Friday, September 30, 2011

You Can't Do it Alone!

'lion_tongue' photo (c) 2009, Dan Taylor - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/



My little voice of negativity is a roaring lioness these days. She wakes me somewhere around 4am growling as I fight for sleep, snarling me awake with fears and doubts until I rise to begin the day already beaten and deep into worry.

Somewhere in the dark, I find my praise; mutter my faith in the One who casts light on my dark morning. But my whisper is no match for the strength of the beast when she’s determined to claim my joy and win over my dreams.

She breathes hot across my neck words of failure, disappointment… discouragement. I deflect her negative jabs and rub my eyes as I walk the cold tile floor to the coffee pot. She’s relentless in her pursuit, stalking, stirring up emotions and old memories, all the reasons to stop and retreat, to take cover and hide beneath the shelter of my insecurities.

My cup clangs to the counter and I give in to the hunt.

“I can’t do this!” I cry out. “This is too much for me – the task is too big…too great. Who in the world do I think I am, anyway? I just can’t…”

But the lioness is a coward and I am humbled as we’re both silenced there…in the very presence of Him.

And I hear, “You’re right – YOU alone can’t do it.”

'Coffee at my secret morning coffee place' photo (c) 2006, Pete Barr-Watson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

So, it’s time to live out what I profess. It turns out the challenge is mine, as suddenly “The Courage to Fly” is a pretty steep mountain to conquer.

But if my God can tame the lioness and send her running, He surely has the power that equips and strengthens – the power that guides me forward and fills me with the joy of knowing Him.

I’m praising God today for opportunities that grow us. I’m thanking Him for moments such as these where our faith rises up larger than we are and sends our lioness running back to her dark cave. His strength in my weakness. More of Him – less of me. The Way, the Truth and the Life that fuels our courage to fly!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

(1 Peter 5:8) NIV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

(John 10:10) NIV



Monday, September 26, 2011

"The Courage to Fly" Part 5 - Don't Be Deterred by Opposition!

'Mountain-sliding ahead' photo (c) 2006, ItzaFineDay - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I had to look twice at the jogger who paced impatiently 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 knees 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 continued on through the intersection feeling very small.

I’d learned a huge lesson and not a word was spoken.

I found myself saying, “What is your excuse, Debbie? You have everything in working order, so why can’t/don’t you accomplish what you’ve set out to do? What in the world is holding you back from being all that God designed you to be?” Suddenly, my excuses faded away in the blur of tail lights and I realized there will always be opposition. For every positive, we have to expect a negative, but we have to decide which is bigger to us. Which is more important? Which deserves more of our time and effort; looking far and wide with enthusiasm out the windshield of our car, or squinting to see the view of past mistakes or rejections out the rear-view mirror? God wants us looking forward, moving forward…living forward.

The answer is simple, I decided: I have to want it badly enough! I have to want my dream 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 jogger must have faced in order to gain the strength, the courage and the endurance to run again. He didn’t care how he might have looked to the world; it was focus, determination and the belief that he was fighting for something bigger than himself that kept him standing there on the corner waiting to cross.

That’s why it’s so important not to waiver in your decision to pursue that which brings you joy. There will be rejections and obstacles in your path that will only work to your advantage if you never lose site of your goal. The light at the end of the tunnel still burns even while you’re knee-deep in negativity. Opposition can present itself in many forms, so cultivate good habits and good relationships. Surround yourself with those who want to experience your success right along with you. And keep moving forward….always forward.

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."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Looking Past the Weeds Today...



Sometimes, you have to think past the weeds deep into the hidden undergrowth. Even in the tangled, untidy mess of things, there’s life determined to bloom; determined to be. And I have to decide which is the stronger of the two. Do I succumb to the weeds bent in a desperate attempt to choke out the life and the beauty, or do I hold on to the hope that with a little work, a little pain and effort, the full glory of God will be revealed?

It’s a day for dreaming big. A day for thinking past the weeds and far beyond the hurdles, deep into the blessing.

