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Monday, December 31, 2007

How Will You Spend 2008?

Everybody makes New Year's resolutions. Whether we admit it out loud or not, we all have things that we would like to change each year. It's not a bad thing to want to lose weight or eat healthier. It is actually Biblical to be more organized and have your house in order. And everyone could use a little more time in the Word! All of these are resolutions that I have made in years past, and I know for a fact that my family and friends have done the same.



So what about 2008?



(ok, exuse this interruption, but my 6 year old just asked me if it was ok for her to just leave the t.v. off. "There's just nothing good to see," she said. WHO has kidnapped my child?? What in the WORLD is going on here?? Ok, back to 2008!)



This past weekend at church our pastor preached on being real about our vision, our walk and our service to the Lord. Then in Sunday school our teacher challenged us to really look at what God is calling us to and His abilities to fulfill His purposes instead of our inabilities to do what He calls us to. I have to say it was quite a challenging and thought provoking day!



You know, I do not want to be known as the woman that God called but chickened out. When I look at the people in the Bible and how God called plain old people to lead others, defeat His enemies, heal, teach and prophesy I think about the fact that they didn't chicken out!!



How easy would it have been for Moses to convince himself that he just COULD NOT do it and refuse to go where God lead? And Jonah. The poor man tried to run, but God pursued Him and decided that he really WAS the man to speak to the people of Ninevah. These men, and others, tried to say no, but God's plan was most important and they followed through becoming great men of God.



Let's suppose we are the ONLY person that God could use to do the job that He is calling us to. Now, while this is unlikely that we are the ONLY person out of the billions on earth that could teach a Bible study or lead a women's prayer time or teach a kid's SS class, let's just suppose. Then let's suppose that we say no. "No, I just can't. I am busy. I have plans. I am not your girl. Sorry, God." (You know when we do that we have an "I" problem, right? That is for another day.)



Now let's suppose that we were Jesus. (Ok, This one is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE... actually, don't count on it. EVER!) Let's suppose that as Jesus God tells us that we are to go to earth and die for the sins of His people and the world, but we decide to tell God no. "Father, they are SO wicked. It's just not worth it. They do not obey Your commands and they are so hard headed! Please, Father, figure out another way. I am not doing it."

Well, what a fix we would be in. Every one of us would go straight to hell. Every one of us.

So all of this supposin' brings me to my point. In 2008 why not have a resolution that we will LISTEN and OBEY?

You know, it is one thing when our kids hear us. I mean, how many times to I say, "DID YOU HEAR ME?" and she says, "Yes." but then she has done nothing to act on my commands. OH! That is frustrating! But it is an entirely different thing for them to hear AND obey!

Deuteronomy 28 has a list of blessings for God's people IF they obeyed. Verse 13b says, "If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom."

I don't know what God is calling you to, but I DO know what He is calling me to. If I say no, not only will I disobey, but I will also miss out on the blessing that He has for me. I REALLY WANT A BLESSING!!

So, I want to challenge you to resolve to listen and obey in 2008. I would love to hear what God is calling you to, how you obey and what His blessing is in your life. What an encouragement it would be to me and others!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR my sisters! Our God reigns and He is on His throne!! PRAISE HIM! LIFT HIS NAME ON HIGH!! Come before Him surrendered, daily, in 2008! Palms up girls!!
Saturday, December 29, 2007

He loves me, He loves me... not?


This Christmas my sweet husband took me purse shopping. I was SO thrilled to get something really nice. I was certain that would be my only gift from him, but when we went to bed on Christmas night, we turned off the lights and as soon as I shut my eyes I felt a gift land on my stomach! "What in the world?" I asked with delight! Well, he had done it again! There on my stomach was a box wrapped in Christmas paper and inside was a new, soft pair of PJ's!


See, through our eleven years of marriage my husband has kidnapped me twice, (once he packed my luggage and took me to a bed and breakfast in the mountains after a long year of teaching school, and the other time he planned for his mom to keep our daughter, bought concert tickets in another town, and picked me up from a doctor's appointment unexpectedly then drove me to dinner and a concert an hour away.) he danced with me in the lobby of the hospital as the sweet little man played on the lobby piano after our daughter was born, and he has given me many gifts including a car for my first mother's day! (we were planning to buy it all along, but I had no idea it would be in the garage that day... with classical music playing on the radio as I climbed in.)


Now what you need to know about my husband is that he does not look like the most romantic type. Actually, he is a structural engineer. You know, they sometimes carry pocket protectors. Yea, those guys! The brainy sort. The ones that are smarter than any one person should be. That's him. My sweet husband.
Sometimes in our lives we question whether or not our Heavenly Father really loves us. We go through difficult times, we do not feel Him near us or we just feel lonely and are in need of a touch from Him. Sometimes we get caught up in the feelings that we feel or do not feel and we question whether or not He is really here with us or whether or not He really cares.
You know, my husband, as sweet as he is, has to work hard at being creative. He has to really think and plan things out in order to pull off those surprises, but he does it!! He is just a man, but he shows me that he loves me in so many ways. Yes, there are times that I feel far from him, but overall, I know that he has committed to me and will always love me.
Our Lord, however, does not have to try at all!! He does not have to work to be creative. He does not have to really think things through or plan things to show us His love. Every morning the sun comes up. Every time we breathe He provides the exact amount of oxygen and the exact heart beat to keep us alive. He is the same.. yesterday, today and tomorrow... and He is ALWAYS here.
If we sense that He isn't here or near maybe it is because WE have moved away from Him and we need to reevaluate OUR walk with Him. Perhaps we need to evaluate WHO we are listening to and if it is not Jesus... well, let's put our noses right in His Word and turn up the volume!!
Oh, sister! He loves you so much! He is here every single day to remind you that you are a Daughter of the King!! Those leaves that changed and fell to the ground... that was for you! That sweet little bird that flew to your window... that was for you! Those rain drops that touched your nose today... that was just for you! That beautiful sunset... well, just for you.. a painting painted by the Father's hand just to remind you that He IS here! And He loves you very much.
Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Truth That You Probably Already Thought Of...

The other night at our church our pastor was talking about a photo that he and his wife had given their son when he accepted Christ and was baptized. I won't be able to explain it like he did, but he described a picture of a Joseph as a carpenter and Jesus as a boy near by. Jesus was holding three nails in His hands and sun shining through a window. The sun cast a shadow on a wall that depicted a cross behind Jesus.

I got to thinkin' about that.

As a boy Jesus worked with wood and nails. As He grew He knew how hard a nail must be hit to penetrate the wood and then if He made something He knew the angle at which a nail must be driven. He became very comfortable with wood. The splinters. The roughness. The feel of the hammer and nails. His very father, well, the earthly one, taught Him to use wood and nails to make something useful... something with purpose.

It's interesting that Jesus wasn't a fisherman or a shepherd. Both were common jobs of the time. Both had purpose.

No, He was born in a feed box. Made of wood. Hammered with nails.
He was a man that worked with wood. And His hands hammered the nails.
He died on a cross. Of wood. His hands and feet hammered with nails.
His entire human life was embedded in His purpose and as He came in human form that purpose would be, literally, before Him. In the form of wood. And nails. And yet neither of the materials were unfamiliar to Him. He was at home with the wood and the nails.

Maybe you had put all of those together before. I hadn't.

He came at Christmas so that we could know the incredible gift of love.
He lived His life so that we could know the example of life lived in humility and purpose. And He never stopped it. He knew His fate.

He knew why His Father had sent Him and He lived among the very items that would take His life. He worked with them. He knew the way they felt, the way they worked and the way they could be used to build something worth while.

He lived among the very people that would take His life, and He never stopped it. He lived ...so that He could die ...so that we could live... and be worth something worth while.

I just wonder if my life is showing that I was worth all of that? Am I pointing others to Jesus so that He can be real in the lives of others the way that He is real to me?

Maybe you already thought of all of this... I was just thinkin'.
Friday, December 21, 2007

Isn't There Another Way?

I just need to know... isn't there another way to make a gift look presentable without spending hours standing or kneeling with rolls of uncooperative wrapping paper, tape you can NEVER find and scissors that poke you as you are trying to wrap? I know you are going to say what my mother says," Just get tissue and gift bags and slap it in there!' WELLL... that is what my mother does and I don't want to do that. So there. I don't know. I was just wondering. Thanks for reading.
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Funny stuff, people!


Well, friends, my kid has been out of school for a whoping 6.5 days and she is seriously cracking me up. Kindergarden humor is really, well, funny!


