Internet Cafe

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Life Changes, But I Cling to My Anchor

In three weeks, our household is going to change drastically.

Instead of maintaining four vehicles, we will dwindle to two, allowing me to pull into the garage without weaving through our private summer obstacle course called, “The driveway.”

Our grocery bill will plummet like the first drop of a roller coaster. The telephone will ring less. Toilet paper will no longer be on the endangered species list. Best of all, my little dog, a walking aggregation of nerves, will no longer be launched into outer space when our kids’ friends ring the doorbell. (Her rockets fire before “ding” becomes “dong.”)

The reason for these changes? Two of our three kids are leaving for college--my son, Jordan, for the first time.

Cue the violins, because no matter how much I’ll appreciate the pleasant changes, when I see their empty chairs at dinner and empty beds each night, I will struggle with just that—emptiness.

I know that life is transitional and that the ultimate goal of rearing kids is to guide them to complete independence. Still, I long for permanence I can count on no matter how many years pass, no matter how my circumstances, my job, my interests or my role as mom changes. I need an anchor.

Happily, just such a mainstay of peace has been mine over the years, even when my footing was unsure, or my heart raced with fear, or ached with sadness--as when we left our daughter at college that first time. My anchor has been the constant friendship of Jesus.

In all of my ups and downs, relationship struggles, personal failures and insecurities, I have not been alone. When my head hit my pillow at night, I knew I was under his watchful eye. When I awoke to face another problematic day (Is there any other kind?) I trusted that he knew the paths I would take and would even order my steps if I submitted to him. When I walked through fiery trials, he didn’t extinguish the flames, but he held my hand through them. As a result, the purifying heat helped refine me, but more importantly, helped me know him more intimately.

As I prepared for Jordan’s graduation a few weeks ago, I found a stick figure crayon drawing he made for us when he was six. On the page I had written, “Jordan wants us to keep this, even when he goes to college.” And now that time is here. I did indeed keep it, treasuring the thought that as much as kids want to grow up and away, they also need an enduring love they can depend on; they need an anchor.

My greatest hope is that as my children grow more independent of us, they will grow more dependent on the one who loves them unconditionally and unflinchingly, through all of their personal trials. Despite the best of intentions and efforts, no parent, spouse, or child of their own will ever be able to completely or perfectly fulfill their needs. Only the one who the writer of Hebrews acknowledges as “the same yesterday, today, and forever” is capable of such pure and abiding love.

As a result of his faithfulness, I am able to release my grip on my son and daughter, and the only clinging I’ll do will be to Jesus, my steadfast anchor and friend.

Please come visit my personal blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

Labels: , ,

Open House

O God, I have no way of telling at the day's beginning
Who will come to my door on an errand of business or friendship;
Who will arrive to be my guest in my home or to sit at my table.

Let me show loving care this day in the cleaning of my house, the buying of my stores, the cooking of my meals.
Let me show loving care this day in the tending of my linen, the tidying of my cupboards, the doing of my flowers.
Let me show loving care in the freshness of my person and the neatness and niceness of my clothes.

From the beginning of homemaking in modest tents on the sand, women have served their families, and their guests.
From the beginning of homemaking in simple homes of baked mud, women have whitewashed and scrubbed, and set out their pretty things.
From the beginning of more comfortable houses, with handwoven carpets and furniture of cunnng craftsmanship, women have kept open house.

May Christ be my guest this day.

Rita Snowden - A Woman's Book of Prayers

Oh, Father, please know that I intend to make my home open to You today. I don't have any balloons to announce it, and the sign blew over in the wind, but my home is open nonetheless.

I'm purposing to raise my head from my work today, to keep watch. When You step around the corner, I will be ready, a baby on my hip, a dripping wooden spoon in my hand, a mind fatigued from school lessons. Not the royal welcome you deserve, with the fragrance of flowers on the breeze, but with an open heart for sure.

Whatever form you take; a parishioner, a wanderer, a neighbor, a lonely child who longs to play with my own, I promise to welcome You.

Not all of my home is lovely, but all of it is loved. May I share it with You?

The pots bubbling merrily on the stove? I am filling the refrigerator to feed my men while I'm away. May I fix You something?

The washing machine rocking loudly on its uneven feet? It's full of dirty clothes, coming clean. May I wash Your feet?

That strange smell? Well, please don't ask.

Oh, let me not fall too deeply into my work; I pray to invest myself in the important things going on around me. My children. My husband. My faith. I pray to be ever-mindful of Your arrival; to dive deeper into this day than simply beautifying it in preparation; again, I purpose to raise my head from my work, and take in the gifts that surround me.

Beloved, I am coming. How I long for the greeting of your smiling face! Forget about the mess - it's you I came to see.

Oh, I knew You would come.

Welcome. To my open home.

Won't you prepare for Him today with me?

You are always welcome at my little place - A Path Made Straight

Labels: ,

Monday, July 30, 2007

Prayer Mobile

People and their automobiles entertain me.
I came across this one while on vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Cars are telling about a person.
More delightful than a car, however, is watching people inside the car. I am a people watcher. I bet you are too. I can’t help myself. Most of us who love Jesus are genuinely interested in what makes people tick.

I find it hilarious some people, sitting alone in their car, forget other drivers can see them. Thus, on any regular day you will see two or three nose pickings. You would never find a nose digger in the Supermarket (I hope). Close proximity discourages this kind of thing. But, the strangest things play out in automobiles.

Here are a few crazy things people do while driving: Reading the newspaper. Yup, it happened. A man drove with his knees while holding the paper open. *Shudder* Then there are multiple accounts of women applying makeup while talking on the cell phone. How about changing clothes? I might have tried this once but I wasn’t driving. Shhhh

People eat in their cars, they shave, they kiss and hold hands. They argue with a passenger. Some throw stuff out the windows. Some even dare to check their email. One of my all time personal favorites is a woman with her foot stuck out the drive’s side window. She painted her toenails while stopped in traffic. I am sure you could add a few scary tales to this list.

I tend to pray A LOT while driving. I no longer drive for extended periods since leaving the work force. In fact, some days the only driving I do is to and from school to drop off and collect my daughter.

This five-minute trip to school, however, has become a profound opportunity and one of my favorite driving experiences. A few years ago, God, inspired me to begin praying aloud for my daughter while we drove to school.

I pray for her protection. I pray for her friends. I pray over her tests on test day. I pray that God would reveal Himself in some small way to her during the day. I pray she would remember to pray when she is stressed, afraid, or uncertain.

This short prayer right before her day begins makes a giant difference in her day. If we forget to pray, her attitude is different. Troubles brew during the day. Praying God’s protection and love over her has been a profound privilege. Praying invites the King of the Universe to rein sovereign over her day. I am also teaching her how and what to pray. Ultimately, these few minutes in the car help to grow her faith.

Our prayers for our little ones and grown-up ones, spoken from our heart, in the kitchen, the backyard or even the car are powerful in the ears of our Father.

Remind us to pray for our children everyday. Let us bring our kids names before you with anticipation of Your hand upon them. Protect them from the enemy and craft their hearts to become men and women who are a reflection of Your love.
In Jesus name, Amen

Okay, if you have never turned your automobile into a prayer mobile start today. Grab a child or two or more, jump in the car, buckle up, head to the nearest ice cream store for a cold treat. While on the way, don't forget to pray!

