Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Advocate

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 
1 John 2:1 NIV

Well this is the first time in a while that I have had any extra time or energy to stop and write a post. We have been busy moving three homes into one.

If you are new, we found a big home in Spokane and my mom and aunt are moving in to live with us. It has been a tremendous amount of work to pack three homes. My mom and aunt tire easily so my husband, kids and I have all been working very hard to get everything that needs to be done.
We are making progress, I now have a place to actually sit and write. The photo to the right of the living room does not show all the stacks of boxes on the other side of the room. Plus we ate a real home cooked meal at a real table with real dishes. Thats progress.

Massage School is going well. My teacher says I am a natural and very intuitive. Which is good since finding time to study with all this moving going on has been tough. I actually got to do hands on massage work the very first week. I can't say much about what I am learning because of school policies.  I am enjoying every class and learning lots of new things.

I am so looking forward to October and settling in to our new normal.
As for today's verse. It is good to know we have an advocate. An advocate is someone who stands up on behalf of another to plead their case. The enemy not called the accuser of the brethren with out good reason. We all have those tapes that play in our brain reminding us of our flaws and failures. We need to remember to take those things to Jesus and receive his forgiveness. Then remind the enemy that it is finished and we have an advocate who stands before the Father on our behalf. While them enemy stands to accuse and destroy, Jesus stands ready to forgive, to pardon, to set free and to heal.

You have an advocate don't let the enemy heap things like condemnation, guilt, shame on you. Take it to Jesus. He stands at the door and knocks but you have to answer the door and invite him in.




Monday, September 9, 2013

Doing A New Thing

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Packing
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
18 “Forget the former things do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

As soon as there is enough light to take a decent photo and other who are sleeping start to wake up, I will take a photo of the stacks of boxes and furniture filling my moms house. 

My ride from St. Johns to Spangle
Yesterday when I finally got here at about 7pm I started packing my aunts house. I say finally because the first car we drove over heated 11 miles from my moms.  My mom picked up my husband and son and I waited for a tow truck to tow it back 25 miles towards spokane. Thankfully it had cooled down and drove the last 10 miles with out a problem. Then I got our other car and drove back. I enjoyed the quiet of the drive back. It had been a busy Sunday with a lot to process. 

My aunt lives in a one bedroom apartment above my mom. She has a lot of nick-naks. My husband and youngest son disassembled things and carried furniture and boxes from my aunts home down to my moms. The goal is to have them both packed up and ready for the truck on September 20th. 

The New Big House 
If you are just joining me, you have probably gathered that we are moving. We are moving my mom, my aunt and my family into one larger home. All this moving and packing is going on in the midst of my kids and myself starting school this week. As a result my daily posting is unlikely to happen. I will do my best to check in with a little faith nugget of some sort and to share a progress up-date when I can. In the mean time there are 547 published posts for you to enjoy. I'm pretty sure you have not read them all. 

Today is filled with more packing and moving before we head back with everyone to my little house. Due to our school and work schedules moving is pretty much having to happen on weekends. 

So on to our verse for today. Lets break it down. 
"Forget the former things do not dwell on the past."
More Packing
Where God wants us to live is in the present. Often we have regrets that pull us back to dwelling on the past. Sometimes in the present God takes us back to look at those things so that we can put those memories away clean. It is a process that requires forgiving those who have hurt or disappointed you. Often forgiving yourself for your failures and the hurt you may have caused others. It requires repenting for your part in things, like your own moral failures or even your bad attitude. Forgiving does not mean what happened to you was right. It is saying you are no longer holding it against those who hurt or harmed you. You are giving it to the Lord, releasing people from the mental prisons that you have kept them in. Its easy to spend your whole time blaming others for what happened but generally there is more to the story and even if we were the victim there are things we could have handled better. Maybe we took matters into our own hands and did not look to or trust God to help us. Maybe you were mad at God. Maybe there was doubt and unbelief or complacency. The Lord knows all the ins and outs of your story. Ask him to show you if there is any clean up of the past that needs dealt with at this time. 

In general our heads need to be in the present. We can be so lost in the past or dreaming of the future that we miss out on the present. Which generally leads to more regrets somewhere down the road. Today is the day that is before you. Do your best to live it well. Sometimes life comes at us so fast that we don't get much of a chance to process things. Try not to let things stack up to much. Forgive and repent as you go along each day because none of us live perfectly. 

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I think sometimes we miss that God is doing a new thing because we are leaving claw marks from the past. We are trying to hold on to the old stuff. Transitions are often messy. Even the most organized and anticipated transitions shift us out of our familiar patterns and our comfort zone. 
In this move, I am finding it hard to find those quite spaces to write each day. My mother is an early morning person who's feet hit the ground running. I am more of a wake up and sit for a while before I shift into high gear for the day. Transitions are unsettling, and uncomfortable but we eventually find the new normal and learn its daily rhythms. I think the thing to remember is to walk with Jesus. Be talking to him along the way. He says in Matthew 11:29-30
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If we walk closely he will help you to sort through the messy transition stuff to see the new thing that he is doing. My mom has been at my house for most of August. We had talked about the possibility of moving them to Spokane but at that time I could not really see the new thing that God was about to do. In my mind it was off in the future.  

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I like to picture Jesus walking ahead of me through the dense brush with a machete. At times when life feels like a desert wasteland I trust him to lead me to the streams for refreshing. When we look at the unknown ahead of us it often appears to us as a wilderness or a wasteland. Heres the secret take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time is all we can manage. Put aside the worry and fear and do what needs or can be done be done now. 

