Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Heart-of-Thanks Thursday

I love how every instruction of life is given in the scriptures. We’re told how to turn from evil, how to love our husbands and wives, and how to raise our children. We’re even told how to pray, how to be fishers of men, how to spend our days, how to sow seeds and reap the

harvest, and we’re given the freedom to praise God with a joyful noise!

Within these same scriptures, we’re lifted, loved, blessed, encouraged, comforted and strengthened. We’re given the firm foundation, the solid rock – we’re offered the gift of salvation.

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;

3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;

4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-

5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-

6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools [a] despise wisdom and discipline.

(Proverbs 1-7)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is Your Joy Contagious?


Stepping up on my soapbox for a minute…

After a recent conversation with a fellow Christian, I hung up the phone realizing one important thing: joy is only contagious if you can somehow manage to maintain it when you’re around those who clearly aren’t joyful! Wouldn’t you agree?

The world may be falling down, crumbling all around us, but those who truly live in the light of the Lord don’t allow their faith to crumble along with it (of course, there are those exceptional circumstances, but I'm talking about the basic stuff of life). I have to think of all the time God has invested in me. He’s heard and answered my every prayer. He’s taken me by the hand and walked with me through the fire. He’s dried my tears, and he’s opened my eyes each morning to hope and opportunity. I owe it to him to live out what I profess, to stand defiantly against the enemy’s attempt to drag me down with those whose praise is mumbled, buried beneath layers of negativity. As a Christian, I’ve invested years strengthening my faith, my prayer life and my walk with the Lord. If I can’t even stand firm on that faith around other “Christians,” what kind of testimony am I to the non-believer? Pray it like you mean it, and then live it out. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy and the passion from within that you and the Lord have worked so hard together to create – use it for God’s glory!

Lord Jesus,

Help me to hold on to the joy of knowing you. Help me to remember, as I interact with others, that I am yours and you are mine. Your promises, your Word and your Truth will never fade or weaken with time, but prove to only strengthen in your people. Help me to respond in love to those whose joy has been diluted and weakened by the struggles of life that they may draw closer to you with renewed faith and trust. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22) NIV

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's a New Day!


Good morning to you! So glad you have a minute to join me.

Today is a brand new day! Despite what’s forecasted, it’s not a bad day or a good day – it’s an awesome day! It’s a clean slate and yet one more opportunity to either draw closer to the One who’s speaking our name or to trudge our way down the rutted road of our own will. We have the choice today, you and I. We’ve been invited by the Creator of Heaven and Earth to choose the Way the Truth and the Life, and to pave today’s path with prayer, thanksgiving and hope. Join me as I turn this day over to Jesus, not just with my words, but with my whole heart! I pray you’ll do the same.

“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.”

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight

in your decrees; I will not neglect your word…”

(Psalm 119:13-16) NIV

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"All Who Are Thirsty..."

My poor, sleep-deprived brain has been sitting in idle mode for the past 3 days. Seriously, I haven’t slept – I’ve coughed instead. Not just a simple a-hem and we’re all done. No, it’s a cough with attitude; the kind that flips you inside out and turns your face the shade of a ripe pomegranate! It waits until I’m in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store and sneaks up quietly to tickle the back of my throat. Of course, I’ve no other alternative but to rip open the glass doors and bury my cough in bags of frozen peas and carrots!
This stagnant-brain phase has rendered me pretty useless, plunging me knee-deep in a slimy puddle of writer’s block! I can barely write my own name these days, let alone muster up something witty and wonderful! My book projects are collecting dust bunnies, and the article ideas have stopped flowing.
I’ve tried jumpstarting my creative energy with coffee, and lots of it! I’ve tried chocolate, aromatherapy, laundry, even dog licks…nothing! It’s really frustrating.
OR…it could be that I’m standing dangerously close to the jagged edge of that deep-dark valley known as Menopause. Hey, that’s it!! That’s where my active brain cells have gone. After all, we’re now officially into “fall.” I just hope I’m not about to fall into a vat of hot flashes, cold sweats, more elaborate mood swings, random bouts of emotion and weird food ravings. I’ve heard crazy stories about that old Mizz Menopause. She’s the reason my motivation well has run dry! It’s all her fault. I wonder what else I can blame on her? Hmmm.
It’s hard to imagine that God would ordain such a season; a clear-cut, defining point as we transition from one phase of life to another. But he has. I have to trust and believe that he ordains it all, the highs and lows, the pain and the joy.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12) NIV)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Praying for You


