Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trust

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:19-21 ESV)
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:30-33 ESV)
 The house is insanely quiet.  The kids are gone to the grandparents, and Troy still at work.  I'm finally getting around to wrapping presents and kicked all the furry kids out of the room.  Quiet...no tv, no radio.  Just me and a pile of gifts.
Gifts for family, gifts for friends.  Gifts which celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I find it completely amazing that after 38 Christmases, the story of Jesus' birth unfolds something new for me each year.  Born of a virgin, his first bed a cattle feeder.  A husband who trusted God enough to marry bride already with child.  A young mother who knew her difficult right of passage was the best for an entire world of people she didn't even know.  Mary and Joseph...they trusted God in the midst of circumstances they could have never imagined themselves in.  They trusted even though things weren't easy and the way they would have done things isn't how it was to unfold, God knew what was best.

I've spent quite a bit of time asking "Why, God?" and "Why not God?" lately.  Seems the straightest, easiest paths laid before my eyes are not those for which he has chosen me to pursue.  Yet through this He has taught me to have a stronger faith by keeping my eyes on him and not on the path ahead of me.

Today, I celebrate the precious season and the tiny king who gave us such a remarkable gift.  I also celebrate the growing faith he has placed in me to know I don't have to see the path ahead to know I'm going in the right direction.

May each of you have a blessed Christmas season, focused on the reason why we celebrate.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goodbye my friend

I really don't know where I am going with this post, except to say my heart is broken clean into.  Yesterday, we buried Elvis, Noah's cat that has aways had more personality than his body would hold.  A Pit Bull shook him to death in seconds underneath our trees.  Thankfully none of us were around to hear or see what happened. 

He added so much life to our family.  He belonged to both our son Noah, with whom Elivs fished and swam.  He also belonged to our cocker spaniel Jasmine, who slept by his side.  And yes, I was quite fond of him too.  More than I am willing to admit.

I held my eight-year-old son as he sobbed himself to sleep last night, and I sobbed right along with him.

And in the big scheme of life, this is just one more thing on the pile of disappointments and disasters that I've seemed to fall into lately.  Its seems the harder I try, the harder I fall.  As if I am climing up a hill of solid ice, gaining hold for only a second, then slipping farther down.

Yeah, I'm a bit discouraged right now.  However I am holding to a verse from John 16:33 NIV I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

We know the end of the story, and that is what is important.  Victory is ours.  While we let Satan get a hold of us and drag us down, we know who the winner of the battle will be. 

My friends, whatever trials and struggles are weighing you down today, take heart.  Jesus overcame this world, and we will too!  Please pray for me that I can be the example for my children of how to have victory in the storms of life.

Allow me to pray with you about your disappointments and concerns.  You may email me at taylorandnoahsmom@yahoo.com




Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writer's Block


Writer's Block.  For the past couple of weeks I've been wanting to get a post in this journal of mine, and yet nothing would come.  My posts usually come freely from things God has spoken to my heart.  My anxiety has grown daily because I haven't had that word to share.

Social media guidelines for blogging tell you to post regularly in order to encourage readership.  I've got to admit I watch my viewing numbers.  There's a little pride there to see a "following," but more importantly the opportunity to share my Jesus with others.  So when the posts get far between, I start to panic.  Am I not listening closely enough?

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.  Matthew 10:19 ESV

God boldly prepares us for the time to share our message.  Have you ever been afraid to share your faith with someone, afraid you won't have the words to say?  This verse from Matthew is that reminder in the appropriate time, we will have the words to share.

I also believe there are times he wants us to say nothing.  A hug, a smile, they speak to the heart in ways that words just won't reach sometimes.  Not only does he give us the ability to speak when called to do so, but the ability to know when silence will mean so much more.

And I dare not leave out the "in that hour" part.  We will have the words to speak when he is ready for us to do so...not every time I need to sit down and write to satisfy my heart's desire.  So until the spirit speaks to my heart again with a message to share, know that I am here, silently lifting each of you in prayer. 

I welcome your comments, notes of encouragement or prayer requests by commenting below or by email to taylorandnoahsmom@yahoo.com.  Thank you taking time to read and share this blog.  Pray for God's direction for this site and how it will be used to encourage others. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hummers


I sat mesmerized last night.  A storm blowing in, the breeze tickling my face.  A rare moment with no one around and I could slow down long enough to focus on the beauty around me.  A high-pitched chirp, then a buzz past my ear...a tiny hummingbird.  I call them my humbabies.  Four of them did what appeared to be a well choreographed dance around the feeder, pausing long enough to take a quick drink.  They darted into the trees.  The process repeated itself again and again.

This time of year my humbabies are extremely active.  I can't keep a feeder full of food.  Their tiny bodies tank up on the sweet nectar to help them fuel their nonstop, 18-22 hour journey across the Gulf.  Their main diet is insects, and nectar is the fuel that gives them energy to do their work.

These little creatures buzzed and swirled about, and in my mind all I could think about were how they, weighing less than one ounce,  could cross a great big ocean in the coming weeks.  It seems like such an impossible task.  But twice a year they do it.  I bet they don't have too many who complain because its too much work or too far to travel.


Matthew 6:26 (HCSB) Look at the birds of the sky: they don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they? 


