Monday, December 28, 2009
A few mornings ago, I found myself captivated by a scene from The Music Man. In the scene, Harold Hill was trying to talk Marian, the town librarian, into take a stroll with him. When she said “not tonight, maybe tomorrow,” Harold Hill replied, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.” Hmmm, let that sink in for a few moments. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of procrastinating…putting off until tomorrow what we could have done today. In fact, Greg and I jokingly say “Let’s plan on that” when we talk about things that we know we just can’t do right now – things like skydiving. (That one I think I might just keep putting off for another day!) But how often do we postpone the joy and blessing that we would receive or give to others by just doing the thing we’ve been putting off.
After having a few days to marinate on the Music Man’s words of wisdom, I was instructed by another unexpected teacher. While watching The Sound of Music, I heard some sage advice that the Reverend Mother told Maria. “You have to look for your life.” Wow, that nun knows her stuff! Let’s hear that again. “You have to look for your life.” Those words of wisdom both encouraged and convicted me at the same time. I thought about all of the times that I was overwhelmed or disappointed that life was not going the way I had expected and yet, I wasn’t proactively pursuing my dreams either. I’d lived so much of my life following other people’s rules or instructions until I finally realized that my hopes and my dreams really do matter! Our dreams may not all come true but they are the driving force that can make us into the people God wants us to become. What are your dreams? Are you ‘looking for your life’?
So as we bring this year to a close, I’d like to leave you with two thoughts. First, allow yourself to receive the most out of each day. That doesn’t mean fill your day with a bunch of stuff or try to cram more into what you’re already doing; it means to receive what the day has for you. Each day is a gift from God and while some days are better than others, all of them have a blessing for us if we’ll look for it. The second thought is to remain teachable. When we are open to hearing from God He’ll speak to us at unexpected times… like during a musical! God speaks to us so often and unfortunately we don’t always take the time to listen. A word from God is always a blessing, so be on the lookout for it!
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Monday, December 21, 2009
My family just got back from a weekend in Arkansas after celebrating Christmas with my in-laws. While the gift exchange time may have been what the kids were looking forward to the most, I’m sure that it’s not what they will be most likely to remember. I would bet that they would remember how we spent our time together, not the gifts they received. It’s well known that anytime you get a group of Mersbergers together for a weekend, we’re going to play cards! This year we had two separate tables for the card game – one for the adults and another for the teenagers. I loved seeing those teens gather around to play the same game we were playing…the next generation of card players!
I remember when I was a child we always had our family celebration on Christmas Eve. Mom would make oyster stew for dinner which my grandparents loved but none of the kids liked so she decided to also serve pizza. I know it doesn’t sound like an appealing combination but we have served it almost every year since. We’ve come to expect it and now Mom has a great oyster stew recipe so it’s not just oysters floating in milk! (lol, sorry Mom) I’m not sure if my own kids will carry on the tradition to their families, but at least they will be able to share the stories!
Regardless if you choose to make something a tradition or it happens by chance, the memories that you make in the Christmas season can stay with you from year to year. Our children are far more attentive than we give them credit for and they are choosing which traditions they want to embrace and which ones they can’t wait to let go of! If getting together and decorating the tree causes tempers to flare and becomes a huge argument, the kids will probably choose to avoid that task later in life. While if you have a lot of fun baking or shopping together, they’ll look forward to continuing that tradition.
In the midst of all the memory making, don’t forget to pass on the true message of Christmas - the birth of our King who came to save the world! This shouldn’t just be an afterthought; it should be the main point! We may celebrate His birth this time of year, but we should be celebrating His death and resurrection every day…He is our greatest gift!
Be blessed and Merry Christmas,
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Monday, December 14, 2009
Dallas told the parable of the friend who comes at midnight asking for food and drink to serve to his unexpected guest. The homeowner turns his friend away stating that he and his family are already in bed for the night and he can’t help him. The man continues to knock at his friend’s door knowing that he cannot go home empty handed. In time, the homeowner opens his door and gives his friend all that he asked for and more, not just because they were friends but as a reward for his perseverance.
Dallas congratulated the graduating class for their perseverance. They had all continued knocking at the door and now the door of opportunity was finally opening to them with the hope of a great future. He encouraged them to continue to be persistent especially in prayer. Dallas described persistent prayer as a boulder that you try to break with a very small hammer. You hit it and hit it with the small hammer to no avail until one day, the boulder splits. It wasn’t the strength of that one last hit that breaks the boulder, but the combination of all of the hits. Our prayers aren’t answered because we say one eloquent ‘super prayer’ but as a result of numerous faithful prayers.
As I sat and listened, I thought about my own prayer life. There were a few unanswered prayers that came to my mind that I had grown tired of asking for. Day after day, hour after hour of praying for these things have made me tired and I’ve begun to lose faith. I was interpreting God’s silence as a ‘No’ instead of being persistent. In that very moment, I vowed to dust of those old prayers and continue giving them to God. We have to believe that not only is God able to answer prayer, but that He will!
Do you have any dusty prayers that you’ve stopped believing God for? Have you interpreted a ‘Not now’ from God as a ‘No!’? Haven’t you ever delayed giving your child what they’re asking for just to see how badly they really want it? If they ask once or twice, they may want it a little but if they ask everyday without fail you begin to see just how much it means to them! It’s in that time of waiting on God that He prepares us to receive the things we’re asking Him for. He develops our faithfulness so that we can continue to persevere in His plans for us. Faith is required to persevere, and persevering builds faith…it all works for God’s glory!
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
Monday, December 7, 2009
I was having that same feeling the other day as I was trying to get home after a very long day of work and errands (in heels). The longer I had to wait to be able to pull out of the parking lot, the angrier I became…I think I could actually feel my blood boiling! I remember saying under my breath “Lord, could you please help me out here??” It was more sarcasm then an actual prayer, but I felt God speak to my heart in that moment anyway. I felt Him saying “Didn’t I tell you that you were supposed to let them be first?” Ouch! There’s nothing like the sting of conviction!
God was right; I had become so frustrated with the other people because I was acting just like the other people… I had the ‘me first’ mentality! I wasn’t angry or stressed because I was missing something important or had an emergency to tend to, I was angry because I wasn’t getting my way. I was acting just like everyone else as I judged them for it! I deserved some conviction right about then! It took only moments for me to repent from my bad attitude and put on some new found humility.
Interestingly, once I had a more humble spirit I didn’t mind the ‘me first’ mentality as much. As I allowed others to go before me, I felt more at peace. I also didn’t go without what I needed… in one store it looked like the item was sold out but after I took my time to look around I found it in an unexpected place. I felt more at peace and was blessed by allowing others to go before me.
Are you struggling with a ‘me first’ mentality? Remember that being first in the world does not make you first in the Kingdom! Ask God to renew your mind today so that you experience His peace and His blessings by putting others first and allowing God to provide for your needs…you’ll be amazed by how good you’ll feel!
