Monday, December 27, 2010

Lost...and Found!

"For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost."  Luke 19:10 (NIV)

Read that verse again.  That's Christmas...after the "Christmas story".  That's why He came.

It reminds me of the line in Amazing Grace that says, "I once was lost, but now am found."  Yes, that grace is amazing.  For that grace I am so thankful...for myself...and for others...those who've experienced that grace...and those that have yet to.  We must keep praying...and remember that HE is still seeking. 

It was Christmas Eve.  The children...and the grownups..."were nestled all snug in our beds"  when I was awakened to the sounds of whispering.  It was my niece.  I thought she was talking in her sleep.  The last thing I heard her mumble was "Whatever."  I think I chuckled at that beautiful teenager before dozing back off.  I re-entered wakefulness and decided to just check on the girls (my niece and daughter) sleeping at the foot of our bed to be sure they were covered up.  My niece wasn't there.  I checked the bathroom.  I walked downstairs...oh so quietly to avoid waking anyone else...or cause undue concern.  I tiptoed back up...looked more carefully at the air mattress.  Not there.  Back downstairs to the sofa where her brother was sleeping...knowing she wouldn't fit there, but checked anyway.  Nope.  I went and listened at the door where her other brother was sleeping.  Couldn't hear anything.  I woke up my husband.  He just turned over.  I thought, "Hmmm...maybe she went to her Dad's room."  So I looked...not only disrupting his sleep, but his little doggy's too.  Not there.  I told him that I'd try the brother's room again.  Ah, whew!  There she was...wrapped in a blanket on the floor.  She looked up at me and said, "I couldn't sleep because of Uncle John's snoring."

I headed back to bed...rejoicing...silently.  I shared the good news with her Dad...and John...who smiled and turned over again.  I could return to sleeping in heavenly peace.

Have you experienced that feeling...of someone being lost?  Maybe at the mall...or the grocery store...or in your neighborhood?  It's a scary feeling that can fill you with panic.

As I thought back over the scenario, my mind went to the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin...both found...and rejoiced over.  Just past that passage in Luke 15 is the parable of the lost son...the prodigal.  Along with the sheep and coin, he was found.  And there was great rejoicing and celebration.  Jesus said, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Do you know of someone who is lost...not just temporarily, but eternally?  A friend?  A family member?  A spouse?  Don't give up.  Keep praying.  Jesus is searching.  He longs to find them.  That's what He came seek and save the lost.

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming as a babe in a lowly manger, walking through life sinless, and yielding Your life as atonement for our sins.  Thank You for all You endured for us.  Lord, please draw those to Yourself who are sheep without a shepherd.  We long to rejoice with You and with the angels!   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Life is Good!

It doesn't get much better than this...a fun morning at ChickfilA with some of my favorite friends (and Santa & Elf Cow)...a little Christmas shopping...a Peppermint Mocha from Starbuck's...
and SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, life is good.
Gracie and Grover were excited book...Gracie & Grover's Snowy Day????

Please hop over to my Gracie's Grounds blog to see all of the fun we've been having!!!
A glimpse here...
Santa Cow and Elf Cow even participated in storytime!!!  They are great bell jinglers!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yes You Can!!

"I pray may know...His incomparably great power for us who believe."  Ephesians 1:18-19 (NIV)

Okay, hang with me here.  This is going to start off a little strange...but I do know where it's going.  :)

When I was little, my great-grandmother lived in a house with no indoor "facilities"...and most people used the outhouse.  I didn't like it very much...ewwwwww...dirty, snake-y and spider-y.  I preferred the cold, metal, (I think) porcelain covered white pot with the red rim...on the screened in back porch.  Chilly..really chilly...but safer...and less dirty...and less made of wood!

I'm not really sure that this poem actually went with that potty experience, but that's the memory accompanying it.

Here goes:
Who took me from my warm, warm spot
And put me on this cold, cold pot?
Who said I could
When I could not?
"Mommy, I'm through!"  (And that "through" is said in two syllables.)  :) you ever feel that you've been plucked up from a nice, comfy situation...and placed in another that's not quite so comfortable...even uncomfortable?  Are there voices...from those around you...or even just those in your head...that say, "You can!"  when you're thinking, "There's no way on earth that I can do this!"?  (And I didn't even begin to know how to punctuate that last sentence.)

Well, this is just a reminder...from God's Word that says "Yes, You Can!"  We are told in Philippians 4:13 that "[We] can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength."  Did you get that?  It doesn't have to be in our own strength...but in the strength He gives!  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul shares that the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Can you believe that?  He uses our weakness...our show His great power!!  Paul went on to say, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  Do you just love thinking about Christ's power resting on you!?!?  And he continues in saying, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Because of His incomparably great power!

So...wrap your arms around that!  Yes, you can!!!  Whatever it is!  Yes, you can!!!

Just wait...before you know it, you will be able to say, "I'm through!"

Father, we're trusting You to be our have Your power, that is incomparably great, resting on us.  We yield our weakness to You, knowing that in You we can be strengthened!  You are our Yes!  Show us Your glory! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3 (NLT)

Ah, yes, let's give Him thanks.  His love never fails.  It endures forever.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tending the Fire

"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread....Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.'...Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish."  John 21:9, 12a, 13 (NIV)

The fire was dancing in the the backyard...not on a distant shore.  It was more like a late night snack than breakfast.  The fare included s'mores and hot chocolate rather than bread and fish.  And those enjoying the warmth and sweet indulgences were women instead of men.

But one thing was the same.

Jesus was there.

He was a very present each every the moments of prayer...and in the laughter of girls who love their Jesus.

Thanks to my friend, Amy, the tender of the her firepit...and in the friendships that unite us.

Our Lord Jesus, thank You for the blessing of friendships.  Thank You that You are Emmanuel...God with us.  We love every minute of Your presence.

Friday, November 19, 2010


"You do not have, because you do not ask God."  James 4:2b (NIV)

The ring was lovely...a blue topaz with tiny sparkly diamonds...emphasis on tiny...around it and on the band.  And it was on sale...really on sale...for two days.  We went on the evening of the second day.  Sold out...had been since that morning.  Checked online where they had been available the night before.  Sold out.

It would have made a nice Christmas gift.  It was really quite perfect...simple, yet elegant...small, nicely suited for my little hands...and inexpensive.  I'm not one who is inclined to costly jewelry, so it was just right!  The frequent TV advertisements and the flyer that came in the mail screamed out my name.

And my darlin' husband was ready to order it online that first night.  He would give me anything...within reason...and definitely that that price!  But I wanted to see try it on.  Oh well...too late.

I'm just wondering what lovely thing is before your eyes?  And I'm not talking about material things...not jewels...but something God can give...the fulfillment of a dream...bright hope for your future.  Are you being bold in your asking?  Are you praying...and believing?  Are you coming to the Giver of all good and perfect gifts with a pure heart and praying according to His will?

God's Words says that "The prayer of a righteous man [or woman] is powerful and effective."  James 5:16b  Do we believe that?

I'm reading Steven Furtick's book Sun Stand Still, about audacious praying.  What a challenge and an encouragement it has been to my prayer life!  And to the faith to take some bold steps in pursuing some work that only God can do!!!

What is looming in the realm of possibility that you have not because you ask not?  Go ahead!  Do it!  Ask!

Lord, forgive us when we fall into that category of "ye of little faith."  Help us to seek You, to knock at Your door, to ask believing in Your incomparably great power!!  Act on our behalf according to Your will.  You are so great and mighty!  We bow in Your presence...and rejoice knowing what You have the ability to do!  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

But Take Heart

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

The words are right there in black and white...or red...words that Jesus spoke. "In this world you will have trouble." Do you wish He would have not verbalized that reality? Do you wish He could take that back?

