Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guest Post-Krista Sanders

I am incredibly excited to share this post from a great friend of mine.  The last year for her has been one of an amazing transformation that only God can do.  Today, she is serving on staff at Women at the Well, a Christ centered program for women dealing with life controlling issues. I am so excited about the opportunities God has given her to minister to other women.  

For most of my life, I thought waiting was about killing time. A passive way to spend the interim between here and there. Twiddling thumbs in the line at the post office. Rocking in a chair on the porch ‘til a waitress calls your name for a table at Cracker Barrel. Those things frustrate me, though. It’s just delaying my preferred outcome.

I read a book for a sociology class once in college called the McDonaldization of Society. It was about how our culture has basically trained us to expect efficiency to the point that it robs us of experience. The emergence of fast-food restaurants has taught us to replace tradition, values, and emotions. We sacrifice interaction with calculated outcomes for behavior. In the midst of all of this, we have trained ourselves to operate impatiently.

Over time, we have taught ourselves that waiting is bad.

But as it turns out, waiting with God is something else entirely.

Waiting is courageous. Waiting is brave. Waiting is active. Waiting is full of experience along the way. It’s not a void that we’re stuck in until something new happens. It doesn’t make us victims of circumstances we can’t change. Waiting is growing, and is pursuit. Waiting cultivates strength and rich experience.

Waiting can be hard but waiting can be joyful.

And waiting can only be joyful when my heart is filled with thanks.

And thankfulness multiplies when I chronicle the goodness of the Father in my life. When I notice it. When I write it down. When I look for all the blessings all around me.

Time can feel so slow when I’m waiting for answers and outcomes. When all I can see is a certain end in mind, will I trust that what God has for me in between is good? Will I believe that He really does desire to bring me a hope and a future?

Can we look outside of our plans enough to find thankfulness and gratitude in the wait? That thankfulness will produce a new joy, which converts to strength that we are going to need if we are to be courageous and wait. To wait on the Lord is to renew it all. Soak in His goodness, and know that the hope I carry is rooted in the truth of heaven, not the fruition of earthly hopes. Are we willing to be curious enough while we wait to wonder what God may be up to? Curious enough to wonder what He may be preparing us for?

Waiting is not a delay of the thing we have in our mind’s eye. It is about being present in the now, and placing a longing hope in God. It is the space in which we root ourselves in truth and learn to want God more than our own desires.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who is Holding You Up?

Exodus 17

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses [i]told him, [j]and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand [k]down, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua [l]overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

I mentioned in my last blog God has been peeling away my layers like an onion.  A couple of weeks ago I was asked to fill in on a Wednesday night for our ladies class at church.  I was hesitant to teach, but after praying and being assured by God he would provide the lesson I agreed.  I worked all week on a great lesson on sowing seeds.  Then on the way to work Wednesday morning, God let me know clearly that wasn't the lesson he wanted me to teach.  He led me to Exodus 17 and another soul bearing experience.

I’ve always been the type of person to try to take care of things myself and not bother anyone else with my problems.  I’ve always felt my calling to be the encourager…and God has used a very clear, very real time over the past few weeks to show me that guess what?  There are times when the encourager needs encouraging too.  It had been a difficult past several weeks.  Surgical menopause has played a number on my mental state, and I've really struggled.  I had kept that very quiet.  Until Wednesday night. 

We want to be powerful Christians.  We want to be wives who support our husbands, husbands who support our wives, and parents who pour into our children so they are equipped to face the world head on.  More times than not, life happens.  But we like to hide behind the pressure of letting everyone think “we have it all together.”  We hide our fears and weaknesses, feeling we need to be strong for others.  But to truly grow as spiritual leaders we need to embrace the support of trusted friends and advisers.  We are not going to beat discouragement and fatigue all by ourselves.  Simply put…We need each other. 

So I shared this great passage from Exodus as a reminder of how we Christians need to hold each other up in order to accomplish the work we were called to do.  

Ways we can hold up our fellow Christians.

Be a Prayer Warrior. 
Pray for them, and pray WITH them. 
Invest through Empathy
Take the time to empathize with their struggles and burdens. If we desire to impact their lives, we must first let their lives impact us. If we would touch lives, we must invest through empathy.

