Sunday, December 26, 2010
As I reflected, I realized how very blessed my year has been. My marriage has grown stronger, my kids have grown closer to God, there have been financial blessings, blessings in so many relationships, and a general feeling of joy and peace.
As I continued to reflect on the year, I realized that my year was not without it's problems. I experienced financial issues, betrayals, health issues, relational problems and surprising emotional crisis at different turns. I did indeed have more blessings this year, but I had my fair share of problems as well. What was different was me. I felt more joy and peace through all of these situations.
I was different. As I faced each problem, I faced it with God at the center of my life. I faced it in confidence that God "works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose". I walked through these situations with my Lord leading the way and with the peace that passes all understanding filling my soul. That's not to say I handled everything perfectly and that there weren't times when I waivered. But overall, I look back on this year and see joy and peace. And the problems of this world have been forgotten and put aside. Because they are just problems of this world. And because of the way I started my year and stayed focused on the One who provides, I have an eternal perspective.
So, I encourage you to join with us January 10th as we begin our 21 day fast and focus on God, center on God. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you". James 4:8
Saturday, December 25, 2010
One of my challenges this week was that my van took a turn for the worse and died. So I borrowed my husband's truck. I ran my errands and purchased some large items and put them in the back of the truck. What I didn't know is that is where my husband had cleverly hidden my unwrapped gifts. And of course, I thought it was hysterical. Every year he surprises me, and every year he guesses what he is getting. So this year the tables were turned and I thought it was hysterical. In spite of the fact that he told me he was going to return the gifts. You see, I know my husband has a strange sense of humor, but he's not a cruel man so certainly he wouldn't actually return the items.
Christmas morning came and everyone was unwrapping their gifts and enjoying the morning and sure enough my dishes that I wanted (and he had purchased) were no where to be found. Until I come to a rather large gift. I open it and lift the lid on the box and what do my wondering eyes see? Nope, not dishes. Coal. I had to wonder...the question just begged to be answered...
How did I end up with coal? I'm not a perfect person but coal? really? ok where are my dishes? Much later he did end up pulling out the dishes I had wanted and he managed a surprise or two. Such as the extraordinary large gift in the corner. inside of it, a box. And still another box. And another, yes another. Inside of that, another box. After a series of boxes, a gift card for a pedicure.
Yes, my husband has a strange sense of humor. He's such a sarcastic santa!
The kids, well they all enjoyed their gifts. They are sitting together now playing the new Wii and trying to figure out the games, putting together puzzles, and enjoying each other's company.
Merry Christmas to you all! I pray your day brings you many blessings and surprises. I pray it brings you closer to your family. And I pray that we would all remember that it's not about the gift we received today, but the gift we received so very many years ago. God bless you and your family on this very special day!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Paul really had the right perspective. Couldn't we all use some of his perspective. Paul was beaten, persecuted and thrown in jail. When he was in jail he used it as an opportunity. He had a captive audience so to speak. Please pardon my pun. But he figured he was right where God wanted him to be and he could share the gospel with his fellow inmates and also with the guards. When he was beaten, he would look on the brighter side. He wasn't killed and he could still serve the Lord. When he was sorrowful he was still rejoicing because at every turn God was providing for him and never left his side. Paul looked at life from a heavenly perspectful.
He viewed his circumstances, no matter what they were, good or bad, as an opportunity. We could learn a lot from Paul. What can we learn about our current circumstances? How can we be a light in someone else's circumstance. I've had many circumstances in my life that the enemy would love to use for my downfall and discouragement. But God has a heavenly perspective and that's the perspective I want. God can take those same circumstances and use them for His glory. And He is doing just that. You simply need to ask some of the women I met with last night. We sat and talked about our circumstances and encouraged one another in sisterly love.
No matter what your circumstance, it can be an opportunity to be used to glorify God!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I have always loved this verse but today it caught my attention and caused me to pause and just ponder the full meaning of it. So I thought I'd share my thoughts. There are many things in this verse that Paul is telling us to do.
First, he tells us to be on guard. Why would we need to be on guard. A guard is someone who watches for approaching evil or trouble and protects something of value. So if I am to be on guard, what I find of most value is my faith. So I would take this to mean that I would need to be watching for for spiritual enemies. Whether it is false teaching or or things that creep in to produce pride or sin in my life, I need to be watchful so that I can see it coming and protect my heart and faith before it can cause any problems.
The next thing he tells us is to stand firm in our faith. There is but one truth and that truth is Jesus Christ. He died and he rose again and he offers salvation to all who will believe. I stand firm on that and that truth transforms my life so that I might look more like Him who saved me.
He tells us to have courage. Why would I need courage? I would need courage not only to withstand the enemy and stand firm in my faith but we are called to go out and make disciples. Friends, to go out, share your faith and disciple people to grow and be transformed takes courage. To be in a body of believers and do life with one another openly and honestly takes courage.
He tells us to be strong. Notice he tells us to have courage and then tells us to be strong. They're not the same instruction, they're actually separate. Ephesians 6:10 says "be strong in the Lord and His mighty power". We are to invite Holy Spirit to fill us. Holy Spirit encourages us, convicts us and strengthens us with power. We are to be strong with the strength given to us by Holy Spirit.
And finally Paul tells us to do everything in love. And why would he end with that? Because it's all about our motivation. Without love, we are clanging cymbals. Without love, our motivation is wrong and pride has entered our heart. Without love, we have nothing. God is love. And if we live wonderful and good lives and have not done them in the love of Christ, it's meaningless. Our motivation means everything.
As I go through my life, I make mistakes and sometimes get off track. We all do. But we can quickly make a course correction and go back to what we know. And what we know is the love of Christ. The Way, The Truth, And The Life. He will always be faithful to strengthen us, love us, and transform us.
So today, remember to be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be a person of courage, be strong and do EVERYTHING in love.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
You see, as a child I remember huge family Thanksgivings. Meals with my grandma and pap, aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, dad and my brother. But this year, Dad has been gone for seven years, mom has been gone for 3 years. My family of 5 has dwindled and I have but one child left at home with me on Thanksgiving. And all those aunts, uncles and cousins are on the other side of the country. And I began to feel sad. It's a typical thing around this time of year, the holiday blues. But I didn't want to stay in holiday blue land. It didn't seem like a fun place for a visit and I certainly didn't want to live there.
So my dear friend said that we don't get to chose our family but God chooses our framily. These are the friends that have chosen to be in your life and love you no matter what. These are the friends that God has placed in your life to do life together and to build one another up.
I have family that has chosen to apart from me, I have family that is geographically apart, and I have family that is dancing with the Lord but still apart from me. But instead, I will focus on the many people in my life that I now call framily. I love them and they love me. We are doing life together and building one another up and they have chosen me and I have chosen them. Now I'm not naming names, because I don't want to leave anyone out, but come on guys, you know who you are. You are important to me and I hope you know it because love has feet and you should know it because i've shown it. So today I think about you and I am thankful for you.
You have made a difference in my life and I am blessed to call you my framily and I thank God that you are a part of my life and that He has allowed me to be a part of yours.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Here's why I love this song. I am anything but beautiful. I'm getting better, but Jesus is really what is beautiful. But i listen to this song and I think back on my life. I remember with guilt and pain all the times I was far less than beautiful. All the times I was downright ugly and dirty. I was deceptive or hateful, seemingly without character, and full of sin. I mean, I seriously can look back at my life through the years, especially my younger years and see dirt and grime. The Lord hates sin and if sin makes us ugly, at times, I was horrifying. And then I look at where I am now. And I am brought to my knees in tears, and gratefulness. Because, if God had just looked at me and seen someone who was ugly and couldn't be used, that's where I would have stayed. But he looked at me and saw a beautiful diamond and decided I was worth the effort.
