Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Is Your Focus?

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

I fail miserably at videography.  Really miserably.

My first major film disaster was a few years back when I hoped to capture the hatching of some killdeer birds in my backyard.  I'll put it this way.  There was lots of footage of mulch and the flapping lens 10 long minutes or so.  Never even found the nest...with the camera, that is.

Most recently, my talents were tried once again as I attempted to capture the essence of the homes that my daughter and son-in-law were scoping out in hopes of joining the forces of mortgage payers.  My hubby was unable to be with us and...well...every Daddy wants to be in on the action.  Hence the video.

Okay, so first of all, you should know that a Flip camera doesn't really mean that you can flip it in any direction and the picture will be upright on your computer.

And it's really good if you note whether the red button is pushed or not. And that you're filming what you mean to film and not your shoes or the stairs or the rear end of the person going up in front of you.

We almost needed Dramamine to watch...and couldn't even see much of the house.

The video may only be worthy of deletion.

However, the lesson I observed will remain.

I spent way too much time focused on the little...really little...screen in front of me.  And I missed the BIG picture.  There was so much that I didn't even see!

I think that maybe God clapped and said, "Ah!  She's got it!" as the spiritual application struck me almost immediately.

While we're trapped in this earthly tent, we can only see what's playing out on the tiny screen of our lives.  He sees so much more.  And we have to trust Him for the unseen.  That's faith.  "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

And He's got a good to prosper us and not to harm us.  He is molding us into the likeness of Himself, shaping us with purpose.  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."  1 John 3:2  And then we'll view the widest screen version...and understand.

Lord, as the father in Mark 9:4 cried out, we believe!  Help us in our unbelief.  Help us to trust You, knowing that You hold the future in Your hands.  Thank You for calling us Your children.  We love You.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Worship

My daughter and son-in-law attend Lee Park Church.  We've had the blessing to visit there with them on several occasions.  This song came to mind during my worship time today, and what a surprise to find it sung by Jason Lanier, Lee Park's minister of music and Becky Justice, the pastor's wife.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

When the "Hap-Happiest Season of All" Doesn't Feel Like It

"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)

The airwaves echo with music that declares,
"It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you,
'Be of good cheer!'
It's the hap-happiest season of all...."

But what if it doesn't feel that way for you?  What if your reality screams that it's absolutely not? What if it takes every ounce of strength you can muster to work up a smile and pretend to "be of good cheer."

What if...
Your family member lays near death?

Or you've recently watched as their body was laid in the grave?

What if...
Illness ravages your body or that of someone you love?

What if that someone is your child?

What if...
Your child has chosen a lifestyle that contradicts the teachings of the home and the church ? 

A family member faces addiction?

Or mental illness?

Or both?

What if...
Your marriage is fractured...or broken?

Rejection overwhelms you?

What if...
You lost your job and a new one is not in sight?

You're homeless?

What if...
The answer to your prayers was, "No."?

Sadly, these are all situations that are real...that are close by...that have been witnessed in recent days...that repeat over the years.

Wednesday Worship this week proclaimed that "All is Well."  Honestly, after hearing accounts and looking into the eyes of those facing the struggles, I had to go back and listen to the words myself...with my own questioning.  The song doesn't deny that there is darkness in this world...even during this season.   It does, however, proclaim that because of the birth of our Saviour...the One who rescues us, defends us, comforts us, delivers us...because of Jesus, "darkness fell into the dawn of Love's light."

He "made His light shine in our the face of Christ."  That baby in the manger is our promise of hope...and light in the darkness.

Lord, You know every heart that is hurting.  And You came to heal the hurts. Shine Your light into the darkness of this world.  May every heart feel Your presence...Emmanuel, God With Us. Encourage us through Your Word so that "we do not lose heart."  Help us not to be blinded by the trappings of Christmas, no matter how glittery and sparkly and twinkly, and miss out on the True Light...the One that came to save a world in need.  Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for Your great love.  Help us to be ministers of that love to those in darkness.  And bring on the dawn.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father....Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come....So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him."  Matthew 24:36, 42, 44 (NIV)

It seems that lately I've spent a lot of time getting ready for one thing or another.

In September, many hours were spent preparing to speak at a women's retreat with one of my favorite churches.  Hours in study.  Hours in prayer.  Even an hour at the nail salon, the hair salon, and sitting on my bathroom floor waiting for my locks to be transformed from dull gray to brownish-black. 


In October, another speaking engagement.  This one with MOPS, darlin' young Moms of preschoolers.  More time preparing a message, praying for hearts to be encouraged, thoughts to be enlightened.  More time at the nail salon, hair salon, and on the bathroom floor.


November brought the excitement of school visits and craft fairs and Christmas festivals to market my Christmas book.  Ordering books, packing and repacking and repacking the necessary items for fun travels across the state.  This time the prayers were for little hearts to hear the true message of Christmas and for safety along the way.  Another nail visit...when you're holding up a book to read or having a book signing, it's nice for your nails to shine.  Somehow November got too busy for the hair salon and the bathroom floor time with L'Oreal. 


It's early December.  My list has become lists.  The house waits to be cleaned and decorated. There are the gifts...some piled, still in bags on my bedroom floor, others yet to be bought.  There's the thrill of upcoming baking day with my girls.  Christmas pageants to of which my class of 5 year olds will memorize 7 verses from Luke 2 in a mere matter of days.  More book events!!  Exam time for my 11 year old at school.  Nail appointment, haircut and color are urgent at this point.


In the middle of all of this busy-ness, I'm challenged to consider what really matters...the preparations that are most important.

Time spent preparing my heart to experience the true meaning of Christmas.  To live in thanksgiving for the gift of a Savior.  To share that gift with others.  To "Be still and know that He is God."  Jesus, that baby, is God incarnate.  The One who died that we might live.  Truly live.

My dear sweet Grandmother is nearing death.  Soon that same Jesus will reach out His hand and usher her into His presence.  She's prepared.  And all of my seasonal preparations won't matter a bit when I'm called to be by her side.  Because of love.  Love that was birthed even before this earth was formed.

And as Matthew 24 tells us, Jesus, the epitome of Love that conquered death will come again.  Only the Father knows the day and the hour.

Are you prepared?  Have you shared His love so that others may be prepared?

Lord, thank You for the Babe that was born...our Saviour.  Thank You for the promise of His return.  Prepare us for Your return.  Still our hearts, minds, and bodies to know You and Your love for us.  Help us to share that love with others this Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Highly Favored

The pinkish tinge inched its way up the morning sky. The lake was mostly still, stirred ever so slightly by the first breezes of the day and the occasional ripples as geese glided effortlessly across the lake.

I wept at the overwhelming beauty in front of me, the presence of the Lord as tangible and enveloping as the fog in a distant cove.

I whispered, “Who am I, Lord, that you would show me such favor?”

Ancient words pierced my thoughts. “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28 NKJV)

My response was, “But God, those words were for Mary, the mother of Jesus, not for one as unworthy as me.”