For me, it’s a day to live out what I’ve been blogging all this time, to step out in faith on my own words - it’s a day to pray for and believe in the courage to fly!

Won’t you join with me in prayer for ALL of us, my sweet sisters in Christ, who may be seeking that inner strength and belief today? Because of Jesus – the courage is already ours!

Lord Jesus,

Bless the reader of these words today. Bless her with the courage to fly, to dream sweeter and bigger and brighter than her mind can fathom. Thank you for the dreams and goals You place before each of us, and may You breathe life over each one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,

for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all

the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And the Award Goes to...

'The Red Rose of Graduation' photo (c) 2010, Delphine Sindynata - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m humbled and overjoyed to be the recipient of THREE blog awards this week! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. Sweet Sheri Swift surprised me with "The Versatile Blogger" and "One Lovely Blog" awards while Karin Kauffman selected me for the "Liebster" Award. Many, Many thanks to you both!

Just gotta say, I love how God gathers a sweet soul from here, another sweet soul from there and brings them together to grow and bloom in the blogging community. So many wonderful relationships have begun right here over the past couple of years with you, my amazing sisters in Christ. You encourage me, support me, speak the heavy clouds out of my day with the Word of God and bring me to tears with your precious comments. You each mean more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you for being who you are in Christ. Wishing you many blessings ~ and keep blogging for the Lord!

I want to thank Sheri Swift of “Finding Joy in the Journey” for nominating me for these two very special blog awards:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you
2. Share seven random facts about you
3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you
2. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

  • (Given to those with fewer than 300 followers) When you receive the award, thank the blogger who gave it to you and link back to them.
  • Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  • Choose three to five blogs that deserve a bigger following, give them the Liebster Award, and let them know you’ve done so by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are my seven random fun facts J

  1. I received the Lord into my life on a warm summer night at the age of 17.
  2. I always jump way ahead to every season; I decorate for fall in late August, start listening to Christmas music in October and hit the nursery in search of plants while I'm still picking holiday turkey out of my teeth :)
  3. I was raised with horses, dogs, all 4 seasons and a wonderful hay-filled barn perfect for daydreaming.
  4. I LOVE to cook, and according to my husband, I’ve come a very long way from our early “deep-fried” days as a newly-wed couple.
  5. I LOVE a huge variety of music; everything from bluegrass to classical, to jazz and rock. My husband, son and I are all involved in our worship team – music is very important to our family (the kids didn’t stand a chance at not being part of band in some form with a dad who bleeds trumpet valve oil!)
  6. I’m horribly addicted to my Vanilla Nut coffee with just the right amount of Hazelnut Creamer (it’s gotta be Lucerne).
  7. OK….I’ll let you in on a little secret because you’ve been sweet enough to read through all my jibberish….you know that big pic of me over to the right??? Well, my photographer/daughter took that shot of me by our fireplace, but my coffee cup was empty – we couldn’t allow a pic of me with an EMPTY coffee cup on the blog, so she very carelly PhotoShopped the “coffee” in my cup (LOL). Too cool, huh?

Since most of the blogs that I would love to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award already have it, I'm going to combine them and give out the One Lovely Blog award also! I hope that’s all right.

1. Kelli and Heidi at Mothers on Mission

2. Shanyn Silinsky at Strawberry Roan

3. Melinda Todd at Trailing After God

4. Carol Peterson at From Carol's Quill

5. Lisa at Woman to Woman

6. Annie at Greyhaired Momma

7. Jan at Inspired Ink

8. Chelle at Chelle's Blog

9. Likewise ye older women...

10. Sarah Mae at Like A Warm Cup of Coffee

11. Kimberly at Garden of Secrets

12. Carey Scott at Let's Get Real!

13. Amy at Strong Tower

14. Becky at Morning Mist & Scattered Clouds

15. Marmee at Marmee's Pantry

And for the Liebster Award:

