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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Café Chat February 28, 2009

(Hey All... It appears the Mr. Linky is fixed now :)
I enjoyed reading your comments from last week about how God has showed His love toward you. Many of you commented that it was hard to name one time, because God shows His love to you every single day. God is Love…

Today’s question was once again inspired by what I feel the Lord is teaching me in this season of my life.

Fill in the Blank. My biggest struggle/stronghold is _____________.

Sadly, I have more than one answer to fill in this blank, but if I had to choose just one answer the blank would be filled in with the word, FEAR.

The fill in the blank part is just the first part of our question today. Now answer this question with your own fill in the blank answer.
How would my life look if I no longer struggled with _______? What if I was completely free from ______ through Christ’s power…(Put your struggle/stronghold in the blank) *Try to give some very specific ways your life would be different if you no longer struggled with your above named stronghold*
Before you answer, give this question some deep thought. Honestly, if “Fear” were not a part of my life anymore, or at least if it wasn’t ruling over me I don’t really think I would recognize myself. I will try to give my answer to this question over at my blog this week in more detail.

This week we will only focus on answering how would life look without your struggle, and then next week we will focus on how we can make steps toward freedom in Christ with our struggles.

We were created to be free in Christ, let’s work toward that goal together. All things are possible through Jesus!!!

Blessings friends, Kim


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Jonah's Fish

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Jonah 1:1-3

From the few verses listed above, it is clear that God had a plan for Jonah. There was a specific something God wanted Jonah to do. But Jonah wasn't interested.

So, he skipped town.

Eventually, that act of deliberate disobedience landed Jonah in the belly of a big ole fish.

So many people think that if they don't hear God correctly or take a different path, that they will never get to their destination. What if I make the wrong turn? What if I take the wrong job? What if I join the wrong church? What if I say the wrong thing? What if? What if? What if?

Questions like these usually come from a heart desiring to please God. As a Christ follower, I long to hear exactly what my Heavenly Daddy is saying and where he is directing me. I don't want to miss it. In decision-making times, my heart is pure and I simply want to discern the path that God has laid out.

If you have deliberately disobeyed and turned from God, don't fret. His mercies are new every morning. You may be one of those who didn't intentionally take the wrong path but somewhere along the way, you realized that the direction in which you were headed was literally making you go in circles.

God used Jonah in a huge way.

Huge.

Surrender to Him and He'll use you, too.

Can you recall a time when you found yourself in a fish's belly and wished that you had obeyed God the first time?

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Guarding Your Mind

On a morning that I woke before my "desired" time....the craziest phrase kept rolling over and over in my mind. "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country." Remember it? The phrase was created in 1867 by Charles E. Weller merely as a typewriting exercise.

However, the real need is this:

For all (men, women and children alike) to pray!

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" Acts 2:17-18

This was from Peter's first sermon which took place in Jerusalem--he was quoting from the Scriptures, the Prophet Joel. (Read the whole book of Acts-you will be encouraged by what you find.) The power of the HOLY SPIRIT was given to all who seek Him.

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:38-39

If your children have a need...who do they go to for that need to be met? You. We have an extreme need. A need to be filled to overflowing with the POWER of the Holy Spirit. I have told my oldest child many times, "in the last days we will need the power of the Holy Spirit to see us through the tough circumstances of life."

The unexpected.

When you don't know what to pray...the Holy Spirit does so for you. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26

I am urged on as never before to seek more of God in my life. There are many that feel that some things that the world partakes of is alright. . . . It may be for them, but it is not for me. I WANT the Spirit to speak to my heart when I am about to step into an area that is not "for me". I WANT the Spirit to direct my footsteps and yes, even the words I say.

Matthew 12:36 says, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Christ's own words. Think He meant it? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Right. He meant it. Big time sister.

During a time of devotion on our Sisters of Faith Retreat 2008, I told the dear sisters that I felt that even the "thoughts" of our mind would be accountable to Christ.

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

When provoked to the point of anger, where does your mind go? I know EXACTLY where mine goes. And I have to pray. The mind is a dangerous place for most of us.

For men, when they see a woman on the cover of a magazine---half naked---where do you think their mind goes? Same for many women. The body of muscles rippling on a naked torso of a man sends some women into a frenzy of lust. And almost every single magazine you pick up from the newsstand screams that today. Makes me want to wear a blindfold many times at the check-out counter!

As I watched the movie Fireproof a while back, I was reminded of the book by Beth Moore, Get Out of That Pit where she describes many pits that are waiting traps---and many we dig ourselves right into...

I have plunked myself straight into the pit of depression...all because I did not capture the flailing thoughts and I allowed the enemy to plant seeds of doubt and discouragement there. Then, I sat idly by as he (the enemy) watered those same seeds until I was a complete and total mess.

Only through the power of prayer---the POWER from the Holy Spirit was I ever able to break free from the debilitating grip of the enemy in my life. Over my mind and heart. It happens. As surely as a panic attack can come on some, despair can come on others. Depression. I've been there.

I used this passage yesterday...but it's needed again today. "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12

I have committed my heart and mind to following Jesus Christ. As the song says, "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back."