He replied, “She was chosen to carry my Son in her womb. You were fashioned to carry Him in your heart.”

Highly favored. Chosen. Called by the Creator of the universe. Purposed for His work.

Do you join Mary in asking, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34 NIV)

Hear the reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…the power of the Most High will overshadow you….For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35, 37 NIV)

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45 NIV)

Lord, we are in awe of Your love.  Thank You for choosing us.  Thank You for Your Spirit that dwells within us, and for the power that He bestows.  Accomplish Your will in us.

While at the NCompass Writer's Retreat this fall, I was overcome with the Lord's goodness and His words to me. I shared this message in our worship time that morning. One of our hosts, Edie Melson, asked if I'd write it out and guest post on her website back in October. As we approach the Advent season, I felt compelled to bring those words back to light.  May you savor His favor today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Worship-O Holy Night

In this season of advent, let's take the time to focus on all that the coming of Jesus means to a world that was lost without Him...a world that lay in sin and error pining...pining for forgiveness, freedom, hope.  And with His coming, that world could rejoice in a soul that feels its worth...and the mercies brought with that new morn.

Let's do fall on our knees, hear the angel voices sing of that Holy Night...and the Divinity that was born to us.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Meditations-Prophecy of the Advent

Words from the prophet in Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. 
He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

It has been accomplished.  Christ came, born as a babe in a manger, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death as He took our sin upon Himself, and in victory rose, conquering death while bringing light and peace into a dark and troubled world.  He reigns!!  Forever!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Worship-Thanksgiving Song

With prayers that your Thanksgiving is abundant with joy, grateful hearts, and rich blessings!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Interview with Vonda Skelton and Book Giveaway!!!

Hi friends!! 

Please head over to my precious friend, Vonda Skelton's blog for a chance to win a Gracie or Grover book and read a little...actually a lot...about my journey as a writer!!!  You will surely want to put Vonda's blog on your list of must-reads!!  She is a gifted writer, speaker, and teacher!!!  She is a woman who loves the Lord, encouraging others and making them laugh, and helping writers pursue their dream.  What a privilege to be interviewed by such a lovely lady!!

Don't forget to leave a comment at her site for your chance to win!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Meditation-Give Thanks

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love
and His wonderful deeds for mankind,
for He satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things."
Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV)

Unfailing love.  Grace and mercy.  Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  The One who satisfies and fills...our Everlasting Portion.

Lord, we give You our thanks.  Thanks for Your unfailing love and for Your wonderful deeds for us.  Thank You for filling our emptiness.  Help us to hunger and thirst for You, believing that You are just what we need.  We love You.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Fun!!

Please visit me at my Gracie's Grounds blog for details for the upcoming Hemby Bridge Christmas Festival (near Charlotte, NC this weekend)!!!  It's going to be so merry!!!  I'd love to see you!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Worship-Giving Thanks

Let's take a moment to count our name them one by one...and to thank God for each of them.  Even in our trials, we can thank Him...for His peace, for His strength, for His mercy and grace.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Meditation

Psalm 100
A psalm.  For giving thanks.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

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.

Yes!  Let's worship Him.  Let's come before Him with joyful songs!  Let's give thanks to Him and praise His Name!!  For He is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness to a thousand generations!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday Worship

I am overwhelmed by His mercy and in awe of His grace.  He knows us...and loves us...and calls us His own.  May your day be blessed and may His praise be on your lips!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Meditations-You Are Always On His Mind

"You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

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 139:1-18

The Creator of the universe always has you on His mind.

And no matter what anybody else thinks about you, you are always on His mind.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Still Hearing Voices

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."  Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)

I'm still hearing Aibileen's words in my head.  Words she spoke to Mae Mobley over and over again.

"You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important."

Kathryn Stockett's The Help made a lasting impression on me.  Much of it is a sadness as thick as the humidity in Atlanta in July.

As I hear Aibileen's words to "Baby Girl" echoing in my head, I just wonder whose voices are  filling your thoughts today. Are they voices of love and encouragement, like Aibileen's, or voices of rejection, contempt, or condemnation like Miss Hilly's or Miss Leefolt's.

I pray that you are blessed with family and friends that breathe words of life and love and encouragement into you.  And I also pray that the primary voice you hear is that of our Heavenly Father, the One who loves us unfailingly.

Listen to His words.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love...."  Jeremiah 31:3

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."  John 15:9

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends....I have called you friends....You did not choose me, but I chose you...."  John 15:13-16

He proclaims that His love is everlasting.  God's love for us equals that of His love for Jesus.  We are joint heirs with Him.  Jesus calls us "friend."  And He loved us so much that He laid down His life for us.

 No greater love.

And if we continue to search His Word, we find that in Him there is no condemnation.  We see that He experienced and understands rejection and contempt.  And that when we suffer, He is our ever present help.  He is our strength, our comforter, our defender, our strong tower, our shield, and our deliver.

Let's hear God's voice over all others.  Let's seek that voice in His Word.

And may we all be mindful of the words we speak, uttering "gracious words like a honeycomb" breathing "sweetness to the soul" and "health to the body" of those around us.

Lord, You are The Help we need.  Fill our thoughts with Your voice.  Fill our mouths with words as sweet as honey.  Protect our hearts, our souls, our minds.  Assure us with Your love today, and help us to likewise share love and encouragement with others.  We love You.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Strength, Dignity, and Laughter

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."  Proverbs 31:25

As it turns out, being clothed...accessorized in this case...with dignity didn't happen.  But there will be laughter for days to come.

Funny, I thought I looked dignified.

I even asked the handsome hubby to snap a photo...since we were all dolled up for a night at the theatre.  It's always fun to update your profile picture, you know.  He took three or four shots.  They just weren't working for me and we needed to get on our way, so I deleted them as we walked out the door.

I felt pretty confident as we strolled through the renovated uptown district.  The gentle clinking sound of the buckles on my leather boots seemed the perfect prelude for a Broadway show.  The autumn breeze embraced us...and surely enhanced the flowiness of my black jersey jacket. 

Holding hands with my man, looking all cute in his sweater vest.  Life just doesn't get much better than that.

Unfortunately, the show was appalling and we left at intermission. 

But that was probably a good thing...that we didn't linger in the mezzanine at intermission...or leave at the same time as the rest of the audience.

Upon returning home, I glanced in the mirror. 

Classy black earring on right ear.  Fuchsia fun earring on the right.

I burst into laughter...and shouted, "John Butler!  You let me go out of the house like this???"

We had a good laugh.

Strength, dignity, and laughter.  Two out of three ain't bad.