1. Mothers on Mission

2. Strawberry Roan

3. Woman to Woman

4. Garden of Secrets

5. Trailing After God



Monday, September 19, 2011

The Courage to Fly - Part 4 "Expect Success"

'Bird of prey... flying high (flying in the sky)' photo (c) 2008, Torley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”

(Psalm 1:1-3) NIV

According to dictionary.com: success [suhk-ses] the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

I couldn’t agree more with the definition above. Likewise, I’ve come to define true “success” as that moment when we’ve achieved the ability to hand over our futile attempts and endeavors to Jesus – and leave them in his capable hands! When we reach that kind of intimacy, that kind of trust in our Creator, the rest just seems to fall away and have much less negative impact. Successfully turning over our needs and desires to Him definitely brings about a peace that transcends ALL human understanding, and we become that person who is “like a tree planted by streams of water…” Many times, however, the fruit we yield surprises even us!

Whatever form of “success” you’re striving for today, don’t set yourself up for disaster by not believing in your full potential – or in God’s.

Don’t limit what God can do in you!

Your Creator designed you with your particular dream in mind, and He has already equipped you for the task. You possess the talents and gifts He wanted you to have – but if you listen to negative thoughts or think pursuing your dreams and passions is out of reach, then it will be. It all starts with a child-of-God attitude. Remember who you are in Christ. Again, as I mentioned in Part 2 of this series:

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

Have you considered what life would be like today if certain pivotal people in history hadn’t listened to the call of their heart and suffered through trial and error as they journeyed toward their dreams? Perhaps, we’d be left without electricity. We wouldn’t have musical scores written from renowned composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. We’d be without the humor of Erma Bombeck and Charles Schultz, and “Harry Potter” would be just another name.

When we consider His immeasurable love for us and His perfect fitting of dreams and goals to our unique qualities, we should expect nothing BUT a successful outcome. The journey toward them may be difficult, but enjoy the journeyit’s yours! Own it! It’s you and the Lord working together, and there’s something to glean from every step in the process. As you strive to witness the change in your circumstances, you’ll soon notice that the transformation takes place within you as you learn to trust completely in His plan, His timing, His faithfulness, for that is when you’ve truly reached success!

“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 every situation, 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 and sisters, 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.”

(Philippians 4:4-9) NIV

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Living in Your "Real World"

'light ur candel' photo (c) 2008, ^@^ina - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It’s still dark when I stumble downstairs rubbing sleepy eyes. I glance out the back window and yawn as slivers of light pierce through the shroud of 5:30am, and I know the baby chicks are safe inside their coop beneath the heat lamp. Still only weeks old, their whole little world takes place inside that box; a small, simple space where a light that’s meant to flow is barely visible through the cracks. Held and captured and serving its purpose only within the walls.

I turn to start the coffee, but I keep thinking of those who live in similar boxes; those whose light glows dim…a light that’s meant to flow, though remains barely visible through the cracks….serving its purpose only within the walls.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15) NIV

~*~

'Don't Let Go.' photo (c) 2010, Sam Caplat - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

She smiles and rises from the pew standing a little easier now after her surgery. And after all these years, he still reaches for her hand when they sing the old hymns. They’ve weathered the storms together, prayed through the blessings and the burdens, determined to praise Him even through tears and heartbreak; through the lives they’ve touched, family members they’ve buried, decisions they’ve made – they’ve shared the love of God every step of the way. Together, they’ve lived in the light of the Lord serving Him, grateful and satisfied, far beyond all fears and limitations.

