Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013

I've always been a planner.  I found my love for event planning in high school, and for the past 20 years I've had the privilege to work and volunteer with so many different events.  Making the list, putting the pieces together, promoting, then sitting back and watching the activity unfold...I love the process. 

When you plan, you have expectations.  Good planning means also planning for the unexpected, thinking through all the what if's and making a plan to take care of them so your events run smoothly.

I guess it is only natural to let something like that spill over into my personal life.  I like to plan it out too.  My husband gets so upset with me sometimes for "over thinking" things.  I like my list, and I like my road map. 

I've been thinking about this subject a lot the past few days.  As 2013 comes to an end, I have to tell you it was one of the toughest years of my life.  It wasn't tragedy, misfortune or illness that makes this year stand out. It was the battle of self control.

I wrestled with God over control of my life for a long time.  In September 2012, I surrendered to God's call to let him lead.  Immediately a huge burden was lifted off my heart, and how I expected the pieces of my puzzle to fall into place because I had made this ultimate decision.  I realize now that was just the start of the learning process he had planned for me.  Self does not die easily...especially in my hard headed, unyielding world.

2013 has been a wrestling match.  I've fought,and I've worried.  But I sit here right now looking back on months of bumpy roads, in situations where I could do nothing but look up...and see how every need, and some incredibly special wish list items, were filled...all without my help.  His provision has been simply amazing.  The delights of my heart he has given on top miraculous.  I'm awestruck at his goodness and mercy.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Part of the life verses I claimed many years ago, the last verse sums up my 2013...the importance of seeking with ALL your heart.

Make a commitment in 2014 to give him ALL of you.  He gave ALL for us, does he not deserve it? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Message


Have you ever had one of those moments, where you have seen something a million times, but you finally "got it?" It happened to me last weekend watching the story of Christmas.

The ending of two insanely busy weeks, I had an opportunity to be a part of our church Christmas musical.  Music was just the thing I needed to let me take a deep breath and get in the mood for the holiday season.  I didn't realize I also needed a fresh message from something I had heard a million times before.

Mary delivered our precious Savior in a stable, tired, surrounded by animals...yes, I've heard it before.  Spotlight shining on her alone, as part of a monologue, the beautiful young lady playing Mary said, "I did the best I could."

"I did the best I could."  The perfectionist inside cried aloud, "I did the best I could."  The most perfect thing that happened on this earth was carried out with an unwed teenage mother, in a stable far from home, who did the best she could.

God brought his son not into perfection, but into a home of love and a home of obedience.   They were doing the best they could.  That is what he asks of us.

We want to pride ourselves on our lives and boast of our success.  Other times we want to cower in defeat over circumstances that we can't change or that live in our past.

God is not looking for perfection, he's looking for a willingness to serve and a humbleness that can take on the imperfections and turn them for his Glory.  Who among us is not able to do that.

Father, thank you for sending your son into this world to save us and to set an example of how we can live our lives for your glory.  Remind us this Christmas, as the presents are passed and the days are filled with activity, to focus on the reason we celebrate.  Thank you loving us enough to not only forgive our imperfections, but to embrace them and use them for your glory.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writing our Story

Its no secret I am a Laura Story fan.  A last minute opportunity to see her last weekend in concert was just what my heart needed.  I guess I should mention she was with Stephen Curtis Chapman, and to hear the two of them sing "Blessings" together is something I will never forget.

Its also no secret I love to write.  To have the ability to pen the words placed on my heart is a privilege I do not take lightly.

At the concert Laura spoke about a song from her newest album, "God of Every Story."  She mentioned the stories God writes for our lives.  Beginning to end, with a tale all our own, his mighty hand writes the plan he has for us.  Each story is often very different from the fairy tale we expect.

Back to my desire to write; how it often extends beyond the words I place onto paper.  I think about the many times I have snatched the pen from the hand of God and attempted to write my own story.  Admittedly there are also plenty of times I've wanted to grab my red editor pen and fix my past.  But that's not how it works, is it?  Oh, what chapters we miss out on because we won't let go of the pen and let the author and perfecter of our faith take control.

Our story.  God writes each one.  He makes no mistakes, his plot contains no fatal flaws.  And one day when we get to sit in his lap and finish our "story" we will see how perfect it really was.

The End




Laura Story: God Of Every Story (Official Live Video) from laura-story on GodTube.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beauty Around Us

 
I've always been and admirer of God's handiwork in nature.  The sky at sunset, a bolt of lightning in the midst of a storm, the tiny falling snowflake, the bold colors of the leaves in the fall:  Does it not amaze you the detail God put into creating this world? 
 
My Bible reading tonight took me to Job 26, a conversation between a man who had lost everything and his friend who questions why he still holds on to hope. 
 
I was taken back at Job, who through everything could speak so eloquently of God's power displayed in the beauty of the world.  Verse 14 took my breath away.   
 

Job 26:14 (NASB)

“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”
 
 We see God's power in little things all around us, but Job saw a bigger picture.  We don't see the real power of God until we have experienced his mighty thunder in our lives. 
 