Lord, thank You for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that guides us, convicts us, and strengthens us in a world that draws few boundaries between good and evil.  Help us to stand firm as we seek to honor You.  Thank You for laughter.  And grace.  And Your love which is not challenged or changed by our appearance, shortcomings, or performance.  Give us the hope, faith, and vision to smile at the future. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Worship

Let's make this our prayer.
Close your eyes.  Ponder those words.  Allow the High King of Heaven to be your Treasure today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Meditations

This morning I have the privilege of speaking for the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at Salem Baptist Church in Apex, NC!  As I researched their mission, yearly theme, and focal Scripture passage in 2 Timothy 1, I came across a verse that is the foundation for one of my favorite hymns.

"...I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day."  2 Timothy 1:12b (NIV)

Here are the lyrics to that hymn by Daniel W. Whittle.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

Thank you, Jesus.  Amen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yummy Fall Recipe

Okay, stop the presses!!

 I'm going to share a kind of cooking.  Easy!

Here's what I'm making today.
Two ingredients. 
Cinnamon & Sugar Pita Chips and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
I got mine at Trader Joe's.  That makes them more healthy.  Right?

Melt the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips in the microwave.  Dip the Pita Chips!

Lay the dipped chips on wax paper or foil for the chocolate to return to its solid state.

Voila!  Cinnamony, chocolatey yumminess!  And all artsy looking, like they came straight from your favorite chocolate confectionery!  (Mine is The Chocolate Fetish in Asheville, NC.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."  Matthew 12:34b (NIV)

I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 

My feelings about the book are mixed. 

The thing that strikes me is that in my mind, over the last couple of weeks, I hear my thoughts in Skeeter's or Aibileen's or Miss Hilly's voice.  They have been my daily companions. 

Don't you find that when you are hanging out with people you start to talk like them or at least think in their voice?

Some favorite "voices" in my head are those of my Scarlett O'Hara-ish friend, Emilie...or my German friend, Birgit...or my new British writer buddy, Sue.  And you've gotta love it when you are doing a Bible study and hear some Beth Moore Texas drawl in your mind.    

As Aibileen, Miss Skeeter, or Miss Hilly hijack my thoughts, I can't help but think, "Do I really want their voices there?"  Maybe, maybe not.

That's where the "overflow" comes in.

The verse that follows "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" says, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."  (I couldn't help but hear Aibileen speaking the latter words.)

I'm just wondering what we're "storing up."

There's a lot of fiction stored up in me.  Mostly I choose Christian Chick Lit...which makes for overflow that I don't have to be ashamed of. Sometimes I read mainstream literature...some great...some I need to mark off my list.  Girls, we've got to be careful what we're reading.  It affects our overflow.

I love some reality TV...Survivor, The Sing Off, American Idol.  Hearing Scotty McCreery in my head is good.  Steven Tyler...not so much.

What I really want flowing out is the best...the goodness that comes from the ultimate Voice and His Holy Word.

I'm challenged to invest my time in storing up His truths through time in His Word, listening to music that echoes those truths, and getting quiet enough to listen for His Voice.

Jeremiah 15:16 says, "When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight...."  I want to hunger and thirst for Him.  I want to fill up on Jesus, so that the overflow can't help but be good!

Lord, the voices around us scream for our attention.  Help us to follow the ones that lead us to You.  Fill us up with Your Truths, so that the overflow of our hearts honors and glorifies You.   

Wednesday Worship

Let's make this our prayer today.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Meditations

Wrap your mind around words from the Word today.

Psalm 1 (NIV)
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is is the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.  Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."

Let's truly delight in His Word and meditate on it today!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding Balance

You shall have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3 (NIV)

I stood firm for years.  Barely even tempted.

Then they said I had to try it.

My friends.  My "tribe."  My Christian writer girlfriends.

I gave in.  And not just a little.  I jumped in with both feet.

And then it happened. 

I was hooked.

I didn't know it could take hold that fast.


Actually, that was one of the reasons I resisted for so long.  I knew it would be fun...and time consuming.  I had enough trouble keeping up with my email and trying to be somewhat consistent on my blog.   And oh my.  It was true.  I can't help being seduced by that tab before me everytime I get online.  In the two short weeks since I joined, I discovered that I need to use some self-control.  I've got to find a balance.

I love the "fellowship" right there at my fingertips...with pictures and everything!  I can feel like I'm near my  Jesus girls that live far from me.  And what a blessing that we can encourage each other...lots of each others with a few clicks on the keyboard.

However, I can get so easily distracted and curious and end up spending hours just browsing.  Fun, but the best use of my time?

My friend, Edie Melson, who lead the rally to get me hooked up with Facebook (and Twitter, this non-techie girl is struggling to figure out) shared her daily schedule with us at the NCompass retreat.  She said that she spends, if I recall correctly, only 30 minutes or so managing her social networking each morning.  That girl has some self-discipline!  (That is her time before her work day begins.  She does check back in and out at scheduled intervals...and in her evening leisure.)

And I'm hoping to find self-discipline too.  With God's help.  He commands me not to have any gods before Him.  Sadly, while waiting on my coffee to brew, I find myself tempted to venture into the cyberworld.  Before my time with Him.  I'm feeling conviction on that.

I want Him to be first.  I desire Him to be the One in whom I live and move and have my being. (Acts 18:28)...not social media.  I want His Spirit dwelling in me so that His fruit of self-control is present and active.

Yes, I'll see you on Facebook...and someday possibly become a proficient "tweeter," but I'm going to have my quiet time first.

Father God, please be LORD over our lives.  Help us to abide in You and allow Your Word to abide in us so closely that our lives are controlled by You.  Thank You for creating minds that devise the technology at our fingertips.  Lord, reign in that technology that it may be used for good and not for evil.  Thank You for "friends" that have easy access to share our joys and even sorrows, our ministries, and encouragement in the cyberworld.  Please help us not to forsake the actual gathering together face to face, hand in hand, heart to heart in communion with one another.  Lord, help us to find balance in our lives that honors You.  We love You!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Worship

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.  1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

God has called YOU.  His calling goes beyond your imagination.

So what are you waiting for?

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Is Holding You Back?

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.  Psalm 118:24-26

Is there something that you know you need to be doing?  What is it that is holding you back?

I'll just fess up and admit that the thing at the forefront of my mind this morning is the need for exercise.  For my health and appearance, I need to pull on my sneakers and head out the door.  Which I plan to do as soon as I finish this post.  However, my plan is often thwarted because I hear voices in my head that taunt, "Why even try?  You know you won't be consistent. Sure, it's a beautiful fall day today, but winter is coming.  Cold weather will be a hindrance."  I'm fighting back.  Today.  I have to remember those words that I learned as a child, "If you try and don't succeed, try, try again."

What is is for you?

Last weekend some amazing new friends and I soaked in outstanding teaching by Edie Melson and Vonda Skelton at the NCompass Writing Retreat.  Those in attendance came from a broad spectrum of writing experience and as travelers on the journey in response to God's call.  We packed our bags of writer's clothes, our dreams, and headed off to the beauty of Lake Keowee, SC.  Unfortunately, insecurity and fear snuck into our luggage as well.  Yet, we braved new territory...with the prayer, encouragement, and tutoring  of our new sojourners.  For some of us, we forged ahead (with a little trembling) into the worlds of Facebook and Twitter.  For others, it was jumping headfirst into the blogosphere.  And steps were even taken that will lead to publication of articles and books!