Allow HIM to come into your heart and life today. When you give HIM full control over your heart and mind....He will do some amazing things ...on a daily basis. I know. I am there.

And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:21




(picture from Bella Lino linens--not my bedroom---I only wish!)
I welcome your visit to our place though, "The Knightly News"---pull up a chair! Make yourself at home!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Wuv You Berry Much






How great is the love The Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Spontaneously saying a prayer of thanksgiving as I pulled out of the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church, I very earnestly thanked God for ‘Mothers Morning Out’- in my case ‘Grandmothers Morning Out’ – and drove away to enjoy three blissful hours of being all alone in my quiet house.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to care for Katelyn, my two-year-old granddaughter, during the day. I love having such a big part in her life but this little blessing of mine is a handful and can zap every ounce of energy from this Nana’s body. Some days when my daughter, Emily, picks up Katelyn she says, “Wow, Mom! You really look tired.” I have to admit that there have been days that I felt I could collapse as the door closes behind them.

Katelyn’s saving grace with Nana is the fact that she’s just as sweet and loving as she is wide-open. She’s also very funny. I went through the stage of having to chase her to change her diaper but one day I stopped and said, “Katelyn, I’m not chasing you anymore.”

Of course, Katelyn’s new favorite saying became, “I not chase you anymore, Nana.” Hard to keep a straight face with that one sometimes.

Katelyn is also very perceptive for her age. She can tell when Nana is about at the end of her rope and she’s learned just how to handle the situation. As we drove along the other day, I looked back to see ten wiggling little toes. And I’d just put socks and shoes on those toes and asked Katelyn to please leave them on. Turning around I thought,


This child is going to get the best of me yet.

About that time Katelyn said, “Nana?”

“Yes, Katelyn?” I replied in a weary voice.

“I wuv you berry much.”

I glanced in the rearview mirror and couldn’t help but smile.

Katelyn knew Nana needed that.

I love you very much too, Katelyn.”

And I felt my heart swell - Nana’s hearts are just like that.

I know there have been days that if God ever did get tired,
I would have made Him feel exhausted.
I’m sure there have been days He must have felt like
He was right at the end of His rope with me.
I wonder if He’s ever thought,

This child is going to get the best of me yet.

However, God’s Word tells me that He is “a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love.”


Just the same, I think I should learn from Katelyn and remember to say,

Father, I love You very much.

I know His heart will swell - Father’s hearts are just like that.



Do we remember to ask our Father’s forgiveness for the times that
we feel we have pushed Him to the “end of His rope?”

I hope that we also remember to tell Him,

“Father, I love you very much.”

Father, thank you that you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love. We love you very much. Amen.







I'd love to have you visit at http://www.inspirationfrommayberry.com/.






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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Waves of Life

I was blessed to be on the Girls Getaway Cruise in early February. This cruise combines incredible Christian music, amazing artists, awesome speakers, and funny comedians with all the food, fun, and fellowship of a cruise.

Did I mention the food?

Getting comfortable with the swaying of the ship was easy at first until the waves got bigger and swaying more noticeable. When the white ‘sick’ bags went up I knew we were in trouble.

I quickly realized if I kept my knees bent and swayed with the boat, I managed much better. Of course, when the boat started rocking a bit more I wanted to lock my knees but I knew that would make it worse. I struggle to keep my legs loose and just sway back and forth like I was on a teeter totter (not that it was ever that bad).

As I swayed through that one slightly rough night, I realized how much walking on the swaying boat was like walking with the Lord.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col 2:6-7


It’s in Christ that I find my sea legs when the going gets rough. When circumstances start my life to swaying and rocking, I bend my knees and call on Him. I ask Him to give me the wisdom to roll with the waves. Only in Christ do I have the strength to make it through the storms of life.

Have I always done this?

Sadly, no. I’ve followed my own path and refused to bend to His will for my life. I thought my plans were better. I locked my knees and refused to bend. This is when I end up facedown, knocked to my knees by my rigid spirit. I wish I could tell you that this only happened once, but I’m not quite that quick to learn and God had to teach me this lesson time and time again before it sunk in.

During one of those facedown on the ground times I realized that surrendering to God’s will is the only way that I can become the person God is calling me to be. I have to trust God to take me to the place where I can walk worthy of the call He’s placed on my life.

… to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess 2:12)

He calls me and He calls you to walk worthy of His glory. He is God. The one Holy God – righteous and just. He loves you more than you can imagine and He calls you. Bend your knees, sway with the waves, enjoy the ride and walk worthy of the call He is placing on your life. Trust me it’s an adventure when you walk with Jesus.

Are you walking through the waves of life right now?

Is God calling you to trust in Him as He leads you through the storm?

Trust Him. He is faithful and will do it. (1 Thess 5:24)


In Him,





Come by and visit my blog, Joy Filled Living

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Petey

We had nothing to do yesterday so, as all married couples do, we headed to Target. We needed a light bulb, a calendar, Eric needed a Caramel Macchiato – clearly Target was the place to go.
We walked around looking at random things. I gawked happily at the after Christmas clearance on sweaters and shoes and accessories, oh my! I’m telling you there is nothing like a Mossimo markdown.