Invest through Encouragement
Encouragement goes straight to the heart. 
  •  Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God
  • Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships…celebrate other’s victories, large and small
  • Sometimes just being there is encouragement
  • Use encouragement as outreach.  Remember the power of thank you.  Write notes to people you interact with on a daily basis.
Now we have talked about how to help each other.  But what about ourselves? 

John 10:10 has been my verse since I watched the War Room. and I realized just how much power I let Satan have in my life.  “The thief has come only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”  

Step 1:  Admit we cannot do things alone
Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Not I can do all things when I blaze my own trail and try to do things on my own power. 
Step 2:  Taking it to God
Pray for God to surround you with Godly  people who will support you.
Step 3:  Reaching out
Sometimes people don’t realize you need help unless you ask for it. 

Who is Holding You Up?
Who are your Aaron and Hur's? " WITHOUT these two men holding up Moses' hands, the Israelites would have likely lost the battle. As great of a leader that Moses was, he couldn't do it alone. He needed help, encouragement, strength and concern from his "team" of friends and supporters.

I challenge you this week to take a moment to thank the Lord for your "Aaron and Hur's." Take a moment and identify who you are thankful for. Who is it that sends you texts to encourage you? Calls you on the phone and "spur's you on" in your walk with Christ? Sends you cards of appreciation? Knows exactly when you need some encouragement?

When those people come into your mind, go ahead and thank the Lord for them. Then, why not go a step further? Send that person a text, card, email or call them on the phone to say "thank you" for their involvement in your life.


Friday, August 21, 2015

When a Four Letter Word Takes Over Your Life

Have you ever noticed how just when you seem to find your comfort zone, that is when God decides to shake things up a bit?  He started shaking things around in my life about three years ago.  Admittedly, I had gotten used to living life earthquake style, as long as I could do it in my shell.  Well now he's started peeling back the layers like a Bloomin' Onion on a tray at the Outback.

I'm usually an encourager.  I started this blog to share my encouraging lessons with others.  Let me just be real and tell you something. The words penned in this blog have been very far between lately because I've been fighting a pretty big battle behind the scenes.  Its been hard to sit down and write an encouraging word when you are struggling to stay afloat yourself.

I haven't kept it a secret my health has been an up an down battle for the past couple of years.  After this last surgery, I went on a run of headaches that lasted in the range of 50+ days before getting them under control.  I was totally worn down, physically and mentally.   I shared in my last blog it was one of my worst fears that this surgery would flare up the vestibular migraines we had worked so hard to control, and when it happened and in an even worse way than I could have imagined, I really got discouraged about it.  I not only felt miserable, I was scared to death.  Once again I was living in the realm of "what if this is life will look like from now on?"

Fear is a small four letter word that can get really big if we let it.  I know we all have had that battle that we have let overtake our life.  For some its going off to college and not knowing anyone there.  For others, its losing a job and not knowing what to do next. 

After going up and down with my health for the past two years, FEAR has become my rather large four letter word.  That's why I couldn't write.  FEAR.  Even though I put on my smile each morning with my clothes and went on in to work with my pounding, spinning head and aching heart, FEAR was ripping me apart.

A little over two weeks ago, face down on the floor in a prayer or desperation, God let me back to this beautiful verse in Jeremiah 33. Call unto me, and I will answer you and teach you great and unsearchable things you do not know. A calming peace fell over my heart in place of the FEAR.  Once again I was reminded my future is not in my hands, but his.  No matter what that future holds, he has a productive plan all laid out for me.

How will I know his plan?  Prayer.  By calling on him.  Indeed, calling on him had brought amazing peace.  As the focus moved upward instead of inward, I began to see the great and mighty things he was already putting into place in my life that I would have never dreamed to be possible.  They are crazy little things that might not mean that much if I told you about them...but to me they are a huge deal.

I don't have to have all the answers.  I don't have to have the assurance I will be in a physical place I am today, who knows, I may be even better.  One thing I know for sure is that when I let go of FEAR and PRAY and SEEK, he shows me the beautiful miracles that he places before me each and every day.  Life becomes one not littered by worry and sorrow over things I wish I could have done or wish I had, but a life of joy filled and full of wonder.

Thank you God for that great attitude check in Jeremiah 33:3. 