Please stop in for Marriage Monday at my place today: Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Everything in Common

"Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrach, and Saul." Acts 13:1

The women in this photo and I seemingly have nothing in common. We are from different races, different economic situations, different lifestyles. The same was true for the church at Antioch. In the words of Toby Mac, this first Gentile church was a Diverse City. There were Jews and Greeks. Rich and poor. Culturally elite and social outcasts. There was only one common denominator: Jesus Christ.

Before Friday, I believed I had very little in common with these women and yet through the extravagant, lavish grace of our Lord, a woman and teenage girl became my spiritual sisters this week during a missions effort by our church into their housing community in Montgomery, Alabama. Enticed by a new clothing giveaway, these ladies agreed to join me for some "Girl Talk" during a Backyard Bible Club. I had no idea what to expect going in so I was prepared with a Gospel presentation, my trusty Sword, and lots of praying girlfriends.

Often when I have shared the Gospel in this type of setting, I can literally see the womens' eyes glaze over. In the same spirit in which one would attend a 90-minute condominium presentation for a free vacation, you can almost hear the women say, "Get on with it. I'm not buying. I am only here for the free stuff!" And yet on this day, it was as if the sky opened up and God shot a beam of Holy Spirit fire right into our tent because here are some of the questions which came pouring out of their mouths:

"Why don't we have to offer sacrifices anymore? In the olden days, didn't people have to kill animals all the time? Why don't we do that?"

"Why does God allow terrible things to happen? Why did He let a man in Montgomery murder his three children just to get back at his wife?"

"How can I find the strength to stop doing drugs?"

"Why is it I always do what I don't want to, and I don't do what I do want to?" (Did this one scream Romans 6 or what?)

"I feel like I am sinning against my children for not giving them a better life. I want them to know there is more than this. How do I show them how to make something of themselves when I have failed?"
To say my jaw was on the ground does not even begin to do the matter justice. Here I was expecting dead silence when I began to talk about salvation and instead we went through scripture after scripture for an hour and a half. Shame on me for thinking so little of my God or the powerful prayers of our church and my blog friends! How dare I cease expecting His Wonders!

To hear these women sobbing and asking God to forgive their sin and restore their broken lives was about more than I could take in. The sincere prayer of faith is a sound I will never get tired of hearing as long as I live. What is better? Having one of them come to me today and tell me she had already read the entire books of John and Romans I had suggested and asking where to go next. You can't see, but I am still having a Jesus fit over it.

The blessing of getting to know these women showed me we have much more in common than first meets the eye. We want to mother well. We want the best for our children. We want to live a life of significance. We desire stability. However, God impressed a huge truth upon me this week: Anyone can have common dreams but only through Jesus Christ can we have common hope.

Lord Jesus, with uplifted hands I join the angel chorus who is even now singing praise to Your Holy Name for the redemption of these souls. I am full of joyful expectation of the good things you have in store for those who love Your appearing. Father, You know the dire needs and I ask you to build the faith of these women in Mighty Wonders only You can orchestrate. Amen!

p.s. These women were among twenty plus who were born again during our time in Montgomery this week. I'll be adding more redemption stories at my blog, The Preacher's Wife, over the next few days. Please come visit!

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 27, 2007

Are you ready?

They will begin their conditioning this week. Their body will be stretched, their mind expanded, and they will hurt all over. No one looks forward to the first week of football, not even my sons; they know what will be expected of them and how much effort it will entail. They will burn more energy in those two hours a day, than they have all summer long. During the summer they relaxed and were not as disciplined in exercise, and beginning next week they will pay for it. When they think they can not go any further, when they want nothing else than to sit down and call it quits there is a person on the sidelines, yelling at them. “Keep going; only just a little bit further; come on I can’t do it for you; this is something you have to do to be successful,” he yells each day. Many times they get mad at the person on the sidelines; they think “who the heck is HE to tell me what to do?” They think that person was placed on this earth just to torture them; at least that is what it feels like at that moment.

Then game day arrives, there is much anticipation and excitement. The players walk on the field with butterflies in their stomach, they were forced to eat something that morning because they were to nervous to be hungry. Each player is scared they will forget everything they have been training for; the guys on the other side of the field look so much bigger. What were they thinking to agree to this kind of torture, they stood there thinking? They rehearse in their mind everything the “yelling man” on the sidelines said during practice, wishing they paid more attention.

The first ball is hiked, the first sack is made and then the butterflies seem to be disappearing. The game is happening, good plays are made, then suddenly the ball is coming straight at you, so are all the big opponents. First thought was to panic, then instinct kicked in and without a second thought you catch the ball and run for the touchdown. You stand there amazed you were successful, where did that skill come from? You take the ball, walk over to the “yelling man” and hand him the ball and say, “thank you, I get it now; you were not here to torture me or make me miserable. You saw what I could be, before I ever was. You pushed me further than I thought I could ever go. I am successful because you believed in me.”

Butterflies happen each time, they don’t go away. The opponents always look bigger than they really are. And we will always get mad at the people pushing us to be something we don’t see. In the end it will all make sense, when you are put into battle your training and conditioning will become instinct.

Dear Christian, keep the conditioning up; sometimes you will be called to be the player, sometimes you will be the “yelling man.” In the end you will know that it is not by your strength but His that you will win the game. Also, it is you alone that can fulfill YOUR purpose (no one can do it for you), but you need the other players and “yelling men” around you to help you succeed.

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and
complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the
gospel of God's grace. Acts 20:24

Lets go girls, there is a game to be won and we need each other!

You can visit me at my personal blog: Laurel Wreath

Labels: ,

Have you ever?

“But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8 (NIV emphasis mine)

“Is this the day I die? Li Quan’s father had taught him from childhood to ask this question every day. He told young Quan, “One day the answer will be yes, and that day you must be ready…” (quoted from “Safely Home”)

Have you ever read a fictional book that impacted your life and outlook in your walk with Christ ? I have. Let me share just a little…

Several years ago, I lead a Bible study on the book of Acts. I think it was one of my favorite ones I lead. At the last lesson we met at a friend’s house to have dinner together. What a beautiful fellowship we had. We were talking about the early Christian church—how it must have been in those days when they met for fellowship and breaking bread. AND the persecution they went through.

Our hostess mentioned a book that she read about the Christian church in China. I was intrigued to read the book myself. Although the book “Safely Home” is categorized under fiction, the author took real events that happened in China to tell a story. A story that was real for many Chinese people who became Christians. A story of persecution, imprisonment and death.

After reading the book I had so many questions. I questioned myself: “Would you stand for Christ like the characters in the book?” I honestly don’t know, but I hope I would. I think that we are truly blessed living in a country where we can openly admit that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. We don’t have to worry to attend worship services on Sundays (or Wednesdays) just to be arrested afterward.

Although many things have changed in China, I believe that many still suffer because of their faith in Christ. I think that is why I admire woman like Cyndi, who followed the Lord’s calling to pack up her family and possessions to go on a mission trip to China.

I am not saying that we all should pack up our stuff, but I would like to encourage you to at least pray for the Christians in China; for Christians around the world. Not all are free to worship Him…many suffer. I am thrilled that the Lord has crossed my path with a sweet, young woman in China who I pray for daily—that she will stand firm, trust in Him and will share His love with the people around her.

Lord of Heaven and Earth. I am asking You to open our hearts to pray for our brothers and sisters that are suffering because they believe in You and Your freedom. Lord, help us appreciate the freedom we have in this country and the countries how do not forbid to worship You freely. In the precious name of Jesus ~ Amen.

You can also find me at my personal blog Sting My Heart

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Love Doesn't Require A Name

I pray for you everyday, even though I don’t know who you are.

I ask God to protect you, to hold you, to love you.

