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Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Beginnings

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)

Do you made/make resolutions for the new year? I don't this year. You know why? Because I break them within the first week of the new year. I know it sounds bad, but it is the truth.

Last year I set out to read the Bible in a year; like I had so many years before. I was doing very well for over 6 months. I don't know what happened; I just stopped following the printed plan I got from a website. I don't think I do very well with long-term laid out plans. I guess I am just to hyper to stay on track.

One thing I did do though. I stayed in His Word; just not by a designed plan. I know that some of you (probably most of you) do well with structured plans and stay on track (any hints for me you might want to share?). I guess it is just not for me.

Like I said, I don't do well with new year's resolutions, so this year I am not making any. Do I have plans, goals or dreams for 2008? Oh yes, I do! Some of my dreams are huge and I am not sure if they will become reality. Will I fret at the end of 2008 when some of my dreams or plans have not become reality? Nope! I just trust His Spirit to guide me to walk the path He wants me to walk.

Although the above passage was directed to God's people in exile, I make the passage mine to guide me through 2008. I will 'breath' the passage in the new year. You see, God's Word is just as fresh today as it was over 2,500 years ago. I will stick to His promise that His plans are for my welfare – that He is giving me a future and a hope that never disappoints.

“Lord of Heaven and Earth. Thank You for Your promise to have only our welfare on Your mind. Thank You for giving us a future and a hope. Lord, I humbly ask You today that You will bless the efforts of Your children and servants in 2008. Lord, keep us close to You and Your Word, no matter what happens. In the precious name of Jesus ~ Amen.”

This will be my last post on the Internet Cafe. I want to thank the Lord for His grace when He supplied the words to share with you. I want to thank Darlene for the opportunity to share my faith with a larger readership. And I especially want to thank the readers for your kind comments over the past months.

Lisa and Linda - I pray that God will guide you through 2008; that He will bless you, the entire Internet Cafe blogging team beyond your expectations and dreams.




Friday, December 28, 2007

Finding Middle C

Shortly after we got married, my husband bought an old upright piano. He’s a musician and I’m sure he thought it would be his toy. He (we) had no idea that a house full of children would eventually spend years practicing their own skills on it.

The ‘growing’ of a musician is an interesting process to watch, especially if you’re the only non-musician (me) in a family of 7. As soon as each child could maneuver it, they would stand and reach for the piano keys high above their heads and “play music” until their arms were too tired to lift anymore. Later they would beg to sit on Dad’s lap and bang away at the keys, loving every loud minute of it. But, eventually into each “banger’s” life came the day when they were introduced to the special disciplines that only a piano teacher can dish out. She really wasn’t as interested in their loud, weird rhythms as Mom and Dad had been. She had other things in mind like practicing scales and sight reading and music theory and Bach competitions. There isn’t one brain cell in a seven-year-old noggin that can comprehend 20-30 minutes a day of practicing scales. Over and over – forward and backward – left hand – right hand –both hands - next scale – start over – forward and backward – left hand – right hand – and on and on and the same goes for the next day and the next. They sit there day after day repeating tedious and seemingly insignificant finger exercises, and sight reading and playing little snippets of songs about a lazy ant or a dancing flower. It borders on torture for an energetic kid who’s dreaming of riding his bike or doing flips on the trampoline. Practicing is difficult for them because kids are creatures who live in the “now”. (If it’s not fun now, then why am I doing it?) This is the not-so-fun part for the parent because somehow we have to keep them motivated during the dullness of the “discipline” years.

But Hallelujah! when it all comes together! Before long they begin to read music and are able to play things that kind of sound like music. However, the real victory comes when they reach an awesome stage that they never saw coming. They discover that they only need to look at a sheet of music and their fingers simply know what to do. After years of practicing the rote disciplines of music, they begin to operate in the freedom of being rooted and grounded in layers of theory. Their fingers move with a muscle-memory that developed without their notice. They “think” musically. They are then internally motivated by the joy that comes from being able to “flow” effortlessly in the realm of all things musical. Parental “influence” is no longer needed. My only job then is to fork out cash for the instruments! (kidding – their taste is too expensive.)

I think God must feel like a ‘piano’ parent sometimes. As His children, we struggle with some of the daily disciplines of the Christian life. . . . “love your neighbor as yourself” (every day?). . . “forgive one another” (again?). . . “esteem others more highly than yourself” (again today?) . . . “tell the truth” (every time?) . . . “hide my word in your heart” (how much do I have to memorize?) . . . “walk by faith and not by sight” (but I don’t understand!) . . . “love your enemies” (even after what they did to me?) . . . “trust Me” (but I can’t find any evidence that You’re near!) . . . “respect the authority I’ve placed you under” (but I’m not being treated fairly) . . . “pray without ceasing” (it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening) . . . “and having done all, continue to stand” (but I’m so tired of this situation) . . . “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (but the Bible is hard to read) . . . “delight yourself in the Lord” (I’ve got problems, I don’t delight in anything!)

Geez! I’ve said every one of those things!

But, if we could learn to ignore our bratty flesh and exercise a little spiritual discipline. . . eventually tiny, barely noticeable parts of us begin to change.

Each time we love when our flesh wants to hate, each time we praise though our heart is broken, each time we obey when it seems unfair, we grow. Our spirit strengthens and our flesh weakens when we choose to trust Him in the darkness and confusion. Our inner strength swells as we daily digest the Word because it is alive and can only deliver life to those who partake. When we make a decision to forgive simply because it honors God, we become a little more like Jesus. Before we know it, the spiritual muscle-memory kicks in and we begin to think differently. Soon we’re not as concerned with getting our way as we are with showing love. We’re not as concerned with being right as we are with being reconciled. We can’t lie because the truth has become so welcoming and pure. We are drawn to the Word because it is a letter from home. We pray, we love, we give, we serve, we forgive because, without realizing it, we are slowly changing. Though we have been unaware of it, as we have chosen to practice the everyday “scales” of spiritual disciplines, we are being prepared to operate in an unseen kingdom where the miraculous is commonplace and where unwavering trust is as essential as oxygen. God knows what He is attempting to develop in us and in Revelation 5:10 He reveals His end game:

And You have made them a kingdom, a royal race, and priests to our God and they shall reign as kings over all the earth. (Amplified)

I’m thinking that kings and priests shouldn’t be running around looking for sheet music or trying to find ‘middle C’. They'll need to operate from deep within where the disciplines of God are fixed and steady and quickly accessible.

I’m thinking that future kings and priests should know their “scales!” :)

In Him,

Visit Darnelle at her personal blog:

All Things Work Together

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

a new race to run

This post was previously posted on my site....but with the new year around the corner and 'the race of a lifetime' still to run, it seemed timely to replay it.
Spiritual disciplines are not just something to THINK about, its something we NEED to DO our journey.
~Happy New Year to you all~
Running the RACE....a spiritual athlete

I can imagine them, the Ancient Christians, living in North Africa and the Middle East in the third century. As Paul Thigpen writes in an article from Discipleship Journal (sept./oct 2004) these men and women were "athletes of God." When I read the article years ago, I was intrigued and I have kept the magazine in a basket beside my bed ever since....What does it take to be a "spiritual athlete" in this day and age...I am already tired...another race to run sounds exhausting...but what I have come to learn that this type of discipline will help me "run the race marked out for me" (Heb. 12:1). It is not exhausting, it's exhilarating! It's not on piled on top of all of the other things on my "to do" list...these disciplines, when practiced, will help me "lay aside every weight....and let me run with perseverance the race that is set before me....discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time but it yields the fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained." (Heb. 12:1-2, 11-13)That is the goal...righteousness and a race well run when it is all said and done...sounds like I need some discipline!

