Internet Cafe

Friday, November 30, 2007

Missy


On May 1, 2002, a guy named Walker asked a girl named Missy to break up with her boyfriend and marry him. And so the whirlwind began.

Since that day, this couple has: planned a big ole wedding, buried a grandfather, experienced her dad’s divorce, gotten married, gotten pregnant, sold a house, bought a house, moved to a new community, quit her job, had a baby boy, gotten pregnant, had a baby girl, gotten pregnant, changed churches, switched his job, tried to sell a house, had a baby girl, gotten pregnant, switched his job again, and had a premature baby boy.

Oh, and Missy’s hairstyle has changed several times during this period as well.

So much change in such a short period of time has impressed upon her how sovereign our Heavenly Father is, and how completely in control of our lives he is – both the big things, and the “small” things, even when it seems like utter chaos.

Thank God. Because Missy can’t even get the laundry put away.

You can experience the chaos at her blog, It’s Almost Naptime!!

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Kim Uden


If you asked her what would be a good title for a book about her life, she would quickly reply, “Former Pharisee…A different kind of testimony”. Kim Uden made a decision for Christ when she was nine years old in a Small Baptist Church, but honestly, she would tell you she didn’t have a clue about a relationship with Christ until her late 20’s.

Kim could so relate to the Pharisees in the Bible. She had a lot of head knowledge about God, and she could easily rattle off her top ten list of the things she never would do, but she was spiritually blind and dead to the life changing love of Christ. A sinful nature and a heart full of pride would lead her toward a road she never planned for her life. After several bad choices and wrong roads traveled down, Kim hit her spiritual rock bottom, and that was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. It was at the bottom that she finally started to look up, and there she found her Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus began a work in Kim’s heart that has led her to where she is today.

Kim is now on a passionate journey to “KNOW JESUS” more and more everyday. Jesus has placed a hunger in her soul to draw close to Him, and she is finding out what it is to truly love Jesus. Although she would be the first to tell you that she is far from the goal of knowing and loving Jesus like He deserves, she is excited more and more everyday to discover the depths of His love.

Kim is married to a man that has also been on his own journey to know Christ more and more. Between them both they have some stories to tell. Kim and her husband have 3 boys, ages 9, 6, and 4, and God uses their children everyday to teach them about Him too.

Kim also has a great passion and desire to see women connect and grow in their walk with Christ. She loves to ask questions, and she is excited to lead up the weekly meme at the Internet Café. Kim’s blog is dedicated to documenting her up and down journey of knowing Christ. Feel free to stop by and check out her blog “To Know Him”, and know that you will always be welcomed.

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Carmen Schroeder

Carmen Schroeder married her high school sweetheart and theensuingyears quickly brought along four wonderful blessings (presently, ages 4 - 10). But a less than praiseworthy past and a losing battle with anxiety and depression kept her bound to 'a less than life' and unable to enjoy her gifts from God. Having not been raised in church, Carmen did not know where or whom to turn to for the guidance and comfort her troubled spirit longed for.

Shortly after getting married, she began to search out this Christ for herself through the depths of His Word...and amazingly discovered the One Who could not only set her free from her past and fill her with hope for her future, but also enable her to enjoy her present by the Power and Love of His Abiding Presence!

Carmen is now is a prolific writer residing in Missouri with her family and passionately shares God's Wonder-filled Word with women in conferences, workshops, and her onlineW.O.W. (Women Of the Word) Lifestyle Devotionals. The LORD has given her a great love and growing passion for studying and teaching Scripture from the foundational Hebraic roots' perspective.

The following verse is Carmen's Life-Line and reminder of His tremendous faithfulness to ALL who call upon the Name of the LORD! By His unfathomable GRACE, may you, too, RECEIVE and SING that NEW SONG from which many shall see and fear and put their trust in ADONAI!!

I WAITED patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.

And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.

~ Psalm 40:1-3

Visit her new blog at Absolute Truth John 17:17!

Baruch Ha Shem ADONAI!!

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*Twinkle Mom* Vida

Known to many by now as "Twinkle Mom", Vida is a happily married stay-at-home mom with a nutty dachshund that manages to find his way into the occasional post.

Finding strength and encouragement through her family, friends, church and faith in God, Vida began writing Sunflower Faith initially as a way to keep accountable of her walk with God and was amazed how it had grown from a simple walk to a journey.

Since then, she has found her life being led to new paths by God, that has reinforced in her, that if we," Proverbs 3:5,6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Writing about her musings on family, friends, and particularly her faith in Jesus Christ, Vida strives to share an honest journey of an imperfect person who found salvation through our Heavenly Father all the while, listening to the call of our Father above and to this day, keeps seeking Him and His will for her and her family.

1 Chronicles 16:11 (NIV)-" Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."

By day a busy mom devoted to her family, By night working on Sunflower Faith and her online bible study group, Fill Your Cup, Vida has a deep and everlasting love for our Heavenly Father that she finds impossible to keep contain and drives her to seek new ways to share God's word and to learn more about our Heavenly Father and His Word.

Vida has described her life as a "personal Damascus Road" where only through the blessing and salvation of Jesus Christ, she discovered a new life through Jesus Christ whom she now, in turn, tries to share with others about through gentle musings on her blog, Sunflower Faith.

Realizing she isn't and can't claim to be perfect , Vida does embraced, that she has been forgiven by the loving Grace of Our Heavenly Father. With this, Vida sees writing as an opportunity to reach out to others to share the redeeming love of a Heavenly Father who reaches out to all and is a God of second chances. Sunflower Faith is that blog about continuous praise, a testimony to and about God and a commitment to our Heavenly Father above.

Galatians 2:20 (NIV)," I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Keeping God first in everything, Vida spends her time taking care of her home and family and always seeking time with God in His Word (Psalm 119:16-"Delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."), All the while, keeping her heart and soul open, with a Sunflower filled Faith, to where ever our Heavenly Father leads her next on her journey with Him.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

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Getting Out of the Boat



Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.
Matthew 14:30-31a


I was reminded of the amazing journey of Peter this week. Remember, he was out in a boat with his companions and there was a storm raging (vs. 24). They were in obedience in being on the water since Jesus Himself had told them to get into the boat and sail to the other side. Even in the midst of following Christ, there was opposition and “bad weather”. In the middle of the storm, Jesus shows up walking on the water and they thought it was a ghost. Peter said, “Lord, if it is you, bid me to come to you on the water.” My first thought is “what in the world was he thinking”, but then I begin to ponder the incredible journey (no matter how short) that must have been and the amazing lessons I have drawn even this week from the testimony of these brief moments in Peter’s life.