I pray that your mom teaches you about God’s Word, how to be a loving mother, and how to cook and clean with ease.

I pray that your father is a loving example of how a man should treat you.

I pray that you don’t have too many trials in life but that those you do have teach you how precious God’s love for us truly is.

I pray for the first time we meet to be a joyous event. I pray that you will accept me as a mother. I will open my arms to you.

I begin to wonder what you look like. What color are your eyes? What color is your hair? What color is your skin? Do you smile often? Will you smile at me?

I wonder what life has been like for you. Do you live in a Godly home? Do you attend a good school? What are your hobbies?

I wonder how old you will be when we meet. Will you have children? Will you have a ministry? Will you like some of the same things that I do?

Will God show me right away that you are her?

You see, I long to see you, to talk to you, and to learn from you. I think of you daily and I remember you in my prayers.

I want to know the woman whose childhood I missed but whose adulthood I will have the pleasure of sharing.

I want God to bless you abundantly and show you favor. I want to know your name.

Even though I don’t know who you are, God does and I want to give you one of the greatest gifts that I have.

A gift that will love you, admire you, protect you, provide for you, and cherish your very being.

I want to give a gift that I have treasured for years, a gift that has brought me much love, much joy, and much pride.

This gift that I will give you…

…is my son. You shall be his bride.

As I embark upon the journey to become a wife to a man that I love and admire so very much, it has caused me to think about the real gift his parents are giving to me. I have so much gratitude for the effort they put into raising this man and they have welcomed me and my children with open arms. I want this same thing for the women my boys will one day marry. I have made it a point to pray for these young girls on a daily basis and will continue to do so. My children are my greatest gift. I will be receiving someone’s greatest gift. Now I can somewhat imagine how God must feel while Jesus awaits His bride.

After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus when he comes back again. For you are our pride and joy. 1Th 2:19-20

God you are amazing!

I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Be Sweet

I want to be sweet.

Down here in the south, that's a good thing. "Oh, she's so sweet!" "Well, aren't you just the sweetest thing!" "Wasn't that a sweet song?" "Just look at that sweet baby!" "Okay kids, be sweet!" Sweetness carries with it a connotation of being desirable, doesn't it?

I've been reading through my Old Testament, spending some time in Ruth. One of my first impressions of her is that she was sweet. Even in her unspeakable grief following the loss of her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law, she was loyal to her mother-in-law. As I read the account of her resolve to stay with Naomi, her sweet spirit flows off of the page.

"But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) This must have been such a comfort to Naomi, who was already in a strange land due to famine, and had lost those closest to her- her husband and children. What unspeakable grief she must have been experiencing! This could've been such a time of great isolation for her, but sweet Ruth "clung to her." (Ruth 1:14)

And Naomi needed a "sweetener." Her life was so marked with grief that she gave herself a new name, "Bitter." The word for it in the Hebrew was "Mara," and that's what she was asking those in her hometown to call her upon her return. She came home with a new identity- bitterness. "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me," she had said. (Ruth 1:20) But sweet Ruth was by her side, and I believe it was to have a great effect on Naomi.

The Old Testament records another time when something "Mara" needed a sweetener. Exodus 15 records that after the people had crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness, they went three days without anything to drink. When they finally came upon the welcomed sight of water, "they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah." They grumbled, and cried out to the Lord, who showed Moses a tree branch that he threw into the water, "and the waters became sweet." (Ex. 15:25) What the people needed was not available until God acted. This time, He chose to act through a branch.

As I read and reflected on the instance at the waters of Marah with Naomi in mind, I realized that He sent a "branch" into her bitterness as well- Ruth. Sweet Ruth married Boaz, and gave birth to Obed. "Then the women said to Naomi, 'Blessed is the Lord who had not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.' " (Ruth 4:14)

The child of whom they spoke was Obed, the father of Jesse, grandfather of David. Ruth was King David's great-grandmother! And the "Branch" (Isaiah 11:1) which was to come, Jesus, would offer sweet salvation to those of us stuck in our bitter sin. He can trace His earthly familial roots to sweet Ruth. I believe she had "branch-like" qualities. She sweetened the waters of Naomi's bitterness, and was to begin the family line that would eventually lead to the "root and branch of Jesse."

Is there someone you know who could use a sweetener today? Do you know someone who is embittered by life's circumstances or is in a bitter struggle with sin? Could you be that branch for them? If you are in Christ, you are a part of the Branch, the True Vine. Could He use you to sweeten the waters in someone's life? Maybe, like Ruth, He could use you to "cling to" someone... to not abandon them in their grief. Ruth certainly had her own reasons to grieve, but she allowed God to use her to sweeten someone else's time of pain. I'd like to follow her example, how about you? I want to be sweet!

I'd love for you to visit my personal blog (where I try to always be sweet!) One Day More .

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Practice makes...

"But it's so hard, Mom!" Colin sniffled through his tears. He fought them, but the difficulty in producing the desired violin hand position won out in the end. He stopped, took a deep breath, and looked at me with discouragement on his face.

"You know, I had a teacher who made me cry, too," I said. "He would make me try and try and try until I thought I'd never succeed. I would come home after every lesson and cry to my mom. She listened and asked if I wanted to quit, or find a new teacher. But I told her he was so good and I wanted to stay with him. The tears didn't stop me from wanting to improve. And you know what?"


"I stayed with him and got better and better. Sometimes the things that are most worth getting take the most work and the most tears."

I said the words, gave him a hug, and helped him finish practicing. I sat on the couch as Colin packed up and then skipped upstairs to his room, presumably to his enormous collection of legos, and I kissed the little head of my 3-month-old resting just below my chin. I thought about what I had just told my oldest and wondered if I really believed it myself.

Colin's teacher tells him, "Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent."

Colin could practice for hours a day, but if he was practicing the wrong way, the habits he formed would not allow him to fulfill his potential. The same goes for me. What habits have I formed, through daily practice, that bring me closer to my God? Habits are less energy-consuming than things we must think about to achieve. Are my practices bringing me toward holiness? Or are the things I am doing from day to day actually making permanent those things that take me farther from Christ-likeness?

I, myself, give in to tears as I think of how hard a life of godliness can be. I struggle at times with the mundane, the dailiness, the wearying drudgeries of life. But that's when I most need to listen to my own words to my son. That's when I need to remember that every action I make is moving me toward some type of permanence. That's when I must keep in mind that the things of worth often require a payment of tears.

I remember the rewards of pleasing my teacher- the same one that made me cry- by creating beautiful music with my violin. How much more will I bring glory to the Eternal Teacher by practicing, making permanent, a life of godly love and service.

Visit my personal blog at Fruit in Season.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 23, 2007


I haul around a lot of baggage.

I tend to over pack for vacations. I have too much stuff in my purse. When I go play with a band somewhere, I usually bring more equipment than I really need, sometimes I even bring an extra guitar. It's a lot of stuff to haul around, and my shoulders are often sore because of it, but I never know what I might need.

And I don't go many places alone. I usually have someone with me or I meet them there. My kids, my husband, a friend, my band...someone. Because I like hanging out with those folks.

The thought of going somewhere alone, taking absolutely nothing with me doesn't really register. Even when I do run errands solo or keep an appointment by myself, I bring along my engorged purse and my trusty cell phone, perhaps even a book or magazine and something to drink.
Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' Luke 13:23-25 (emphasis mine)
The door to heaven is narrow. Only one at a time can walk through. I won't be able to walk in with a group. I can't get in because I'm hanging out with Christians. Can't get in because my family is saved. Can't smuggle myself in with a crowd of saved folks. I have to walk through that narrow door all alone. Just me.