Heavenly Father,
I come to you in prayer this morning and ask that you bless those who are running on an empty tank today. Those who are expected to fulfill obligations and exceed expectations. I ask that you strengthen those who may feel so beat up with life and so caught up with the demands of the day that they feel unworthy to cry out for you.
Bless those who have given their all that they may discover the vast resource of your love and grace. Lift weak arms. Renew and encourage and give light to those who continue to stumble in the dark of their own will. Replace discouragement, loneliness and sadness with your peace – the peace that not only transcends all understanding, but the ways in which we’re accustomed to thinking.
And at the end of the day, let those who have come to you feel refreshed, cleansed and loved beyond measure.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“…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.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who's Holding Your Hand?

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5) NIV

I love this passage – don’t you?

In this day of calendars and to-do lists,

rushing here and there

racing against the clock,

doing, being and accomplishing,

it’s not the items crossed off our list

or the mornings we rose before the sun

or even the dreams left to be pursued,

but the way in which we’ve chosen to live out our days,

and who's in control of our heart

that really matter in the end.

Whether intentionally or not,

we’re setting examples, you and I.

Whether we’ve climbed the stairs two at a time

or sat out our chance to dance in the rain,

let those who come after us see, instead the One who held our hand

the whole way.

Sunday, September 19, 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’vebeen 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

"I Am a Friend of God!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Elasto-Mom


Do you ever feel tested? Like you’re on a carousel that never stops spinning? Or worse yet, like a puppet on a string, and the puppeteer gains great pleasure in dragging you through mud puddles over and over again just for laughs. Oops, did I write that out loud? There I go again giving away some of my naughtier moments of childhood (insert sinister smile).

I’ve certainly been tested this week holding down the castle with my husband out of the country on a business trip. I’m used to him being away a few days at a time – just goes with the territory, but this week has been an unusual strain physically, emotionally and logistically. The good news? He’s flying back home today! The other good news? Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those

who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It’s easy to feel like we’re fighting the battles alone when we’re in the middle of them. It’s after the smoke clears and we get a moment to catch our breath that we realize we couldn’t have survived a second of it without the presence of a mighty, loving God who promised never to leave us nor forsake us.

You’re not alone in your battles today. The One who conquered the grave is on your side. He sees your sacrifice. He knows your frustrations, and He knows just what you need.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will

give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Take It Personally


Hello there! So glad you’ve taken a few minutes out of your busy, hectic day to stop by and chat.
You know, I realized something this week: there’s nothing sophisticated about sitting perched on a doctor’s table wearing only a paper gown and a timid smile. When you’re completely stripped down physically, you feel exposed.
You feel vulnerable.
You feel cold and hope the doctor doesn’t wander in while you’re up milling around looking for the thermostat in your easy-breezy attire.
Resting your fate in the hands of the guy/gal who walks in with a stethoscope around their neck can be intimidating. What if the news is bad? What do all those “U-hum’s” spoken with creased brow really mean? Did they remember to wash their hands after the last patient? What are they really looking for, anyway?
One has to wonder.
I kind of think God sees us like that all the time. He doesn’t care if we’re dressed for success or slogging around in hand-me-downs. He sees the essence of who we are all the time – our true selves. We can’t hide anything from him, no matter how well we think we’ve perfected the art over the years.
Somehow, in the middle of our struggles - in the middle of the noise, the chaos, the music and the laughter, he is there waiting for that moment of quiet when the stuff of life subsides and you find yourself in that vulnerable place once again sitting, alone, exposed, maybe even a little lost. He’s the one waiting to come through the door to examine your heart, to take away those feelings of emptiness and vulnerability once and for all. God knows you like no other – and only HE can HEAL you for LIFE!
“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:19-20)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Would Erma Do?


