Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Game of Battleship

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31b (NIV)

My brother and his children gave Melea a giftcard to Target for Christmas. She couldn't wait for the chance to go to Target, choose just the right items...making sure the cost came out just right, and pay for it herself...even the extra cents for the tax. The young lady at the cash register was so kind and patient and treated Melea just like a grownup. Melea chose a DVD and the game "Battleship." Melea loved the fact that the giftcard came from my brother, and that he and I had loved playing the game when we were children!

Yesterday as Melea and I played, I found myself wanting to let her win...even help her win...with comments like, "Whew! That was close!" or "Oh, you almost got me!" I wanted to make it easy for her. But is that the best thing to do? She really needs to learn things like good sportsmanship, tenacity, strategy, the ability to cope when things just don't come easy. (And by the way, she is getting that from her Daddy...highly competitive....Yep, he enjoys winning!) As we were playing, and I was thinking how much I love to see my sweet girl have victory, the verses came to mind from Matthew 7:9-11, which say, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" But is the "good gift" always in the form of an easy win?

In Romans 8 (and I encourage you to read over the whole chapter), Paul says (in verses 14-18) that "because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God...The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." And skipping down to verses 31-32, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"

Paul also encourages us in Philippians 3:8-14 (and again, the whole chapter is so rich), "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own...but that which is through faith in Christ....Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me....I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

So, what's the prize? The victory? A heritage as sons and daughters of the Most High--co-heirs with Christ! Glory that comes from enduring...and trusting the words of Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

And remember, when you feel as if you are on life's "battleship" with waves crashing...the engine pushing you into unknown waters...with a fear of what lies ahead, or facing a fierce enemy, that we are sons and daughters of the Victor!! "When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you..."[believe that] "You will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies." Numbers 10:9

Lord, Abba, Father, thank you for your great love. Thank you for the many promises in Your Word that remind us of the depths of your Fatherly love for us, and for your desire for us to be victorious! Help us to seek you, to trust you, to believe you...even when it's not easy...even when it requires suffering. Help us in our unbelief. We want to be like you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Signs of His Love

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

It was dusk and I was taking my faithful companion, Cocoa, outside. I heard a rustle in the leaves in the pasture behind our house. I had to strain to see the source because of the time of day, the dense trees, and the color of the creatures carefully watching me. It was the wag of a white tail that gave them away...then ears standing perked attuned to any signs of danger. I stood perfectly still, my eyes scanning the lot in front of me. Then I saw them all...three deer...camouflaged, as God intended...regal, yet cautious. We just stood...watching each other. And then I just had to giggle with joy as once again God tangibly showed His love for me.

You see, it's just a sweet way He has used over the years to say "out loud," "I love you." I think way back (before we knew the sign language for I love you), my Daddy had his own. He would just hold up his middle three fingers, and I knew what he meant. He loved me. Years later, God used three finches on my finch feeder (which by the way was a part of a three part bird feeder "condo", that my husband gave show he loved me") to say "I love you." There have been other times...three blooms on a bush, three butterflies. I just smile...and know He loves me.

As I've been pondering the deer (and dear) sighting over the last couple of days, I'm reminded of the ultimate demonstration of His love for me...and for all of us, and it's found in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life." (KJV) And as a direct result of that love...of God sending His own Son to walk this earth blamelessly and give His life (and "...the Son of Man [spent] three days in the heart of the earth...." Matthew 12:40...rose again...and ascended back to the Father) so that we, also, might live forever with Him. And then...we have completion through the Trinity by way of the "promised Holy Spirit" Ephesians 1:13, as He dwells in us...comforts us, counsels us, strengthens us...until our Heavenly eternity begins!

So..."May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!" 2 Corinthians 13:14 Bless-ed Trinity!

Abba, Father, thank You for Your great love for us...Your compassions that never fail...Your mercies that are new every morning. Thank You for Your Word that reminds us of Your unfailing love. Thank you for those tangible ways that you speak to us...minister to us...personally to show us that love as we walk this sod, and await the day that we will see You face to face! Oh, "what a day of rejoicing that will be!! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!" Amen...and I mean it. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspired to Prepare My Home and My Heart

"And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Luke 2:12 (KJV)

My friend, Jean (My Conversations with God blogger), inspired me yesterday to get up and get moving!! She was talking about getting rid of "clutter" and what my upstairs was cluttered with was boxes of Christmas decorations. Contrary to the wishes of my 8 year old, I had a bit of trouble conjuring up the desire to tackle the mountain of cartons filled to the brim with Christmas-y "treasures" collected over the years.

I turned the TV to that wonderful station that plays holiday songs, took a deep breath, and set to work! In a matter of minutes, I was humming...and smiling...and I must admit, there was a bit of dancing around the room. (I was home alone.) Warm memories (Hmmm... "Winter must be cold for those with no warm mem'ries." Name that movie!...sorry! family quirkiness!)...warm memories of days of decorating when the girls were small...and home...brought such a feeling of satisfaction and joy. As I took out each item, thoughts of the circumstances surrounding their becoming a part of our collection...given as gifts from friends, family, or students of mine or bought for personal reasons...made my heart feel glad...and appreciative. I worked for hours finding just the right spot for each. Finally I was able to just sit and look around at how it my aching back...and breathe a sigh of relief.

As I surveyed the room, I thought, "Man, that took a lot of preparation!" And without skipping a beat, I heard the words, "Joy, to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room...." During this time of year we do so much "preparation." We decorate the house. We bake the Christmas cookies. We shop. And shop. And shop. We wrap the gifts. We hustle. We bustle. We run here. We run there. And I'm thinking we need to just prepare Him room in our hearts and in our holiday. Let's take time to sit by the fire, or by the tree and enjoy the peace of His presence, and consider the depth of His love...that God would come to earth as a baby, take on flesh, die, and be resurrected that we might live. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace...." Luke 2:14 (KJV)

Lord, please forgive us when we let the cares and activity of this world keep us from You. Please help us to take the time to worship talk to listen to read Your celebrate You and Your birthday this season.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Better Than the "Good Housekeeping Seal"!!!

"Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14

This may seem a strange post for Thanksgiving day...but bear with me! I'm just so awed and blessed by...and thankful for God's precious Word to us!!!

If you read my last post, this is one of those "things scribbled" that has just stayed on my mind for days...and I must share!

Okay, I must admit, I would like to have young, beautiful...did I say! However, I just can't justify paying top dollar for moisturizing products. Well, on a trip to my Mama's house, I had the luxury of some relaxation and a chance to read her Good Housekeeping magazine. Right there in black and white, they listed the best and most reasonably priced daytime and nighttime moisturiser...with the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval"!!!! I couldn't wait to run out and buy both!!! And I've been using them for months. The sad thing is that I look in the mirror and still see wrinkles and the definite signs of aging. So I'm thinking...What about the Good Housekeeping Seal?

I think God just chuckled as He reminded me of a seal that is so much more precious...and true...and eternal! Join with me, as this whole passage is just such an encouragement and a blessing...and such reason for giving thanks!!!

Ephesians 1:3-13 (NIV)
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us (Yes, He chose us!!!) in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will (We bring Him pleasure!! We are a part of His will and His plan!)-to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. (Amazing Grace!!) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished (Oh, I love that word!!) on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will (We are a part of His purpose and plan!!). In order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. (We were created for the praise of His glory!!) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of His glory." (Parentheses mine)

Now that's a guarantee that I believe in!!! Oh let us "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations!!!" Psalm 100:4-5

Father, we praise you! Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness!! Thank you for your amazing love and grace!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thought for Thanksgiving

"'...Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'" Luke 1:28

My apologies to the few followers who check occasionally to see if I'm writing!! I've either been caught up with the day to day comings and goings of life...or terribly undisciplined...or BOTH! God has spoken on several different occasions and I must confess that I never made it to the computer. But, those words are jotted on random pieces of paper...the back of sermon notes, sticky notes, envelopes, napkins...and hopefully someday when I am more disciplined I'll be able to remember the purpose of my scribblings and share words that hopefully will bless the readers of them.

Now, on to the Word!!! This morning I started studying Luke's account of the Christmas story. Mmmm, so much there to bless our hearts. I was particularly touched by the angel, Gabriel's words to Mary as he just appeared...out of the blue! He said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Let's just take those words and hear them fresh...directly to our hearts. We are highly favored by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He loves us!! We are His favorites!! And with matter where we are, no matter where we've been, no matter what road life takes us down in the future. He loves us and He is with us.