He began His great work in me. And today, I have a life I never thought was possible. And, although I am far from perfect, I can see where God is making me beautiful. He makes me new! He has been washing off the dirt, chipping away the things that needed to come off, tearing down walls and burning away chaffe. He has a lot of work still to do but I am so very grateful that when He looked at me so many years ago, He saw me as He intended...beautiful. I am so thankful that He makes me new and in spite of myself, can still make me beautiful.
If Christ can take someone like me and make me new and beautiful, He can do the same with you!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I looked around at the city and the orphanage and couldn't help but think about how good we have it and how much we complain. And it made me feel a bit ashamed. We took a moment to settle in and then we went to meet the children. Oh the children were amazing! They embraced us with so much love and acceptance! And their love for God and the understanding of the Scripture really amazed me! I tell you, there are some adults who could take lessons from some of these kids. There were two women who sacrifice their lives daily to care for these 36 children. They are their mothers, and they love them dearly. They were truly amazing and I will pray for them always.
There were so many kids that touched my heart, a few in particular I would have loved to have brought home with me. They were innocent and sweet, loving and accepting. They impressed me. I spent the weekend with these kids and when it was time to leave, I left a piece of my heart with them. I know that I cannot come back from a weekend like this and just leave it in the past. God loves these kids and so do I.
I learned that sometimes God will take you out your comfort zone so He can show you His heart. His heart breaks for these children and so did mine. His heart loves these kids, and so do I. His heart sees these kids and so many more. But one group can't impact all the people God cares about. How many people call yourselves Christian? They will know we are Christ followers by how we live. Are you representing Christ well? There is a world of people out there. Some don't know Christ yet and need to know Him. Others, like these children, know Christ but need to see His love for them in action. Are you really being active in your walk for Christ. At the end of every message on Sunday, Pastor Chris says, "Go out there and be the life of Jesus to your world". Are you really being the life of Jesus. If people looked at you would they see Jesus in action?
I saw on Max Lucado's twitter page this morning statistics about how many orphans there are worldwide. "159 million Americans call themselves a Christian and there are 132 million orphans worldwide. US Christians alone could house every orphan in the world". Are we really doing enough for the cause of Christ or are far too many of us caught up in our own life and our own to do lists and stuck in complacency?
James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." To keep ourselves from being polluted by the world we have to live by Christ's value system. He isn't distracted by money, power, pleasure or stuff. He cares about people, and as this verse mentions, he cares very much for the widows and orphans, people who are at a disadvantage. We need to stop focusing on the world and focus on being Christ in action, serving others without hope of receiving something in return but merely because you are a follower of Jesus.
God's heart breaks for these kids, and in Mexico, my heart was broken and I was forever changed.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
"Life is a dream in the making". I love that statement.
I remember watching my kids grow. As babies, they began to crawl. Once they tackled crawling, they began to walk. The obvious next steps were running and climbing. They weren't afraid of anything! The world was out there just waiting for them and they were ready to take it on and nothing was going to stop them. My boys saw a tree and they dreamed of climbing it and that's exactly what they did. As they grow older, they begin to dream of a career and a family and they start a course to complete that. Their life is a dream in the making.
But too often, we give up on our dreams or we end up sleeping through them. Life gets in the way, we settle into a routine, and we give up on our dream. Bad things happen and instead of continuing on our charted course, we give up on our dream. We meet with resistance to our dream, and we give up. We sought God about the dream, we made a plan, and then life happened and we just gave up.
And why is that exactly? Because we grew out of our childlike faith and no longer believe in the impossible. God loves to give us dreams that seem outrageous so we have to give Him the glory when we achieve it. Start believing again in the impossible. Turn on the Rocky theme music and practice having fierce faith. So you've taken a few punches, who cares! In Christ you are more than a conqueror! If you haven't achieved your God given dream, then God's not done yet!
Keep fighting for your dream! Keep seeking God about your dream. He will direct you and if you submit to God, you WILL be victorious!
Don't sleep through your life! God has great things planned for you and you can step into that today.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This week I've had a bit of a frustrating week. I've been running a lot and since I came back from vacation, I had committed to not making a habit of that anymore. So today, I took the day off and went to visit a dear friend. We lounged by the pool and talked. We swam and played with the kids and talked some more.
I left feeling relaxed and refreshed. Too often we keep up such a fast pace that we never have a chance to relax. I used to be that person. I was so busy all the time and then I went on vacation. Oh, I won't go back to that busyness again. When we build margin and relaxation into our lives, we have time for refreshing. We have time to hear from God because we've taken a moment to shut up and sit down for a minute.
I used to fill so much of my time that I never had a moment to really rest and when I layed my head down to rest at night, I still didn't rest. My head was already onto the next thing, busily making lists and thinking about the schedule for the next day. When do you have time to sit and listen to God? Not talk to God and pray and ask for things, but just sit and truly LISTEN for Him.
My advice, get up a few minutes early and have your time with God. That piece of advice is obvious but often not followed. My other advice, build margin into your life, lounge by the pool, spend time with a good friend. And don't forget to thank God for the time of refreshing.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Yesterday, while at work, my computer was acting up. It's rather old and incredibly slow. I seriously have to click on something, go work on something else and then come back to see if it responded. And yesterday it seemed to be worse. So in keeping with the message this weekend, I thanked God for the computer. It may be slow, but at least I had one. And then I proceded to ask God to give me patience since I was growing more impatient by the moment.
As you can imagine, that was a BIG MISTAKE. It seems everything since then has taken two to three times longer than it should. The trip to the bank yesterday took longer. It took longer to get home, which put dinner behind, which put everything else behind. This morning on the way to pick up Kanani and then go to the bank and run the many errands I had before staff meeting, the light took forever and I think it even skipped a cycle! I was undone at that. I threw my hands up in the air and said "Really" knowing that God was somehow mocking me for asking for patience. Then my darling 9 year old son said, "what mom". And feeling completely justified by my attitude I said proudly, "this light is taking forever and I have places to be!" to which he replied, "so does everyone else but they're not complaining". Now I would like to say that I immediately saw how I was wrong and repented on the spot, prayed and had a wonderful teaching time with my son. I'd be lying.
I zipped my mouth closed and just said with my lips tightly shut together, "you're right, sorry". but in my mind all I can think is, how does he know they aren't complaining and i'll be sure to remember this the next time he's complaining about something.
I mean sure, we did have that wonderful teaching moment about five minutes later when i was ready to receive it, but at that moment, every piece of my flesh wanted to stomp my feet because it just wasn't fair, this is what i get for praying for patience. The rest of the day went much the same. I went to the bank where I learned that they had lost my cash deposit from the day before and had to take time to find it before I could send the western union payment for the purse order. Traffic was insane, i was constantly stuck behind someone doing (not even joking or exaggerating) 25 in a 45 mph zone.
Except through the rest of the day, I kept a better attitude. Sure, my nerves were a little on edge thinking about what would be delayed next, but when the delay came, I breathed through and tried to maintain patience and positive attitude. Instead of complaining, I tried to exercise my faith and do thank ups.