Think about it. It wasn’t like the seas were calm and the water was smooth. Since there was a storm, it is safe to assume there were waves and wind. Can you imagine the faith that it took to climb over the side of the boat while all of his friends stayed safely on board? Imagine the sheer adrenaline when he took those first few steps ~ on the water. Imagine the intimacy only he had at that moment with the Creator of the Universe. His eyes fixed on his Savior and his faith to get out of the boat combined with the only One who had the power to carry him across the surface of the water, orchestrated for him one amazing journey. These moments have to rank up in the highest of all “mountaintop” experiences. I mean, I’ve never walked on the water with Jesus, have you? Oh, the indescribable joy that had to be his as he walked on the surface of the water toward Jesus.

We don't know how long he was on the water, but at some point his incredible "high" with Jesus began to fade and he found himself sinking. He was obviously distracted by a rather large wave or gush of wind and he immediately started to go under. His gaze that was once fixed on the Savor was now scanning the raging waters around him and suffocating his heart with fear. In those scary moments, Peter didn’t scream for help from his comrades in the boat or even begin to swim in that direction. He didn’t head for the boat, He cried out to the Master.

Have you ever been there? Really enjoying some of the most fruitful and intimate moments in your walk with Jesus, walking "on the water" so to speak, connected with Him in such a sweet and personal way, only to have a large unexpected storm or wave in life catch your full attention and fill your heart with fear, anxiety, and worry. Your mind that was moments earlier filled with the joy and intimacy that comes from walking closely with the Lord is now struggling to catch a breath from the tight hold anxiety has on you. Suddenly, it is as if you cannot see the face of the One who is in control because of the fog of fear that is rising quickly around you. As you feel the raging sea begin to pull you under, just like Peter, you do the only thing you can do. You cry for help, believing that the One who you know is there somewhere will come to your rescue. And, praise the Lord, He does!

Amazingly, He gently reaches for your hand, lifts you to the surface, and steadies you on the water. But, He doesn’t stop there, because His desire is not to simply rescue you from the raging water that He, in His sovereignty knows will eventually subside. He gently guides your chin to realign your focus into His eyes. They are not filled with anger or frustration, but love and understanding. You are shaken, but you begin to feel your strength resume and although the storm isn’t completely passed by, you are reassured and immediately find peace again. Your sweet intimacy is not only renewed with the Savior, but could it be that it is even sweeter than before you lost your grip, as you have seen firsthand once again His gentle compassion and love for you?

To those in the "boat" it was an adventure that played out before them, but from Peter’s perspective it was monumental! I would imagine the ones still standing on deck watched with a tinge of regret and wished they had gotten out of the boat, but for Peter it was a journey overflowing with lessons that strengthened his faith, gave him an incredible taste of the grace, power, and sweet fellowship with Christ that only comes from following His call no matter the risks.

I want to be a woman that gets out of the boat when He beckons me. When the storm is raging, and it will, and my view of His sweet face gets distorted from the waves around me, and it will, I don’t want to head back to the boat. I want to cry for help and trust the One who is able to save me, calm my anxious heart, and even settle the storm around me when He chooses to do so. I want to stay on the journey and learn all that He desires to teach me and grow in my intimacy with Him every step of the way.

Lord, thank you for the times in our journey with you that you call us to get out of the boat. Thank you for the strength to obey and the joy that comes as a result. I am so grateful that the many times I have lost my focus on you that you have refreshed my strength and gently realigned my gaze to your face.

In Him ~
Tammy…


You can read more from Tammy by visiting her at Steps in Our Journey.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Melanie

Melanie blogs from her home in the Southern United States where she has a great view of life as a Stay-At-Home-Mom. She shares the view with her husband and daughter and a cat who isn't convinced that she is adopted.

She grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour at age nine. During her teen and college years, Melanie held tight to her salvation. She knew it belonged to her, but she didn't cherish it as she should. She kept it tucked away.


Marriage and motherhood brought her to a place where she began to see that salvation is not just a gift that we receive and tuck away in a box, but a treasure that should be brought out in our daily lives for all to see.



Through our growth as Christians, others will see this treasure as it shines in His Light. It is only when His Light shines, not that of our own, that our family, friends and those we meet along the journey will come to know Jesus.


"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

2 Corinthians 4: 5-6


She started blogging as an outlet for writing and as a way to express her southern heritage. As the blog archives gather virtual dust, her hope is that, through humor and Christian encouragement, other women will find and cherish their treasure of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Melanie believes that laughter is a necessity for survival, along with coffee and lipstick, and that God has a sense of humor.

He has to; He created possums.

Melanie writes almost daily or when "real life" allows at her personal blog, This Ain't New York.





"The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;

he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy;

he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

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God's Time Management

I had fallen into a trap. It was a trap that was made up of a 3 ring binder, some planner pages and lots of unrealistic expectations. I had become a slave to the feeling of accomplishment that I received when I could check off a completed task. This began to backfire.

Instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment, I began to feel a sense of failure. Why? It is because life happens. Appointments, holidays, birthdays, sickness and unscheduled tasks, they all happen.

I truly believe God used the last few weeks of my life to allow me to see how much more confidence I had in myself and my Household Notebook (that’s what I lovingly called it) than I had in Him. So, He showed me.

Two of my boys have their birthdays 2 days apart. I scheduled a party for the weekend closest to both. The boys dad had to drive to Kentucky to be with his mom during her surgery that weekend so the parties had to be rescheduled. *MONKEY WRENCH*

I had a plan all mapped out for Black Friday. I knew just what I would get for the boys. I was going to stay within budget and still get exactly what they wanted! I woke up at 4 AM like any good Black Friday fanatic and got to the store early only to find out that the Transformers Optimus Prime toy would not arrive on a truck until the next day and they could not offer it at the same price again. This was true of all the stores in this chain. None of them had Optimus Prime. *MONKEY WRENCH*

I like to do things a certain way during the day and if anything else comes up then you guessed it *MONKEY WRENCH*

I get all worked up and discontent because my plan didn’t work. But how many of you know that God has a better plan? One bigger than what we can fit into our Household Notebooks and one better than our best dream could ever reveal. God wants us to trust His plan and He wants us to feel pleasure from His approval and not from crossing things off of our “To Do” list.