“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

~*~

'Baby A ' photo (c) 2008, Maria  Gomez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

She rocks her baby at night in the dark, careful not to alert the “unfriendlies” who might be lurking in the shadows. It’s not easy being a new mom in the mission field, bringing the Word of God where it’s not allowed, but the Lord lights the way…and she hums in a mother’s voice only a baby could hear. Gently, quietly, he drifts off to sleep leaving her in the quiet and in the still…with the peace and reassurance of His presence….serving in the light of His will.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) NIV

Whatever the “Real World” is to you today, wherever you may find yourself, my prayer is that you live it for Him. Live to serve Him. Live in the light of Him...simply live!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Courage to Fly – Part 3 “Research”



Research. Educate yourself. Read all you can and learn the ins and outs of your new endeavor. There is much to be explored about every opportunity - chances are, others have chosen a similar path, so do your homework. Ask questions and learn from the experience of others all you can about that which you plan to invest your time, finances and energy.

The most important, most helpful research tool out there is the Bible. The Living Word of God, with its divine instruction, is your number one essential research item. Refer to it daily for God’s constant direction and inspiration.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) ESV

Other sources for research:

· Internet

· Public Library

· Experiences of friends and relatives

· Book and magazine articles

· Personal visit


At this point, it doesn’t matter who is or who isn’t onboard with you. You’ve prayed about following your heart toward your dream and you and the Lord are in agreement. Don’t let discouraging words of others weigh you down. You’re moving forward now!

Don’t let pessimism speak louder than the whispers of God’s encouragement!

· Set Realistic Goals

· Make realistic, attainable goals each day –goals to motivate you, but not so far out of reach that you get discouraged

· Keep a journal documenting your progress – even the baby steps!

Design a plan of attack, and execute that plan! Don’t stuff your plan away in a drawer or on a psychological shelf for another day. When designing a realistic approach to accomplishing the necessary steps, keep in mind the time and effort required for each item. Incorporate working toward those goals into your daily routine – don’t get in the habit of saying, “I’ll do that if I have time…” Make it a priority to move forward each day. Even though taking time for doing so may require an overall change in daily routine, embrace that change and recognize it as a visible step toward realizing the end result. Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow with your “dream” placed squarely in your lap. Take the necessary time to work out all the details, but be excited as this is part of the process.

For example: invest the necessary time and effort in creating a web site and/or blog to journal your adventure.

· Build a group of “followers” who will support your progress and rejoice with you in your accomplishments.

· Share your challenges or hurdles in the process so others can pray for you. Now that you and God are in agreement about your dreams and goals, make it known to your circle of friends.

· Set up a social networking account and invite support and input from your circle of contacts.

· Give yourself a realistic weekly “To-Do” list. Make a master list (Excel is a great program for this) of necessary tasks, appointments, etc., then divide up that list in bite-sized pieces. If you overload yourself in the beginning, you’ll lose momentum and interest leaving the door wide open for discouragement. Begin at a speed that’s comfortable for you, but do begin!

· Remember that I’m praying for you, sweet Sister in Christ!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Break Free!

'window' photo (c) 2005, Shirl - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I stood staring out the window and let my first cup of morning coffee work its magic. I watched as the trees swayed with a warm breeze releasing their leaves to flutter like a mass of butterflies to the lawn below, and I smiled.

‘If only we could break free from sin and negative thoughts so easily.’

In that moment, I thought of those held captive by jealousy, insecurity and hopelessness…and I prayed.

The leaves make it look so simple, but it’s not easy to release ourselves from what we’ve clung to for so long.

'Autumn Leaves' photo (c) 2009, Dan Taylor - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Criticism, jealousy, low self esteem, low self worth, unforgiveness, anger and past hurts are not of the Lord…yet we attach ourselves to them.

To live a life overwhelmed and consumed with thoughts of what YOU want to be, and HOW you want things to change can drive you crazy. Maybe, it’s time to stop letting them “drive” you…period.

Embrace who you are in Jesus and shake loose from the shackles, the desires, of the flesh. Instead of focusing on what is just out of reach, consider that it may remain beyond your grasp for a reason.

Don’t accept the grip of insecurity. Instead, let the security of His faithfulness “grip” you. You were created for SO much more!

I kind of think we’re intended to be beautiful from the inside out; not the outside in. It has to start from the heart or it’s contrived, and becomes what we make of it instead of us exuding what He planted within each of us.