If I am going to run this race, and run it well, then just as an athlete, I MUST seek to be trained by the Master...Just as an athlete has to decide how best to prepare for a particular event, I too, must seek to prepare my SOUL...Without disciplining my spiritual self, I am in no way ready to endure the race called life...
That requires honesty, a prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and a look at what area I need some "extra training" in...Paul Thigpen writes that "in ancient times the elder in the Christian community would have the brothers and sisters concentrate on one discipline for an entire year and IF they had mastered it by the year's end, they could move on to the next."

We live in such an "immediate gratification" society...we want results now and the thought of "discipline" and "long term commitments" can scare us...but we are in this
race for a lifetime, if we do not seek to evolve into better beings then we really are not running the race that Christ has laid before us....We only become better when we focus on that which needs the most work...for some it is in abstinence, others simplicity, some it's becoming disciplined in stillness, others prayer, and still others this season in my life, I am focusing on the discipline of meditation.

It's my training session with God...I am seeking a deeper, fuller, relationship with God...trying to understand HIS will and purpose in every area of my a word, wisdom...If I am going to run this race for HIM then I need this discipline...not that there aren't other areas that I need to work on too, this is just the one that speaks to my heart at the moment...Paul told the Romans "not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may discern the will of God - what is good, acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

I NEED this training, especially at this time in my journey...raising a family, being a Godly wife, homeschooling, ministering to others...I will NOT effectively be a "disciple of Christ" without training in the discipline of meditation....If I don't focus on what God's will is, sit and listen for HIS voice, meditate on HIS word, then I will not be the "athlete" that God needs me to be....

This is as Thigpen calls it a discipline of fortitude, without spiritual food, I won't have the energy to compete for the Lord....and if I can't run this race for HIM, then what am I running it for...

Consider then the disciplines that may be lacking in your life, or ones that may need a bit of intensive training to get back on the's not always easy, discipline never is, but our heavenly "personal trainer" is always ready; ready to guide us in this race, wanting more than we can imagine, victory for us at the end of the race....the race HE has laid before us...."

In Him,

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Valuable Gift

“…they traded in their glory for shame.”
Hosea 4:7

I remember a few years ago when my husband received a signed bat as a gift. Although he was excited about this, it wasn’t until one day as he was walking into a Starbucks for coffee and he saw on the cover of Sports Illustrated a picture of the 2005 Baseball MVP, Albert Pujols, he realized the value of what he had been given. You see, the bat was signed and dated by Albert Pujols for my husband. Even though we were extremely grateful for the gift itself and the thoughtfulness behind it, the bat instantly grew in value to us. However, just because we didn’t realize it, this didn’t change the value of this gift from the beginning. This gift was of great value long before we came to understand it, but now it is treasured more. It’s like a boy with baseball cards that trades one of his cards that he may not care all that much for, only to realize later that it was actually quite valuable and should have been kept. Lucky for us, we never considered trading the gift we had been given. (ha!)

Many times we, as Christians, are like this with all that Christ has given to us. Do we really comprehend the incredible value of what He offers? Do we cherish it, or have we, like the people in this verse from Hosea, traded “glory for shame”? Many times we trade the glory of God and all that He extends to us for our own sin. It could be a relationship, a job, a bad habit, or just a selfish attitude.

Take the time to today to dive into God’s Word and get a glimpse into the treasure we have been given. Then, see if there is anything in your life that you have exchanged for your intimate fellowship with Christ. We are blessed that, although we make foolish decisions and often trade His way, for our way, He is “waiting around to be gracious to us” (Isaiah 30:18) and will always exchange our life for His abundant life if we will but give Him all we have. Oh, for Him, it’s not an even trade at all, and for us it’s getting far more than we deserve, but that’s Grace and that’s what makes it so glorious.

We really have been given a treasure that cannot be taken away! May we hold on tight and not trade it for anything this world has to offer.

Lord, thank you for the incredible gift you have given to us through your Son, Jesus. Help me to stay close to you and guard my relationship with You, not being willing to trade it for anything else in this world. Keep me mindful of the value You are in my life and may I share it with others, so that they, too, can receive the eternal treasure that You offer.

In Him~

To read more from Tammy, visit her at Steps In Our Journey

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Joy to the World

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. Luke 2:10

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Whether you are completely alone today, missing a loved one, far away from your family and friends or just simply waiting for tomorrow to be over with, there is reason to shout, "JOY TO THE WORLD!" If Jesus is your Savior, than you have a reason to shout! Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth. It is that simple! Therefore, a "Merry Christmas" is a joyous festivity with great pleasure and delight at the birth of our King, our Savior, the One and Only! I have learned through the years with five children that we don't have to spend a lot of money or go to great lengths to have a joyous festivity or experience great pleasure or delight in our celebrations.

It is our culture that has made it about the decorations, baking, shopping, buying, gifts, gifts, and more gifts. The celebration should be about Him! The One who came to save us from our sins! JOY TO THE WORLD! You are not alone today! God demonstrated His Great Love for you and me by sending His One and Only Son to be the sacrifice for our sins! JOY TO THE WORLD!

Let's sing together:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!Let earth receive her King;Let every heart prepare Him room,And Heaven and nature sing,And Heaven and nature sing,And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!Let men their songs employ;While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy,Repeat the sounding joy,Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,Nor thorns infest the ground;He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found,Far as the curse is found,Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness,And wonders of His love,And wonders of His love,And wonders, wonders, of His love.

I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas! In other words, celebrate with great festivity and pleasure the birth of our Savior. JOY TO THE WORLD!

God loves YOU so very much!!!

In Him...Chris

You are always welcome to visit Chris at her personal blog CometotheTable

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

For Those Who Struggle Through the Holidays

Dear Reader: The following is a column I wrote for our local newspaper. This column probably means the most to me of all that I've written because I can relate first-hand to depression, and I received more feedback about this column than any other. You may not be struggling in the grip of depression, but you probably know someone who is. God is sovereign--let God be praised, for He pulls us out of pits such as depression and promises that nothing can ever separate us from His love!

Words of Hope for the Discouraged

Lauren sits at the Christmas dinner table with her head gratefully bowed, realizing she's holding the hands of the dearest blessings in her life: family. But Lauren's Christmas prayer is an exercise in faith and maturity because she doesn't feel much emotional warmth or connection. She is numb. Lauren is fighting depression that intensifies during the holidays, when the pressure is on to be happy.

Can believers, claiming to know the source of peace and wholeness, be depressed? From David, who poured out his intense angst in the Psalms, to you and me, it happens. Whether by circumstance or biology, people of faith struggle with this paradox.

Others simplistically advise, "Read your Bible more," or "Quit navel-gazing and go work in a soup kitchen," or "Depression is a part of life. Get over it." The depressed person knows that compared to those in Darfur or those facing catastrophic illness and loss, she has nothing to moan about, so the admonishment only contributes to her implosion -- guilt and shame are heavyweights. Some people are born seeing their proverbial gravy boats half full instead of half empty, and they will never understand persistent depression.

Many in the heat of the battle faithfully follow directives for coping, including counseling, medication, serving others, exercising, keeping a gratitude journal, etc. They are committed to slogging through the wet cement of depression. Still, they are wondering, "Will this ever end?"