“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." Luke 13:29-30
Monday, November 30, 2009
In the midst of the ribbon and red and gold berries, I began thinking about why I enjoy decorating for the Christmas season so much. It’s not just the smell of cinnamon pinecones or the twinkle of lights on the tree that I enjoy, but it’s the mix of excitement and comfort that we all can feel as well.
Let’s face it; Christmas is an exciting time of year! The sights and sounds create an energy that can’t be ignored. Whether you’re out hunting the best deals or spending time with loved ones, our demeanor begins to change. We become more joyful, full of promise and hope for mankind (as long as we stay out of the crowds).
The Christmas season seems to have a way of comforting us as well. It’s the time of year when we return to family traditions, have a more forgiving spirit and experience a renewed peace. We’re humbled by the birth of our Savior and hold the realization of His sacrifice in our hearts. Christmas is familiar and feels like visiting an old friend. You may not have seen each other in a while, but you pick up right where you left off!
That feeling of excitement and comfort is available to us every day. We have the opportunity to celebrate our Savior with our lives by allowing the Holy Spirit to live in us. When He takes residence in us, we also become not just a ‘house’ but a home. We allow God to enter our lives and show us things with new eyes. Only then do we feel the comfort and peace that comes from living with Him. Everyday can be a celebration of a new life…yours!
“Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'” John 14:23
Monday, November 23, 2009
Now wait a minute, hear me out on this. I already hear the grumbling… ‘Invest my time? I don’t have ANY extra time! I don’t have enough time for the things I have to do right now!’ Sound familiar? Or maybe you’re saying to yourself ‘Well I’d invest time in others, but no one ever seems to have time for me!’ Both are legitimate arguments, so let’s take a minute to talk them through.
If you’re the one who feels you have no extra time to invest in others, welcome to the majority! These days we are pulled in so many different directions between our spouses, our kids, our job, church activities…and the list goes on and on! But have you ever considered that you may be investing your time in things that God didn’t intend for you to be investing in? Or maybe you are simply investing too much time into an activity when some of that time is intended to be used elsewhere.
On the other hand, many people have more time to invest but aren’t sure what to be investing in. This group has usually doesn’t have the large time allotment that kids can take up in your schedule, so their time gets filled with other things. Or perhaps you get stuck in a bit of a rut in how you use your time and each day follows the same pattern. I have good news; there are tons of people who would love for you to invest your time into them…no experience required!
Regardless of which scenario best describes your situation, the final outcome is the same…we all need a little help when it comes to investing our time! So, I have a handy 3 step process that will help you reallocate your time to maximize your returns!
Step 1: Pray daily! Ask God to take your next 24 hours and use it for His glory. Ask Him to show you where you need to reallocate your time.
Step 2: Evaluate! Take a minute to honestly assess your schedule and see where you can trim the fat and decide if there are things you need to let go of.
Step 3: Do it! Make the changes He’s prompting you to make and follow through on the things He lays on your heart to do. It may be a little uncomfortable at first but it gets easier the more you do it!
When we let God be God in our lives and allow Him to open up windows in our schedule for His glory, we are blessed beyond measure! Every time we invest in someone else, God rewards our efforts. Whether you’re packing boxes, chatting over coffee, or just being a listening ear, you're giving them the blessing of your greatest asset…your time.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”. Galatians 6:9-10
Monday, November 16, 2009
I’m filled with pride in the fact that Greg had finally accomplished the goal that he had set out to achieve. He had persevered through several seasons of our lives and continued to work hard toward the goal. For years he had to balance work and family responsibilities with the constant demand of homework and essay deadlines. The sacrifice that was involved did not make him bitter but refined the man he is, allowing him to trust that God rewards our efforts.
My gratitude comes from God’s provision for our family. While Greg was hitting the books, I still had to manage and maintain life for our family. On many occasions I felt like a single mom with too much to do and no help to get it all done! God continuously gave me strength that I didn’t have so I could be the wife and mom that I needed to be. It was in the times when I wasn’t getting my cup filled by Greg that God reminded me that He was my source and provider of all good things. God taught me to find my value in Him, not in what others said about me or would do for me.
Now we’re beginning the next chapter of our story. The winds of change have already begun to blow and it brings a great deal of uncertainty. However, being not knowing what lies ahead doesn’t mean that we have to lose our peace. We might not know what God is up to but we have full confidence that He is working out His plan in our lives. When God equips us, He then begins to use us in that way for His glory. No lesson or experience should ever be lost, but instead it refines us into the people we are meant to become.
So what’s being written in your story right now? Are you proud and excited about a new accomplishment or are you feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand? Is your heart full of gratitude for all God has been doing in your life or are you feeling a little bitter by the challenges you’re going through? Do you have a peace in your heart in the face of uncertainty or do you feel overcome by the fear of the unknown? Talk with God about where you are and where you want to be and then listen to hear Him speak to you through His word and the words of others. No matter what your situation is, take comfort in the fact that God never stops writing your story and He is unable to create anything less than a masterpiece!
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…” Hebrews 2:2
Monday, November 9, 2009
That night in the bathtub I remember praying for God to show me what I was doing wrong and what He wanted me to be doing instead. That’s when two candles caught my eye. I noticed that the first candle, that I had just bought a few days before, had a flame that was big and bright. The flame stood tall and danced and swayed all around as if it were performing some kind of tribal dance. It was fun to watch and I imagined that the flame was doing its own happy dance for being ignited for the first time. Then I noticed the second candle. Its flame was steadfast and gave a warm consistent glow. This was one of my favorite candles that I had lit numerous times before but I had never noticed how still the flame was until I compared it to the new candle. I felt God speaking to my heart… ‘Focus on Me and your flame will become at peace. You will radiate a warm, peaceful light and I will use you for My glory.’ What sweet heart words from a loving Father! God was telling me that if I focused my excitement and love on Him, He would keep me centered.
What does your flame look like? Is it wild and dancing in every direction? Is it still and consistent? Or is it merely a small glow because you’ve been blown around by the winds of the world? We are created to be radiant for Him so praise Him for the flame He has given you! Maybe your flame needs to be centered or you may even need God to fan your flame… ask Him, He’s faithful!
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15
Monday, November 2, 2009
We all love the moments where we have reached a pinnacle with God and for God. We feel as light as a leaf dancing on the breeze and we have such clarity as we take a glimpse of the bigger picture. Our hearts are so full of love and gratitude for God that we feel it may burst, it’s overwhelming! I believe this is just one way that God rewards us for being obedient to Him, and once you’ve had a hilltop moment you long to stay there with Him forever! Take a minute to think about your last hilltop moment with God. It’s a sweet memory isn’t it?
We also have times in our lives when we travel through valleys. These are the times when we seem to struggle more and hear from God less. We may be caught up in a stronghold of sin or God may be choosing to be silent. It’s during these difficult times when our faith begins to mold and shape us. How we act when we aren’t hearing God’s voice or seeing His hands move says a lot about our relationship with Him: Think back to the days in elementary school. Remember when your favorite teacher would be gone for the day and a substitute would come in? The substitute would not have the same rules and procedures as your favorite teacher but in the back of your mind you still knew what your teacher would expect from you. So were you the kid who followed the rules you already knew, or where you the kid who gave the substitute a hard time and pretended that you didn’t know better? Even when God is silent, we still know what He expects from us!