Wow! What a reason for giving thanks. Wrap that love around you today. Feel the warmth of His presence.

Abba, Father, thank you for your great love for us. Thank you for the assurance of your presence with us. Thank you for loving so much that you sent your Son on our behalf so that we could spend eternity with you. Your love is truly unfathomable. Thank you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Gift of Rainbows

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11

Everyday...sometimes even several times a day...I admire one of my most favorite gifts given to us by my parents. It is the large decorative window that is over the garden tub in our bathroom. My Mama and Daddy went with John and me when we had the overwhelming opportunity to choose everything for our home...appliances, paint colors, carpet, light fixtures, and so on. They have such great taste and a knack for decorating (which I don't have...How did I miss that?). Oh my word, they were so helpful! We'd probably still be sitting there to this day making decisions if it hadn't been for them! We really did a good job staying on the conservative side as we made pretty, yet cost-conscience decisions. Then we came to that bathroom window. We opted to go with the most basic, yet attractive one, but on display was a bevelled glass beauty. I tried to keep my eyes off of it, determined to save money. But my sweet Mama and Daddy saw the glimmer in my eye. They liked it too. They said, "We'd like to get it for you." I doubt they had any idea that it would be one of those "gifts that keep on giving."

Most of the window is opaque, preventing anyone from seeing in. But then there is the ornate design near the top. Through the flat, clear glass I can see whether the sky is blue or grey. I can occasionally catch a glimpse of the moon. I can see minute pieces of bolts of lightening during a summer storm. Then there are the places where the glass has been cut. Through those prisms, the sun frequently casts tiny rainbows, splattered all around the room. They make me smile. And they always make me think of my parents, the givers of the gift. I'm so blessed.

My parents have given me so many gifts over the years. Wonderful gifts. Thoughtful gifts. Gifts that often required hours of labor to produce. Our family has a heritage of giving. My grandparents were givers of much! The gift goes on.

One day as I was admiring the window and thanking God for the gift He gave me in my parents, He breathed that verse in Matthew over me. Mmmmmm, to think that He desires to give me even more than they do boggles my mind! And another amazing thing is that in Luke 11:13 that reiterates Jesus' words says, "If you then...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Now that's a gift that is one that keeps on giving! Another gift of rainbows...a lasting covenant to us.

"Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us...that we should be called Sons of God!"

Lord, you are the giver of every good and perfect gift!! You have given and continue to give beyond our wildest dreams! Thank you for your unfailing, unending love for us! Thank you that we are Yours...heirs of Your kingdom!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bring On the Fattened Calf...OK...So Bring On the Skinny Chicken!

" one another deeply, from the heart." 1 Peter 1:22b

My man is coming home today!!! He has been in Mississippi since Tuesday, and I can't wait to see that handsome man come walking in the door! I've cleaned the house, washed the sheets (so they smell Downy fresh!), and tried to make everything look nice for his return home. I am ready to celebrate!!

May I just brag on him a minute? The man is looking good!!! He is doing such a great job (since the stroke) to positively embrace a new lifestyle of eating and exercising!! He gave up Breyers Ice Cream and butter!! And red meat!!! I'm so proud and so thankful. I want to grow old with him...walk on the beach, go to the mountains, travel other places, rock on our front porch, enjoy our, that's not an announcement.

I am so blessed to have a husband who is committed to God and serving Him faithfully! He is so smart!!! His job requires so much...and he rises to every challenge with intelligence, love, and grace. He is also committed to his family, and provides for us in amazing ways. He has done a fabulous job being Daddy to 4 wonderful daughters. He is a very supportive husband...encouraging me (as well as our daughters) to pursue our dreams. He is a master griller! He gives the best massages EVER. He is great in ways too numerous to name!

So, bring on the rotisserie chicken! (Fattened calves are really over-rated!) Let's celebrate!

Lord, thank you for answering my parents' prayers and blessing me with a man after your own heart! Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being the bride of such a brilliant man. Thank you for the love that we share. Thank you for the paths that we've walked...the good and the bad. Thank you for the lessons that we continue to learn. Thank you for the hope of the future! Lord, you are good and your mercies endure forever!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Look What Some Rain Can Do!

"See!...the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come...." Song of Solomon 2:11-12

This afternoon when I took my sweet Cocoa out, I was awed by my Lantana bush as I walked up to my back porch. It was beautiful!! It was covered with brilliant red blooms, orange blooms, and red with orange blooms!! My first thought was, "Wow! Look what some rain can do!" That drenching rain over the weekend did wonders!

As I looked at the bounty brought forth by the rain, I couldn't help but consider how the "rains" and "storms" of life can also cause us to flourish...if we allow God to work within them. I want to share with you some words that are such a source of comfort and encouragement to me.

"Jesus draw me ever nearer As I labour through the storm. You have called me to this passage, and I'll follow, though I'm worn. May this journey bring a blessing, May I rise on wings of faith; And at the end of my heart's testing, With Your likeness let me wake. Jesus guide me through the tempest; Keep my spirit staid and sure. When the midnight meets the morning, Let me love You even more. Let the treasures of the trial form within me as I go - And at the end of this long passage, Let me leave them at Your throne."

Lord, please help us to allow you to draw us ever nearer to you. Help us to follow and allow your work...even when we're worn. Help us to live and walk in faith. And, Lord, may your likeness and the deepening of our love for you be the blossoms of testimony to your goodness.

"Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer" (Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music)

Monday, September 8, 2008

God Doesn't Have a Secretary

"But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!" Psalm 66:19-20 (NIV)

First of all, let me say that I am very thankful that my husband has a wonderful secretary!! I appreciate the "interference" that she runs for him. I love the way she "looks after" him and protects him. It takes quite a woman to keep that man in line! (And just for the record, I have a direct line to him. I rarely even get to talk to that precious woman.)

I understand the importance of those amazing servants who screen calls and emails, but doesn't it hurt your feelings just a little bit when you think that perhaps your phone call or email wasn't deemed worthy of being addressed?

I'm glad that God doesn't have a secretary. I'm glad that He's always there. He always listens. He always loves. He always responds. Oh, how He loves you and me!

Lord, thank you for knowing us...and loving us anyway. Thank you for the assurance that you never sleep...that you're always there to listen. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that lives in us and speaks to us. Thank you for your Word...the greatest proof of your love and that you answer prayer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"There's No Crying in Baseball"

"You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

We're huge Tom Hanks fans at my house. We also quote movies (his and other family favorites)...a lot! Many times we switch words in the "There's no crying in baseball" quote, substituting the current dilemma for "baseball." In recent days, I've wrestled with the self-imposed idea that "There's no crying in Christian-dom." We've got to be STRONG...right?

Just over three weeks ago my husband had a stroke. I can't even believe that I am writing those words. We're not even 50 yet! I do know now that God carries us through horrifying circumstances to tend to details as we face shocking truth.

I was running errands...buying items I needed for the start of a new school year...and purchasing frames for our daughter's upcoming wedding. I was in AC Moore when John called. He asked me to come pick him up at work, that he didn't feel like he could drive and thought he had vertigo. I knew it was worse than that right away. His speech was slurred. I wasn't but a couple of miles away from his office, and remember little about the drive there...except that his boss called and said, "Kristi, there's something seriously wrong with John. Which hospital would you like for him to be taken to?" Somehow I managed to respond matter of factly. My heart pounded. I felt sick as I pulled into the parking lot and walked into his workplace. I watched as coworkers and paramedics crowded around my husband...who had no use of the left side of his body and was slumped in a chair. I made necessary phone calls. I said words to his parents and mine that I never dreamed of having to say. I had to figure out what to say to our weeks away from her wedding, one 3 hours away from us, one at work nearby, and our 8 year old.

And then I caught myself thinking, "Do I look 'strong'?" "Am I appearing to have faith?" "Am I Christian enough to handle this?" "Is crying allowed?" Honestly, it makes me a little mad that those thoughts would even enter my mind. Lies of the enemy. But do you know what is way more powerful than those lies? The WORD of TRUTH. I thought first of David. He "cried" out to God. He was a man after God's own heart! Then I thought of Job. He was "blameless and upright." He expressed his emotions. And then Jesus...God's own Son. It is recorded that He wept on several occasions. Then I remembered that He is our Comforter....He knew ahead of time that we would need one. He is our Rock...steady and unchanging, a firm foundation. He is our Strength. In our weakness, He is strong.

