Monday, August 30, 2010

A Prayer For Today

Heavenly Father,

Please speak to my heart today as well as the hearts of those who may read this post. Help us to clearly hear your voice through the clutter, the confusion, the demands, the appointments and all obligations that we may recognize and act upon your will over ours.

Thank you for granting us this brand new day.  Order our steps and help us to make the necessary time to meditate on your word that we may apply it to our lives.  Help us all to be open, willing vessels ready to receive your calling.  Give us each a hunger for your word and your direction.

Speak to those with inhibitions and self doubt.  Strengthen and lift weak arms.  Give sight to those who have lost their way.  Provide clarity of thought and direction as you are the well spring in a dry, parched land. 

I thank you that we can call upon you to restore, replenish and refresh us as your people.  Thank you for loving your children.

“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man…” (Nehemiah 1:11)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prove It!

It’s driving me crazy.  For the past two weeks or more, I’ve had a blog title buzzing in my head.  Only 2 words.  Nothing more.

“Prove it!”  Yep, that’s it.  That’s the title and I have no clue what to do with it. 

OK….Prove it….so, now what?

Actually, I do find it sort of ironic that today of all days, my pond water has finally cleared up!  Thank you, God!   In a blog post back in July titled “Murky Waters,” I mentioned a pond/aquatic expert who told me that the best way to clear up my ugly, green pond water was to just leave the whole thing alone and let the little eco system form.  He promised that one day I would walk out to my pond and all would be crystal clear. 

Hmm.   Really?  No bleach?  No scrub brush?  I was pretty skeptical and frustrated at first by his suggestion to simply do nothing while my poor fish played bumper cars in pea soup.  But I listened and resisted the urge to scrub it down.  With reluctance, I took his advice…and waited.

I think that God brought this clearing of the water about to illustrate to me that if we’re to call ourselves “Christian,” we need to “prove it” by resisting our human impulse and by living out the Christian response.  We talk about giving it all to God, to put our faith in what is unseen and to rest in the peace of knowing He has it all under control.  But it can be uncomfortable to step out in that faith and release ourselves from the problem.  We want to intervene and fix stuff all by ourselves; to help God out just like I wanted to step in and mess with the natural progression of things when the problem didn’t require my intervention at all.  If we profess it, then we need to speak it and mean it from a sincere heart - more importantly, live it by faith. 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ladies Fellowship

Hello there!  I’m so glad to see you.  Please, have a seat and join me.  I’ve had a busy day already, and I could really use this second cup of coffee.

You know, in an email I received the other day from a dear, long-time friend, she reminded me that God gives us what we need WHEN we need it, and I saw for myself this week how true that really is.

Last Monday night, I found myself sitting alone in a restaurant and waiting for ladies to show up for our monthly fellowship time.  Luckily, I’d brought a writer’s magazine along just in case.

I settled in a corner booth, happy for the opportunity to end the day on a happy note chatting with lady friends.  The day had been a long one with an early morning 45-minute drive round trip to drop my son off at the community college.  I hurried back home to do a favor for one of his friends which required sitting through 1 ½ hours of a Cutco Knife presentation! (Urgh!)  Then, there were errands to run, a laundry pile to tackle, a house to clean and dinner to make.  Yep, I was more than ready for some good ol’ fashioned hang-out time with the ladies.

So, there I sat…waiting….and waiting…reading my magazine…..and waiting.

After about 25 minutes of sipping iced tea and staring out the window toward the parking lot, I realized that no one was going to show up.  That’s when the words from Tami’s email came through loud and clear:  “God knows what we need WHEN we need it.”

I had to smile, feeling sort of set up!  God knew the kind of day I’d had, and He was going to make sure I took time out for myself!  He knew that I'd sacrificed out of my day off to help a young man just starting out in his new job.  He knew how I started fretting and worrying about the going-away party in the works for this weekend.  He knew that I’d been eating my meals standing at the kitchen counter instead of taking time to sit and relax.  He knew how long I sat at the station waiting for my car to endure its annual smog test.  He knew my frustration when I didn’t have time to get to all the details of my housecleaning; especially knocking down the cob webs hanging like Christmas garland in the bathroom.  He knows and sees it all, and I’m so glad He does!

God wanted me to schedule our fellowship time – but what He really did was make an open space on the calendar for me to sit, catch up on some great articles and enjoy a ridiculously large slab of chocolate pie!  Woo-Hoo!