My Household Notebook now has a new function. It is now a strategy. It is no longer a false God. I use it when I get distracted so that I can get back on track. If I don’t do something that is listed there then it is no longer a problem. My day will be complete whether I remember to toss out the old food from the fridge or not. I want to end it with a check mark from God.


How about you? Are you suffering from check mark approval?






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

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He has not forgotten

Have you ever felt like you have been forgotten? It is that feeling (before cell phones) when someone was supposed to pick you up and slowly everyone leaves the building, lights grow dim, each car carefully pulls away and you are left sitting there all alone waiting. It is an awful feeling as you wait there wondering if anyone will remember to come or how much longer before they arrive. Did they grow tired? Did they just forget? Did something happen? We sit, we wait, we wonder.

And yet recently I found myself approaching the Lord in the same way. Does He hear my prayers? Does He know what is happening right now? Has He forgotten me?

Isaiah 40:27-31 speaks to my heart...

Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “ My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Now let's read it in The Message...

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying,"God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me"?Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out.He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles,They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.

Some days I need those words spoken firmly right in my face, "why would you ever complain?" "Haven't you been listening?" The Everlasting God does not get tired or grow weary...He has not forgotten YOU!

"Those who wait (expect, look for, hope in Him... from the Amplified version) on the Lord shall renew their strength."

We can hold on to the promise and the hope that God has not forgotten us, that He does not grow weary or tired, but rather we can choose to wait on Him in hopeful expectation and He will renew our strength to continue on, but not just any strength...He promises to renew our strength so that we will soar like an eagle, run, and walk never growing weary ourselves.

It is His strength that I need renewed everyday!



In Him...Chris


Join Chris at her personal blog Come to the Table


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cindy Beall

Cindy was born in the great state of Texas to a couple of Texas school teachers. Although she considers herself to have been tortured by her two older brothers, her family life was very stable and she knew she was loved.

She grew up attending a Baptist church and although she accepted Christ as her Savior at the ripe old age of eight, she did not truly make him her Lord until she was thrust into the life-altering situation of losing her father to leukemia when she was just 19 years old.

Shortly after her fatherʼs death, Cindy attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, (now Texas State University) where she met her husband, Chris. They met and married within ten months and have recently celebrated their fifteenth anniversary.

The Bealls moved to San Antonio shortly after she graduated from SWT so that Chris could pursue his degree while Cindy commuted to and from New Braunfels, Texas, for her job as a 3rd grade school teacher. It was during this time that their involvement with their church in San Antonio led them to surrender their lives to full-time vocational ministry in 1995.

During the last thirteen years, Cindy has been supporting her husband in his pastoral role at three different churches in three different states. After living in Texas for most of their lives and in Memphis, Tennessee, for four years, they now reside in Edmond, Oklahoma, and have three sons between them. Cindy is a stay-at-home mom who also gets the added blessing of working for a Texas company remotely from her home.

Cindy will tell you very openly about the near death of her marriage in 2002 when a startling confession from her husband nearly took both her and her husband out of ministry forever. God had other plans as He usually does. They have returned to full-time ministry where her husband serves on staff at the church where he had a moral failure.

Her calling is to mentor women and help them walk through difficult times as they seek to follow Christ. She uses her passion for writing and her gift of exhortation to accomplish this on her personal blog. She has even written her own book about the journey she has walked and continues to walk in her marriage. This can be read on her blog as well.

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Natalie Witcher


If waxy chocolate donuts were a food group, Natalie would be the first to make them part of every meal. But, since they aren’t, she’ll keep her head about her and “feast” on what truly is important—the Word of God.

This is the heartbeat of Natalie: the truth taught to others with love and sprinkled with laughter. This is no greater life than one walked with Christ and Natalie enjoys walking it with others.

She is a mom of three and a wife of one. She’s a friend, mentor, movie lover and is convinced that when ever a lazy thunderstorm rolls in that God ordered it just for her.

She graduated college with a music degree that served her for a time, but soon God revealed that the spiritual gifts He had given her were in writing and teaching. What a journey that has brought! She loves teaching the Word, not just in person, but through the great World Wide Web. It’s an honor and a joy for Natalie to use the gifts God has given her here at the Internet Café!

She’d love it if you’d visit her at her personal blogs: I AM (not) and Stiletto Army.


What others are saying about Natalie:

"Nat is real and HYSTERICAL....She pursues God with PASSION and her studies are amazing!"

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Mary Snyder

Mary is a slightly frazzled, but always optimistic dreamer who loves the Lord and lives life to the fullest. She's married to Vaughn, who she calls her prince, and they have two incredible daughters: one almost driving age and the other just married. This recent marriage has added a much adored son-in-law to the family.

It was many years ago that the Lord called May into His service, but she admits that she wasn't the most willing participate. Struggling to find her own way and still please the Lord, Mary realized. He is the joy and apart from Him we are nothing. Once this realization hit, Mary jumped on board in this adventure of life with the Lord and it's been non-stop since.

Over mighty peaks and through some valleys, Mary has clung to the Lord and His grace. The lessons He has taught her along the way have become the basis for a book and a speaking ministry. By God's amazing grace, Girlfriends, God, and Grace: Finding and Building Friendships Based on Christ's Love -- will be released in the Spring of 2009 by Thomas Nelson publishing.

Girlfriends are a big part of Mary's life and her ministry. Mary's that friend that is fun to have around but is always losing things... like the plane tickets. Of course, she still wonders why anyone would let her hold the plane tickets. Her girlfriends still love her and let her come along on regular adventures.

Mary serves on the Womens Ministry team in her church and also teaches Bible study. You can visit her at www.MaryRSnyder.com.

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Chelsey Hall


Life is always an adventure in our home with five children running around the house – from infant to teenager. I am livin’ my dream job as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I call home Dallas, Texas, and I have been married to my best friend, Dan, for almost fifteen years. Former youth pastor turned teacher, my husband now braves the school halls as a middle school teacher.

When I think about my life, the analogy of the Potter and the Clay about sums it up. Jeremiah 18:6 says, “…As the clay is in the potter's hand, so you are in My hand…" I started out this life as an ugly lump of clay; shapeless, formless, waiting to be designed. I am a flawed and broken child of God that seeks to be used by Him each and every day of my life. I am human and my flesh is weak. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. Scripture says all our righteousness’ are like filthy rags (Is 64:6). Thank goodness for the blood of Christ that covers all of that!!! As I come to know Him more, he is forming me, molding me, shaping me, sometimes breaking me and starting again so that I can be molded to His likeness.