She goes to a Christian school and they learned the scripture in Luke 2 about the angel appearing to the shepherds. Every time my husband and I read it from our Bibles it says, "Do not be afraid." To which she responds, in a LOUD voice, "NO! It is FEAR NOT! Ibringyougoodtidingsofgreatjoywhichwillbetoallpeople! Mom! Get it right!"


Charlie Brownesque, wouldn't you say? She runs the entire sentence together and she does not breathe. It is so funny.


Another thing that is really cracking me up is while shopping she is noticing other kids being disciplined by their moms. Yesterday she saw a little guy running from his mom. She stopped, watched the maddness unfold and then turned to me and said, "ohhhh! If she calls his daddy! Spankin'! " ALL seriouslike.


Perhaps she IS realizing that these moms (and dads!) mean business! I was starting to have my doubts.


Another thing about the holiday stuff is that she has been so busy and as a consequence she has been really tired and one day I had just had it! After staying up late and getting up early several days in a row I decided that we were both going to take a nap. To my surprise she did not put up a fight! As a matter of fact, she said, "Ok mom. I am going to lay down my sweet little head... just like Jesus."


What am I going to do with this kid? I guess I will just love her. She is such a gift and such a funny and happy part of my life. She IS my life.


Monday, December 17, 2007

I Can Do ALL Things...

This week's study in our Sunday school curriculum has already gotten my attention and it is only Monday! We are studying Joseph in Genesis 40 and the fact that he was Pharaoh's lead man until he was framed by Potiphar's wife and put in prison.

Two principles have really made me sit up and take notice:

1) Joseph practiced greatness in the pit before he practiced greatness publicly
2) Joseph never complained in his circumstance

The story is probably very familiar. Joseph was at the top of the food chain in many ways. He was the favorite of twelve brothers. He recieved a special coat and favor from their father, Israel, but was despised by the brothers and sold into slavery. Once a slave he became the top slave and was over the king's household. He was tricked by Potiphar's wife, who wanted to sleep with him, and was thrown into prison once the woman lied about his intent to harm her. Once in prison he became the head of the prison. Once out of prison he was placed over Pharoah's household and kingdom and eventually the world came to Joseph for help through a worldwide famine.

It seemed that no matter what the circumstance Joseph was destined for greatness. Over and over again the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph.

Now, not everyone is destined for greatness. The Lord has a different plan for every person on this earth. Most times we are called to live "back stage". After all, not everyone can handle the fame. The question is how do we respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

I must admit that I do not handle things so well at times. Sometimes I face things that I think are just unsurvivable, and then I will encounter someone who is dealing with MUCH more than I. Their attitude and faith in check. They are in the pit, but not living like it. They have risen above and depending on the Lord for their very breath, and I am put to shame!

The same God that lived and sustained Joseph is the very God that we know today. He is the same God who had a plan for Joseph's life and who brought Joseph out of that pit into a world power. Joseph's example of living his best, no matter what the circumstance, and not complaining in the mean time is something that challenges me to live above this life.

We do go through difficult seasons in our lives. Things do not go the way we planned. Our lives become complicated with relationships and job situations. Our health fails. Others fail us. We suffer disappointments and hard times seem that they will never end.

How do we CHOOSE to handle those seasons? It truly is a choice. We can choose to wallow in our difficulty or we can choose to trust that the Lord really does have a plan to work all things together for good. If we are walking with Him we must choose to believe that He can and will work in our lives to bring glory to His name. We may never understand His purpose or His plan, but trusting Him is not an option if we claim to know Christ.

A few years ago a precious friend of our family lost her daughter in a horrible car accident. A year later she lost her husband of over 25 years to a massive stroke. Their family had been very close and she was devistated. At her husband's funeral she stood at the door as we left the church. Obviously heartbroken and confused she said through her tears, "I am not angry at God. My family is gone, but He has a plan and I will praise Him. His purpose is higher than what I can understand." I was amazed at her strength.

Just last night my parents had dinner with her... and her new husband! The Lord brought a precious man who had lost his wife of 30 years to cancer. He, too, had been devistated. The Lord knew that these two could handle each other's grief because they had been there. They understand each other's emotions and He has used each of them to bring healing into the other's life. While this is NOT what either of them would have chosen for their lives and while each of them hurt everyday for their loss, they chose to trust the Lord and to walk with Him through their circumstance. What a testimony!

Lord, in my pursuit of You help me to see that You really do have my best in mind. Help me to see the situations that I face as lessons that need to be learned. Lord, sustain me. Help me to trust you with all that I have and all that I am. My situations seem unbearable sometimes, but I know that with You I can do all things. Thank you for the life of Joseph and for the example that he set to live an excellent life in private first! Before we can live it in front of others we must live it in front of YOU!
Sunday, December 9, 2007

IT IS FINISHED!

Oh my word I am so tired! We just finished the 4th performance of our choir Christmas program at church. If one woman said it, a hundred did..."My feet are KILLING ME!" Standing for a solid hour in a long black skirt, a bright red sparkly top and black shoes really does set a girl on her fanny for a while. The last time, I just wore socks! No one was looking at my feet anyway. I am thinkin' next year... that is THE way to go!

Ok, that entire paragraph was one solid complaint! Do you think for one minute that Jesus cares how much my feet hurt for one hour? He came so that I could know salvation, and I am complaining about hurting feet. This is my biggest problem right now... I have noticed that I am one BIG complainer!! WHO LIKES A COMPLAINER?? Well, I for one, do not!

Last week I heard a pastor on the radio praying for his congregation. He asked the Lord to help them to not have a complaining spirit. I began to pay attention to my own mouth and determined that THIS is the same prayer that I need to pray on my own behalf! I noticed that I was complaining about serving, complaining about my kid, complaining about my weight, complain, complain, complain! Well... here's the thing... NONE of it honors God and I am sounding like a person who does not know that she is a child of God!! IT must stop!! NOW!

So many times I hear people complain and I think, "Do they know how good they really have it?"

I believe that if I am going to complain about something that two things needs to happen. First, I need to recognize my complaining spirit and ask for forgiveness, and second, I need to be willing to do something about it instead of just complaining all of the time! It does NOT show a heart of gratitude and it certainly does not change anything to just spout off about things in a negative way!

This time of year is a busy time, but it is also a sweet time of celebration. Our children learn things like Christmas carols and how to bake cookies at this time of year. Yes, it can be stressful, but people hear about our Savior through songs and church programs and children's musicals. I do not want to get caught up in "my feet hurting" and lose the joy that this time of year brings. What an honor to celebrate our Savior's birth!! No complaints came from His mouth as He lay down His deity to become a baby lying in a manger. He came willingly and humbly.

His birth challenges me to see the world in a different light. His Light! One of grace, mercy and goodness. With a spirit of love and honor for our King.

Funny, I do not remember "complaining" listed in the list of Fruit of the Spirit! So what fruit AM I bearing?? And what am I telling others in my complaining about my faith?

Jesus! Please forgive me for having a complaining spirit! You are so worthy of any effort that I can put forth to praise Your name! Forgive me for being ungrateful and help me to see the blessings of each day instead of the negative things. Help my life to reflect You to others and may they see Your gift of Jesus at Christmas and all through the year! Jesus, please help me to lay down my own agenda and to take up Your plan for me everyday! In Your will is where I long to dwell and in Your presence is where I find rest. I love you Jesus!
Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lonely Christmas

This time of year is a lonely time for many people. My dad has always struggled with Christmas. It seems to make him sad and I know several others who begin to experience times of sadness and loneliness just about the time the first Christmas songs begin to play. It is really ironic to me that the time of year that is so exciting to so many people can actually make others feel a sense of depression.

When I ask my dad about his feelings he usually replies with the fact that the songs and the smells and the sights remind him of his own father and the relationship that they had. My grandfather was not the most patient man with his four children. He had a short fuse and my dad was always trying to impress him, but usually to no avail. My grandfather died suddenly of a massive heart attack shortly after I was born. We have one picture of him holding me with my mom, dad and grandmother near by. My dad always felt the disappointment of a disapproving father, and sadly, it continues today even into his mid sixties!

The good news is that we have a Heavenly Father that greatly approves of our lives when they are lived for Him. He is a loving Father who sent His only Son at Christmas so that one day we could live with Him in Heaven! The emptiness left by the relationships of this earth can be avoided when we allow Christ to fill us completely.

In her book, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore says, "Nothing destroys life like emptiness. Hollow places deep inside of us never sit dormant. They are vacuums attempting to inhale anything within reach."