I'm closing this tonight with a video project containing photos from a friend I met several months ago.  She has a passion for photographing God's beauty.  Be sure to look at the video in full screen mode so you can see the detail in the pictures.  Check out her web site:  http://www.harperlanephotography.com/.  Thanks, Darlene, for allowing me to use your beautiful work.
 
video
 
 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A New Creation

This wasn't the message I started more than a week ago to share with you.  I wanted to tell you about a special song God had placed in my life.  Although singing solo has always made me shake down to my toes, I bought the track for this particular song quite some time ago and was preparing to sing.  Not to long afterwards, I had my first ear surgery, and the changes in my hearing forced me to quit singing.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning and found the CD, and my husband caught me singing through.  The message of the song is so powerful in my life.  Sunday night I will be sharing with my church.  While I have retrained my ears to finally be somewhat comfortable with a group, this will be my first time singing alone in more than three years.

I've worked hard to overcome the lack of confidence I face trying to sing with ears that don't always catch what they should.  This week, I've fought a harder battle:  the vioce of satan at every turn, telling me I'm not good enough or strong enough to present the message of God. 

This morning, with the light streaming through the curtains, God whispered these verses to me from 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthinas 5:16-20 (The Message)
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

We are a new creation in Christ.  Beyond that, we have a obligation to be his witnesses.  While we should lead a life representative of Christ, we are not perfect, and through our imperfections he often times shows just how powerful he truly is. 

So I ask for your prayers for confidence and boldness to share the amazing things God has done in my life. I'm thankful for the challenges he places before us to show us his power in our lives.  Don't let the things God has already forgiven you for stop you from being the witness he called you to be.  Chances are they are the very reason why he called you in the first place.


 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jeremiah 29:11-13, God's Timing

I love puzzles.  The challenge of taking a bunch of random looking pieces and creating one big picture gives me a thrill.  I have to admit, though, I even have a plan for working a puzzle.  First, find all the outside pieces and make the frame.  Next, go for the big things in the picture and put them together.  Fill in the rest one piece at a time.  I'm a planner by nature, and sometimes not having all my "details" in order really gives me fits.

God answered a prayer for me a few weeks ago.  It was one I had been praying about for three years.  

God's timing..if that answer had come three years earlier when I started praying for it...I can honestly say I would not be who I am today.  Those trial and error adventures he has put me through made me a better and stronger person.  Three years ago God's plan wasn't first priority in my life...mine was.  I wanted him with me on MY journey. I've finally learned to let him lead.

My blog title is from the life verse God gave me several years ago. Today, I still hold to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11-13. The verses are framed above my desk. Every delay, every "no"...they were hard to accept at the time. Now I see clearly how they all fit into this part of God's plan. If only we had the foresight to see the things retrospect reveals.

Its hard to walk the road we are called to walk sometimes, but isn't it amazing when we can turn around and see how we got to where we are?  Just like pieces of a puzzle, the plan for our lives is pieced together one day at a time.  Each turn we make, each step we take...alone they make no sense.  But when the puzzle becomes a picture we see what we have become. 

Don't ever give up on your prayers! 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11

On the anniversary of one of the most unimaginable days in our country's history, my mind is taken to a conversation my 10-year-old son and I have had two nights this week.  Yes, two.  I didn't do a good enough job of answering his question the first time and had to go back to do some "homework."  He's a thinker who really keeps me on my toes.  As I tucked him into bed, he asked, "Mom, what are the signs of the end of the world?" So we have talked about those and how we can see so many of them happening.

Sept. 11, 2001.  I didn't have time to dwell too much on the details of what was going on around our nation.  I was responsible for 200 riverboat passengers docked in our town.  River transportation and our lock system were shut down.  Government leaders could not assure us there would be no further threats, and the dams were power sources for much of our area.  So I spent my day doing all I could do to make arrangements and take care of the needs of our extra guests. 

Finally after a physically and emotionally exhausting day, I sat down and gripped my three-year-old daughter tightly.  The events of the day were not comprehendable to her.  We had been to church to pray for our nation, and she preferred to color.  As I looked into her beautiful eyes and admired the Innocent smile, I realized I had never felt fear like that before...the fear of not knowing if we would live another day on this earth.

We still live in a world of uncertainty.  Things are happening that make us uneasy.  Right now, our government is discussing military intervention with a country across the globe.  But as I told my son, we can't live our lives in fear.  We need to stand ready, knowing God could call his children home at any time.

Revelations 22 speaks of the Jesus' return.  He promises he is coming soon.  As I also discussed with Noah, that promise was spoken about 2000 years ago.  "Soon" in God's timing, is apparently quite different than ours.  All the more reason we need to be ready.

John 16:33
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

It can be so easy to become consumed in the world and all its problems.  Today, as we all did on 9-11-01, we need to hold to God's promise.  He overcame the world, and so will we.  We cannot live in fear of tomorrow.

If God called you home today, are you ready?  Do you have doubts, or does fear about the future get the best of you?  I would be glad to show you the peace that can come when you have Christ as your personal Savior. 



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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why the hard stuff, Lord?