I don't like trouble. And I really don't like trouble that batters and pummels and mangles...and just when you hope that it might possibly be ending...that maybe, just maybe there's light at the end of the tunnel...packs another wallop that threatens to totally undo you...the kind that makes you look up and go, "God are You there? Do You see what's going on here? I'm having a hard time seeing You in this one."

You said, "But take heart." You said, "I have overcome the world."

Please show us some victory. Remind us that You reign. We believe. Help us in our unbelief.

Better yet, come back.

Until You us to remember that You are with us...through the fire...through the valley.  Please give us peace.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Burning Bushes and Maple Trees

"So now, go.  I am sending you...."  Exodus 3:10a (NIV)

I've never actually seen a burning least not one that "did not burn up."  I have seen maple trees radiating the most brilliant orange and red hues with a such a fiery appearance that it got me thinking about burning bushes...and how I can't even begin to imagine the sight that Moses beheld. 

I've surely never heard God's audible voice coming from a burning bush.  In a much more subtle manner, I've known His a whisper in my mind...or in a preacher's message...or straight from His Word.

I can't really imagine Moses' fear...a burning bush...talking...with God's voice!  I have experienced fear on my own level...sometimes just in sweaty palms...a mouth struggling to produce saliva...heart palpitations.

It really makes me feel good that Moses asked, "Who am I that I should go?"  Yes, I've asked that question too.

And God's response remains the same.  "I AM."  It really doesn't have anything to do with me.  It's all about Him...His presence...His power...His purpose...His plan.

So what about you?  Have you had a "vision" that could only be from God?  Have you heard His unmistakable whatever form it took?  Have you ever truly KNOWN that you were standing on holy ground?  Did you, as Moses, want to hide your face in fear???

Just a reminder, my friend, that same God...the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Moses hasn't changed!  He is still the great I AM!

What has He called you to do?

Where has He called you to go?

What's your answer to Him?

Oh God...our God...the One who endures from generation to generation, help us to hear Your voice.  Remove the fear that threatens to undo us...and to thwart Your plan.  Help us to be bold enough to remove our sandals and step onto that holy ground!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


"'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."  Revelation 22:17 (NIV)

I thought she was going to die.  On my birthday.

Yesterday morning as I got up, she didn't.  She didn't move.  Her eyes blinking sluggishly were the only sign of life.  I put my hand on her heart to feel the beat...slow...maybe a little unsteady.  Her breathing was shallow.  I cried.

I rubbed her head, her neck.  The skin hung.  She was dehydrated.

I got water and brought it right to her lips.  Thankfully she drank.  The night before she had matter how close I got it to her matter how I pleaded.  You really can't force someone to drink.

We lifted her from her bed...and she walked.  She ate breakfast.  She drank more water.  I rejoiced. 

She wagged her tail.  Yes, I'm talking about my 15 year old dachshund, Cocoa.  She's my faithful companion.  She has her own chaise right beside my bed.  She goes to bed when I do.  She gets up when I do.  She sits beside me on my much so that even if she's not there, I sit way over practically down in the crack of the left side, saving her space...and just out of habit. 

She is old.  I know that "her time will come."  I will be sad, but I will move on.  And probably buy a new sofa and chairs.

But I saw a spiritual lesson I wanted so desperately for her to drink.

It's a tragedy, really.  People are suffering from dehydration...spiritually.  The drink is offered, but they are refusing it.  Oh, how sad it must make the Father to hold it out before us over and water...and we turn up our noses.  We turn away.

As Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  John 4:13-14

In His sermon on the mountainside, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."  Matthew 5:6

Are you dehydrated?  Listless?  Struggling to move?

The "water" is there!  Drink!  And make His heart...and yours...rejoice!

Father, thank You for being our very source of life!  Thank You for providing all we need to live and to thrive.  Help us to drink so that we may be blessed...and so that we may please You.  Make our "wellsprings" bubble to overflowing!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Sound of Your Voice

"...Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely."  Song of Solomon 2:14 (NIV)

I felt such an emptiness inside.  My heart seemed to skip a beat.  The longing to hear their voices filled my being with an almost tangible ache.  A tear found its way to my eye.  Sadness washed over me.

I miss my girls.  My three oldest daughters are grown, married, and gone from my home...and my hometown.  I talk to them most everyday...and occasionally even get to see their lovely faces via Skype.  I haven't spoken to them today...yet.  And I just miss the sound of their voices.  I'll pick up the phone and start the callling as soon as I wrap this up.  I just needed to tell you something first.

At the moment that I felt that emptiness...that heartbeat skipping...that longing, I could almost hear God whispering, "I know how you feel. I ache to hear from my children too.  Their voice is to my ears.  I love to hear about their days.  I rejoice in the successes and happiness.  I long to comfort them in their heartaches and struggles.  I like to hear about their wants and needs...and ponder ways to meet them.  I just love being a part of their lives.  There is a void if even one day goes by and I don't hear their voice."

And it's so true.  I love my children a really lot!  But I can't even begin to comprehend the love of the Father for His matter how many billions of us there are.  He loves us each as if we were the only one.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He formed our very beings.  We are His treasure, and He calls us His own!  Oh, how precious to feel His love pouring over us.

He longs for the sound of your voice.  Have you talked to Him today?

Father, thank You for Your unfathomable love.  Thank You for the amazing thought that YOU long for us!  Thank You for being ever-present...ever-available...ever-listening.  Draw us, Lord...into Your presence.  We lift our voice to You.  May it be a sweet sound to Your ears.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Worm In My Fruit Bowl

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me."  John 15:4 (NIV)

It was totally revolting...inching its way across the rim of my fruit bowl.  Disgusting!  It looked like one of those slimy, teensy...but no less gross, worms that occasionally finds its way home from the store in your broccoli.  Fortunately, the unwelcomed critter met his demise (smooshed in a paper towel) without having sampled any grape-y juicy-ness, as the bowl was empty.

That was a fitting way to start a rainy Monday.  Yes, the rain, so desperately needed...that nearly prompted me to run outside and do a little dance yesterday...made today look bleak and dreary.  Rain that an hour earlier plunked such a delightful rhythm on my roof and windowpane...the lullaby that dueled with God's wakeup call to meet with Him and feast on His Word. 

The rain won.

I chose poorly.

I started the day apart from The Vine.

And it was like that appalling little worm inched his way across my morning...nibbling away at the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Until I fought back.  Yep!  I pulled out my Sword!  I reached out toward the heavens with a song of praise.  And God redeemed the day!

Father, forgive me for my laziness.  Thank You for Your mercies that are new each morning...even if I choose poorly.  Thank You for drawing me to the source of strength and joy!  Please let the Fruit of Your Spirit be born in me! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hoodsurfing 101

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."  Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

It's really quite amazing that I didn't hit the ladder/siding/machinery-laden vehicle from the rear.  My focus see-sawed between the grasshopper on the hood of my car and the truck just ahead of me.

She...or he, whichever the case may be...I'm going with she because that just feels right to me  :)...leaped onto my car at a redlight.  I watched and waited to see what she would do when the light changed.  She boldly took her stance and held on!

Now the Mama inside of me was saying, "Hey!  Do you realize that you are traveling blocks away from your family??  Will you know how to get back???  Are you sure that you really want to hang on??"