If we are not first filled by Christ, His love, His forgiveness, His compassion and His goodness, then we are looking for something else to fill those empty places. Human beings do not have the capacity to give what Christ can give. It is unfair for us to expect a husband, friend or our children to bring peace into our lives. Our disappointment is really wrongly placed when we expect others to fill us. They can not! Our disappointment in this case should be in ourselves for not seeking Christ first.

Read John 2:1-11. It is the account of Jesus turning water into wine.

Moore says, "Christ fills empty vessels." "He is the only one who will never be frightened by the depth of our need."

If you are lonely this Christmas let me encourage you to stop. Stop shopping, stop decorating, stop baking... just stop and sit down with God's Word. Let Him know about all of the empty places that you are trying to fill. Tell Him about ALL of the people who have disappointed you and why. TRULY... the shopping, baking and decorating is NOT what Christmas is about! It is about knowing Jesus in a more intimate way and realizing that He came to earth to save us and to fill us... completely!

Oh, Lord! Fill us! Help us to allow You to fill our emptiness. Give us hearts that cry out to You first. Help us to set our friends and family free of the responsibility to fill us with something that will not last. Give us the ability to see You for who You are.. the God that sent His Son so that we could know deliverance! We love you Lord! Amen!!
Sunday, December 2, 2007

NO GIFTS!?

Tonight at church (during choir practice) I asked the lady beside me if she had finished her Christmas shopping. "I don't Christmas shop," she said "It's too stressful, we buy things just to buy them and it just drains me. I just don't shop for Christmas gifts."

Well, you can imagine my reaction. "Oh! Okay!" I said.

She could tell I was at a loss so she kindly explained that their family decided about 3 years ago to not buy each other gifts. She said that it got too hard, and they really do not need anything. They decided that instead of buying gifts they would use that time to be together more around the holidays and that would be their gift to one another... time!

She said it is wonderful!! No one stresses over not being able to afford things if it has been a hard year. No one has to get in the hussle of the mall and all of the traffic. No one waits in lines. They spend that time together!! The time they would have spent waiting with complete strangers is now spent with those that they love.

Isn't that interesting? I think that when we take a stand... go against the flow... it makes QUITE a statement about what is most important to us. I have to say.. she's got me thinkin'! I don't know if we will stop buying gifts because I enjoy giving them, but I must say I might rethink some of the time that I spend shopping, waiting, spending money, etc. and consider calling my family more or inviting friends over more.

Just food for thought... and I hope this season... this wonderful season of Christ's birth will make all of us think about things a little differently. He came for us. He came for relationship with us and as a gift to us. He didn't do things the way others did and He continues to surprise me everyday with His gifts. Gifts are not always the things that we unwrap on a certain day. What gifts can you give that might help you take a stand?
Friday, November 30, 2007

NOT very spirtual!

Ok, so you know the whole Christmas thing is coming. Right? I mean some people have had their houses decorated since before Thanksgiving.. which totally confuses my Caroline... so how can you miss it? Christmas music is on 100% of the time on some unmentioned radio stations and it has been since before Thanksgiving... which is already making me tired.

Poor Thanksgiving gets NO air time!

So while I AM looking forward to Christmas... especially the shopping... love me some shoppin'... but it's the whole competition of it all that I struggle with. Like the people down the street have their lights up outside and they are fully decorated and ready to go. I have a few wreaths up and some fun Christmas rugs down, but other than that we do not have our tree up nor do we have lights on the house yet.

Then there's Caroline wanting to know where OUR tree is and why OUR lights are not up! Well, I am trying here kid!!!!!! It just seems almost impossible to get it all done at the same time that others have theirs done. Oh my word the PRESSURE!

I fully believe that THIS is why the true meaning of Christmas gets lost. We (I) are so concerned with keeping up with the Jones' and the Smith's and the people down the street that we forget that this IS NOT A COMPETITION!!!!!!!! We do NOT have to have our house decorated the minute we put the leftovers in the refrigerator after our Thanksgiving meal! We do NOT have to have the perfect decor and the perfect lights on our houses.

Jesus had NONE of it and it was still His birthday!!

Don't get me wrong... I do love me some shoppin', but I also love me some decoratin'! It is fun for me to be creative and try new things. I love to have my house warmly decorated and I enjoy the process. It is just that I do not enjoy the comparing and the feeling of "I am not on top of things like they are " that we feel as we see different decorations appear.

It is okay friends. Decorate when you can. Do what you can to make your home a special place, but do not put pressure on yourself to have it done RIGHT THIS SECOND! We have lives to live, bills to pay and work to do. Our kids need us to help with homework and our houses need a cleanin' still! None of those are necessarily fun, but they are priorities. Jesus knows that we have responsibilities and He expects us to take care of them... first!

I don't know if you need it or not, but sometimes I need permission to not be the first one finished! I officially give you permission to take your time... enjoy... Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Any Length!

Yesterday on our way home from school we got behind a school bus. We were about 5th in line and the bus was moving very slowly. We got to an area where two different neighborhoods branched off of the road that we were traveling and the bus stopped. A mom, who was parked on the edge of the road near the first neighborhood, went to the bus and retrieved a very small child and took him to her car.

The door closed and the bus continued driving very slowly. By this time several more cars had accumulated behind us. Suddenly, out of the second neighborhood this blue car came speeding past all of us... bus and all! She got in front of the school bus, stopped her car, got out of the car and ran back to the bus.

Her baby was on that bus!! Girlfriend did not care who's world was inconvenienced or which laws were broken... she was getting that baby off of that bus! She took him, his gigantic book bag and another bag and ran to her car. People began honking their horns and becoming very agitated. She did NOT care! She had her baby and she was not concerned about anyone or anything else!

When we love someone or something so much we will go to any length to make sure it is taken care of! We will stop traffic, we will break laws, we will cause others to be angry, we will take a stand! None of that matters when we are responsible for another human life.

This is EXACTLY what Jesus did. He came in a manger, and as a baby, made an insecure king very angry. He stopped the plans of many rulers in both the government and the church. According to the Pharisees, He broke laws (remember picking wheat on the Sabbath? What about healing on the Sabbath?).

Jesus did everything that He did because He is responsible for another human life. During his life on earth he did what he had to do at the time for the sake of the lives of those who physically saw and touched Him.

On the cross He was responsible in a far greater way. Without His sacrifice every one of us would be in hell. Actually millions of human lives throughout history would be. Including me. Including you.

To what length do we go for Him? I know that if my baby had been on that bus I probably would have done the same thing that the mom did... in the face of potential danger and the frustration of others I would have taken a stand for my girl. But, what do I do every day to stand for Jesus?

It says in Matthew 10:22, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

You know, one time I was shopping in a store for a red shirt. I needed it for the Celebrate America program at church. A lady asked me if she could help me and I told her what I was looking for. She asked if it was for something special.

Do you know what I said? "Oh, I am in this THING at my church and we just need a brightly colored shirt!"

WHAT IN THE WORLD? "This THING at my church!" I said it with such disrespect and it sounded like I was dreading it. That could have been my opportunity to invite the lady to church or at least ask if she attended a church anywhere! I could have used that as an opportunity to take a stand and at least plant a seed, but NOOOOOOO I had to act like church was something that I am MADE to do. I LOVE church! My flesh totally took over and my wanting to fit into the world spoke loud and clear!!

Matthew 10:32-33 says "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

This Christmas I will say "Merry Christmas!" to whomever I wish! I will discuss our church's celebration with total strangers. I will not be afraid to go to any length to take a stand for my faith and my Father!

He came, took a stand and died for me!!!

What about you? What decisions do you need to make about your stand for Jesus?Shopping for Christmas puts us in many opportunities to share our faith with our community. Working and being with family puts us in close proximity to others all year round! Let's decide that we will not stop sharing His love with others! Or maybe we just need to start!

Take a stand my sisters... go to any length!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Give Thanks!

I know it goes without saying that we are incredibly blessed! While wars and famines go on in other parts of the world we Americans take so much for granted.

Even the Thanksgiving meal is something that we take for granted. Many people in the world would like to have a fraction of that food in a week! We complain of being sick of turkey and dressing after a couple of days, but others eat rice for years and are just thrilled to have something warm to put in their stomachs.

We have churches to attend freely. We have more than one Bible in our homes. We have the freedom to read them.

We have jobs. We may not always enjoy them, but they provide a means for us to eat, be clothed and live. We are able to work. We are able to earn a wage and we are able to provide for our homes.

We have children that are healthy and if they get sick we drive them to the doctor to get medicine that our insurance helps us afford. We do not blink at going to the drug store to get medicine that is prepared and easy to take in order to keep our families healthy.

We drive cars. We do not walk for miles in heat or rain or freezing conditions just to get food or medicine.