Regardless if you’re well on your way to another hilltop moment with God or if you’re camping out in the valley, God will use everything we go through for His glory if we let Him. Just think, even while the Egyptians were in slavery they were able to invent the concept of Geometry to get their job done. Talk about not wasting time! God used a season that lasted for years and years and gleaned something that still benefits the world today…amazing! Whether you’re in a season of victory or a season of defeat, God is working in you right now for His glory. We just need to embrace the season we’re in and let Him do what He needs to do in us! Hilltop or valley… it’s all for His purposes!
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12
Monday, October 26, 2009
Can you relate? Have you ever stood at the edge of the forest and begin to feel that you just can’t clear all of the trees? Do you take up residence in the familiar because you are afraid to step out into the unknown? God has a blessing for you; He just may ask you to put forth a little effort. All too often we see the ‘wooded area’ as something that is just too big for us to get past. When we see tree after tree after tree, we become overwhelmed and quickly give up, never claiming the vast territory that God has already given us. Every time we defeat ourselves, we lose out on the spoils of God’s victory! I hate to think of how many times I’ve completely defeated myself when God has called me to step out on faith for Him. Not only do I not claim the victory God has for me, I usually begin to question whether or not I was even called by God to do it in the first place.
I don’t know what the wooded area looks like for you, but I sure know what my trees look like. Each tree represents a struggle, a stronghold, a sin, a failure and a fear. There are definitely days that I have sat on the edge of the tree line with my head in my hands feeling completely overwhelmed and hopeless. That’s when God reminds me that I only need to clear one tree at a time. Staring at 1,000 trees is a daunting task, but cutting down one tree is completely attainable. God gives us the ability to cut down one tree at a time until, before we know it, we’ve made a clearing and expanded our territory. It’s not something we have to do in our own strength, but we do need to stand up and be willing to allow Him to do the work through us. So, are you ready? Let’s go cut down some trees!
“… overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37
Monday, October 19, 2009
This particular email made me smile because I realized that I had stopped PUSHing. Something had happened alright, it just wasn’t the something I was hoping for and I responded to it as if it was a closed door. I was reminded that even though my situation may not have been going the way I thought or hoped it would, it didn’t mean that God was done. The message in this email was a sweet reminder from God that He wants me to get back up and keep PUSHing toward Him.
Often times, we’re not sure what to pray for! We walk a fine line of knowing if what we want is God’s will or our will. I know that whenever I’ve questioned the motive behind my prayers, I can ask God to show me if it aligns with His will. He never fails to reveal Scripture that will confirm my desire or corrects my way of thinking. But even then, He doesn’t always give me what I’m asking for.
God rewards perseverance. He wants us to come to Him and share what’s on our hearts. Each time we come to Him, we grow deeper in our love for Him and eventually what we’re asking for becomes secondary. God wants us to want Him more than we want our prayers to be answered! It pleases Him to know that we will seek after the desires that He has placed in our hearts, but He wants us to remember that those desires are there to be used for His glory. So keep PUSHing, He longs to bless you!
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Monday, October 12, 2009
Step one – Sin
Our battle against sin starts every morning as we rise and continues throughout the day. We are continuously faced with the temptation to sin, and even when we resist Satan tries to remind us of all the times we’ve failed in the past. Although that sounds like a bleak, defeating situation that would make you want to stay in bed, remember that we have the ability to wage war with spiritual weapons! Jesus has already given us victory over sin; we just need to use the tools He gives us. (see today’s verse)
Step two – Cover up
Our human tendency is to cover up our mistakes. We don’t like to admit when we’re wrong, have done something stupid and have sinned. Sin is seen as a personal failure so people don’t want to broadcast or even admit that they failed again. What we fail to realize is that our sin takes root and grows in the dark places of our heart and mind. When we open up and bring those things out into the light, the sin can’t continue to grow and we can conquer it! But then there are those who enjoy their sin so much that they don’t want it taken from them, so they cover it up thinking that no one will notice it’s there.
Step three – Stronghold
Strongholds are developed from the sin that we won’t deal with in our lives. The sin becomes deeply rooted in us that it begins to affect our behavior. The war we are waging internally begins to impact those around us in a negative way. Our strongholds can impact our integrity, our parenting and especially our marriages. The sad thing is that, even though Christ gave us freedom from our chains, we will often pick them back up or just not walk away from them because we’ve become used to them. We begin to see our strongholds are part of who we are.
Do you hear the distant hum of music in the background? Are you caught in the three step but didn’t even recognize it? If so, it’s time to change the behavior pattern by using the weapons that God has equipped you with. When we stop dancing the three step with Satan, we are free to learn a new dance from God and it is amazing!
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:13-18
Monday, October 5, 2009
Who are you? This seems deceptively simple, but it’s one of the hardest questions a person can answer. There are so many answers like a daughter, a brother, a spouse or a friend. But what about answers like a dreamer, a champion, a child of God, someone who’s afraid or even someone who has lost hope. How you answer the question reveals how you see yourself.
What do you stand for? This is really asking what things are important to you. What makes your heart beat fast and what, or who, can break your heart? Which battles are worth fighting and which ones do you walk away from? Your answers will reveal your heart and the motive behind the things you do.
Where do you fit in? We all fit somewhere! God designed us to be in relationship with one another, we just need to trust that He will direct us to the right place for us. I’ve heard it said that you’ll know that you’re in the right spot when you have people around you that encourage you to become a better version of yourself.
Why you? It’s amazing to think that we are all placed on the earth at this specific time for a very specific purpose. It’s up to us to trust God’s plan for our lives and follow His lead. God uses us in our giftedness while reminding us that although we are in the world, we are not of the world.
How do you do it? This is the easiest of all the questions: I do all things through Christ who strengthens me! God infuses us with His strength so that we can do the things He has planned for us to do. It’s comforting to know that we don’t have to do all of this on our own; we can rely on the One who has called us! God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called!
Knowing our ‘who, what, where, why and how’ allows us to keep our purpose and focus on glorifying God. He uses each of us differently but for the same reason, to bring glory to His name! Try periodically asking yourself ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I stand for?’, ‘Where do I fit in?’, ‘Why me?’, ‘How do I do it?’ and ask God to align those answers with His word. Remember, He will faithfully reveal the things that are being used for His purpose and refine the things that are not of Him…all from asking five simple questions.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I know how those girls felt! There have been countless times that God has chosen to use me for a specific purpose only for me to become full of myself and stumble on my own pride. I’ve been known to go from a hilltop moment to falling face first into a valley in 0.6 seconds. Sometimes its Satan that trips me up but most of the time I’m able to knock myself to the ground all by myself. I take my eyes off of God and turn them onto myself as if I’ve accomplished these things in my own strength.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever brought you ‘best game’ and then start resting on your laurels thinking that you can just take a break for awhile? Meanwhile Satan gets a foothold and not only causes you to stumble but will often try to hold you down so that you won’t get back up and try again. We end up having to work much harder to regain the ground we lost when we stopped giving our best effort. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father who is faithful to pick us back up and set us on our feet again as we set our eyes on Him. The thing to remember is this: our best game comes from God, not from us. When we have the privilege of being used by Him, that’s when we should become less not more. God infuses us with His strength for His glory, not ours! Our job is to be open to letting God be God in our lives so He can equip us to bring our best game!
“Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’" 1Corinthians 1:31
Monday, September 21, 2009
Here’s the problem…during the planning phase of a project, it is very easy for me to become discontent. I think about what the room or object could become and stop appreciating what it already is. At that point I’m no longer looking forward to what it will look like; I’m caught up on focusing on everything it is not.
It’s easy for us to do that to ourselves as well. We make plans to lose weight, become smarter, make more friends, run a marathon, etc. We envision what it will be like when we reach our goal and then get frustrated that we seem so far from it! Joyce Meyer, a well known author and speaker, always says “I might not be where I’m going, but I’m not where I was!” Praise God! That quote has become a mantra in my life and serves as a constant reminder that although I’m a work in progress, the portrait looks so much better than it used to! God starts us out as a messy, undefined sketch and continues to transform and refine us until we are a beautiful work of art. Our role is to be content as He makes us into His masterpiece, focusing on the Artist and taking our eyes off of ourselves.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Monday, September 14, 2009
The greatest thing about working together that day was that it was the direct result to something that happened earlier in the week; I had finally confessed that I had been feeling like a failure. With the combination of a busy schedule and a bad back, I had been neglecting the housework and it was starting to show. I had always been pretty good at ‘surface cleaning’ but I’m not a ‘pull everything off the shelves, wash it all up and scrub it clean enough to eat off of kind of’ kind of cleaner. But still it was pretty hard to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help! Greg, the kids and I rallied together and got more done in just a few hours than I had managed to get done all week!
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we ask for help! We can do so much more with the support and encouragement of others than we can ever do on our own and then our victory is shared with them which brings even more glory to God! We already know that God is strong in our weakness and He provides people who care about us to be tangible examples of His love and support. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with disciples. He didn’t have to go it alone; He had friends along side of Him!
I don’t know what you’re walking through, but I want to encourage you to take a look around for a minute; are you walking through it alone? Have you opened yourself up enough to share with someone all that you’re going through and ask for help or are you still the guest of honor at your own pity party? These special friends may not have the power to change your circumstance, but they certainly can help change your perspective! You will just need to swallow your pride and be real with them by admitting the failures and start pursuing what God has for you. But remember, this is about renewal not condemnation. Admitting your faults, failures or sin is not intended to give ammunition to someone to use against you so choose your friends wisely! Pray that God will reveal who He intends to walk with you and then cherish them…they are a gift from God!
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11
Monday, September 7, 2009
One chilly autumn night, a pastor knocked on the door of a member of his congregation. This man had once been an active participant at the church but no longer attended regularly. He’d show up every few weeks, listen to the message and then leave quickly afterwards not making time to socialize with the other church members. He was a bit of a quiet man but his gradual withdrawal from the church and its members hadn’t gone unnoticed by the pastor. The man welcomed the pastor in, took his coat and the two men sat down by the fireplace. Without saying a word the pastor leaned over and picked up the fireplace tongs. He used them to pick a burning ember out of the flames and placed it just outside the reach of the fire. The two men sat silently while the flames of the fire danced, popped and crackled as the ember was fading. Moments later there was no sign of a flame in the ember at all, it had burnt out completely. The pastor picked up the tongs once again and moved the ember back into the fire. Instantly the ember caught a spark and it began to glow again as it took its part in the dance of flames. The pastor walked to the door, gathered his coat, then turned to the man and said, “So, I’ll see you on Sunday?” The man replied with a knowing smile, “Yep, you’ll see me Sunday!”
This week I have heard the heart of numerous friends who have become just like the ember. Fortunately, they have recognized the issue before their fire has died out but as we read in the story; even if your fire has died it’s never too late to rekindle it! When we are in community with other believers, we have life! When we keep to ourselves and exclude ourselves from the things going on around us, we perish! We are relational creatures; we’re designed to be in relationship with others. And when we are in relationships with people who are seeking God in their lives and living according to His plan, that’s when we thrive!! We don’t need for the people in our life to fill our time; we need the people in lives to fill our cup. We have an innate need to serve and be served, encourage and be encouraged, love and be loved as we ‘do life’ with one another. No matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, single or married, a corporate executive or unemployed, versed in the Bible or just learning God’s word – you have a place in God’s family and you are welcome there! Join the dance of the flames and watch as God makes your flame burn brightly for Him!
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1Corinthians 12:27
Monday, August 31, 2009
Unfortunately that’s not the kind of B&B that I’m referring to. Instead, the B&B that we are all in desperate need of is Balance & Boundaries. While it may not instantly invoke peaceful feelings, this B&B is the only way to bring peace into your life.
Most of us are in the midst of creating our new fall schedules. Endless choices fly around our minds like the autumn leaves that are soon to fall. Trying to figure out where you need to be and when you need to be there is an overwhelmingly daunting task! I know my head is spinning! That’s why I had to yell ‘Stop!’ to the demands that were fighting for my time and attention. Here’s the deal – we can’t do it all! But we can do far more if we have Balance & Boundaries.
Balance comes when all the priorities in your life are aligned properly. The order of priorities that God has commanded is: GOD, then Marriage, then Family, then Activities. Did I mention that God is first? He’s the appointment that you can’t afford to reschedule! Time with Him is what will get you through the rest of your priorities!! In today’s world we seem to put kids first, then activities (which fill 90% of our time) then God and marriage somewhere at the bottom. And let me clarify that doing church activities is not the same as time with God! Doing things for Him is not the same as spending time with Him! This order is so important because it just makes sense. GOD strengthens us by filling us with Him, we give time and attention to our marriage which creates a firm foundation for our family. We invest time in our kids to raise them up into the people God intends them to be. Finally we are involved and serve in our community because God created us to be in relationship with one another. He provides opportunities and creates friendships so we can ‘do life’ together.
Here’s where Boundaries come into the picture. The world does not see this as the proper list of priorities. You may get push back or even be judged because you’re priorities are different from those with a worldly view. Stand your ground! As a parent, you protect them from being unbalanced in their life. Your kids need for you to say ‘no’ to something good to say ‘yes’ to something better!
I know finding the right B&B can be a difficult task, but remember, God will align your schedule to His will if you’ll let Him! He can seemingly stretch our 24 hours when we give Him the opportunity and authority to use our time for His glory. He gave us this day, let’s use it for Him!
"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
Monday, August 24, 2009
In the book of Matthew, Jesus teaches us a parable about the wheat and the weeds. He mentions that the weeds look just like the wheat and have grown amongst the wheat stalks and that they would be separated at the time of judgment. The wheat represents those who believe in the redeeming power of Christ while the weeds were the evil unbelievers who worshipped worldly things and not God. In this parable Jesus was describing the day of judgment but the same concept can be applied in our daily lives as well.