Monday, August 23, 2010

So, the day started off with an unexpected kick in the teeth when I checked my email and found a rejection from the publisher to which I recently submitted my latest writing efforts.  Though they declined my little fiction story, they graciously referred me to their sister company…a SELF-publisher!  How nice….

I barely swallowed my first gulp of coffee when I read the well thought-out words of gentle let down.  That’s when the tiny hairs on the back of my neck bristled.  So, what part didn’t they like? I wondered.  The title?  The characters?  Writing style, genre, setting?  Perhaps the many sweat beads muddied the words a bit!

In the middle of all this, for some strange reason, I keep thinking of Yosemite.  I know…what?  Where did that come from?  Well, I’ll tell you. 

If you’ve never been there, let me just say that once you’ve witnessed the majestic El Capitan or Half Dome or the view from Glacier Point, you’re pretty much changed forever.  There’s no place like it on the planet.
The really cool thing?  The same God who created all THAT created ME and YOU too, and He didn’t do so expecting us to fail.  He’s God, and he breathed life into us expecting and equipping us to be nothing less than awesome.  He had our full potential in mind as he formed our very last details.  The God of all things magnificent and awe-inspiring would not create a bargain basement you or me. 

Then why do I still feel like the stuff you sweep into the dust pan and toss out with last week’s meatloaf?  Because I have my eyes focused on ME, of course; my disappointment, my hurt and my rejection instead of on HIM; His purpose, His timing, His plan. 

So, a little rejection, a little discouragement, a little bump and bruise is only skin deep.  As a writer, receiving such a response from a publisher cuts straight through to the heart, but it doesn’t pierce through the dream.  The vision and direction still remain, and my faith will always lie with the One who set the mountains in place.

Philippians 3:13-14 
No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

A Praying Mom



“In Jesus’ name,” I said with a nod and rose from the bathroom rug.  Yes, once again I’d headed to the closest room with a locking door.  I’d been there a lot the past few months praying and asking for His protection upon my family.
What an awesome God we serve, I thought; a God who through all that clutters our air waves, all the chaos and all the chatter can hear the most inaudible sigh of our hearts.  When I feel like I’m holding onto a kite string with Jesus way up at the top circling high above my family, all the fears, worries and frustrations that come with being a mom become His concern.  How awesome that He hears the prayers of a mother who’s willing to hand over those she loves to His capable hands - a mother determined to keep Christ in her home and bind the hands of the enemy.
Lord, I thank you for the gift of my family.  Help me to trust in you for their care and protection.  Thank you for remaining Lord over my home and over my life.  I pray for your guidance as I strive to be the wife and mother you want me to be.  Amen.

“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:7 & 8 (NIV)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Son In My Eyes Sundays

Good Morning to you. 
Is the Son in your eyes today?

Thank the Lord for another beautiful Sunday!  I am so excited to get to church and worship the Lord!  Whatever you’ve been through this week, and whatever you anticipate for the week ahead, bring it with you and leave it at the cross.  Nothing is too big for our God!

"Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness".
I Chron 16:27-29

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Web

I awoke to the cool mist of morning and walked the little pathway to my garden with coffee cup in hand.  With sleepy eyes, I peered over the top of the gate, careful not to disturb the rare moment of quiet.

That’s when I saw it.  There, suspended between upper and lower branches of the Cecille Brunner rose, was the most magnificent spider web.  Now understand, I have zero tolerance for spiders and all things crawling and venom filled, but I do have a deep appreciation for the work that goes into the intricate weaving of a web.

I stood there staring for the longest time admiring the beauty in the little beads of dew that hung like crystals reflecting the first light of day.  Luckily, the spider was nowhere in sight, and I was OK with that, but what she left behind was stunning and profound.

As I turned to go, I realized how each one of us live and thrive at the center of our own web, affecting those around us one way or another as we interact from day to day.  Whether positively or not, our actions, our words, our attitude and the intent of our heart either reflect what lies within or deflect the work of God within us.  The spirit behind which we share in prayers and praises, grief and triumph, in fact weaves either an undeniable strength of faith as we witness to others OR represents a conquered, defeated soul who’s given in and given up.

What are you reflecting from the center of your web today?  Do your words reflect one of faith who is at peace and excited about your walk with the Lord?  Or have you surrendered the fight?



“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:1-5)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Should or Could?