We have homes. They are warm. We have more than one blanket. We have more than one bed and we do not sleep in dirt huts. We have clothes, and while we may get tired of our wardrobes we DO have clothes. We can go and buy more... even if it comes from Wal-mart we can still buy something that looks decent to cover our nakedness.

We do not fear. We live in peace. Because of men and women who are willing to fight for our country we are safe. We play with our children, and have lunch with our friends, and talk on our cell phones. We are not victims of violence or slavery.

If we know Christ we have salvation. We are not afraid of a god that claims that we must work or kill others in order to be accepted in heaven or paradise.

Without His suffering we would have nothing. His life gives us peace. His death gives us hope. His watchful eye is ever on us and He is FOR us... not against us.

While days may be hard and seasons may seem impossible... we are EXTREMELY blessed. We are wise to think about our hardest day and then compare it to the majority of the world. We need to give thanks to God above for the way that He has so wonderfully blessed this country and our lives as Americans.

Next year my new goal will be to STOP COMPLAINING! I am extrememly spoiled and I am too blind to see it.

Bless the Lord! O my soul! And all that is within me bless His holy name!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Hope

I talked with a lady recently who's daughter had run away from home. She and her family were so distraught over their loved one's choice to run and they did not know what to do. This daughter is just 18 and had tried to commit suicide in the past. They had no idea if her choices would lead to her death. She felt that she had no hope.

Another lady lost her husband to cancer and then her young son tried to commit suicide and lay in a hospital bed due to his distress over losing his dad. They both felt that they had no hope.

Another lady is married to an alcoholic who mistreats her with his actions and his words. He is not even trying to help with their children and she feels like she is fighting an uphill battle on her own. With no help and no end in sight she feels that she has no hope.

Each of these ask the question, " Where IS God in this? I feel that He has abandoned me and I have no hope!"

The truth of the matter is that God is here! He sees the choices that we make and while it hurts His amazing heart He is here and He cares. He sees the choices that others make, how they effect us and how it hurts and He is here!

It says in Deuteronomy 4:28-30 "If from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey Him."

When we do not understand the circumstances that we are in as a result of illness or decisions that others make all we can do is "look for Him with all of [our] heart and with all of [our] soul."

The lady who's daughter ran away told me that it had been a long time since she had been on her knees. She prays and reads her Bible, but not on her knees. THIS drove her to her knees at the side of her daughter's bed everyday until her return this past week! She began to experience the voice of God in her life and He reassured her that He is in control!

I sometimes wonder if the Lord uses extremely hard, but temporary situations to get our attention. Using our loved ones is one way to really make us take inventory of our faith and trust in His power in our lives. Abuse is extremely hard and I do not believe that is something that the Lord approves of at all, but He can use ANY situation to pull us to Him. I have never been in that situation and am eternally grateful that is the case, but many, many women are dealing with abuse everyday.

As Christians we have to speak hope into their lives. Even if they know the Lord sometimes their situation is so overwhelming that they can't feel anything at all... especially the touch of the Lord. We have to be that touch. We have to be God's arms and His words of hope and truth need to come from our hearts to theirs as they face these difficult times. There is ALWAYS hope and they need to hear it. Scripture needs to flood their hearts and minds as they face each day in their pain.

It does take effort and time, but what would honor God most? Our pretending that we can't offer hope and walking away or our sharing God's Word with them to lift them up and encourage them to walk one more step?

Lord, give us sensitive hearts for those who are hurting. You are our hope! You are our refuge and our safe place. Help us to point others to You with a message of love and acceptance. Help us to listen to the hearts of others and bring them to our minds as we pray. Amen!
Monday, November 19, 2007

He is our Teacher

"This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

I have had so much on my mind lately with my Caroline having an auditory processing disability. At 6 years old we STILL deal with potty issues and there are things that just should come naturally to her that simply don't. Sometimes I get sort of caught up in the "Well, THAT kid is doing it, why can't she?" attitude and it just isn't fair to her. "That kid" doesn't face the challenges that she does so that attitude needs to stop.

Lately, I have really been trying to seek the Lord for her because my husband and I are just baffled. We are getting help through occupational therapy (which has made a huge difference!) and I know that the Lord sent OT our way. It isn't that we have not always prayed for her but I mean I am looking for some specifics from the Lord about how He would have us handle this situation with her. I am seeking Him for the answers because He is the one that saw her as she developed in my womb. He knows every single part of her and so I am seeking her Maker in this.

The wonderful thing about God's Word is that He truly gives us a Word of comfort, direction and peace as we deal with uncertainties. Even the Pharisees and Jesus' disciples recognized Him as Teacher and God refers to Jesus as the Word in John 1:1. So if Jesus is the Word and He is the master Teacher it is only wise to seek Him for direction and education in all things.

The aforementioned scripture in Isaiah says "I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you." God also gave me a specific scripture to pray for Caroline and it is found in Isaiah 54:13. "Your sons (and daughters!) will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children's peace."

I don't know what you are dealing with today, but maybe you just feel totally ignorant in the situation (the way my husband and I do with our daughter) and maybe you are needing some education. Go to Him. Tell Him that you are desperate for a word from Him and that you need Him to teach you in all things. Read His promises and claim them for your life and the situation that you face. It will give you such hope as you walk the road before you. It is amazing, when you get into His Word and you see His hand at work, how empowered He will make you! You will know that with God all things ARE possible and He will meet all of your needs according to His will.

I love you... thank you for the encouraging comments that you leave and for the prayers that you pray on my behalf. Please pray for Caroline. She is doing well, but we have a road ahead of us. Let me know how I can pray for you. It would be an honor.
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hard days?

Don't you hate it when you have a hard day? Today was a hard day for me and my family and I just HATE it! Especially on Sundays when we all LOVE church and want to be there with each other as the usual happy family that we are. I SERIOUSLY love, love, love my husband and daughter. They are precious to me and we usually stand united on things... which is just such a gift. But on those days when things go whacky... oh, do I hate it!

I have an aunt that is really sweet, but her life seems to be the perpetual hard day. She has had many illnesses and has been alone now for several years since her husband died. She also has three kids who just do not seem to care. It seems that each time I talk to my mom and I ask about her sister the news is always bad.

How do you handle hard days?

Today at lunch I jokingly said that I needed therapy! (Truth be known, I probably do, but this time I was joking!) After just one hard day I had come to the conclusion that a good psychological session would do me some good!

Soooo... what happened to giving all my cares to Jesus? What happened to remembering the God who gave me life is bigger than all of my hard days? It is so easy to slip into that human nature response instead of the response that the Lord would have me give, isn't it?

Actually, my life is really great. I mean, yes, my child can seem impossible, but she is healthy, happy and overall not so bad! My husband and I could not be more different, but 95% of the time it works for us so do I really have room to complain?

Sometimes selfishness creeps in. Sometimes we get jealous or tired and just want to be left alone! Sometimes we get busy and forget to put the important things first. And sometimes things just get on our nerves!!!

It is during those times that we are wise to take a step back and look at all of the things that we really have that are blessings. My aunt can look at her home and see that she is safe and warm. She can look beyond her children and see that her sisters really love her and care for her. She can see that she has doctors that really care about her and they work hard to help her be as healthy as she can be. It really is all in our perspective.

Some days are hard, but we can't let those string together to become a hard life! We are wise to be honest and open with those that we love and talk it out. (Not yell it out... talk it out.) We are also wise to get out our journals and our Bibles and look at the promises that God has given us or the way that He has provided through out our past. Gaining that perspective really helps to see that it really was just a bad day.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Protection Forever

Well, I wasn't going to blog about this, but after today I want to encourage anyone who might be fearful in the least! I do not want to, and will not, give the enemy any more attention than he already gets so that is my reason for not wanting to write it out, but I DO want to give My Father, my Protector and my Shield all honor and glory!

Yesterday I witnessed a robbery right next door. Four men drove up in a truck, two got out and one came to ring my doorbell to see if anyone was home. I did not go to the door, but I did look out of my window to see who it was. He did not see me. The other man went to another neighbor's door and knocked. No one was home.

Another man got out of the truck. The three of them went to my next door neighbor's house, kicked the front door in and they all put on white gloves. They went into the house and I called 911. I began to describe all that I saw... the white truck, the 3 men that were coming in and out of the house and the one man sitting in the truck as a look out. They never saw me.

They loaded big screen tv's, a lap top, a projector and other electronics into the back of the truck. I was yelling into the phone for them to get someone to our street NOW! These men were taking their time and they were working fairly slowly. The police were ALSO taking their time and the robbers got away!