It will.

The key is not to ask, "How long, O Lord?" but to continually affirm, "His grace (strength) is sufficient for me," whether enduring the holidays or 3 a.m. insomnia. Just because you don't feel spiritual doesn't mean God has left you; relationship is more than feelings. The verse 2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful."

Sometimes we travel through dark tunnels we never saw coming. We look around, and others don't seem to be affected. We look ahead and can't see any light. We pray and hear an echo. Pretty soon we just sit quietly, confused and anxious.

Keep praying -- your prayers are heard.

The shortest distance between two points, the beginning and end of your tunnel, is a straight line. Don't be so impatient to stop the pain that you lurch out sideways; you'll feel the wall you throw yourself into. Listen for the voice that says, "This is the way, walk in it; do not turn to the right or to the left."

You are going to come out on the other side of depression like waking from a coma. Your spiritual eyes will open, and you'll see how God was with you, teaching you, comforting you. You won't be so tired anymore. Your relationships will be meaningful again. The glass wall between you and others will shatter. You'll be glad you hung in there for one more day ... then one more day.

Your purpose and destiny are not nullified because of this struggle. In fact, you'll be able to help others better because you'll be spiritually richer, more compassionate, more humble, more usable, and more in love with God.

So stay the course. The darkness is almost over. Hold on one more day ... and then one more.

2nd Cup of Coffee

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

These words have been branded on my heart (in a good way) ever since I read them at the beginning of this always busy season...

1. Count your troubles, name them one by one- at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2. Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man's gotta live.

5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they're going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.

6. Stay away from absolutes. It's what's right for you that matters. Be your own person and don't allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7. Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people's. You have your life to live, they have theirs.

8. Don't fall into any compassion traps- the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people's troubles, you may neglect your own.

9. Don't let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what's really relevant-things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones- they're where it's at now.

-from Keep a Quiet Heart, by Elisabeth Elliot

Tuck these words away, friends, put the opposite in action- and let us keep our Joy!

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Manna Jar and Goodbye!

Christmas Greetings to you, my wonderful friends here at the Internet Café.

Today is my last post at the Café as the Lord has opened a new door for me to walk through in His service. I am excited about the future Kingdom work at hand and also sad that I will not meet you here twice a month.

I cannot adequately express the love I have in my heart for each of you. Your words of wisdom and encouragement you have shared with me over the months are a priceless gift. It has been a profound privilege to share the hope we have in Christ with one another.

As I leave you I want to share a post I wrote last year. I opened my Manna Jar today and was blessed beyond measure. It is my prayer, you will open your own Manna Jar in a year from now and see how perfectly the Lord Jesus Christ has moved in your life.

The Manna Jar

Do you know what the people of Israel kept in the Ark of the Covenant? Hebrews 9:4 This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

It contained manna that was made into bread and sent from heaven to feed the Israelites as they traveled in the wilderness. God provided this sweet tasting bread every day with the early morning dew. Exodus 16 is a rich story of God’s faithfulness and provision. I hope you have time to read it this week.

Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.’

Did you know that God’s people are a forgetful lot? He knew the Israelites would quickly forget the divinely provided daily bread. It is also true of us today we are a forgetful lot! Our memory fades over time and we no longer are convinced it was God talking with us softly in the pre-dawn light months ago. We fail to remember it was God’s provision when our spouse lost his job. When a friend arrives to pray at the precise moment we feel overwhelmed by circumstances. We stop thinking about the scripture passage which brought new hope or a new direction.

John 10:10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. The enemy lurks in the shadows to steal our memories of Kingdom experiences. He will do everything in his power to cause doubt. —Did I really hear from God? Did I only imagine His presence. Was it just a coincidence or did God provide for our bills last year when my husband lost his job?

Are you surprised we can forget Godly encounters? God is not. In the Old Testament, altars were constructed to mark significant events in which God provided. They were visible reminders of His faithfulness. Altars were also used as object lessons for the children, to teach God’s provision and presence in their lives. God knows our feeble memory fails. He command the altars made to remember Him. (Genesis 8:20; Genesis 12:7 Exodus 17:15; Joshua 4:4-7; etc.)

We need our memories of past encounters with God. Remembering what God has done in the past, gives us hope for the future.

This year I will not surrender my memories made with Christ. I have my own manna jar. I have labeled it: encouragement, love, laughter, memories, and hope. It is a glass Mason jar. I can easily see the items inside.

Things I hope to place inside are:

Scripture verses which significantly impact my life
Photo of a friend who was Jesus to me
Clippings from a blog that enriched my relationship with Christ
A dried flower; I talk to God early in the garden
A penny to remind me of a senseless act of kindness I offered to a stranger
Each encounter with God I will remember with a spiritual marker, a token, placed in my manna jar.

I want to remember my experiences with God this year, the next, and the next. One day I want to share them with my grandchildren.
I have a manna jar.

Lord our God, You never forget us. Thank you for the memories we have of your divine and miraculous presence in our lives. Thank you for the future memories we will make together. In Jesus name, Amen.

Today I placed my first memory-clipping inside. I can’t wait to see what will be in the jar at the end of the year.

Start your manna jar today and imagine the amazing memories you will place there?

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

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Miracle on Hwy 117

Don't ever let anyone tell you a Preacher's Wife is above the law. She may be outrunning it to the tune of 73 mph in a 55 mph zone, but eventually that long arm stretches out and snaps her back.

And it's awfully embarrassing.

Yes, I got pulled over by the state trooper this week while running late to my son's field trip. (Can you hear my husband saying, 'Imagine that?' Oh, he's such a smart aleck! :) It was quite a paradoxical moment - the cop stalking his prey and the prey praying, "Jesus, help me! You know I can't afford a speeding ticket at Christmas!"

My being stopped for bending the speed limit was eventually going to happen. I just really hate it happened in my small town in front of our local attorney whose parents go to our church. I went ahead and waved at him while the cop was following me with the blue lights blazing to get it out of the way. No use acting like he didn't see me or vice versa. Besides that, it was possible I may need his services to get me out of the pokey.

Anyway, here's the cool part.

The policeman eventually stopped me on a side street and approached the car. I was trying to work up a good cry but my aggravation over being late for the field trip far outweighed my self-pity. Besides, I could tell this dude meant business and no amount of snot-slinging was going to get me out of this one. I rolled down the window and he said, in a deep manly voice, "How are you today, ma'am?"

Me: "Umm. Not so great?"

Him: "Well you are better than you think."

Me: "Why's that?"

Him: "I don't exactly know what happened but as soon as I clocked you speeding, my equipment went haywire. Policy says I can't write you a ticket if my equipment is malfunctioning."

Me: "Well, then, praise the Lord! All those 'Help Me, Jesus' prayers I said when I flew past you must have really helped!"

Him (Not appearing amused): "He may have helped you but now I have to spend the rest of the day figuring out what is wrong with my equipment. You can go but SLOW. IT. DOWN."

And you can not imagine the relief that flooded over me. I turned around in a driveway and had to pass the policeman again. He flashed his lights and motioned me to stop. When I rolled down my window he said, "You aren't going to believe this, but my equipment is working perfectly fine now. I don't know what's going on. This has never happened before!"

Me (looking amused): Well, I guess Jesus really does love me then!

Him: Well, He must not love me. He just ruined my stop.

Me: Oh, yeah. He loves you, too.