It's so easy to just complain and let it be, because it's unfair or its taking too long, or who really needs patience anyway right, things should just be in my timing. Our sinful nature, makes it all too easy to go to that place. But in the words of Casting Crowns "somewhere between who i was and who you're making me, somewhere in the middle you'll find me"
You see, I'm not happy with who I used to be and i'm not happy with somewhere in the middle. A couple of years ago I realized who God wanted me to be and all the work that had to be done in order to get there. Now I know that I won't be complete until His return, but I also know that He doesn't want me to just be happy with who I am right now and sit around waiting for Him. He wants me to be constantly working and growing. And sometimes that means, praying for patience, when your flesh screams, "NO DON'T DO IT! YOU'LL ONLY BE GIVEN SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU NEED TO BE PATIENT!"
I believe that God will give me the patience I asked for. I believe I'll be tested. I also believe, that whether I ask for patience or not, I'll still be tested, so I might as well ask Him to equip me for it. So today, after my day of problems and impatience. I pray once again for God to equip me with patience. That I would learn, in the middle of circumstances that would cause me to grumble, I would stop and quickly have an attitude of gratitude.
Today I am thankful for my son, who represented God very well today in multiple circumstances that could have caused him to react poorly. I am thankful for my husband, who is a wonderful example of a man and father to our kids. I am thankful for my friends, for my church and leadership staff, I am thankful for my vehicle with air conditioning. It may not be beautiful but its functional. I am thankful for my computer at work. I am thankful for the home we have, God's continued provision. And I'm so very thankful for God's patience with me.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I promptly replied, "my husband!" and turned off the tv before anymore could pass by my eyes.
No wonder the divorce rate is so high today. If we fantasize about actors, we are holding our spouses to an unrealistic expectation. Believe me when I say that not even the actors are that way in real life.
Let's get our heads out of the books and turn away from the tv screen and turn toward our husbands. Tell your husband today how grateful you are for him. How wonderfully made by God he is. And remember when he is imperfect, so are you. I mean really, I am no more of a picnic to live with than my husband is. I thank God for my husband. He is an amazing, thoughtful, loving man.
Who do I fantasize about? My husband! And he is so much better than a fantasy!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed any longer by the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
I love that verse. Whatever has happened in the past, whatever thoughts, memories plague your mind, God can renew your mind if you'll let Him. And when you do, your entire life will change. You will learn to love what God loves, desire what He desires, and yes, even love the people he loves.
"do not think of yourself more highly than you ought but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you"
We all think rather highly of ourselves don't we? Especially when things are going well and we've had a few successes. It's easy to think of ourselves highly. But we must remember that every success is from God, we wouldn't have it without him. But I think we could also go so far, with this verse, as to say don't think of yourself as too low either. So many of us are filled with self contempt but I believe this verse is telling us to cut that out. We are to think of ourselves with sober judgment. That means to look at ourselves with reality, see us the way God sees us. Well God sees us as His children. As His child, I wouldn't be worthless. I wouldn't "suck", or whatever you tell yourself when you put yourself down. You are a child of God and He loves you.
I love 17-21 where it tells you to love your enemies. Pastor Chris gave a sermon once that told us to "love the hell out of them". We are to love them, not for the purpose of "heaping burning coals on their head" in an act of vengeance but to love the hell out of them and transform their lives.
And what about the phrase "heap burning coals on their heads". In my study Bible it said that this may refer to an Egyptian tradition of carrying a pan of burning coals on their head as a public act of repentence. This would mean that when they use that phrase, we are loving them to bring them to a place where they would be repentent and have their lives transformed by God.
I love Romans 12. Such a wonderful picture of how we should represent Christ. Something I'm making a regular habit of asking myself and my kids whenever I'm speaking or perhaps reacting to something. How well am I representing Christ right now? If I react this way, will I represent Him well?
How well are you representing Christ today? Read Romans 12, you'll love it.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Often times, when I hear people talk about Proverbs 4 they focus on the passage in verse 23 above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. The importance of guarding what goes into your heart. What you watch, listen to, the people you associate with. And that's very important. But today a different passage stuck out to me.
Verse 3 When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, "lay hold of my words wth all your heart, keep my commands and you will live.
This verse is saying that from the time he was a very small child his father taught him. He taught him about God from infancy. His parent knew the importance of starting to teach his child from the moment they are born. Now, I was quite young when i gave birth to my oldest son, still only 18 years old. And this passage makes me think of my shortcomings. I was so young, I was still trying to grow up myself, I didn't know that I should start when they were an infant.
Since then, I've grown up and I see the value of starting in infancy. If your children hear you speak of the Lord and live a life of example to them from the moment they are born, they are going to grow with those values. If our children are surrounded with the love of their parents and the love of God from the beginning, then when the attacks come, they will have a firm foundation to stand on. Something they've grown up with their entire lives and is part of their soul, not something they've just started learning about and is a good way to live. But something that is part of their soul.
Be assured, the attacks will come. The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy our children and have them walk away from God. Our children need a firm foundation, and not just something they are taught but something that is lived by example in front of them. They need to know that wisdom will guide them through the storms of life. And they need us to talk to them about it. If your kids are older than the infancy stage, it's never too late to start, but if your children are still young, or perhaps you haven't had children yet, love them enough to start early.
So today, I leave you with this, from infancy teach your children the following things, v7 Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom and she will protect you, love her and she will watch over you. v. 24-27 Put away perversity from your mouth, keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. do not swerve to the right or the left, keep your foot from evil.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I was excited about "going home" and couldn't wait to see my family and be back home in the land of my birth. Excitment coursed through my veins and I loved every minute of it. Until, that is, I got homesick. I wasn't quite sure how this could be. I mean, after all, I was finally home! How could I be homesick? I wrestled with this for a while and came to the conclusion, I was homesick because I was away from home. But how could I have two homes? The answer was painful but obvious. You see, I was born and raised in Maryland. It was home. I married my husband and we had a wonderful life and a wonderful home there...for a season. But that season had ended and a new one had begun and this new season had included a new home.
There are seasons in our life and these seasons are constantly changing. Will another season take me away from my new home? I hope not, but I will be obedient to God's call. Oh how wonderful it would be if I could bring my family and loved ones back home with me. But I can't, I can only plan for my next visit with them.
The wonderful thing about vacationing, I have learned, is coming home. There's nothing like walking in to your home and being greeted by the animals that are insane because you're finally home, seeing the family or friends that you have been missing, and learning to appreciate your own bed, the familiarity of your own living room and the feeling of family the first time you walk back into your church.
There truly is no place like home and I for one appreciate it all the more today.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
What I didn't expect, was to notice, just how much I have taken for granted. You see, when we moved away from Maryland Christopher was only 3 years old. So he doesn't really remember living here. I was surprised to see how many "firsts" he would experience. These "firsts" he experienced when we lived here, but didn't remember any of them, so he got to experience them from new eyes all over again. These were things I took for granted.
It started when we flew over Maryland. "Mom, Maryland has so many trees". He had never seen so many trees. And fireflies. Certainly everyone knows about fireflies. I remember as a child playing hide and seek at dusk and catching fireflies in a jar. Some of the best days of my childhood. But he had never seen a firefly.
It's so wonderful seeing the world through a child's eyes. The lesson here would be, stop and smell the roses, appreciate every moment. And try and see the world, as if you are seeing it for the first time. Drink it in, appreciate every scene and everything you encounter.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
We have been trying to recognize grumbling, complaining, and negative attitudes this week and boy have we recognized them. What I found is that early in the week it was a little difficult to catch myself being negative or complaining. But now, by the end of the week, it's so very easy to recognize the thoughts before they ever leave my head and cross over my lips. It can be difficult to take those thoughts captive and change them into something positive. But, like most things, the more I practice, the easier it becomes. I'm taking this time to teach my son how to do the same thing. Let's change that negative statement into a positive one. Not always easy, but it is possible.