I was SO angry! I was not afraid, but I was mad as I could be! It really bothered me that they got away with SO much stuff and they thought that no one was home at the surrounding houses during the day so they could come back!

When I got up to have my quiet time this morning I told God about my concerns. I prayed and looked into His Word for something that I could cling to all day. He gave me Psalm 37:28 "For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever..."

I got e-mails from sweet friends who said they were praying for us. It just feels incredible to have friends who love Him and us!

I was concerned about leaving our home today, but I had to take Caroline to school and I wanted to work out. I went to do those things and when I was on my way home I just prayed that I would not be fearful, but that the Lord would be my shield and my guard.

As I turned onto my street a couple (that I just love) was walking from our cul-de-sac. They flagged me down and said that they had heard what happened from a neighbor and that while I was gone they had come to pray over my home and my family!!!! They had prayer walked our area of the neighborhood and they were there to pray with me before I went back home!!

My very prayer was that the Lord would protect us and our home especially while we were away, and He sent this precious couple to stand in my driveway to pray while I was gone.

How BIG is our God!? He knows our fears and our concerns and He does things that are super natural to care for us! Not only did He protect me yesterday from the robbers, but He also protected me today... from fear!

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." Psalm 37:39-40

Praise His Holy and matchless name! He IS our protection! He is our stronghold! He is our deliverer! He is our strong tower! He is forever faithful!

What ever situation you might be facing that might be fearful is no match for God! He is bigger than anything we face and He is able to rescue us! Give it to Him. Tell Him all of your fears and let Him be God in the situation! Pray! Trust fully that He will provide and praise Him! OH!! Praise His name forever and ever!!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How Much Do You Love Him?

Do you love Jesus enough to bite your tongue when you really want to say something smart?

Like when you are at the DMV for example.. those sweet and lovely human beings are there day in and day out dealing with the dead beats of society.

Yes they are. You can not deny it. The dead beats I mean... ( I heard a DJ say on talk radio that they are deadbeat dads and pirates, and they LIVE at the DMV because no normal people seem to be there when you go. Ever.)

So it's finally your turn after a 5 minute (or 95 minute) wait! You are sick of people you don't know staring at you. You are sick of standing in line and you are sick of reading all of the state issued paraphernalia that is stapled to the wall.

So it comes as no real surprise when you get to the front of the line and the person behind the counter is less than kind when you don't have your ID ready. I mean, did you not read all of the state issued paraphernalia 100 times during your 95 minute wait? Have you become a dead beat like all of the others during the 95 minute wait?

So how do you respond? Do you love them AND Jesus enough to be kind when they are not?

How about when you are dealing with co-workers or friends (or family! for that matter) who have a "smart mouth"?

(That's what my mom always called it... "You will NOT have that smart mouth with me, young lady!" I have no idea who she was talking to... maybe my brother?)

When these precious people that Jesus loves and died for are being less than precious how do you respond? Do you bite back or do you hold your tongue?

It says in James 3 (yes, you knew I was going there!) verse 6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire... "

No one is really saying that it is right for anyone to be a smart mouth. I do not think it is right for anyone to hurt others by what they say, but the thing is... we can't control others! We can, however, control ourselves.

In the situation of the co-worker or DMV person they may not know that we attend church or profess to be Christians until we open our mouths. If we respond like all of the other dead beats then we are no different and we have had no impact for the kingdom!

Now, our friends and family DO know that we profess to be Christians so when we open our mouths they expect better from us!! The way we respond or interact with them is a tale tale sign of what we really believe.

SO... my point? How much you love Jesus comes out of your mouth! Whether or not you choose (WE choose, let's make this VERY clear... I am sort of confessing here!) to be kind with your words will tell others whether or not you really love Jesus.

So I suppose I need to watch my tone, my words and my smart mouth a little closer. I have been convicted lately about how I speak to my Caroline and I know that if I am to point her to Jesus every day then I have to do better about my MOUTH!

Then there are those who are watching how I speak to my child. What does that say to THEM? I mean the license plate that I just paid taxes on IN the DMV says "Redeemer" on it. So when I am not kind and then drive away what message am I sending? I am a smart mouth Christian? Well, THAT'S going to bring LOTS of people to Jesus! (See! there I go again! ugg!)
Friday, November 9, 2007

Through the Roof

The Lord is taking my life and the ideas that I have about ministry in a little bit of a new direction. I am pretty excited, but pretty overwhelmed all at the same time.

I am learning that this is how God works... when the job is bigger than you, and you really do not see how it will all come together, He has you right where He wants you!

Recently, as my husband and I have dealt with some learning disabilities with our daughter, it has become more apparent to me that the special needs population is not really addressed at church. There is one Sunday school class for young children with special needs, and a class with older men, but no real program outside of Sunday morning and nothing for older children. The Lord began to show me things that I really could not ignore.

The first thing I realized is that I have a special education degree that I am currently not using with anyone outside of my home. The ideas that I have as a mom helping Caroline with her school needs came from the education that I have.

The second thing that I realized is that there are children who are being under served or falling through the cracks all together because their parents do not know where to start when it comes to meeting their needs. Imagine bringing home that perfect baby only to realize that he or she is not perfect by this world's standards. Where do you even begin to find help? If their pediatrician isn't aware, or doesn't see the signs that things are not quite right, the child can go for years without help because parents don't know where to start.

The third thing that I realized was that our church is falling behind in reaching out to this population. We do not have a place for these children to hear about Jesus and we do not have a place for parents to come and be fed spiritually. If they can't leave their child in a class they will not be fully fed and ministered to. This is a real problem in the church and it just isn't ok!

The Lord began to show me that He has something planned for me and our church and so we are looking into training options for parents, teachers and volunteers. We are looking at how we can improve the classes that we do have and how we can develop new classes to address these needs in our community.

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus heals a man of his blindness and the Pharisees questioned him about the healing. When the man and his parents claimed that Jesus was the one solely responsible for the healing the Pharisees had him removed from the church, but JESUS Himself went and found him. He not only healed him, but He ministered to the man and his family when the church would not.

I fully believe that is what Jesus would have us do. Go and minister to those who really do not have a place to call their own in the typical church setting. Praise the Lord this is changing across our nation. The special needs population is the largest unchurched population in America because they have never really had a place. Churches are beginning to realize this need and they are beginning to reach out.

This week, my friend, Amy and I met with a man from Joni and Friends. It was so awesome to see him roll into the meeting in his motorized wheelchair. His mission is to help churches help those who can not help themselves. It is awesome to see his heart. The ministry, called Through the Roof, is based on the story of the three men who lowered their friend on a mat through the roof of a house so that he could be with Jesus. This is his heart. To bring those who can not come on their own to the feet of Jesus so that He can touch them, heal them, and save them.

I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store. I am a little nervous, but I am trusting that the Lord will provide for our needs. They will be many! Volunteers, resources, training... that will all come with time and prayer. We will start small, but we must start! It is going to be awesome to see the Lord pull His people together for this purpose and I am trusting and praying for His perfect will.

Matthew 8:17 says, " This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." He is still in the business of healing, carrying and loving. How do I know this is so? He does this for me every day! And if He will do it for me He will do it for the children.
Monday, November 5, 2007

Stand up! #2

Proverbs 20:27 "The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being."

Proverbs 16:2 "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord."

As I was writing last night it occurred to me that I might have sounded judgemental of others and their actions. Actually, it has made me so sad to see the church not looking much different from the world.

It also makes me think of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 that says "Everything is permissible- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible- but not everything constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." When we do not take a stand, sure, it's permissible, but is it beneficial? Is it constructive? Is it seeking our own good or the good of others?

If no one takes a stand in our families who will be the greatest influence there? The media? Oh heaven help us! The sports figures?

If no one takes a stand in our Sunday school classes what is the use? Is our attitude that of "well, the Sunday school teacher can take a stand. I am going to do what I want!" It's sad.

Take a stand. Do not allow the sins of this world to be a regular part of our lives as a church or as families who claim to be followers of Christ.

Judging? No, just convicted and praying.
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Stand up!

Recently I have been thinking about the things that I am thankful for. It seems that each time I go to pray I have this overwhelming sense of thankfulness for my husband. Unfortunately it has not always been this way. Let me tell you why.

See when we first met I thought he was the BIGGEST nerd I had ever laid eyes on. (none of this is new to him so don't think I am bashing him... we laugh about this now.) Steve is a structural engineer. That should explain a lot. He was also a huge penny pincher and would not buy himself something new if his life depended on it. He drove this really old, white Toyota that he parked under a tree at work and the paint job on it was just... yuck! His clothes were out of style and he was just kind of.. outdated. He worked hard, and he was very serious minded about his responsibilities.