Did I cry in the days that followed? Yes. Hard. Do I face some fears as a result of our experience? Yes. But I have to keep trusting, to believe the words I cherish in His Word. Isaiah 49:13 says, "Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones." Oh, He had some huge compassion that day. By His grace, John has no residual effects of the stroke. God saw fit to answer the many prayers lifted in that hour. He continues to hold us, to guide us to strengthen us, to draw us closer to Him...and to each other... as we daily turn to Him.

And I join with Paul in his prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Amen. "I mean it." (Daddy, that's for you.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Enough Said

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in Heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." Ecclesiastes 5:2

Yesterday afternoon I found myself uttering a prayer to God that was "quick," "hasty," and frankly a wee bit bossy. I expressed my opinion to Him about how I thought something should go...and immediately I felt a spiritual slap on my hand. My prayer quickly changed to one word. "REIGN." That was all that was needed. The significance of that one word resounded in my mind, heart and spirit. My mind raced over all the other pressing requests on my prayer list. That one word sufficed for them all.




Monday, July 28, 2008

I Wanna Be In the Light...Always?

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

We had lived in our house a few weeks before I realized our "light" situation. In our last home, our miniature dachshund, Cocoa, would doze for hours in the warmth of sunlight that flooded through the many windows. She had to work at it just a bit, moving from one side of the sofa to another (often in quite precarious positions...balancing on any surface in order to stay in the rectangular sunshape), then move from sofa to carpet, from carpets to hardwoods, from one room to another as she was forced to follow the sun's movement from the east side to the west side of the house. Oh how she loved being in the light. At our current address, we get no direct sunlight into the downstairs. We have the luxury of having a front porch and a screened in back porch...but their roofs (and the angle of our house) prevent the sun from shining in directly. Good for our air conditioning bill. Bad for Cocoa.

When I'm home in the summertime, Cocoa will often let me know that she would like to go out on the screened porch and sprawl in her bed where the sun shines unhindered...and the fan blows a gentle breeze...and the smells of grilling linger, as well as the honeysuckle or gardenias. What a life!

You know, if Cocoa had her choice, she would probably love to stay in that light, but that option isn't there. Once school starts back we can't just leave the door open for her to come and go as she pleases. When winter comes, it's just too cold for a dog her age. So Cocoa is limited. Her opportunities to bask in the light are confined to our schedules, the seasons, cloud cover, and so on.

So how do we feel about the light? We are instructed in Ephesians 5:8b, to "Live as children of light." As I was pondering my own feelings about the light and humming DC Talk's song, "In The Light," ("I want to...or wanna... be in the light as you are in the light. I want to shine like the stars in the heavens. Oh Lord be my light and be my salvation. All I want is to be in the light.") it occurred to me that even though "light" and "warmth" and "sunshine" sound snug and cozy and cheery, do we realize the boldness of the statement, "All I want is to be in the light."? Light, in this case, is not synonymous with ease.
If we are truly walking and living in the light, we must be willing to allow the penetration of the light that exposes our sin...each and every one...the blatant and those that "fly under the radar" of our own minds. Are we willing to accept that exposure and purging? We must.
Are we willing to walk in the light of His Word? Not just the "feel good" parts, but the parts that require radical obedience as well?
Will we keep looking to the One who is the Light even when life's road is rough and our spiritual "skin" feels burned and dried out? Mmmm, the words to the well known hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" just came to mind. "O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. Through death into life everlasting, He passed, and we follow Him there; Over us sin no more hath dominion—For more than conquerors we are! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well: Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace." (Helen H. Lemmel)
Yes, all I want is to be in the light...even if it's not always cheery or easy. Oh Lord, be my light and my salvation.
Our Father, our Light, cleanse us and guide us in your way everlasting. Be all that we can't be on our own. Thank you for Your glory...that outshines anything...and for your grace. Thank you for choosing us, for allowing us to belong to you. We bow on our knees and cry, "Holy."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh, How He Loves You and Me

" all...things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

Today my post is a little different. These are just some words from a couple of days of devotions that were precious to me. I pray that they will be an encouragement to you as well!

From Beth Moore (Praying God's Word Day by Day devotional book): "If satan has convinced you to see yourself as anything less than a handpicked child of God, Christ can restore your lost dignity." She said, "Help me, Lord God, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that in all things You work for the good of those who love You, those who have been called according to Your purpose." (Rom. 8:28)...You obligate Yourself to this awesome promise when I offer You my aching heart and commit myself and my suffering to Your good purposes. If I do, You will do more with my life than I could ever conceive." (1 Cor. 2:9) When I went to 1 Cor. 2:9 (in my Women's Devotional Bible), there was a devotion by Barbara Bush on the opposite page...on patience. She said, "Patience is the ability to bear affliction, delay and interruption with calmness, perseverance and confidence in the goodness of God...It is the submission of our schedules, our viewpoints, our dreams to the greater plan of God, with the conviction that He has a good reason for every delay He allows to come our way."

On the following page, Beth Moore said, "I would never imply that getting over rejection (or affliction, delay and interruption) (Italics mine) is easy, but it is God's unquestionable will for your life." She referenced a verse in 2 Cor. which was opposite a devotion by Karen Burton Mains (Women's Devotional Bible), that could encourage us through our circumstances, as she said, "It was during these shadowy days, dragging with plodding prisoner's feet, that I learned how important it is to keep talking with God...A major part of the mature Christian journey is learning how to handle those times when the heavens are locked, when our lives are weighted with the winter garments of despair, pain, worry and loss..." She went on to quote from Psalms 3, 5, and 6. She said, "David's words reiterate the old truth...When your soul feels like a gray February day, and all seems to be rain, fog and chill drizzle, the overcast can be lifted if you will learn to just keep talking with God."

From Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest): "Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the 'passing of the hero.' Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died--I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or--I saw the Lord? (Is. 6:1) (Italics mine)...I need surgical operation of external events and an internal purification. It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. 'In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee.' Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

From Steven Davey (A Wisdom Retreat) 2 Thess. 2:13-14 "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Italics mine)"The word 'beloved' is a special word that is reserved only for the children of God. While God has a general love for the whole world, and even a sustaining love even for His enemies-in that he sends sunshine to warm them and rain to water their crops, just as He does for believers-this term of endearment is unique for those who are His precious possession....You may be thinking to yourself, 'How can God call me that? Doesn't He know how unlovable I am?'...When you became a believer you immediately became the bride of Christ. Although the Lord will continually change your character over the course of your life, your status has been changed forever. You are God's special possession and He deeply, eternally, and unfailingly loves you. You are His beloved."

Oh yes, I have to remember minute by minute..."My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand." Oh to be able to stay in His Word and singing His praise without ceasing.

We are His Beloved.

Father, thank you for the height and depth of Your great love for us. Thank you for being there through whatever delays, rejections, or circumstances that we face. Thank you for being faithful and unchanging. Thank you for the plans that you have for us...and for promising to give us the grace to endure the molding and shaping and pruning that it takes to produce your glory in us. Help us to have the patience and strength to wait on You. Thank you for calling us your beloved. Help us to place our trust, our hope, our everything in You and You alone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not Perfect...But My Imperfect

"As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." 2 Samuel 22:31

Perfect is one of those words that we can use flippantly and broadly to refer to people or things that can't even begin to fulfill the meaning of the word. You know..."Oh, your hair looks just perfect!" or "That dress is really perfect." or "Their marriage is so perfect." or "We found the perfect church." Webster defines perfect as "being complete of its kind and without defect or blemish." Can we just agree right now that only God...the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...and His Word are perfect? This beautiful planet we live on began as perfect, but was marred forever by the sin of man...and woman. Perfection will only be found again for us upon Christ's return, "when perfection comes, [and] the imperfect disappears." (1 Cor. 13:10)

I feel that I must begin with myself and admit that I am not perfect! (No "Amens" to that, please!) I would love to be the perfect Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, writer...but I am not. I am far from "complete," and am endowed with great "defect(s)" and "blemish(es)"! My testimony is surely not perfect. I am appalled with some of the things that I have done, words that I have said, thoughts that I have had, decisions that I've made. No, my testimony is not perfect...but it is my imperfect. Praise His Name for unconditional and unfailing love, for forgiveness, grace, compassion, protection, and the lessons learned along the way...even the painful ones.