My first marathon study night had been completed.  "I don't remember it being this hard before," I said to myself.  Indeed, I've had to study harder, dig deeper than I ever did in undergraduate.  There is also an extra desire to do so that comes from age and experience.  I'm not going to miss a minute.  There were plenty of undergraduate days I coasted through.

"Lord, why the hard stuff in our lives?"  My days as an undergraduate were "coasting" years in my personal life too.  The older I get it seems, the bigger mountains I am called to face.  They require more time, more prayer.  "I would be perfectly content to coast, Lord."

Coasting is a nice lifestyle.  Passing time, enjoying the pleasures.  There are a few coasting times we get to experience, usually long enough to catch our breath between the mountains.

But we don't learn nearly as much coasting.  The times we are called to buckle down and give it all we have, those are the times in our lives we grow as a person.  So imagine....if it weren't for the trying times we would just as soon not face, we would not be nearly the person we are because of them.

2 Timothy 2:15
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

God expects us to buckle down, take our lives seriously, and work hard!  He's awfully proud of us when we do.  We have an awesome textbook (the Bible), and practical application opportunities every single day.   Study, learn, succeed.  Don't let the opportunity to become more pass you by "coasting" along.  




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jesus Commanded Rest

This week I begin a new adventure, graduate school.  It's been on my bucket list for a long time...even before I finished my undergraduate degree 18 years ago.  As classes opened online, I accessed my account and began to look at the details of the syllabus.

My eager heart craves to study, but I can see clearly the extra demand of time I have just assumed after cleaning out my life just a few months before.  Its taken only a few days to become overwhelmed with the amount of additional work.

There's a great song out right now by Tenth Avenue North called "I'm worn."  It was written by a parent, exhausted from the work it takes to care for a toddler.  Most days the responsibilities we assume are mentally and physically tiring.  "Worn" is a step beyond...when you are so tired you lose the desire to continue the fight.

Worn, I have been there.  Spending more and more time trying to accomplish things on my own.  The harder you work, the more work there is to do. Its easy to become burned out, exhausted, finding a gaping hole in the center of your heart as you go through the motions of life unfulfilled.

This week God brought me to Mark 6:30.  Its a verse I shall not take lightly. In the midst of pressing crowds, after healing the sick and sharing the message, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

The to do list is often longer than the day, but it is so important to spend time with God. He refuels our worn out spirits.  He helps us achieve a place where even though the list is longer than the hours in the day, we can tackle it head on.

My friends, if Jesus can take the disciples aside for rest in the midst of a busy day, we need to let him also take us aside for some rest.  Don't put your quiet time aside...its important.  When he becomes the head of the list, the list becomes much easier to handle, I promise.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Standing In The Hallway

About three weeks ago, God laid a message on my heart about the doors he opens in our lives, and the ones he closes for us.  As I prepared to teach our ladies group Wednesday night, I had struggled with a lesson.  God gave me a great follow up to my lesson doorways:  How to Live your Life in the Hallway.

We often expect when God closes a door for us, he’s supposed to immediately open another one.  I expected that 11 months ago when I made a life changing transition.  Today, I'm still standing in the hallway. We all will face those hallways in our lives, the important lesson for us is how to live during the process.  I learned a lot about that this week from 1 Samuel, and the story of David.

Charles Swindoll in his book David, “I wonder how many people think that David, after he killed the giant, within a matter of a few days became the youngest king in the history of Israel?  Well in case you were one who thought that, you need to know it didn’t happen that way.”

David was a teenager when he battled Goliath, and he took the throne as king of Israel at age 30. He had some very tough years between, running for his life from Saul. There's so much to write from these chapters! Here are a few highlights:
  • David earned the respect of his people, and that position followed him through his tough days. When God was ready, his position as a role model helped him be a successful king. (1 Samuel 18:6-7). Our character helps determine our future.
  • God provided for David and kept him safe. He put barriers in front of the enemy. (1 Samuel 19). God takes care of us during both the good times and the hard times of our lives.
  • David sought God's will for his life. There are several passages mentioned where he seeks the will of God on a specific situation. (1 Samuel 22:3, 1 Samuel 23 v. 1 and 12). If we aren't seeking where we are going, we most certainly aren't going to find it.
  • David holds his integrity, even against his enemy, in spite of what the world had to say. He has not one, but two opportunities to kill Saul and uses them as an example of God's love and supreme power. Both times, he lets Saul go free. He ignored the voice of his army who told him he deserved the right to kill this man. (1 Samuel 24 and 26). David was a great example of God's love and mercy. We have that same opportunity. How we handle our trying times is an example for others. 

Waiting is not a negative experience. The dictionary definition of wait means to remain in a place so as to be ready for something or because something is to be expected.  The Hebrew word wait is closely aligned with the word “Hope.”  

We should expect great things from God in our lives, and we should remember the times where we wait on them to come are part of our growing process.   

I've fought some big battles in this hallway I hadn't expected to face.  They have taught me trust, and yes, patience.  I've learned the importance of integrity and holding your head high in the midst of the storm.  There have been rewards too, precious time with my husband and kids I would not have traded for the world, and the opportunity to dig deeper and to be able to share lessons like this one.  