Years ago, I used to teach a class of 3 year olds at our previous church. During second service I would put on my happy teacher face, plaster on a smile and endure those kiddos for an hour that would never end…every week! By the time I was done in that class I was irritable, stressed out, frustrated and needed to attend church all over again. I did this every week for a year! The curriculum was followed, animal crackers distributed and runny noses wiped but I was not the blessing that I should have been for those kiddos. I was a weed in the garden. My presence there was certainly not harmful to anyone, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was not doing what I was gifted in, the kiddos were not getting the enthusiasm that they deserved and I was robbing the blessing from the person who should have been in that class. Ironically, now my 13 year old daughter teaches in a class of 3 year olds and loves it! No one was standing in the way of the role that God intended for her and she serves as a reminder to me that God has given us talents and gifts that are so unique.
This week I encourage you to consider the things you’re currently involved in. Do you enjoy it? Are you doing it because you want to or because you feel you need to? Is your heart fully engaged in those things or are you feeling disconnected? You owe it to yourself and others to evaluate your role from time to time. Seasons can change in our lives and soon we begin to realize that we’re no longer producing the beautiful plume… we’ve become the weed!
Parable of the Weeds can be found in Matthew 13:24-30
Monday, August 17, 2009
This physical condition applies to our spiritual lives as well. Through our lives, there will be several hurts that become a weak spots in our spirit. Those pain points, if left untreated, begin to resonate to other areas of our lives. The pain of unforgiveness can quickly become an inability to trust. Pride can resonate into the pain of becoming inflexible and sometimes our pain can end up hurting others.
I’ve tried everything in the past – chiropractic care, conditioning and isolation exercises to help keep the pain away. Hot pads, back rubs and rolling ball massager thingies are then the second line of defense when the attack does arrive. But this time, I decided I would try a new defense… I’d medicate it!! I received medication from a different doctor to use for a week hoping that it would relax the pain and make it go away. And it worked…kind of! For the first few days I felt great! I felt like a younger, more agile version of myself and was completely pain free. This was great! I should have tried this years ago!! But as I began to wean myself off of the medication, the pain began to reveal itself again. You see, the pain hadn’t gone anywhere; it was simply covered so I couldn’t see it!
I’m sure that I’m not the only one of us who has ever tried to take the easy way out and not deal with what is causing the pain. Whether your pain is physical or spiritual, there is always a root cause. Ignoring the point of pain, or worse, masking it so you can pretend it’s not a problem will not solve the issue. Not only does it continue to hurt us and others, it becomes an easy target from the enemy’s attack. While there may be several options available to deal with physical pain, God’s love is the only thing that can heal spiritual pain. God offers healing ointment through His forgiveness, redemption and direction through His word. God is our Great Physician…and no appointment is necessary!
"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." Acts 3:16
Monday, August 10, 2009
I cannot explain the emotions that washed over me from that one word. It was as if a broken dam of pain and sorrow rushed through the phone. She didn’t have to say another thing because my heart instantly broke for her. Here God had laid her on my heart days ago, and I was just now being obedient. She had been hurting, parched and needing someone to help her be replenished with living water. I had been running so fast up and down the road that I hadn’t noticed that she was broken and bruised by the side of the road unable to even cry out.
We talked for hours that day. We laughed, cried, listened to each other and shared our hearts with one another. God used that time to bond us even closer together as sisters in Christ. I’m so thankful for that bittersweet day. While it was heartbreaking to hear her pain and know that my disobedience made her suffer alone, I was also grateful that God would be willing to bless me through her. Her honesty and trust in me is a treasure that I honor. I may have been the one prompted to reach out and bless her, but God chose to bless me even more!
That day has changed my perspective about listening to God. Now, instead of thinking that something is a ‘have to’ I see God's promptings as a ‘get to’. I get to be used by Him, I get to walk along someone in need, and I get to see that our God is a faithful restorer. When God lays something on our hearts it is for our benefit and His glory. Our role is to listen and do what He is prompting us to do. As I prayed for a message to blog about today, this story was laid on my heart. Fortunately I’ve learned to be more readily obedient…and now I ‘get to’ share it with you!
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:23-24
Monday, August 3, 2009
After a good cleaning, our front door was happy again! It now stands proudly waiting to greet our friends, family and neighbors. The clean front porch is far more welcoming now that it was easier to navigate. Taking care of the routine maintenance of the entry way resulted in a pretty space that not only catches people’s eye but welcomes them in!
We’re just like our front door. Often people can tell just by looking at us if we are pleasant and welcoming or if the storms of our lives have made us unapproachable. When they are looking at you can they see through to your heart because of your transparent behavior or are you closed off and private? One thing that breaks my heart is when someone will say “I didn’t ask you to____because I know you’re so busy!” If I hadn’t been a closed door to them that said ‘I’m just too busy…’ then they wouldn’t have felt that way.
What if we felt that way with God? What if God greeted us with a closed off, unwelcoming attitude? Thankfully we serve a God who not only welcomes us, but longs for us to come to Him. He wants us to enter in and allow Him to teach and bless us. So what does your front door look like? Are you open and welcoming or closed off and unapproachable? Maybe we should give ourselves a little attitude clean up so that we can continue to be a blessing.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Monday, July 27, 2009
During the conference one of the speakers, Michelle McKinney Hammond, described our spiritual soil condition. When we allow ourselves to begin drying out spiritually, we can no longer hold on to all that God has to pour into us. Have you ever watered a potted plant that was dried out? Did you notice that the water seemed to run straight through and out the bottom? The soil wasn't prepared to receive the water so it could only hold on to a little bit. That small amount of water may perk up the plant for a little while, but soon it is drooping and wilted from thirst all over again. It needs a continuous dose of water to stay nourished and healthy.
We're just like that plant! We'll take a quick dose of God's word to hold us over, but unless we saturate ourselves, we are never fully quenched. Many of us get a big dose of living water during church on Sunday but never go back for our daily dose of God. So by Wednesday or Thursday, we're a crispy Christian! That Sunday dose has run out and we're no longer saturated in His truth. Or maybe you're more like me, you take time with God each day but never realized that the dose you were taking was not quite enough. Maybe you're sippin' on God instead of drinking Him in. If so, it's time for a shot of MiracleGro for your soul! Mix it up a little, change your routine and remember to pray knowing HE IS ABLE!! We don't serve a Lord who may be able to change our circumstances, we serve a Lord who can completely alter our circumstances if it's His will to do so. Remember - If God doesn't get you out of your situation, He is using your situation to get something out of you!!
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
Monday, July 20, 2009
The next day brought warmer temperatures with lots of warm sunlight and I found a new determination within me. I gathered a new arsenal of tools, but noticed that the fight was not nearly as hard. Now that I could actually see the weeds, I could untangle the root. As I took my time uprooting all of the weeds, I noticed that all the digging resulted in some rich, tilled soil. I was able to smooth out the ground and turn the neglected bed into a rock garden, just as I had planned.