How did they do it? How did our mothers and grandmothers cope in a world void of cell phones, computers, microwaves, “me time,” the Food Network, Starbuck’s and of course, email buddies? Well, they had Erma Bombeck, of course. She had a way of smoothing over the day-to-day frustrations with her own style of wit and humor, and in so doing, encouraged others to do the same.

I love reading through the collection of her newspaper articles all cleverly assembled into book form. Her spirit, captured in the pages of “Forever Erma,” (Andrews McNeel Publishing) will continue to touch hearts for generations. I admire her practical, no-nonsense approach to life’s ulcer-inducing situations.

I wonder how she’d handle the 7am trumpet scales my husband blasts from our dining room each morning…over…and over…again; painfully hammered out until he gets each note (somewhere in the realm of) audibly pleasing!

What would she do about the cranky buzzard who sits in our parrot cage OUTSIDE my kitchen window squawking and singing in a voice that smacks of Ethel Merman on steroids?

She had no “Easy Button” for the many days when those we normally love and enjoy morph into some foreign, horned species and inevitably suck the joy right out of life. Like the rest of us moms who learn as we go along, she pulled up her big-girl pants and dealt with the hassle of the day…one cup of coffee at a time. And she managed to make us laugh in the process.

There’s much to learn from someone who loved so deeply and embraced life with a super-sized heart. Life is so much easier when handled with a little humor, don’t you think?

Thank you, God for creating us with the ability to laugh; for the choice you give us to somehow dig out the funny from the mundane. Thank you for situations that call for a light-hearted response, and let us remember to not take ourselves too seriously.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

(Proverbs 17:22)




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".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Cost


I had to look twice at the jogger who paced on the corner waiting for the traffic to flow so he could safely cross the street. There was definitely something different about him as he bobbed and moved.

That’s when I realized the man had no legs! His prosthetic devices began somewhere above the knee and continued down to his running shoes with long, preformed metal bars.

I watched him and immediately wondered about the effort of simply getting out of bed in the morning, or showering, or driving a car, or even bending over to hug a child. Simple things to those of us blessed with full use of our limbs, but no doubt a real challenge to that man.

I certainly didn’t pity him. Instead, I felt the weaker one. I found myself saying, “What is my excuse? I have everything in working order, so why can’t/don’t I accomplish what I’ve set out to do?”

The answer is simple: I have to want it badly enough! I have to want my dream and my goal enough to endure the pain. To make the sacrifice. To say ‘no’ to some things, and ‘yes’ to others.

I can’t imagine the obstacles that man must have faced and overcome in order to gain the strength, the courage and the endurance to run again.

I’ve thought about that day many times since then asking God to help me to see more than just the end result in people and situations, but to help me to appreciate the cost. Help me to see through imperfections of the outer shell, and through to a heart that now rests on the other side of hope.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:18-21) NIV

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Blessing of a Loving Husband


New school clothes.

New schedules.

New books.

School supplies.

Alarm clock going off in the dark.

New teachers.

Lunch money.

“Sign this, Mommy.”

Gas money.

Driving.

Ironing.

Laundry.

Writing.

Pack a lunch.

Work in the garden.

Bills and checkbook.

Picking up.

Dropping off.

More driving.

Cooking.

Cleaning.

Gotta get to the office.

Church stuff.

Women’s Ministry stuff.

Dog to vet.

Kids to doctor.

Hugs and kisses.

More writing.

Homework.

More driving.

Clock watching……someone’s coming for dinner?

One sweet, unexpected note from my husband

“I love you and appreciate you for all

the stuff you think we take for granted.”

Priceless.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Know What You Know


The whole nursery was abuzz with garden enthusiasts sporting floppy-brimmed hats and dirt spots on their well-worn jeans. I passed by the leggy begonias now deemed “clearance” worthy, and moved on to the more colorful mop-head hydrangeas. There they sat in fluffy pinks and blues; the result of much pampering and horticultural botox, no doubt.