Doesn't is seem sometimes like our challenges are greater than we can handle?  I've have stood many times, looking ahead with great fear at what seems like an impossible task placed before me, and reached my hands toward my heavenly father to say "I can't do this, its too hard."  In my back yard last night He reminded me with a beautiful song and dance that he has promised to take care of us every step of the way.  Just as he feeds my tiny humbabies and takes them safely across the Gulf, he will carry us across our ocean waves too. 

 
Humbabies, have a safe journey.  Thank you for that gentle reminder that we can do all things because we have a God who takes care of us.  The impossible becomes the possible when God is behind it.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An amazing journey

I've tried to not let my work life spill over into my personal blog, but today I am making an exception.  Today marks my four year anniversary with the American Cancer Society.  The past four years have shaped me in so many ways.  This is not a job, its the purpose in my life to which I have been called. Here's just a few of the lessons I have learned.

  • You can't control everything.  This detailed, type A kind of girl quickly learned that when your great plans don't work, fly by the seat of your pants and pray.  Outdoor events rely more on prayer than plans!  So should the rest of our life.
  • Being up all night can be tremendously rewarding.  Those silly games at 3 a.m. have left tons of memories, and laughing during crazy ice breakers have melted a glacier's worth of stress.  Driving home at 7 a.m. while fighting to say awake have yielded some of my best heart to hearts with God.
  • Cancer doesn't discriminate by race, age, or social status.  Losing volunteers to the disease for which we stood together and fought against has been one of the hardest parts of this journey.  Seeing loved ones make a survivor lap at Relay for the first time, one of the most rewarding.
  • Birthdays are a BIG reason to celebrate!  Every birthday is a precious opportunity to enjoy another year with family and friends.  I will never take another birthday for granted or complain about the number of candles on my cake.  Bring them on!
  • When you are juggling to many balls, don't forget to ask for help.  There is always a friend nearby willing to share the load.
I want to say a special thank you to the volunteers with which I have had the privilege to serve beside during the past four years.  Your dedication to this mission never ceases to amaze me!  Through wind and rain, scorching heat or family crisis, you are there. You've given vacation days and family time to help give to others.  I'm glad to have shared the journey with each of you.


Until we are able to find the cure...here's to the fight!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feeling Inadequate

The first week back to school. Maybe its trying to get back into routine. Maybe is the mounting tasks of year end with my job. Maybe its that way-to-deeply ingrained need for perfection. Maybe its just me.

I've just felt so inadequate this week. Unable to get things where I wanted them, insecure about things to come. Not qualified for the challenges I must face.

Sometimes its not learning something new, its being reminded of something you already are. This morning, God took me back to Jeremiah 1, which details a conversation between God and Jeremiah. Jeremiah is feeling inadequate to accomplish the tasks he has been called to do. He makes excuses, and each time, God tells him he has that taken care of and he already has provided. He has called him for great things and has provided the tools Jeremiah needs.

Borrowing from my 1/1 post, here are the three "resolutions" God gave me this year:

1. Trust: If you will listen and follow...I will take care of you.
2. Don't make excuses: I have taken care of you...see resolution number 1.
3. Sew seeds with no fear. I have prepared you. You are more than adequate for the tasks I give you.

Let us go forth today boldly accepting the challenges we will face.  We are prepared!

May I pray for you today and for your personal challenges?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Win Free Tickets to Women of Faith Conference, Atlanta, GA, August 12-13

Hey Ladies...how would you like the opportunity to see Laura Story, Angie Smith, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Lisa Harper and Natalie Grant live and worship with thousands of other women this weekend in Atlanta? You can win two tickets to the Women of Faith Event this weekend in Atlanta, GA, by simply commenting below on why you would like to attend, and liking this entry on your Facebook page. Winner will be announced Tuesday evening and selected by random number draw. 

If you have never attended an event like this, I can promise it will be one you will never forget. Check out the lineup at http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/2011-events/atlanta/

Tickets are for the event only and do not include hotel or transportation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Successful Life

Twenty years.  It seems almost impossible that time has passed quickly enough to have put 20 years between my high school years and today.   The cover of the yearbook quickly confirms my speculation.  Inside, countless photos of wide-eyed youth ready to tackle the world head on.  This one?  Yes, that's me.  Giles County High School Class of 1991.  Salutatorian, Most Likely to Succeed. It was an honor to be recognized as such by my classmates. 

So as the notice of our upcoming class reunion came, I began to get a bit nervous.  Most Likely to Succeed...what would my classmates say about my life?  I had always looked at that title and thought about rocket scientists or a super star.  I am neither.  Just a small town gal working for a non-profit.  Gardening and playing Mrs. Fixit on our 2.5 acre country "estate".  Frazzled mom and wife who lets the laundry get out of control on a regular basis.

Some view success as a big bank account or the attainment of a successful career. Actors, doctors, lawyers, sports professionals.  They all are icons of "success" in today's world.

Have I been successful?  As I drove home pondering I got my answer.  Well actually more of a challenge.   Success is not based on whether or not I obtain that post doctorate degree or write that best seller novel.  Its to live out to perfection the life God intended me to have.