God calls us to be the life of Jesus to those around us, to be the visible expression of His son to the world. And we can't do that if we can't even recognize our own negative words or thoughts. If you stop and think about each and everything you say, you may be surprised how many of them are actually negative and you don't even realize it.
I'm enjoying this journey with my family. And last night, as we sat at dinner and continued our new tradition of naming something we're thankful for, I looked at my family and couldn't help but notice the happiness and harmony that resides within our home. I can't help but think that this certainly must have something to do with some exciting gratitude tantrums throughout the week.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I did end up helping Christopher with a gratitude tantrum and even passed it on to a friend. But every now and then I would catch myself saying a negative statement. I would catch it and repent and then not only would I stop it but I would change my statement to something positive. It's not just enough to take the thought captive but I have to replace it with something.
I'm normally a pretty positive person but, this week, it's just incredibly difficult. Pray for me as I continue my journey and let me know if I can pray for you.
Monday, May 17, 2010
What could have been a rotten day or at least a difficult one, turned out to be great. He got all of his schoolwork finished and had a fantastic attitude about it and he has been in a great mood all day.
We had a talk later in the day about how the day went and how the day could have gone and how much better it was with an attitude of gratitude. Then we added something to our prayer at dinner. We went around the table and told of one thing we are grateful for. That may be a new tradition in our house.
Today, I'm thankful for my church and my pastor who cares enough about us to challenge us.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Think about it for a moment. We all have something in our life that we can be grateful for. I mean, if God decided to give us what we deserve He would send all of us straight to hell. Pastor made a fantastic point today that really hit me. Anything beyond what I truly deserve, is nothing less than a precious and gracious gift directly from the hand of God. I sat with my kids today and had a meal. Granted, it was leftovers, but I had them and I had time with the kids which was a blessing. I went to Dime A Day to feed the homeless and was able to give out 4 bins of clothing, socks, 350 lunches. It was amazing. And one of the women came up to me and another woman who was with me and sang for us a song of gratitude. This woman, who seemed to have less than nothing, chose to stop for a moment and sing a song of gratitude. I was there to be a blessing and it turned out that I received the blessing instead. But if this woman can find something to be grateful for, can't you.
So I invite you on a journey with me. My journey of terminating negativity and replacing it with gratitude. I will blog about my journey of having an attitude of gratitude and the example I am trying to be with my kids. I pray that at the end of this journey, we will all have more grateful hearts and can look back and see God's transformation in us. Won't you come along with me?
A grateful heart is a happy heart!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
My mother passed away one cold day in November.
I loved her deeply, now she's simply gone.
Her life was not as glorious as some,
Devoted to her children and their children,
She lived her life to give to others Jesus' life.
There are those who shape many lives with love,
Whose pleasures, rich and full, are found in giving;
Without her all the gold's gone from the day;
She will be missed far more than we can say
My mommy lived her life for the love of her friends and family
Neither asking nor wanting anything in return
Others joy was her joy,
When we were cut, she too would bleed,
She lives on in the sparkle in our eyes:
Laughing, quiet, gentle, loving, wise.
Her love was so strong, so much a part of me.
God knew from the start how special she was
Made in His own image and gave her the biggest heart.
My mother was a teacher, taxi driver and the maid,
Counselor, cook and of course my friend always at my aid.
My mother was a special person
God knew His work was complete
When He created someone that could do SOOO much on her own two feet.
She was a Christian, on Him she did depend
Through illness, loss and longsuffering, she trusted Him to no end.
She displayed the fruit of the Spirit and a helping hand she was willing to lend.
Mothers are special people
God tells me so each day
For if it weren't for my mother and Him I wouldn't be one today.
Monday, March 29, 2010
To forgive means you have to first admit that there was an offense. too often we spend time in denial not ready to admit that we were vulnerable. But forgiving is simply giving up control that you really don't have in the first place. Do you have the right to judge someone? No. None of us do, only God can judge. As we give up control and letter go or the bitterness that has poisoned our hearts, we letter in Gods love and grace. You may have to forgive several times. But if you ask God to give you a heart of forgiveness He will be faithful to respond.
May I never stop learning what forgiveness looks like and may I be open to Christ's leading and teachings.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I have done this study before, but as I worked through it this time, I realized that my boundaries with people weren't only broken but my boundaries with God were broken. I didn't trust Him. I trusted Him with my salvation and with my prayers for other people. I hoped in Him, but I didn't trust Him...not completely. I have made great strides with this over the past year especially and I trust Him so very much. In my imperfection, I'm sure my trust in Him isn't perfect, but it's getting closer and closer every day.
But for so long, I put walls up around my heart so that no one could hurt me. I lived in bondage. And unfortunately, when you have walls around your heart to keep people out, you're really keeping God out as well. We try to control our life, our emotions, our surroundings and the people close to us in an effort to feel secure. When in reality, great freedom comes when we let go of that "control" we think we have and allow God to heal our hearts and trust Him to take care of us. Satan lives to deceive us about God's true nature and encourages us to mistrust Him.
Yes, bad things will still happen but they will happen with God right beside us, sometimes weeping with us, and protecting us. I know that in the midst of the storm it's difficult to imagine that God is really protecting you but I assure you He is. He is protecting in ways you can't see or imagine. And what is going on around WILL be used for the glory of His kingdom. When I was in the middle of my abuse, my thought that God had forgotten about me and probably the world as well. I couldn't imagine how such things could be used for His glory, how any good could come of it.
But today, I work at my church, and I am surrounded by amazing people. I have the privilege of being able to show people the miracles and grace that the Lord desires to lavish upon us. If only we would trust Him enough to let Him into our hearts completely, surrender our fears to Him.
Trust God completely with not only your salvation, but your heart, your emotions, your finances, your schedule, your relationships, your worries and fears, your everything. Let go and Let God. He is faithful and He is trustworthy.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This heartbreak led me to this post, it's all about love. This life is short and fleeting and we should all stop and ask ourselves if we have loved much. Because in this life, what's important is how you loved. I have loved much. I lost my darling grandfather when I was in middle school. I lost my father seven years ago and my mother 2 years ago. I have loved friends and seen them leave. And what I've learned through the heartache of so much loss is that I would do it all again. I would still love, in spite of the incredible pain of loss.
Why? Because my life is better for it. Because the pain of loss lasts for a bit but the joy of having them in your life lasts forever. So I encourage you to love much and love often. And when the pain of loss comes, savor the moment, because it means that not only did you love someone, but that you were also loved in return.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
So in an effort to continue growing, I have to allow God to reach into the dark recesses of my heart and re-open the wounds that have scarred and changed me. Things that God never intended for us to see or experience, scar us and leave us with guilt, shame and contempt.
I am starting a new book called The Wounded Heart. That's my next step in allowing God to go into those dark places and shed His light. Because lasting change won't happen if I pretend that these things didn't effect me, if I ignore them, and if I pretend that things are fine. Lasting change takes place when I face my fears, my past, my problems and my sin head on and allow God to heal them. It's not easy and my flesh screams out in reluctance. But I press on toward my goal of growing more like Christ every day.
I'm so thankful that through the pain, tears, joy and laughter that I call my past, God never left me. And I'm thankful that He never will. I'm thankful that He never gave up on me and I'm thankful He never gives up you.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
So tonight, I shared with these women, some of the deepest parts of me and I was met with acceptance and love. There were no shocking stares, there was no condemnation. There was love and acceptance just like I received from God. You see, I had asked God for forgiveness and I knew I had received it. I had worked through the shame and guilt but before I had done that, I had judged and condemned myself so it was natural for me to think that others would to. I felt that they would look at me and think I can't be a leader in a church, I'm sinful and flawed. But you see, that's why I can lead sinful and flawed people, because we're all on this journey together.