“Oh, these are lovely,” remarked a woman from across the table. “Do you think these would do well in full sun?”

I looked up and met her blue eyes realizing she’d directed her question toward me.

“Uh, full sun? No, not really. These do well with a mix of morning sun and shade,” I offered. She seemed appreciative of my attention as we went on to talk about propagating the little darlings, and turning their blossoms from pasty white to blue or pink.

I left the nursery a little while later with a few purchases and wondered if I’d be so willing to talk about my faith in the same way I rattled off useless plant knowledge.

If I encountered someone on an ordinary day who uttered a few words spoken to no one in particular but just happened to land within earshot, how would I respond? Would I be ready to share what I know? Would I be willing to tell them how I became a Christian?

I mean after all, I know how I like my coffee. I know I love many types of music, and can document a personal play list to fit each mood. I know the names and growth habits of the majority of plants found at my favorite nursery, and love the opportunity to share my gardening trials and triumphs with others. I know exactly who is coming down the stairs in the morning, just by the sound of their footsteps. But, would I…could I share what I know and feel as

it relates to Jesus?

God brings about opportunities for us to live what we profess. I certainly wouldn't want to bungle an opportunity to share the gospel by offering a sloppy, form-letter type response to a sincere heart hungry for the truth.

Would you?


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't Delay the Blessing


Hello there. So glad you could drop by. Please, settle in and get comfortable because I’m afraid I have a bit of a confession to make.

I’ve been spending way too much time READING about writing, TALKING to others about writing, WRITING about writing and THINKING about writing

and all the while, my actual manuscript is collecting virtual dust bunnies…waiting for me to start writing!

It seems once I get on the computer, there are just too many distractions. I’m like a pinball game bouncing from site to site – there are so many wonderful author’s blogs to visit, so much great information to study and

too many Facebook messages to read. They’re all awesome, but they add nothing to my word count.

Now, I’m a little thick headed, but I think I’ve finally realized that by procrastinating and riding along the outskirts of my dream, I’m actually delaying the blessing God has in store. I’m also delaying the potential blessing my book could be to others (after a whole lot of work, of course).

Have you considered the possibility that by giving in to procrastination, you too could be delaying the blessing that God intended when he planted your dreams within you?

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” I especially like the Living Bible translation: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

Don’t delay the blessing of a God-inspired dream.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Whatever is noble...whatever is pure..."


I grumbled. I groaned. I scowled at the guy in the dilapidated Honda in front of me doing 35 mph with his muffler waving with the rhythm of my beating heart.

“Remind me again why I have to drive you to junior college 30 minutes away 2 days a week?” I mumbled over the top of my travel cup to my sleepy-eyed son.

“Oh, that’s right – because you spent your summer swimming with friends and yelling at video games when you could have gotten your driver’s license!”

There was no use in getting angry, I decided. He had an early class, and inconveniencing me was somehow easier than actually getting a ride from a friend…insert eye roll here. So, I flipped on soothing classical music, sipped my coffee and tried desperately to make the most of my reluctant morning commute.

Finally, past a flurry of exhaust-spewing semis and a couple freeway exits later, we said our good-byes and I turned back toward home. The classical music turned to opera – so NOT my mood of the moment, so I changed over to the Christian station.

Yep, God definitely gives us WHAT we need WHEN we need it. I’m sure it was no accident that I ended up listening to a Christian author whose words spoke directly to my dry, empty soul. God knows how I’ve been sitting and staring at a blank computer screen the past few days with the cursor screaming “Type something already!” What better way to help me through my dry spell than to hold me captive in traffic with the words of a professional Christian author speaking my language!

Wedged among an endless line of anxious motorists, my frustration quickly turned to praise as God’s message, spoken at just the right time, confirmed and reassured my calling to write for His glory. To top it all off, the author even recited one of my favorite scriptures, Philippians 4:4-9, as he spoke of our need as Christian authors to not be swayed by current market trends, but rather the importance of getting pure, wholesome literature into the hands of our young people. Amen.

Thank you, God, for traffic jams!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, 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. Whatever 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) NIV

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