How well do you handle “hurry”?  Do you go about your day breathless and stressed out trying to accomplish and do?  With all the rushing here, going there and living by the clock, it’s a wonder we’re ever able to appreciate the spontaneous moments not pre-ordained by a calendar or email reminder.

Our Women’s Ministry group had a luncheon a couple years ago, and something our guest speaker said stuck with me all this time.  She pointed out something we can all do to relieve some of the stress we feel at the end of the day when we may or may not have crossed off all the items from our to-do list. 

To start, think of all the things you “should” have done this morning.  I know – guilt, guilt, guilt.  Maybe you should have set the alarm 30 minutes earlier, or you should have called that person you’ve wanted to reconnect with, or maybe you should have thawed out something for dinner tonight.

The stress comes into play with the word “should” because it implies we’ve fallen down on the job; haven’t quite lived up to what’s expected of us.

So…regain that control by replacing “should” with “could”.  Isn’t that awesome?   If you say you “could” have done this or that, it implies that you had the choice!  You knowingly chose one over the other, and you relieve yourself of the stress associated with “should.”

I so appreciate the ministry of Sam Kauffman (A Servant’s Heart Ministry) and the valuable tools that have resonated with me all this time.  Find out more about Sam’s unique ministry at http://www.samkservantsheart.com/index.php/bio/ . 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hello!  I'm so glad you could join me.  I’m sitting here feeling really guilty today.
I just came in from the garden, and I’m now officially ashamed to even call myself a “gardener”.  The entire thing is overgrown and full of weeds.  The soil is parched and dry, deplete of all the good stuff that used to give my little space that "wow" factor.
What amazes me, however is despite my neglect, my complete lack of attention, the garden is thriving anyway!  All my roses are loaded with new buds.  The tall verbena bonariensis is a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds.  The black-eyed Susan vine and morning glories are busy scrambling up fence posts and the clematis is putting on quite the show with her dramatic ascension toward the top of the arbor, just as I’d hoped.  As I stood smiling at all the life going on without me, I actually thought of this scripture – no kidding!  I really did:
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be
prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be
pastors and teachers…” (Eph. 4:11)
If God has called you to bloom, then rest assured, you WILL bloom despite opposition or negative elements in your environment.  The barriers you see in your path are nothing to the Lord - He already knew of each obstacle long ago. Still, He chose you and equipped you to live out your particular purpose in life, to thrive in a barren land and to rely solely on the sustaining power...of Jesus.
Habakkuk 2:3- "But these things I plan won't happen right away.  Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take 
place. It will not be delayed."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joy Stealers!

You know you’ve had a rotten day when…..you give in to tears when the pizza delivery guy shows up at the door, and you start explaining all that’s gone wrong with your day and how you deserve a night off of cooking dinner because you had a gas leak in the garage that could have blown your entire house clear to the Pearly Gates, and how you had to drive all over God’s creation on your only day off with no air conditioner and a stereo that doesn’t work, and your daughter dropped the “H” bomb at you in a scathing text message right after your husband came home to grab his bag that you packed in a hurry because he didn’t know if he would make his flight, and even though you remembered his high blood pressure meds, you forgot to include his shorty socks for running in the morning as well as the EXACT shirt he was thinking of packing!.......(deep breath) It's no wonder when you called to order pizza and they offered salads or breadsticks, you answered, “No, thanks – just a large Advil, please!”

Uggh!  Lord, take it all away!

"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

So, now that you know how my Monday went, tell me.....who or what is determined to steal your joy today?  Family members?  In-laws?  Finances?  Trouble at work?  Perhaps a personal struggle or addiction...maybe a gas leak and a hormonal 15-year-old?

John 10:10-11 says:  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  I am the 
good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  

God's Word proves again and again that through Him we have the authority to look every "joy stealer" straight in the eye and declare them "overcome."  I realize how difficult it is when we're in the middle of the battle, but remember that as a child of God, we've been granted a peace that transcends all understanding; a gift handed down to you and me by the One - the ONLY One who has overcome the world!  Don't let anyone steal your joy today!




4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Phil 4:4-9)



Monday, August 16, 2010

School Daze

Come on in and join me.  Sorry if you caught me a little misty-eyed.

Thirteen years ago today, more or less, I took my little kindergartener by the hand and walked him to the school right around the corner.  He didn’t say much on the way.  He was just so proud of his brand new backpack as he helped me push his little sister in the stroller.