My favorite Bible verses (in case you could not tell from my blog title) are from Jeremiah 29:11-13.  God's great promise for us, of a future and hope.  Verse 13 reminds us we can find it when we seek it with our WHOLE heart.  
 
Hebrews 10:36 (NIV) 
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
A promise from God is a promise you can bet on!  Stand strong in your hallway today.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Suitcases

I don't usually post videos in my blog, but I wanted to share this one.  I found it several weeks ago preparing a skit for our youth group, who did an excellent job this morning of sharing the message.

Prepared by a church group and their youth, it talks about the baggage we carry.  Whether you are fifteen or 50, chances are you have some "baggage."  I know I do.  Christ takes each of us and wipes our slate clean when we take him as our savior.  What a great message for the person who says they aren't good enough...or the Christian who can't seem to let go.  Christ already has, won't you?

Enjoy.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Holding too tight to the Knob

I had an opportunity one day this week to be up early and take a road trip.  Road trips were a part of my life for five years.  The one part of travel I enjoyed was the quiet time.  It's been much harder to accomplish that being at home, and I really appreciated the opportunity to have that time this week.

This was a special road trip, a four hour, round trip journey to take the entrance test for graduate school.  Its a dream I have been talking about for almost 10 years, or more.

I topped a hill, catching a glimpse of the sun beginning to rise.  Literally the clouds were painted a beautiful pink before my eyes.  God's awesome, beautiful artistry in the making.  He painted the clouds and simultaneously spoke to my heart.

God has opened many doors in my life.  In that moment, I understood the power of the doors he has closed.  If it had not been for a series of closed doors...and one through which he had to push me kicking and screaming, I would not be where I am today.

Isaiah 48:17-18

17 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God,
who teaches you for your benefit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to My commands.
Then your peace would have been like a river.

and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

This morning in my quiet time, God led me to Isaiah 48.  As I read the words, the conversation we had Wednesday about closed doors came rushing back.  I spent lots of time pursuing opportunities that made perfect sense to me and the world, and ignoring the call of God on my heart.  For more than two years, he called me to let go of something I cherished in order to pursue his desire for my life. I wrestled and struggled.  I lost plenty of sleep and woke many nights gasping for air in panic.  When he finally pushed hard enough to make me let go, I found the peace found here in Isaiah.  The peace he promises when we let Him lead our lives.  Why do we struggle so hard sometimes?

Doors sometimes keep us from traveling down the wrong path.  Doors sometimes keep us in the hallway long enough to find the right one.  Doors sometimes start as an open door we get pushed through and slammed in our face.  Doors sometimes are the start of a new adventure.

Its not always easy to understand why a door closes, or why we can't seem to open one.  But it is truly amazing when we have the hindsight to see what a closed door meant at the time.

There will always be doors in our lives.   Those doors don't have to be battles of the soul.  Let go, listen to God, and find peace with those door knobs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Learning Lessons

Last night, I was sitting in the kitchen, five feet from the item I needed.  I was giving my son directions on where to retrieve an item and instructions to bring it to me.  After the third try...he finally got it.  The past week has been full of those moments, a hard lesson for the type A who would rather just do it herself and be done with it. 
My family has been incredible taking care of me while I TRY to keep my foot non weight bearing to heal.  Its the hardest thing to sit back and let someone else do.  Its really, really hard for me.  I've not been the best patient. 
 
This morning I was thinking back to those frequent episodes during the week at the take a deep breath and sigh moments when you tell someone something, and it takes three more sets of instructions to get the job done.
 
A lump appeared in my throat...God must do this with me every day. Can you imagine the patience it must take to turn over work to us that he is more than capable of doing in much less time?  Then he sits back patiently and gives multiple instructions, answers to our "why" questions, and fields our excuses.  Every day, again and again. 

I remember trying to teach my children how to ride a bike.  Again and again I give them directions on how to ride.  Then I would grab the handlebars and we would run down the driveway.  I thought my legs would wear out at times trying to get them to learn.  There were many spills along the way, and many times I heard "Let go, I can do it myself."  Eventually I let go, and they would pedal away.  Success!  I remember that great feeling of pride when they were able to take off on their own and no longer needed me to run along side.

So that's what it's all about:  being able to teach us how to handle things while holding us up until we get the lesson learned.  Then stepping back in pride as we race away.  How amazing!  Can you imagine the smile when we actually get it and God can let go of us?
I'm so thankful God doesn't give up on this hard-headed girl and gives her a multitude of chances.  Although, I would trade these crutches for a bicycle in a heartbeat.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

For Such A Time As This

Esther 4:14

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

On my porch, nestled in my geranium, a mother bird is raising her babies.  It’s been exciting to watch her feed and care for them.  She brings them food, and she is quick to guard them against anything she feels is a threat, including my curious kitty.  That mother bird will soon teach her little ones to fly and prepare them to go off into the great big world. 


I’ve seen mama birds do this before;  she pushes the little ones out of the nest to get them started.  Each time I wonder how she can do that and not worry about her little one getting hurt?