I won't be able to haul any baggage through with me. No fat purse, no American Tourister, no bass in a case, not even a magazine. I'll have to leave everything behind. As with the metal detectors and x-ray machines at the airports, anything I try to smuggle through will be detected.

What baggage will we be carrying when we show up at the door to heaven? Old grudges? Bad habits? Self-righteousness? Judgmental attitudes? Pride? Excuses? Unrepentant hearts?

That's a lot of baggage! Since we don't know at what moment we will find ourselves standing at the door knocking, now seems like a good time to rid ourselves of some junk.

The only thing we'll be able to carry in with us is our trust in Jesus. He has everything we really need. He's the only one we truly need.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:30

I tend to haul around a lot of baggage. Do you?

Carol's blog can be found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Lord is my Light

We have just returned from an adventurous week of camping and fishing to the news that my grandmother has passed away. My brother is trying to get home from Iraq to attend services. We are trying to arrange flights today for my husband and I to be a part of the service. Life is full of unexpected twists and events. No matter what I am facing I seem to always find comfort in Psalm 27. I hope you do today as well.

1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

6And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!

8You have said, "Seek my face."My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."

9 Hide not your face from me.Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help.Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

10For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.

13I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD

In Him...Chris

Chris can also be found at Come to the Table

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

Today is move day! A year ago we bought a house that my husband has been re-modeling. What a journey that has been--I am so proud at his hard work and "handiness." We have been living in a sea of boxes for the past couple of weeks, and are so excited to finally get to enjoy the fruits of his labor!

As I spent time packing . . . and packing . . . and packing, I was reminded about how much "stuff" we have. I was also reminded how attached we can get to this stuff--how hard it is to let go of some of our accumulated possessions, even when we haven't used the stuff in years!

I think this is an aspect of our sin nature coming to light. Apart from Christ, we are so selfish. We seek to possess, unfortunately becoming defined by that "stuff."

I am reminded of the young man in the Bible seeking to follow Jesus. Jesus told him-"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and some , follow me. (Matthew 19:21)" I don't think most of us are called to literally sell what we have and leave for overseas missions, but rather I think Jesus is indicating that we should be willing to if called. We should not be so attached to our "stuff" that we can not let it go. Our "stuff" should be seen as blessings used to serve and honor God. We are only stewards of what is His!

Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:33-34)

Are you treasuring the wrong things? It might be time to take inventory of those boxes, boxes, boxes.


In Him,


Friday, July 20, 2007

When Depression Threatens, Don't Forget Your Slingshot

About 12 years ago, I experienced my first bout of extended depression, not just a week or two of the blues, but the real deal--a suffocating, absolutely relentless depression. It made me feel like one of those caged cats in the zoo who paces back and forth day after day after day behind steel bars, unhappily separated from his former life and former self--or perhaps who spends the day sleeping, seizing his only respite from his misery.

Eventually, I sought spiritual counseling, sought medical help, turned to friends who loved me unconditionally, began exercising and focusing on surviving, and because God never gives up on us even when we've abandoned all hope and sometimes even abandoned Him, I am here today. I claim Psalm 94:16-18, "Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O LORD, supported me."

I'd like to offer a few tools, simple as they are, that I use to help batten down the hatches when the winds of depression kick up in my life. Maybe they will be relevant to you or a friend.

The first/best line of defense against any threat is prayer and reading God's Word, of course. But since we eventually have to close the Bible or stop praying actual words for periods of time, I think it's wise to have some small practical weapons in our arsenal with which to fight these battles. Sometimes it only takes a few stones in a slingshot to bring down an enemy of the Lord!

I'm not a professional, of course, but I am a survivor. Is my life perfect now? No. Do I ever feel down? Sure I do. But--when I feel the shadow of that terrible period hovering over me now, I quickly and confidently acknowledge that I am not powerless. I do not panic anymore because "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"(John 8:36).

Here are some "stones" I keep handy when I'm under attack:

1. I remind myself of the verse above by stating, "Jesus set me free of depression; therefore, I am free. I may feel threatened. I may feel a little roughed up. Doubt may be tapping me on the shoulder. None of those feelings can compromise the truth: I am, at my core, set free from depression's oppression. Thank God. Now that I've remembered that the issue is settled, what else can I focus on to strengthen my faith?"

2. I get outside at least briefly, to get natural light. Outside light is different from indoor light, even on a partly cloudy day. Twenty minutes can do a world of good. And if I walk those 20 minutes, even better. Plus, outside I can pray more effectively. When I was heavily depressed, my mind was a thick fog, and I couldn't stay focused on praying or reading the Bible if there was any aural or visual distraction.

3. I avoid sad songs/movies/books/network news. I avoid rehearsing the time when I was depressed. I simply avoid reinforcing anything negative at all, until I feel I'm past the most intense vulnerability.

4. Any time you remove a temptation or avoid something, you need to provide a substitute to fill its spot. So you guessed it; I listen to music that glorifies Jesus or I listen to secular songs that I know also evoke positive feelings/outlook, none about broken hearts. I look for little ways to help other people; I watch funny movies. I talk to friends who will lift me up. It's OK for me to express what I'm battling with a friend, but we need to quickly leave the subject and talk about healthy, uplifting topics--not dwell on how low I feel.

5. I talk myself "down from the ledge." I say, "You are an old pro at fighting this. You are smarter than the threat. Your sad feelings may be valid; they may be rational depending on what's going on in your life currently, even so--it's still not all about you and your feelings in this world. Move emotionally outward. Feelings are fleeting. This depression is not coming to stay; it's coming to pass. You are prayed up, read up, sung up--now get up and live like a nondepressed person. Smile." Guess what? I start to feel like an overcomer. and that's not being false--remember--I have been set free. I am an overcomer.

I am not boasting about having it all together; I do not have all the answers, nor do I have particularly original suggestions. It was Christ who set me free and the Holy Spirit who teaches me how to cope with my own personal trials. But sometimes I need to be reminded of fundamental truths and simple plans for facing hulking giants. Now matter how large depression looms, I know that I serve a bigger God. According to Ephesians 4:8 "When He [Christ] ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men" (Amplified). He has defeated depression. He has bestowed on me the grace to face my fears, an abundant life to enjoy in Him, and courage and desire to begin a brand new day.

I would love for you to visit my personal blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Riding With Micah

"Mama, is that God's hot breath, do you think, blowing in our faces?"

I blew a wisp of hair out of my eyes and wiped away some drops of sweat with the back of my hand. Smiling at Micah, I thought for a moment.

It was seven-thirty in the evening, and my chance to have some quiet time had been foiled when Micah overheard me talking to my husband about taking a bike ride. The baby was asleep, and the evening was cooling down (a bit), so the quiet country roads were calling to me.

"Oh, Mama, can I go with you? Please?"

At my quick, "No, Micah," his face fell, and his neck hung low. I glanced at my husband over the top of Micah's cowlick, and he smiled and tipped his head, giving me a look that said, "Why not?"

And so, there we were; our helmets strapped snugly, exposed skin covered in bug spray, with a half hour to roam the countryside together.

The kildeer shot from their hiding places in the gravel at the sides of the roads and called frantically, flying ahead to distract us from their nests. A deer bounded across the field to our right, and we skidded to a stop to watch it disappear over the hill.

In the midst of all this beauty the smell of cows, warm grass, and fresh growing mint were carried past our noses by a stifling wind.

The breath of God?