Apparently, his calm, cool and collected exterior was only a fa├žade.  Dropping him off that morning, I had no clue he was about to spend the next 2 hours in the princible’s office wailing away!   To this day, my son remains the poster child all the teachers use to illustrate endurance and stamina – apparently, no other kid has cried louder or longer!  His screams pierced through classrooms 3 halls away distracting students and teachers almost into 2nd period.  Unfortunately, the 2nd day was a carbon copy of the first.

The third day?  Daddy took him…..

And it seems like just yesterday when I gave him a haircut a day or two before 2nd grade.  A novice with the clippers, I held the buzzing thing next to his head as he turned to ask a question.  Zzzip! – nothing but skin! 

No problem.  I just did what all creative moms do, and pulled the brand new chunky brown Crayola marker out of his little backpack and filled in the bare spot!  After all, I’d just bought the supplies for “school,” and the plan was to send him off to 2nd grade…with no bald spots.

This morning, I’m driving him to his first day of college (junior college up the road).  I’m sure he’s dealing with a similar type of “first-day jitters,” but nothing he can’t handle.  The campus is completely foreign to him; certainly not within walking distance.  He’ll have to navigate, ask a lot of questions and figure things out for himself.  I’m not worried.  I know he’ll do fine.

I’m proud of the young man he’s become.  I’ve never had the fears and worries so many other parents of teens face these days.  He’s always made good choices for the most part.  I’m thankful he’s learned to say “yes” to some things, and “no” to others.  The Lord has watched over him and kept him safe.  He’s chosen good friends and good hobbies, still gives good-night hugs to me and my husband and remembers to thank the Lord for every meal.

He has said good-bye this weekend to friends who are going away to college, and in another two weeks there will be a more emotional farewell as a best friend leaves for the Air Force.  I knew this “phase” in life would one day arrive – I just didn’t anticipate we’d fast-forward to this moment.  Perhaps that’s why I write this particular post through bittersweet tears.

Lord Jesus, I ask your special blessing on all the young men and women, those newly-graduated from high school, as they prepare to take all they’ve been taught, all they’ve been given, the lessons they’ve learned, the nurturing and love they’ve received…so that they may explore this next season of life.  I pray for your protection upon them and ask that you guide each one to embrace opportunities you present, and to use discernment when facing difficult decisions.  Love them.  Comfort them.  Protect them.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.




Saturday, August 14, 2010

Weeds

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)


They pop up in the most undesired places.  We spot them, and immediately label them persistent, invasive intruders snaking around the garden eager to kill, steal and destroy all that is beautiful and good.  Left uncontrolled, weeds visually strangle the very life from the garden; some forming long, spider-like tendrils that stretch and creep, deliberately detracting from the hard-earned beauty of our outdoor spaces.  They’re jealous enemies, determined to steal the show and demand our attention.  
Luckily, some bear shallow enough root systems which allow them to be easily plucked, while others plunge their roots down deep, threatening to burden and hinder indefinitely.
It seems no matter how diligent we work to rid our gardens and our lives of these annoying elements, one has to consider the possibility that God chooses to let some weeds remain. 
But why?
Do they in some strange way add character to the garden?
Do they somehow make us stronger?  Live longer?  Look younger? 
It’s a given that the Christian walk isn’t without its trials.  Inevitably, the storm clouds will gather and the challenges will be many, but remember John 16:33:  
"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."
So, why does God allow the weeds to remain in our lives?  Perhaps the answer isn’t ours to learn - God owes us no explanations.  However, whether in the garden or in our life situations, the deepest-rooted weeds are best dealt with on our knees. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Pray!

Good morning! 

Uh-oh.  You look a little discouraged today.

Have you prayed about it?

I know that sometimes when we pray, it feels like we’re just speaking words into the air, not thinking beyond our own aching heart.



But God does hear, and He knows the emotion and angst behind each one.  1 John 5:14-15 tells us This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

I’ll share a secret with you.  I spent years frustrated with myself; no that’s an understatement.  I was caught up and strangled with an inner turmoil that only God could unravel.  I struggled with wanting to do more.  Wanting to BE more.  Of course, I was thankful for the many blessings God has granted me, but deep inside I knew I was not living a completely fulfilled life.  I cried out to God in prayer many times with no response.  Until finally one day, His answer was almost audible.  Why?  Simply because I changed the way I prayed.

I’d just dropped my daughter off at school, and like every other day, I began praying to God on the way home.  I spoke words I thought He wanted to hear.  The stuff you hear everyone else pray. 