I feel a bit like that mother bird lately.  My oldest child starts high school this year.  While I am so proud of the independent, confident young lady she has become, its not easy to watch her spread her wings and learn to fly.  I haven’t had to even think about pushing her along, she’s beating me to independence long before I am ready for her to be. 

“For such a time as this.”  The words rang through my head, and I searched back for the place from which they came.  The story of Esther.

Esther was a woman called by God to save her family.  There was an extreme sense of urgency with her calling.  She had a job to do, and she had to do it right then.  Twenty-four hours to change the fate of her family.

The sense of urgency, the realization that as a parent, there is so much we need to pour into our children to prepare them for the world ahead has really been weighing on me lately and is almost overwhelming at times.  Our babies are facing the challenges of the world we faced so much younger, and they are facing new ones we never dreamed about. 

What a great reminder today from Esther for parents.  First, we must prepare for the job and be ready in an instant when a situation arises.  We must also be in prayer for guidance and study to know God’s plan for raising our children.  Then also the urgency we must have, not letting a day go by without teachable moments-both in conversations with our children and as examples for them.

For such a time as this…to enjoy the amazing children with which we have been give to tend to their care.  Being able to watch our children grow and take on new roles.  The opportunity to see them mature as individuals, gaining self confidence and learning to make their own decision.  The pride of seeing accomplishments and the joy of seeing them make good choices.  What a God given blessing I would not trade for the world! 

Heavenly Father, I pray today you will help me to remember each and every day that as a mother, it is my time to pour into my children.    I pray you will lead and guide me, give me the knowledge to pour into them what they will need to face the world in the coming years.  Above all, I pray you will give my children the ability to stand tall and face situations they encounter with the courage of knowing they are your children, and you have promised their protection and prosperity.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Man and his Stick

Exodus 4:2-5
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.  “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

This has been Vacation Bible School week at our church, and I've been teaching the 3-5 year old class.  If you haven't had that pleasure, lessons are fast paced, because if you get them to sit still longer than a couple of minutes you are doing great. Its also amazing to see how much they do absorb in such a short time, and how much they can remember later.

Our lessons have focused on Moses.  We talked about how Moses was saved as a baby, God's call to Moses from the burning bush, the plagues, and finally God's provision of the Israelites in the desert. 

Moving at the speed of light to keep up with these youngsters, teaching stories I've heard before, I learned something new at VBS this week. The importance of a man and his stick.

I've been studying Moses for a few weeks, even before we received our literature for VBS.  God had led me to Exodus.  When I studied the details of Moses' call by God in the burning bush, and the excuses he made with God before accepting the call...what an amazing example for us.  That's a blog for another day. 

As a reply to one of Moses questions to God, God tells Moses' to take his staff and throw it on the ground.  It becomes a serpent.  As he picks it up, it becomes a staff again.  God uses this example to give Moses a tangible sign to show the Israelites he is truly sent by God.

Throughout this week we have studied Moses and how he followed the call of God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  Moses' staff again and again played an important part of their 40 year adventure.

With a simple stick and the hand of God, Moses got the attention of the Israelites and was able to share God's plan for leading them out of Egypt.
With a simple stick and the hand of God, Moses started the punishment of Pharaoh for not releasing the Israelites by turning the Nile to blood.
With a simple stick and the hand of God, Moses provided water for the Israelites in the desert by tapping a stone.

An ordinary man who lived in the wilderness was chosen to lead his people out of Egypt to the promised land.  Through his simple stick, God showed his provision for his people again and again.

God is still in the business of using ordinary people and ordinary things to do extraordinary works. 

Vacation Bible School isn't just a time to teach the little ones.  We big kids can get some great lessons too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Celebrating 40

I'm celebrating my 40th birthday in just a few days. I thought by age 40, I would have my life figured out and expected to be settled into the plan God had prepared for my life.  That streamline path I expected has been more like a wandering experience, not knowing what would come next. Each time I seem to get "comfortable" in the role God has planned for my life, he seems to open another door into another area of the "wilderness." I know, you have been there too.

I've been thinking about the Israelites 40 year journey out bondage into a land of freedom.  A straight route from point A to B would have been less than 250 miles, or about 2 weeks on foot.  So why did they spend 40 years in the desert?  Deuteronomy 8:2 says "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” .  It was a journey of the heart.

Those crooks and turns in our road, the ones that lead us away from the goal in sight and in a different direction, those that call us to make difficult choices and endure things we did not expect...they are our journey of the heart.  They prove our faithfulness and test our ability to let God lead. 

But they also prove God's faithfulness.

Deuteronomy 2:7
For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

There were tough times in the wilderness, and the Israelites were able to look back at the end of the journey and see how God was with them during every step of the way.  He provided for them in unique and sometimes miraculous ways to bring them to the promised land.

Its easy sometimes to let the unknown consume you. We pick up our burdens and carry them along, focusing on them instead of the promised land for which we are headed. God promises we will lack nothing. He meant that.
In my 40 years, I can clearly see that provision in my life too.  During the times I consider "easy" and during the deepest desert journey, I have never lacked for anything.  Unique and miraculous opportunities were always in place just when and where they should be.