My walk with God is not perfect...I fail Him daily, sometimes by pulling the covers up higher when He is calling me out of bed and into quiet time with Him, when He tells me that the laundry or the dishes or my writing can wait because my child needs some cuddling time and I don't listen, when He calls me to write instead of laundry or dishes or cuddling, when I don't have a servant's heart, the right attitude, or contentment....The list could go on....But He never gives up. He woos me. He forgives me. He continues to mold and shape me. He whispers of His love for me. Oh, I'm so thankful for the One Who is the "perfecter of [my] faith" (Hebrews 12:2). And in that I have hope...even in my imperfect walk, because I know that "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it." (Phil 1:6)

Our home is not perfect. Dust bunnies, piles of laundry, that lovely pinkish orange residue that shows up in the shower or toilet can sometimes be seen. My closet is messy. There are doggie paw prints on my floor. There are weeds in my flower garden (and some of my newly planted flowers are just not going to make it.) Our meals aren't always home-cooked or nutritionally balanced. Sometimes that white stuff that flecks off the milk jug collects in my fridge. No, it's not perfect, but it's our imperfect.

Our family is not perfect. Sometimes we get cranky. Sometimes we whine. Sometimes we take each other for granted. Sometimes we forget to say "thank you." Sometimes we "let the sun go down on our anger". Sometimes we watch too much TV. Sometimes some of us can't wait to take a few bites of dinner before we pray. Some members of our family burp (but do say "Excuse me."), and some members encourage them by saying, "Nice!" No, our family's not perfect, but it's our imperfect. And it is blessed by our gracious Heavenly Father.

In 2 Corinthians 13:9, Paul challenged the church at Corinth...and "Aim for perfection...." So, do we just say that it's impossible and give up? No! And I hope you don't mind if I use this verse out of context, but I think it can be an encouragement to us. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) We have hope! And, as the hymn says, "Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." We must follow His way, stay in His Word, and allow Him to be our shield. He will make us like Him...perfect...forever. Praise His Name!

Our precious, perfect Heavenly Father, thank you for your unfailing and unconditional love. Thank you for pursuing us relentlessly. Thank you for molding and shaping us. Please help us to allow you to do the work to bring us to eternal perfection.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Bloomin' Article Revisited

"[You] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His spendor." Isaiah 61:3b

Okay, I must confess right away that I'm sharing with you an article that I wrote a couple of years back. I also have to "come clean" that the beautiful flowers that brought the article to mind were planted by my wonderful new son-in-law, Brandon and our daughter, his bride, Rachel. My back yard is bursting with color...a mandevilla that's beauty is just beyond description, some brilliant fuschia gerbera daisies, pink begonias, a gardenia that sprouted it's first fragrant bloom today, and a lovely butterfly bush. With another wedding on the horizon, I didn't choose any rosebushes. I love them, but don't have time this summer for all of the pampering they need. Okay, true confessions aside, I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

I have a new hobby! It is flower gardening. Now you should be laughing hysterically, because I‘m not really the outdoorsy type. I don‘t like getting my hands dirty. I’m not particularly fond of getting on my knees for anything (except prayer.) A shovel, fertilizer (especially cow manure), and bug spray have definitely never been items of interest to me…especially if I had to APPLY them. But God used the blessing of a precious friend who loves gardening to move me out of my comfort zone and into a place where I can be blessed by Him in a whole new way.

I’ve planted Gerbera Daisies, Hollyhocks (okay, John planted those, but it was my idea), and two rose bushes. The rose bushes were my first. I dug the holes. I followed my grandmother and granddaddy’s instructions step by step, including some gravel in the bottom of the hole, mixing the red clay with potting soil, and yes, mixing in some cow manure. What satisfaction I found in seeing that work completed! And I continue to be filled with joy daily as I water them and feed them, tend to them, prune off dead leaves, spray for bugs, and oh, how wonderful it is to be able to clip off a rose to put in a bud vase in my home or to share with someone!

I cut off a beautiful coral colored rose yesterday and put it in a bud vase. I placed it on the counter between our kitchen and den. I admired it all day! Last night, as Melea had her snack up on that bar, she was looking closely at the rose. She said, “Mommy, that rose has bugs on it!” Sure enough, it had some tiny green aphids on it. I knew that spraying the bushes to prevent bugs was on tap for today. After calling my daddy for advice on timing, I took care of that.

As I walked today, I pondered that whole scenario. I thought about how we, as women, all want to be beautiful just like that rose. And I believe that we can be, if we allow the Master Gardener to do His work in the gardens of our lives. He is the one who “dug the hole” as He fashioned our hearts to receive Him. He is the creator of the perfect formula for growing us into the women He desires for us to be. My grandmother says that the gravel that I put in the ground provides a good foundation for the roots to rest, and gives a means of drainage so that the roots aren’t drowned in soggy mud. Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the…mud and…He set my feet on a rock.” And what a foundation that rock is, because “The Lord (Himself) is my rock…my deliverer…my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2). Everything in our lives is filtered through His almighty hands. It is also essential that we are “planted” in good soil, which as Jesus referred to in Matthew 13:23 as “the man (or woman) who hears the Word and understands it.” The Word is life, and the Holy Spirit gives us understanding when we ask! Now to the cow manure! May I assume that we all have a little of that in our lives? 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 reminds us, “…do not lose heart…. For our…momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Allow that trouble, those circumstances to draw you to the One at work within you.

Now that the planting is complete, consent to let God do the “watering,” to fill you up till you are overflowing with Him. Concede as He prunes away that which is fruitless. And to receive the “bug spray,” put on the “full armor of God!” I encourage you to go to Ephesians 6:10-18 for that application! And as a result, “[you] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b).

All too often we are caught up in the world’s definition of beauty. We allow magazines, movies, and TV to shape our concepts of what is beautiful. Too many times we look in the mirror and are not pleased with what we see because we have set unattainable, unrealistic standards. If we allow God’s beautification, through us, He will radiate a beauty that far exceeds the standards of the world!

Are you longing for beauty? True beauty? Allow the Master Gardener to do His work in and through you, and as promised in Zechariah 9:17 “How attractive and beautiful (you) will be!”

*All scripture references are NIV.

Monday, June 16, 2008

All in a Day's Walk

"Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess." Deuteronomy 5:33 (NIV)

As I took a walk in our neighborhood order to physically live and prolong my days by doing the healthy thing, God whispered His desire for me to ponder some precepts so that I may spiritually live and prosper and prolong my days in the land that He gives.

Though our neighborhood is small, it has a couple of nice hills to make the walk a little more challenging. I try to start out boldly and tackle the biggest hill first. I must admit, today it was a bit of a struggle. My calves and shins burned. I got really out of breath. My heart rate definitely picked up. Not that I would even begin to compare this with the walk up to Jerusalem, but it was neat to think about propelling myself on by singing a "song of ascent." I could definitely relate to the Psalmist who wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?" I came home and savored the remainder of Psalm 121, which says, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber or sleep. The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, not the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Mmmm, what comfort and encouragement.

And I could surely relate to the "shade at [my] right hand." I got off to a late start with my walk and it was already getting hot. The sun was beating down. Our neighborhood is fairly new and there aren't many shade trees near the sidewalk. When I reached the one (that I can particularly remember), I slowed my pace and enjoyed a brief moment of cooling. I thought about being the "apple of His eye" and feeling respite in the "shadow of His wings." (Ps. 17:8) And a wonderful thing about His shadow is that, unlike the shadow of that little tree, which grows and shrinks with the moving of the sun, we can learn from James 1:17 that "Every good and perfect gift (even a little shade or a cool breeze) is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Mmmm, He never changes. He loves us unfailingly.

After lots of sweating, I arrived at home...very thirsty. As I drank that cool, refreshing water, I thought, "Oh Lord, I want to be that thirsty for You and for Your Word." I shared in David's sentiment from Psalm 63, "O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your Name I will lift up my hands." Mmmm, He satisfies.