God, no matter what challenges you place in our path, help us always to realize you have planned our lives from beginning to end  You know our every move even before we make it.  Help us to see the joy in this world and look past the fear that so often hinders and occasionally overtakes our lives.  Amen.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Confessions of a Super Woman Want to Be

No matter how strong you think your faith is, Satan will always attack you.  He knows exactly where your weak spots are, and he aims straight for the heart. 

I've been trying to find the words to share with you just what has been going on behind the scenes of my usually tough Super woman front.  Can I make a confession to you?  I've been shaking in my boots. 

This morning our choir sang an amazing Chris Tomlin song, the one that has been played over and over in my car trying to keep a straight face during a tough time.  As the words poured out of my heart, the memories of singing them over and over the past several weeks on the way to work, on many long, lonely trips to the doctor poured through my mind. 

I was diagnosed with a suspicious spot on my left ovary in mid March.  Along with the diagnosis came more tests and a waiting game.  Surgery was scheduled, and the ovary biopsied.  Then more waiting to see what my fate would be.

During those long weeks, Satan attacked hard.  I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.  Not simply scared, but paralyzed.  There was the unknown about cancer, and there was also the unknown about how my body would react to surgery and the after effects for another health condition I have. There was a real possibility surgery and changing up hormone levels could cause a relapse for the vestibular issues we had worked so hard to get under control. I thought about the what ifs that could come if I got a bad report.  I could not seem to get past the fear, and it affected every area of my life.  I lost sleep, I cried, I obsessed.  No matter how hard I prayed, I just could not seem to get past it.

God has been amazing.  Every need has been met with results above and beyond my expectations...except Super woman just isn't bouncing back as fast as she wants.  I praise him in awe for what he has done, and I am so thankful for the incredible network of prayer warriors who have supported me along the way.

As elated as I am for great results, that is not what this post is about.  It's about that attack of Satan.  Lies...the ones he whispers.  The more he whispers, the deeper he gets in your head.  If you keep listening, he will eat at you like a vicious starving stray animal.  No matter how strong your faith is, sometimes he finds a way to get inside your head with the infamous words, "What if..." or "You can't."

2 Timothy 1:7 
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

I can't tell you how many times I have repeated this verse.  Even if things had not turned out as the best case scenario they have, I know my God is big enough to take care of every need.  I know there is no room for fear, because he has already planned and prepared my path for whatever things come my way.  Somehow during this time in my life, I let Satan's lies scream louder than the truth I know in my heart, and I'm ashamed of that.

In our Christian walk, we won't be perfect.  We will have times where we don't live up to our calling.  We have times where we let Satan have the best of us.  During those times I am thankful for God's never ending supply of grace and mercy.

Friends, we will face trials.  Let us not forget power and love and victory will always win over fear. 

 "Whom Shall I Fear (God Of Angel Armies)"

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I'm holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I'm holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Monday, May 25, 2015

117 Days...A Very Special Guest Blog

I do not believe for a moment God puts people in your life by accident.  A few weeks ago, I was given the great honor to preview a book written by a young man who has an incredible God story.  It is his biography, in which he shares the challenges he faced growing up, and how for part of his life he completely turned his back on God.  Even in those times when he didn't believe, you can see seeds being planted.  God miraculously spared his life after a serious auto accident and began to make a change in his heart.  This man, who wasn't even expected to live much less walk, will begin a cross country trek on foot in just a few days to share the message of Christ, coast to coast.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and I encourage you to buy his book.  Please join me in covering Jason with prayer for safety, provision and for God to put people in his path that need to hear his message of hope.
Every Step
Jason Truett

How do you beat a Goliath? David did it with stones as the story would go and in his victory he shocked Philistines and Israelites alike. As he spun his sling and released the stone he yelled, “The Lord shall deliver you into my hands!” Pause right there and realize what David yelled…”The Lord shall….”Underline that word “shall,” highlight it, remember it. God didn’t bring David to Goliath…no…he brought Goliath to David. Why? To be stopped, to be slain, to be vanquished, if you will.

Sometimes we plead and beg God to know why He plopped us down in the middle of a storm to face giants. Sometimes we often forget that it is the giants God has brought to face us.  I remember that old saying “If God brings you to it He will bring you through it.” Sometimes it may be to strengthen us and to get us ready but other times it may be to bring this giant down so that others will not have to face it.