My journey hasn't been the straight paved path I imagined.  It has been one full of people, places and experiences that have shaped me into who I am and who will continue to create the person God will have me to be.  Grab your backpacks, lets go.



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Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary


Happy Anniversary, Troy!  May 25, 1996, we stood in front of our family and friends and made a commitment to a lifetime together. 

Love, 17 years ago, meant you treated me like a lady.
Love, 17 years ago, meant you listened to what I had to say.
Love, 17 years ago, meant you held my hand, and took me to dinner.
Love, 17 years ago, meant the excitement of buying a house together.

Love grows, and love changes.  As we grow together love deepens and takes on a whole new meaning.

Love, today, means the fulfillment of the vows we made that day...for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Love means making the tough decisions together with prayerful consideration.
Love means often giving up our time to pour into preparing two children for a great big world.
Love means saying I'm sorry, a lot.
Love means needing to say I'm sorry more than what we do.
Love means compromise.
Love is the admiration of watching you grow in your Christ-lead role of father and husband.
And above all, love means standing together, praying together, and letting God be the leader of our lives.

We may fight, and we may disagree, but one thing is for certain.  I know that no matter what circumstances we may face, we will face them together.  That is true love.

I am so thankful God brought me someone in my life who's not just like me.  God sent me an dreamer with no fear of going for it.  A dedicated man who always does what he says he will do.  That's such a great balance for the too practical, won't start something unless I'm sure I can do it perfectly right person.

That good looking man with the great smile that stole my heart has also become an amazing father...and becoming more so every day.  He loved to rock babies at 3 a.m., and now he is making sure our children learn the important lessons they will need to thrive in this great big world...and he's leading by example.

Lord, thank you for squarely planting the right man in my path to be my husband.  Thank you for providing abundantly during our marriage.  Help us to continue to grow in your path for our lives and to always seek your will above ours.


l1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Post Mother's Day Message


Proverbs 31: 10-30  The Wife of Noble Character

A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;  she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;  out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;  her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed;  her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Can I admit something?  I've always let Proverbs 31 intimidate me.  Its the example of what a mother and wife should be to her family.  I've never thought I quite lived up to all that she represents.

I thank God for steering me back here again just in time for the celebration of Mother's Day.

I'm a working mom with an endless to do list and a house that never stays clean.  But for the first Mother's Day ever, I celebrated being a Proverbs 31 mother guilt free with the best example I could have of one, my own mom.  I can see her exemplified in every one of the verses here.  Reading through them again I was finally able see myself there too.
A Proverbs 31 Woman
  • Her husband puts his trust in her and her decision making ability
  • She seeks to do good for her husband and family
  • She rises early plans her day, and does not remain idle
  • She provides food for her family
  • She provides clothing for her family
  • She instructs her children with wisdom
  • She works diligently and tackles projects with the benefit of her family in mind
  • She assists the needy
  • Her family is proud of her
  • SHE FEARS THE LORD


That's Me!  I haven't changed, and I haven't miraculously become the perfect wife and mother.  I have finally realized that its about the effort we put forth and not the perfection we achieve.

All you other great moms and wives out there, let go of the guilt of not being a perfect wife and mother and celebrate the role we have been given. I bet the woman in Proverbs 31 probably served bologna sandwiches occasionally and slept in on Saturday too.

Happy Mother's Day!

 






Thursday, May 2, 2013

Control Freak


My 10-year-old son, just like his mom, loves to fix things.  It's a great skill to have.  He's perfected the art of identifying there is a problem, taking an item apart...then not being quite sure how to put it back together.  We have two weed eaters in the garage he worked on last week that are still torn up, and the parts of both are sitting together. Not only do we get to figure out how to fix each one, we first must determine which parts belong to which unit.  What a mess!

My desire to fix things and solve problems extends beyond sinks and weed eaters.  It goes into the everyday decisions of my life.  I have this need to be a problem solver, and I often go about the job of handling my own crises, then handing God a pile of tools and parts to help me sort out the mess when I FINALLY admit I can't do it by myself.  What conviction he has placed upon me about this!

A lesson from Deuteronomy 8 was a reminder in a week I have been struggling very hard with this.  Its the story of the Israelites and how they complain about being in the wilderness after being freed from captivity. 

 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

I've wrestled with God for many years about my control attitude...trying to run my own life, and expecting God to work within my boundaries.  I am awed at the abundance he gave even in that frame of mind.  My heart grew weary of the struggle, and in a sincere prayer several months ago, I made a firm commitment to "whatever, God."  Whatever you want for me...that is what I will do.  I gave up my control.  I handed him my tools, my parts and said "fix it."   There as been a tremendous peace that has come as a result of that prayer. 

Letting go of a stronghold has not been easy.  At the first sign of trouble, that desire to go back to the old way is so tempting.  That peace of knowing I've been following the path and not leading the way has come with some of the hardest emotional struggles I have had to face.  Bumps in the road have made the fix it girl inside me want to jump up and grab my toolbox.  I've begged and complained and asked the typical three-year-old question, "why"?  And on other days, "why not?"  It's a daily battle.

Some of the greatest rewards come from the hardest lessons learned. 