If you get nothing else in life, I want you to really understand this. No matter what you have done in your life, if you come to God in repentance and ask for forgiveness, He WILL forgive you! His grace is sufficient for you no matter what. I can tell you that, because I have been forgiven much and you can too.
Reach out to God and ask for it and then be willing to receive it. He's waiting for you, and He is sufficient for you.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Today, I was feeling rather ill and laid down in my husband's arms. I felt comforted and adored. I thought back through our years of marriage, nearly 12 now, 4,333 days. I remembered when we were dating and I felt so in love. I knew deep in my heart this was the man I would marry and the thought was both exciting and frightening. I remember, on our honeymoon when my father had fallen ill and we had to head home, he took me in his arms and promised to be there for me. I remember when laughing with him, playing with him, and even fighting with him and I remember making up with him ever so much more. I remeber when my father died, and I saw him pull into the drive, I ran out to meet him and fall into his arms.
You see, in his arms, I am loved. In his arms, I am comforted, cared for and adored. In his arms, I am safe. He is the completion of me. God made him to complete me. Where I end, he begins and where he ends, I begin. He has his faults, as do I, but I choose to look past them and straight into his heart. In his heart, I find love; love of God and love of me, and love of our children. There is nowhere in this world I would rather be than in his arms. I pray that I am the kind of wife he wants and deserves, and that I spend the rest of my life counting the days and celebrating the days of our love.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Well, I want to tell you so that you can be encouraged, that God went straight to work on my prayer list and my renewed prayers of faith. One of these prayers has been answered and I can see Him working on another. I'm sure He's answered the others, I just can't see it yet.
So, I wanted to leave you with this today. For God, nothing is impossible. Don't give up hope. When you feel something is hopeless, you are slamming the door in God's face. He still works miracles today, just look around you, you may be seeing them and you don't even know it. Give your prayers to God with faith.
Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
A week later I was still thinking about that moment with God and I began to wonder, why after my mom died it took so long to feel His peace. I asked Him for His peace but I didn't feel it. Why didn't I have access to it then. The answer He revealed to me, was simple. I may have asked for it but I didnt' want it. I thought I wanted it. But I was so focused on my hurt, that I wasn't focused on God. So often when we are focused on our hurt, we put up walls around our hearts so nothing can get in. Unfortunately, we also don't let God in. If we don't let Him in, He can't minister to us and heal our hurt. He won't go where He's not truly invited. I may have asked Him for His peace but I wanted Him to give it to hand it to me over the wall.
So can we block out God's blessings? I believe we can. He wants to minister to us. We are so precious in His sight that He will take time to minister to us individually in ways we cannot imagine. But we have to be open and allow Him to. He wants all of us, are you willing to give it to Him? Have you ever had a time where you wanted God to fill you with His peace but you didn't receive it? If so, search yourself and ask if you were really open and fully surrendered to Him.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
You know, sometimes life can be tough. Life for me, as I'm sure for you too, hasn't been easy. There has been illness, distruction, death, pain, unspeakable terror. Many years ago, when the worst of the worst was what my life seemed like, I used to look at the stories of miracles in New Testament and just wish that miracles still happened today, That God really had power. Life has a way of doing that to us. The enemy's goal on this earth is to make us think that God doesn't actually have any power.
It's times like these that I remember that back in 1980 my mom was told she had kidney failure and only had about 5 years left. And then I laugh because through much prayer she went on to live another 27 years. I remember when my father had a major heart attack and they were sure he wouldn't live through the night, I prayed all through the night and for the weeks that followed and he lived another precious year and a half. I remember countless situations, day in and day out when I have prayed and asked for Holy Spirit to fill me in that moment, to help me in that moment, or to give me wisdom in that moment and somehow supernaturally, I was equipped as I had never been before.
And yet, in spite of all of the blessings and strength and power that He proves to us every day, we simply don't give Him enough credit. We still struggle with believing and relying on His power. When we are trying to quit smoking, diet, or have a big project at work, we do it under our own power and don't take the time to simply ask Him for His help and His power. We may pray for healing, but are we praying in faith? Or are we praying wondering if He really can?
Instead of doubting His power, which is just as real today as it was 2000 years ago, trust it completely. Expect it. Expect the miracles and be on the lookout for it. And then, get radical.
I mean, let's face it, Jesus was radical! He turned the world upside down. You know, if we had the same faith in Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit at work inside of us as we have in New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, who would be able to stop us?
A singer named Kathy Troccoli once said, "The most profane word we use is 'hopeless'. When you say a situation or person is hopelss, you are slamming the door in the face of God."
I believe in God and that He is God of the impossible. I'm going to stop slamming the door in His face. How about you?
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
But since the fast ended I haven't blogged. I've been busy. Sunday at church was busy, I didn't leave until late in the afternoon and then I went to the store and had some cleaning to do, had work yesterday. Should I keep going with the excuses or do you get the idea?
What it really comes down to, isn't that I was too busy to blog, it's the enemy had me convinced that after pouring out my heart for 21 days I didn't have anything left to say. Well, that may or may not be true, but I know one thing, God still has plenty to say.
Romans 12:11-12 says "never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Here's what I get from that. Make time for God. You know we get busy and what's the first thing to go. Our time with God. We might start out by shortening it, but it's always the first thing to go. We look at it as if everything else in our life is more important and it's the first thing to go. I was busy, I didn't blog and I didn't journal. I read my Bible and my devotion and prayed and had my time with God but I didn't journal. I wonder what would have been next to go. Prayer? Bible? I don't know, but I know it was just the enemy's first step.
Have you been attacked since the fast ended? Have you been too busy to really make the time for God? Has your time with God suffered in the last few days? If so, recognize it for what it is. The first step in drawing you away from God. The most important thing in life is your relationship with God. Do you spend time with your spouse or kids? How much time? Why? Because you know you need to cultivate that relationship. You need to do that with God too. God doesn't need it, but you do.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
But today, on our last day of fasting, I thought I'd share what I read in one of my devotions today.
1 Corinthians 4:20 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."
During this fast, I pray that the one thing that has solidified in my spirit and in yours is that we cannot talk the talk but we MUST walk the walk.
As Christians we are very good at talking. We can preach to someone about how they should live their lives or what they should believe. We tell our children what their morals and beliefs should be. But do we live it out in our daily life? Do our children learn to love their enemies because we've talked about it or because we've lived it. Do people around us see the love of Christ because we're busy talking about it or because we live it in the office, at the grocery store, in traffic or where ever our journey takes us day to day?
Our beliefs shape our values and our values should shape our lives. Our lives should show the world what Christ is all about. Our lives are living testimonies about Jesus. And they can either draw people to Him or repel them away from Him. I pray my life draws people to Him.
Paula Reinhart said "What God asks of us is both simpler and more profound than adherence to a system of beliefs or following a set of rules. He asks us to walk with him through the blood and guts of our real experience in an honest pilgrimage where we let him show us what real strength, and real love, are all about."
The Bible isn't a book with a bunch of rules in it. It's alive and so very relevant to every situation of life. He wants us to have a daily relationship with Him and through that relationship, we won't be able to help but live out His will for our lives. And that is exactly what will draw people to Christ. If I live for Him, He will be glorified.