Lord, thank You for putting Your love and Your beauty before us. Thank You for listening to our hearts and responding to our cries. Thank you for revealing your Spirit to us so tangibly.
Thank you for your comfort and encouragement. Thank you for being unchanging and unfailing. Thank you for satisfying. Please walk with us, guide us, "Show [us] the way [we] should go, for to You [we] lift up [our] souls." (Ps. 143:8b)

Friday, June 13, 2008

SONshine on a Cloudy Day

"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." Mark 13:26

I don't recall the date, or how old I was, or even where I was, but I distinctly remember a day that I looked up at the sky and realized that no matter what the sky looked like...dark, ominous storm clouds, puffy white billows, or gray-white haze...that there was always blue sky behind it. It was a stark revelation! I totally didn't expect it. From every direction, as far as the eye could see, it just seemed that the cloud cover was height, in depth, in width. And then there was this a porthole, or a view through a periscope, or the sight when looking through a wrapping paper cardboard tube...not such that you can see the whole background, but just a circular glimpse of the most brilliant hue of blue. I'll never forget it, the realization that it is always back there...behind the clouds.

This memory was triggered as I was working through the last days of Fingerprints of God, a Bible study by Jennifer Rothschild. The title for the day's study was "Canvas for His Glory," and the focal Scripture for the day was John 9:3, which says, "...but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." The passage refers to the healing of a man born blind. Jennifer (who is also blind) pointed out something key in these few verses, that is probably often overlooked. She asked, "Did you catch the sequence?" She said, "Jesus said that the man's blindness happened for God's glory before He actually healed him." She went on to say, "My friends, the work of God is displayed in the heartache-not only in the healing."

Jennifer asked the questions, "If God is using your difficulty as a canvas for His glory...What colors would He use? What subject would He capture? How long would it take to complete His work?"

Here's where I happened to remember the blue sky revelation incident. When I answered the "What colors would He use?" question, I wrote dark grayish...surrounding a circular splash of sapphire blue with bright yellow right in the center. That was to capture the subject that He, the SON/sun is always there, in the center, no matter what storm clouds may be hovering. Since I'm already interjecting personally, I'll go ahead and answer the third question, as to how long will it take Him to complete His work...forever. But I know that "He who began a good work...will carry it on to completion!" (Phil. 1:6)

Our life's "clouds" come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of intensity. Sometimes we stand stunned, as the disciples did, when "a cloud hid Him from their sight." (Acts 1:9) We must remember that wasn't the end of the story! As we are told in Mark 13:26, "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." And in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, we "will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

And until that day comes, we must cling to the many truths in His Word that remind us that "It is God who arms [us] with strength..." (Ps. 18:32), and that "[He is our] lamp...the Lord turns [our] darkness into light." (2 Sam. 22:29) We are promised many times in Scripture that we must "Be strong and courageous....for the Lord your God goes with you;he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)

Oh Lord, our God, thank you for being our light, for being willing to dwell even in the dark clouds (1Kings 8:12), for promising to never leave us or forsake us. Thank you that we can trust you to work a masterpiece on the canvas of our lives if we yield to the strokes of your hand. May your work be displayed in both our heartaches and our healing. Only a God like You.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tiny Hearts...Big God

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 was a day that forever changed the lives of many. On that day, Maria Chapman died tragically. A happy little five year old's heart ceased beating. The hearts of her family members, friends, and fans of her famous daddy were broken.

On that same day, in the community of Bedford, Va., a baby girl was born. Her daddy's fame, at the present time, is primarily in the eyes of God ( the only one that really matters), his precious family, his friends, church members, and the youth that have come to know Christ better because of his tutelage, his passion for Jesus, and the work that God has called him to. This baby girl, Elle, didn't have her story told over the airways or in newspapers. There are millions of people that have no idea that Elle was born with a tiny malfunctioning heart that would be unable to sustain her life without major surgery.

Although no newspapers, radios, or televisions carried the word of Elle's need for the touch of God's hand through the hands of amazing doctors and nurses, because of the technology of email, Facebook, blogs, and cell phones, word spread quickly and prayers were lifted on her behalf...and on behalf of the troubled hearts of her wonderful family. Parents, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Pastors, and friends gathered around that beautiful baby girl and prayed. They praised God...even in the trial. They worshipped Him together. They sought Him fervently and prayed for a miracle.

There are not many commonalities between the trials of May 21 for the Chapman family and the Minor family. Unfortunately, the miracle that the Chapmans prayed for didn't happen. That's hard to comprehend. Lives are changed. The pain is breathtaking. Hearts will be scarred forever. The miracle that the Minors prayed for did happen. Elle's tiny heart bears scars that will allow her to live, a scar on her chest will forever be a reminder to her family of God's work on her behalf.

The two stories do have one thing in common. As Hebrews 12:1 says, they were both "surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses," of family, friends, and strangers who prayed, who testified of God's goodness...even if the miracle doesn't come. God has been glorified through the lives of Maria and of Elle. God has given the comfort and the strength to endure, to persevere and "run the race" before them. He will continue to "bind up the broken-hearted" Isaiah the broken hearts of grieving families and in the repaired heart of a baby girl.

He is good. All the time.

Lord, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Thank you for the miracles that you perform and for the strength that you give when the miracle doesn't happen. Help our faith to be like that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who proclaimed their faith in you, that "even if [You do not]" save us from the flames (Daniel 3:18) we will still believe in You and trust Your heart. Lord, give us the faith, the help, the strength to run the race in a manner that is pleasing to you. Thank you for family, friends, and strangers (that one sweet day will be joined as family with You) that are there to surround, to hold up, to pray.

For updates and to encourage: and check blogs

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Broken Hearts in Need of Binding Up

"He has sent me to bind up the comfort those who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:1b-3

During this hour, as I write, the Steven Curtis Chapman family is experiencing the funeral of their 5 year old daughter, Maria. As I look into the eyes of my own beautiful China doll, Melea, I can't even begin to comprehend the agony that they are enduring. As tears flow and the weight in my chest feels almost suffocating, I know that their devastation is intensified beyond imagination. And not only must they fathom the death of their vibrant child, but minister to their son, Will Franklin, a precious young man having to deal with the heartbreak of being the driver of the vehicle that backed over her body.

As I question God as to how something so unthinkable could happen, the lyrics to the song, "Held" by Natalie Grant keep playing in my head.

To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling.
Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live? It’s unfair.
Chorus: This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

Yes, someone sacred has been torn from the Chapman family...from a family who has "died" to selfishness, to privacy, and sacrificed so many things to LIVE that others might come to know Christ through testimony and song, so that through setting the example of adoption and sharing their story with others, and providing financially so that many beautiful little girls from China have been brought into homes where they could be nurtured, loved, and taught about Jesus. But the promise is that when "everything fell" they will be held.

I know that our Heavenly Father is not only holding little Maria, but that the entire Chapman family and friends, as well as the thousands of people, joining them in their grief, who have been touched by Steven's music, the Shaoey picture books, and the pursuit of international adoption, are HELD in His almighty hands. As God's children...members of His "forever family" we must not forget that He is our Comforter, our Prince of Peace, our Refuge, our Strength, our Ever-Present Help, and our Father, Who has loved us since before time began and Whose love is unfailing.

He is Faithful and the Chapman family, because of their faith in Him, will continue to be "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."

Our Heavenly Father, we thank You that we can trust that You will always hold us. Thank you for the depth of Your love for us, that the arms that hold us through our trials are the same arms that were stretched out on a rugged cross so that we might live eternally in Your presence. Lord, we pray especially for the Chapman family. Please comfort and strengthen them. Help them and hold them tightly. Please bind up their broken hearts.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Firming Lotion...For Real?

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled...." 1 Peter 1:13a

A few weeks back, my Mom (grandmother of the bride) and I (mother of the bride) were discussing various self-tanning preparation for the upcoming Big Day!!! I told Mama that I'd had good experience with Jergen's "Natural Glow" in the past and recommended that she try it. Well, Mama called from the store. She found a bargain and was buying some for both of us. And not only was it a sunless tanner, but it was also a "firming" lotion!!! Now that's something to get excited about! You see, I had really great intentions of taking off a pound (or a few) and toning up before the wedding by getting back into the routine of walking in my neighborhood...but somehow that just didn't happen. The possibility of tan, firm arms and legs (minus the time and energy of exercise) sounded fabulous!! I couldn't wait to get that lotion!