It was relentless, carrying the bodies of tiny gnats into our faces, catching in our teeth. It was stifling, letting up only when we turned our faces to catch a cool breath. It was unbearable at times, when the heat of the ground and manure joined the wind and assaulted us, burning our throats and eyes.

I told Micah this story, how Elijah stood in the presence of God. How the Lord sent signs through nature, but He did not inhabit it. How at that precise moment, simply a still, small voice denoted His presence.

"So maybe, Micah, God sent this hot wind. Perhaps He is not in it - but can you hear His voice?"

"Well," he pedaled slower to stay by my side. "Not really. I think it would be easier to hear Him in the shade!"

We laughed together and increased our speed to reach the grove of trees ahead of us.

And sure enough, a cooler breeze awaited.

We listened for a moment, one foot on the ground, resting our forearms on the handlebars. "Yup," Micah affirmed. "I can hear Him now. But you know, I think He was in the hot wind, too. I don't think it's so bad if He's there, too, do you?"

I thought of all the moments in the past few days that had seemed unbearable, how my space was stifling me with all the responsibilities of being a mama, and how relentless God seemed as He sent trials my way to strengthen my quick prayers for patience and energy.

But it didn't seem so bad when I remembered that He inhabits my days, and my heart.

As we traveled the road home which, by the way, happened to blow with a wind more blistering than soothing, we thanked God for both.

It is only the scorching wind that causes us to turn for cool refreshment.

And there He is again.

You are always welcome at my little place - A Path Made Straight

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

People and Laundry

Earlier today I prepared a silly post about a beady-eyed buffalo with shaggy dreadlocks and a bizarre midnight game of roadway chicken. However, I will save it for another day because God interrupted my day with an experience that leaves me humbled and at the foot of the throne. I am compelled to tell you what happened.

My family returned home from a weeklong vacation in Yellowstone National Park this past weekend. We arrived home after midnight and fell into bed exhausted. I awoke early the next day expecting to get a jump on the unpacking, mountains of laundry, yard work and a zillion other chores to be completed before we leave again in three days to visit the in-laws.

My husband found me this particular morning with my cup of coffee in hand, sitting at my computer reading through my email. He delicately mentioned that his cousin and very pregnant wife, twins, telephoned and would be stopping by for lunch in a few hours.

It is my nature to freak-out over unexpected visitors especially when the house is a disaster. Let alone the enormous amounts of work ahead and little time to accomplish it all. However, I remained calm (inexplicable, I know) and I did not take my frustration out on my husband which has been known to happen.--Divine intervention--

I ran to the grocery store to buy sandwich fixings for lunch. While standing in the checkout line, I thought to myself, I can do this. It’s only an hour, two at most. There will be plenty of time after lunch to get all of the unpacking done as well as most of the laundry.

My husband’s cousin and his very pregnant wife, twins, arrived. Had it really been five years since we last got together? We sat in the kitchen and chatted, ate lunch, chatted, moved to the family room, and chatted and then…. chatted some more. Six hours later, my husband, and I waved from our driveway as his cousin and very pregnant wife, twins, drove away.

I think I wanted to be angry. I wanted to feel sorry for myself. What an imposition. What inconvenience. Wasted time.

I am a true testament to the patience of our God because He impressed upon me at this moment the words of a prayer I pray often. Lord, make me available to intercept lives that need Jesus.

God spoke to my heart:

Lynn, I am God.

I will use your life to serve my purposes and in my perfect timing. I will not cater to your schedule, but you my child, need to be available for my schedule. Lives are more important than laundry. Relationships with your family are critical as there are many who do not believe in me yet. Their lives rank higher than an unpacked suitcase. Lynn, your obedience to be available is what will change the world.

As I type these words, tears flow. *Gulp* What a lesson! I will never forget it.

Thank you Lord, you use me in spite of my short sightedness and business of my small world. Make me mindful, everyday, of those lives you intend to intersect with mine. Lord, I continue to pray, intersect my life with those who need to see Jesus.

Today, I still have one unpacked suitcase in my bedroom, the dog hair flows across the upswept tile, the ironing awaits but I will NEVER again think of relationships, of people, less than my first and foremost priority because they are God’s first and foremost priority.

Please stop in for a visit at my place: Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Labels: ,

Just As I Am

"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as He did those from beyond our nation?"

Acts 15:10-11 (The Message)

If you have ever read my biography, you know the very first advice I was given after my husband was called to ministry was to "learn to play the piano! Churches will be more likely to ask Luke to be their pastor if you can play the piano!"

That well-meaning man had no idea he was ordering up a Ruth Graham to be incarnated from a Roseanne Barr. I didn't play an instrument! I couldn't sing! I was a rough-around-the-edges, one-year-old babe in Christ who barely knew how to pray and yet this man was telling me my husband didn't have a chance unless I could become what I then considered to be a 'typical' pastor's wife.

I never learned to play the piano, but I did do my very best to mold myself into the Perfect Preacher's Wife in every other way. I tried to keep my loud mouth closed and become more reserved - demure even. (That is SO laughable to me now!) I said goodbye to my large, funky earrings and default black clothing. I was the only twenty-two year old I knew who was shopping in the Misses Department for elastic-waisted pants and birdhouse embroidered sweaters. I made sure to take casseroles to every church meal and volunteered for any available position. You can thank me now for sparing you the rest of this never-ending list.

I did all this because I desperately wanted to be an asset to Luke and a jewel in God's crown. In those early days, my understanding of being worthy had everything to do with meeting other's expectations. Externally, I suppose I was shaping up nicely but on the inside, I was miserable. The challenge to live up to an unwritten code of Preacher Wife conduct was exhilirating as I checked off another issue on my "To Re-Do" list. However, what began as a thrill quickly became a yoke and it wasn't long until I realized I was making everyone happy except me.

I imagine the feelings were similar for the early Gentile Christians who were overjoyed over receiving the salvation offered by Israel's Jehovah - The One True God of all heaven and earth. It wasn't long until the Judaizers came along and laid the burden of the Law upon their new found freedom. Undoubtedly, some of the Gentiles attempted to live up to this standard because they believed in order to please God, they must please His Chosen People. The Jewish Christians, though they believed salvation had been extended to the Gentiles, still thought the Greeks must become proselytes or what I call, 'little Jews', in order to inherit the Kingdom. Paul's ministry was revolutionary in proving Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to receive God's gift of grace. Salvation had been given directly to the Gentiles, free from any obligation to the Jewish way of life.

The Gentiles had to be so relieved to know by the blood of Jesus Christ, God accepted them as they were - with their own culture, their own customs, their own personalities. They did not have to look like someone else or adhere to the Mosaic Law in order to be loved and greatly used by God in the Kingdom. The Jews in turn had a hard pill to swallow - God had turned his affections to a foreign people in order to cause His chosen ones to be jealous again for their special relationship to the Father.

I have a few questions for you to consider. Have you embraced your life as a worthy one which God can use? Do you believe the only requirement in being useful to God is believing on the spilled blood of Jesus? Are you trying to live up to another's expectations and find yourself falling short? Has this resulted in a sense of inferiority which causes you to shrink back from opportunities to serve Christ through His church body?

If any of these are true for you, please know one thing: All God expects from you is your 'yes'. Your unwavering obedience. Your desire to know Him and His Word. He doesn't need you to waste time craving another woman's ministry - He desires for you to embrace your own. This truth was one I needed to hear, loudly and often. When I began asking God to make me want His will, He was very faithful in lining up my desires with His. He helped me to understand my personality and interests were given to me by Him. Most importanly, He made it clear He had never asked me to lay aside my uniqueness to become more like someone else. He wanted me, just as I am.