And when I drove away, I kicked myself for not adding, "And maybe He caused all this just to tell you."

And isn't that what a miracle is? God's way of pulling us over from the rush of our everyday to say, "Wow! Jesus really does love me!" It's the child getting a bag full of toys when he was expecting none. The grieving mom discovering she made it through one more day without her son. The shepherd 2000 years ago receiving the greatest birth announcement ever proclaimed.

And a woman like me receiving much more grace than she deserves.

Yes, Jesus does love me. And He loves you, too. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded His favor rests on us.

And maybe He pulled me over so I would make a point to tell you.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:14

I'd love for you to visit me here:

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rejoice, highly favored one...

Luke 1:30 "Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

During this "season" I was thinking about our Messiah's mother, Mary. How do we prepare for the Holiday season? Is our focus on the lights, trees, decorations, dinners, programs at church?

My mind came to this passage of scripture this morning. While meditating on this short verse and thinking about how Mary must have felt when the Lord chose her to give birth to our Messiah. I was astonished to realize how scary that must have been to such a young girl. Mary according to Jewish tradition must have been in her early teens.

The verse says "you have found favor with God." Favor means approving consideration or attention. Mary was looked upon by our God with much love and kindness. This is the God of the universe who chose Mary for this incredible moment.

I understand by the passages of scripture that she was a woman with extraordinary Godly character with an unusual faith in God. She was a faithful servant.

Don't we want to be like Mary? With obedience to our Savior. A faith that is unmovable. An inspiration in service to others. Accepting God's will for our lives without any questions.

She is an inspiration to me as I continue my daily walk with Christ. I want to have that servants attitude. I want to have that faith established in my heart that exemplifies itself even when I can't see or understand a situation I am in. I want to obey my Savior and His will for my life when it doesn't make sense. Ultimately I want to portray that Godly character that speaks even when I am gone from this earth and in my Savior's arms.

Mary's life will not impact yours if first of all you have never recieved the Messiah that she gave birth to. The Son of God. Have you asked Him; Jesus, Emanuel, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords to forgive you for your sins? Have you repented; that is turned away from your sins, and believing that you are a new creature? If you are saved; are you living a life of Godly character?

Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech your therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, to God which is your reasonable service."

Vs. 2 says, "And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Mary, the favored one and loved by God, has taught me something very special. I need to obey our Messiah and leave all the consequences to Him. Our Messiah does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even when it seems unreasonable.

I trust that we will always relfect on Him, our Savior and King! Reflect on Mary's complete obedience and faithfulness. His celebration of His birth should lead us to remember most importantly to His resurrection. Remember, He lives!

Mary, a true woman of Faith. Are we?

Luke 1:37 and 38 "For with God nothing will be impossible" Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."

In Him...Elaine

Visit my personal blog at:

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Monday, December 17, 2007

He Sees Your Heart

“But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

Do you get intimidated by the talents and gifts of others? I have to admit – I do. I marvel at women who can do it all...Homemade crafts, home backed cookies, homemade clothing. I think it is so cool that women can do that. It seems that God gave me two left hands when it comes to home-made things; well maybe for cooking – I am half decent in that department...

I remember years back I wanted to make a banner for our church to hang in the sanctuary. It seemed easy enough. I checked with a couple of ladies from church, got my supplies and went at it...

Let me tell you: it looks much easier than it is. Of course, I didn't start with a small banner; no it had to be huge. My husband asked me what I was trying to do when I got home with all my supplies under the arm. With a huge smile on my face I explained my vision about a wonderful banner in purple. All he did was smile...

For the next three weeks I was at it. Cutting, sewing by hand (yeah – I don't even have a sewing machine), tears running down my face. I had promised a purple banner, so I was going to make a purple banner...

Sometimes I get so intimidated by others, that I forget that God might not has given me a certain talent. I might not be able to be crafty with my hands, but I have different talents and gifts. I am unique to Him. He equips me with the talents and gifts He sees fit for me. He handpicks us for certain tasks, just like He handpicked David to become Israel's king.

Did I finish the banner? Yes, by His grace I did. It was ready in time to be hung in the sanctuary. Will I ever again volunteer to make a banner...No Way!!! I will leave that to the women who are much more talented than I am and who have sewing machines.

My sweet sisters, God gives all of us talents and gifts to further His kingdom. He knows our hearts that we are willing to serve, so He will supply the gifts and talents that are needed. Follow His lead and don't get intimidated by the gifts and talents of others as I did...

Lord of Heaven and Earth. You know our hearts and willingness to serve You. Sometimes we get intimidated by the gifts and talents of others. Help us to see the ministries that are right for us. And thank You Lord for Your extra measure of grace when we need it. In the precious name of Jesus – Amen.

You can also read some of my thoughts on by personal blog "Sting my Heart"...

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Strong Woman

If you’ve ever been to the circus or seen strength exhibitions on TV you may have seen what the world perceives as the “strongest man or woman”. I hate to break it to them….but my mother is the strongest woman in the world. How do I know? Well, even though she has never been in any “worldly contest”… she lived the life of strength in Christ before my sisters and brother. I am the oldest of four---so I should know.

I watched as she faced each trial holding tightly to the hand of God. Sickness of a child, betrayal, financial problems, single parenthood, her own physical problems that came as a result of the trials of life, and many other adversities that I, as her child was never privy to. She protected us from her difficulties. But, since I was the oldest, there were a few things I knew, saw or learned. Through each and every trial….she never turned loose of the hand that held her so tightly….but ever so gently. She is the one that taught me, “Pray about everything”. And I do.

This is a little "side trail".....
Several years ago, I gave my mother a gift that I believe she treasures to this day. No matter how amateurish it may look, with its glued in pictures, glued on bindings and computer printout pages, she loved it. I gave her a book of my memories of her mother, who had gone to be with Jesus several years earlier, but was missed greatly by all of us.

As I worked on this gift project, I went to my mothers' sisters for help. They gave me old pictures to copy. They told me stories of life that surrounded each photo. Every picture had a memory. Throughout this little book, I told of all the details I remembered as I grew up, being a privileged grandchild, and being able to stay with "Mamo and Papa" for long visits in the summer. My claim to privilege is due to the fact that we lived about 350 miles from my grandparents and were able to spend lengthy visits with them on each school break.

A few of my memories were, wagon rides behind Papa’s tractor through the watermelon fields. Mamo would take small watermelons for my sister, Wanda and myself and carve a face on it with a nail, giving us a “melon baby” to play with for the day. I remember helping Mamo wash clothes in her wringer washer on the back porch, later watching crisp sheets snap in the breeze. The gathering of the eggs, watching Papa milk the cows in the early morning and late evening, were also among the sweet memories. Watching Mamo churn butter, make cakes, biscuits, and all sorts of good eatin’ that you would always find at her table was a delight to this young child's soul. They grew their own vegetables, made their own jams and jellies, slaughtered their own hogs (yuk), and so many other things, we’d be here all day if I continued. But through every detail of their lives, they held tightly to God.

Prayer was serious business. They had no TV when I was young, actually, even later on when Papa convinced Mamo that they “needed” one to watch the news, I never remember visiting and finding the TV on. They were always busy with the activities of life.

When staying with them, I woke early to the smell of breakfast cooking and if I woke late, I woke to the sounds of the chairs being pushed back on the linoleum floor, so that they could get on their knees. The early morning sounds of their daily conversation with the Father. On their knees. EVERYDAY. This was their daily exercise. (This was where my mother's strength began to form.) It showed up in their lives. It showed up in their children.