The children's book writer inside of me was thinking, "Hmmm, Gidget Grasshopper Goes to Downtown Cary...or Grasshopper In Town Square (That's supposed to make you smile...if you read children's books!  That one's already been done...just with a Cricket and it was Times Square.)...or Ginger Grasshopper's Wild Ride"...or some other fantastic grasshopper adventure story!

Then the blog author in me pondered...while driving and watching grasshopper & big truck..."What could I learn from this insect?  Did God have her plop on my hood for a purpose?  (I think He's probably too busy for that, but I'm taking the challenge anyway!)

Hence, Hoodsurfing 101. 
Lesson 1  Face Forward...aerodynamics and all that.

Lesson 2  Feet Planted Firmly...all two...or four...or six.

Lesson 3  Fear Not!...Admission:  I don't really know if grasshoppers have the capacity to fear.

So, what adventure is ahead of you??  Have you been called to be obedient in some manner?  Is there a dream in your heart that you need to pursue?  Go for it!

Warning!!!  It may feel like hoodsurfing...dangerous, frightening, and very windy!

Remember our lessons from Hoodsurfing 101 listed above?
Here's some Scriptural backing!
Lesson 1  "My eyes are ever on the LORD...."  Psalm 25:15
                 "I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?  My help comes from
                  the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1-2

Lesson 2  " My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside."
                 Job 23:11
                 "My steps have held to Your paths; my feet have not slipped."  Psalm 17:5
                 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights."
                  Psalm 18:33
                 "The law of his God is his heart; his feet do not slip."  Psalm 37:31

Lesson 3  "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you,
                 do not fear; I will help you."  Isaiah 41:13
                 "The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or
                  forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8
                  "...Be strong and courageous and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged,
                  for the LORD God, my God, is with you."  1 Chronicles 28:20

So, just do it!!!  Feel the wind in your antennae...I mean hair!!  And remember, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"  Romans 10:15  Share His message!  Share His love!

No insects were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Please do not try this at home.  I know of two college boys who experimented with hoodsurfing.  One landed in dire straits.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Lies Hidden Beneath?

"All my longings lie open before You, O Lord, my sighing is not hidden from You."  Psalm 38:9 (NIV)

You should see them!  They're the perfect size...beautifully shaped...really, really smooth...and oh so shiny!  I'm like a kid at Christmas time...just loving the way they sparkle...the way they feel.  I love to inspect them...admire tap them.

I've never given in to this kind of indulgence before.  I never needed to...until age...or vitamin deficiency...or whatever...made it a necessity.  Yes, I gave my hands a "face-lift" and got fake nails!!

They are so lovely.

But underneath is something not so lovely...ridges...splits...cracks...discoloration (from not using base coat under that "Mango Get 'Em" orange).  I grew tired of all the work it took to pamper them...and keep them covered up.  I was ashamed to let them be seen.

So I did it.

And as I sat there for an hour getting the new facade, I couldn't help but think of how many people are like my nails...damaged.  We all have some amount of  brokenness...hurt that hovers from our past...the ghosts of failure or times we just didn't quite measure up...disappointments in ourselves and other people...relationships that went wrong...words uttered that ripped our hearts in two.  We carry it...sometimes bravely and without much effort.  Many times stumbling, crushed under its load.

And we paint it...cover it no one else can see.

But God does.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.."  Hebrews 4:13  He knows our hurts.  He knows our fears.  He knows our struggles.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  Psalm 147:3

What a comfort are the words in Isaiah 61:1-3
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has annointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who 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." 

He is the source of all healing...binding up the broken places...covering them with a crown of beauty...for the display of His splendor.

Lord, thank You for taking us and making us beautiful...brand new.  Help us to allow You to work in our lives so that we may truly be "called oaks of righteousness, a planting for the display of Your splendor."  Help us to shine for You.  Cover us.  We love You.  We are in awe of Your unfailing love, Your mercy, Your grace. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Temptation Resisted!

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."   Mark 14:38 (NIV)

A Java Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks was calling my name.  I could almost taste the chocolate-chippy goodness...and feel the crunchy ice crystals on my tongue.  Just a few miles away a barista was at the ready to blend the delightful concoction.  My daughter was at orchestra rehearsal for over an hour.  Ah, what a perfect treat that would be while sitting in the parking lot, reading an equally delicious novel (I love great Christian fiction!), as the nice pre-autumn breeze floated through my car.  It had been hours since I had eaten lunch and my tummy was oh so rumbly.  That would tie me over until dinner.

Then I remembered hearing the ridiculous number of calories those drinks contain.  I made the decision.  I resisted.  And honestly, I must admit...I didn't really make it a matter of prayer.  My tummy still rumbled...but yes, I survived until dinner.

Frappuccinos are pretty mild when exploring the categories of temptation.  The consequences...other than unsightly bulges...are minor.  However, we are faced with multitudes of temptations in our lives daily...yes, some involve what we put into our bodies...the nutritional quality as well as the quantity of the food we well as substances that might compromise our judgement.  Other decisions before us might include what we are allowing into our minds...the TV shows we watch, the music we listen to, the things that we read.  And then there are overt actions...the words we allow to flow from our mouths...places we might go...things we might do.  These challenges are definitely worth praying over!  Yes, "our spirit is willing, but our body is [often] weak."

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we read, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Let's call on Him.  Let's allow Him to help us giving us strength...or a way out!

We'll see what happens next time that Frappuccino craving hits!  I did some checking.  If I go with Tall, non-fat, decaf, no whip, it only hits 210 calories. Maybe I should commit it to prayer.

Lord, help us not to yield to temptations that could harm our bodies...the very temples of Your Holy Spirit...that could harm our minds...or our communion with You.  We're standing on Your promises, Lord.  Protect us, please!  We love You!  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Did God Say, "Duh?"

"From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  Psalm 61:2 (NIV)

At the point of exasperation, I uttered, myself...right out loud, "Sometimes all you can do is pray."

I'm not really sure what God did at that moment...if He said, "Duh"...although I kind of doubt it...or maybe He smiled and said, "She's finally got it."...or possibly just shook His head and said, "You really don't know me, do you?"

It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil of life...sometimes it comes in floods...threatening to swallow us in its depths.  Our mind can run wild with scenarios of what could happen as a result of our circumstances...or those of our loved ones.  We want to do something...feel some sort of control.

But...sometimes all we can do is pray.  And what could be more powerful than prayer?  What greater peace can come than the peace that God is in control...that nothing is a surprise to Him...that He is able...and that He loves us...and our loved ones...more than we can begin to fathom.  Prayer is enough.  His "grace is sufficient...for [His] power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice;
He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me,
I will call upon Him as long as I live...
I was overcome with trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the Name of the LORD:
O LORD, save me!
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
Our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted;
When I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
For the LORD has been good to you."  Psalm 116:1-7

LORD, You know our needs.  You know our troubles and our sorrows.  We cry out to You...knowing of Your grace, Your mercy, and Your compassion.  We remember how good You have been to us.  Give us peace and rest.  We love You.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Oven Needs to be ON to Cook the Food!

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5 (NIV)

The timer went off.  Yay!  Breakfast was done!  Or so we thought.  I opened the oven, pulled out the Baked Oatmeal, only it wasn't baked.  What on earth??  I knew that I had preheated the oven...but, as it turns out, when setting the timer, in my haste (and hunger), I pushed the hour button instead of the minute button.  I had to start over.  I pushed the "Cancel" button...which didn't cancel the timer, but did cancel the temperature control.  I corrected the timer, but didn't realize that I had cut off the heat.  So there we were...after 45 minutes of waiting...with a dish of partially-cooked oatmeal.  I reset the oven and the timer and we settled in for a little more wait time.  It was worth it.  Our breakfast was delicious!