“Thank you, Lord for this day….yawn.  Please be with my family.  Be in all I do and say, yada, yada, yada…”  yawn…..

I mumbled the words over the top of my travel mug just like every other day until it struck me:  what an insult to God to give Him the mundane!  Here He was, as He was all those other mornings waiting, ready to receive my prayers and to receive so much more than that, and I chose to give Him about as much authority over my prayers as I would my dog!

I am a child of the most high God.  He wants all of me, and he doesn’t want it half-heartedly.  He deserves so much more than a pathetic request yawned over a travel mug.  He alone has the power to change it all right then and there, so that gives us the opportunity and the power to

Pray from a heart of victory; not a spirit of defeat.

That’s the day – the very moment the Lord told me to write for him!  All my creative energy belonged to Him to be used for His purpose – MY struggle was over.

Of course, that revelation alone did not lift all the clouds away, but it certainly released me of the burden I’d carried far too long.

We can pray like we mean it – after all, we’re praying to the One who conquered the grave!  Know, without a doubt, that the cries of your heart are being heard by the Creator.

Give it all to Him.

Don’t take it back.

And through His strength, His power and His love for You, He will lift you high above all that weighs you down in this world.  He hears your prayers, and when you release that authority over to Him, trust Him to help you learn to float on the breath of God.

Check out my article on Gifted Women at:  http://giftedwomen.net/articles/20100809_2

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hiking Trip


Good morning.  Come have a seat and join me - just poured 2 cups of coffee, so you're just in time.
My husband and son are away on their annual week of male bonding in the woods. They’re part of a small group of men, engineers mostly, who enjoy the escape from work and wives to commune with the great outdoors.  It’s their once-a-year opportunity to drive up a 2-lane road, straddling the yellow line at whatever speed they choose, compare “manly” noises around the campfire well into the night and snore the bears away without the nuisance of being jabbed in the ribs and asked, ever so sweetly, to flop over and face the other direction.
I think my guys brought a total of 4 changes of underwear between the two of them.  Not sure what else they stuffed into their packs last minute, but I’d bet you a cup of coffee it wasn’t deodorant!
I have to say the house is much quieter with them gone – well, sort of.  They left me here with my very moody 15 year-old texting machine and her booked up social calendar.
Of course, I miss my men and pray for their safety…but it is rather nice/wonderful to watch an entire TV show without the threat of someone’s trigger-happy finger eager to channel surf between every sentence!
I’ve caught up on some reading, some writing, some cooking, some simple, do-nothing moments where I’m quite content to listen to the rhythm of the hands ticking away on the clock.
Soft jazz and classical music have temporarily replaced the 7:30am trumpet scales that normally blast through the house, force us all awake (like it or not) and send the wild golden finches scrambling Heavenward.
In these precious few days of peace and tranquility, I’ve had time to think.  Time to dream.  Time to hear God’s voice and meditate on His Word.
Do I feel guilty for enjoying the men’s annual hike as much as they are?  Of course not.  God knew how much we all needed to power down for awhile, so He ordained this time for each of us to recharge and renew in our own way.  I’m good with that.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Check out my article on Gifted Women at http://giftedwomen.net/articles/20100809_2


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Answer To Prayer

Hi there!  So glad you could stop by and join me this morning.  Pull up a seat and relax.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about something I touched on the other day:  I love the thought of floating on the breath of God.  Don’t you?  If you envision yourself floating on the breath of God, your feet no longer touch the ground – it’s impossible to do both, right?  It means you’ve chosen instead to completely surrender your will, your purpose and your plan to God’s.  You’re soaring with the One who created you.  The One who knows you.  The One who loves you like no other.  The One who has either already saved you or is offering salvation.

I know – you’re thinking that by surrendering yourself to God that somehow it’s a sign of weakness.  Like you’re throwing in the towel and sighing, “Here you go, Lord – maybe you can make sense out of this mess, because I sure can’t.”

But that’s not the case at all.  Choosing to walk in God’s light only proves you’re tired of scrambling, searching, wringing your hands with worry and self-doubt and wondering what to do next.  In essence, it shows obedience, a physical sign of your faith and trust.  Yes, it shows strength.

Sorry if I sound a little preachy this morning.  I’m just so excited that the Lord has answered my prayer with such a beautiful phrase.  I’ve been frustrated with myself lately and hitting roadblocks in my way of thinking.  I’ve called out to Him in prayer, whispered my struggles under my breath and in the meantime, I’ve been thinking in a rut, unable to waver or even consider any other possibilities beyond what my little mind can fathom.