After supper, each night they would retire to the living room and read in their Bibles, or Sunday School lesson, or The Pentecostal Evangel. When the time came, they got down on their knees and talked to God. EVERYNIGHT. This was an honor and privilege for me. Although at the time, being a young girl, I may not have realized the “strength” of the moment---but I can tell you today, I know. I know where my mother’s strength came from. Her godly training. By a godly mother. A strong mother.

I Timothy 1:5-7 "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." This passage of scripture always reminds me of my mother and grandmother. My mother's name is not Eunice....but my grandmother's name was Lois. I always claimed this verse to be "about them". I believe whatever strength I have today, began from the kneeling position at Mamo's couch. By her side. Even as a young child of 5 or is the memories of those times that have encouraged me. Watching and hearing my own mother in her prayer times....strength builders. Having my own prayer time and bible reading....strength builders. (End of side trail....)

The memories that I shared in mother's little book that were so sweet to me, brought back memories of “hard times” as mother remembered growing up. She remembered the sweet things as well, but it was through the hard times in her growing years, that she began to gain strength for the next phase of her life.

To be physically strong it requires some action on our part. We can’t just buy exercise equipment and expect to have that “fit body”….believe me….it doesn’t work (tried it). We have to eat properly and actually "use" the equipment! Whether we walk, run, hike or do aerobics, we need to circulate the blood---get the heart rate up. We must be diligent.

In order to have the spiritually fit life, there also are steps we take. We can’t just buy the Bible and expect it to “jump in us”….We must drink in His Word. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" (1 Peter 2:2)

We must be persistent. Romans 2:7 says: "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life". The amplified Bible says “patient persistence”. And we must exercise our faith.

"Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next". 1 Timothy 4:8 NLT

In my early teenage years, when my dad was no longer an active figure in our home---my mother's plate of duties began to expand; she stepped up to that plate and became what was necessary. This required more time with the Lord. Through that time, she gained more strength---as she spent more time on her knees and more time in His Word. This was her spiritual exercise. This was necessary for her spiritual growth.

A not-so-brief synopsis of my mother: She was our cook, our teacher, our personal seamstress (she made almost everything we wore), our chauffeur, our doctor, our personal decorator, our cheerleader, our prayer warrior, our friend and confidante, our comforter--when our childlike heart was broken, a trail blazer--never afraid to attempt what seemed impossible (firmly believes nothing is impossible with God), our peacemaker--for anytime you have have fusses and quarrels, and on the rare occasions when there was just a bit of extra money, she was our banker. She enabled us to “learn to earn” our spending money. Most of all, she was our strength.

She was strong (still is), but only through and by the grace of God. Through Him, her weakness was made strong. We all want to be strong. Physically and spiritually. We don’t necessarily want to do what it takes, or endure what we must for that strength.

I remember many years ago when I worked at the high school, I lead a small class for anyone that wanted to spend 30 minutes after school walking and exercising. Every other day we did one or the other. We walked the track at school or we worked out to an exercise video in the gym. It was tough. The first 2 weeks I thought I needed a fork lift to help me off the toilet! One of the teachers that had joined in complained of the same thing. Reaching our goal took effort. It took daily perseverance. But those of us that kept at it, achieved our goal. (Don’t ask me what happened since I am NOT in the shape I was then---I’ll whoop out my pictures of my grand kids!)

Today, I have a different goal. I want spiritual strength. I have to realize there will be trials and difficulties ahead. But I want with all my heart to become the woman God intends for me to be. A strong woman in Christ. A genuine faith filled, Holy Ghost empowered woman!

1Peter 1:7 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

As 2008 begins to dawn, let us all endeavor to reach for the spiritual strength that God desires to have in each of us. Let us lift our "spiritual weights" while we are lifting our physical ones. Every January, I set a goal for myself....same one....every year. More exercise, better health, better eating habits. But this year, I am adding one. I want to be spiritually strong. We can achieve both. Together...and don't forget to "encourage one another". Be sure and visit Darlene's "Live Well" site for great encouragement and ideas on a healthier, stronger you!

In Him,


May each of you be blessed with the Spirit of Heaven at you Worship the Reason....for our blessed season. Jesus!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Like a Little Child

Sometimes, God just does really cool things. I think my 8 year old daughter would agree. In my home, there are five children. The oldest 3 are teens, the 4th is only months away from being "teen-age-r-y" (a Bill Cosby word we like) and the youngest . . . is 8. While her 4 older siblings are busy with college finals, or their jobs, or learning to drive, she spends her time searching for someone - anyone - to join her in "Barbie" land.
Then, it happened. A few months ago, into our neighborhood, directly across the street from us, a new family moved in. A made-to-order family that my daughter, I feel certain, prayed for. They are a homeschooling group (like us), with 5 kids (like us), with 4 older kids doing the college-teenager-job-driving things (like us), and (are you ready?) one, heaven-sent, last born, Barbie-toting, no one to play with, daughter! Fast-forward a few weeks . . . the two Barbie queens are inseparable and must be torn apart, every evening, via the 'jaws of life'. It's a beautiful thing. And no one will ever convince my daughter that God did not place that family across the street specifically for her. She has no problem believing that her very busy God changed all sorts of circumstances in schools and the housing market just to accommodate her heartfelt desire for someone to play with. To her, it is perfectly reasonable that God would move heaven and earth to meet her need. In her innocence, that's what she thinks real love from a Great Big God looks like. So did I - as a child. And most likely, so did you. But today, we'd be a little hard-pressed to find an adult who is excitedly, expectantly, waiting on a miracle.
My question is, when, and more importantly, why did we stop believing in a big God who would consider our needs important enough to warrant a miracle of some sort? When did we cease believing that we were the Apple of His eye? At what point did we begin to see Him as smaller and less interested in us? Do we think that the problems of the world have become too much of a load for Him, so that now He only has time for truly desperate situations? Has He changed the rules for dishing out Divine attention? Are the Barbie queens monopolizing all of His time? Something or someone - somewhere - has changed. I think we might need to consider that it's us.
Some would say that the only reason children find it easier to believe in miracles is that they just don't understand the obstacles in life that make miracles "impossible". Though that is true, another reason they believe so freely is that they just don't concern themselves with the particulars of how God is gonna pull off a miracle. The details aren't theirs to worry about. They simply ask and then wait - expectantly peering around every corner - just knowing that God is busy working things out - just for them.
Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive and accept and welcome the kingdom of God like a little child does, positively shall not enter it at all. (Mark 10:15 Amplified)
God is so specific and purposeful with His words. He knew all about the attributes of a child when he suggested that we should believe like one. Yet as a first-born, type-A personality, I sometimes (often) struggle with the simplicity of that suggestion. "Childlike" implies irresponsibility to me. Yet, to God, it implies absolute trust. The phrase "Like a little child" ignites images of messy, time-consuming mistakes. But Father God is patient with, and even uses our messes and mistakes to demonstrate His unending love and compassion.
Young children won't give away one moment - of today - being anxious about tomorrow or next year because, in their minds, today is all there is. It's as far as they can see. Poor planning skills? Nope. Just absolute faith in someone bigger, someone with experience and wisdom, someone whose love they've never considered doubting.
Of course there is no escaping the fact that we all grow up and catch glimpses of "real life". Our ability to believe in what we can't see or explain - slowly slips away - even without our realizing it. Our child-like tendency to believe God for things that are "impractical" and "impossible" fades as we gain confidence in our own proficiency. It's just what happens.
I'm guessing that God knew that we would get a little confused as we 'grew up'. I think He knew we'd struggle a little trying to find a balance between the on-coming maturity and remaining innocent and wide-eyed in our relationship with Him. He knew. And so, He reminds us . . .
"Like a little child."