God never gives us more than we can handle and I truly believe that. In my book, Every Step, the reader gets a firsthand account of my trials and my journey from atheism to Christianity. The reader will also see how God has gone way before me to prepare the steps ahead. As I wrote the story I got a better understanding of my own life and realized that God was preparing me for something so huge and to slay the upcoming giants that He will deliver into my hands. The biggest thing to remember is that God will always prepare you and guide you and help bring down the giants he has delivered into your hands.

I hope everyone enjoys my book, Every Step, which is now available on: on Amazon
In a few short days from now I will be starting a new journey which will consist of hiking across the country. I will start in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and head 2,800 miles west to San Diego, California. I invite everyone to follow me on my personal website where there will we links to purchase my book and follow me on Facebook as well.

Posted by The walk on Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Man's Plans

Proverbs 16:9
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Its graduation time.  It always takes me back to that day, longer ago than I want to think about, when I was standing with my cap and gown, ready to tackle the world.  I had a plan.  Go to college.  Become a lawyer.  Fall in love and get married.  Have babies.  Life would be sweet and rosy.  I'd be the mom who had my career, kept my house spotless and be at every school function and child activity.  

I had a great opportunity to listen to our pastor share with our youth some great advice last night on seeking God's will for your life.  As he finished, I told the young lady next to me it was great advice whether you are a teenager or 40.  God doesn't stop making plans for you when you graduate.

The verse above was jotted in my notebook almost three years ago.  It was one of those times in my life where I felt God clearly tugging on my super mom heart and telling me I could not continue to work 60 hours a week, even though I had a great job that I really enjoyed, keep a clean house and be at every activity for my children.  He quickly made a path for me to make a change, and all seemed well.

The mind of man plans is way, but the LORD directs his steps.  

About this time God also made way for me to start graduate school.  It is something I had wanted to do for years, but because of our geographic location and trying to juggle life, I just had not been able to make it work.  

Little did I know it was the start of a journey that has been less about getting to a goal and more about letting God have direction of my life.  You see, I still hadn't gotten past being a control freak, and I couldn't seem to step out on faith for something when I couldn't see the other side of the bridge I was getting ready to cross.

 Last night, as I finished the last assignment in my next to last class as a grad student, I thought about this verse from Proverbs.  The past two years have not been easy.  There have been many long nights of studying after working a full time job, sick and exhausted, while trying to get a chronic health condition under control. It wasn't the way I planned for grad school to happen, but I know in my heart it is the right one.  He has ordered each and every step, and each semester has come with a miraculous 4.0, knowing without him I could not have made it through.

I've learned a lot more from grad school than textbook knowledge: 

  • Its okay to plan.  God does not expect us to sit back and wait on him to move us.  We have to take the first step.
  • Man lays plans.  God is the ultimate determiner of where we end up.
  • The path to the prize isn't always straight, but sometimes the side roads reveal some incredible wonders and a testimony that only God can provide.
  • He is ALWAYS faithful to those who place their whole trust in him.
  • Big or small, he always directs our steps.
 Father thank you for ordering my steps and for fulfilling the desires of my heart.  Thank you for carrying me through this journey and for the miraculous things you have shown me in the process.  It is through you and with you that all things are possible.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lavishly Loved

1 John 3:1 New International Version (NIV) 3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

When I think about the word lavish,a beautiful princess comes to mind. Dressed in a beautiful dress, hair perfect. She's surrounded by a staff who takes care of her every need. Lavishly loved.

Most days I don't feel like a princess.  There is no staff, and it seems I pour more of me out than I get put back in.  

Friday was a road trip day. I was on my way to the doctor for a procedure and a test...and a nervous wreck.  The weather was gloomy, drizzly and gray.  The results of the test had been consuming me for weeks.  We had been dealing with vehicle issues.  Several other things weighed heavy on my mind.  I felt completely overwhelmed.

As I topped the hill, there was a moment of sunshine and I began to smile.  In the midst of the gray and gloom, God send me a ray of sunshine as a reminder he is still there.  As I drove on toward my destination, he brought to mind one after the other the great things he has done in my life. 

Sure, there are looming test results, but he has restored my balance in a way that is just simply amazing.  One by one I began to name other things that he has done and prayers he has answered, above and beyond my wildest expectations.

Sunshine warming my face.  Lavishly loved.  I got the concept loud and clear.

My heavenly father loves me enough to not only supply my needs, but he goes above and beyond what I ask or expect.  God didn't just half way wipe away our sins, he lavished us with his greatest possession, his son Jesus Christ, giving us eternal life and a hope for the future.