Wow!  Maybe I am supposed to be that frazzled, not so perfect wife and mother who has a mission to share hope with others.

Psalms 139 lays out so beautifully this concept.  God created every part of us, and no matter where we are in this world, he knows our every thought.  He laid out a plan for our lives, every move, every thought, before we were ever born.  True success is living out God's PERFECT plan for our lives.  Rocket scientist or rocking mama.

I think the hardest part for me is staying on the path and knowing I am there.  Blessed with multi-talents and the desire to try just about anything once, staying focused is so hard.  Getting a "no" or not getting a "yes" when the enticing next adventure comes along is frustrating.  Knowing that trials and hard times, they are a part of the plan, sometimes its a bit hard to accept. 

So how do we know we're living out our perfect life?  It's all about that personal relationship and having the communication level to hear what he has to say about the decisions we make, big and small.

Yes I will be at my class reunion, and yes I will hold my head proud.  I have been incredibly blessed with a beautiful family, a roof over my head, and a job where I get to help people every day.  I've accepted the challenge of seeking the great path of success, and I hope you will too.

How do you seek the perfect path for your life? How do you stay focused on walking the path he has created for you? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Most Important Parenting Book You Will Ever Read

I didn't do a very good job of holding back the tears as we prayed over our daughter before she left to go on her first mission trip.  My little one going out into the big world.  This week has turned yet another page in the life of our family.

The times of trying to figure out which way to swaddle my babies to comfort them is over, however their need for my comforting words is just beginning.  My time of preparing their food and lovingly placing each bite into their mouth is over, but my ability to feed them and help them grow into adults equipped to handle the great big world is not.  I'm not talking about that huge home cooked meal I fixed to welcome my girl home either.  There will be plenty of those at this house too.

Questions have become harder.  No longer are inquiries as simple as "Why is the sky blue?" but ones requiring more thought, the answers much more important.  This week, my youngest asked me why Christians still do bad things, and are they really a Christian...will they go to heaven?  In a moment that stoods still in time, I realized the weight of the answer I had to give.  What an amazing opportunity to remind my child of God's amazing grace that covers our sins, big and small.

 This week my oldest was able to witness to others.  Her group led one lady to Christ, and yet another turned away.  The incredible joy of witnessing the birth of a new Christian, and the defeat of losing the battle in the same week.  My answer for her on why that lady wouldn't hear...a careful one.  A reminder God calls us to share the gospel, and not all will listen.  Yet she may not realize what kind of seed was planted for a future time when God will put yet another warrior in that lady's path.  A reminder of prayer for that lost soul and for the many others we encounter every day.

Its a joy to see my children growing in their faith, but it has also reminded me of the awesome responsibility I have as a parent in their spiritual growth.  I'm so thankful for the moments that God tests my knowledge through my children.  Its that gentle nudge that even though life may be crazy busy, I have to continue to grow myself.

The best parenting book? God's word.  Its advice for heartaches, prayers for the future, joy for his blessings.  Don't stop learning because moms and dads, its not just our lives at stake here, its our little ones too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Lost Lamb

This week marked three months since the day a beautiful young lady disappeared into the woods near her home.  Volunteers numbering the population of the small town in which she lives have fervently combed the area looking for clues to her mysterious disappearance.  Pink ribbons adorn almost every business and home in the community.

A few weeks ago I traveled with her church on a ladies weekend.  The bus was decorated with pink in Holly's honor.  Each woman wore a pink ribbon with an H sticker.  Each time we took a break while traveling, we passed out flyers in the hope someone might recognize her face.  I know each of them prays daily for her safe return.

Their commitment to find this precious child left such an impression on my heart.  No matter how long it takes, they will continue the fight.  Its such an example of our Father God, who seeks his lost lambs with such diligence too.  He never gives up!  No matter how dark of a life we lead, and how far away we travel, he doesn't give up the fight for us.

Today I write this for Holly and the thousands of missing children across our nation.  Please pray for her, that she will be able to come home to her family.  And pray for her family, that they might have strength to continue in the fight.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (The Message)
10-11This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gardening

An early summer morning.  The dew is still on the ground, and the sun is peaking over the horizon.  Its time to invest in our summertime hobby, gardening.  There's a great satisfaction that comes from working with your hands and seeing the fruits (vegetables) of your labor. 

Gardening is work.  We invest a great deal of time and energy into our garden each year.  The soil must be fertilized and tilled.  It requires water.  Sometimes we have to remove the pests and diseases that attack our plants.  Then there are the weeds.  But in the end, there is the harvest.

Today, hoe in hand, I was working on the weeds.  One by one I chopped and pulled at each offender.  They had to go.  Why?  Aside from the eyesore they create, they can stress or choke out our good plants so we will have no harvest.

As I stood there, I realized we have weeds in our lives too.  Overindulgence, lack of commitment, a slack prayer life, lying, cheating, the list rolled on. 

What do the weeds do in our lives?  They make it hard for us to grow.  They choke out the fruits of our labor.  How hard is it for someone to see your witness with all the "weeds" in the way?  We lose our ability to grow fruit and harvest.

I'm reminded of Matthew 13 where Jesus spoke about gardening.  Some seeds fell on land not fit for planting, and they were eaten by the birds.  Some were planted too shallow and scorched in the sun.  Some were planted among weeds and the weeds took over and choked them out.  But the ones planted in good soil brought forth fruit, multiplied fruit.