I have to admit, over the next few days, as I waited to get the lotion I thought about it fairly often. Was it For Real? Could a lotion really "firm"? And all I had to do was to rub it on? (Now, just in case you are laughing at me and thinking you might like to sell me some property in the middle of a swamp...just indulge my positive thinking!!)

I finally got my lotion. I was anxious to read about the promises held within! To my dismay, it said, "Clinically proven to firm skin." Let me just say that I don't think that any amount of skin firming is going to make any difference in those unsightly bumpy,bulges just above my knees and that baggage hanging from under my upper arms! I really know better than to think that you can get those kinds of results without the work. Don't you?

That prompted me to think about our spiritual fitness and firmness. Do we think that we can go to church for our weekly slathering of holiness...spending a few minutes worshipping, listening and maybe even taking notes during a really good sermon, putting a little money in the offering plate... and look the way God intends for us to look or live the way He intends for us to live? Of course not. We must take action. We must be self-controlled and self-disciplined...actually I prefer God-controlled and my self is far too incapable.

Let's determine to seek Him deliberately, whole-heartedly, and actively. Let's exercise our minds in His Word. Let's firm up those memory muscles. Let's bend the knee in prayer. Let's pursue avenues of active service for Him.

"Therefore, I urge you, [sisters], in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies [and your minds] as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." Romans 12:1

Lord, draw us to Yourself. Help us to actively pursue You. Make us hunger and thirst for Your Word. Make us faithful in prayer. Prompt us to action on Your behalf. And Lord, help us, too, to care for these bodies, these places where Your very Spirit resides. Help us to treat them as the temples that they are. For You.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Not By the Hair of My Chin-ny Chin Chin...or Leg

"Search me, O God, and know my heart....See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Okay, so how many of you out there have fallen victim to that lone, unsightly black...or gray hair that somehow erupted on your chin? Don't you despise when that happens? Or how about those random spots that you just miss when shaving your legs? True confession time...One of those first warm spring days, after a winter of wearing long pants and rare leg shavings, I remember standing outside sporting cute little flip flops and capris. I kept feeling like there was something on the back of my leg, just above my heel. I tried brushing it away, but continued to feel a strange sensation. Finally I lifted it up to see if I could see the source...and there it was, a single hair that had somehow escaped the razor's blade. It was blowing in the breeze!

Fortunately tweezers or a touch up shave can remedy those problems. Just a little pluck or stroke and the unwanted culprit is conquered....flicked into oblivion.

How often does sin slip into our lives unnoticed? Things like gossip, a critical spirit, "little white lies" just eek their way into our thoughts and poke through into our conversations. Left unchecked and unattended, they mar our beauty as daughters of the King. Let's pray for God to reveal the sin in us. Let's pray for His conviction so that we may confess any "offensive way" in us, and allow Him to "pluck" it from our lives.

Lord, we pray for you to examine our hearts and minds, to lead us to repentance and forgiveness, so that we may be a glorious reflection of you.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Odd or God?

"Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. (Another version says, "Be Astonished! Wonder!) For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)

I must admit, I really haven't spent a lot of time in the book of Habakkuk. And I can't even remember how God led me to this verse...most likely through a morning devotion or a Bible study that I've done recently (probably Priscilla Shirer's Discerning God's Voice). But God has "utterly amazed" me by doing "something in [my] days that [I] would not [have] believed, even if [I had been] told"!!

Please bear with me as I give a little background, so that you can see the intricate working of God's hand over the last months...even the last bring me to this place of astonishment. I just must testify to His goodness and praise His Name!

I can remember feeling a nudge from God to "write" for years. There were seasons where I would actively pursue writing and be obedient to God's prompting (even to the point of "quitting my day job" after the Beth Moore study Believing God), and seasons where I was "flat out" disobedient (hindered by a lack of discipline, bound by the wildernesses of life, or just too busy...with four daughters, a husband in ministry, and going back to my day job, another area of "calling" by God, as a teacher of Kindergarteners. I love my students!)

Since 2003, I have made efforts to "hone my craft" by attending various writers conferences (Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks/She Writes Conference, Children's Authors' Bootcamp). The Christian writers' conferences have not only educated me on the "ins and outs" of writing and publishing, but have been amazing times of Spiritual renewal, as well as meeting treasured friends who are also pursuing a God-given dream.

Okay, enough's the astonishing, wondrous, unbelievable story of God's working! In February of this year, I was browsing the website of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I was lamenting...and honestly having a little pity party...because I couldn't go this year. (Now the reasons that I couldn't go are not cause for lament! The conference is May 18-22. Well, my precious daughter, Rachel, is getting married on May 17th!!! That is an occasion for great joy! And May 19-22 is the last week of final week with my precious Kindergarteners. I can't miss that!)

Now, back to the I was reading all the amazing workshops that I would be missing, I couldn't help but notice a link on their website...the Gideon Media Arts Conference. Now, the only reason that it even caught my eye was that I was going to be teaching about Gideon in my Bible lesson at school the next week. Odd or God? I think God!!! I clicked on the link, scrolled through the workshop listings, and initially thought there was really nothing there for me...until I happened upon the name of Cindy Kenney, an amazing well-known author and editor for companies such as Big Idea Productions and Exclaim Entertainment. She was offering a class called "Creating a Picture Book Layout" which was open to only 12 participants and required the submission of a completed children's picture book manuscript. Feeling, like Gideon...the weakest and the least...I "put out a fleece" and emailed my manuscript to Cindy, honestly having faith as small as a mustard seed. In just a few days, I received an invitation to join in the class. I emailed prayer warrior friends and family and said, "What do I do now?" I was heartily encouraged to Go!!

Lest you think that this is the climax of the story, may I just say that it was only the beginning! When I entered the classroom where I would be working with Cindy Kenney and Josiah Williams (a very talented illustrator), I feared that I was in the wrong place. No one was there. I was in the process of calling the front desk to ask if there had been any room changes, when Cindy and Josiah walked in. They came and sat beside me and said, "We've got a little something to tell you. It's going to be just the three of us." All I could think or say was, "Habakkuk 1:5!!" Yes, I was astonished! In Wonder! Utterly Amazed! I had come thinking I would be 1 of 12. I was 1 of 1!!! I had 5 unbelievable days with Cindy and Josiah.

And that's not all! I was 1 of 3 in a class called "How to Write for Brand Publishing," learning how to write for established brands...coming home with actual opportunities for assignments with VeggieTales, Precious Moments, and BOZ the Bear!

I spent a week amid well known authors, movie producers, screen writers, actors...all seeking "To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all types of media!" I sat under the teaching of Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales. I had the awesome opportunity to join in a class of 4 and actually interview with Matt Stockman at WMIT radio station, 106.9! (Thanks Ann Bruce!) I got to eat meals and just "hang out" with the most amazingly talented, God-honoring people!! I'm resisting the urge to name drop...okay, I can't resist...Ray Blackston, Ted Baehr, Michelle Cox, Vonda Skelton...I could go on and on!!

Odd or God? Only God could have orchestrated those days!! I can't wait to see what is to follow!

How does God want to "utterly amaze" you? In what area are you waiting for Him to do "something in your days that you would not believe if you were told"? Believe Him! Our God is able!!!

Lord, thank you for your promise in Matthew 17:20, that even if I "have faith as small as a mustard seed....Nothing will be impossible for you." Thank you for desiring to lavish your love on us and provoke us to "Be astonished! Wonder!...[and] believe...." Help us to trust, to seek you and follow you, to obey! You are amazing, God! Amen

(And by the way, did I mention that the amazing parents of my Kindergarteners donated a brand new laptop in January for my use in the classroom? I could not have successfully completed the workshop without it!! God provides!!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who's Watching You?

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children...." Ephesians 5:1a

We have a "dearly loved child" in our daughter Melea. She is 8 years old and in the second grade. We adopted her from China when she was just over a year old. She is the very embodiment of the blessing of obedience. God called us to go to China for her...and we have reaped a multitude of blessings because of our willingness to follow His plan.

Ever since Melea was just a toddler, she has been an imitator of my actions. I can remember in very early days, Melea watching as I did my daily exercises for my neck and back...studying every move carefully and then doing it herself. I can just picture those little eyes looking up at me, though her head was bent forward in a neck stretch, to make sure that she was doing it "just right."