God gives us talents and ability to do great things, and he provides success to our efforts.  Let us not forget it is his hands that provide for our success, and not ours.  Through this, he is glorified and not ourselves. 

Lord, thank you for taking this fix-it girl by the hand and leading me along the path you intend for me.  Please remind me to surrender to you first and ask for direction before I take off running with a solution.  Thank you for the abundance you provide even in the midst of the wilderness. 





Sunday, April 28, 2013

Living a “Why Not” Life in a “What If” World

     Boys, they have no fear.  When my son was smaller, his greatest joy was for his Daddy to throw him into the air and to catch him.  He would scream with delight, “Higher, Daddy!”.  Even now I watch him race down the hills at warp speed in front of our house on a scooter, jump the three huge steps off the porch in a single bound, play tackle football with kids twice his size. 
     Somewhere along the way into adulthood we lose that invincible feeling.  I remember going roller skating not to long ago.  As the kids whizzed past me, I teetered along, praying I didn’t take a spill.  When one of the youngsters bobbled, I felt my motherly instincts kick in as I fought the urge to put both hands out to break their fall.   There once was a time when I too made some pretty hasty tracks around a rink.  What changed?
     Fear.  A four-letter word that changes lives.  
           
            What if I lose my job?
            What if she says no?
            What if I get hurt?
            What if I'm not smart enough?
Fear keeps us living a “what if” life.   

John 16:33 (New International Version)  “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.”

The Bible is full of ordinary people like you and me who, feeling less than equipped for the call, are empowered to do amazing things, like David in his battle against Goliath. Its time to stop being victims of circumstance and realize the power we have behind us. If our Jesus can overcome the world, we can surely have the boldness to live out the lives he intended is to have, free of the world’s “What if” mentality. We’re missing out on amazing opportunities and great blessings our God gives us every day, saying “What if” instead of “Why Not?”

Today I am starting a journey.  For a long time, I’ve felt the calling to write a book.  Fear has held me back.

            What if I don’t have time?
            What am I supposed to write about?
            Can I really find enough to say for a whole book?
            What if I’m not that good of a writer?

A couple of Sundays ago, while getting ready for church, cleaning for company, and running on four hours of sleep, my book topic and outline, was handed to be.  I’m firmly convinced he appears to me in my greatest hour of chaos just to make sure I understand its HIM.  He does that quite often.

Boldly heading into the unknown, I covet your prayers as I live out one of the "Why Nots" in my life.  May you discover yours.

 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Above and Beyond


Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

My radio alarm sounded this morning with a song of praise, and immediately God spoke Psalm 37:4 through my dull, throbbing ear directly to my heart. 

God is so good to provide for our needs, and I know that very well.  He's provided again and again and again.  But I have always had a bit of guilt about asking for my desires. 

I've posted before about the challenges I've faced trying to sing since my first ear surgery.  A few weeks ago a bad inner ear infection really took a toll on my hearing overall.  Its been difficult because I felt I had just gotten comfortable with my new normal, only to lose the footing again.  I've been quite disheartened about it. 

I went yesterday for a hearing test and another round of surgery.  This morning through the dull, muffled sounds I knew to expect, there is hint of the return of a certain range of sound I had been missing and I need to hear in order to sing. 

He has given me the desires of my heart.  

There are a ton of soprano voices out there who can offer up more beautiful praise than I.  None are more thankful this morning for the gift he gives us to use for his glory.  

I'm in awe today of how God not only cares for us, but he goes above and beyond.  Forgive me God, for every doubting you were capable of doing such.
 
Thank you for those of you who have been praying. God has provided some very able physicians to help restore my hearing, and hopefully time and round 4 of antibiotics will take care of the rest.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Pushing Past the Shame



"And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:61, 62)

The Easter sermon contained the message I've been needing to hear.  It was the story of Peter. We all know Peter as the one who denied Christ three times.  One of Christ's chosen ones...and he openly denied his relationship at a critical time, after giving his word to Jesus he would never do so.

I know Peter had tremendous guilt, and he wept bitterly over his mistake.  I needed to be reminded he went on to lead thousands to Christ after this memorable event.  Take a look at the eloquent message from Acts 2.

A couple of weeks ago, a conversation included "I thought you were a better person than that" and some other words that made me feel pretty low.  Whether it was truth or not is beside the point.  It hurt because not only did I fail to meet expectations of the party involved, to this person I set a very poor example of the person I strive to be.

I've not been able to come back to this blog and write an entry without feeling an overwhelming burden over the whole situation.  How can I come back and write another entry to encourage someone else after I've set such a poor example myself?

Sharing another word from my pastor, Christians aren't sinless, they strive to sin less. Looking back over the passages I've been studying the past several months, God has shown me again and again how he used less than perfect people to do more than amazing things for his Kingdom.

Sarah laughed at God, and yet was blessed with a son in her old age that became the father of many nations.  Saul murdered Christians then became one of the great encouragers to the churches.  Then there was Peter. 

What courage it must have taken for Peter to ask for forgiveness to not only his Lord, but to the other disciples.  I'm sure they were upset.  Can you imagine the courage it took the first time he stood again to proclaim the gospel message? 