I, on the other hand, drove a shiny new red sports car. I was a school teacher so I didn't make a ton of money, but as soon as my bills were paid I hit the mall. New clothes were my passion and I loved the fad fashions. I would get out of school around 2:30, go home and take a nap and shower so that I would have all kinds of energy for the evening.

You may be asking yourself, "If he was that bad, and they were THAT opposite, why did she marry him?" (Sometimes I ask why he married ME!?)

He was (and is) a man of conviction. See, he was the first guy that I had ever met that did not try to change for me. Now that may seem weird, but hear me out.

If I picked on him about his car he would say, "It's paid for and I can save money the longer I drive it. How long do you have to pay on that new red thing?"

Or if I made a comment about his clothes he would say, "Well, when someone helps me pick something out that I really like I will wear it, but I will not spend money just to spend it."

Sometimes there would be a movie that I really wanted to see, but it would be rated "R". He would say, "It is fine with me if you go, but I won't be the one taking you. I told the Lord a long time ago that I would not go to rated "R" movies so you will have to go without me."

You see Steve would not let my lack of conviction change his strong convictions in the least. If I used a word that he didn't like (and it wasn't a cuss word either) he would call me out. If I confronted someone in an ungodly manner he would question my intentions. We did sometimes argue about things because we were so different, but I began to see that he wanted the best for my life. He was (and is ) a man after God's own heart and if I was going to date him then I had to step up my game.

Sometimes I wonder about the church. People within the church still act like the world in so many ways. I know that there are standards that are preached and scripture that is read weekly that help us understand God's plan for us, but I still hear about drinking, gambling and affairs on a regular basis. I really DO NOT understand!!

We say that we want our world to change, and yet if we are not willing to change how can we expect others, who don't even know God to change? We say that we want our kids to be Christians and follow hard after Christ, but if they do not see us doing that how can we expect them to?

It is much like me dating Steve. Once I saw the authentic life that he lived, I wanted it too! I wanted the peace that he had. I wanted the relationship with Jesus that he had and I wanted to live what I said I believed instead of being a hypocrite.. which is what I was when we started dating! I could only improve my life by being with him. He was a man that was not going to compromise for any one and I wanted that kind of marriage!

Until the world sees the authentic life of the church it will have nothing to strive for. Our lost friends will see us as people who say we are Christians and go to church, but who still live a drinking, gambling, affair ridden life. What is the difference?

Really the reason that I married Steve was Jesus. It was not his nerdy clothes and nerdy car. (shock, huh?) It was that he lived Jesus in front of me and I wanted to MARRY Jesus!!!!!!! (Of course Steve isn't Jesus... you know what I mean!) His life made me want a life like that...

So what about me makes the world want a life like mine? How do I take a stand and not compromise? How do I challenge those around me to see me as different? How do I challenge my daughter to follow hard after Christ instead of the emptiness that this world offers?

Lord, please help us to take a stand. Help me to be willing to go against this culture and to not allow satan to have one inch in my life, my marriage or my home. Please help us, the church, to live our convictions and not give in to the slightest temptation just so we can impress others. Help us to live solely for You and help us to challenge others to a life of holiness. We will not receive the blessings that You have in store for us until we are willing to be sold out for you. Help us to realize Your plan and to be obedient to follow it. Convict our hearts Lord. Amen!
Monday, October 29, 2007

New Look

Hey girls... just a quick post to say that I hope you enjoy the new look of Higher Call's blog. I like lots of girly things and I thought this template looked more like me. Being my true self is something that is important to me so... here ya go!

thanks for reading! :)

Open Hands

Last night we went to the Brazillian church to hear praise reports about our friend's recent mission trip to Brazil. It was the sweetest thing to sit there and watch people worship Jesus in a tongue that I could not understand. Their faces and their uplifted hands showed their love for Him in a way that I think I have never thought about before. I get in such a rut of thinking that the whole world is like me... just an English speaking American. But there, on the same church campus, was a group of people who looked a little different and spoke a different language just praising God with all their might. It made me realize that we really ARE sisters and brothers in Christ no matter who we are or what language we speak.

One of the men that shared talked about playing soccer with a group of Brazillian soccer players. He likened it to a group coming from Brazil and wanting to play in an organized team here in America... like a college team or even the NBA. These men welcomed our American friends onto their field and they played together. As they left the field our friends wanted to share about the love of Christ, but the men were scattering. Disappointed at this missed opportunity they walked to the nearest square hoping to share their faith with anyone they could find. But there in the square was the soccer team! Our friends had the chance to share the gospel and 20 young men prayed to receive Christ that day!

This man had a soccer ball in his hands. Others that went had dentistry items in theirs so that they could perform oral exams on children and meet some medical needs. All that went had Bibles in their hands.

What is in my hands? I have some extra clothes that I need to get rid of. I have some ability to sing and I am pretty creative. I have a special education background and worked with special needs kids for a while.

What is in your hands? Perhaps you can sew. Perhaps you have the ability to build things. Maybe you are great at getting things organized or preparing a meal.

We are SO blessed in America. Every one of us has a Bible or two in our homes. Each one of us knows the importance of an education and so we have knowledge that most of the world does not have. We have resources that would just baffle the minds of some who live a world away.

I just wonder if our hands are open? Yes, we do have these things and more, but do we hold onto them so tightly that we neglect to see God's plan for them?

Several years ago a family in our community had a bad house fire and they lost everything. I was not married at the time and my room mates and I decided that we would get somethings together to give to this family. We found out what sizes they wore and tried to get somethings together that would meet some immediate needs. I remember collecting some bathroom items and kitchen items that I had used in college that were still in good shape, but we didn't use them anymore.

As I walked into the bedroom of one of my room mates to see what she was collecting I noticed a sweater lying on her bed that she had worn to work the day before. I said, "You just wore that. You are not giving it to this family are you?" I will never forget her reply. " Melissa, they have nothing. Why would I only give them the things that I have worn out? They need things, but I don't want them to just have to settle for my leftovers. I can go buy a new sweater tomorrow if I want. They need everything!"

What she had in her hands was not only some clothes that she could give, but she also had a willing heart to be used of God. She was not willing to just give her leftover or worn out things, but she was willing to give her best for the sake of the needs of others.

The Brazil praise time really helped me think about the things that I have and the way that I use them. If we have ANYTHING that can bring someone to Jesus why do we hold onto them so tightly? He calls us to share His Word with anyone who will listen and He has gifted us to share in different ways.

A soccer ball. A sweater. A dentist kit. A willing heart. Each of these brought someone closer to the throne of grace. It's time to look around and see what we have... then get busy sharing it!
Friday, October 26, 2007

"Still" Waiting, Lord!

So last night while I was writing about being still I started thinking about how long that chapel service was. It was long, but to the 6 year olds in the group it seemed like an ETERNITY! At first they did really great... we were singing and doing the pledge and were up and down, up and down and good bit. But then the Jonah program began. It was so cute. The second graders did a great job with their little play and songs and all, but those baby kindergarden babies were starting to squirm! I noticed my little Caroline stand... then sit... then stand... then sit... all while watching the play. She was being quiet, but buddy was she squirming in her seat! (and in the seats of those around her a few times!)

Then I started thinking about me and how I act when the Lord has me in a waiting time. My mind is just a workin'.

What can I do in the mean time, Lord? Where can I go? Who can I talk to? PLEASE give me something to do!!!!!!!!

That is why last week's Bible study on being still was so good. It was such a good reminder that while we may SEEM to be patient with our actions.. "Well, I am just waiting on the Lord... I am such a good Christian!"... we may not be patient in our minds or emotions during those waiting times.

You know how it is. You take your car to the dealership (or wherever!) to have it serviced and you have a kid with you. Your only job is to wait PATIENTLY for the car to be serviced. Most people are just reading, resting, sitting... but you, the one with the kid, oh you are waiting all right, but patiently would NOT be the word that you would use to describe the experience. They want to touch things, talk to people, ask questions, go here, go there, sit in all of the seats in the waiting area, get a snack out of the machine, ask more questions, crawl on the floor, play with things that could break, get a drink, run through the room, ask MORE questions, go to the potty... my WORD!

It's true you are waiting, but patiently and "still"waiting is not what is happening. Can I get an Amen!?

When God allows us to be in a waiting period He sometimes lets us wait until we decide to be TOTALLY still... mind, body and soul. He sometimes lets us wait until we decide to really sit down, with no distractions and listen to Him with all that we are. "Still" waiting is hard. It means that our emotions (while still there) can not drive our decisions. It means that our own thoughts and ideas (while still there) can not be the thing that we rely on to understand God's will. It means that our actions need to be tempered by the Holy Spirit until we get an answer, and it means that our ambitions need to be prayed over so that they are in line with the Father's... making sure that they are not solely our own.