Weeding a garden is a hard job.  It takes hours of time, lots of sweat and labor.  It seems by the time you get a spot weeded, here they grow again. 


The weeds of our lives are that way too.  They are often not easy to get rid of.  Sometimes they have deeper roots and stronger structure than the good things in our lives.  Sometimes they appear to be beautiful things, like morning glories or thistles.  But in the end, they have to go.  They have to go so we can multiply and be the person God intended us to be.  Only then will be see the true fruits of our labor.

What weeds do you have in your life that are choking out your harvest?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A goodie for you

Incorage.me has a beautiful wallpaper calendar that I wanted to share with you:

http://www.incourage.me/2011/07/julys-desktop-wallpaper-is-now-available.html

If you aren't familiar with the site, take a look around.  Its a great site full of encouraging words.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding your Sabbaths

I attended the last Deeper Still conference in Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend.  In two days time my empty, poured out soul was filled to overflowing, and God had spoken directly to my heart.  A coliseum of 8,000 people and an impressive sound system.  God made sure I heard his message, and that I had plenty of witnesses. 

You can expect to hear more about my time with Kay Arthur and Beth Moore.  Today I want to share my session with Priscilla Shirer.  In that huge place of 8,000, God had his finger pointing directly at me.

Priscilla shared a message from Exodus 16 and Deuteronomy 5 about the importance of "sabbaths" in our lives. 

Deuteronomy 5
12 Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. 

Exodus 16
16 This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. 19 Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.
The Sabbath Observed
 22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”  27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 

Priscilla's message did not address taking a single day of the week to rest, but instead she spoke about finding "sabbaths" in our lives.  Things that we can cease for a while then return to at a given time after a period of rest.

  • Anything we are given by God to enjoy we are to enjoy with boundaries.  
  • The sabbath is a gift of a break.  It comes from the Hebrew word meaning "to cease." 
  • We need to leave room in our lives for the one who created us. 
  • Learn to recognize ENOUGH.
  • We often find ourselves not able to enjoy everything we have because we have too much of everything.  Think about it...your closet, your cabinets?  Ever been frustrated looking for something you know you have but can't find.  "Its in there somewhere."
  • On the sixth day, he gave a double portion.  This teaches trust.  We think we need to work harder, accumulate more.  We fear not having a storehouse because there will be lean times.  Did he not provide on the "sabbath" for the Israelites?  Does he not provide for the birds of the air and the fish of the sea?
  • Remember who we were, slaves.  Slaves are dominated by stuff.  Slaves hoard, free people give freely.
  • Free people can willingly make themselves cease
  • The sabbath is our time to reflect in what God has done for us in our lives.  If we don't defer to him, we don't recognize his Soverign position as Lord.
How many times have we found ourselves trying to work so much harder on a project, frustrated?  It seemed the harder we worked and the longer we worked, the more we struggled. 

How many times have we found ourselves rushing through things like the kids ball games, and even our time at church, and not enjoying it because there was always something to do next? 

Priscilla spoke of our tendency to make exaustion a pillar in our lives and that our children, when asked what they want to be when the grow up, should not answer, "tired."

Ever tried to "outwork God?"  I certainly have.  Suceeded it it?  Don't think so.

Take a look at what happens to the excess manna the Israelites stored that they were told not to...it became wormy and foul.  Perhaps that job we don't enjoy anymore, or that house that never seems to get clean are places in our lives that reflect where we have tried to "outwork" God.

A day is equal to 14 percent of a week.  Our challenge was to find 14 minutes a day to pause and reflect on our soverign God and to ask for opportunities to see the areas we need a sabbath.  She also challenged us to clean 14 inches of space in our homes twice each week...meaning clearing it of excess.

God promises us freedom.  He wants us to enjoy the gifts he gives us and to remember the one who gave them. We are his children, and he takes great care of us when we let him.  Take time this week to ask God where you can use a "sabbath" and cherish his answer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Birthday Message

Philippians 1:18 (The Message)
 And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done.

Birthdays, time to celebrate.  Its not about birthday balloons and party hats.  Its not about the cake.  And its certainly not about the wrinkles or gray hairs that magically appear. Its a celebration, because we know how the end of the story turns out.

I had planned to take some time on my birthday to blog the important events in the past year of my life.  My quiet time this morning lead me to Philippians 1 in the Message Bible.  A verse about celebration, and a verse that sums up the work of God in my life the past year.

Attitude is important.  In the midst of great trial, Paul and Timothy take time to reflect on the great work done in Philippi instead of getting eaten up with their current circumstances.  Its really easy to get wrapped up in the things going wrong in our lives and not focusing on what is going right.  Insignificant trials cause us to lose focus of blessings, and more importantly, the fact we know victory is at the end.  Our attitude not only helps us survive the trials, its an example to others.  We can choose to rise above or wallow within.

Love one another.  We weren't put on earth for our benefit, and the world does not revolve around our lives.  We are part of God's plan, to share his love.  I know he has called me boldly to this task and I treasure the opportunity he has given me to share his work in my life through my writing.  Its humbling to see more than 1,000 visits to my little site from countries all across the world, and to have the opportunity to have one of my posts picked up by a national Christian company's blog site.  I pray he will continue to strengthen my role in sharing the message of his love.