I feel pretty comfortable surmising that most of us returned home and felt at least a twinge of doubt and uncertainty that we were up to the task we embraced just days earlier.

Hindrance to do something is absolutely not limited to those in the writing world.

Your "thing" might be pursuing a new career, starting a diet, joining a Bible study, committing to daily Quiet Time, entering into a relationship, committing to an existing relationship, forgiving someone, or following a call that you know God has placed on your life.

What is it for you?

As I head to my Reeboks, I'm thinking the Nike slogan of "Just Do It"!

We are not alone or incapable.  As we are promised in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.  He's got the power!  Let's embrace it!

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your unfathomable love.  Thank You for Your desire to use us to further Your kingdom.  Thank You for the call that You've placed on our lives.  Help us to trust in You for all that concerns us.  Help us to yield and obey whatever You command.  We love you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Worship

Wow.  This song by Natalie Grant celebrates the power in the Great Name of Jesus!  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Get Out of the Boat

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 
Matthew 14:28-29 (NIV)

Stretched before me this morning is beautiful Lake Keowee, SC.  The deep blue water shimmers and ripples as a chilly fall breeze stirs.  Geese glide along the surface. The occasional fisherman emerges from the coves before me, drifting slowly as he stands in his boat to bring in the catch of the day.  Birds sing their autumn song as the leaves offer a glimpse of the brilliance to come.  Gentle lapping of the water on the shore and against the bearings of the dock and gazebo stills my heart and mind.

My thoughts travel to another lake...long ago.  A lake that bore not only the livelihood of some scruffy, rugged  fishermen, but on whose waters Jesus walked...and one of His followers who obeyed the call to, "Come."

I'm spending several days with a precious group of Christian writers.  We are a multifaceted bunch...coming together from various states, even a couple of other countries.  Our ages range from early twenties to senior adult.  In personality, temperament, shape, size (which will be larger for all of us after these days because of our amazing chef), hair color, and life experiences we are all different.  But we share a common bond.  The calling from our Lord to "Come and write."

Like Peter, we are exhilarated by His words...yet often bound by fear. 


Of sinking...of failing.

As with Peter, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the One who beckons us to commit our steps to Him.  We must trust Him to empower us, to walk with us, and to do His will through us.  It must be His voice we hear.  The Voice of Truth.
 Is Jesus calling you to "get out of the boat"?  To write for Him?  To speak in His Name?  To tell someone of His great love?  He has a plan for each of us.  Something He wants us to do for Him.  Are you going to obey?

He's says, "Come."

Will you?

Fix your eyes on Him.  Believe.  And take that first step.

Jesus, we hear Your call.  We long to obey.  Lord, help us to listen to You, to trust You, to go forth in Your power.  We love You and desire to do Your will.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

History Repeats Itself

"The man said, 'The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.'"  Genesis 3:12 (NIV)

Okay, so the history might have been slightly altered.

What was consumed was not quite the wholesome, albeit forbidden, fruit from the Garden of Eden.

The consequences of the ingesting were not as dire by any means.

But "the woman" still got blamed.

What's a girl to do when she passes a Krispy Kreme with the HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW sign on?

Yes, I was the one who, just hours earlier, had encouraged the man to just stick with the yummy soup and stay away from the Fettuccine Alfredo.  He ordered it anyway.

And then that neon sign screamed out to me!  In a moment of weakness, my exclamation and recitation of the sign's orange words prompted him to slam on the brakes and take the sharp right turn. Before we knew it, we were in the drive-thru ordering a hot doughnut for each of us.  And I must confess, I even said, "Do you think we should get 2 a piece?"  Fortunately, the man was strong.

Guilt overcame me before the last bite was eaten and my fingers were licked.  I apologized.

As if I needed a reminder or a reason to be shrouded with the shame, this morning the man said, "Why did you make me eat that doughnut last night?"  Then he chuckled.  He's really a good guy...and one who went to the gym after the sinful incident to work it off.'s a word to you girls out there.  Since the beginning of time, we women have had great power to influence.  Seriously.  Eve's not the only one to use her womanly prowess.  And too many times the consequences have been undesirable.  Think Sarai suggesting that Abram sleep with her maidservant.  What was she thinking???  Even our generation suffers the repercussions of decisions made. 

We need to consider that power.  We need to pray for God to guide our influence.  To equip us with restraint.  To give us patience.  To trust Him and His plan.  May we be the makers of future history, obeying God, resisting the enemy, and urging our men to do what's right.

Lord, thank You for the intricacies of Your creation.  Thank You for the trust that You've given us as women to influence.  Lord, fill us up with Your wisdom so that the power will be wielded wisely.  Thank You for giving us freedom in choices, so that we learn and grow.  Thank You for forgiveness when we stray off-course.  Guide us, Lord.  Help us follow Your Way.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Even More

If you, then...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 (NIV)

Our youngest daughter attends a school that recently launched a technology initiative which provides each child in 6th grade and up with a laptop.  In order to protect the investment, parents were required to purchase specified computer bags.  All bags are identical.  Basic black.

The students have been quite creative in decorating their bags.  I had no idea that there were so many duck tape designs!!!  Or that duck tape seems to be the artform du jour.

Our middle-schooler decided that a sillyband knotted around one of the handles was sufficient at first.  However, a couple of weeks into school, I noticed a cool zebra stripe replaced the sillyband as the distinguishing feature.  I said, "Well, that looks cool!  Where did you get it?"  She said, "Oh I found it on the floor in the stairwell."

And she was content.

With someone's poorly adhering, wrinkly, trampled upon zebra stripe.

I said, "Don't you want me to buy a roll of duck tape for you?"

She replied, "No, really, this is fine." 

Why didn't she just ask?  I would gladly give her a truckload of duck tape!

This morning I decided to take the removable zipper pouch from the front of her bag to a friend of mine who monograms.  I asked her if she would like that.  Those beautiful almond shaped eyes lit up!  I asked her if she would rather have her first name or her initials.

She said, "Just my initials...MLB."

Like I didn't know.

Oh, how our heavenly Father wants us to ask...and receive even more than we would ever dream.

And He knows our name.

Oh Lord, how often we settle for tattered rags when You want to cover us in robes of righteousness.  Clothe us, Lord, with Your "good gifts" of "much more"!  Thank You for the intimacy of Your great love toward us.  We love You. 


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Am Weak, But He Is Strong

"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.  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen."  Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)

The words that I learned as a child echoed in my mind.

"I am weak, but He is strong."

Yes I am.  Weak. 

I knew that God was keeping His end of the bargain. I prayed for Him to help me be less hungry.  I wasn't hungry.  I wasn't even thirsty.  I had a cup of water right there in the console.