You know, there are so many times that God gives us a tasty morsel...a word from share with others.  Excitedly, we "cook up" a plan...and believe that we have God's blessing.  We just charge right ahead.  All of a sudden, it becomes our "recipe" instead of His way. We jump right in, make an agenda, and then just ask God to bless it. We "cancel" His power, without even realizing it. Somehow our finger just grazes that button of ,"I'll take it from here," and we are left powerless. 

God's works are frequently "set to a timer" that is different than our own.  Many times we have to really spend some time walking the journey of the message before we are ready to present it.  We have to confirm the message and His plan for its delivery.  It is imperative that we stay connected to Him...relying on Him as our source of all guidance, direction, and timing.  Let's cling to "The Vine"!  Apart from Him, we can do nothing.  We sure don't want His message to come out half-baked!

Lord, thank You for allowing us to share the message of Your love with others.  Keep us close to You...our hearts intertwined with that we may be effective.  Guide us each step of the way.  Prevent us from any attempts to move forward in our own strength.  Have Your way in us.  We love You!

Would you like a new recipe???  This is one of our family favorites!!!  It came from a dear innkeeper in Mt. Joy, PA!  I'm going to give you the standard recipe, and in parentheses, give you increased amounts needed if you want to make more servings.

Baked Oatmeal
Stir together:
1/3 cup oil  (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (1 cup)
1 large egg, beaten (2 eggs)

Add, stirring well:
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (1 tsp)
3/4 cup milk (1 cup)
3 cups oatmeal  (4-5 cups)

Pour into 9x9 inch pan (13x9 if increased recipe).  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes (to an hour if larger).
*My daughter, Rachel, discovered that you can just mix it right in the same dish that you bake it in!!  Fewer dishes to wash!

To serve:
Spoon baked oatmeal into individual bowls.  Spread on some peaches (prepared ahead of time...sliced with sugar and refrigerated).  *Rachel likes it best with strawberries.  You can use your favorite fruit...blueberries, bananas, etc.  Then pour milk over it. And eat!!!  Yum-O!!

That serving process may sound a little weird, but trust me.  It is oh so good!!!  You've covered several of the food groups...grains, fruit, and dairy...and helped to lower your cholesterol!!!  Enjoy!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

God's "Love-call"...Will You Answer?

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple."   Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

It broke my heart.  Her answer was "not right now...maybe tomorrow."  I just wanted to see her face.

My daughter lives in Texas temporarily.  It's only been 3 weeks since I've seen her, but I miss her terribly.  We both have computers with webcams, so I decided to sign up for that I could see her as well as hear her sweet voice.  Excitedly, I called her on Saturday.  I really wasn't surprised that I didn't get her.  She and her husband had gone to a waterpark for the day.  I figured that they were really tired when they got back.  I left a message on her phone...maybe even two...saying that I had Skype and couldn't wait to see her!  No response.  I called her last night (on my cell phone), to ask her to "get on" to Skype.  She said "not right now...maybe tomorrow."  I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of it.

Now, let me just say, in my sweet baby's defense, she wasn't feeling well...bad cheese fries, she said.

This morning, as I still felt the longing to see her, I couldn't help but think how often God...our Abba Father...must feel exactly the same way.  He's waiting...excited to see us...longing for our face to look toward Him...and we just say, "Not right now...maybe tomorrow."

Interestingly, as I went to one of my favorite devotion books (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) this morning, the second paragraph read like this:

"When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call, both of us are blessed."

He knows how I feel...and I know how He feels.  We are His children.  He doesn't need technology to see our faces.  He just needs our obedience...our desire to see Him too.  I'm so sorry for the times that I break His heart.

LORD, thank You for longing to see me.  Forgive me for the many times I've rejected  Your "love-call."  Draw me Lord.  You bless me so richly.  Oh, how I want to bless You back.  I love You.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unsure of "What" I Am...Certain of Whose I Am

"I have summoned you by name; you are mine."  Isaiah 43:1b (NIV)

I think I'm an enigma...but I need to look the word up in the dictionary.  Recently at work I took one of those personality know the ones with confusing questions...that sum up "what" you are in 4 letters.  Well, I don't know if I answered the questions incorrectly or just what happened, but I didn't match my correlating letters...or even the other combination that my numbers nearly added up to.  I can be both an "extrovert" and an "introvert" being with people...but love being alone.  Typically, I would rather just stay in my own little "home sweet home", but once I leave that place of solace, I am energized and love the interaction...most of the time.  The quiz showed clearly that I am "sensing"...which I don't completely understand...but I'll just take to mean, "I've got good sense."  (A chuckle here is appropriate.)  There is some question as to whether I am "thinking" or "feeling".  Am I smart enough to be a "thinker"??  It seems that I am more "judging" than "perceiving"...which supposedly means that I can make decisions...which just totally cracks me up!!!  I can't even decide what to have for dinner!  I do have to say that I was relieved that it didn't mean that I'm "judgemental"!!!  Anyway, after my dear boss charted letters...on the board...we just couldn't quite figure my totals out.  So I left not knowing "what" I am.

It humored me some...then perplexed me a bit.  "What" am I???

And then it all just didn't matter.  I may be unsure of "What" I am, but one thing is absolutely certain...I know "Whose" I am!!!  And that is all that truly counts.

Just listen to these reminders from His Word...for me...and for you!!

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well...How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."  Psalm 139:14, 17-18

He says to us, " are precious and honored in my sight, and...I love you."  Isaiah 43:4

"...the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession."  Deuteronomy 14:2

You are a part of "the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."  Isaiah 43:21

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He....'"  Isaiah 43:10

"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."  Ephesians 1:13-14

Doesn't that make you feel like praising???  We are His...God's very own possession!  The Creator of the universe calls us by name.  He loves us!!  He treasures us!!!  His Holy Spirit dwells in us...and empowers us to do whatever God calls us matter "what" we are.  We belong to Him!

Lord, thanks don't seem to begin to be enough to offer back to You upon the remembrance that I am Yours...that You treasure me...that You love matter "what" I am...that You created me.  You formed me.  You made me "what" I am...and You will continue to work, as a potter with clay, to make me into the likeness of You.  I praise You!  I love You!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Days of Doubt

"Stop doubting and believe."  John 20:27 (NIV)

Do you ever have doubting days?  Days that you doubt yourself?  Days that you doubt God's call on your life?  Days that you doubt that God even has a call on your life?

I'm having one today.  I shouldn't be surprised.  Last weekend I attended Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks conference...along with 607 other women that feel a call from God to write, speak, or lead in women's ministry.  It was outstanding!  Wonderful worship...fabulous speakers...amazing testimonies...precious prayer moments...great girl time!  It was chock full of encouragement, equipping, Spiritual empowering.  You have to know that the enemy isn't going to let an opportunity to "bring you down" after a mountaintop experience like that pass him by.  Today he started planting the seeds of doubt in my mind.

Now I must admit that when I sat down at the opening session, I was struck with the thought, "What on earth am I doing here??"  All of those perfectly coiffed, stylin' women with really cute shoes...and purses...and belts...and flashy jewelry...surely had book proposals ready for meeting with an editor or agent...or a perfectly polished speech to present to their speaker groups...or some incredible vision for the women's ministry at their church.  Their testimonies all seemed extraordinary (spoken like Angela Thomas)...truly worthy of sharing.  And I thought, "Why am I here?"

