not have so much time available.  It helps, if printing things from the computer, to make the numbers part of the document being printed (I did this with the book - it took half an hour, but much shorter than it would've taken by hand!).  If there's anything else normally done to the items before mailing, I try to do it before sticking them in the folder (i.e. removing tassels from bookmarks, writing captions on photos, etc.).


Another thing I find helpful is getting a lot of pictures printed at once.  It isn't easy for me to make time to upload the photos, send them to the store, and pick them up.  Occasionally, there are also 50% off sales on large enough orders.  So, if I print them all at once, I save myself time, trips to the store, and money.  I can easily print lots of pictures, add sponsor & child numbers to all of them, label them all, split them up into groups of 5-8 photos per month, and be set for awhile.  (This is especially helpful to me during school months.)


And there it is!  My photos, Christmas stickers, stationery, printables, and other papers almost all ready to be mailed!  Now, if I could just take less time writing my letters . . .


In spite of the temporary topic change, I do have some reasons to share!

It's been so good to get back to counting these!!!

Reasons 4347-4387 today,

Still seeking to know who He is 

Because He is everything:
  1. He has chosen Zion (Psalm 132:13)
  2. He has desired Zion for His dwelling (Psalm 132:13)
  3. He will rest in Zion for ever and ever (Psalm 132:14)
  4. He sit enthroned in Zion (Psalm 132:14)
  5. He sit enthroned in Zion, for He has desired it (Psalm 132:14)
  6. He will bless Zion with abundant provisions (Psalm 132:15)
  7. He will satisfy the poor of Zion with food (Psalm 132:15)
  8. He will clothe the priests of Zion with salvation (Psalm 132:16)
  9. In Zion He will make a horn grow for David (Psalm 132:17)
  10. In Zion He will set up a lamp for His anointed one (Psalm 132:17)
  11. He will clothe His enemies with shame (Psalm 132:18)
  12. The head of His anointed one will be adorned with a radiant crown (Psalm 132:18)
  13. He bestows His blessing on Mount Zion (Psalm 133:3)
  14. He bestows His blessing on Mount Zion, even life forevermore (Psalm 133:3)
  15. He has chosen Jacob to be His own (Psalm 135:4)
  16. He has chosen Israel to be His treasured possession (Psalm 135:4)
  17. He is greater than all gods (Psalm 135:5)
  18. He does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth (Psalm 135:6)
  19. He does whatever pleases Him, in the seas and all their depths (Psalm 135:6)
  20. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth (Psalm 135:7)
  21. He sends lightning with the rain (Psalm 135:7)
  22. He brings out the wind from His storehouses (Psalm 135:7)
  23. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt (Psalm 135:8)
  24. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of all people and animals (Psalm 135:8)
  25. He sent His signs and wonders into the midst of Egypt (Psalm 135:9)
  26. He sent His signs and wonders into the midst of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants (Psalm 135:9)
  27. He struck down many nations (Psalm 135:10)
  28. He killed many kings (Psalm 135:10)
  29. He killed Sihon king of the Amorites (Psalm 135:10-11)
  30. He killed Og king of Bashan (Psalm 135:10-11)
  31. He killed all the kings of Canaan (Psalm 135:10-11)
  32. He gave the land of Sihon king of the Amorites as an inheritance (Psalm 135:10-11)
  33. He gave the land of Og king of Bashan as an inheritance (Psalm 135:10-11)
  34. He gave the land of all the kings of Canaan as an inheritance (Psalm 135:10-11)
  35. He gave the land of Sihon king of the Amorites as an inheritance to His people Israel (Psalm 135:10-11)
  36. He gave the land of Og king of Bashan as an inheritance to His people Israel (Psalm 135:10-11)
  37. He gave the land of all the kings of Canaan as an inheritance to His people Israel (Psalm 135:10-11)
  38. His Name endures forever (Psalm 135:13)
  39. He will vindicate His people (Psalm 135:14)
  40. He will have compassion on His servants (Psalm 135:14)
  41. He dwells in Jerusalem (Psalm 135:21)


Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 


(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:


Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Song


I adjust my black sweater

And fold my hands on my black-and-white skirt,

Wonder if I should pass a few more tissues to the row in front of me.

A man in the aisle

Hands out sheets of paper,

And one makes its way to me,

At the opposite end of the row.

I look at the sheet music which has found its way to my lap,

Resting on the black-and-white fabric.

I read the title and the words,

Then decide that maybe I need one of those tissues myself.

It's not one of my absolute favorites -

Actually, I associate it with one other, and I like the other better -

But I do love this song,

And I can't read these words

And not be touched by what they mean -

And be touched all the more by the fact that they meant so much to her.

It isn't until the end that he asks us to sing it,

A cappella in the absence of an instrument.

No accompaniment,

No harmony,

Just a few voices, 
On a hill far away
Stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame.
And I love that old cross
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
'Til my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it someday for a crown.
A lot of eyes in the room aren't dry anymore.

As we leave, I make my way to the weeping with lingering hugs.

We move out toward the car.

She tells me it was the Lord's Prayer that did it for her.

He won't say.

I tell them it was that song - the moment they put it in my lap.

Nothing that was done or said meant more to me than that.


Reasons 4335-4346 today,

Just ten -

It's been a struggle lately to find the time -

But I have to keep coming back to this

Because He's all I have,


All I can cling to:

  1. Unless He builds the house, the builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1)
  2. Unless He watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain (Psalm 127:1)
  3. He grants sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2)
  4. Children are a heritage from Him (Psalm 127:3)
  5. Offspring are a reward from Him (Psalm 127:3)
  6. All who fear Him are blessed (Psalm 128:1)
  7. Those who walk in obedience to Him are blessed (Psalm 128:1)
  8. He has cut His people free from the cords of the wicked (Psalm 129:4)
  9. With Him there is forgiveness (Psalm 130:4)
  10. With Him there is forgiveness so that His people can, with reverence, serve Him (Psalm 130:4)
  11. With Him is full redemption (Psalm 130:7)
  12. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins (Psalm 130:8)


Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 


(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:



 
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