Be content in your circumstances.  Paul and Timothy used their time in prison to win souls.  More times than not, we find ourselves in a place we don't want to be.  We have to realize that sometimes that's exactly where God needs us to be, and we can be prosperous there.  God's plan for our lives takes us to places that challenge us to reach higher, look farther and conquer greater mountains that we would ever do if we set our own goals in life.

The Power of Encouragement.  Words aren't just random letters on a page.  They are purposefully chosen for their meaning.  They have the power to alter history, to change a person's life forever.  Its the prayers and the response of the people that give Paul and Timothy the will continue, fruitfully and full of vigor, in spite of everything around them.  We need the encouragement of others to do our best work, and even more importantly, we need to be encouragers to those around us.  Imagine the world full of encouragers and the power we would have against whatever obstacles we face!

The End.  Life is hard.  We are constantly at war every day against things that want to tear us down.  But we know something they don't...that the battle has been won, and even if its hard and long, we will be victorious!

Not for one minute do I take my time on this earth for granted.  Each birthday is special, a gift from God, to celebrate with ones I love.  Now where's that birthday cake?


 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why God? Seeing A Greater Plan

A prayer, prayed fervently.
A prayer, prayed consistently.
A prayer prayed daily
A prayer, prayed with faith.
A prayer, seemingly unanswered.  Why?

Why God?  Why, when prayers are prayed with an open heart and a soul poured out with all sincerity, do prayers go unanswered?  Every day we take to our knees to pray fervently, consistently, with faith and determination for lost family members, healing for a special friend, for that much needed answer to the perplexing factor in the middle of our lives.  We stand, waiting for that great lightning strike to fix it in an instant, and yet it comes not or so it seems.


I've been asking the "Why God?" question myself.  Praying for a need, and yet the only answer is "just wait."  I wanted to share with you the words to a song I have been hearing.  Laura Story's "Blessings."  It was a great reminder to me this week that not only does God hear every desire of my heart, he also knows what is best for me.  He knows when my ask for "lesser things" needs to remain unacknowledged, just like my son's plea for candy in the check out line at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the best for us is a prayer that goes unanswered in our eyes, the heartache of the wait, and the darkness along the way. Sometimes it is answered in a course of action that is different than our desires and yielding an even better outcome.

Laura Story's "Blessings"
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things


(Chorus)
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Parenting Advice from the Cross

John 3:16 (New International Version, ©2011) 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. 

6:40 a.m.  Down the driveway they go, gobbled up by the big yellow bus.  I pray each morning as they pull away that God will protect my most precious possessions. No mother forgets what it takes to bring a child into this world, and they certainly don't forget the amazing moment when you meet that precious gift for the first time.

As Easter approaches, we take time to reflect on the sacrifice made for us at the cross.  Seeing that sacrifice from the eyes of a parent has given it new meaning for me.

My oldest is a drama queen to the most literal of terms.  She loves the crowd, and seems as though she never breaks a sweat performing in front of them.  My knees shake thinking about doing something like that!  I think of her in front of the crowd.  Its all I can do to watch, praying she does well and the crowd loves her.  But what if she were standing there, her life in their hands, being made a mockery?  What if people were hurting her, making her bleed.  Could I watch then?

My little guy whose growing like weeds in my garden grabs my leg in a wrestler-like hug.  He's always loved his momma.  That snaggle-tooth grin and big blue eyes melt my heart every time.  Could I watch him bleed and die for the sins of others?  Others who could care less about the greatest gift on earth, given free to them?

As parents we make many sacrifices.  We put our desires behind those of our children.  We protect our young against the world and all it has to offer.  We make sure these precious possessions are taken care of even if we ourselves are not.  We would take the place of our babies if we could to keep them from having to suffer.

Parenting is not easy.  God charges us with the responsibility of training up a child in the way he should go...all while learning to be that Christlike child ourselves.  Its the scariest thing in the world to me, to know that its my responsibility to make sure these little ones are cared for.  And as they grow, parenting becomes more than changing diapers and feeding a bottle.

Yesterday I was taught yet another lesson about parenting from the example of the cross.  The power of letting your children go, to live out their destiny.

Matthew 27 paints a vivid picture of the moment when Jesus died.  The temple curtain was torn, rocks fell.  There was a great earthquake.  God could have very easily taken Jesus out of there, unharmed.  But he didn't.  I can only imagine the grief my God must have felt as he watched his son carry out the painful and humiliating destiny that would change history, because he knew it was the best thing to do.

Our children may not have to die at the hand of others, but they will endure pain.  They will make mistakes, stumble and sometimes fall.  We'll watch helpless as they face situations beyond their control, the life changing situations that ultimately make us who we are.  Our destiny.  But the best parents know you have to let go, even if it hurts.  We can't take the world away from them, we have to teach them to fly in it.

Praying for my friends today who are doing just that.  God bless!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rest

Psalm 62:1-2 NIV

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
   my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.


Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.


I'm a busybody.  It is not my nature to sit still.  And waiting...oh...I don't do that very well either.  I've got to be doing something, always.