Yesterday I was reminded again of how those precious eyes are watching and how her actions are reflecting those of my own. You see, she has started her own "blog." It isn't on a computer, but on a spiral bound her very best cursive handwriting. In it, she writes of the things she loves, the things that are important in her life...her favorite stuffed animal that she made at Build a Bear with her "best buddy" Rachel (our daughter) and her fiance, Brandon...and other things that communicate how much she loves her life and how she appreciates the many blessings that God has brought her way. Her blog is also an outlet for some fiction writing... again, an I spend a lot of my time writing fiction for children's books.

What an awesome responsibility it is to be watched and imitated! That surely increases my desire to be like be an imitator of God...and to "live a life of love" (more from Eph. 5:1) just as Christ did.

Who is watching you?

Our precious Heavenly Father, thank you that we are your "dearly loved child." Help us as we strive to imitate you...and you alone. Help us to walk in love as Jesus did. Help us to study your every move and walk in your footsteps. Draw us to your Word so that we may know you more each day and reflect your love to those who would seek to watch and imitate us.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Powerful...Possibly Powdery...Prayer Prompters

"The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord." Psalm 45:11 (NIV)

Let me just confess first thing that I do not know if that verse literally speaks of the King or the king, Him or him, He or he, Lord or lord. The capital letters are mine. No matter how it was intended by the Psalmist, it is true of our King! He is enthralled by your beauty and He is your Lord! And we should honor Him.

In my last post, I mentioned a little multitasking in regard to our morning prayer time. The next morning, I was applying it as I applied my makeup. I just jotted down a few thoughts that might serve as helpful Prayer Prompters! (I love alliteration!!)

Let's begin the makeover!

Begin with a clean face...obviously. We also need to begin with a clean heart. Pray Psalm 51:1-2,10. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a pure heart, O God...." Confess your sin to Him and have your heart cleansed.

Moisturize!!! Fight being wrinkled and withered! In Luke 8:6 (The Parable of the Sower) it says, "the plants withered because they had no moisture." We are "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3b) Pray to be "like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden." (Job 8:16) To be well-watered, we need to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, with the One who pours into us His Living Water.

Time for foundation. First, you can thank Him for "covering your blemishes"...literally and figuratively through His mercy and grace, and Jesus' blood that was shed for you. Next, using Isaiah 33:6 which says, "He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure," thank Him for your salvation and pray for wisdom and knowledge in all that He has in store for your day...for your spouse's day, for your child's day, for your friend's day. And remember, as Scripture tells us in Matthew 7:25 and Luke 6:48, Jesus is our Rock, our firm foundation that will hold strong when the rains of life come down, when the streams of life rise to flood stage and threaten to drown us, when the winds of life blow and seem determined to beat us down. He is our "rock," our "fortress," our "deliverer," and the One in whom we can take refuge. (Psalm 18:2)

A little something around the eyes...shadow, liner, mascara. Pray for protection for your eyes...from "vile things"(Psalm 101:3) from "worthless things" (Psalm 119:37). Pray for God to help you to see the good around you, the good in other people.(I don't have a verse for that one.) Pray Ephesians 1:18, that "the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints." And pray to "fix [your] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

Perhaps some blush. I don't really know where to go with this one. Just pray for God to keep you from things that would make you blush. Pray that for your spouse and your children too.

Some loose powder to blend and form a protective cover. Pray for God's protection and annointing for yourself and those you love. Isaiah 51:16 says, "I have put My words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand-I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say...,'You are my people.'" Mmmm, I love that! We are His! Oh, how He loves you and me.

Lastly, lipstick! First, pray to smile. Pray that you will "not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs...." (Ephesians 4:29) "Let your conversation be always full of grace...." (Colossians 4:6)

Check the mirror. (Make sure there's no lipstick on your teeth!) You're beautiful and ready to go!

Lord, thank You for being enthralled with my beauty. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14) Lord, live in me today. May I be a reflection of you to those I meet.

Monday, April 7, 2008


"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Whew! That is a challenging and powerful verse!! Just read it a couple of times. There are several things to consider as you look at that verse, but I just want to concentrate on the last phrase..."that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." The Amplified Bible says that "He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. The King James Version uses the word "diligently" in the phrase. The New Living Translation says "those who sincerely seek Him."

Are you seeking Him earnestly? Diligently? Sincerely? If not, why? Is it because of a lack of time? A lack of know how? A lack of desire? A lack of discipline? Don't worry! It's not to late! Girls, there is a reward...a prize for "running this race"...and it's eternal! Let's get geared up and ready to go!


1.Get your Spiritual sneakers on. Do you ever think, "I just don't have the desire to study God's Word...I don't 'hunger and thirst' for it like others do."? As I heard Beth Moore say years ago, "Pray to!" Pray to hunger and thirst for His Word. God created us to know Him and love Him and fellowship with Him. This is a prayer He will gladly answer!!

2.Grab your "power" drink. I don't want to begin any day without some word from the Lord. In the past, at times, it has been simply a devotion (or 2 or 3 different devotionals...I don't want to miss something He might want to say to me for that day!) There are lots to choose from that fit your stage of life, your interests, etc. I love Beth Moore's Praying God's Word Day by Day. Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest is also great. Go to the Christian Bookstore and choose one that suits your fancy. Girls, there's no excuse for letting this one slip by. It only takes a few minutes...and it's a must!

Also, spend time in prayer...while fixing breakfast, while in the shower (God has seen you naked!), while putting on your makeup, just spend some time praising Him, thanking Him for His goodness, praying for your family, and whatever needs are on your heart. If you need help with this, "Pray to" pray more!

3.Run with Him! Get into His Word. Do a Bible study. Again, there are many types, formats, different areas of interest. If this is new for you, I highly recommend a couple that are life changing, but require only about 20-30 minutes a day. (You can do that!! If you think you can't, 'Pray to!') My first recommendation is Living Free by Beth Moore. Sooooo good! I also love Pricilla Shirer's He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear From God and Discerning the Voice of God. Transforming!! (Please note, some of these have companion DVD's...way expensive! If you don't have access to them through a local church, you will still benefit from the study...hugely!) I am currently working through Jennifer Rothchild's Fingerprints of God. Very good. This is only a sampling. There are so many more...and great ones that go much deeper and require longer study time.

I must confess. I find this very easy to do in the summer. I am a teacher and those more relaxed mornings allow for leisurely Bible study. During the school year, it requires a little more discipline. But, you know what? God wants that time with us so much that He will do His part to meet with us. Yes, He will wake us up! I "prayed to" and He wakes me early! Then I have to do my part and obey Him and get up! I just love giving Him the firstfruits of my day and starting the day empowered!!! He even gave me a verse to encourage me. "He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught." Isaiah 50:4

4.Join a team! It is always more fun to run the race with a friend! Find an "accountability partner" to join you. Go through the study together. Make a weekly lunch date or Starbucks date to discuss what God is teaching you. You'll surely be blessed!! If you like larger groups, join a Bible Study in your church or in your community. Run, Girlfriend, Run!!!!!

Lord, your Word tells us that YOU are "our very great reward"!! (Genesis 15:1) Oh, how we want you! Help us to hunger and thirst for you. Equip us and empower us for this earthly race, that we may run it in a way that draws us closer to You and brings glory to Your Name!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Gimme That Good, Good Lovin'...More of God's Good Lovin'!

"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17

For the last couple of days, as I've pondered this post, the chorus to that song "Good Lovin'" by the Young Rascals, has played over and over in my mind. (I'm showing my age again, aren't I?...And may I just point out that in the old days that there just wasn't much choice of what you could listen to!) Although some of the lyrics may be a little quirky, the chorus is profoundly true...All [we] want...and need is good lovin'.

In my last post, I wrote about the "tangible-ness" of God's love. He is so faithful to show His great love for us. We just have to learn to look for it. Luke 11:9(NIV) says, "...Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find..."

You know, God knows us better than anyone else. He speaks our "love language." He knows our wants and needs. And one of the most wonderful ways that God loves on us tangibly is through our friends!! I am utterly astounded at the measure of love God has shown me through the friendships of women who love Him and love His Word. I know without a doubt that God has clearly orchestrated the details in bringing each one of them into my life. And oh, how I thank Him!

God provides friendships to help make us stronger in our walk with Him. There is not much that exhilarates me more than sharing truths God is showing in His Word or the work that He is doing in our lives as we enjoy a Frappacino or something delectably chocolate! "Pity the fool" (Did I just quote Mr. T?) that is sitting next to us! Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another." God surely uses our Christian friendships to grow us closer to the One who loves us the most!