But even though I could almost hear Him encouraging me to pass it up, cheering me on, I blocked out His voice and went there anyway.

To Starbucks.   For a Java Chip Frappachino. 

(It was decaf, nonfat, and no whip.)

As I pulled out of the drive-thru, this is the chorus that played in my mind.
"I am weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so."

When I wanted God to reprimand me, He just said, "I love you.  We'll do better next time."

I am so weak.  In so many ways.

Weak in my faith.

Weak in my Him and others.

Weak in my walk.

But...yes, Jesus loves me...wide and long and high and deep. 

And He "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." 

Immeasurably more.

Because He loves us.


Jesus, thank You for Your love and the promise of strength.  Help us to trust You. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Prayer for the Mamas

"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 139:17-18 (NIV)


For Moms there is the inescapable reality that time moves on and that everyday our children journey one step closer to the place where apron strings must be loosed and eventually untied.  We will always be the Mama, but our roles change as we allow our children to press on toward independence and finding their place in the world.

My youngest entered Middle School today.  I watched as she took charge of making sure that her supplies were in order.  She chose her first day outfit independently.  And then she stood at the mirror straightening her hair.  The reflection I saw there caused my heart to skip a beat.

How did that transformation happen?  Where did the years go?  Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought her home from China?  How did that little baby with sparkly almond-shaped eyes and chubby cheeks and kissy lips become this beauty straightening her long brown locks?  Without a bit of help from her Mama?

Oh, we've been down this road before.  We've witnessed the move to high school, then to college, and then that walk down the aisle that joined our girls in marriage with the man they love.  Each passage was met with conflicting emotions, joy at the women they've become and longing for the little girls they used to be.

So I figure that there are lots of us Mamas on the threshold of a new season, somehow mustering up the courage to face the day with a smile of confidence, denying those impulses that tempt you to take those apron strings and tie that child tightly to the security of home.  We must brave the new day.  And trust in the One Who fashioned that child, Who knows the plans He has for them, and Who holds them in the palm of His hand.

Whether your child is skipping into preschool, entering the doors of a Kindergarten classroom, moving into the tumultuous years of middle school or high school, moving their belongings to a college campus, or preparing to walk the wedding aisle, know that you are not alone.  And there will be great joy in the days ahead!

Lord, lots of us Mamas are fighting the tears today.  Our arms want to cling tightly rather than opening wide to let our babies go.  And Father, we know You understand.  You watched your Son leave the beauty and security of the heavenly home You shared to come to this earth.  To grow from a tiny baby into a man.  To make His way through the milestones toward adulthood.  Hold us in Your arms today.  And even more importantly, hold our children.  Lord, You promised that if we train up a child in the way he should go that he will not depart from it.  Please help them to stay on Your path.  Protect them from the evils of this world.  Draw them to Yourself through Your Holy Spirit.  Help them to remember to Whom they belong...not just us, but You, the Creator of everything, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent.  We know that You love our children even more than we do.  Thank You for Your promises.  We love You.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pop on Over to Write2Ignite's Blog!

Hey all you writers out there, please visit our Write2Ignite! Blog.  I had the privilege of writing the latest post called Got Inspiration? !!  Perhaps you'll find some there...inspiration, that is.  Write on!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beach or Mountains...Mountains or Beach?

"Let the sea resound...let the mountains sing together for joy..."  Psalm 98:7-8 (NIV)

Summer is drawing to a close as the school year sneaks up on us.  Leisurely mornings and spontaneous roadtrips will soon cease.  But ah, the memories of summer will last a lifetime.

This summer we've had the privilege of visiting both the mountains and the beach.  And they were equally delightful. 

The brilliance of God's creation displayed uniquely in each location tickled our, crisp mountain breezes enjoyed from the rockers on the screened porch, brushing over our skin and carrying the scent of earth and summer flowers...the grandeur of the mountains in shades of purple and blue...the sounds of trickling streams and music of dulcimers and fiddles...the taste of Famous Louise's fruit pies and morsels of perfection from The Chocolate Fetish and "Daddy burgers" fresh off the grill.  Then there's the aroma of the ocean and suntan lotion, all coconut-ish...and the sights of the majesty of the ocean and its creatures great and small...the flavors of fried shrimp and Mamu's home cooking and desserts...the mixture of warm sunshine and cool air on your skin...and the giggles of children and families frolicking in the sand and water.

Mountains or beach?  I'm torn.

The salty breeze off the water stirs childhood memories.

Like the anticipation of that first glimpse of the ocean.  Eyes practically boring a hole in the windshield, focused on the horizon.  Waiting.  Watching.  Hoodwinked occasionally by the mirages on the road ahead.  More waiting.  More watching.  Finally cruising down one of the numbered avenues it appears!  Just a little slice between the cottages on either side.  Grayish blue stretching infinitely.  Then a whitecap.  "We're here!"

More waiting for check in at the familiar pink stucco lodge.  Then unloading the car.  Begging to get on our swimsuits and get out to the beach.  At last, crossing the highway, plodding through the mounds between the sea oats that give way to the long awaited sight where smooth, moist sand and warm saltwater meet.  Hoping there would be tidal haven for little ones easing into the magnitude of the ocean and its waves.

Spying a treasure from the sea, a perfectly formed conch...the tinier the better...reminds me of God's attention to detail.  Sand fiddlers tickling my hands still can make me squeal with delight. And you can't help but experience a thrill when the surprise of a wave that sneaks up on you from behind and momentarily takes your breath away.

And the remembrances that span almost 50 years, memories of it's grown...and even as we've lost loved ones that shared those beaches with us...treasures.

Oh, I still love that first glimpse of the vastness of the ocean. It will forever be breathtaking. And in the evenings, there's nothing like a moonlit view across the water.

And then there's the moonshine of the mountains...not the kind you drink...the shimmer that washes over the hills and valleys, cascading through your windows, the perfect blanket of night.

Though I lived in the mountains of Kentucky for a time in my childhood, I think that my appreciation of those grand peaks is a passion I've acquired in recent years.  It seems that you just can't help feeling a little closer to God up in those higher elevations.

My heart quickens as we draw nearer and nearer to mountain splendor spread before us.  Then I can feel myself unwind as we meander up the curvy, pothole laden roads toward the lodge...a haven for relaxing and playing games and spending sweet time with family.

Early mornings on the screened porch surrounded by birdsong and echoes of campers nearby, with Bible in hand, prayer and praise flow effortlessly.  A deep breath not only brings in fresh mountain air, but a tangible feeling of the Holy Spirit.  God just seems so close.  So vibrant.

No mountain trip (for our family) is complete without a trip to Famous Louise's for pie, and then a hike to Linville Falls to walk it off.  Climbing to great heights, settling on great rock formations, feeling the forces of the waters descending to the river below.  Climbing high enough to see eagles soaring beneath the overlook is majesty at its fullest.  Then retreating back down and venturing into the caverns, observing the miracles inside the mountains.  Stalactites and stalagmites and darkness that's the blackest of black.  Viewing animals that thrive in that cool darkness.  It's humbling.