"Still" waiting does not usually just happen during a one day period and then... Your off... either! Unfortunately for the human nature God's waiting periods are sometimes lengthy. In the age of microwaves and drive through windows we do not have to wait more than a minte for many things. But God's wrist watch seems to tick along at different intervals for different people as they wait on Him. One recent waiting period for me has been well over a year. We have friends who have waited for much longer and it is very hard!

I guess the thing that I am FINALLY learning is that it is all about the journey with God. He DOES care about those things that we long for. He tells us to tell Him the desires of our hearts so I KNOW He cares, but it isn't the end result that He is most interested in. It is the time that we spend before Him.. talking.. listening.. crying.. loving...growing.. learning.. and seeking Him that most interests Him. He does want to give His children good things, but He also wants us to rely on Him every single day as we wait.

"Still" waiting. There's some good in it. If you would leave a comment if you are waiting and let me pray for you and with you. It would be an honor to lift you to the throne of the Father.
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Be Still

During chapel at my daughter's school today (that lasted 2 hours! for t-k through 2nd graders!) I noticed that teachers would occasionally say, "Be still." to some of the kids. They were trying, but it is just HARD to sit for that long, when you are 6, and not fidget. (It is sometimes hard to sit for that long when you are 36 and not fidget.... not meaning anyone in particular or anything... it's just hard. :)

This past week in our Bible study we talked about being still. Be still emotionally. Be still in our thoughts, our ambitions, and our actions. It is SOOO hard girls. I mean compared to the God of the Universe, I am still a baby! I am really only six in a grown up body. (really, I am.)

I noticed that the teachers did not say, "If it is easy for you please be still." They also did not say, "If you choose to, be still." They simply said "Be still."

That's what God says too. Yes, sisters He does. It does not have a footnote. It does not have a condition. It does not have an option. He just says "Be still... let me fight this battle for you... know that I am God..."

What is the battle?
Having a financial need?
Having a physical need?
Emotions are out of control over a situation?
Thought life is not what it needs to be?
Something needs "fixin'"?
Something needs to be changed?
A job is too hard?
A situation is impossible?

He says in His Word... and we DO believe His Word don't we? He says in His Word "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord's salvation. He will provide for you today... The Lord will fight for you, you must be quiet." Exodus 14:13-14

He told His children to do a few things:
1. do not fear
2. stand firm
3. see
4. be quiet

The situation that Moses is in at the time this scripture was written is that the Egyptians are after him and the children of Israel because they are escaping into the desert. He has no weapons, no battle plan and no way out.

What would I do? What would you do?

So... running around in an emotional tizzy yelling at those that you love and causing all kinds of havoc did not make the list, huh? Not exactly an option when it comes to God caring for His children.

As I grow deeper in my walk with Jesus and as I see Him at work in the lives of those around me I am beginning to realize that He wants me to respond exactly like my earthly daddy wanted me to when I was growing up. When I was in trouble and in a mess (which was often!) my dad would always say to me... "come to be calmly, don't get all worked up, and let's talk about it. When you are all upset and trying to fix it with your 16 year old knowledge it just gets worse. Let me know what you are dealing with and let's fix it together! But STOP CRYING!"

So now my Heavenly Father says the same. "DO come to Me, but let ME do the fighting for you! I see the entire situation and your emotions are all out of sort! You can't even think clearly. Just give it to be. Be still and quiet and let your Daddy handle it. I love you."

It took me SOOOOOOO long to realize that my earthly daddy meant it. If I would just listen and obey and come with open hands admitting that I did not have a clue then he would tell me how to handle it and give me the tools to do what needed to be done. It never happened immediately, but it took time to learn.

It is the same with my Heavenly Father. His timing is not ours. (It is frustrating, but He knows what He is doing!) His wisdom far out weighs our wisdom (and mine is 6 years old compared to His!) and His solutions are always better than mine.

In our society no one is really still. Everyone is moving and trying to make "it" happen! (whatever 'it' is!) If we want to be set apart from the world we have to obey God's commands. People will wonder how we have peace in the middle of our storms and in the middle of the battles of our lives. When we are still before the Lord He ministers to those needs and we can face anything when He is fighting the battle for us. People will wonder about the peace that we have and it will open doors to share about His saving love and grace.

Obedience. Be still. Know that He is God. It says it in His Word... and we DO believe His Word, don't we?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Butterflies at the Beach?

Our family went to Hilton Head this past week. It was quite a trip with the in-laws. I really enjoyed it and am extremely thankful for my family!

One really great thing about my husband's family is that everyone likes to be active. They enjoy going to the beach, riding bikes, walking, playing in the water, and seeing the sights. It isn't like one fuddy duddy wants to sit in the house while the rest of us go and have fun. We all go together.

It is so funny how different people notice different things. My sister-in-law LOVES animals and she is crazy about searching the sand for critters. She finds all kinds of stuff and Caroline (our 6 year old) likes to pick it all up!! YIKES! (There was the spiked crab that Caroline found on her own... she just picked it up and brought it to us to show Aunt Kelly! oh my word!) Kelly also pets every dog that comes down the beach and she needs to know their names and what breed they are. It is a hoot!

My father-in-law notices funny things. Thing that make you laugh about people or things. My mother-in-law notices pretty things like flowers. She was also the first one to notice the butterflies.

As we were walking down the beach we noticed that there were several butterflies. I commented that I didn't think I had ever really noticed butterflies at the beach before, and that was when my mother-in-law pointed to the sea grass near the sand dunes. There were tons and tons of butterflies all heading in the same direction. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I mean the beach is breath taking enough but to have all of these orange butterflies flitting along with their delicate wings in the wind... it was just beautiful.

We began to put things together... the Marriott near where we were staying was called The Monarch and they had a butterfly on their signs. This was the area that the Monarch butterflies migrated through for the winter. They were all headed south to stay warm!

Is that not amazing? Butterflies know where to go to stay warm for the winter. The ocean knows where to stop on it's shore. The tide is so predictable that man has been able to print a weekly calendar for it and the sun and moon know exactly where to rise and fall... and when!

And sometimes I worry about my Caroline and her future. I worry about money and what will happen to my parents. I think about how this will happen or that will not. I say that I trust and know that the Lord is in complete control, but do I really rest in that?

If He can control those things that are totally out of my realm of comprehension (the number of stars in the sky and the number of grains of sand!) then why do I not trust that He is in control of me? Do I not let Him be? (yes! this is true!) Do I not know and see that His wisdom and His hand are bigger than any circumstance I find myself in?

You know Caroline does not worry about a whole lot. As a matter of fact she picked that crab up with no fear. It was the grown ups who freaked out and scared her to death!

Matthew 18:2 says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never inherit the kingdom of heaven."

Trusting Him. It is what He longs for from His children. The butterflies do... why can't we?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Carline

Ok, this is going to sound really weird, but the Lord spoke to me yesterday THROUGH the carline at my daughters school.

"IN the carline?" you might be asking.

No. THROUGH the carline.

Let me explain.

As I was sitting there for a few seconds (I usually get there RIGHT on time because I hate waiting in the October HEAT wave that we are currently experiencing!) I hit me that all of these parents are just like me. They are waiting in a line to pick up children that they love. They are there every single day with one purpose... to pick up these little (but huge) responsibilities called children.

As they wait they read, rest, talk on cell phones or to one another. They all drive different cars (or minivans) have different clothes and they look differently. For a long time I would get frustrated with the length of the line or the length of the wait. "If THESE people would just move on I could get my daughter and get on with my day."

"THESE people" are not just people. They are moms and dads who share the same responsibilities that I have. Figuring out how to put what we believe and know to be true into the life of another.

It is one thing to have a baby. It is another thing all together to raise him or her to be who God calls them to be. And who God wants them to be is often a mystery to those of us given the responsibility of raising them. It is in our OWN walking with God that we see His hand in their lives and figure out the next step to take.

Then I thought about those who do not walk with God. Just because we attend a Christian school does not mean that everyone is a Christian.

There is the 8th grader who prayed to receive Christ this year and her parents are atheists. The question arises, "Why would atheists send a child to a Christian school?" Perhaps they see something in the love of Christ that is a mystery to them? Perhaps they want their child to know a love that they are afraid to know? It is hard to imagine, isn't it?

SO God spoke THROUGH the carline. He told me that I am no different than the lady in front of me. She has concerns, hopes, dreams and frustrations just like I do. She has a child that needs prayer and encouragement and a need to learn just like I do.