My passion is living out my calling as a wife and mother and encouraging others to do the same. The Lord has put a special place in my heart for Biblical Womanhood and all that entails – mothering, homemaking and especially marriage. When I’m not chasin’ around all my wonderful blessings and taking care of my sweet man, you can find me in bloggy land trying to pour out some of what God has poured in to me over these last several years and sharing the new ways the Potter is designing and redesigning me.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

A Reluctant Martha

Everyone seems to view Mary and Martha of Luke 10 as a biblical “Goofus and Gallant.” (Remember the illustrated manners-teaching brothers of Highlights Magazine?) Recap: Martha frets over the details of preparing a large meal for Jesus and his disciples (including the sisters, that's at least 15 people total, maybe more) while Mary chooses to spend time with Jesus, who commends Mary for focusing on relationship rather than tasks and details.

I always feel sympathetic toward Martha. Perhaps she, too, would have liked to sit at Jesus’ feet but felt pressured to be a biblical Martha Stewart. I’m not losing sight of Jesus’ point; I’m just saying I feel Martha’s stress. After all, Jesus wasn’t performing any food miracles that day. Although I’d much rather learn at Jesus’ feet than baste a turkey, sometimes you have to bring on your best Martha. It’s simply your turn.

Pressure! Like many of you, I have just come off a long weekend of cooking and cleaning and a Martha-esque existence that Luke reported as “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

In Mark 6:31, Jesus encouraged his tired disciples to “come ye yourselves apart and rest a while.” I did indeed almost come apart this week, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind. Consider the following "distracting details" which contributed to my anxiety. Somehow I managed to:

• Leave my emergency back-up roast in the carousel of bags at the end of the checkout line and not realize it until I got home.
• Break my vacuum just before guests arrived.
• Spill a gallon of apple cider down the front of me and onto the refrigerator shelves and the newly mopped floor.
• Blow candle wax all over a brand new table cloth and onto the wall behind the table.
• For the second year in a row, bake a ham that didn’t come out completely warm in the center and was thus hastily shoved into the microwave without anyone knowing.
• Dump half of my drained boiled potatoes into my sink while the family waited for dinner. (Someone tell me why these people keep coming back year after year. Wait a minute—I know why. They have to. They’re family.)

As you can see, I’m probably never going to do this big holiday meal thing perfectly. But I want the holidays to be all warm and rosy and glowing for my family or anyone who visits. Anything less feels like failure.

But that’s not the truth. What’s worse than bad food and disorganization and frantic behavior? Allowing the pressure to tempt me to snap at my kids or husband. Guests feeling more like a burden than a blessing. Failing to rely on the joy of the Lord to be my strength when things go wrong.

I fail if I do not love extravagantly, not entertain extravagantly. Cold hams don’t really ruin a holiday, but a cold, stressed-out hostess can.

So what’s a reluctant Martha like me to do?

1. Focus on others, not on personal inadequacies or past failures.
2. Serve with a joyful heart and smile. You can always implode after everyone’s gone!
3. Remind yourself to be grateful for having the means to host a meal and a body strong enough to do so.
4. Remember that sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself by stepping away from activities and roles you’re comfortable in and forcing yourself to do things that don’t come naturally. It’s like spiritual, mental and emotional calisthenics, and it increases your appreciation for others’ sacrifices and giftings.
5. Remind yourself that you’re making memories, not works of art.
6. Remember that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Maybe you have more tips to add here.

We are not called to be perfect but we are called to be obedient, loving and thankful. Gary L. Thomas wrote a book called, “Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.” I have also decided to apply that supposition to holidays: What if God designed holidays to make us more holy than to make us happy” (hence: holy days). That puts the focus back on the Reason for the holidays, which changes the perspective of this reluctant, bumbling Martha!



Please visit my personal blog: 2nd Cup of Coffee

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Annie Pettigrew


Annie always thought someday she would be an author, what she didn't know is how deeply a near drowning accident of her daughter Isabelle would change her life forever. This accident changed her heart and her faith. She learned to rely on God in a deep and profound way that she never before could have imagined. Overcoming has been a great life lesson and she knows that God is her ever present help in any trouble that comes to her.

She began writing updates on her daughter Isabelle's blogspot and then started writing a little of everything on her own blog. It has become a great outlet for her thoughts and also a wonderful place to make Christian friends who otherwise she would never know.

Annie taught prison ministry for about five years, coordinating services and helping a group of female inmates, these days she teaches the teen girls at her church on Sundays.

With four children, three dogs, five goats, and a horse... life is never boring!

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Robyn

Robyn met Jesus as a broken and confused college student 13 years ago and has never been the same. Each day she seeks to fall deeper in love with Jesus. Her passion is helping women, no matter what their circumstances in life, also grow deeper in their relationship with Him.

She met and married the love of her life, Brad, while studying for her master’s degree in seminary. Brad serves as a pastor in the metro Detroit area. They have two very energetic, but adorable little boys named Tyler (3) and Dylan (1).

The ministries God has placed Robyn in since becoming a Christian have been a bit of an eclectic mix that helps her see ministry extends much wider than the walls of a church. Some of these include overseas missionary, inner city missions, public relations writer, and even blogging just to name a few. Now, her role as a pastor’s wife, is one of the most rewarding to date.

When Robyn is not caring for her family or serving alongside her husband in the ministry, there is little doubt where she is. Almost without exception, you will find her sitting in her den doing what she loves: writing. She finds that it helps her connect with others and God in a way that nothing else can.

She enjoys sharing what God is teaching her on her personal blog, Overflowing Grace. She would love for you to join her!!

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Puddles

I have been a puddle of late. A wet, messy, saturating puddle. And you know as I do that puddles creep, growing with moisture that is gathered at the edges. Where does this puddle come from? I cast gratitude heavenward with heart eyes for the answer to this morning cry...

Father, it is early. The day has really not begun, yet I am overwhelmed by the tasks. I can't hear you. I can't feel you. Speak! Draw near. I want to learn...

I am thankful for a God who sometimes answers with questions...

Tell me, Beloved, how it can be that one soul's misery contributes to the refining of another?

Puzzling, and foreboding, yes. But the day that followed brought clarity to His words.

For I rubbed bony backs as shoulder blades heaved over the toilet. I knelt to clean carpet saturated with the toddler's lunch. I held a weeping boy as he apologized for the mess he made. I came running at the weak, trembly call of, "Mama?" in hopes to prevent another carpet scrubbing.