If you have no idea where to begin in finding your place in the body, ask yourself, "What do I like?" Love scrapbooking? Work on church bulletin boards. Like writing? Start a women's ministry newsletter. Hungry for God's word? Teach a kid's discipleship class. Children are so forgiving and God will not be mad if, with a sincere heart, you accidentally tell them Noah's ark was oak instead of gopher wood!

I recently heard a wise pastor say, "It's much easier to steer a moving car." God's word to you today?? Get going! You can adjust your ministry, but you won't know in which direction until you put it in 'Drive'. And whatever service He asks of you, I can promise on experience it will be as unique as the woman He created to do it.

He wants you, girls! Just like you are.

Please visit my personal blog, The Preacher's Wife.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Are you thinking to small?

“If you think you can handle all God has for you to do on your own, then you are thinking to small,” Stormie O'Martin said in her book Prayer That Changes Everything.

Father I just don't have what it takes, how many of you have felt the same way. I have dreams that I keep tucked in the corners of my mind, and desires of wanting to be something great for the glory of God. In reality if I am truly honest, many of my thoughts rotate around the concern, I just don't have what it takes.

As Christians we grow weary in the fight, and dare I say we grow weary in always doing good. Many times it feels like an up hill battle. Now mind you I don't have the desire to do something bad, but I know non-believers don't have the constant mind battle of “is this the right thing to do? How would Jesus respond in this situation? Should I do this, should I do that?”

As I was having this small pity party this week God brought many reminders to me throughout the week (don't you love that about Him?) Let me share how my week went while I was feeling weak:

Tuesday: I was hit with many upsetting things, finances became real tight, unexpected bills arrived and my son who I just paid $400 to fix his broken teeth broke one of the teeth again (did not even last the whole vacation). I was sick to my stomach, I was crying. I was saying, “Father I CAN'T DO THIS.” Then after much whinning, I opened my mail and a sweet friend sent me a wonderful gift of a purse that said, “With God All Things Are Possible” Mark 10:27. I sat there and sobbed and knew God was in control.

Wednesday: I was still feeling the drain of various pressures, but I knew God was in control. I listened to a Beth Moore broadcast she is doing on the book of Romans. At the end of the broadcast she challenged us to ask God to rock us, to make this piece of scripture change our life. God once again reminded me that he wants me to think BIG.

Thursday: The Lord led me to this article (almost yelling at me, because you know I can be hard of hearing sometimes, GIRL ARE YOU GETTING THIS). Tony Dungy had this to say at a Christian Booksellers Association convention:

.....the defining moment of his career, as he writes about in the first chapter of the book, was being fired as head coach in Tampa five years that moment, he really felt devastated and humiliated and was tempted to quit the business all together....but he described how his relationship with Christ sustained him through one of the toughest seasons of his life....he said Jesus taught him to stay focused, to be patient, to work hard, to be persistent, and to have faith that God loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life....imagine if Tony had quit then....what if he had thrown in the towel and left the game he loved after the setback in Tampa?....he had no idea at the time, of course, that he was just a few years away from being the first African-American head coach in NFL history to win the Championship....but, as Tony said, God knew what was ahead and He wanted Tony to trust Him and follow Him no matter what.....Tony also shared the story of playing on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s...."Mean" Joe Greene once told him that after three tough and disappointing seasons on the Steelers in the early 70s he had almost quit out of exhaustion and frustration....he had come so close to packing it in....imagine if Greene had walked away from the game he loved in 1973?....what a huge mistake that would have been....that very year, 1973, the Steelers drafted rookie wide receiver Lynn Swann....they started winning big, and went on to win the Super Bowl four times that decade (74, 75, 78, 79)....too many people, Tony noted, give up on their dreams too soon, rather than summoning up a quiet strength to keep going, even in the face of disappointment and opposition, and thus they never learn just how much they could really accomplish (read that again if you have to, let it sink in!)....where does that inner strength come from?....for Tony, the answer is clear: through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (from Joel C. Rosenberg) the bold emphasis mine!

Throughout the whole week, whenever I turned to read something or listen to a message Christ was reaffirming, "it is not you, it is not your ability. It is all about ME. Don't give up, don't quit, stay the course."

Christ wants me to rely totally on Him. I truly do get that, but being a person who likes to have a little bit of control in things; it is a tough pill to swallow.

So what is a girl to do when she is feeling weak and does not think she has what it takes? WORSHIP HIM. When you don't feel like it, PRAISE HIM. When you don't know which way is up, WORSHIP HIM. Strive to know God, don't strive for your purpose. If you feel adequate and ready to fulfill God's calling on your life, then you are not ready. It is when you are broken and convinced that there is nothing God could possibly use, then he says, “Now you are ready Girl, watch me move through you!”

We serve an exciting God. His desire is to do things through you that are bigger than you! You won't accomplish your purpose – GOD WILL.

He who calls you is faithful...” (I Thess. 5:24)

Not by might not by power, but by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6)

Turn on that praise music and worship Him this week.

PS Sorry for all my bold words and exclamation marks, but that is for me personally, just as much as it hopefully is an encouragement to you. It is hard to talk about Christ without putting tons of exclamation marks after each sentence =)

You can visit me at my personal blog: Laurel Wreath

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cry Out to Jesus

And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." ~ Matthew 14:28-30 (ESV)
I always loved the story of Peter trying to walk on water. Although Peter walked closely with our Lord, he still displayed fear. He even doubted that he could accomplish some unbelievable tasks.

I am sure that you had weeks that are totally discouraging to you—just like my past week. I was so full of energy after last weekend--I was ready to take on anything that came my way.

Little did I know that we would receive a call that someone in my husband’s family died a tragic death. That was Tuesday…My energy was gone within a few minutes. I didn’t know how to make it through the rest of my week. All I could do was cry out to the Lord.

Thursday I received a message that someone’s son was in trouble—big trouble. All I could do was to lift her and her family up in prayer.

Friday afternoon I read that one of my online friends lost two family members. All I could do was to send her a message that I was praying for her.

Saturday night I received an email from a dear friend that she had to go the emergency room. I immediately lifted her up in prayer.

Why am I telling you all about the pain and suffering today? And what does it have to do with Peter and him walking on water. My point is, if we don’t know what else to do, we can cry out to Jesus. He is always there to give us a hand and lift our head. He will always comfort, always heal the pain. That is how I got through my week. Reaching for His saving hand…
“Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD.” ~ Psalm 34:5-6 (ESV)
Lord of Heaven and Earth. Thank you for getting me through this week. Lord your steadfast love extends to the heavens. Thank You reminding me to cry out to Jesus to rescue me. When I don’t know where else to turn, I can be certain that You will sustain me through any storm that might hit my waters. In the precious name of Jesus ~ Amen.

You can also find me at my personal blog Sting My Heart

Labels: , ,

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is It All About the Pancakes and Dinosaurs?

Some mornings bring with it the very essence of chaos: the children have awakened before me and decided to redecorate and reorganize the kitchen and living area, the phone has rung 4 times and everyone on the other end of the line demands my immediate attention. The kids put too much tissue in and the toilet overflows. I am out of toothpaste, all the boys want something different to eat for breakfast, I have to get dressed, and I need to start the kids lessons by at least 9:30 and it is already 9:25. All of this and I haven’t even finished my coffee!