I'm still praying for the wisdom on how to address this situation.  I pray for the ability to put the guilt behind and move forward with a positive attitude. Perhaps this conversation was the reminder I may have needed that when you don't think what you are doing matters to any one, there are always those who have their eyes fixed on you.  

I'm far from perfect, but I am forgiven.  It won't be the last time I screw up.  Thankfully my father forgives me even when I can't let go of my mistakes. 

Have you let something you have done stop you from pursuing the calling of God?  He who calls us to it will forgive us through it.  Thank God for that!




































Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Taking Prayer to the Next Level

I apologize for the delay in blogging.  I've had a sinus infection that has just zapped the life out of me.  There hasn't been a moment that I've had free the last week and a half that I didn't want to crawl into the bed and sleep.  God has kept this passage on my heart for the time when I was ready to sit down and share it with you.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Prayer.  What an awesome tool.  I can't imagine going through life without that communication line to my heavenly father. I know each of us have seen amazing things happen because of prayer, I certainly have.  This week in all that down time I've taken, I've been thinking about the greater things we miss out on because of a prayer life that's not as full as it should be.

We don't ask for things because we don't truly believe they will happen.  


How many times have we prayed for the "big things" in life and asked for them half-heartedly?   I know I sure have.  I've prayed for job opportunities I never had enough confidence to believe I could get.  I've prayed for God to work in areas, all while letting Satan tell me that its impossible and listening closely enough to him to believe it.  I've took my eyes off what's important and let the world and all its chaos take control.  This verse from Ephesians clearly says God can provide not only what we ask, but immeasurably more! 

We don't ask for things because we don't feel worthy of the gift.
How many times have we decided not to pray for something because it felt selfish, or because we didn't think we "deserved" it?  God did not send his son into this world for a group of people who were worthy of him.  He loves us and wants whats best for us.  Jeremiah 29:11 clearly tells that.  Not one of us deserves to be called his children, and we could never be "good" enough for his generosity.  That's the beauty of grace.

We think some things are just too trivial to pray about.
God sees all we do.  He knows our every thought, and our every need.  Never, ever be afraid to ask for things that seem small or trivial.  Those things we view as "small" may just very well be a step in  a bigger plan.

This week, my daughter attended her first school dance.  Money has been tight around our house, and I've been praying earnestly for God's financial provision.  A dress for a two hour dance didn't make the top of the budget list, and yet I knew how important it was for her.  So I prayed, "God, please provide an affordable option for my daughter."  Amazingly, the perfect dress was found within our budget.  Shoes too. God's provision has repeatedly come to our family the past few months in small bites, not with a large check to help provide the security I desire.


Small steps, holding on to the hand of our father, are the truest representation of the trust we should have in him.  Just because you don't see a world changing miracle in your life does not mean he's not at work.  Perhaps we are taking for granted the miracles he's giving us every day.

We don't ask, because we are afraid the answer will be no, or not now. 

Maybe we're afraid to get a "yes." I've done that too.  Recently, in fact.  Answering the call to take on something of which I had no experience and felt quite awkward, I prayed for God, knowing in my heart he was telling me to do it, to tell me it was okay to say no.  Instead he quickly reminded me of the path he had chosen and that he would provide what I needed along the way.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but it was reassurance he provides when we pray.  It's not been easy, but it certainly has been rewarding.  The results are far greater than I ever expected. 

This list could go on and on....not spending enough time in prayer, not making dedicated time for prayer, sending up only "hoop shot, hail Mary" prayers haphazardly....

The point is, we have an amazing line of communication with the creator of the universe, who knows everything about us.  He loves us, and he wants what is best for us.  Prayer will not create the perfect life according to the world's standards, but it will create a perfectly peaceful life as we trust God with each and every detail of our daily walk and believe he will take care of us along the way.




  

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Words

Remember that saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"  The truth is words can hurt.  They can tear right through the very fiber of your soul.  Sometimes its not even the words that hurt but the context in which they are said. This morning, I crafted a quick, smart reply on instant message to something that struck a cord with me.  Finger ready to hit "send," conviction hit me like a sword in my chest.  Words, they do hurt.  

Deuteronomy 2:2-3
Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

These words in Deuteronomy speak of the words of God, how they should fall gently and be nourishing to the soul.  Our words should be too.

Not only do we need to guard our tongues from the harmful words we say, we need to make more opportunities to provide enriching and encouraging words that build a person up.


That child who needs to hear, "I'm proud of you."
That husband that needs to hear, "You take good care of me."
That mother that needs to hear, "Thank you for all you have done."
That friend who needs to hear, "I am here for you."

We miss so many golden opportunities to use our words as a building tool.  We allow complacency to keep us from saying things to those with whom we are close.  We miss even more opportunities to just be a light in this world to a stranger we may meet in line at the supermarket, a cashier at a store, a coworker, or the person next to you in the pew on Sunday. 

I'm accepting the challenge today to find someone each day and make it a point to say something to encourage them.  I'm asking you to accept that challenge with me.  In a world where its so hard to see the good things of this world, we can be lights in the darkness to those around us.

My friends, have a blessed week!