My prayer that begged a lesson? It is not about you, Beloved. And those harsh, exquisite words create a puddle.

The Refiner's fire is melting this Mama down. She puddles around her pink fuzzy slippers, a soft smile bending her lips instead of a frown as she bends to the quickly-growing (and stinky!) laundry pile.
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.
I long to be separated from the impurities that ruin my value. Harsh words. A heart that longs to be doing something else. Unrealistic expectations, for myself and everyone surrounding me. Yet, every time one impurity is melted away, another is revealed, and the process is never-ending.

The work can wait... An impurity is added to the pile. His head hangs; I've been too short with him... Another is revealed. She is clingy, and I cannot put her down, so my writing will have to wait... The puddle grows.

Remember...

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Oh, Father, that this mess might reflect You, filthy as it is. Draw near.

And He whispers... I am.


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

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dead-End Street

A Dead-End....

…Divorce…

…Failed adoption…

…Lost job…

…Friendship betrayed…

…Circumstances…

…Cancer…

Arrival on: Dead End Street

This is a familiar road to me, perhaps to you as well. We arrive in this desolate place by many different vehicles and at various speeds.

I have ambled down this road in a slow, painful progression, via a loss of a friendship. I have slammed into the road sign, leaving it flat on the pavement, after screeching to a halt. I look around bewildered at my arrival once again. Pride usually facilities this crash. I have followed Christ, with absolute certainty of His leading, only to take up residence once again next to the familiar roadblock because I didn’t trust Him completely.

Arrival on Dead-End Street brings the inevitable questions: Why? What purpose does this serve, God?

The question to ask is not why. The question to ask is, God what are you up to?

James 1:5-6 (New International Version)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Ask Him about it. In many instances, God has future Kingdom work so intense and fantastic we would fear it and run. It is in the waiting that we are prepared to climb to the next plateau. Living on Dead-End Street forges a soul of Christlike character. Life is not about us. It is about Him. God utilizes our dead-end to magnify Himself.

Romans 11:36 (New International Version)
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

The holding pattern teaches us to set aside our ambitions and help others. God works through people. If we are flying down life’s highway screaming past the befuddled bystanders, we can’t possibly show them Jesus. God is revealed when we enrich another’s life, a child, our spouse, a stranger, and especially others stranded on Dead-End Street. If we refuse to slow down willingly, God will unquestionably find a way to do it for us.

1 Timothy 2:4 (New International Version)
4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

It is at the dead-end where God will pursue us, change us, and grow us. Are you stuck on Dead-End Street right now?

If so,
YOU ARE ON HOLY GROUND!


Jeremiah 29:11(New International Version)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Lord, we are standing on holy ground in your presence waiting. Reveal your desire for our lives and character while we abide in this desolate place. Keep our memory strong. Never allow us to forget the lessons learned here. Let us find peace in the promise that you want to give us a hope and a future. In Jesus name, Amen.



I would love to visit with you over at my place: Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

About His Business


While on earth, Jesus performed many miracles to prove His divinity. He walked on water. Turned water to wine. Multiplied loaves and fish. These things were obviously supernatural and left the crowds in awe every time.

The more I grow in my faith, the more I recognize Jesus' divinity in actions that don't seem as dazzling. One in particular is His response in this passage:

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for You! Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:35-38

In my estimation, it took some miraculous restraint to react graciously when all Jesus wanted was a few early morning moments alone with the Father. There was no "can't you see I'm praying here?" or "would you please give me just one minute alone?" Instead, His response was, "Let's go be about My Father's business".

Most of us can relate to these interruptions. Have you ever made a conscious effort to wake early for devotion only to have your children wake up earlier than ever? Ever wanted a quiet afternoon with a book only to have unexpected company? How do you react? I'll be honest with you and say I've snapped at the kids, answered the phone less than cheerily, and begrudged the intrusion into 'my time'.

Jealousy for our moments with the Father is admirable and I am in no way saying we shouldn't attempt to guard it at all costs. However, what we should not do is esteem our own comforts over those of the ones whom we exist to serve. I read something recently that shifted my thinking in accepting distraction especially when I am being taken from doing something that is only gratifying myself. For those of you who know me well, you won't be surprised to know it came from C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. In this book, Screwtape is giving his young nephew, Wormwood, instructions on derailing a Christian in his faith. Here is what he says:


"Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion more easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a'-tete with the friend), that throw him out of gear..... They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts his day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours."


Jesus understood His time was not His own even though it was created by Him and for Him. I can't count the number of times I have started a new day with a list of 'to do's' as long as my arm assuming each hour was to be spent at my discretion rather than God's. And then if something unexpected came up? Not pretty. When I begin viewing divine appointments for ministry as a cog in the machine, I know it's time for an attitude adjustment.


There is only one reason any of us draws breath and that is for our Father's Business. Anything else that robs our zeal for His Kingdom and His House is a diversion straight from the pit with the sole purpose of taking or eyes off the prize. Distractions will come - our job is determine whether they are Divine or Demonic. I have been challenged to evaluate the amount of time I spend in non-Kingdom activities. The simple idea that not one second in a 24-hour day belongs to me has truly allowed me to become more open to use my time to serve others instead of myself.

During this holiday season as the days become increasingly more frenzied, let's commit to laying our plans before God and allowing Him to show us how we can be about furthering His Kingdom. Ask Him to reveal opportunities for sharing the gift of His birth with someone who doesn't yet know Him.

I can't think of anything He'd love more for His birthday.




I would love for you to come visit me at my personal blog,



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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Comfort Food for the Soul

“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.”
~ Psalm 71:1-3 (ESV)

Do you have a comfort food? I do. No it is not chocolate, but stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes. This dish reminds me of home; so once in a while I have to make stuffed peppers. Mind you, mine are not nearly as good as my mom's, but they still taste good. I had the urge to make twice this past month...

When I made the peppers this past Sunday, I thought about comfort food for the soul. The Psalms have been my comfort food. I am not sure why they have comforted me more than any other Bible passages. Maybe because most of them are written when God's people have been in distress.
“Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you.”
~ Psalm 71:4-6 (ESV - emphasis mine)

Yes, I can trust my Lord for comforting me, because He is always there—I just have to reach for Him. And so can you too, my dear beloved. Making stuffed papers takes time, but reaching out to the Lord only takes a second. Next time you need some comfort food, reach for your Bible, pick a Psalm and pray through it. I know it settles me down. Not only is His Word comforting, but it is also calorie-free.