Now, I finally get everyone fed, pancakes all around. I take care of myself and I begin the lessons on dinosaurs. They begin to complain and I become fussy and irritated as well. While they are doing independent projects I try to begin tidying up. All of a sudden they forget how to do a notebook page! What is going on today? Stress doesn’t begin to describe the way I am feeling. I continue with lessons only to stop ¾ short and call it a day. I have so much to do and things just aren’t going well. I begin to work on ministry things and all of a sudden I hit a brick wall and can’t go any farther. “Why is this happening God? What is the problem here?” I ask as I am putting up dishes from the dishwasher. “I am doing all of this because I know that it is what you want me to do. Where are you? I could use some help!” Then, just as I turn around, I see it. It is my partially sipped cup of coffee that is now cold. It is right next to my unopened bible on the kitchen table.

I froze.

My heart sank.

I glanced over at the chair and in my spirit I saw Him sitting at my table. He looked me in the eye and then I heard Him say, “I’ve been right here all morning. I’ve been waiting for you.” Oh my! As life as I know it happened today I forgot to sit down and spend some time with Jesus. My heart broke as I comprehended that I had been too busy to even realize that I had indeed forgotten Him. I never did sit down to read and pray. I had kept Him waiting.
Luke 10:38- 39
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me." But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it-and I won't take it away from her."

All morning I had been doing things I deemed Godly and in the name of Jesus: training my children, preparing food for my family, taking care of my home, doing ministry things, and making last minute wedding decisions. Yet, I forgot one thing… the most important thing. I forgot to spend time with Him. Jesus knows He is always welcome in my home and so do my friends for that matter. However, I would never just open the door for my friends, not say a word to them, and then just disappear. I wouldn’t go off to clean up or prepare a feast without first spending time with them. I would at least thank them for coming, give some hugs, sit down and chat and laugh a bit, then go prepare some food or beverages and return for a full visit when I was done. So then, how in the world could I not give more to my Lord?

We must sit at His feet in order to be raised up by Him. We must be taught by Him if we are going to teach our children. We can’t be worried about eating food and cleaning our home until we receive our daily bread from His word and receive cleansing from repentance through prayer. We can’t blame God for the multitude of work and then ask for help when we have yet to submit ourselves to Him for that day. God loves us. He is concerned over the details and will help us with them. He knows what we need but how can we expect to receive it from Him if we never spend time with Him? I stopped picking up dishes, I turned off the phone, I sent the boys outside to play and I began to read and pray.

“God forgive me for not spending time with You this morning. I want to be in your presence all day. I pray that I never again forget to invite you into my day again. I need You to guide me. I know how much simpler and greater my days are when You are a part of them. I love you Lord. Please help me to never forget again.”

Then I stumbled across this scripture: John 8:12 (emphasis mine)

Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

I had been stumbling through darkness all morning. I realized this after I read that scripture. My day began to replay in my mind just like a movie. I heard the alarm go off, the phone ringing, I saw the mess I needed to clean, I felt the aggravation of the overflowing commode and the absence of toothpaste. I sensed the urgency of getting something to eat for the kids and getting their daily lessons started. I heard the clanking of the plates right before I turned around and saw Him. This time He smiled at me. Suddenly I heard Him say something to my spirit that I will never forget. “Amy, as long as you follow me, it is impossible that I did not walk before you and prepare the way.”

Wow! How profound is that? I began to absorb this into my spirit and my intellect. It was so true. It would be impossible! If I am following Him then He has to be in front of me, my eyes must be on Him. If He is walking before me then He has to be preparing the way! He is lighting the path for me! He is showing me how to avoid the obstacles. He is guiding me through the day! How do I follow Him? I keep Him as my number one priority in everything. I go to Him every day before I do anything else. I must always be aware of His presence. I acknowledge Him everywhere I go and in everything that I do.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up I will spend time with Him... before the pancakes and dinosaurs!

How has your day been going? Is He still waiting for You?

I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough

Reading blogs can be so inspiring, can't it? It can also be thought-provoking, relaxing, entertaining, and even... intimidating. Yes, intimidating! It's easy to read blogs from so many different women, each expressing one or more of her gifts, and come away from it feeling like you're not doing enough. Your closets are not as clean as hers. Your weekly menu (if you even know what it is yet!) is not as creative as hers. Your scrapbook pages (okay, you don't scrapbook, but even if you did) don't look like hers. Just look at how many pounds she's lost! Oh, my goodness, she's read that many books this year? I've never read that many in my life! Oh, and she sings. Of course she does. And on and on it goes. Different blogs, different women, but it's so easy to make it into one Composite Super Woman to whom we just don't measure up! We do it in real life ("irl") too, don't we? (Sometimes I think we put the "irl" in "girlfriends!") I've fallen victim countless times to one of my biggest enemies- comparison. I think all women are prone to it at one time or another.

I'd like to share with you something I read this week from the book I Can't Do It all! Breaking Free From the Lies That Control Us by authors Tracie Peterson, Allison Bottke, and Diane O'Brian. (This excerpt is written by O'Brian):

"You see, I made the decision some years ago that I would spend my housekeeping time more profitably if I concentrated on things I did well- cleaning, organizing, sewing, washing, mowing, shoveling, ironing, mending, and repairing. Cooking wasn't my strong suit, so I kept that at a minimum. My family has been great about it. It's not like we live on fast food. We eat well even though I don't make big efforts in that direction. Realizing that it's not one of my gifts, I released myself from the expectation of being a great cook. We just don't have time to do everything with excellence. The sooner we learn that, the sooner we can break free from the lie."

"We all must make our individual decisions based on God's leading for each of us. Not only should we not attempt to do it all, but we should not feel a sense of guilt when we can't do what others expect of us. Sometimes we put those expectations on ourselves. The truth is, many of our friends would trade a skill they have for one of ours." (emphasis added)

We don't have to be good at it all. Sometimes good enough is good enough in certain areas. We can choose to focus on what we do best and release ourselves from unrealistic expectations. Let's lighten up on ourselves and be who God created and gifted us to be!

God, thank you for the ways in which you have gifted me. Forgive me for envying the gifts of others. If there are any areas in which you want to grow or increase my gifts, I invite you to do so, for Your glory. But, help me not to neglect the gifts I have and waste the moments available for me to use them by spending unnecessary time feeling guilty or inadequate. I can do all things through Christ... all the good works You prepared in advance for me to do, with the set of gifts You have so graciously given me. Thank You, Father. Amen.

I'd love for you to visit my "good enough" personal blog, One Day More.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Jesus is the Water

"Get a glass and stand by the sink."


"I want you to fill half the glass with water."

I couldn't imagine what this had to do with anything, but I stood by the sink and ran water into the glass.

"Okay, you are the glass and Jesus is the water. Now talk to me theologically about the glass."

This had to be the dumbest illustration I had ever heard. Hadn't he heard me? I was hurting, for goodness' sake. What was I doing leaning over my sink, holding a glass of water?

I was so empty that all I could come up with was, "The water is in the glass."

"Good," said my patient mentor. "Now keep going."

"Jesus is in the glass. Jesus is in me," I squeaked through my tears and the ache in my throat.

"Who is in you, O child of God?"

"Only Jesus."

"Yes, only Jesus can fill you. Now hold the glass under the faucet and let the water run into it. Keep talking theology."

"The water is filling the glass. Jesus is filling me. Now the glass is full...the glass is running over."

"What is happening to the water?"

"It's spilling."

"Who is spilling?"

"Jesus is spilling over."


"Because the glass is full."

"Talk to me about you."

"Only Jesus can fill me completely, and when I am full of Jesus, I am overflowing...spilling onto everyone around me...sloshing out Jesus everywhere I go."