Today, God reminded me why the Bible is filled with all sorts of references to rest.  Because we are supposed to ACTUALLY DO IT!

Two twelve hour work days (plus mom duties) into the week, my voice was rather froggy, and my spunk withering.  No need to let a little allergy issue slow me down though.  After all, I managed to make the weekend go pretty well thanks to dramamine.  My to do list was made for days 3-5.  Even if it read like a novel, I could do it.

Then I got up today.  Not even a squeak.  No audible sound would come from my mouth.  By the time I got the kids and hubby out the door, I was fading fast.  Two hours later I had visited my local walk-in clinic and was anxiously awaiting my sinus shot to kick in.  Two hours after that...back at doctor with one of the kids.  My day was spent watching my phone blow up with calls I couldn't return if I wanted to and waiting.  At 3 p.m. I threw in the towel and took a nap (outside in my beach chair-I guess I was wishing). 

Writing was the last thing on my mind today, but as I laid there, he put a message on my heart.  "Rest my daughter.  It is good for you."

Why do we need rest?  The body requires it, to refresh and rejuvenate.  Its essential for a healthy body.  That body that is our temple remember? 

Its also essential for our spiritual health.  Think about it.  When do your best talks with God come,  those heart to heart conversations that refresh our souls and quench our thirsty spirits?  Are they during quiet, restful times or during the insane rat race?  How did Jesus pray?  It wasn't driving down the road trying to get to ball practice on time while running the grocery list in his head.  He went off alone and focused on the task at hand.

The dictionary includes "peace of mind" and "free from anxieties" in its definitions of rest.   Who couldn't use that?

I know without a doubt my God sometimes slows me down on purpose.  Today, it was waiting in a doctors office...and having to listen because I could not speak.  (I'm sure I will comments if I say I need to close my mouth more often.)  Two and a half years ago it was major surgery with six weeks of recouperation.  That time changed my relationship by allowing me clearly hear the voice of my father who loves me and speaks to me every day, when I take the time to listen. 

So in spite of my desire to go and load the washer one more time...and put away the pile on the counter, I am going to do what I was commanded to do today...rest.  Good night all!




Monday, April 11, 2011

Have Fun

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT

These verses spoke to me so loudly this morning!  18 days.  That's all that are left until its showtime.  Another bout with vertigo in a time when I don't need to slow down has left me in a state of panic.  I can't get sick...I can't function with ringing ears and a dizzy head.  How will it all get done?

My husband can come home after a hard day, flick on the television, and get lost in the screen. He can drop in the middle of a busy day for a 15 minute nap, or go outside and just meander around. It frustrates me! Why...because I am a doerIf there is a project to complete anywhere in sight (sometimes not in sight) it calls my name. On top of being a doer, add perfectionist.

I've been with people time after time who are worried things aren't going right, or get overwhelmed with their position. I tell them it will all be fine, and to have fun with this. If you can't have fun, then its not what you need to be doing.  Have I stopped to take my own advice?

Its the busiest time of the year for me...kind of like Christmas for Macy's.  Projects don't get finished, and the work never ends.  Long hours, let downs, things that don't go right...they all weigh on my shoulders.  Not being able to go far enough or last long enough tugs at my heart.

I've let the hard work overwhelm me, and I've forgotten to have fun.  Fun with the family, to escape the pressures.  Fun with my friends who remind me how blessed I truly am.  Fun with my volunteers who are so precious and give back to me in ways they never will fully know.  In the end, only a bride knows what didn't go perfect at her wedding, and so it will be with these five amazing events.  When all is said and done, it will be a beautiful day, full of celebration.  And it will be fun.

Hard work, its a given.  But don't forget to have fun along the way!  Here's to a great week.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simplify

No verses to go with this one.  Just a simple request to join me in prayer.  At the beginning of the year, K-Love put out the challenge to listeners to choose one word that you would work on during this next year to improve your life.  I immediately knew the battle I had been called to face, but not the word.  So, three full months into the year, I have my word.  SIMPLIFY

Its not an easy word, and the mere mention of it makes me nervous.  Simplify...You see, I am a type A perfectionist.  And I happen to be one of those people who has many interests and enjoys multitasking. 

So how did I get here in the first place?  I've just not been feeling very useful lately as a Christian, and I had been praying for God to show me where he could use me.  Instead, God has told me enough is enough...in order to live the life He wants me to live, I'm going to have to let go, simplify. Not the answer for which I was seeking.

I started praying January 1 for the revelation of where to simplify.  So far, I'm not doing very well.  I've let go of only one thing only and took on another.  Even with the one sport, church and one other activity rule in our house with the kids, its a monumental task.  Especially when both parents travel and we don't have family here...except for one amazing extra "mama" who we couldn't live without and a best friend who listens to me melt.  I don't punch a time clock, and the work never gets finished each day...I just have to finally quit working.  Learning to draw the line in the sand is very hard for me.

Cooking?  Its therapy.  Writing?  That too...even if I may be the only one who reads it.  Spending time with family...priceless.  I do okay with the kids, but I find myself exhausted by the time Troy and I get that valuable alone time.  Date nights?  Yes, we need to do that more often (or do them period-can't remember the last one), but by the time I arrange a sitter and find an available night, I find myself overwhelmed once again.  I've been strongly convicted about this lately.  I've often heard the first years of marriage are the hardest...I think they come later when couples let "stuff" get in the way and don't spend time together. 