I pray my life reflects Christ. As I ponder today about what my life, every single part of my life, truly reflects. I pose the same question to you. What does your life reflect, if someone from the outside was looking in, what would they see?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tonight I spent the evening with a fantastic group of women. I spent the evening at church in a support group for survivors of sexual abuse. I love this group! It is amazing to see women who begin this group, some have low self esteem, some have walls built up so high and think they're "fine" and some are just shattered. When I first started, I was the the one with the walls. But by the end of the 13 week session, the women are transformed. They are more aware of how valuable they are, walls have come tumbling down, and those who were once shattered have been restored and they have such freedom. At the end of my first Shelter group, I felt that restoration and freedom and it was amazing!
Christ died for our sins but He is also a God of restoration and healing. And when I read Revelation 1:17-18 I think of this group and these women who are just starting on the healing process. Jesus holds the keys of death and hell that was once your former life. He was already victorious! He has fought the battle and won! He won it for you! You can overcome this because He has already overcome this world! You are a beautiful child of God. The situation that left you dead and shattered has already been overcome. And He will walk beside you as you walk the path to healing and restoration.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Read in John 17 today and I loved verse 12. "while I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
I love that no matter how many times we read a passage in the Bible, God can always show us something new about it. Today, I am struck by His statement that while he was with the disciples he protected them and kept them safe by the name He was given. I like this for 2 reasons
First, I love to think of the power of his name. "Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power". His name is powerful! I don't think we can really grasp exactly how powerful that is. It can do the impossible!
The other reason I love that verse is that I love to think of Jesus with His disciples. I love to think of Jesus with me. I realize that He was physically with the disciples, but we need to understand that He truly is with us, and he is protecting us so that none will be lost.
I am so thankful for His care and attention! He truly is amazing!
Monday, January 25, 2010
My devotion today is about staying untangled from the world and I thought I'd share my thoughts on it.
2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth, engtangleth himself with the affairs of this life…
Ok, so the NIV might be easier to read but I love the word "entangleth". It brings a picture to my mind of having your feet all tangled up in a large fishing net and not being able to get free. When I think of this verse, I think of running in a race or toward a goal and somehow getting my feet all tangled up in this large net. The more I struggle the more I become entangled. Oh we let ourselves get tangled up in all sorts of things, don't we? Anything that distracts us from our goal is getting us entangled. For some it's drugs or alcohol. But it may be something as "innocent" as video games or facebook or a certain friendship. Those things can certainly distract us. That's what my mind always went to when I read this verse.
But today, my mind went somewhere else with it. It went to worry. You see, I am a lifelong worrier. Correction, I am a recovering worrier. At the age of 10, I had more stomach problems than you can imagine and my doctor said I'd have an ulcer before I could drive. For years my husband has been telling me, "can you do anything about it? Ok, then stop worrying, it won't help." Through a process of learning how to give it to God, for the most part, I have given up my worry. It's amazing how God can free you from a lifetime of worry once we pry our fingers off it. But today, this is where my mind went.
You see, worry will distract us from our goal and entangle us. It takes our focus off of God and onto something of this world. A worry of something we're not in control of. Well, I've got news, we're not in control of anything. Far too often, we worry about the wrong things. Are we worrying about the homeless or those that are starving? Are we worrying about earthquake victims in Haiti? No we're worrying about things that have no real eternal significance.
The next time you are worrying, ask yourself if this has any relevance in light of eternity. If the answer is no, give it to God. If the answer is yes, give it to God and ask Him what you can do to help Him. Life is too short to worry. Take action if you can. If you can't, then give it to God.
Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Well, it's our last week of the fast. You know, many wonderful things have happened this week. I've spent such great time with God and my family. I'm really enjoying the Lord's presence.
One thing I have noticed today is that the attacks that have been coming for the past two weeks have suddenly amped into overdrive. The enemy HATES what we're doing! He HATES that we're successful at growing closer to God. He wants to rob of us that relationship. He wants to derail us and get us off track. He wants us to FAIL.
Now, when I think of that I hear music in my head, usually the theme from Rocky (yes, Eye of the Tiger is my fighting music) and I start shadow boxing around the house and audibly telling the devil where he can go and how to get there. I've been praying and listening to music that will be uplifting. These attacks are NOT going to get me. I have a God that has already been victorious.
But I also know, that the enemy will try and attack the most vulnerable first. He will try and isolate that person so that their faith is weakened. I've seen it happen today. My husband was under attack and he sent me a text message and asked if he could go for a drive and think. Now, I'm not one to tell my husband what he can and cannot do but I said no. The enemy wants you to be isolated even if for just a little while, so he can tempt you.
Either in fasting or in life in general, isolation can be deadly. Surround yourself with trustworthy people that you can talk to and be real with. Pick up the phone and call when you are tempted or hurting. And call on the strength of God. Ephesians says "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power". He's powerful! He will make us strong.
So that being said, I encourage us all (myself included) to finish strong! Put on the Rocky music this week, do some shadowboxing and tell that enemy where he can go, and take your faith to the next level.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I have quite an amazing story to tell, and the best part of all is that it's all true.
I woke up all too early this morning to some news that disturbed me. I stopped to pray and ask for God's peace, I knew that today would be a day I would have to depend on Him. It is just amazing to me how when we know we have been healed and delivered from something, the enemy likes to jump in and make us think we're back at square one. But I wasn't having any of that this morning and I prayed and reached out to my accountability partners to pray. God's peace came over me and I knew everything would be ok.
I was so tired when I left the house. I didn't sleep well the night before. I haven't had caffeine in 12 days. I felt exhausted. I was yawning about once every minute, I was drained and tired, and as I was driving down the road all I could think was about how I needed coffee. I thought to myself, I am so exhausted, I won't make it through the day without a jolt of caffeine, and I was serious. But I didn't want to break my fast so I prayed this prayer. "Holy Spirit, I need your self control today to not have any coffee and I am asking you to help me feel more awake and alert. I want to honor you in this fast."
That was it. Nothing eloquent or fancy, just a simple prayer spoken in faith. And then it happened.
Supernaturally, like a veil was being lifted from my eyes, everything became clearer and brighter. At first I was freaked out, wondering what had happened to make everything so clear and then I realized, I wasn't tired! A simple prayer, spoken in faith, with a motive to honor God. And He answered.
So if you are on day 12 or 14 or whatever day, and you feel a little vulnerable or weak, you think you can't do it another day. You think to yourself, 2 weeks is perfectly honoring, I could just stop now. I want to encourage you to keep going. Stand strong and ask Holy Spirit to give you that strength and self control.
If you ask, He will answer.
Today, by writing this, I give God glory. He is so amazing! He is so good! He is so Faithful!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Many years ago, I was married to a man, not my current husband. Many terrible and frightening things took place and in my heart developed bitterness, anger, hurt, and resentment. Now, I knew that in spite of everything that took place, I had to forgive him. I expect forgiveness and I should be willing to give it. But I also knew, that in and of myself, I didn't have forgiveness in me. So I began to pray for him. I prayed for God to give me eyes to see him and a heart to forgive him. Forgiveness doesn't mean I let him back in my life. It's doesn't mean that what he did was ok. It simply means that I see him with a different pair of eyes.
I didn't mean it. I wasn't sincere. I didn't have it in my heart, but I knew that if I didn't start praying for a heart to be able to forgive him that I would never have a heart that was able to do that. And only God could give that to me.
As years went by, I began to heal, and I began to forgive and I began to pray for his salvation. I mean, in spite of everything that happened, he is still a child of God. And I knew that my forgiveness wasn't complete until I could honestly pray that he receive the same grace and salvation that I have received. After all, sin is sin, and therefore his sin is no worse than mine.