What if we asked Him to help us remember what childlike trust, in a Great Big God, looks like and feels like again?
"And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind - having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude." (Ephesians 4:23 Amplified)
What a great time of year to consider it. What an incredible gift to our Savior as we celebrate His coming to us! The gift of renewed faith in Him . . . like a little child.

In Him,

Visit Darnelle at her personal blog:
All Things Work Together

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Friday, December 14, 2007

breath of heaven

It was almost 13 years to the day...
I was 9 months pregnant and due on January 8th, or so I thought.
I went to the doctor that morning and he calmly told me that I would be having a baby......................TODAY.

I remember that he would not let me go home. I had to go to the hospital, go directly to the hospital, DO NOT PASS GO.... :) and I remember what happened is so clear to me.

I went to my car ~ a baby blue Ford was a frigid day in Chicago, ice and snow covered the ground. That little car needed time to warm up, so I sat for a moment and waited ~
trying to compose myself...
Wow, I had prayed for years, endured fertility treatments that still make me shake my head in wonder...and FINALLY the day had come...not at all how I imagined it would be...

Scott was in downtown ~ had to get him here...
(he had a habit of missing those trains from downtown:))
Mom was not arriving until after Christmas and now she'd miss this...
I still had shopping to do....
I could not even PACK my own bag....

As I sat there in the car, a song came on the radio...
it wasn' t the first time I'd heard it, but the first time I HEARD it...

" I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear. In a world as cold as stone, Must I walk this path alone? Be with me now ~
Breath of Heaven, hold me together, be forever near me...breath of heaven... Breath of Heaven, light in my darkness, pour over me your holiness, for you are Holy..."

In my hormonal state I sat there and CRIED...not sad tears, but for the first time in my life, I imagined Mary ~ and I imagined her hearing the plans for her and submitting out of faith. I am certain that when the angel told her she was going to carry GOD'S child, it was not what she had imagined for herself, nor was the donkey ride to Bethlehem or the stable in which HIS life would begin...she was faithful to the plans that were never hers in the first place....

nor were mine...

It was MY moment.... I have no idea how long I sat there, I eventually drove myself to the hospital ~ and had my beautiful miracle baby. I learned so much that day.....

THOSE words stayed with me...
and 5 years later, in another miracle from GOD, I found myself pregnant again at Christmas...(there was another birth in between, but she was a summer babe, guess God did not think that I could handle 3 at Christmas:) )

With 2 in tow to the Dr. late in the month...I was again in a car...actually a van, going to the doctor...
I was IMPATIENT! Both of my others had been early and surely this one would too...
I was anxious,
and fitful,
I had a plan, I was ready!
mom had been with us for WEEKS now, we had planned this ALL out
again HE placed in my life THAT SONG...and again, I cried.

This time, it brought me back to Mary and her patience. Patience with God's plan, not her plan...

and not my plan, but HIS plan...

I THOUGHT I had learned what I needed to 5 years earlier...
apparently not...
another timely message, from the same words.

So, as I prepare my heart this Christmas, I find myself dwelling on Mary...her obedience, her faithfulness and her patience. The lessons from a girl who faithfully said,

"I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say." (Luke 1:38) lessons of a lifetime for me.

I still fall to pieces when I hear that song, especially if I happen to be in the car alone and can actually HEAR the words.
The messages were powerful to a Mary wanna be...
like me~

I love when HE does that! and twice! (that blows me away!!)

peace and blessings to you and yours this Christmas. The lessons found at the manger are so powerful, peek inside, linger awhile, it's the visit of a lifetime.


I'm always over here...
learning the lessons of life
come on over, you're always welcome.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Gift of His Will

I love this time of year, the lights, the trees, the candy, and the gifts. I love the anticipation, the excitement, and the wonder that it brings. As I was preparing and planning for the surprises that we will bless our children with this year, I was overwhelmed with the thought of the real gift of Christmas, specifically the gift of God’s will in our lives.

The best part as I coordinate and plan blessings for my kids is watching their anticipation. They know that I only have their best interest in mind and that if I am working on something especially for them, it has to be great. They stay closer to me (whether I’m on the phone or on the computer), so as not to miss a single clue of what’s to come. They dialog with me, asking me over and over for some sort of hint about what I am planning. They are so excited and it brings me such joy in watching them anticipate the gift I have laid out for them.

I couldn’t help but think of our Heavenly Father and the incredible plan He has for each of our lives. For us, it often seems a little unclear and we can’t quite make out what He is doing, but I wonder if from his perspective, as our Daddy, if He isn’t absolutely delighted as He unfolds His plan for each of us, one detail at a time.

As we reflect back over the last year of our lives, I am sure we can all see the clues that He has uncovered for us as it relates to His will for our individual lives. He has a plan, and it’s so much bigger than we could imagine. Through the passage of following His will, my most profound joy comes through the intimate dialog with Him and the intimate fellowship that He draws me to. I echo Paul when he writes in Romans 6:22b, “I have discovered the delight of listening to God telling me what to do, what a surprise!” I don’t want to miss one single detail that He has for me. I can’t help but think that He loves the focus that the anticipation of His will brings in our lives. I believe He wants us to be hopeful as we wait for the revelation of His will just as my kids look forward to the surprises we plan for them. We know He has our best interest at heart. We know that no matter how hard the journey or how unclear the road ahead may be, He has a plan for us (Jer.29:11) and ultimately He has a place prepared for us on the other side of eternity (John 14:2-3). I believe it brings Him great delight when we follow Him wherever He leads, and we do it, not with anxiety, fear, or even dread, but with joy and hopeful anticipation, because we deeply trust that He, as our Heavenly Father, has an amazing plan for us, one that is far better than anything we could do on our own.

As we step back and look at our tree with presents beginning to lay underneath, we are reminded of the many gifts God has entrusted to us this year and the many that He still has waiting for us in 2008. Some of the gifts that He has given are not exactly what we would have chosen or even knew we needed, but they have each one proven to be the “unspeakable riches of His grace” in our lives and we are deeply grateful. We should praise God that we cannot “round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives” (Rom. 5:5), and, unlike some of the gifts we will purchase this year we should rejoice that “His gifts are under full warranty – never canceled, never rescinded!” (Rom. 11:29)

Lord, thank you for the gifts of Your will that you have already unwrapped for us and the encouragement that comes with the anticipation of all that you still have in store for each of us and our families. May we all follow You in 2008 even closer and may we talk to You even more, in order to experience the joy of Your fellowship with us and so we will not miss even one tiny detail that You have planned for us!

In Him ~

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

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't You Just Love Your Refrigerator?

Jeremiah 1:4-8 (emphasis mine)

The Lord gave me a message. He said, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world." "O Sovereign Lord," I said, "I can't speak for you! I'm too young!" "Don't say that," the Lord replied, "for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!"