So in my mind, I can't get past my "stuff".  After three months, I can't see much difference.  I'm still treading water and praying.  Why would I be called to simplify and not seem to be working toward a solution? 

He has told me simplify won't be just giving things up, it may be rethinking tasks, like letting Betty Crocker do part of the work, or teaching the kids (and demanding) they do more chores.    Simplify may mean letting go of perfectionism and learning the art of delegation. Three months isn't much time to change habits that are this strong, I guess.

 So today, I ask for your prayers as I try to accomplish the hardest thing I have ever been asked to do, to simplify.  And I am looking for some verses I can claim and pray when things get hard and I feel discouraged.  For those of you reading this and saying "I'm there," don't give up.  We will have victory, and think of how sweet it will be when we can see the next great task God has in store for us.  Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving of Our Time

Galatians 6:9-10
So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work  for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

     My greatest experience with the weariness, and joy of these verses came as a two-year-old Sunday School teacher. The attention span of a preschooler is about one minute per year of age, so trying to figure out if you actually taught anything in those two minutes is a miracle in itself. But there was one Sunday God showed me what a difference my time was making. A young little guy, who came on the church bus, had hardly said anything during the weeks before. As all the toddlers moved about, playing happily, he pointed to a picture on the wall and said "Jesus." My heart jumped inside my chest. JESUS...he knew the man in the picture was JESUS. Weeks of anxiety and the stress of wrestling toddlers, spending more time cleaning up toys than actually teaching or so it seemed, melted away with the sweetest name on earth...JESUS.
     Every day I am blessed to work with hundreds of volunteers. Whether its a church volunteer position or another organization, volunteering has its ups and downs. We all grow weary from time to time and wonder if we are really making a difference. A few quick notes:
  • The verses preceeding these command us to carry each others burdens...in other words to help others. God calls us to volunteer!
  • Listen to God's call regarding where you are to serve. Not everyone was called to a leadership position. Ask for guidance on where he wants you to serve.
  • God first, family second, church third, then everyone else. He expects us to have an intimate relationship with him. He expects us to take care of our family. Then other things fall into place. Don't let your volunteering stand in the way of number one and number two on this list, instead let it enhance those relationships.
  • Some people are natural "volunteers" and have the gift of service. Some are not and have to work at it. Some people are just waiting to be asked to volunteer. If you lead an organization, don't wait on volunteers or depend on those who say they will serve, seek opportunities to involve new people...and ask. If a "no" could kill you, I would have been dead a long time ago!
  • Don't ever serve out of obligation. I've done it...stayed in a position too long, or served because no one else would take the role. Not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to others. The right person may not be in a leadership position because you are still there. You may be missing a blessing because the role in which you were intended to serve is not being filled because you won't let go of the one you are in.
  • Do not be weary in well doing. This is my favorite part of these verses during Relay Season. One day we will find the cure for cancer...and all the hard work and long hours will be worth it. One day we will be standing in heaven, looking around at smiling faces we served here on earth. Don't give up!
  • Serving others is not easy. People will let you down. You won't be recognized for your effort. You'll spend time wondering if it is all worth it. However its our duty, and our master set a great example for us. He came to this earth, suffered and died for us. As hard as serving others may seem at times, we're not called to sacrifice our lives.
  • If you happen to be one of my volunteers reading this...thank you so much!  I may not say it enough, but I thank God for each of you and the work you do.  I am blessed to serve with amazing people.
     Verse 9 reminds us we will reap at the proper time. Serving/volunteering has its rewards. One day we'll see the true fruits of our labors. Until then, we'll get gentle reminders...a young child speaking the name of Jesus, singing "Happy Birthday" to a cancer survivor knowing they have been gifted with another year, seeing a life become a child of Christ because you took the time to take them to church.
     May God lead you today to blessed service opportunities and show you the rewards of your time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayer Whimp or Prayer Warrior?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)

A great message from my pastor in his devotional yesterday morning about prayer. These verses tell us that if we ask, it will be given, and if we seek, we shall find.  In his message, he goes on to say if we aren't getting answers, we should pray even harder!  Jesus prayed until he sweated drops of blood.
I've been praying about something for an extended period of time.  I know its not a selfish prayer.  But I've prayed and I've prayed, and yet the doors I thought should lead to the path I was seeking keep closing in front of me.  I know its a prayer he will answer in time...but how long?

Reading these verses yesterday, I realized what a prayer whimp I am.  I've asked God to make things happen, but I am afraid if I tell him I REALLY want it, and its not his will, it will be a disaster.  So I haven't asked for it outright, face on the floor.  I've want it in my terms, fearing what his would mean. 

God never puts us in a situation that isn't for our best, and he never puts us through things that we can't endure, while we shape and mold into the end result of what he wants us to be.    