We enjoy walks through quaint small towns with fun shops and ice cream parlors.  Sauntering past Mandevilla vines and ivy flocked fountains and trees meant for climbing.  Just pausing for a rest on a bench, watching people walking their dogs and chatting with family and friends.  Leisure, pure and simple.

Mountains or beach?  I just can't chose.  And I'm thankful that I don't have to.  There's nothing like being a North Carolina girl and being right smack dab in the middle of a state that harbors the best of both!

Lord, Your creation is astounding.  What fun You must have had as You fashioned every little detail.  Surely Your Glory is all around us!  Thank You for allowing us to be a part and to enjoy the fullness of all You have made.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Does God Still Speak Through Dreams?

"He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him."  1 Chronicles 5:20b (NIV)

In those last yummy moments of sleep this morning, I had a dream.  Some of it was pretty random...being with Melea at McDonald's and her Kindergarten teacher (Melea is in the 6th grade now.) being one of the servers and making sure that she didn't get cheese on her hamburger because she knows that's the way Melea likes it.  Yeah, who knows where dreams like that come from...other than that we had Cookout burgers last night and they forgot to put the cheese on Mine and John's.  Crazy how dreams work.

The interesting part of this dream was that after the burger incident, as we were leaving McDonald's, there was this lady standing at our car.  She said that she needed a ride to Fayetteville.  I told her that I was sorry, but we were not going there.  However, she got in my car.  I prayed, "Lord, what is this lady doing in my car?  I'm not going to Fayetteville.  Please show me what to do.  Please get this woman out of my car and on her way to Fayetteville."  I drove past a couple of stores and stopped beside a hotel.  There was a group of women outside chatting beside their cars.  I asked, "Do you all know of anyone that might be going to Fayetteville?"  One lady turned around with a surprised look on her face and said, "I'm going to Fayetteville."  Happily, the two took off together.

As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I thought, "Wow.  That was simple.  A prayer...and an answer."

You know how usually you have dreams and you wake up and you quickly forget all about it?  Well, that didn't happen.  It wouldn't go away.  Somehow I knew that God wanted me to write it down. 

(And maybe it was just to get me back to my blog since I only wrote one post in July.  How did that happen??  Summer is supposed to be my best writing time!)

So I was thinking about how simply that prayer got answered in my dream.  Sometimes I see that in real life.  Sometimes not so much.  Sometimes it takes a lot longer.  Sometimes the answer is not so clear.  Sometimes the answer is even, "No."

But God brought to mind a couple of scriptures and a big reminder.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments."  Deuteronomy 7:9

He is God.  He is faithful.  He loves us.  He sees the big picture.

The other verse is Hebrews 11:6, "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."

My faith fails sometimes.  Oh I always believe that He exists.  And that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. I often fail in that too...earnestly seeking Him.

But you know what?  Even when I fail, He doesn't.  Ever.

The big reminder that He gave me was to look back to the very beginning of time and see Him at work.  To remember that He was faithful to Abraham, to Noah, a thousand generations.  Often not in their time frames...or ours.  But He is faithful.  We must have faith in that faithfulness.

Lord, thank You that even as we sleep You are in tune with the ramblings of our minds.  Thank You for reminding me of Your faithfulness.  Thank You for always hearing our prayers...and answering them in Your perfect timing and in Your way.  Help us to trust and to understand that Your ways are higher than our ways.  We love You. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeling Like Goldilocks...Looking for "Just Right"

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot...."  Revelation 3:15 (NIV)

Is it hot where you live?

It is oppressive in NC.  That's my most recent excuse for not walking.

This winter it was too cold.

So, I'm feeling like  the Goldilocks and The Three Bears story.  In the summer, it's "too hot."  In the winter, it's "too cold."  In the fall and spring, most days it is "just right."  However, you can't maintain a healthy exercise routine consistently when you only participate in two of the four seasons.  And I struggle to achieve regularity in those.

Alas...there's the treadmill. 

Just today I discovered an excuse not to use it...well, sort of.

I'm reading a book for my job (which I love even if I have to do summer reading).  In Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods, I came upon this interesting bit of information.  In the section entitled, "Why the Young (and the Rest of Us) Need Nature," Louv states that, "Researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage, and landscape views feel more restored, and less anxious, angry, and depressed than people who burn the same amount of calories in gyms or other built settings."

Okay, so that really doesn't get me out of time on the treadmill, especially since my view is out the rear windows of our home...lots of trees and nature.

The bottom line is (no pun intended), I have no excuse for not exercising.

And I know that I feel better...and look better when I do it.

So how do I relate that to the passage listed above?

In Revelation 3, John writes several verses that can give insight and instruction into our physical and spiritual "walks".  He says, "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God."  (vs.1-2)  And then, as I mentioned above, "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish you were one or the other.  So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (vs. 15-16) 

That's serious.

God is not pleased when our care for our body is random and inconsistent.  After all, it is His temple.

And even more than that, it obviously displeases Him when our witness...out testimony...our time spent with Him is lukewarm.

I fail in that too.

When I spend more time checking my email than listening for His voice and reading His Word.

When the local country music station controls the music on my mind, instead of music that leads me in praise and worship of Him.

When my attitude is controlled by that lack of time focused on Christ and praising Him. 

Is anybody else out there battling for passion and consistency?  Trying to find the place of "Just Right"?  The atmosphere that draws you to be your best for Him?  The time and setting to do that thing that He has called you to do?

Revelation 3 concludes with this, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  To him who overcomes [another translation says 'is victorious'], I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne."  (vs. 19-21)

Oh, how He loves you and me.

Father, we are nothing apart from You.  We are without strength.  Dead.  Lord, revive us!  Ignite the fire in us that draws us to You...and to victory!  We need You.  Thank You for the depth of Your love.  Help us to receive it.  And return it.  And sing of it.  And seek that place of "just right"...and do the thing we're supposed to do there.  You are great and greatly to be praised.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whose Promises Are You Believing?

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True....and His Name is the Word of God."  Revelation 19:11-14 (NIV)

Promises.  They are all around us.  In magazines.  On TV.  On the products we buy.

And we believe them.

I recently caught myself standing in front of the mirror on the first day after I used perfecting cream on my face.  Yes, after only one night.  One night of using a storebrand knockoff that promised to reduce all visible signs of aging, to replenish moisture and restore my skin's youth.  Did I embrace that empty vow so easily?  Did I really think that those lines between my eyebrows, wrought by years of perplexity or worry, questioning or intense listening could be erased overnight?  Or those curved lines carved by smiles or that ugly cry would simply disappear?

About a month ago I purchased a new pair of walking shoes.  Their box proclaims that because of the unique design, my legs and rear end will become toned.  A few days after buying them, I deduced that they surely wouldn't do that if I didn't put them on.  So I did.  I walked in my neighborhood.  I walked on the treadmill.  I really like them.  They're very comfy.  I feel good about walking when I'm wearing them.  But I guess I've wised up.  I'm not checking any mirrors...yet. 