I was chosen by God. God is with me. God takes care of me. These are things that we know but do we truly understand them? For a while I didn't. For quite some time I thought these words must be meant for someone else, or for Jeremiah alone. I didn't dare claim them for my life. Why? I didn't feel worthy. Unreal isn't it? Scriptures that give us worth we don't believe we are worthy of. I finally received revelation about this and I pray that you do too. Consider this: If you were a salesperson and you were trying to sell a certain product to someone, could you do it? I guarantee that we homemakers could sell a refrigerator in a heartbeat.

"This is a top of the line model. It is essential to daily life. It preserves, it stores, keeps produce fresh, and it freezes meals for weeks to come. You can get one in any color to match your kitchen decor. They come with ice makers and water filters, adjustable settings for every compartment. You can even get them with TVs and radios built right in. I couldn't function in my kitchen without my refrigerator!"

I'm sure this is how I or many of you would sound giving that sales pitch. We need our refrigerators. We believe in the company that made them. We know all about what it can do and how simple it makes our lives. We take the bad with the good because overall the product is great. We are confident in its abilities because we know what it is capable of and how much pleasure it brings to us. I'm sure some of you even have a fancy fridge in stainless or with a TV. The point is we know and love this product so it is easy to convince someone else to love it too. Our emotion is contagious. And the price? Well, we pay hundreds of dollars for them because we know what they are worth!

Now try to sell a Molex Pin Extractor. Go ahead, give your pitch. Don't Google it... go for it!

Were you able to do it? No? You say you don't know what it is? Can't you still sell it? hmmm....

So, knowing all about something, knowing who made it, knowing what it has done for you, knowing how it benefits you, remembering all the positive things about it, and being passionate about it helps you to share it with someone else? Is it knowing these things that give it worth? Is it these things that bring you confidence about it?

God loves you. God created you. God sees all of the greatness in you. God has chosen you for specific tasks. You must get to know yourself to know that you are worthy. The way to do this is to get to know your creator. Spend time with Him each day. Read His word. Communicate with Him. Let Him show you just how amazing you are. Let Him reveal all that He created you to be. After all, He knew you even before He knit you together in your mother's womb and He still chose you. No one else will ever know you so well or be able to tell you so much about yourself. Isn't that just awesome? I smile just thinking about it!

We must realize that God wants you to know your worth. He is excited about you. I mean, imagine your fridge saying "nah, I'm not good at cooling. So and so is better. I sometimes wilt the lettuce and my light goes out at the worst times. My exterior is worn down. You can't use me"

This sounds crazy doesn't it? God knows what a great product you are. Stop telling Him you are not. Walk in what God has for you. He chose you!

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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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

O Come, let us Adore Him

"I was not born to be free.
I was born to adore and to obey"
C.S. Lewis

This morning as I sat quietly in my favorite chair with only the light from a lamp on the table and a little bit of sunrise peering in through the window, I read Luke Chapter One from beginning to end and as usual I always have to stop at verse 38 and think about Mary's amazing response to the angel of the Lord, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." The angel of the Lord had just told Mary that even though she had never known a man, she was going to have a baby and His name shall be called Jesus. Mary's response was one of faithful obedience and pure adoration.

John Macarthur in his book Twelve Extraordinary Women writes:

"There's no evidence that Mary ever brooded over the effect her pregnancy would have on her reputation. She instantly, humbly, and joyfully submitted to God's will without further doubt or question. She could hardly have had a more godly response to the announcement of Jesus' birth. It demonstrated that she was a young woman of mature faith and one who was a worshiper of the true God. Her great joy over the Lord's plan for her would soon be very evident."

It shouldn't surprise us that Mary would sing her praise to God at such a time. The Book of Job says that God created the whole world while the angels sang praises. The Psalms tell us over and over to sing praises to the Lord. It also tells us that praise makes us beautiful! Nehemiah says that praise makes us strong! And Isaiah says to sing to the Lord when He has done excellent things.

46 And Mary said: “ My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

As I sit here in the early morning hour, my own heart is full and I am ready to sing forth his praises, but as I get up from my chair to warm my cup of coffee, I think about my own responses to the Lord at different times and seasons of my life. As I carefully sit back down placing my coffee cup next to me and picking up my journal, I can't help but think that I all too often have been more concerned about my reputation and what others would think, than obeying God's word, His voice, or His message to me. I sit back and with a deep sigh, I think on those things that God has allowed in my own life that others might be tempted to whisper or wonder what I have done or haven't done in order for this to be happening. And yet the desire to be obedient and trust God, just as Mary had seems to give me new strength. I begin jotting my thoughts down about this verse. I no longer want to ask questions like, "why" and "what if", but rather, "Here is your maidservant Lord, let it be to me according to your word."

What is the "let it be" in your life? Have you put stipulations on what you are willing to do only accepting of those things that will make you look good or desiring only that which comes in a certain package? Do you worry more about what others think, than walking in obedience and adoration of our Savior?

Lord, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus! Lord, "let it be" in my life according to your word and plan. I put my faith and trust in you. I no longer want to be concerned about what others may think, but I want to walk in obedience and sing praises to God my Savior! O Come, let us Adore Him!

In Him,

You are always welcome to stop by my personal blog Come to the Table

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

At the Family Table

Because I was born late into my family, my earliest memories have always included my three sisters-in-law. So by the time my parents, my brothers and their wives occupied our holiday table, I was necessarily placed at the dreaded “kid table.”

I never liked this arrangement. At eight years old, I definitely had a lot of sparkling conversation to bring to the table. Alas, no adult ever gave up his seat so that the eight-year-old brat could sit at the grown-up table.

No matter how old we all grew, I remained youngest until my nephews came along, and then at least I had company at the kid table, even if they all spoke Elmer Fudd language.

The day finally came when as a newlywed, I returned home for the holidays. I can’t remember if I finally made the cut for the big table or not. But the following year, I had a two-month-old, and guess what—it was back to the kid table for me. And there I remained with all three of my children as they grew up, year after year.

Remembering the kid table recently inspired me: when my kids and grandkids come home for the holidays, just once, I’m going to turn the world on its ear and reserve places for the smallest people at the elusive grown-up table.

On a larger scale, society also has its rules about who belongs and ranks and who doesn’t. But just because humans have established pecking orders (caste systems, hierarchies of power, designations of respect) doesn’t mean they reflect the Lord’s standards at all. In fact, we position those with money and power at the head of the table, while others are relegated to back entries, wobbly stools and leftovers.

But Jesus, as surely as he tipped over the money-changers tables in the temple, flipped the status quo concerning who is first and who is last in his order. He washed dirty feet to show us how to be great in his kingdom. He forewarned us about pride and exclusivity.

In Luke 22:26-27 Jesus said to his disciples: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant. Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You'd rather eat and be served, right? But I've taken my place among you as the one who serves” (MSG).

And so we know how to live as his disciples--offering what we have to those who have less, dying to selfishness instead of demanding our desires, serving others.

Christmas is the season when we celebrate the birth of a King who refused to occupy a temporary earthly throne to experience a stable and a cross. Because of his extraordinary love, he now sits eternally at the right hand of the Father.

Someday there will be a banquet table at which we’ll all gather to share in the Lord’s great supper. Jesus lived, died and rose again for the joy of inviting every single person: “Come to my table; there is a place saved especially for you.”

Please stop by my personal blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007


Smoke wafts from chimneys across the valley; toes curl inside pink fuzzy slippers in anticipation of the snow that is expected tonight.

Hope is building as we work our way through The Glorious Coming, and the twigs my boys scrounged on a walk are now dripping with symbols from the Story.