He also told me that, like me, these moms and dads need prayer. They are just trying to figure out this thing called life. They are waiting, day after day, to hear how the day went away from their watchful eye. They want to know what happened on the playground as well as in the classroom because while they want them to read and write, they also want them to be good people who love others and who will be kind.

I purposefully watched the faces of the moms as they drove through the line. Going in to get their kids they had solemn looks... some almost frowning. They were alone in the car (which IS a good thing, don't get me wrong!) but when the doors opened and those little lives climbed in the mom's faces would change. All of a sudden there were stories to tell and stories to hear. There were smiles and hugs and questions galore. There was a flurry of emotion as the mom's purpose came to life again and she was with little people that she loves so much.

Isn't it funny that God would speak to me THROUGH a carline? I am thankful that He did. He teaches me something new about myself everyday. I need Him more than ever. This responsibility that He gave me as a mom is sometimes frustrating, but the most wonderful love of my life. And there are millions more like me out there... just waiting in the carline.
Saturday, October 13, 2007

Who Would Have Thought?

In our Sunday school curriculum we are studying Job this week. It really is an amazing thing to see God and Satan converse over one man. In Job 1:8 GOD says to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"



WHAT!? Lord, do you REALLY have to encourage the devil to work evil here on earth?? He seems pretty good at it all by himself!! He is destructive and evil and eager to devour anyone he can at any given time. Why would you point out one man and challenge Satan himself over him?

Can you imagine being SO upstanding that the God of the Universe would have enough confidence in you to test you the way that Job was tested? God told Satan that Job was blameless and upright and He had confidence that Job would still praise Him, even in the storms of life. Job's experience would be horrible to endure. He lost his wealth, his business, his family and his health. He lost it all, and yet He states, "Naked I came from my mothers womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

What faith! What trust! What a devoted life! Would I respond in this way?

One of the points that the author of our Sunday school curriculum (Yahweh-Divine Encounters in the Old Testament by Gene Wilkes) makes is that "Satan was cynical and did not believe that anyone could love without props." He said, "It is possible that God sought to show Satan a kind of love in Job that resembled the love He felt toward people that killed His Son."

I never thought of it that way. God had a lesson for SATAN to learn? God wanted to use Job's experience of loss to show Satan what true faith and love were all about?

I think I have always seen Job's experience in the Bible as a lesson for JOB, and other Christians, to learn. The phrase "Why bad things happen to good people" is probably the theme that I would adopt for the book of Job. His life and loss and faithfulness is a lesson in perseverance to those of us who love God and experience loss. But isn't it just like God to want to teach the enemy a lesson also? It says in His word that "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting ANYONE to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

It is hard to fathom that God would love Satan still. After his rejection of God and his evil forces in this world and against God's people can God STILL love him? Could He possibly have used this experience with Job to show Satan that there are those who CAN love God with full abandon regardless of what happens to them?

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD? What is this love that transcends evil and goes right to his very heart? How does our Heavenly Father have the capacity to love past the rejection, the evil and the damage and the destruction that he brings?

This brings some questions to mind. Do I see my experiences of loss as lessons that God is using in my life, but also in the lives of others? Does it register with me that the way that I respond to things might point others to Jesus no matter how evil they might seem? Am I able to love past the hurt and rejection of others?

I can only pray that my responses would be like Jobs. I believe that Job is an incredible example of how someone who loves God makes it through times of difficulty. He shows us that love is a choice. Praise and honor are decisions that we make regardless of our feelings or our circumstances.

"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21
Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples. In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other “Disciples” to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1) this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ…”
Thank you, Leigh (http://www.leighhargisgray.blogspot.com/) , for encouraging me in my hopes of pointing women to Jesus. I love Him so much and want others to experience that love and the freedom that only He can give.
I would like to nominate:
Unfortunately I do not know many blogs to nominate. I do read some, and enjoy reading them, but I do not read too many. I may not be able to fulfill the rules of this award... thank you for considering me!
If there is anything praise worthy let it be Jesus! He is the one that sets our souls free and then sets them on fire to serve Him and hopefully others. He is the ONLY reason that I set out to write. He fills my heart to overflowing and it just makes me want to tell it! He is the one that makes it possible to even think thoughts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. He is the one that makes our lives full and causes us to think past ourselves. His love and provision are immeasurable and He alone deserves any glory. Praise YOU Jesus!
Monday, October 8, 2007

Do not Fear!

What an awesome weekend of praise, Bible teaching and learning we had with our sisters in Christ at our church this past weekend! There was a women's conference called Breath of Heaven and there were women from many different churches that attended.



The Lord used so many women to deliver a theme that each of us obviously needed to hear. It seemed that each speaker in one way or another reminded us that God is not a God of fear. They had messages about God's deliverance from the storm or God's provision in time of sickness. There were messages about stepping out in faith and being right in the middle of His hand, and all of them encouraged us to not fear our circumstances but to rest in our Father's hands.



It was really amazing to see how God used these ladies from all over the US to deliver such different messages with one common theme!! HOW does HE do that?? Seriously, two of the women had never met nor heard the other speak and yet they still had a message of "No Fear!"



What this tells me (and I hope tells you) is that our Heavenly Father knows us! He knows who we are and what emotions we experience and how we need Him most. He understands that each of us face things that make us VERY afraid and yet He has a word for us that encourages us to not fear.



When we are uncertain about our future when it comes to finances, jobs and security...

When we are uncertain about our future when it comes to our families...

When we are uncertain about our children's future as they deal with insecurities in school and difficulties as they mature...

When we face illness...

When we deal with aging parents...

When we face security issues in our nation and decisions are made that effect us all...

When we see violence and abuse and pornography that effects us directly or indirectly..

When we see fear in the faces of people in other countries who are starving or sick...





... He is here and He is saying "Rest in Me. Do not fear. Be still and know that I am God."

The Lord is so specific when He speaks to His church. We are His beloved. He died for our sins. He is here in Spirit to remind us of His great love and He does not want His children to be fearful.

As a mom I will do all that I can to be sure that Caroline is not afraid. I will put kisses in her hand, I will hold her, and I will reassure her that things will be ok. I will tell her that her mom and dad love her and Jesus is with her wherever she goes. No matter what she sees or hears I want her to know that she will be ok.

Our Abba Father is exactly like that! He does not want one circumstance to make us afraid, but He wants us to rest in knowing that HE is in control and nothing is too big for Him. It was evident to me this weekend that He will go to any length to get His message across!! He can coordinate messages from women who speak to get His message to His church. I just love that! Once again He shows that He is sovereign and that He can do all things... even wash away our fears!
Friday, October 5, 2007

For the Rest of Our Days

The song Sanctuary is a rockin' little song about praising the Lord with our lifted hands, with our songs and with our "Hallelujahs"! The refrain is "For the rest of our days".

The lyrics have been streaming through my head for a few days now and the question came to me "Will you praise ME for the rest of your days?" Will you come to Me, fully abandoning yourself and your desires just to worship Me for the REST of your days.

Now no one knows just how long they have to live, but if you are a child of God it does not matter! We will be with Him eternally... forever... always! It does say in scripture that every knee will bow and worship Him. The question is will I CHOOSE worship?

Worship is putting God first. Putting all of our focus and attention on Him and giving Him first place.

So what about the bad days? The other Saturday I woke up to a little girl in my bed with feet and arms and bodies flailing about! Oh, it just rubbed me the wrong way and I got up MAD! It was my one day to get a little bit of extra rest and there she was just kicking and complaining about HER not having any room in MY bed!

For the rest of the day I was ill. (There are just some days that I don't want to share! sniffle.)

I got in my car to run an errand and I had left my Mandisa CD in the CD player. (I think that CD ROCKS by the way!) There she was just praising the Lord and singing the sweetest songs. For a while I resisted. I just did not want to praise. I didn't FEEL like it and I wasn't going to! (sniffle)

The Lord has a way of breaking down walls. When we enter into His presence we can try to resist Him and His power so that we can wallow in ourselves just a little longer, but He has a way. Oh, His praise is powerful and convicting and hard to resist for long.

When our perspectives turns from our own selfishness and onto His holiness we WILL worship! No matter how tired, how mad, how selfish or how resistant we are HE WILL BE HONORED!

Are you going through a hard time? Oh sister, just come into His sanctuary and allow His praises to first permeate your being. Then let His healing power and comforting hand hold you as You praise Him. Lift your hands in the sanctuary. Lift your hands and give Him the glory. Lift your hands and give Him the praise. Praise Him for the rest of your days!