So, what do you find yourself buying into?  What are you believing?

When promises come up short, rest assured that there is "One whose Name is Faithful and True."  Are we spending time reading His promises in God's Word?  Are we putting our confidence in Him?  Are we believing Him?

"And without faith it is impossible to please God...."  Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)  We must believe Him! 

The key Scripture for this post (from Revelation) promises Jesus' return.  He is the One that we need...for whatever our need is!  He is the ultimate promise keeper!  He is Faithful and True.

That prophesy in Revelation will be fulfilled.  Jesus will return!  Will He find us believing?

Lord, thank You for Your promises.  Thank You for Your Word that is readily available to us.  Thank You for Jesus, the embodiment of Your Word and Your promises to us.  Help us in our unbelief.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Are You Using That Gift?

"Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen."  1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

"Mommy, do you ever use the book I gave you?"

That was the question my darlin' 11 year old asked me one morning as I was having my quiet time.  For Christmas she gave me a little gift book that she bought with her own money.  I'm ashamed to admit that it had gotten buried in the basket beside my comfy quiet time chair.  You better believe that I got it out and it is now a part of my morning time with the Lord.

My primary "love language" is gifts.  I understand the joy that comes from giving a gift from the heart.  I know the desire to see that present being used by the recipient...the see the pleasure it brings.  How could I have treated my precious little one's gift so carelessly?

I think about lots of gifts I've received...from my parents, my other children, my husband, my students, my friends.  Have I demonstrated thankfulness and allowed them to see me delight in it and put it to good use?

Hmmm, and what about the gifts that God has given me?  Those that He so graciously bestowed on me?  Am I using my gifts for the strength He provides...for His glory?

What about you?  How has God gifted you?  Are you stepping out in faith to use that gift for Him?  If so, don't you know that it brings Him great pleasure!  Let's vow to do just that!

Lord, thank You for loving us.  Thank You for gifting us, trusting us to bring glory to Your Name.  Strengthen us, guide us, equip us to use those gifts to honor You.  We love you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who Are You Running With? Are You Even Running?

"You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"  Galatians 5:7 (NIV)

First of all I just have to say, this is not about running...literally.  I am not a runner...most likely never will be.  But whether we are talking about physically running, or walking as followers of Christ, growing in discipleship, or following in obedience to God's call, it is vital to have the right folks "running" with us.

Since I mentioned running, let's think about physical activity.  Don't you think that you are more likely to stick with a fitness program if you have someone to hold you accountable?  Even if you don't actually do the exercise together, just a person that knows your desire for getting in better shape and encourages you along the way.

In our Christian walk and as we grow as disciples of Christ, it is so beneficial to have mentors to guide us and friends to stand strong with us as we aim to follow Romans 12:2 that tells us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  It can be difficult to be in the world but not of  the world.  We need fellow warriors to urge us onward to victory,  and to rally alongside us in the battles that we face.

As we seek to be obedient to God's call in our lives, it is essential to "hang out" with people that feel that same be "iron sharpening iron"...growing and learning together. 

For instance, if God has called you to adopt, seek out those who have adopted or are currently pursuing adoption.  We did that when we adopted our daughter from China.  We sought counsel of those who understood "the call" and all the ins and outs of the long process.  They encouraged us and supported us as we walked an unfamiliar path.  In return, we have had the blessing of being able to counsel others as they walked their adoption journey.

Perhaps God has called you to share your testimony or a message that God has spoken over you.  You need to find others that feel the same urge.  Join with them.  Learn from them.  Next month there is a wonderful conference near Charlotte, NC called She Speaks.  Proverbs 31 ministries also offers Next Step Speakers Services to train, challenge, and spur you on.  In October the Christian Communicators Conference will be held in SC, providing an intimate learning experience with excellent leadership.

Has God called you to write for Him?  Is there a book hiding somewhere within your heart and mind longing to make its way into the hands of readers?  Is there knowledge that you should be sharing with others through articles, blogs, or other media?  Seek out people with that same desire.  Join a writer's group.  Watch for God to put people in your path that share your interest.  It is amazing how he works all things for good according to His purposes!  Attend writer's conferences.  There is a plethora of options, depending on your genre.  If you write for children or teens, look into Write2Ignite!, an excellent conference that will take place in March.  Coming up in July, Write2Ignite! is having a one day workshop called A Day Apart near Charlotte, NC.  You can find out about that at the Write2Ignite! link.  The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference is held each spring and is amazing.  Be bold.  Step out in obedience.  If you don't already have writers around you, attending these conferences will bring new friends your way.

So...who are you running with?  Are you surrounded by those who encourage you in your journey with God?  Or as the verse above says, are there people in your life that are "cutting in on you"...keeping you from being obedient?

Are you even running???  Are you pursuing God and His call on your life?  He has huge plans for you..."plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has gifted you to do something special for Him.  Do you hear His call? 

Lord, help us to run toward You!  Help us to run with our arms open wide and our hands stretched out in willingness to do whatever You call us to do.  Guide our every step as we seek to follow in obedience to You.  Teach us through Your Word.  Equip us, as You promised in Your Word.  Keep us from giving in to fear and the lies of the evil one.  Help us as we run to and for You!

Friday, June 10, 2011

We're Guided....Do We Follow?

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

I know that Emily had to be totally disgusted with me.  She kept giving me directions and I didn't follow.  I wanted to do only what was familiar...follow routes I had travelled before.  She kept saying, "Recalculating."  Emily is my Garmin, of course...providing travel instructions in a beautiful British accent.

That just got me to thinkin' how often God directs me...lays out a map...and instructs me turn by turn and yet I choose my own way...the one that is familiar, most comfortable.

Could I have gotten there quicker or easier with Emily's directions?  Perhaps.  I'll never know that.  I chose my own way.

What about God's way?  His way might be quicker...or take longer.  It could be as smooth as freshly paved highways...or as unpleasant as the bumpiest, pothole laden roads.

But we must trust that His way is perfect.

Emily may be working from satellites in space.  God is the One who created that space...and this earth...the past, the present, and He is the only One who knows the future.

I want to travel His way.

Creator God, help us to hear Your voice and follow in the way that You lead, knowing that You will never leave us wherever the road takes us.  We love You.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fingers Behaving Badly

"When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."  Romans 6:20-22 (NIV)

Do your fingers ever have a mind of their own?

Apparently mine do...and it's a little embarrassing...and quite comical.

I have fake fingernails.  And I love them.  Every three weeks, I head to my favorite nail salon and get them filed off, recoated, buffed, painted, and renewed.

It's just so funny that in one of the steps of the process, I've found my dear nail artist having to battle a couple of my fingers that just want to do their own thing while he's working!  He has to hold them down and control them so that they don't mess things up.