18 years have gone by and I believed long ago that I had truly forgiven him, and I still pray for his salvation. But when we started this fast I began to pray again that I would see people with His eyes, and have His heart for them. As I was praying a couple of days ago, I prayed for his salvation and my heart felt burdened for him, heavy and sad. It was then that I realized, God had given me a taste of what His heart is like for this man. His heart is heavy and sad, and wants this man to receive the grace that He so freely gives. And I felt it. At that moment I knew without a doubt that my forgiveness truly was complete. And it wasn't just a superficial forgiveness. God had changed my heart.
I thank God that He is never finished with us. And even though sometimes our prayers can seem to go years without being answered, they are always answered in His perfect timing. I am thankful that I am forgiven. I am thankful that He has given me a heart that will forgive.
Some of you reading this may know the Proverbs 31 passage, but I will do a brief recap for those of you who may not have read it yet. I encourage you to read it on your own. This is the passage instructing what type of wife a man should find. "a wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." and it goes on to say she's up before the dawn, taking care of her husband, the kids, the servants, her entire household. She takes great care in providing her family with the best of everything, she even buys and sells real estate. This woman works hard for her family! They want for nothing and she seems...well, perfect.
For years, I have thought, that's the kind of wife I need to be, but the standards are set so high, it's almost intimidating. How could I ever, in my own power, be that kind of wife for my husband? But just because it seems impossible, I know all things are possible with Christ who strengthens me. So I keep trying.
However, this morning, God asked me why. Why do I keep trying? Well, because it's in the Bible.
Wrong! The Proverbs 31 wife isn't doing all of the things in this passage because it's in the Bible, she's doing it out of a great love for her husband and family. She works day and night because the needs and desires of her family are more important than her own needs. Love is not unselfish and sacrificial and that's why the Proverbs 31 wife does what she does. Well, of course I love my family. I would do anything for them. I love God. But when I have looked at that passage, I looked at it like a to do list. Have you ever done that. Realized God was showing you something and then went to work at it like a to do list? It's all about love. Isn't it amazing how it always seems to come down to love?
The other insight I got this morning regarding this verse, is that we are Christ's bride. Maybe Proverbs 31 isn't just about how to be a good wife to your husband but how we can be Christ's bride. Instead of always coming to him with our wants (notice I didn't say needs), we should say to ourselves what have we done for him lately? Are we up before dawn, going through our day working for Him, and being joyful about it? Perhaps, He's looking for a little Proverbs 31 from all of us. "she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy".
vs 25-26 "she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
I don't know. I don't claim to have all the answers. But what I do know, is that as I pray and fast today and prepare to go to the prayer meeting at church tonight, Proverbs 31 will be on my heart. Not because it's in the Bible, but because I love my family and I love God.
Monday, January 18, 2010
I was having Bible time with Christopher this morning and we were snuggled up in bed sharing one Bible. He would read a bit and then I would read and we would talk about it. He had so much happiness in his face. His head on my shoulder, we read together. And he looked up with his face almost in mine, and said mom, I want Jesus to be my savior, and we prayed. It was an amazing moment that I pray I never forget.
What does that have to do with my mother you ask.
Well, from the time I was a child, I would lay snuggled up with my mother and I would have my head on her shoulder and we would read the Bible together. I would be filled with so much joy as I spent time with my mom, time I cherished, and I wouldn't know how much I cherished those moments until she were gone and I had them with my own child.
I have many memories of my mother, but that is one of the most precious. Later on, when her life was drawing to a close, we returned to snuggling in her bed with my head on her shoulder, reading the Bible together.
"teach your children in the the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6
I thank God that my mother taught me about God. I'm so thankful that she was an example of how I should live. She wasn't perfect, but none of us are.
Pastor Chris said this weekend, if you want to know about God, look at Jesus. If you want to know about the Holy Spirit, look at Jesus. As Christ followers were are called to model our lives after Jesus. My mom lived that. And she taught me to live that. And now, I'm teaching my children to live that...hopefully.
Stop and think for a moment about what your example is teaching your children, or others around you. I pray my life reflects Christ.
"Now, go out there and be the life of Jesus to your world"
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Not only that, but as I am praying for my family unity and family unity around the world, I find that I am more acutely aware of how much I love and appreciate my husband. I am enjoying my children even more than I did before. I have so much love for my family it is practically bursting out of my chest.
I wonder, if this is just a fraction of how much God loves us, then I truly can't imagine what that love feels like. This is the radical love that led Him to choose the cross. I will strive all my life to attain that kind of love and won't ever reach it until I am in His presence. But I won't ever stop trying. Because that is precisely what He asks us to do. Follow Him, and allow Him to transform us.
I pray, that as I continue to fast, that love will grow, and as I end my fast in another 2 weeks that I wouldn't lose it.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wow! 5 days down and only 16 to go. At this point the thought of ending my fast makes me sad. I'm having such a terrific time with God. I feel so clear and connected to Him.
Well, I finished my book yesterday and today I picked up another. I started reading it a little while ago but got sidetracked with some things so I thought I'd go back to it. When I picked it up a piece of paper fell out of it. It was a copy of a magazine article called Impossible Prayers. I don't know where I got the copy, probably Lynnie, she's always sharing gems such as these and I must have thought it was fantastic and I wanted to keep it. The title intrigued me and I couldn't remember what it was about so that became my devotion today. It's about a woman who remembered not being afraid to pray and ask God for things that seemed impossible. And somewhere as she grew up, she "came to her senses" and realized God doesn't always answer every prayer and she stopped praying for big things. Inspired to pray impossible prayers she made a list and diligently prayed for them for about a month. But as they went unanswered, she tucked it in her Bible and forgot about it. About a year later, that paper fell out of her Bible and she read over the 10 impossible prayers. 7 had been answered! Even though she had tucked it in her Bible and forgotten to keep praying, she had started to pray and God heard her prayers.
The Bible tells us that He will hear our prayers, and when we are aligned with Him, he will be faithful to answer each one. Why, then, are we so timid? Why are we afraid to pray for the impossible? My Christopher is fasting and praying for the homeless to have homes and all believe in God. When he told me what he was praying for, I was kind of jealous. How I would love to believe again that God could really do something so monumental. But you know what? I was wrong! Because He CAN! Luke 1 tells us "nothing is impossible with God." NOTHING!
When did we become so hardened and callous that we stopped believing He could impossible things? Maybe we believe He can we just don't believe He will. Whatever the case, if we are aligned with Him and praying, He will hear our prayers and answer them.
Today, I am going to get my list of Impossible Prayers for the year 2010. I will prayerfully make this list, according to His heart and His will. But I will pray for what seems impossible to me. And even if I forget to pray and tuck them in my Bible like the woman from the article, I know He has heard them and He's already at work.
Do you have an impossible prayer? I'll pray with you.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wow! The days just keep getting better and better. If this is how great I feel on day 4, then I cannot wait until Day 21. I want to feel like this every day!
Today, I woke up and had a great meeting with God. I read and prayed and spent time with him. It was also the day of She Community. Usually a very busy day for me. But everything was done in advance so I took my time with God in the morning and then went in to the church to set up. Afterwards, I came home and I had so much time to spare I took extra time with my devotion time with Chris and we read the Bible. Oh how I loved listening to him reading his Bible. We talked about what we read, what it means to us today and we prayed. Then it was my turn. I went back to the Lord in prayer for our ladies meeting tonight. It was such a serious topic, depression. I've been through that season and I just prayed that God would speak to His women tonight. And you know what? I believe He did.