Lord of Heaven and Earth. Thank You for being my comfort food in times of stress. You are my Hope, my Rock I can lean on when I am weak. Lord, remind me when I am down to reach for You and Your comforting words. In the precious name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen.

I want to wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving. May He be your comfort this holiday and always.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Not Satisfied











“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42:2

I’m not satisfied just hearing about how God used to move in the lives of His people. I want Him moving in my life.
I’m not satisfied with the blessings of yesterday. I have issues today.
I’m not satisfied with the anointing of the Holy Spirit from the weekend “Sister’s Retreat”. I want that on a daily basis.
I’m not satisfied living a mediocre life. I want more of God in my life than I have ever had before.




Sounds like I’m just not satisfied.




My heart has been hungry for more of God and feeling less satisfied with where I am spiritually. What will it take to satisfy me? Well, since I have been praying that and saying that…chaos has occurred.
No, not in the form of turbulent storms…but in the “eye twitching” aggravating things of life. You know, little things that cause stress, and as they mount up, the overwhelming feeling of an avalanche of emotions overtake you and the nerve endings in your eye starts jumping….and then before you know it, you have a full blown “eye twitch”. How do I know? I am experiencing that right now!

It all started when I began to “stretch” in the Lord. The enemy of our lives will do anything possible to hinder the work of the Lord. When he spots a bit of progress, baby look out—he is about to send some of his slimy forces to attack. Be ready. Be on your guard. The Bible clearly warns us.

I Peter 5:6-11
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen. "

Did you read all of that? Be humble before the Lord. Don’t be too proud to call on Him for help. Don’t be too proud to ask for prayer from your sisters-in-Christ. Don’t be satisfied in the place you are in…God has a higher ground to take you! He tells us He will lift us up and restore us “Himself”…with His own hand. We are to cast, throw, or pour out all our troubles and worries on Him….because He CARES for us!

Be alert! Be on guard! Stand at attention…always! Everyday! If you resist the devil, standing firm on what God has promised, you will suffer. A l-i-t-t-l-e while. That’s what the Bible said. You will. Count on it. BUT, it also said that He, God, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. You will be stronger for the next battle. Huh? The next one? Yes. Girlfriend, there will be battles until the day He calls us home. If you don’t resist the devil…I’m afraid the suffering will go on and on and on….and on....and on.....

Is this too tough? Sorry. This is what He laid on my heart today. This is the message for our hearts. For this hour. This day. This time in our lives. When I have trouble or anxiety about a situation….I e-mail three Spirit filled women in blogville. The Lord has crossed our paths and we have clicked. For a reason maybe known only to God, He planted us together. Not in the same state…but with the same heart. And, for that reason, I feel that I can call on them to pray and they do. I also have two sisters and a godly mother that I call on to pray. Over the years the Lord has given me friends that pray. God hears them as well.

I pray for each need that is brought to my door. To my e-mail. To my phone. God expects me to. He expects us to share one another’s burdens. If a friend is too sick to “drive herself” to the doctor….are you going to drive her? Well, same principle here. Get on your knees before the throne for them. Take their needs to the “Ultimate Doctor”. The Creator.

Sometimes I visualize my prayers. Sometimes I “see myself” bringing my “box of trouble” to the Lord. Sometimes I see myself “running” to the cross dragging a heavy mangled up sack. Sometimes the need is so great, I am crawling on my hands and knees and it is tied to my ankle as I drag it before the throne. However you have to get it there…do so. Get it there and leave it. Let Him untie the bindings from your life. Whatever may have your heart all bound up, let Him cut the cords and remove the hindrances.

Hebrews 12:1-2
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I don’t believe that He wants us to be satisfied with where we are in Him. I believe He wants us to be ever stretching, ever reaching to go higher, stand firmer, be stronger than the day before. He wants us to “stand”. He told the apostles and believers that by “standing firm you will gain life”. (Luke 21:19 NIV) I believe with all my heart that as we take our “unsatisfied” lives to Him, He fills us with more of His Spirit. I believe that as we take the needs of our sisters to Him, He strengthens our faith and our walk with Him. But, it serves a two-fold purpose. We are strengthened, and we have aided a fellow believer with her faith. We have “shared her burden”. It is lighter. We have assisted her in taking her needs to the Lord. She is made stronger in her faith.

Only Jesus can completely satisfy my life. I purpose in my heart to seek Him out more than ever. His presence is necessary for my survival. More than anything else.



Only Jesus can satisfy my soul. Only Jesus can deal with my "eye twitch"....properly.

In Him,

Angie








Thank you Darlene, for inviting me to join this amazing group of women! I am honored! Please stop by and visit me at my place when you have time!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Definitions of Grace

A few years ago, if anyone had asked me if I knew what "grace" was, I'd have said "yes" and then given a standard definition:
grace is God's unmerited favor.
It was a definition that had not made its way from my intellect to my heart. That was about to change.

After eighteen years of marriage and five children, everything was falling apart at the seams. It really shouldn't have been though. We had been Christians who loved God since before we married. We went to church, tithed, read our Bibles, home schooled our children, and did every other self-imposed “expected” thing. We thought we had all of our 'ducks in a row'. And though I'm sure God appreciates a nice straight row of ducks now and then, it turns out we missed a few things.

I had been taught about forgiveness, and just as important, UN-forgiveness and the dangers of it. I just didn't think it applied all of the time. I understood what the Bible had to say about harboring resentment, but I guess I thought I was the exception. I knew what God said about being content in all things, but I made excuses. Long story short, we found ourselves staring at a mountain of evidence that shouted “It's over!” To make matters worse, it was becoming painfully obvious that the whole situation was taking a very ugly toll on our children. That is the turning point that got my attention. In the midst of focusing so much on my own hurts and disappointments, I had completely lost touch with how everything was affecting them. When I finally took my eyes off of myself long enough, I was able to remember that it wasn't only about me.

I walked into my bedroom, knelt beside the bed, and in between long, emotional sobs, I repented for spending years consumed with myself and my needs and wants while neglecting those of my husband and children. I asked God to forgive me . I asked Him to change me. I asked him to undo what I had done (and not done) in my children's lives. I asked Him, if it was at all possible, to resurrect what was left of my marriage, though I really didn't think it was possible. For my family's sake, I was finally willing to put down my selfish way of thinking. I walked away from that long, tear-filled, gut-wrenching, prayer knowing that God had heard me and forgiven me. I also walked away broken and ashamed.