So, for me, the idea of floating on the breath of God is my answer to prayer.  I’m done asking for His intervention and direction assuming my own way is also His way!  I’m soaring with the Lord now, excited to be truly trusting in Him. 

I love that this phrase alone keeps ringing in the back of my head; spoken to me in those first precious, quiet moments of the morning; before distractions, before conversations cluttered the air waves, before demands, before problems or people beckoned my attention. 

I have to wonder how many times throughout the day the Lord is quietly offering His direction….if I would only silence myself before Him….and listen.

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, 
       consider my sighing.
 Listen to my cry for help, 
       my King and my God, 
       for to you I pray.
 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; 
       in the morning I lay my requests before you 
       and wait in expectation.”
(Psalm 5:1-3)


Check out my article on Gifted Women:  http://giftedwomen.net/articles/20100809_2


Monday, August 9, 2010

Good morning!  Come on in and sit down.  I'm glad you made it back to the cafe.  I'm sorry if it's a little confusing - I know I just posted an article about God's grace (previously published on "The Cypress Times), but something else has popped into my head this morning, and I really want to share it with you.

The other night I was in complete agony...no, that's not what I want to share with you.  I was trying to get dinner together because I'm the mom around here, and that's what we moms do.

Anyway, I had the "mother "of all headaches.  If you've ever suffered a horrible migraine, you know what I'm talking about.  It's debilitating, to say the least.  It controls me.  I can't function.  The simplest of tasks are a nightmare to complete because all I can think about IS THE PAIN when I'm in the middle of it.

I realized that the same goes for other painful situations we encounter on a daily basis.  When we find ourselves tossed about in a storm, the waves controlling us, paralyzing us into thinking there's no way out, Jesus is extending his hand through the clouds. You've probably heard this analogy used before; comparing life's battles to a storm - well, it's true.  If you've ever watched a boat out on the ocean, you see that boat forced to go with the tide. It can't control the waves that carry it.  The waters swell, there's turbulence in the current below, yet the boat still floats and rides the waves.  However, the fiercest, most violent of storms is nothing to God.

I’ll never forget that day many, many years ago; while the rain poured outside, the real storm brewed inside.  There I sat, on the arm of the couch, staring through the window at my car left for dead at the curb.  My 3-year-old son worked and re-worked Lego projects in an attempt to defy boredom while my baby girl needed diapers and formula and fought a low-grade fever.  

I wiped away tears as I considered borrowing a neighbor’s car and floating a check at the grocery store to pay for what I needed, then pray to God it wouldn’t hit the bank for another 2 days (obviously back before the advent of the debit card).

I remember all too well those feelings of isolation, loneliness and desperation, and vowed to never again find myself on that narrow ledge.  At the time, my husband’s job took him away during the weekdays, allowing me only weekends to communicate with someone from the grown-up world.  During those 6 months, I got a taste of single parenting and found the experience to register in the red zone on the “Difficulty” scale.

But I look back on that day now in appreciation.  Certainly, I couldn't see beyond the storm.  I was in the middle of it, and God hadn't yet revealed what was on the other side.  There I was in the pain, in the reality of my circumstances, paralyzed in my way of thinking, but Jesus extended his mighty hand through the clouds and brought me through!  Praise God for supplying my needs.
Now that I'm a little more...mature/older and a little more grown up in Christ, I realize that the storms are necessary for us to have a testimony! I know that's the last thing you want to hear when you're feeling beaten up by life, but hold on.  There is hope in Jesus and a blessing right around the corner with your name on it.


Mark 4:35-40 tells us "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
 40He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
(Mark 4:35-40) NIV


If you're in the storm today, reach up and grab the hand of the One who calms the seas.  And then share your story with others so that you may bring glory to Him!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grace, Grace, God's Grace!