We have neglected ‘gardens’ within us too. When we stay in the dark playing tug of war with the sins and strongholds that have taken root in our hearts and minds, we soon become tired and defeated. But as soon as we shine the light of God’s word on the sin, it becomes so much easier to detangle. We use Scripture as an arsenal of tools to remove the stronghold and preparing our hearts for the truth that God wants to plant there. Once the strongholds are removed, we are ready for the purpose that God had intended for our lives…and the results are beautiful!
Do you have some ‘weeds’ within you that you’ve been ignoring? Are you treating those weeds like they belong there or, even worse, do you not even see them within you anymore? Ask God to show you which mega weeds need to be removed so that you can move closer to God’s plan for your life and look forward to the blessings of new blooms.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17
Monday, July 13, 2009
As I have struggled back and forth with the choices that lay ahead, God has gently reminded me that we have been in this place before. We have stood in this place where I say “I don’t want to…” as He says “Trust me.” I come back with “but why should I do this?” He simply whispers “Because I said so…” The first time I was here with God was right after I had become a believer and God was prompting me to be re-baptized. I struggled long and hard over this because I had been baptized as a child and didn’t see the point. However, the point was this: God was prompting me to be obedient to Him. The baptismal water wasn’t required for my salvation; God was asking me to take my first step of obedience. Proclaiming my faith in Him was for His glory not mine! Sharing my internal struggle really witnessed to a lot of hearts that day – praise God! He has rewarded that obedience a hundred fold since that day.
A perfect example of doing what you’re told even though it may not make sense comes from the book of Joshua. Joshua had followed God‘s direction and led the Israelites to Jericho and now faced a looming problem. Jericho was surrounded by a great wall and Joshua didn’t have a plan of how to overtake it. God instructed Joshua to gather the 7 priests and carry the Ark of the Covenant around the wall every day for 6 days. Then on the 7th day they were to walk around the wall 7 times and then blow their horns and give a great, long yell and the wall would fall and Jericho would be theirs. How crazy is that??? I’ve been prompted to do some things that have made me uncomfortable but not anything like that! In a worldly perspective, Joshua had a great deal to lose. His men would think he had gone crazy, it would be challenging to make them all do it and why would that even work? Well it would work because God told him it would!!
Joshua was obedient to God and was rewarded with a great victory. God has a great victory planned for each of us if we stop saying “Why Lord?” and start saying “Yes Lord!” When a great price is paid, a great victory is earned!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
Monday, July 6, 2009
Our lives consist of the series of choices that we make. Some of our choices align with God’s will in our lives while other choices align with the will of our flesh. Choice after choice can lead us further and further away from God. However, sometimes it’s our circumstances rather than our choices that steal our hope. All too often we become overwhelmed when bad things happen that we merely throw up our hands and yell ‘Enough!’ We begin to separate ourselves from God before we see how He intended to use the bad situation for our good. When we take our eyes off of Him and only see our own circumstances, the walls of our pit of despair get higher and higher. Unfortunately, we get so blinded by the pit that we lead ourselves into that we lose any hope for a life of promise.
But that’s not where the story ends! While it’s true that numerous choices can lead us away from God, fortunately God’s word shows us that we’re never too far away to come back to Him. God taught us through the parable of the prodigal son that even if we go our own way; the Father’s love is always available when we decide to come back to Him. We have never gone too far to be covered by God’s love! With the promise of God’s love comes the promise for a hope and a future. He will redeem and restore you…it’s a promise!
I pray that you’d be encouraged today no matter how near or far from Him you are!
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
Sunday, June 28, 2009
My family's vacation has been a few days in Miami and a 7 day cruise. Throughout the cruise we had 4 ports of call - the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. While we were in the Bahamas, I finally got to do something that I have always wanted to do - parasailing! It was magnificent! The white sand beaches were a stark contrast to the lush tropical plants and the aqua and turquoise water. The entire time that I was dangeling from the parachute 1100 ft above the water I was worshiping and praising God for letting me see my surroundings with such a new perspective...literally! I had appreciated the beauty of the island when we arrived, but this was stunning! The view was gorgeous and because I was up so high it was completely silent.
Later in the cruise, God changed my perspective yet again. My family went snorkeling in Grand Turk along two seperate reefs. Once again, I was in awestruck wonder of what God showed me under the sea. It was an explosion of purple, yellow, blue, green, brown and red fish and coral that I had never seen before, it was amazing! But as I marveled in His amazing creation, I noticed that it was once again completely silent.
We had so many other wonderful experiences on our vacation, but these two moments were brought to my mind today. Clearly God will take us to any heighth and to any depth to give us a much needed change of perspective. Although we may feel we don't have control of the situation, God is in control and has us right in the palm of His hand. Our job is to obediently go where He leads us and listen quietly for what He has to say.
While I was parasailing far above the water, God reminded me of how beautiful and peaceful the world really is when you allow yourself to step back and observe. Then, while snorkeling, God reminded me that His world is far more vast and complex than I even realize. Knowing that He had created every single fish and coral that I saw and yet He still knows my thoughts, fears and the number of hairs on my head filled me with an overwhelming love for Him. God is so excited to show us things that will absolutely thrill us if we'd only stop long enough to let Him!
My greatest souvenier from my vacation is newly restored reverance for God and the complexity of His creation. My cup is overflowing with awe of a God that can create such amazing things, giving each a life and a purpose. I'm so thankful for the change in perspective and I'm especially thankful that I have had time to chat with you!
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Monday, June 15, 2009
For the last week, my husband Greg has been in Tokyo, Japan. He has been there before but I have never been, so we tried to arrange for me to fly over for a long weekend. I'm so thankful that when God doesn't want for us to do something, He begins by gently closing doors. Fortunately, we saw the door of oppurtunity close and we didn't try to 'make it work'. Instead, I stayed here with my kiddos and have had some great one on one time with them. Together they can make me crazy and work my very last nerve, but individually they're pretty fantastic and I love the people they are becoming! But we are all ready for Greg's arrival this Wednesday night.
Thursday the chaos will commence! The whole family is leaving early Friday morning on a flight to Miami where we will be boarding our cruise ship Saturday morning. Seven days of magnificence among the high seas! We will be visiting Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, the Grand Turk Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico. I'm so excited I can't hardly stand myself!! I cannot tell you how hard it will be to get through this week at work, knowing that I'm destined for a week of blissful relaxation. So if you don't receive a blog next week, just know that it didn't work with the whole boat thing!
On a more personal note, may I ask for your prayers? God has laid another Bible study idea on my heart and I know that it's time to write with Him again. However, I've let just about everything else get in my way and haven't begun the project. Could you please be praying that I would allow God to use my time how He wants to? Also that He would faithfully pour this study out of me just as He did with Parables of the Master Storyteller...what an amazing experience that was!! Please pray that I would align myself with His will and purpose for His glory!! Thank you in advance for your prayers.
Thanks for the chat!