I knew enough about God to know that He always forgave sincere repentance, period. But there was a lot that I did not know about my Father.

What I did not know was that God was also interested in my recovery, my healing, my restoration. When I walked away from that prayer, I took a deep breath and prepared myself to deal with the consequences of my selfish years. I knew that I deserved it and I was embarrassed before God at what I had created. But God was not interested in making me pay for my mistakes. Jesus had already done that. God had another plan all together.

Within days of my tearful meeting with God, and through a series of events I could never have foreseen, I was invited to spend 4 days at a Christian Women's Retreat - free of charge. As it happens, the retreat was on a cruise ship where I would be able to spend days listening to anointed Christian women speak/teach on the very things I was in desperate need of. Four days of bathing in God's healing words without distraction. Four days of physical and emotional rest. Four days of spending time with some of the most amazing women I have ever met. God even arranged a whole evening in one of the state rooms with my friend Laura, her sister-in-law Angela Thomas (a favorite here at CWO and a speaker at the retreat), Kim Hill (worship leader at the retreat), Lisa Harper (wonderfully gifted speaker/author at the retreat), and others. It was a relaxing, casual evening with these amazing women, sharing photos of our families and talking about the amazing things God had done for them during extremely difficult situations each of them had walked through. As each one of them gave God the glory for what He had done in their lives, they had no idea what they were doing in mine. They encouraged me to keep believing and keep standing while God did what only He could do in my life and in my mess. They were quick to remind me not to look at the circumstances because I had given my situation to God and I needed to trust Him and trust His love for me. I am sure they will never know, until eternity, the healing that was going on in that state room that night.

Now take a minute to digest this. Through my own self-centeredness and insecurity I created havoc in my life, my marriage, and in my children's lives. After years of this, God got my attention and I repented and received forgiveness. As I began to prepare myself to live out the consequences of my self-imposed mess and to endure consequences I fully deserved, God showed up with oceans of grace. I deserved to reap what I had sown but God healed my kids. I deserved to work long and hard to regain my husband's love and trust but God healed what I had done to him and he jumped back in with a smile on his face. I deserved condemnation from close, Godly friends who I had shunned during my “wilderness” years. Instead they said, “We love you! Welcome back!” I deserved to work hard to find a place of healing and emotional peace. Yet God placed me on a beautiful cruise ship, surrounded by anointed women who knew what it meant to be loved by a God who is bigger than our mess. I deserved to be ashamed, shunned and suffering painful loss, but God would have none of that.

What He wanted was my changed heart. After that, all He was interested in was healing His daughter. Though he had forgiven all of my mistakes and would never bring them up again, . . . “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 103:12 (NAS) . . . that alone was not enough. It wasn't enough for Him until I was restored. It wasn't enough until I was whole again. It wasn't enough until I realized that I was loved by Him with an everlasting love. It wasn't enough until I understood that I was restored as His child – not as a second class prodigal, but as a daughter of the King of Kings.


I deserved rejection because I had rejected Him and His truth.
I deserved to live out the consequences of my actions.

Instead I received healing and rest and restoration and hope and forgiveness and love and joy and peace.
I did not get what I deserved.
I got so much more than I will ever deserve.

That is my NEW definition of grace!


For everyone who has believed this lie:
Take your shame and hide! He cannot use you now!”
Remember,

The Son of God was made manifest for this purpose; to undo, destroy, loosen and dissolve ALL the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

It's true. It's really true.

In Him,


Visit Darnelle at her personal blog:

All Things Work Together . . .

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

I just couldn't get it out of my head....

Sometimes you hear something and you just can't shake it...That is what's happened this week with this letter that Scott shared with me earlier in the week, from his Max Lucado Devotional Bible. I included it in my Thankful Thursday post, but it still has been nudging at me to look at it even more closely.

St. Cyprian wrote this letter to his friend Donatus sometime in the third century.

"This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see.... brigands on the land, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. YET, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet place and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians....and I am one of them. (Gordon MacDonald, Forging a Real Faith)

As I was lying in bed this morning, it came to me...what would this letter look like if I wrote it,
TODAY...

"It seems a cheerful world, ladies at the Cafe, when I view it from my warm sunroom where I type to you looking into a forest, where the leaves dance in splendor, under the canopy of autumn trees.
But, if I climbed the nearest mountain and looked out over the wide land, you know very well what I would see.....

terrorism over the land, drought in my state, fires in another, Ugandan Orphans in need of pen pals and so much more, sadness in Darfur, materialism run rampant, Hollywood (ugh), disgraceful politicians, entertainment that is horrific and murderous, discouraging news, stadiums filled with "role models" who don't want to be role models,
under all roofs misery and selfishness.

It really is a bad world girls, an incredibly bad world.
YET in the midst of it, I have found a quiet place, and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They have overcome the world. These people, ladies, are Christians...and I am one of them."
~lori

It seems to me that we have always lived in an incredibly bad world...and as I sit here in my comfortable house, there are days where I only have to climb the stairs of my own home and look over the banister to see the challenges, let alone a mountain...but truth Cyprian spoke...
we have something different... we have the peace that transcends all understanding. WE ARE CHRISTIANS...
wow!

so what do we do with that...I think we boldly climb that mountain and "LOOK" out over that "wide land" and see....
then we must heed the words of
Luke 12:48

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more."

for we have the HOPE that can change the world,
we have the PEACE that can not be explained,
we have the LIGHT that must shine for all,
we have the LOVE of Christ in our hearts.
We are the Christians who MUST choose to make a difference.


Father,
The world today looks much like the world Cyprian spoke of...so much in this "bad world."
Thank you Father that you sent your Son into the world to bring HOPE. As I look around today, help me Father to break out of my sanctuary and go into the world as a Light, just as Jesus did.
Thank you for the joy that is a thousand times better than any sinful life and thank you for surrounding me with a quiet place and holy people to help me on my journey.
As I try daily to live this life with your Son Jesus as my guide, help me to look and see all that is around me, waiting for ME,
a Christian, to do something...
something to make a difference in the world...
~amen

In HIM,

You are always welcome over at my personal blog..All YOU Have To Give...


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

God's Love Language


“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6:5


Have you ever read the book entitled, The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman? It is a very insightful book and helpful in building healthy relationships. Dr. Chapman lists several ways in which we communicate love to those closest to us. There is physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time. Each plays a significant role in every relationship we have, but he shares how we all have one or two particular languages that speak love the loudest to us.