Well I have finished what I needed and could do at 6:30 am and now it is time to get on to other things. Have a wonderful day. I will be back with more when I can. Here's a few post that did not get seen by many people in case I miss some days this week. 

P.R.A.Y  http://devotionals-margot.blogspot.com/2012/10/pray.html

God Command The Blessing http://devotionals-margot.blogspot.com/2012/11/there-god-commands-his-blessing.html

A Photo Challenge from my friend Debbie. http://devotionals-margot.blogspot.com/2012/10/photo-challenge-8.html

Protecting Your Quiet Time http://devotionals-margot.blogspot.com/2012/08/protecting-your-quiet-time.html


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Exciting News

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

I guess I took a longer weekend cause I never got around to writing yesterday. Actually my weekend was pretty exciting. In that we have been casually looking for the right house that would work for my family and my elderly mother and aunt. We have been talking for a while about relocating them closer to our family so we are able to help them more. My aunt has dementia and some days she is fine and other days she can't remember much and is confused. It has become more than my mother is able to keep up with on her own. We had all hoped this turning point was still off in the future another few years but it has become more and more apparent that a change needs to come sooner. Fortunately we are all in month to month rental arrangements at this point. So we have been looking at options for moving them closer. We had considered moving them into the same rental home community that we are in but when you add what we would all be paying for rents here it was a no brainer to realize if we combined our rent monies we could together get in to a much larger house.

On Friday I happened to be on Craigslist looking for massage tables and chairs and took a moment to check out the new rental postings for larger homes. I found this listing for a five bedroom home with two bathrooms that allowed for pets. http://spokane.craigslist.org/apa/4030339888.html.

I called and left a message but got a business answering machine. Since it was the beginning of a holiday weekend I figured we were unlikely to hear anything till Tuesday. So in the mean time we drove to the address and peeked in windows. We looked at the various pictures and what the posting said about the property. We all agreed it sounded really perfect. Yesterday (Tuesday we called the number again and talked to the owner and arranged to see the house. We walked through and all of us loved it. So I said we want it, what do we need to do next. Expecting the standard credit check for all adults to be the response. Instead he said "I don't find those credit checks to be all that helpful. I like you guys so he gave me his card and said to e-mail him when I got home and he would send me the lease to fill out.  Of course we discussed all the particulars. I e-mailed him and he sent the lease. I filled it out as a draft and e-mailed it back to him. I am supposed to meet him tomorrow to sign it and finalize everything.

So as you regular readers know I am starting Massage Therapy school next week. So my week days are pretty busy with that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. I have music students on Thursday and Fridays. So that leaves the weekends to move not just my own house, but my aunts 1 bedroom apartment, and my mother's two bedroom apartment. So the plan is to begin disassembling things at my moms and aunts on Saturday the 14th. We will get keys on Friday the 20th and take possession of the new house. We will have a truck to move them on the 21st and then we will move my household on the following weekend the 28th. It has all come together so quickly. Tomorrow we are meeting to sign contracts and to pay the deposit and first months rent. Then between teachers meetings and lessons I will arrange for trucks and work on switching over utilities and all the stuff that goes in to moving times three. Whoo hoo!

So all that to say - I expect this blog to be pretty hit and miss for the month of September and I will write when I can.

So here is todays verse. 
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 NIV  

So how does this verse go along with the moving news I just shared. I have been praying and seeking the Lord through this whole process.  I try to fill these blog posts with sound teaching of how I walk by faith before the Lord. Not that I have arrived at perfection but I have walked with the Lord for more than 30 years at this point. I have prayed about the situation with my mom and aunt and I have watched to see how God might go about answering. 

I think it is interesting that when we walked through the house there were little things that each of us had wanted in a house. For my oldest son it was to be near a bus stop. My youngest wanted his own room. My mother wanted it to have a gas stove. I have never had a garbage disposal any where we have lived. My aunt needed a room on the first floor with access to kitchen, living room and bathroom with out having to deal with stairs. My husband liked that there were garden areas to be able to plant. We all love the big front porch and decks. There were so many little things that were things we had each said in our hearts and out loud to one another that we would want in the next house.  I have said all along as we have discussed the situation, I have said I am fine with moving but it all just needs to come together. Every step of the way things have gone amazingly smoothly. I did not want to have to spend oodles of time looking at bunches of places only to find something to find out that someone else got there first. 
My last move was pretty frustrating. We moved from a big house to storage because we could not find a place in time stayed with my mom for a bit and finally found a much smaller home. I have said I did not want to just make a lateral move. In this move we get more space and pay much less money. So much of what was so difficult on the last move has already gone so much more smoothly. So even though I have three households to move this month I fell confident that this time things will continue to go smoothly. Anyway I am excited and thankful as I watch it all unfold so wonderfully before us. 

We each need to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to us with the help of the Holy Spirit. I have been through enough stuff through the years to know that Gods blessings are not always easy, and wonderful things. Its great when they are. Often His blessings come in difficult packages and out of the struggle we become stronger. Some of you are struggling - the Lord loves you and He will never leave you or forsake you. He longs for you to turn to Him and trust Him to lead you each step of the way. I don't know why the last move was so hard and this one is going so easily. I don't think it is because God loves me more now, or because I have arrived at some level of good enough. The Lord love each of us right where we are at in this moment. When things are hard He says He will be with us and he is with us as well, when things are going amazing. He is our Lord in the good and in the difficult. He loves it when we trust Him and when we choose faith in Him over worry and fear. 

Prayer: I pray that you would know the Lords presence in your present situation. That He would be more than your wish genie. That you would see the wonder of how he goes before you and walks beside you. That in what ever your journey at this time you would come to know Him more.