         “Be a Proverbs 31 Woman”…really? 
The web site heading flashed on the screen and I felt my forehead crease.  I suppose it’s something to strive for, but to be quite honest, I must have hit a pot hole on the road to becoming “The Wife of Noble Character;” nor do my children arise and call me blessed!  In reality, I’ve been stuck for years at Proverbs 14:1 instead, which reads, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
No problem.  That just means some days I’m better at demo than construction!
          Seriously, I’ll admit I probably contribute to the tearing down of my home when I nag, become frustrated, lose patience, nag, raise my voice, insist things be done a certain way “because I SAID so,” etc….did I mention “nag”?
          Call it a weakness, but I naturally default to heightened emotions rather than take the slow, prayerful approach when my words sort of flutter through the air and land on deaf ears.
          To make matters worse, I’m convinced that my kids, like so many other teenagers today, suffer from “got-it-all-figured-out syndrome,” which also translates to “oh, my gosh, Mom - are you for real?”  It’s a well-known condition that takes years to develop until it reaches a feverish pitch in adolescence.  Their teenage hormones collide with my pre-menopausal state, whereby instantly transforming my home into a pressure cooker with no release valve! 
They bug.  They perfect the art of annoyance.  They argue back because now that they’ve achieved the abilities to drive, successfully combat an acne breakout and text while riding a skateboard, they feel confident that they now possess more knowledge than Mom!
          This, of course, creates friction in the home; hence, a mother-sized melt down of staggering proportions!
          So how do we, as moms, stand any chance of becoming the Godly women Proverbs 31:10 speaks of when the frustrations of life show no sign of letting up (or getting a job and moving out on their own)?  How do we overcome reactions of hostility and frustration and learn to first reach within rather than lashing out at those we love? 
          Two words:  God’s Grace!
          When my own grace has been wrung out like a dirty dish rag, it’s God’s amazing grace I pray will somehow kick in.  God’s limitless, boundless, abundant grace is available to us all if we simply ask for it.  Sounds easy enough, right?  But how in the world can God expect us to think beyond our own tempers to quiet ourselves before Him? 
It helps me to remember that, even in the heat of the moment when I’m staring in the face of defiance that God loves and cares for that person even more than I do.  While He’s offering His grace to me, He’s also loving my son, daughter, husband, or whomever so much more than I ever could.
As we grow and mature in our faith, so will our human reactions diminish allowing God to take the wheel.  He can do a much better job of handling the rough seas than we ever could.
          1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “ Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11If 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.”
           It’s God alone who can and will prevent us from blowing the lid off that pressure cooker…..if we only ask.
          Pray this:  Lord Jesus, help me to be the woman you’ve called me to be.  Help me to glorify You in all that I do and say.  When frustration and anger overtake me and I’m tempted to speak hurtful things, I pray for Your intervention. Help me to first seek Your grace when I have none to give.  Fill me and cleanse me.  Make me completely Yours.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remember the Dream

Hello there!  I'm so glad you could make it.  Come on in and have a seat.  Let me pour you some coffee.  It's so good to see you - you look great, but let me ask you a question: Are you happy? I mean, are you truly happy from the inside out?  Wouldn't it be great if we could close our eyes and imagine ourselves living out the dream we've always had for ourselves?  
I wanted to get together with you today to remind you that we all have dreams.  Whether single or married, youthful or well seasoned; from false eye lashes to false teeth, we each possess a passion uniquely ours.  

Your dreams matter because God put them there.   He created you, a vibrant, beautiful and intelligent woman to live out a particular purpose, and he equipped you with everything necessary to do so.  Isn’t that an awesome thing to consider?  No matter what stage of life you find yourself, you are still an integral part of God’s perfect plan.
So, what's holding you back? Money? Time? Energy? Family? That little voice of negativity that says you'll never finish a God-sized dream like the one you've managed to stuff away until someday rolls around?  
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
God has hand-picked you to live out your dream.  He wants to see you succeed.  He's cheering you on, strengthening and encouraging you from the sidelines - after all, you have the power of the One who conquered the grave on your side, so you can't go wrong!  
I know of many women who have been given a second chance at life.  They've come through the fiercest of battles drained of all energy and enthusiasm to even go on...but they're still here!  There's a reason for that.   There’s a reason…the accident didn’t claim their life.   There’s a reason…they came through the surgery.  There’s a reason…the chemo worked and they’ve been declared cancer free.  There’s a reason…they’ve survived an abusive situation.  There’s a reason the Lord has taken away and forgiven our sins of the past.  Yes, you may be scarred and discouraged from the battle, but since the Lord has brought you through the storm, it's time to live your faith out loud!  If you’re still here, there’s still work to be done, and God wants to accomplish it in you one step at a time!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd
of witnesses to the life of  faith, let us strip off every weight
that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.
And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.  We do this
by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish."
(Hebrews 12:1)
I want to hear from you.  Leave a comment and tell me about the dream God has called you to fulfill.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Surprise!