And then God answered...through a workshop that will be tremendous preparation for an upcoming women's retreat speaking engagement.  Through the words of other writers and speakers who shared their fears, doubts, and inadequacies.  Through newly formed friendships with Jennifer and Terri...fellow writers...joined "by chance" to critique each other's writing.  Lord, thank You for bringing them into my life!!!  By allowing me the privilege of hugging the necks and seeing the lovely smiles of women that I've prayed for, yet never met face to LeAnn and Marybeth.  Through God strengthening the bond of camaraderie and fellowship with my writer's group girlfriends, Cara and Tatum.  Only a God like ours could have orchestrated the time we shared.  Then there were the times shared with my dear sisters in Christ, Tara and Wendy, over breakfast and lunch...blessing upon blessing.

Yes, I was supposed to be there.  I remember it now.  And this written trip down memory lane has been good for me.

And yet I feel that tugging of doubt.

But through a little Scripture searching, I see that I'm in pretty good company.  The first, obvious, example is Thomas...a disciple of Christ.  He doubted.  (John 20)  And then there was Peter, another disciple....another doubter.  (Matthew 14)  When "the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go...they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted." (Matthew 28:16-17)  Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He asked the eleven, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" (Luke 24:38)  Doubters.  Many have gone before us...and they were encouraged to "Stop doubting and believe."

As Paul challenged the Galatian church (in chapter 5:7-8), "You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you."  "The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)  He has given us His Word "so that the man [or woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:17)

We need to remember Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30, "Brothers [and Sisters], 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 to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify that things that are, so that no one may boast before Him."  Let's trust in "His divine power [that] has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  (2 Peter 1:3) 

May God "equip [us] with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him."  (Hebrews 13:21)

Well, I hope that your days of doubt may be mine...through the encouragement of God's Word...into days of determination to believe!

Lord, I just have to say thank You for Your "amazing grace that saved a wretch like me."  Thank You for loving me, for drawing me, for entrusting me with Your message to share...however You see fit.  Help me to believe...and to obey.  I love you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whose Tail is in Your Bird Feeder??

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemy before you...."  Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)

This post is not about squirrels!  smile

I'm just wondering what it is that God has called you to feed others...literally or through His minister to step out of your comfort zone and do something for act boldly and obey.

What or who is the enemy using in an effort to stop you?  What weapon is the enemy...the real enemy...pulling out of his arsenal that is prevailing against you?  Are you overcome with fear?  God's Word says 365 times, "Fear not!"  He...the LORD God is with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us!  Is doubt filling your mind, making you question His calling...and His ability to do His work through you?  Let me just stop and remind you right here....Moses thought that!  Is the enemy wearing you down in your circumstances, making you want to just give up?  Job could relate.  Are you discouraged...perhaps even by those to whom you are ministering?  Jesus understands...from experience.

Friends, the enemy has been BUSTED!!!

Unite in battle!!!  Take up the Sword of the Spirit and fight!  Fight!  Fight!  Fight!!!

Here's some powerful ammunition!

As Jesus said to Peter, "...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  Matthew 16:18 (KJV)  What part is God wanting you to play in "building His church"??  Do it!  The enemy has been defeated!!!  Go forth in power!

"[The LORD] is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.  Your enemies will cower before you..."  Deuteronomy 33:29 (NIV)

"Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light."  Micah 7:8 (NIV)

Focus on the LORD.  Rely on Him.  Yield to Him.  Listen to His instruction.  Pray.  Believe.

"Surely it is You who love the people; all the holy ones are in Your hand.  At Your feet they all bow down, and from You receive instruction."  Deuteronomy 33:3 (NIV)

"I pray also 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 His incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead...."  Ephesians 1:18-20a (NIV)

God has "called" you!  And He has "incomparably great power"...resurrection power to equip you for that work!!

LORD, we thank You that You desire to work through us.  We understand that in our weakness, You are strong.  In our inability, You are able!   We know that You are the Victor!!!  No power of hell can prevail against us!!  Help us to march forward knowing that You go before us and behind us!  We love You.  Empower us to obey Your call!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adoption...The Cost

"For 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 through Jesus Christ...."  Ephesians 1:4-5a (NIV)

We get the questions pretty frequently.  "What made you decide to adopt?"  "How long did it take?"  "How much did it cost?"  The answers are...God.  For God's work in our hearts, about 5 years...the actual adoption process, almost 2 years.  And $20,000.00.

God placed the desire in our hearts...mine and my husband's.  He confirmed it over a period of several visible, tangible ways.  There was a longing in our empty chair at our table.  We knew it was a part of His plan.  Before creation, God chose to grace our family with a precious daughter from China.  Oh, how thankful we are that we chose to obey!

Now, I'm not Presbyterian (smile to all my Presby friends and co-workers!!)...but not at all afraid of the word "predestined" in the verse above.  Staying away from denominational stances, I'll just say that I do believe that "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world"...and that applies to all of us.  As John 3:16 (NIV) says, "For God so loved that world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  There we are given the believe or not.  To accept the gift...or reject His plan for us.

Until we choose to say "yes," we are orphans...without an eternal home...without a forever family.

Through our experience of adoption, we can see a glimpse of the enormity of God's love for us...the choice He make a way to give us a new life...the price that He paid...His sacrifice, beyond our inklings of understanding...His desire to have us as His own...His willingness to wait, no matter how long it takes...and the reality that He calls us His own...joint heirs with 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, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ might be 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."

Lord, Your love is amazing...overwhelming...incomprehensible.  Thank You for loving us as Your own.  Thank You for the price that was paid..."Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be".  Help me to be worthy of being called Your child.  I love you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

His Faithful Love Endures Forever!

Please visit me at for a reminder!

Also, please drop in to !!!  If you are interested in writing for children, this site is an absolute must!!!  Check it out!  You might recognize the blogger of the week.  :)

Praying God's richest of blessings on your day!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beautiful Feet

"Everything is permissible-but not everything is beneficial."  1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)

(First of all, I must admit that I've been quibbling a bit with God for the last couple of days over this post.  He won't let go!)

A lot of people don't like feet.  I'm not particularly fond of feet.  However, as I was smoothing on my sunless tanning lotion the other morning,  I thought, "I've got pretty feet."  It seems they are the only part of my body  not showing unsightly signs of aging...other than those crazy hairs that have erupted on my toes and that one little spot on the top of my foot.  Where did they come from???  Fortunately a razor can remedy that!  So yeah, other than the minor hair situation, my feet look pretty good!  Somehow they escaped the wrinkles, bulges, blotches, and age spots that have invaded the rest of my skin.  So back to the lotion I worked to apply the tanner evenly, I couldn't help but think how lovely my feet would look with a real tan.  I'm heading to the beach soon, so that is a real possibility.  But I know better.

You see, I've witnessed a 24 year old beauty deal with the devastation of melanoma...her first year of marriage spent agonizing with the side-effects of cancer treatment, dealing with fear of never being able to have children, or even losing her life.  By the grace of God, she lives...just as beautiful as ever...has two precious children...and is cancer free.

Sadly, I've also seen my husband's 27 year old cousin battle valiantly against her melanoma...and lose the untimely death that her doctor's said was caused by years of over-exposure to the sun...and in tanning beds.

My daughters have been raised to slather on the sunscreen...and never step foot in a tanning bed.  Hopefully their skin will stay healthier and more beautiful than mine.

As I pondered getting that real tan on my feet, the verse above came to mind.

Lots of things are permissible...but not beneficial.  We need to consider all the ways we treat our bodies...foods or drinks that we ingest...proper exercise or the lack thereof.  It is critical to be discerning with what we allow in our minds...from TV, the internet, music, books...and to be careful of the places we go.  We need to be mindful of the Holy Spirit that indwells our earthly tent, and honor His presence.  We must realize the effects of our witness and the impact it has on others.