So thank you Pastor for reminding me not to fear asking God for the desires of my heart, and for reminding me he does answer.  Prayer warrior, face on the floor, asking without reservation for his will in my life...not being afraid to handle it...and reaping the glorious rewards he promises those who obey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Exodous 33

Exodous 33
19 The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh,2021 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen. before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” ”

I had a good laugh reading this chapter.  Moses is preparing to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God plainly tells Moses he will not go with them because they are stubborn and rebellious, and he will surely kill them along the way.  Wow!  Its a wonder many of us today are still alive too...

Moses then asks God that if he will not go with them to show his presence.  God tells him to go to a rock and stand, and as he passes by, he places Moses in the crevice of the rock and covers him with his hand.  After he passes, he lets him see his back, for no one can stand to look upon his face.

I immediately thought to those dark times in my life.  God protected Moses by placing him between rocks!  How many times have we found ourselves between a rock and a hard place, afterward knowing it was for the best as God's plan was revealed?  Moses saw his glory afterward...so often do we.  But Moses was protected by God's hand.  Our Father stretches out his hand and covers us when we need it most.

God loves us, as stubborn and rebellious as we are.  He takes care of us, even in our own wilderness.  He is so magnificent we cannot even stand to look at him face to face.  Almighty God!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This is the stuff

There's a blog coming about God's burden on my heart to "Get it Together."  About six months ago, he revealed me it was time to stop just going through the motions of life and to do a better job of taking care of myself and my family.  Giving my best by taking care of the top priorities with which I have been entrusted at 110 percent and weeding out what doesn't have to be there.  Learning to let him guide me with prioritizing my life and trusting him to help me to let go.

You know, things were going pretty well for a while.  I was seeing progress.  I was less stressed, taking more quality time for me and with my family.  Fast forward to two weeks ago.   My seasonal job (full time all year, overdrive in the spring) has kicked in full force.  So has basketball, 4-H, band, Hee Haw, church activities...Vertigo from a sinus infection, has left me feeling like I'm spinning just a bit faster than everyone else.  I have been just getting through the day, and the responsibilities piling higher and higher in the process.

A last minute school project in the mist of an insane week finally sent me over the edge. Why, when I was trying so hard, were things spinning out of control, again?

This morning I was blessed to hear Francesca Battistelli's new song "This Is The Stuff."   I laughed, and I cried at the lyrics.  Sometimes the "stuff" gets overwhelming in our lives, no matter how hard we try.  But the big lesson for me was not that "stuff" happens and its okay, it was the realization that in the midst of all the "stuff," my kids are watching my actions.  When the "stuff gets under my skin", they are observing my attitude.  I have the choice to let it get to me, or I can choose to show them how to gracefully handle the "stuff" that can drive you crazy.  To pray for God's direction in how to handle the situation, and the ability let go and let God lead. 

"Stuff" will happen.  "Stuff" is a byproduct of a fully blessed life.  Its how we handle the "stuff" that we are given that matters. 

Here's the lyrics to Francesca's song...I bet you too can relate!

I lost my keys in
the great unknown
And call me please 'Cuz I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
 

This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

45 in a 35

Sirens and fines while I'm running behind

This is the stuff that drives me crazy

This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed

This is the stuff that gets under my skin

But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff
Someone save me
 

In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
 

This is the stuff that gets under my skin
And I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing

It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The Call of Jeremiah
 4 The word of the LORD came to me:    5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
    I set you apart before you were born.
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations. 

    6 But I protested, "Oh no, Lord GOD ! Look, I don't know how to speak since I am [only] a youth." 
    7 Then the LORD said to me:
    Do not say: I am [only] a youth,
    for you will go to everyone I send you to
    and speak whatever I tell you. 

    8 Do not be afraid of anyone,
    for I will be with you to deliver you.
          [This is] the LORD's declaration.

    9 Then the LORD reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me:
    Look, I have filled your mouth with My words.

    10 See, today I have set you
    over nations and kingdoms
    to uproot and tear down,
    to destroy and demolish,
    to build and plant.



January 1, 2011...its a new year.  A time when it seems we all take a look at our lives and decide to make a fresh start.  We make "resolutions" to do things differently.  


No children around, and husband still in bed, I sat down at my computer this morning.  I enjoy reading my Bible online.  (New Year's Resolution #1...this doesn't happen enough).  I look at a passage in two or three different translations because they usually speak to me in different ways.


God has laid on my heart to study Jeremiah.  Ten verses in, his message to me was clear.  Its God, having a conversation with Jeremiah.  Jeremiah feeling like I do so often...feeling inadequate to accomplish the tasks he has been called to do.  Jeremiah makes excuses, and each time, God tells him he has that taken care of and that he already has provided.  He has called him for great things and has provided the tools Jeremiah needs. 


I have made resolutions for myself this year.  I want to lose the rest of the weight I started working on last year.  I want to give more dedicated time to my family.  I want to be more involved in my community.  I want to be more organized and less cluttered.  I want to excel in my career.  On this first day of 2011, God rearranged my resolutions and gave me these as my most important:


  1. Trust:  If you will listen and follow...I will take care of you.
  2. Don't make excuses:  I have taken care of you...see resolution number 1.
  3. Sew seeds with no fear.  I have prepared you.  You are more than adequate for the tasks I give you.
Whatever God calls us to do this year, know that we are equipped and enabled.  Happy New Year!