What is it about my husband leaving town that ignites this independent, "I am woman!" instinct?  Each time he heads away for a week, a few days, whatever, I fight this overwhelming desire to do something to "surprise" him.  This started years ago when the kids were really young and he had to leave for a 2-week business trip.  "Really?  Two whole weeks?"  I thought.....hmmmm, what could I get into/accomplish in 2 weeks.....all by myself.  Aha!  That's it!  Paint the kitchen cabinets and wallpaper the whole room!

Two years ago, it was "Surprise!  I bought a new puppy - for me!"  Last year, I drove around for a whole week with a huge pond insert in the back of my van anticipating the freedom to set the thing up the way I wanted to.   Maybe that's it - the freedom to do stuff without the voice of rationality within ear shot.

This year, however as the tail lights head down the road, I have no plan.  No surprise up my sleeve.  No big thing I feel an overwhelming desire to run out and purchase.  So, what's wrong with me?

I think I must be getting old because I really just want to clean up and spiff up what I already have.  I want to clean up the garden, mow the lawn, pull some weeds, clean bathrooms, stuff like that.  Sounds boring, huh?  Maybe my big surprise can be to finish one of my writing projects.  Probably not half as exciting as a new puppy, but pretty darn rewarding nonetheless!  Hmmm, I wonder what I could get in/accomplish this time?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Will You Do With Your Brand New Day?

Praise God!  You woke up this morning to a new day.  You were able to crawl, leap, spring or somehow emerge from your restful place to greet the morning.  Isn't that awesome?  Lately, that miracle alone is a major thing to me.  It's totally and completely up to God whether or not to grant us the special gift of a new dawn.  What we choose to do with it is up to us......or is it?
     What do you think the Lord will call you to do this day?  I've learned that oftentimes my to-do list isn't the same as God's.  Even when I begin the day in prayer and ask him to be in all I do and say, he reminds me that I'm to go about my day according to HIS agenda instead. 
     Like yesterday; I set out with a goal to begin on a certain page in my young adult book.  I had the best of intentions until one simple phone call and an encouraging email shot me in an entirely different direction. I ended up revamping a 7-step study I'm putting together to encourage women to identify and go after their dream in life.  I was still moving forward with something.  Still productive, and still edging closer toward the end of a project that began a year ago.
     I made quite a lot of progress on it, and really feel that it will be of help to women once it's completed.  Ultimately, it was what the Lord wanted me to do.


Lord Jesus, I thank you for the precious gift of each new day.  Let us never take them for granted.  I know you want to accomplish something new and amazing in me today.  I am a willing vessel, Lord.  Guide me.  Lead me.  Help me to live according to your plan.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Seasons

My year is divided into two seasons:  gardening and holidays!  I can't believe it's August already.  Didn't we just celebrate our graduates and set off fireworks for the 4th?  
     I'm really bad about jumping ahead - once the calendar even hints of fall, I break out the sweaters and "The Great Pumpkin"  Charlie Brown dvd. Unfortunately, here in my part of the world, autumn means suffering through a time of hot, dry winds before cooling off enough to enjoy a cup of cocoa by the fireplace.
     Likewise, while everyone's still picking Christmas turkey out of their teeth, I'm the first one at the nursery eager to buy up the bare-root roses and fruit trees.
"What do you mean, 'it's too soon for summer phlox and coneflower?'" I ask the sales guy (wrapped up in a scarf and gloves).  "This is California - people garden here 10 months out of the year."
     Anyway, I'm excited about the season ahead; back to school (yay), marching band for my daughter, college and band for my son, football games, parties, new recipes, shopping, decorating and planning - I love it all!  I especially love the fact that, because we know Who brings the changing seasons, we're able to approach them with optimism and hope.  We welcome the shifting winds, the shorter days and crisp mornings not really knowing what the new season will bring, but we know Who brings the season.
     On a personal note, I'm excited about the new ideas and plans for our women's ministry.  Helping to encourage and support other women all in the midst of various seasons of life is where a big part of my heart lies.  Autumn seems to be a time of regrouping and reconnecting with one another.
     I'm also excited to be in the writing mode, adding not only words but whole scenes and pivotal events to my manuscript.  
     So, I welcome the here and now, this moment in late summer, but know that I can look forward to the horizon and whatever the Lord has planned for the coming months.  It's His grace, mercy and perfect timing that carries us through every season of life.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter,
day and night will never cease."
(Genesis 8:22) NIV




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