I had such a wonderful time with these fantastic women that I am blessed to have relationships with. They have all touched my life in different ways and God has blessed these friendships. What a blessing it was to be there with these women, pray with these women, cry with these women, and laugh with these women. I love them!
So tonight as I sit down and write about my progress on day 4, I cannot express to you enough how important it is to let people in to your life. Let people in, love people, have relationships with them. The rewards are so great. I remember, after the end of my first marriage, I didn't want to let anyone in and I was closed off for such a long time. Oh how I must have grieved the Holy Spirit by blocking out so much love, my not allowing myself to show His love to others. And the blessing I missed by blocking out those people. Just as I wasn't showing the love of Jesus to others, I also didn't allow them to show me His love either.
In the end, it's all about who you loved because "He first loved us"
So go out there! Don't be afraid to love people, and be the life of Jesus to your world!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Today went pretty well. I woke up early and spent time with my God. I went to the staff meeting and met with Lynnie to pray for our ladies meeting Wednesday night. I spent some time with the kids, made dinner and went to small group. Sounds like a pretty normal day doesn't it? But in the midst of it all amazing things happened. I spent time with God throughout my entire day. I was constantly aware of my actions, my words, and His presence throughout the day. My husband, who is participating in his very first fast, is still caffeine free and nicotine free. Praise God, he hasn't even had the desire for a cigarette! As we talked today, we talked about where we have come from in our lives, the wrong paths we've gone down, so very grateful that God didn't give up on us. So very aware of how grateful we are that God is so gracious to pursue us and then forget our pasts. He just wipes it clean once we turn to Him! That's just so amazing to me!
In small group, as we gathered and fellowshipped, I was amazed to see how God was revealing Himself to each and every person there. How God has been having us all look back at where we have been in our journey and where we are now and how this is bringing within us such an appreciation and a spirit of gratitude. One woman looked back at an old journal and noticed that everything she had prayed for, every noble thing that God had put on her heart, had been answered. She was just in awe! And my normally quiet husband, spoke about what God is doing in Him.
When I came home, I read John 2 and the first thing I read was about how Jesus turned the water into wine. Now I've read this passage several times and I seem to glean something different each time. Tonight, I marveled at how Jesus sat and waited for every drop of wine to be gone. There was no wine left. Every drop had been consumed. Then he went to work. Right now as we fast, God is emptying us, we have to be emptied before we can be filled. You can't put new wine in with the old wine, it ruins the taste. In the same, way, He needs to empty us of our sin, pride, expectations, etc before he can fill us. Now I have heard so many people, including myself say "God, fill me". My question tonight is this, are you ready to be emptied?
In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, I'm Ready! God Empty me so I can be filled by You!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Today is the first full day of my 21 day fast. It went pretty well. I had such a great time with God this morning and the devotion with Christopher went well. We talked about if there was one big thing he wanted to fast and pray for. He wants to fast and pray for the homeless to have homes and families and to believe in God and go to church and for Miss Catherine to feel better. Talk about having faith in God. It's no wonder God urges us to have the faith of a child. He was told nothing is impossible with God and he completely believes that. He's fasting and praying for the homeless to have homes and believe in God. Nothing's impossible so nothing inhibits him from dreaming big dreams.
I was reading a book today called Forgotten God. Pastor Chris recommended it and it's a really good book. Well it asked a question today that really got me thinking. It's a hard question for anyone. It's one of those questions, that you wish you could just forget you heard because the reality of it is too much to bear. Here it is. If the entire world were as committed as you were, what would the church look like? If they gave like you give, pray like you pray, worship like you worship, have the faith that you have, would the church be strong, healthy, empowered or would it be weak and listless?
I told you it was a tough question. I mean, no matter where you are in your walk, there's always room for improvement in at least one area. So today I am examining where I am, where I want to be and why I want to be there. Because if I were honest, and the church was like me, the church would be scared sometimes, doubtful sometimes, led astray by desires of the flesh, trying to be strong but feeling weak. But I won't stop there. I am asking for God to fill me, sustain me, give me the strength that is needed to live a life that is fully and completely His day in and day out.
Why am I being so painfully open in this blog today? Because as I've heard recently, I look like I have it together but the truth is, I'm just an imperfect woman, trying to become the woman God wants me to be, feeling as if I'm coming up short, and yet not being afraid to keep trying. I want you to know, that we're all imperfect, we've all be led astray, and we can ALL keep trying. Because God's grace is limitless!
May God bless you all, wherever you are.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Today in church Pastor Chris talked about why we fast and the different ways we can fast. It was a terrific message that really settled in me. He mentioned that there are three parts to us, mind, soul (mind and emotions), and spirit. Then he said, whatever part is strongest is the one we feed the most. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here. If I am brutally honest with myself, although my spirit is strong and has periods of being in control, for the most part, my body is in control. I love my time that I spend each day with God, but there are many times when my body or my emotions are in the driver's seat. So today, as I begin my 21 day fast, I say that my spirit is in control.
Chris and I were coming back from a birthday party and I declared our fast as officially started. Then he realized there was candy in his goody bag. Now, I could have let him have it, we weren't starting the fast until after the party. But I had already declared it as begun. So I told him, that candy will be a great treat after our fast is over! He was obviously a little disappointed but what a great teaching moment. So I took a few minutes to have the conversation about how during this time we are telling our bodies, they aren't in control. Our spirit is in control and God is in control of our spirit. And just to get him excited, we started yelling at our bodies. "Body, you make poor choices! God is in control now!" I am sure we looked pretty silly, but as Pastor Chris pointed out today, we are constantly at war with our bodies and what our bodies needed right then was a good talking to!
Today, I pray that we, as a family, will allow God to fill us and sustain us throughout this fast. That we will be constantly on alert to our fleshly desires, deny our flesh, and seek Him with our WHOLE hearts. I pray that when the fast is over, we will be able to maintain our spirits being in control and guiding us daily. I ask that God would unify our family as we seek Him together and focus on Him. May our Lord and Savior be the center of our family and families around the world. Do you have a prayer request? Let me know and I'll pray with you!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Today, I begin a journey; a 21 day journey of fasting and prayer. Our church announced that we would participate corporately in this fast and I was excited. I love times of fasting and prayer. It's such a time of sacrifice, and drawing nearer to my Lord and Savior. Oh how I love watching Him work during these periods.
Well, I sat down to think about what my time of fasting and prayer would be about. What would be my focus? As many of you know, at Thanksgiving my 13 year old son moved back east to live with his mother. It was heartbreaking. It's a long story, that I won't go into but the short of it is, we prayed about it, we heard, and we followed through. Sometimes, the hardest things in life, are things you know are right. Every day I pray for him, and every day I pray for his mom. But through this incredibly difficult time, my husband has been at his best. You see, it's in times of heartache and turmoil that he is truly at his best, and focused on God and on our family. What would normally be the downfall of a family, only brings our family together more.
During this time of prayer and fasting I am praying for family unity. Not only mine, but yours. You see, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the enemy hates unified families. His goal is to divide and conquer and in today's world too many families are being divided. Galatians 4 says "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." That's my prayer for families all across the world. Make no mistake, we are at war! And for me, during the next 21 days, I will be fighting for families. I'm fighting for mine, I'm fighting for yours, and I'm fighting for families all around the world.
I invite you to take this journey with me as I blog each day. Sometimes it will be a devotional, sometimes just a prayer or what I'm feeling or thinking. But I invite you on my journey. I invite you to sen me prayer requests for your family or families you know. I invite you to pray with me and if you feel led, to fast with me.
May God bless you all, wherever you are in your journey.