As Romans 10:15 says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"  Let's be certain as we walk this Christian journey, and share the best news ever...that of Jesus live lives worthy of His calling us to be His own!  Let's aspire to have "beautiful feet"!

Lord, thank You for the miraculous work You performed in knitting our bodies in our mother's womb.  Help us to care for them as You would have us to.  Protect  our minds...our hearts...our witness.  We love You!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Squirrels Welcome?

In a quaint shop in Hendersonville, NC, there is the most darling little garden statue that says "Squirrels Welcome".  Although it was very cute, I thought, "I beg to differ!"  We have gone to great measures to keep the squirrels off of our bird feeders.  The defense has even been heightened since we caught them gulping the "nectar" from the hummingbird feeder!  Of all the nerve!!!  I walked out the back door recently to find the hummingbird feeder and the suet cage on the ground, and the acrylic disc (installed to prevent pole climbing) askew.  The creak of the door caused five squirrels to dash across the back yard, up the retaining wall, and into the nearest trees.  Just the day before I had put the gun back inside...the BB gun, that is.  I didn't think it was good for it to stay out in the heat...and thoughts of "what the neighbors think" about something rifle-esque being on our screened in porch had circled through my mind.  Those critters were off and gone before I had time to retrieve my weapon!

This morning I opened the blinds to see a squirrel perfectly steadied, his hind feet curled around the wrought iron, his tail aiding his stability, and his little hands reaching into the bird feeder...enjoying seed after seed.  I couldn't help it.  I just stood there and watched...such cute little ears, and so finely tuned...dainty hands, although bearing pointy claws...diminutive innocent, yet highly observant eyes...such talent in the balancing act he had going on....Something welled up inside me.  I think it was compassion.  And for that moment, I thought, "Okay.  Squirrels Welcome."  Yes, for that moment.

I may get the gun back out tomorrow.

I don't really have a verse to go with this.  Maybe "The earth is the LORD's and everything in it...."  Psalm 24:1a.  I'm leaning toward letting you make your own spiritual application...or not.  I just had to writers sometimes do!

As goes the prayer that I learned as a child, "Thank you for the world so sweet.  Thank you for the food we eat.  Thank you for the birds that sing.  Thank you, God, for everything."  Even squirrels.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Go Ahead! Eat Dessert First!!

"When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight...."  Jeremiah 15:16 (NIV)

The thought actually occurred to me.  I should go ahead and order my dessert...first.  Maybe have a little taste before the meal...a little during...and surely at the end, so that I could keep that luscious memory for as long as possible.

We were at Famous Louise's Rock House restaurant in Linville Falls, NC.  We go there every time we head up to the mountains.  Their homemade vegetable soup and entrees are truly "comfort food,"  home-style cooking...yummy pot roast, barbecue (two sauce choices...tomato based, aahh so sweet...and vinegar based), meatloaf..lots of variety on their menu, with some Calabash style seafood (and "riverfood"...via freshwater trout), Italian dishes, burgers, and so on.  We enjoy the main course.  But we go for the pie!!!  Baked fresh daily pie!!!  Homemade crust pie!!!  Peach, Apple, Blueberry, Blackberry, Strawberry & Rhubarb, and a Mixed Berry Pie!!!  Peach is my favorite, Blueberry is my hubby's favorite, and Apple is the number one choice for the girls.  John and the girls like ice cream with theirs.  Not me.  I don't want anything to mess with the pure perfection of that pie. we finished up our meal, and our server said, "Would anyone care for dessert?"  And we were like, "OH Yes!!"  She said, "What would you like?  I just need to let you know that we are out of the peach."  I said, "Excuse me!!!  What did you say??  She said, "We don't have any peach pie.  I just ate the last piece."  I said, "I think I'm going to cry."  Yes, I really said that...out loud.  Everyone else went ahead and ordered their faves.  Half-heartedly I settled for blackberry pie.  While I ate it, I tried to focus on the positives.  It remotely reminded me of my Grandmother's blackberry...remotely...and that really made me kind of sad, longing for days gone by, when she was able to cook and enjoy the company of family...and my Grandy was still with us...and how the Fourth of July was one of his favorite holidays.  I couldn't even finish the last bite...well until my daughter reprimanded me for even thinking of leaving a smidgen of crust in that bowl.

Yeah, so this is random...and not life-changing.  I probably won't ever actually order dessert first...well...only at Famous Louise's if it looks like there's a possibility of the peach pie running out. 

But it did prompt a spiritual connection to surface.  I do believe that we should begin our day with dessert for the soul.  Before the day begins, we need a taste of His presence...some time in His Word...some time spent in prayer.  Go ahead!  Eat dessert first!! 

"How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" 

Lord, draw us to You each morning...first...before the hustle and bustle of our day begins.  Help us to yearn for the sweetness of Your presence and the bliss of  Your Words to us.  We love you!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Rough Roads...Reality and Refinement

"The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth."  Luke 3:5b (NIV)

The tripod on the roadside held a neon orange, diamond-shaped sign that displayed the words ROUGH ROAD AHEAD.  It was right.  Our vehicle jiggled, jolted, bumped and did the passengers we rode through the construction zone.  Then we reached the place where brand new pavement began...the transformation of that section complete...aaahh, so smooth.

I couldn't help but think, as we passed that way, how the variations in that asphalt compare to the course of our lives.

You know how you go over that section where the workers have ripped off the former covering of the road and gotten down to the layer that looks all squiggly, with wavy ridges that can make your tires skid a little?  Don't you feel that some days you are "living" in that zone?  You feel slightly out of control, unable to get firm footing.  You waver in the uncomfortableness.

Then there are those big bumps...often complete with their own  warning signs...yes, another tripod bearing neon-blazing beacon that simply screams, "BUMP"!  You better take note!  You've been forewarned. The blow feels like it could surely flatten your tire...and rearrange your vertebrae!  That happens in life that knock the wind right out of us...feel as if they could "take us out"!

Next comes that steamy, tar-y stench that surrounds you, with heat that rises and penetrates right into your vehicle.  And the gravel that flicks up all over your car's undersides and fenders...leaving traces that will remain until you scrub them off.  Ever feel like you've been poured right into the heat of that asphalt producing incinerator??  Or covered with the debris from the fallout of life taking place around you?

You are not alone.  We have all been down that avenue.  It's not easy.  But take heart.  There will be smooth roads ahead.  And our perseverance is not in vain.

In James 1:12, we read, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."  Earlier in that passage, James said, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (v.4)  And remember that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

As I said before, you are not alone.  "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.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Hebrews 12:1-3

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance."  2 Thessalonians 3:3

Father God, please help us!  We understand that this journey called life is wrought with difficult passages...and cool resting places.  We know that You are the God of them both.  Lord, we are yielding ourselves to Your refinement, believing that You will also provide times of refreshing and rejuvenation.  Help us to persevere.  We trust You to make the rough places complete the work that You began in us.  We love you, Lord!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pursued...By the Lover of My Soul

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

Last night I said it right out loud.  I had a husband.  I said that I needed to get on a better schedule.  With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, I've fallen into a pattern of staying up late (so not me!) and sleeping late (mmmm, liked that part).  The problem was that so much of my most productive part of the day...mornings for me...was being wasted.  One of the things that I love so much about summer is leisurely morning time in the Word.  I was missing some of the best of that...quiet time before anyone else is up...time when it's just me and God...well and my faithful companion, Cocoa, my little daschund.  Yeah, so I said those words, and obviously my hubby wasn't the only one to hear them.  God did.  And I think He considered it to be a prayer...and He answered!  I woke up around 4:30, laid in bed, so nice and cozy...prayed for my family, my pastor, my friends...then I knew I had to do it.  I had to get up!  God had some things to show me, some things to tell me.  I'm so glad I didn't miss the rising of the sun, the songs of praise that the birds raised, the breeze that enveloped me as if it was the arms of God Himself.  And  then as I opened His Word, he the lover of my soul...His whispers of love for me.