'Autumn Leaves' photo (c) 2009, geraldbrazell - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/When the beauty of the Lord lives within you, you are beautiful.

When the strength of the Lord lives within you, you are strong.

When the power of the Lord lives within you, you possess all the necessary power against evil.

When you accept the Lord’s forgiveness, you have the ability to forgive others.

When you accept His love, you have the ability to love others…AND love yourself.

Break free, my friend, and let the beauty of the Lord shine through you!

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

(Isaiah 53:4-5) NIV

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind”

(Psalm 107:19-21) NIV

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Courage to Fly - Part 2 "Feed Your Prayer Life"

'Flowers in the Yard' photo (c) 2009, Anna Fox - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Pray…and ask…and listen.

So, when you think of yourself in the middle of your dream, the middle of God’s purpose fulfilled in you, what do you see? How do you envision the whole thing playing out? Do you have someone else’s success story in mind when you think of the day when you finally realize it’s all come true for you?

Your dream won’t look like someone else’s who’s already pursuing or living out their purpose. You are unique and your purpose fills a unique element in God’s plan – a purpose meant for only you.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) ESV

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8) NIV

Know, without a doubt, that the cries of your heart are being heard by the Creator who placed those dreams within you. Read Mark 11:24 and claim it anew and fresh daily! As you pray, absolutely believe that it will come to pass. Once you give the dream over to God, it’s His! Let Him breathe life into it and watch it flourish!

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

He knows the dreams and ambitions you’ve pushed to the furthest reaches of your mind and how you’ve shut the door on them until “someday” rolls around. He planted the seed, and through God’s strength and your faith in Him will that seed be given new life.

So, you still don’t believe there’s a greater plan for you? You’re still wondering about all this talk of dreams and purpose?

Because He first loved us (See 1 John 4:19-20), we can also love ourselves enough to realize that God created us for SO much more than the mundane. You’re so much more than someone’s wife, someone’s mom, someone’s daughter, co-worker, sister or friend. You’re a daughter of the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the One who died for you and rose to remain by your side forever…and He loves you. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knew you in the womb. He constructed each and every part of you, inside and out, and He hand-picked you, beautiful, intelligent you to carry out His purpose.

~~Pray ~~

As you quiet yourself before the Lord, start with the purist desires of your heart and the blessing will follow. Don’t think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t pray for such things, all the negative voices that interrupt progress. Pray not only for the end result, but pray for the process. Feed your prayer life – don’t starve it.

Pray for more.

Believe in more.

Strive for more.

Because you were created for more!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First

'Pink ' photo (c) 2009, Allana - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

There she was…

out the slamming door and down the front steps to her first day as a High School Senior tossing something full of fire and venom over her shoulder.

There I was…

held tight with tears and memories, not about the moment, but about all the “firsts” we’ve seen together. I went way back to the beginning, back when she spent her first night in the neo-natal unit, back before first words and first hurts….praying God would grant her life beyond her first day.

There she was…

on a Sunday morning shaking the quiet from the calm and shaking me to anger; wondering how I was supposed to help lead worship with my joy stolen and trampled.

There I was…

Singing the words of “Standing on the Promises” from the platform. I look beyond the hands raised, the faces of worship, to where she sits and I sing the words to her – straight through to her challenge and defiance. We smile, but I’m standing on the promises of what I know is true; the firm and solid foundation of Jesus. Standing on the promises…standing firm as a mom. Standing firm as a woman of God.

Standing firm.

'Praise' photo (c) 2009, Michael Miner - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

And I think of the words and what it takes to live them.

Lift your hands and simply say “Praise God….praise God”….and repeat.

Anger dissolves when we praise His name. Keeps it at a simmer within instead of bubbling right over into hurt feelings and bruised relationships….

because you can’t praise Him without a smile. It takes a measure of joy to utter gratitude.

If I’d only praised Him….first.

“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 soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:29-30) NIV

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