I often use this to evaluate how I am expressing love to those around me in order to ensure that I am communicating love to them in the most effective way possible. We all desire for our relationships to be rich and refreshing, and we know that in order for this to happen it takes diligence and dedication. It isn’t something that just naturally happens, but rather it requires that we be intentional in cultivating these kind of relationships.

Have you ever stopped to evaluate your relationship with God? Not just where you stand with Him, but how you love Him, and more specifically, how you communicate that love to Him. I cannot help but think that even Jesus has a favorite love language. Don’t get me wrong, just as in my own marriage, every love language is valuable, however, the reality is that we each have a particular love language that, when expressed, it shouts loud and clear, “I love you!” I believe we express love for God when we serve Him, when we sing praises to Him, and when we give our gifts and offerings to Him, but I cannot help but think that His primary love language is quality time.

Think about the story with me of Mary and Martha. You remember the account in Luke chapter 10 when Jesus is being hosted in their home. Martha is serving Him, preparing a luscious meal for her Lord. Mary, on the other hand, is simply sitting at His feet, giving Him her undivided attention. Jesus didn’t reprimand Martha for serving. He knew she loved Him and was attempting to express that love through her service, but what He did do was clearly express that which He felt was best. I am sure he enjoyed lunch that day and I can’t help but think that he expressed gratitude later for the meal. However, what brought Him the most joy and expressed love to His heart the most? What did He say was most valuable? Take the time to check it out for yourself. You will find it was the quality undistracted time that Mary offered Him at His feet.

What about you? Are you busy serving at the expense of just sitting at His feet? Are we stuck in the whirlwind of acts of service, that are fueled by a deep desire to express love to our Savior, and all the while He is quietly whispering to our spirits, “I just want some time with you”? Are we offering Him our talents and our treasures materially, but withholding the time He so passionately seeks with us?

He is God and He knows our hearts, but as we express our love to the One who is Love, let’s take the time today to make the necessary adjustments in our schedule that we might meet with Him. Give Him that which He most enjoys. Speak His love language, if you will. Sit at His feet, hear His heart through His word, and then, out of an overflow of that precious time, we will find ourselves speaking the other love languages clearly and they will be heard by the world around us as our life exclaims, “I love the Lord”!

Lord, enable me today to speak Your love language. Help me to remember that it is TIME that you desire most from me and that all the other love languages will come as a natural overflow of that. I deeply love you, Jesus, and want to communicate that love to you in the way that speaks it loudest to Your heart! Thank you for the story in your word that displays clearly that which you most desire from me.

In Him ~
Tammy…

You can read more from Tammy at Steps in Our Journey

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Friday, November 16, 2007

The Special Needs Christian

We all have faults and shortcomings, places we need constant help or improvement. We must realize that God loves us in spite of what we perceive to be unloving qualities. The world can look at us differently but God never will. We are His special needs children.

I too have a child with special needs. He is 11 years old and is barely over 2.5 foot tall. He still wears a size 3t. He also has very fine sparse hair which means he looks bald. He is legally blind in one eye.

I live with bruises on my knees and arms because he has learned to use me as a ladder. If he wants water from a fountain, or to play a game at the arcade, or just to see the menu at a fast food place, I hold out my arm and he grabs a hold and pulls himself up to stand on my knee. To others it may look strange but to me it is now just normal. If fact, until someone pointed it out recently I hadn't given it a second thought. I simply don't mind because I love him that much. He is my son.

When I shop for him I have to shop at Gap, Gymboree, or Old Navy because of his size. It is difficult to purchase a size 3t anywhere else without having puppy dogs or bears all over it. I'm sure you can imagine how embarrassing wearing teddy bears would be for a 11 year old!

He still sits in a car seat. He can't reach light switches. He needs a stool to go to the restroom. This is my boy. I love him so much. It doesn't matter to me what the world thinks or how they react... what matters is what I think and how I react. That is what will feed his soul or starve it. I make the difference in his life. I don't know why He trusts me so much but God chose me to be his mother. In tears I say... for that I am so grateful.

My heart swells with pride and love for him and his brothers. And even though they have no physical limitations they too have "special needs" In fact, all children do whether it be a need for extra emotional attention, a need to be tickled, learning disabilities, being gifted, having social problems, being deaf, child prodigies, having Down Syndrome, having an abundance of talent, red hair, braces or whatever else it may be. Every child has special needs.

We, as God's children all have special needs too. He protects us, loves us, helps us up, trains us, teaches us and sets us apart. He uses those special needs for His glory. No one is that different or that alone in this world

We are not a burden to our Father. Why do we sometimes condemn ourselves as though we are? He is reaching out to you today.... let Him hold you!

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. " Romans 8:38-39





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

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

I want to be like those trees!

As I pulled away from the school this morning I found myself a bit reflective. That is of the trees. Along 2nd Ave. there are these huge trees one right after the other.There they stood this morning in the brisk cold air towering high into the sky naked as ever. It was almost like they were a bit proud of their position, their season, this time that they were given. Normally I don't notice them much at this time of year but rather look forward to the new life they bring in spring or the dramatic performance they give in fall. Yet I know from my brief studies of the seasons while my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, that at this time or season all of their energy and efforts are put into their root system in order for survival during the harshness of winter.And then I saw it, not the naked limbs which seem so vulnerable to the elements but the huge trunk with what almost looked like legs going down deep into the ground.
Immediately I thought, " I want to be like those trees. No, not naked, but rather with deep roots and a strong foundation because life is often referred to as seasons." I know that during the difficult winter the tree is at risk of being hurt, losing a limb or two or three, and gasp even being forced to be pruned. But what if a tree refused to give up those leaves and stay green all year and put forth all of its energy towards staying in this one season, never changing? Like me at times, the tree would look pretty silly and eventually die of sickness and disease due to a poor root system. I could almost see it, the tree holding on to those dear leaves with everything it has as the cold air blew across the sky and than crying out for help, "Oh, dear God have mercy on me." Am I a tree refusing to go through the season that God is taking me? Do I resist the pruning? Am I more worried about what others see in me or am I concerned about only the roots, the foundation on which I am to stand even if it means I have to go through the barrenness of a winter season?
As I pulled into the garage and entered the warmth of my home, I prayed, "Lord, forgive me for holding onto so many leaves, for not shedding those things, those thoughts, and standing barren before You with my only desire to have a strong root system."

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3
In Him...Chris
This post was written earlier this year at my personal blog Come to the Table

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