I went first to my daily reading in my One Year Chronological Bible, (Yes!  I finally caught up!) which I enjoy with my sister of the heart, Wendy, my sweet Mama, and my dear friend, Gloria.  At first I was a little disappointed when I saw that the reading would be from The Song of Songs...not what I usually consider to be my favorite manna from the Word.  The book of The Song of Songs (or The Song of Solomon) is often preached as a human love story, a romantic encounter...yet sometimes comical to me, when expressing his sentiments about his lover's beauty by comparing her hair to a flock of goats and her teeth to a flock of sheep just shorn.  But, as I read in my Disciple's Study Bible introduction, "Later traditions of Judaism and Christianity have used allegorical and typological methods of interpretation to extend the meaning of the Song of Songs to God's love with His people and Christ's love for the church."  I read it fresh and with a new perspective...and experienced a love that filled my soul!

This morning "I slept, but my heart was awake, when I heard [the lover of my soul] knocking and calling." (v. 5:2)  He said, "Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!  Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.  The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.  The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.  Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!"  (vs.2:10-13)   He reminded me that "[I] have captured [His] heart..."  I am His "treasure, [His] bride." (v. 4:9)  He loves me.  He loves you.  He pursues us...passionately...morning by morning.  Let's hear His call and Arise!

Lord, Your love is beyond our comprehension.  Help us to not only catch a glimpse of the heights and depths of your love, but to see it boldly and clearly and believe it with all of our hearts!

My blogger friends, this morning, I felt that God was also calling me to begin something...that I approach with some fear and trembling, afraid that I won't do it justice...or complete the tasks...but I obeyed today...before this blog post.  I started yet another for brief daily devotions.  Pray for me to continue the obedience, to be consistent, to yield to Him.  I hope to be much more committed to that daily nugget than I am to this more lengthy writing.  Take a peek at Grace for Today-Daily Devotional!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lessons from an IPOD...a camera...a computer

"Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life."  Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)

My sweet husband gave me an IPOD for my birthday.  That was back in October.  I still don't know how to use it.  With the help of my 10 year old, I have enjoyed some of the music that my 23 year old downloaded...or uploaded...whichever you it.  I came across the instructions yesterday as I was looking through a drawer (that's right beside my recliner...close at hand, because I always meant to read them).  I hope to get to them soon.

That same generous husband bought me a camera a couple of years back...before a family trip to New York City.  I have probably about 1500 pictures on that little disk-y thing that you put in it.  I have printed a few...up- or downloaded some...again with the help of my daughters.  I do know how to use the delete button on it.  I've managed to take some really good pictures...but all on the same setting, because I didn't read the instruction booklet.  I think it is in the cabinet in my den.  I have actually taken the booklet with me on a couple of trips, really intending to read it.

I was given my laptop by an amazing group of parents at a school where I taught a few years back.  They were thrilled to be an avenue of provision on my journey to becoming a writer.  I'm embarrassed to say that the instruction book is "somewhere"...unread...I really thought I'd get to it.  As with the IPOD and the camera, my precious daughters have taught me how to do most of what I know how to do...including setting up my blogsite.

I have three amazing tools available to enhance my life, preserve memories, equip me for tasks.  They are effective...and used often, well, except the IPOD...I've really got to learn how to use that thing!  Yes, I enjoy them, but could use them to their full potential if I would just take the time to read the instruction books.

You know, the most important instruction book is God's Word.  It won't tell me how to work my IPOD, camera, or computer...but it does tell me to heed instruction.  I think a lot of times we keep our Bibles close by...planning to read them, but perhaps not being intentional about it.  I must confess something.  I started out the year reading through the Chronological Bible led by my dear sister in Christ, Wendy Pope at Proverbs 31 ministries (her link is on my favorite blog list).  I was mostly consistent until a few weeks ago when some areas of my life turned a little upside down.  I know in my head that when things go crazy God's Word is the thing you need.  However, I let busy-ness...the pit...and reality TV (to escape my own!) rob me of the encouragement I needed.  I was even reminded by my Mama and my precious friend, Gloria (who knows all about how to use her camera) of the way God was speaking right to my needs...but I still got behind.  Now I still went to church.  I still had my devotion time each day.  I even went to the Women of Joy conference...God's plan way before I knew that would be just what I needed.  But in all of those days I missed God's words to me...His voice of encouragement and call to be have joy.  I pledge today to start my program of catching up and getting back on track so that I don't miss what He has to say to me.

This morning as I read from a beautiful devotion book that my daughters gave me for Mother's Day, this message was driven home.  It is from Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling.

"I, the Creator of the universe, am with you and for you.  What more could you need?  When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with Me at a deep level.  I offer abundant Life; your part is to trust Me, refusing to worry about anything.

It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events.  Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire.  Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves.  Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life.  The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence.  Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do.  I am the Lord!"

The most important instruction that I need is to seek Him first.  (Matt. 6:33)  In His Word He teaches me how to trust...the importance of Godly presence and counsel of friends.  I'm thankful to have a lot of His Words hidden in my heart...and Christian music playing in my speak to me at all times, even when I'm not being faithful to spending quality time in His Word.

I've gotta the His Word.  I've got some catching up to do!

Father God, thank You for Your Word.  Help me to daily "Accept instruction from [Your] mouth and lay [Your] words upon my heart."  Job 22:22 (NIV)  My hope is in You.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reality Check

"Choose this day whom you will for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

I was shocked!  I simply could not believe it! Lacey got voted off American Idol last night!  She was my favorite...especially once I found out she was a preacher's kid (I am and my children are.)  She was a really bold (the color of a crayon) hair, heavy makeup, and a unique style of dress. (Now, I'm not saying that's how I dress...or want my children to dress...or color their hair.)  But her smile was so sweet, her eyes so sparkly, and her voice was very appealing.  Yes, shocked...and sad.  Well, as much as you can be over a TV show.  The thing was, as much as I hated it, I was a part of the cause.  I didn't do my part.  I didn't vote.  I made a choice to sit on the sidelines, enjoy the show, and not take a stand for my choice.

Yes, at my house, we enjoy reality TV...American Idol...Survivor...Amazing Race.  Now we don't approve of all of the music...or language...or social statements, but there's excitement in seeing people reach for their dream...take on great challenges...battle the odds...see the world.  I guess for us, it's some encouragement for us to consider our escape from the odds we battle in our daily lives...a chance to experience risk taking from the safety of our recliners...and to travel vicariously through those strangers.

You know, I will choose to root for some other contestant on American Idol.  I probably still won't vote.  I head straight to bed when the show is over.  But this has surely caused me to think about choices...and acting upon them.

God's Word makes it very clear that there are some critical choices we must make and actions that we must take...choices and actions that will impact our lives...and God's blessing on our lives.  Yesterday, He brought to my mind the verse in Joshua 24:15, "Choose this day whom you will serve...."  Everyday I have to make a choice.  Not for salvation...that was settled long ago, when I was seven.  But I must choose daily whom I will serve...who I will live for...who I will revere...who I will reflect.