Our roads are not paved straight and smooth, but even in the times when we feel like the curves and mountains are one on top of the other, we can feel his great love. 

It is so easy to let darkness and doubt consume you.  It is so easy to look at the things in this world that pull and tug at us.  But guess what?  Even in the tough times its just as easy to see the great and wonderful things he has placed in our path, the blessings he has poured out abundantly in our lives...grace and mercy so rich we can't fathom the cost.

Dust off that crown and put it on a head held high.  We are royalty, and we are lavishly loved.

Father, thank you for pouring out over and over your blessings on my life.  Help me to always see your marvelous works even when things aren't exactly perfect in my life.  Thank you for the lavish gift you gave by sending your only precious son to die on the cross for my sins when I didn't deserve it at all. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Biting My Tongue

James 5:9-11

Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!  Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Have you ever dropped a spot of something on the carpet and then went to clean it up?  If you don't do it correctly, you start to rub, and the more you rub, the bigger the mess becomes. 

Sometimes being around people is hard.  It is inevitable when you put people of different backgrounds together you are going to have disagreements.  We get our feelings hurt, or we see things going on that just simply shouldn't be.  It is really easy to continue to rub at the spot and create a huge mess of feelings.  Some may be legitimate, some not, all become hurtful.

My mind has rubbed around some things the past week and created a mess that has been wearing on me physically and spiritually.

James 5 paints the attitude we should have in the face of adversity, when we face those people who just aren't that easy to handle.  Instead of judging and grumbling, and stirring the mess, we should set the example of patience. 

Even though we are saved by grace, we fight the battles of this world every day.  Our flesh longs to fight with the weapons of the strike out in anger and bitterness.  How we fight the fight matters.  I love the advice given to us here:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 The Message (MSG)

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

Lord help me to have an attitude of obedience and of mercy in the face of my enemies.  Teach me to know when to hold my tongue, and when to use it for your good.  Help me to see past the manipulative barriers of Satan and seek truth.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wilderness or Wonderland?

Exodus 14:13-14
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

This morning God led me to the story of the Israelites and their journey across the Red Sea.  It still amazes me that every time I read something I have read many times before, I can still learn something new.

In Exodus 14, God places the Israelites in an area where they appeared to be trapped.  God hardens the heart of Pharaoh and he sends out his army after them.  We all know what happens from here, Moses, led by God, stretches out his hand and parts the sea so the Israelites can cross on dry land.  Then God instructs Moses to once again stretch out his hand so the sea returns and drowns the Egyptian army.  

We all have had our wilderness experiences.  Sometimes they happen every day.  As the verses above remind us, God will fight for us, and he will bring us through.

My message this morning was not about the promise of deliverance, but about the placement in the situation.  If you go back and read the chapter, God strategically places the Israelites where he wanted them to be.  Yet they felt hemmed in and were scared.  Pharaoh saw what appeared to be a great opportunity to reclaim his servants and sends out a confident army ready to bring the Israelites back to captivity.

Strategically placed.  Have you ever thought about that?  All the times we face situations where it seems we are hemmed in, with no options, we were strategically placed there. 

I had to take some time to dwell on that this morning.  The past year was a tough one.  I endured some pretty scary health issues.  For a while nothing seemed to be working, and I feared what my life would look like if I kept spiraling downward.  I felt trapped, hemmed in.

How would I take care of my family?  
How would I pay my bills if I can't work?  
Why would God put me in the midst of seeking a degree that I am sure he called me to pursue, only to make it so hard to take the classes I needed?  
Why would God take away the ability to do the things-such as teaching, or singing in the choir, that give me my opportunity to worship and share his good news?
What if it is a tumor?
What if my eyesight doesn't come back...

It is hard to think about being strategically placed in situations in our lives that scare us to death.  I'm still pondering over the why. Admittedly, sometimes deliverance doesn't come with the swipe of a hand, it takes time.

I do know one thing.  God takes care of us in the wilderness, and we need not fear.  When we are able to look back at the deliverance he gives, we see the wonder of the situation.

David knew this lesson too:
Psalm 27  
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Strategically placed...if he puts you there it is for a reason.  Instead of trying to fix our wilderness situations, we need to sit back and watch for the wonderful things God makes of them.