Monday, June 8, 2009
I've been thinking about joy alot lately and have come to a few conclusions:
Joy is found in contentment. Do you ever catch yourself in a moment where you just breath in and as you breathe back out you have a quiet confidence that everything is okay? That brief second reminds you that it all is well with your soul. Contentment comes when we don't long for more, we're filled.
Joy lives in the moments that connect our 'milestone moments' to each other. It's found in the normal routine we have every day! Our joy is visible in how we do the things we do. If you walk around like Eeyore, it will be obvious that you are lacking joy. On the other hand, you don't have to be bouncing off the walls like Tigger either...joy is found somewhere in the middle of the two.
You don't have to be happy about the situation to have joy in the situation. What? James 1:2-3 says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." God wants us to know that even though we're going through difficult times, it's not wasted. God uses everything for our good and our faith and character is being refined during the times of trial. Praise God that our heartache and pain is not for nothing!
It's easy to have joy in the milestone moments of life. Having joy on your wedding day is easy, having joy as you lie in bed with your spouse who has hurt your feelings is not. Being filled with joy as your child graduates is so much easier than enduring teenage angst and negative attitudes. But it's the difficult moments that bring the most change. God wants us to remember that everything, good and bad, has a purpose. I find great joy knowing that I'm benefitted in some way for the trials and tests that I have to go through. I'm a much better person for them!
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1: 2-3
Monday, June 1, 2009
There is a difference between obeying your boss and respecting your boss! When our boss runs around barking orders and talking down to us we do our ‘jobs’ because we have to but not normally because we want to. But when we feel valued and appreciated we perform at a higher level because we enjoy our ‘job’ and want to please our boss whom we value and respect. Obedience is required but respect is earned!
I started thinking about this dynamic in my own life. While I might not be a manager over a large team of people, I do certainly have people who are under my authority. How am I treating them? Do they feel valued and appreciated or barked at and ordered around? Are they obedient because they have to be or because I’ve earned their respect?
I know many of you work for a boss that you don’t respect. If so, a little shift in perspective may be in order. When I feel frustrated with those in authority over me, I make myself focus on the fact that I ultimately work for God and He can turn any negative into a positive! Then I make a decision that I will not allow a negative boss steal my joy – they can only take it from you if you allow them to! Keeping our focus on the ONE we serve will help us get through the daily frustrations on the job!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” Colossians 3:23
Monday, May 25, 2009
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
The poem describes young soldiers boldly standing on the battle line against numerous odds, including their own fears! These soldiers are heroes because they did what they needed to do and they did it afraid! Their bravery should encourage us to step up and do the things that God calls us to do, even when we are afraid or unsure. Faith requires action!! We’re not alone and He will strengthen us against the enemy!
Please join me in taking time to pray for the families of fallen soldiers as well as the active soldiers and their families. They fight for the freedom that we take for granted. Pray that God will faithfully reward their sacrifice!
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3
Monday, May 18, 2009
As I rolled my body sore from weekend yardword out of the bed this morning and began looking to the day ahead I decided that I had to make a choice - either I could mourn the passing of the "perfect day" or I could let myself see the beauty and promise in THIS day. It's true, I don't have as much to look forward to today, my time is not my own and I can't be a lounge lizard watching movies and playing with my kids all day. However, God tells us that our mercies our new every morning, He uses our time for His glory when we give it to Him, and instead of lounging around, God wants to give us a few 'divine appointments' in the day so that we can be a blessing and be blessed in return. All in all, I'd say that's alot to look forward to!!
This morning make a choice with me...are you going to dread a week of work and obligations OR are you going to embrace being part of the new things that God is doing all around us?? I choose God...there's no high like the Most High!
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"Psalm 118:24
Sunday, May 10, 2009
You and I have been dedicated to the Lord as well. Whether you were raised in a God fearing home or not, your life has been set apart to be used by God. I know this to be true because it is promised to us in Galatians. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." That means that God not only strengthens us to stand firm in the face of temptation, we can already claim victory against it!! We are not set apart by the things God intends to do in our lives, we are set apart because of the things He has already done! We may be in the battle, but God has already won the war!!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
Saturday, May 2, 2009
I’ve been so blessed to spend time with some amazing friends (old and new) in the past few weeks. While I may not get to see them as often as I’d like, having the opportunity to get together with them makes me appreciate how unique each woman is. Each friend has been used by God for a specific purpose in my life and I have been made a better woman for knowing each of them!
So here are some important friends to have in your friendship inventory:
a friend that you can be silly with
a friend that you can cry with
a friend that believes in your dreams
a friend that sees things more clearly then you do
a friend that will listen to you complain about your spouse or kids and still like them anyway
a friend that wants to hire a clown with big shoes to kick anyone who hurts you (you know who you are)
a friend that you can have deep discussions with
a friend who is further on the spiritual path than you are
a friend who is just now walking where you’ve been
a friend who will be honest, even when the truth is hard to hear
a friend that will pray with you and for you at any time
if you’re lucky, many of these friends will be the same person!
"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I've been doing a Bible study called "Discerning the Voice of God" by Priscilla Shirer. During her teaching time the other day she mentioned how God reveals His character through His Word. Below is the list that she referenced from a song called "He Is." Remember that He is faithful to meet us where we are. He is enough in EVERY circumstance. He is all we will ever need!
In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
In Numbers, the Fire by Night
Deuteronomy, He's Israel’s guide
Joshua, He’s salvation's choice
Judges, He’s Israel’s guard
In Ruth, the kinsmen's Redeemer
1st and 2nd Samuel, our trusted Prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He is Sovereign
In Ezra, He’s the true and faithful scribe
In Nehemiah, the Re-builder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He’s Mordecai's courage
In Job, the Timeless Redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song
In Proverbs, He is our wisdom
Ecclesiastes, He's the time and season
In Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream
In Isaiah, He is the Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet
Lamentations, the Cry for Israel
Ezekiel, the Call from Sin
Daniel, the Stranger in the Fire
Hosea, the Forever Faithful
Joel, the Spirit’s Power
Amos, the Strong-arms that carry
Obadiah, the Lord our Savior
Jonah, the great Missionary
Micah, the Promise of Peace
Nahum, our Strength and Shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He's brings revival
In Haggai, He restores that which was lost
In Zachariah, He’s our fountain
And in Malachi, He's the Son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
AND THAT’S JUST THE OLD TESTAMENT
In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, He is God and Messiah
In the spirit filled book of Acts, He is the reigning fire from Heaven
In Romans, He is the grace of God
Corinthians, the Power of Love
Galatians, Freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our Glorious Treasure
Philippians, the Servant's Heart
Colossians, He’s God and the Trinity
Thessalonians, our calling King
In Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, He's our mediator and our faithful pastor
In Hebrews, the Everlasting Courage
In James, the One who heals the sick
In 1st and 2nd Peter, our Faithful Shepherd
In John and Jude, He's the lover coming for His bride
AND in the Revelation, in the very end, when it’s all over, said and done, when time is NO MORE. He is and will always be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Son of Man, Lamb of God, The Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, God and Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
HE IS EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED!