Lately I have been reading from Deuteronomy.  Repeatedly we, as God's chosen, are commanded to choose...obedience that brings blessing...or disobedience that brings cursing.    (By the way, speaking of choices...He chose us!!!  He made a choice for us to become His very own treasured possession!  And His choice was one that came at great Him, not to us.  He showed grace.  No matter what we've done, no matter where we've been, no matter how much we've hurt Him, He died in our place.  He gave it all.  It was a sacrifice.  It hurt.  Yet, His love was that great!  1 Peter 2:9 says, "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.)  And He gives us a and white...choose Him...or not.

Back to Deuteronomy, hear it straight from His Word.  "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.  See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,  I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.  This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live  and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."  Deuteronomy 30:11-20 (NIV)

That's reality.  Reality that matters.  What's your choice?

Lord, I'm casting my vote!  I choose You!  I want my life to be about You.  I want Your blessing...for me and my household.  Help me daily to walk in obedience to Your commands.  I am in awe that You would choose me.  My heart overflows with gratitude for Your love...unfailing love...for Your sacrifice...for me.  I love you.


Friday, March 12, 2010

A Light in the Darkness

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

A beautiful blown-glass angel sits on my dresser.  She holds a tiny candle on her delicate hands...usually.  The point of connection is so minute, that it comes off frequently.  Fortunately, because of the position of her hands, I can place it right back and it will stay...until the next time it is disturbed.

This morning I laid something beside the angel and it bumped her slightly.  The candle fell off.

It felt like me.

In recent days it seemed like my "light" was knocked off.  Circumstances have threatened to cast me into darkness.  I know all of the right stuff in my head...but my heart was troubled...and ruling my spirit.  Now, I carried on with life...and in God's strength walked through days that I really felt like just staying in the bed.  I prayed...sought encouragement in His Word...and prayed...offered a sacrifice of praise...and prayed some more.

Today He gave me these words in 2 Corinthians 4.

Treasures in Jars of Clay

1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken."[b]With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

He is faithful.

Lord, I'm believing Your strength and Your all-surpasing power!  Help me in my unbelief.  Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You...and not just on what I can see.  Help me to walk in Your light...and to allow You to keep my light burning.  Thank You for Your love and grace.  I love You.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm thinkin'...He loves me!

"...His banner over me is love."  Song of Solomon 2:4 (NIV)

In my quiet time a few days ago (in Beth Moore's Praying God's Word Day by Day devotional book...which I use year after year...soooo powerful), I came across a verse that stuck with me ever since...primarily because it was made into a song that has played over and over in my head.  Do you remember singing that chorus repeatedly in youth group or summer camp??  "His banner over me is love.  His banner over me is love...His banner over me is love (2 syllable love)."  So, I couldn't get it off my mind...which caused me to ponder the meaning...and try to picture it in my mind.  I asked my smart hubby about it...about banners in the Bible and such.  I prayed about it, asking the Lord to help me to grasp the meaning.  I don't know if it was God or just odd that those obnoxious Arby's commercials came to me.  You know the ones where someone is in the middle of something real a business meeting...or a wedding...and the bright red Arby's logo pops up over their head and somebody says, "I'm thinkin' Arby's."

Well, I think God's banner is waaayy cooler (and much more beautiful) than that goofy Arby's hat logo!  And what it means to me is waaayy more important than a roast beef sandwich!  Just imagine, when God looks at me...and you...He sees His own hand-woven brilliant, spectacular banner over our heads...embroidered in the finest of fabric and thread with one word written on it.  LOVE.

That's all He sees.  He doesn't see our faults.  He doesn't see our failures.  He just sees LOVE.

He doesn't flip the banner...or switch it with another...ever.  He always sees LOVE.

So, yeah, I'm thinkin' He loves me.  Now that is bliss.

Lord, I pray to walk worthy of that banner.  Help me to You first loved me.  Thank You for Your love that never fails.  Thank You for the Love that paid the price for my that the banner of LOVE is all You see.  I love You. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Below the Surface

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”- Romans 8:35,37 (NIV)

I had a bit of a shocking surprise last weekend.  I was visiting at my parents' home...precious, sweet memories...well, all but one.  You see, at my house in the master bath we have raised sinks.  They are nice for several reasons...less bending over when washing my face or brushing my teeth.  I'm not getting lazy...just less flexible.  They provide a comfortable resting place when leaning over to look in the mirror and apply my mascara (as I battle to find the right distance to meet the needs of my near-sightedness in combination with the far-sightedness that has come with increasing age).  Okay, so I had just gotten out of the shower and started the make-up process and it a bathroom with a standard height sink.  I saw my thighs!  Yikes!  Ugh!!!  What had happened???  When did that all go south???  I couldn't believe what had been hiding below the surface of my sink.

I haven't gotten over that harsh realization.  (I guess I'd better get back on the treadmill...or walking in the neighborhood....Yes, I "fell off the wagon.")  As I mulled over this matter of relative insignificance, God whispered words that I felt worthy of sharing...whether my own frightening experience was or not.

He reminded me that we need to be aware of things that are going on "below the surface" in people's lives...of unsightly circumstances, hearts bulging in brokenness...and share His love.  It's often crystal clear that someone is bearing a burden...the cranky lady in the checkout line, the tearful Mom you saw at school today, the gruff old man at the park.  But many times a smile masks turmoil that bubbles and boils inside.  We need to be less hasty in our judgements...even the ones that believe someone "has it all together."  We need to be more compassionate.  We need to look through the eyes of our Heavenly Father who matter what He sees on the outside or within.  We need to take time to share a smile, an encouraging word, an act of kindness.  As Matthew 25:40 tells us, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " (NIV)

Lord, open our eyes to see the needs around us.  Give us wisdom and discernment to assess what You would have us do to be Your arms of comfort, Your words of refreshment, Your means of tangibly meeting a need.    Help us to share Your the the the the those who openly share their pain and to those who hide it below the surface.  Love through us. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You Can Take It, But Can You Dish It Out??

"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required."  Luke 12:48 (NKJV)

So, did you read my title and think that I've got it backwards???  Yes, I did take some liberty with that cliche.  However, it must be turned around to make the point that God is pressing into me...somewhat painfully, I might add.  You know how He is the potter and we are the clay?  Well I feel like He is turning me every which way but loose today!

There are many things that are easy to "take" from God. We gladly accept His love...obliviously, at times, not realizing just how lavish His love is.  We accept His forgiveness...even when we flippantly utter "forgive me of my sin"...often forgetting the price that was paid.  We expect God to be patient with wait until we're ready to accept Him, to listen to Him, to make time for Him, or to obey Him.  We enjoy the benefits of grace...unmerited favor.  We are accepted, loved, forgiven, and even favored by the God of the universe.  Ponder that a minute.  Astounding, don't you think? 

"Amazing sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me."

I am so unworthy.  I don't deserve His love...His forgiveness...His patience...and surely not His favor.  I've neglected Him, at times even walked away from Him.  I've disobeyed Him and sinned against Him.  I've questioned Him and been impatient with Him.  Yet, He shows me mercy and grace...and I "take" it.

But can I dish it out?  I must confess before Him...and to you, that I'm struggling.  Showing love, forgiveness, patience, and grace sometimes seems beyond my realm of capability.  But I must keep reminding myself that it is not beyond His...and that "to whom much is given...much is required."

Lord, I know that in my weakness You are strong.  I'm bowing at Your feet, asking forgiveness, and yielding to you.  Work in my heart.  Transform me.  Thank you for Your grace.  Help me to not only take it, but to give it.  I want to be like You.  Mold me and make me.