But my to-do list is pages long...wrap ornament for exchange chocolates for nursing home baskets...finish Christmas letter... Unessentials side-by-side with essentials, and the days turn over and over. I find myself physically reaching out, straining to grasp at the thread of time that flows so quickly during Advent.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent his last two Advents in a Nazi prison during the final days of World War II. His view of the season from behind concrete walls speaks volumes to me...

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."
-Letters and Papers from Prison
How do we wait?

In a quiet, unexpected whisper while heads are bent to lessons… “He is coming…”

Faces lift, and mouths curve in knowing smiles. Eyes travel to our Advent calendar nearby; the inn at Bethlehem is open for business, shepherds are assembling, and Mary and Joseph? They wait…

How do we hope?

In an arm of comfort, stolen around the shoulders of a sobbing, penitent boy. "Will I ever stop sinning?" Looking into teary, amber eyes and telling the story again… how sin separated, and He simply could not bear it. And how the One we wait for brings hope in his wake, as stars gather in the tail of a comet. All is not lost.

This Advent, this preparation time, let us remember as we do various unessential things to wait and hope in the midst of it all. And if we listen over the hustle and bustle, we will hear the gentle knock of the One who has unlocked the door of freedom forever. Fling that door open with me, friends, and enter the season.

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

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Ambassadors of Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Wow, these two simple words have created a furor this year. I have read posts online and a few things in the paper about how this phrase has become politically incorrect in the retail marketplace.

I wondered what would happen to me if I spoke these words in public. Well, I decided to put this phrase to my own test. So my daughter and I set out on our test adventure earlier this week. Our first stop was the local Mall in our Southern California town. I knew if I were to meet opposition to this greeting, I would surely find it here in my home state of California where political correctness is, ahem, overdone.

Onward with the story. My daughter and I purchased a gift for my sister at the first retailer. “Merry Christmas,” I said as I pick up my bag and receipt.

The associate looked up at me and smiled, then replied, “Merry Christmas.”

Hmmm, I think that went pretty well. No surprises there just a warm smile.

At the second retailer my daughter and I enjoyed the same experience. In fact, as we concluded each of our purchases, I would say to the sales associate, "Merry Christmas." A smile was always the result. The counterperson would pause, look up, grin, and repeat “Merry Christmas."

With most of our shopping complete, we stopped at our last destination, a large book retailer, we needed gift cards. The sales clerk who helped us was a delightful young woman who looked to be in her early twenties. We chatted as she worked on the gift cards. With the transaction concluded, I gathered my receipt and said, “Merry Christmas.”

The poor girl looked up with full attention on me. She made a quick step back from the counter staring at me. Autopilot kicked in at that second and she quickly replied, “Merry Christmas.”

I watched her face as she disengaged from autopilot and processed my words. Her shoulders hunched up and she held her hands out from her sides. She looked like a kid feigning innocence while caught red-handed sneaking an extra cookie from the cookie jar. She offered me a sheepish smile then boldly said,

“Happy Chrismahanakwanzaaikuh.”

Say what?

I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it. I hadn't heard this phrase before and it was hilarious. My daughter started to giggle. The sales associate who was working next to my window started to laugh and the young woman who wished me Happy Chrismahanakw….. (whatever) joined in.

Then the adorable young woman cocked her head to the side and said, “Well, I don’t want to offend anyone.” We laughed all the harder. The store was in hysterics. My daughter and I laughed all the way to the car and I’m still laughing at the silliness of it all.

What a hoot!

No one was offended and everyone enjoyed a loud and hearty laugh that morning.

This exchange made me think how cool it is to be a Christian. It ROCKS to interact with people. Although corporate execs may fear these two simple words, Merry Christmas, I think of them as a gift of our faith. As Christians, we know the meaning of the season. Perhaps through sharing our joy with the world, we can make this CHRISTmas season a little brighter, a little kinder, and reveal Jesus, the true source of our joy.

Between now and December 25th, I plan to wish everyone I see, a Merry Christmas. Who knows what joyful surprises await?

“Merry Christmas.”

Luke (KJV) 2:10-14
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Hot Cup of Compromise

You may be surprised to know that Pastors and their Wives do not always find themselves in perfect agreement. It can be very hard for Luke when he realizes he's wrong and I'm right. *snicker* Even worse is when the drama doesn't play out in private but rather as something akin to a freak sideshow.

Just last Wednesday, Luke and I were in the Awana office along with some friends when the subject of winning contests came up. I shared with the women how I'd won a contest at Sue's Praise and Coffee in which I'd received a Christmas CD and Godiva flavored coffee. I was still thrilled because I never win anything. Apparently no one had told Luke that there are some conversations men should just not be a part of - times when they should leave well enough alone.

Things started going downhill when he felt it necessary to correct me on the kind of coffee I had won. He piped up and told everyone, "She won some coffee alright. But it was Gevalia, not Godiva."

"Luke, it wasn't Gevalia. It was Godiva. Honey. " (You can say anything and put 'honey' on the end and still sound like you were trying to be nice.)

"Lisa. Darling. It was Gevalia because I remember thinking about Todd B. when I saw the package." (Todd B. was a college friend who drank Gevalia constantly.)

"Luke. Snookums. It was Godiva because I remember thinking 'chocolate' when I saw the package. Okay? Love ya."

"Lisa. It was Vanilla Gevalia. And I'm willing to bet on it."

"Luke. It was chocolate Godiva and you are stinkin' ON! Bring It, Preacher Man!!"

The girls in the office watched this spectacle with the zeal of being court side at Wimbledon. I'm certain nothing made them prouder of us as a ministry couple than when Luke wrote down both of our coffee guesses so we could have proof of who won the bet. Thankfully, he quit gambling long enough to go teach Bible Study while I got on the office computer to look up Sue's blog to settle the wager. (No, I didn't skip church. I work in the Awana office on Wednesday nights. :)

And there in a beautiful golden package was a picture of GODIVA coffee but, unfortunately, the flavor wasn't clear on the packaging. So at worst I was half right.

The minute Bible Study was over Luke barged into the office and said, "Well!? What kind was it?" After gloating because I was winning, we grabbed the kids and raced each other home to settle the score once and for all.

Because we are so mature like that. Definitely an inspiration to all in our church and community.

We got home, found the package and read the label together:

"Godiva Chocolatier: French Vanilla"

Shoot. Both of us only half right. We called a truce, hugged, and secretly enjoyed the fact we both had won.

Which leads me to the point of this tale: In relationships, it really is okay to only be a little correct. To accept black instead of white. To refrain from imposing night on another's day. There is nothing that would have been more fun than to wag my fingers in my ears and sing, "Na Na Na Boo Boo" if I had been completely right about the coffee but I can honestly say it was much more rewarding - not to mention age-appropriate - to be able to say, "We were both right."

The Apostle Paul agreed when he wrote in Philippians 2:3-4:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

So what is to gain by yielding? I believe we can find an answer in Luke 14:10 - 11:

"But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

And here is the divine paradox - the lower we go the higher we get. However, the exaltation we seek is not one that lords us over one another but instead seats us at the right hand of our Lord. This is also the spirit that will prevent our saying, "I told you so" even when we are in the right.

So I thank you, Sue. I'm certain you had no idea your contest would contribute to my spiritual life. I also have to thank the Apostle Paul. Who knew his inspired words would be used to settle a coffee dispute and to humble two servants who'd gotten way too big for their britches?

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

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