Monday, April 20, 2009
I want to take a minute to thank all of you who have sent such encouraging email about my blog. I’m so glad it has been a blessing to you! A few weeks ago I posted about my personal conviction of how I’d been misusing my time. This apparently resonated with many of you because I received numerous emails and have heard several comments about how you relate to ‘wasting’ time.
I was sharing with one of my dearest friends over lunch that I find each day filled with ‘stuff’ but then I can never account for the ‘stuff’ that I did. I’m determined to overcome this problem in my life, so here’s my plan: I’m going to build my day using time blocks! So imagine those insanely large, brightly colored cardboard boxes that are shaped like Legos that little kids love to build with. Each block represents an hour and there are 24 of them total. There are tons of different colors that represent different activities. For example:
Black blocks = Sleep Red blocks = Scheduled Work
Green blocks = Meals Orange blocks = Time with God
Blue blocks = Appointments Yellow blocks = Chores
Purple blocks = Fellowship Brown blocks = Misc errands
Pink blocks = Girly stuff…whatever your thing is! (pedicure, manicure, reading a magazine, watching Desperate Housewives…)
Before each day begins I am going to arrange my time blocks in such a way that all 24 blocks are used and I have a plan for the day. We schedule our time around dentist appointments and classes, so why can’t we ‘schedule’ grocery shopping, laundry and a girls’ night out?? It’s a lot easier to do the ‘have tos’ in life when we know we’ll also have time for the ‘want tos’ as well!
I’m really looking forward to getting a little structure back in my time. I used to do this when my kiddos were little, but now that they’re teenagers, I think it’s this kind of scheduling is long overdue! Schedule your day as best you can but don’t forget to give it to God for His approval. The Holy Spirit may come knock down your Lego wall like an energetic 4 year old and that’s okay, be flexible! Allowing God to use us for His purpose is the heart of being a believer, so don’t be discouraged when things don’t work out the way you planned. Remember, tomorrow is another day!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Monday, April 13, 2009
My family just got back in town from visiting my in-laws in Arkansas for the Easter weekend. On our way there I was kicked to the back seat while my 15 year old drove while my husband co-piloted. As I sat cross legged flipping through a magazine, my IPod cued up “This is the time to remember” by Billy Joel. The chorus says “This is the time to remember, ‘cause it will not last forever. These are the days to hold on to, ‘cause we won’t although we’ll want to. This is the time, but times are gonna change…” I found that as I listened to those words and watched my first born spreading his wings as he drove, I momentarily fought back a few tears knowing that our time with him was going by so fast. There were so many days that I didn’t appreciate the blessing of watching him grow into the young man that sat before me. I became mentally determined to remember that moment and be thankful for being a part of it.
The next morning came really early after a late night of cards and family fun. I mindlessly walked through my regular routine of getting ready for the day but had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Then instantly I knew what was wrong…this wasn’t my toothbrush!! I had been brushing with my husband’s toothbrush (sorry honeyJ)! I was really convicted in that moment that I was spending a lot of time in ‘auto pilot’, just going through the motions of my day to day life. Sound familiar?
Later that night we attended an Easter vigil at my in laws’ church. I spent a lot of time thinking about the importance of Christ’s sacrifice. God went to this extreme of sacrificing His Son because He loves us and wanted to give us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to open our eyes to not only hear from God but to see Him move. When we walk mindlessly though our lives, we fail to value the moment we’re in because we’re focused on the moments we are striving for. As a result, we miss the sweetness of the moment.
I’ve promised myself, and God, that I’m going to focus on being ‘in the moment.’ I definitely have hopes and dreams for my life, but I’m determined to start appreciating the moment I’m in. I’ve decided to go back to keeping a Gratitude Journal. These journals are a tangible way of making you stop at the end of each day and focus on the blessings of the day. I used to keep one years ago and unfortunately allowed myself to fall out of the habit. But as the piano man says ‘these are the times to remember’ and this is just one way to make myself stop and remember the blessings in my life. I’d love if you join me!
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Monday, April 6, 2009
This time of year I like to welcome the warm weather with a little spring cleaning. I do all of the little tasks that I’ve put off for several months, one of which is window cleaning. Cleaning windows is a chore that is so easy for me to ignore because the dirt builds up slowly over time.
After spraying the windows with Windex and wiping away months of dirt and grime, I felt like I was in a commercial as I marveled at how much more light was shining through the window. I hadn’t noticed that the dirt had created a veil that was blocking some of the natural sunlight. I couldn’t help but think about how our spiritual lives cause a haze of filth and grime as well. We get used to the sin in our lives to the point that we don’t even see it anymore. Once the sin is removed, we are able to live transparent lives that God’s love can shine through. Most of the dirt was removed by a little perseverance… spray, wipe, repeat.
Our family had moved into our new home about a year ago. As is common with new construction, little stickers had been left on the widows. I hate to admit that those stickers had been there so long, I didn’t even see them anymore when I looked out the window. So I decided that it was finally time to remove those stickers no matter what it took! I grabbed my handy bottle of Undo (I’m not a paid sponsor but would be happy to be) and began squirting the pungent liquid onto the stickers for an easier removal process.
Sometimes we need some ‘Undo’ in our spiritual lives as well. God has the power to loosen the hold of sin in our lives that we cannot get free of ourselves. But we can’t get free of those strongholds until we proactively apply God’s strength to our sin. By spending time alone with God and in His word, we allow Him access to those sticky, grimy areas of our lives. Are you in need of some spiritual spring cleaning? Not sure where to start? Just ask God to reveal the areas in your life that are keeping you from moving forward with Him and He will begin the process of applying His ‘Undo’ to your heart and mind and you’ll be amazed how radiantly His light will shine through you!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Monday, March 30, 2009
I’m proud to claim that as of last week I am free from a personal addiction that has robbed me of numerous hours… Yoville on Facebook! My addiction began innocently just a few months ago as I was exploring the countless options on my Facebook homepage. I’ve come to love the community found in my new Facebook home as I have the opportunity to catch up with friends old and new as they give me a little glimpse into their day. We share about our families, our daily lives and even engage in the occasional pillow fight. So who would have thought that such a heinous trap would be lying in wait in the midst of all the fun?
For those of you who have steered clear of the Facebook phenomenon, let me tell you a little about the land of Yoville. Yoville is a virtual world where you can interact with people as you earn bright shiny YoCoins for participating in work, games and other activities. While striving to earn money and badges, you soon find that the virtual world is demanding time from your real world schedule. By the time you realize what has happened, it’s too late…you’re hooked!
I hope by now you realize that I say all of this very ‘tongue in cheek’ as I have purposely made this molehill into a mountain. But the point is still the same… whether its work, play, computers, addictions or just laziness, it is so easy to mess up the list of priorities in our lives. Can you relate to this? What things do you prioritize above those which are more important? Whatever it is that we do with our time each day, we need to do it for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God. So when I took a look at my day, I realized that I was doing this activity for me, not for Him. Perhaps you need to do a quick evaluation of how you are spending your time too. Allowing God to direct your day not only helps you get more accomplished but also produces more eternal fruit.
“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” Titus 3:14