God also sends friends to strengthen us in our walks through this earthly life. John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble...." It's inevitable. But, through God's sovereign grace and provision, He has prepared us for the journey by placing fellow warriors in our path. I am so grateful for the women who have walked with me, cried with me, interceded for me as I travelled difficult roads. In Ecclesiastes 4:10-12, we are reminded that "Two are better than one....If one falls down, his friend can help him up....Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." I'm thankful for the friends who've "been there" for me and for the privilege of opportunities to be the friend God uses to minister, to love, and to encourage. It's what friends do.

I pray that you are richly blessed with Godly friends. If you are not, make Luke 11:9 your prayer. Ask. Seek. He loves you! Just watch as He shows you!

Lord, thank you foremost for "what a friend we have in Jesus." And thank you that in addition to your great love that you have given us earthly friends to love, to "cheer on", to share this journey. Thank you for the "treasures" that you have given us that we may "know that [You are] the Lord, the God of Israel, the One who calls [us] by name! (Isaiah 45:3 NLT)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

God's Tangible Love...Can You Feel It?

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Are you satisfied with God's love? Do you find it unfailing?

I can distinctly remember a time when I doubted the satisfaction and the unfailingness of God's love. I felt alone and rejected. I remember crying out to God in my despair. I went to His Word and read over and over how He loves me. But then I said to Him, "You can't really hug me. I can't see your physical presence in the room. You're just not tangible." He reached down and used that opportunity to open the eyes of my heart and express the vastness of His love for me.

The next time I was outdoors, a cool breeze wrapped its arms around me. "That's a hug, did you feel it?" He seemed to say. The sunset that evening was sensational. "I'm in that sunset. Do you see me?" Birds were singing in the trees. "Do you hear that love song?" The scent of the rhododendron in my backyard filled the air. "Mmmm, isn't that a pleasing aroma? It's for you." As I said, the eyes of my heart were opened. I began to see the signs of His love all over the place!

I encourage you to look for His signs of love toward you. Accept it as personal. Listen for Him in that song that comes to mind...or just the right Bible verse that ministers to your heart. He speaks, my friend. Yes, He speaks.

Let's tune in to songs that allow Him to speak. Let's stay in His Word and hear what He has to say. Let's hide His precious words in our hearts so that they are readily available when we need them.

Lord, thank you for your tangible, unfailing love for me. Thank you for all the ways that you show the depth of your love. Thank you for your Word...your love letter, your guide to me. Thank you for the most tangible expression of your love, giving your own Son to die so that I might live forever. Thank you that He conquered death and rose again...and that He will return for me...His bride.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

It's Monday. It's raining. Does anyone remember the song "Rainy Days and Mondays" by the Carpenters? (I guess that shows my age!) It said that "rainy days and Mondays always get me down." Rainy days and Mondays make me want to get down in my bed!

We desperately need the rain. It will help boost our water supply in this year of drought. There were streams of yellow liquid flowing along the sidewalk, so thankfully the rain is washing the pollen away. That should make our noses and throats feel better. Flower gardeners and farmers are sure to appreciate the steady showers for their thirsty plants.

Hmmm. Are you experiencing your own type of "drought"? Do you feel like you are in the middle of a wilderness, a wasteland, or desert? Is there something lingering on the surfaces of your heart that needs washing away? Is there something that you are thirsting for? Some emptiness that just needs filling?

You know, we must turn to the only One who can meet our needs. No matter what we are going through, He is the God who sees. (Gen. 16:13) He sees our circumstances. He loves us unfailingly and desires to reveal that love to us wherever we are. He is the only One who can lead us out of wilderness and back into fertile land.

If there is residue that needs to be washed away, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) to overcome our failings, to work in spite of our weaknesses, to cleanse our sin.

What leaves you thirsty, longing? You know, Jesus is famous for filling empty pitchers. Only He can truly satisfy our deepest desires. We may look for other substitutes. We may actually believe that something or someone else can fulfill our needs. But God created us with a void that only He can fill. He knows and loves us. He wants us to know and love Him.

Lord, "You are my God. Earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Ps 53:1) Scripture says that You forgive all my sins, heal all my diseases, that You redeem my life from the pit. Your Word tells me that You crown me with love and compassion, and that You satisfy my desires with good things. (Ps 103:2-5) Help me to allow You to shower me with Your love, even to be filled up to overflowing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Still Sweating and Heart Pounding!

Yes, my hands, feet, and knees are still sweating! Yes, I headed to my bedroom and hit the floor! As I prayed my heart was beating wildly in my chest. I immediately turned that into prayer and yielded my heart to Him. As I write this, the words of a song come to mind..."Lord, I give you my heart. I give you my soul. I live for you alone. Every step that I take, every moment I'm awake, Lord have Your way in me." That is my be totally yielded to Him, with every single step I take. I want Him to hem me in! I want Him to go before me and behind me, and not let me take one step, not even one inch away from His will!

Well, this blog (okay, not the blog actually...remember, that is an "illogical connection"...but writing) is an act of obedience. Probably - no surely - obedience long overdue. Thank you, Lord, for your unending patience with me! It is really quite comical that God would call me to write. I'm not an English major. I'm not particularly eloquent. I'm terrified...well, that may be a strong word, but quite afraid of computers! (And justly so, as I lost a portion of this post after this monstrous red line appeared at the top of the page with large white letters reading ERROR! Then something started flashing at the bottom of the screen saying "Autosave Failed!!" Have you heard the acronym that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real? Well, this evidence was real!) But you know, as I wrote the words stating my lack of qualifications and the heights of my fear, God reminded me of Moses' words, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent...I am slow of speech and tongue." (Ex. 3:10-12) The Lord said, "Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." As I "take off my sandals" and approach this "holy ground" (Ex.3:5, Joshua 5:15), I am comforted by the Lord's words to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9). I'm drawn to the words in 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31, "...think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world...the weak things of the world....He chose the lowly things of this that him who boast[s] boasts in the Lord." I am surely foolish, weak, and lowly. Whatever may come from this feeble attempt at obedience is all because of Him.

What is God calling you to do? Are you following Him in obedience? Are you afraid? Do you have doubt? Pour your heart out to Him. Seek Him through His Word. He will lead you. It's a promise.

Lord, in John 15:16, Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last." Make me worthy of that calling. Cleanse my heart. Empty me of everything that's me and fill me up with YOU. Lead me completely and surely. Do not let me go to the right or to the left, but to walk diligently on the path that you have laid out. "Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:8)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

With Fear and Trembling

Oswald Chambers says, "Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections." Amen! And I must admit, the blog world, for me, once seemed the most illogical connection. There was a time that I spoke the words, "Blogs are from satan." (I refuse to capitalize his name.) I've wised up since then, as I'm a frequent guest on the blogs of some of my dearest friends and Spiritual heroes. So here goes!

As I approached the computer, I noticed that my hands, my feet, and my knees were sweating. Yes, my knees! I was thinking, "What's up with that?" Do knees sweat? I figured that must be a sign to hit my knees in prayer! Oswald's verse for today was Luke 12:40, "Be ye therefore ready also." I knew that He was the only One who could make me ready for this venture! I headed for my bedroom, got on my sweaty knees, raised my sweaty hands and praised my precious Lord. I kept those hands up as I yielded them to use as He sees fit, to equip as only He can...and to dry if He so chooses, so that my hands don't slide off the keys of the computer. I prayed that He would draw me again and again to my knees...through sweating if "Seek Him first" (Matt. 6:33) before I even attempt to write one word. I prayed that my sweaty feet would be "fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace," (Eph. 6:15) so that the good news of His amazing, unfailing love may be shared wherever He chooses to take me. I appreciated that God reminded me of His peace. I'm going to hold on to that!!

Whew! I feel finished! Was that enough? I'm so verbose that I could go on and on with personal ramblings...2 weddings in one year, our China Doll getting baptized Easter Sunday, exciting writing opportunities on the horizon...but I'll save that for later. I think I need a nap or maybe a shower!

Oh Lord, I am Yours. This blog is Yours. Use me and every word typed here to bring glory and honor to Your Name. Your grace is truly amazing. I am humbled that you would choose me.

PS Rachel, Carrie, Evie, and Cayce, read "humbled" right!