When I read this story, I couldn't help but picture myself, at my sink, crying my tears. And now, years later, this image still lingers. When I am broken, exhausted, worn down by life, I can imagine Jesus filling me if I ask. And I can see those around me, those that I love and those I don't even know, being blessed by the Jesus in me. I want to be the glass.

Because Jesus is the Water.

Story from Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul by Angela Thomas Guffey.

Visit my personal blog at Fruit in Season.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Some things seem impossible us.

I watched the Da Vinci code again last night. I'd seen it before but Hubby hadn't, so I sat and watched it with him. I noticed something this time that I hadn't noticed before. Tom Hanks' character, and most of the non-religious characters in the movie, were on a single-minded quest to prove Jesus was a mere mortal man, married and a father to boot. So, they're in search of the Holy Grail which, at one point, they determine to be Mary Magdalene. And all the suspense and drama and chases and murders and betrayals and other movie stuff revolve around finding Mary Magdalene's sarcophagus. So they can somehow confirm that Jesus was human.

What's interesting to me is that in the final scene of the movie, Tom Hanks figures out where Mary is, goes to the point on the planet where he determines the elusive sarcophagus to be, kneels and prays.

So - and please correct me if I'm off here - it seems to me these off-the-rickter-scale IQ characters went to a lot of trouble, placed themselves in a lot of danger avoiding the police and the Opus Dei, and even crossed borders without purses or passports in order to prove Jesus was human. So they could worship ... someone else.

One more time, this time with feeling...

Folks who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as God and worship Him as God, are going to substitute another god in there instead. It's what we do. If it's not Jesus, it will be someone or something else. Mary, Buddah, Krishna, Mohamed, money, celebrities, our kids, our ministries, our pets, our hobbies...Wherever our time, energy and money go pretty much points to what we worship.

And the reason we choose another god besides Jesus is because, ultimately, we worship ourselves. Believing we can do nothing to merit or earn eternal life is ridiculous, to our way of thinking. And so, we must be enlightened, say X-number of prayers each day, light some candles, have phat bank accounts and perfect kids that never say THAT word or watch THAT TV show, do this or do that... Because it's just too much to think that we can do absolutely nothing at all to merit salvation. So, we decide on what we are going to worship and that is where we bow our mental knee.

Because His grace is just impossible for us to truly understand. Or is it?

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:23

Carol's blog can be found here.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Therefore encourage one another...

As she approached me from across the room, my heart was filled with expectation and excitement at the thought that she seemed genuinely interested for a moment in my seemingly small life. She warmly greeted me with a hug and a huge smile. She quickly asked me a few questions and before I could finish my answers the eyes which once seemed focused on mine, were now wondering about the room at who would be her next target. I quickly realized her greeting was part of what she did, rather than who she was. I was young, insecure, and in need of the genuine love and care of an older Christian woman. I just needed a little encouragement. A few words would have gone miles for me.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The body of Christ needs encouragers for today. Some face marital difficulties, have heartaches over rebellious or spiritually indifferent children. Some face financial hardships and their future seems uncertain. And others have such hurt and pain over relationships that life seems unbearable at times. Many are wondering if God truly cares for them, and they certainly don't believe that any other person cares.
We must not depend solely on our pastors and other spiritual leaders to do this. We must also do it ourselves. But we must remember that to encourage is to fortify one another with the strength to endure. It does not mean to commiserate with one another over our respective trials and difficulties. As Paul said, "we are to speak only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs." (Ephesians 4:29) So as we care for one another, we must demonstrate care and compassion, but not pity. The other person must know we care, but more importantly, he or she must know that God cares. That is the objective of encouragement.
The next time you are in a room filled with other women, look for the one you can encourage, keep your eyes focused on theirs and remind them of the uplifting truths of God's Word.

In Him....Chris

Chris can also be found at her personal blog Come to the Table

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 9, 2007

I have a grandmother who is an amazing seamstress--I never wore a store bought dress until I was a teenager! My mother also sews and cross stitches. I have tried my hand at quilting and cross stitch, as well as crocheting. Although not very accomplished, I enjoy using my hands and watching something come together. It is the creative nature of God in us!

As a little girl, I was so fascinated to see the beautiful creation that resulted from my grandmother's hands. It always made me think of the story describing God as the master weaver of our lives. It is so true that He is always at work in our lives, even though we may not always see the beautiful creation is in bringing about through our growth. Too often we just see the "messy" under side of thread and knots.

Life is is often like the backside of cross stitch--not always making sense. God is teaching me to trust His "craftsmanship" in my life. I am learning to trust that He is in control--that the knots and messy threads will produce something wonderful. I pray that I allow Him to work in me each day and that my life will become a beautiful creation that honors Him!

In Him,


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Community: No Lone Rangerism

"Community” has become a religious buzzword of late, used to underscore the obligation and privilege of walking with Christ amidst a family of believers. Christian communities are meant to be dynamic organisms marked by the interdependence, availability, accountability, generosity, vulnerability, fellowship and responsibility of all members toward each other. That’s a big order to fill.

In other words, holding a membership in a church, or a church sub-group, such as “the Young Families Sunday School Class” or the youth group, does not necessarily mean the members fulfill what Christ had in mind for the Body in his prayer in John 17: “My prayer for all of them [believers] is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”

Despite idiosyncratic ideas and flaws that can entrap and divide us, we are to be unified with each other in spirit and engaged in each others' lives. That’s easier for some than for others. I belong to the group for whom true intimacy and connectedness does not come naturally or wholeheartedly by nature/personality.

All I can say is, thank goodness that my friends do not let me rest for long in my bent toward Lone Rangerism. In fact, they understand that often we Lone Rangers don’t even realize we are lonely or disconnected, and we don’t see that the Enemy attempts to spiritually pick us off because we’re more vulnerable without loyal friends to help us fight. For those reasons and many more, we’re not meant to travel this road alone, even those of us who feel fairly self-sufficient.

If I asked you to recall scriptural exhortations and examples of community, you might remember passages such as Paul speaking in 1 Thessalonians2:8, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Or Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” However, there are many, many examples of community tucked into both Testaments that are easy to miss if we’re not looking carefully.

For example, in John 19, the trial of Jesus, a passage not commonly drawn upon for examples of community, I noticed four distinct instances:

1. Verses 2 and 3 show the Roman soldiers’ and Jewish leaders’ perversion of community: mob mentality. Both factions share a common fear, a common hatred, a common sin, which allows two divergent groups to temporarily merge to accomplish a goal, as in verse 16 when the Jewish leaders shout, “We have no king but Caesar!”

2. In verse 25, we are told that Jesus’ mother, his aunt and Mary Magdalene are standing near the cross together—forming a community sharing sorrow and love and perhaps despair, all three surely comforting one another in an intensely intimate moment.

3. In verse 26, Jesus commends his mother to John’s care, and John reports that she lived in his home thereafter. Likewise, Jesus bids his mother to love John as she would her own son. Thus, each accepts the responsibility, commitment, and privilege to care for one another on a daily basis for the rest of their lives as family.

4. In verses 38-40, Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret follower of Christ, and Nicodemus, who had come to Christ in the cloak of night, emerge together now in broad daylight to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, no doubt encouraging each other in their newfound boldness for Christ.

So here is my challenge: Choose a couple of chapters in any book of the Bible, and look for as many instances as you can find of true community. You may see very familiar scripture in a brand new light. I would love to hear about what the Holy Spirit reveals to you in this exercise!

Please visit my blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

Labels: , , ,