In reality, it's probably not just our fingers that can get out of control...but our whole selves...beginning in our minds, our thoughts, our desires.  Then that gets played out with our bodies...with what we do, how we act, where we go, words we say.

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have His Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Our bodies are His temple.  Are we treating it as such?

Our lives are a testimony to the way we allow Him to dwell in us.  Are we living in a way that pleases and honors Him?

Oh, I must admit.  It's not just my fingers that get out of control.  And I'm so thankful that I am not a slave to sin, but to God...and His righteousness.  He holds me in His hand...and is powerful enough to control long as I yield.

Lord, thank You for the provision of a new life in You!  Thank You for the pathway to holiness...and eternal life.  Help us to yield control to You, trust in the power of Your mighty hand in our lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, 'The LORD is great!'"  Psalm 40:16 (NIV)

I walked into the Verizon store giddy with excitement.  When the salesman asked me how he could help me, I said, "I want to be SMART...and Fascinating!"  (Okay, for those of you less than tech-savvy me, I was shopping for a SMART phone called the Fascinate.)  I'm not sure if he enjoyed my play on words or not.  But I'm having a blast talking about my new state of  Fascinating-ness...even if other people don't get it.

We perused the choices of smart phones, listened to his tutelage of the pros and cons of the vast array of communication tools.  I liked the Fascinate phone...and not just because of it's cool name and that I can officially say that I am Fascinate-ed...and when using it that I am Fascinate-ing!!! 

We made the purchase.  He switched over all my contacts and handled all of the computer-ish type stuff.  I left the store all giggly, practically skipping to the car!  It was a bit of a bummer that I couldn't explore all of its possibilities right away, as I had to take it home and plug it in to charge for a couple of hours.  I was so excited, though, that I read the "Tips, Hints, and Shortcuts" manual provided.  Unfortunately, they wrote this mini-manual for people who obviously already know how to use a smart phone.  The phone finally was charged.  It was time to try it out!  Can I just say that the phone might be smart, but it doesn't figure itself out for you.

So...not only am I Fascinated, but I'm frustrated too.

I have successfully completed a few tasks on the phone...basic phone calling...checking the weather...downloading a game for my daughter (who thinks the phone partially belongs to her)...and scrolling and swiping...and putting on a voicemail message that touts the possibility that I may not have answered the call because I couldn't figure it out. I have tried to email from the phone, text (before I found out that my "plan" didn't include texting...but for more money, I could add that), and load a couple of apps and gotten this response...Task Failed.

I'm headed to Charlotte for some personal tutoring from a couple of SMART daughters.

There is so much in life that is way more frustrating than the insignificant issue of learning to use a phone.  Waaaayyy more.  When we find ourselves crying out for HELP, we need to go the the Manual...for guidance, for reassurance, for encouragement, and for the reminder that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  (Psalm 46:1)  

I especially love this verse that says, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him."  (Psalm 28:7)

May we take our frustrations to Him and be fascinated by the way He sees us through.

Lord, "Because You are [our] help, [we] sing in the shadow of Your wings." (Ps. 63:7)  We join those saints as we remember that "Thus far [You], the LORD [have] helped us." (1 Sam. 7:12)  We believe that You will continue!  We proclaim that You are our "help...the One who sustains [us]!  (Psalm 54:4)  Fascinate us with Your power.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Lovely Change of Plan

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

I was halfway down the street before I realized it.

When I set out on my morning walk, it was with plans to take that extra lap...the one that goes uphill...and get it accomplished, and wrap it up with the final stretch being more level, easier part of the walk.

So I forged ahead.  At first I was wishing that I had my listen to some praise music (or Scotty McCreery...yes, he's made me a country fan)...or a sermon.  But that wasn't a part of the plan.  So I moved right in to some sweet prayer time.  I thanked God for many things, one being the beauty of the day...and asked Him to guide my steps through show me His plans...and help me to follow them.  I was so busy talking that it caught me off guard when I was on the "home stretch" and hadn't circled back for that uphill lap.  As I made my way back up that street, I understood why.

God had answered my prayer.

The rest of my walk was in the company of one of His saints...a precious, tiny Chinese woman.  She's the grandmother of one of my (Chinese) daughter's friends.  I know that she has had some health problems...and she looks so frail.  So I slowed my pace.  We enjoyed a lovely conversation...with talk of China...her husband's ministry here...(He's retired, but working hard to further the kingdom.)...the cultural differences in ministry and in family life...our daughter's adoption...and the joy of the Lord.

The pace was slower, but that little fireball took me on three more uphill laps.  Funny, I was concerned about her, and said, "Do we need to stop now?"  She told me, "No, we go one more, then you can go home."  I loved it.

Precious.  I pray that in some way that time was a blessing to her.  I know it was to me.

Oh I want to be mindful to allow Him to determine my steps...and not be caught up in plans of my own.  When I pray for Him to guide me, I want to pray it believing that He will do it...and watch expectantly for His way to be revealed.

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans."

LORD, help me to do just that...commit...believe...and follow.  We know that You are the One from whom all blessings flow.  Thank You for Your plans.  We know that they are to prosper us and not to harm us and to give us hope for the future.  (Jer.29:11)  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Committing to the Uphill Climb

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength...they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)

I did not give any credibility to the prophesy that the rapture was going to happen on May 21.  However, I must say that I was disappointed that Jesus didn't return.  I have to confess to the longing for that trumpet sound and for Him to "step out on a cloud to call His children," as one of my favorite songs says.  But He didn't.  And we're still here.

As I took my walk this morning, I was faced with the decision to return home or to go an extra lap.  That would incur another uphill climb.  I decided to press on.  Before I knew it, I was past the incline and heading downhill...surrounded by lovely, cool breezes and the smell of gardenias.  There was also the satisfaction that I made a little more progress toward my goal, and that I found strength that I didn't know I had.

Sometimes when I look at the "hills" in life, I really just want to go heavenly home.  And as I look around me, so many are not just facing hills, but giant mountains.  Tornados that rip through homes, businesses, hospitals...stealing lives literally and figuratively.  Three young dads at my daughter's school are facing cancer.  A friend's one year old baby girl is fighting for her life after a diagnosis of a neuroblastoma.  Families are broken...children struggling through things that a child should never have to deal with. 

Heaven will bring healing...hearts mended...eternity in the presence of Jesus.

But not yet.

So let's get ready for the climb.  Let's press on until He comes.

Listen to a few more lines from Isaiah 40.
"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom."  We must trust the One who knows all...the One who created...the everlasting One...the One who provides our strength...the One who is pursuing us and who desires to make us one with Him until the day of His return.

I think He would say, "Keep climbing.  I'm coming!"  And then I think we'll realize the accomplishment of our endurance...and feel the eternal cool breezes and smell the aroma of heaven.

Lord, we can't do this life alone.  We need You.  And You planned it that way.  Your plan is perfect.  Help us to trust in Your way.  Strengthen us.  Guide us.  We long for You.  We love You.