Can I get an amen?

As we made our way to the checkout area we found ourselves walking behind a little boy named Petey. I know his name well because his mom kept yelling it at him.

“Petey! Petey! PEE-TEY!”

She was less than thrilled with his behavior.
I can completely understand that because he was knocking things over as he walked by each shelf.
I have to admit Eric and I thought it was more than funny. What his mom didn’t see (because she was walking ahead of the little guy) was that he weighed the severity of each item he knocked down.

Plastic container filled with potpourri? Knock it down.

Birthday decorations? Knock ‘em down.

Valentine’s Day wreath? Sure, knock it over.

Hallmark Cards? Who needs them? KNOCK.

Glass candle? Um…Pass.

Glass picture frame? Better not. Next.

Table decoration that looks breakable? Moving on.

Little Petey knew full well some knockdowns you just don’t rebound from. I watched his mind reason away the plastic knockdowns as okay because nothing was going to break.
But he would have no part in shattering an entire candle collection.

I thought about Petey all night.

I saw us in him.

I thought about a friend of mine who openly will tell you he believes there are different levels of sin.

“Some sin just doesn’t really count,” he’d say to you.
He’s a great guy albeit misguided.
But you know, I think we do the same thing. We just aren’t as open about it. We don’t want to admit that we think affair trumps gossip every time.

We weigh our behavior, quickly filing it into “plastic” or “glass” when really sin is sin.
We can knock over all the plastic things we want thinking the effects aren’t as far reaching as glass shattering but over time we’re left with nothing but a mess.
And a Father calling us by name, breathing His Spirit into our hearts, urging conviction and asking for repentance.

Psalm 19:13

“Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.”



Kristen writes daily at {dancing} in the margins and also at Exemplify Online. She welcomes you to stop by!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

What Does Your Bible Say About You?


A while back I had a talk with a friend. She had discovered her late grandmothers bible just a few days before and was excited and overwhelmed as she spoke of the treasures she found inside. She said that in times of trouble her grandmother had always told her that a bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't.

As she read through the thin, tattered, torn, folded, highlighted, and well noted pages, she discovered the heart of a woman who was constantly seeking her Father. She also began to understand how her grandmother had not only survived but thrived through the trials in her life. As she described them to me I couldn't help but become engaged in the legacy she left.

The question marks and exclamation points through the gospels revealed the young Christian's thoughts after giving her life to her savior at 19 years of age. The tear stained pages and repeated highlighting of Jeremiah 29:11 spoke volumes about her healing through the loss of a young child and coping as her husband was overseas fighting in the war. The pages that were most thin and crumpled (John, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians) revealed her favorite passages and places of intense study. The notes in the margins of Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation revealed her desire to learn all about her Lord. Her faith was well recorded on every page.

Then there where the prayer verses she assigned to different family members at different times in their life. Some prayed so often and so intently that it was obvious to all that her tears had mixed with the ink on the pages and actually formed a hand print as she lay her hand on them. Letters from Vietnam and photos of her loved ones littered the book as though it was her most treasured lock box. Indeed it was. She shared her life, her most precious things, with Him.

All of these things started me thinking. What would my bible say about me? Will my love and passion for my savior be as obvious? Will my love for my family be as proclaimed? Will the complete expression of my heart be reflected in the pages of my well worn bible?

What about yours?



I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: Amy Bayliss.com

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Great Expectations...

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

churchThe past few days I have slowed down a little in my normal daily routine because either by old age I hurt my back or pulled something during my exercise routine!

Don't you love it when our Savior slows us down? This is what I have been pondering for the last few weeks. As I struggled with what to write about, God brought me back to my study in the book of Romans - just in time to share with you!

God beautifully and perfectly reminds each of us who know Him that all His adopted children suffer in this flesh – but it is temporary and not to be compared to our eternal perfect state!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18

Great Expectations is the expectation of us seeing our Savior face to face, at which time we receive our glorified bodies too! Wow! I don't know about ya’ all but I am getting pumped and overly filled with uncontainable joy just pondering these things! I can't wait for all the physical pains and the signs of old age to disappear. I also am anxiously awaiting that day when there will b no more separation between brothers and sisters in Christ!

“But if we hope for what we do not see we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." II Corinthians 4:25

Our journey passing through in this world can get tedious, difficult and sometimes, pretty lonely too. I think of the Apostle Paul when he stated:

"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them." II Timothy 4:16-17

Our apostle Paul’s life is an example of steadfastness. There is another example too, King David of ancient Israel. All of David’s closest friends abandoned him in his time of need. Above all we have is our Savior Jesus Christ - who also was left alone during the darkest hours leading up to his death on Calvary's tree. We women of God can find much comfort from these examples, even during our own times of disillusionment.

"Yet in All these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Romans 8:37

Note: The operative word here is “ALL” – in every situation!

100_1988What if you have already reached the point where you just think it is no longer worth it? Our Savior understands this too!

“And He searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27

God is constantly reminding each of us that our hope is not in this "earthen vessel” but rather, points to our “Great Expectation!”

"And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever Amen!" II Timothy 4:18

Recently, our family was faced with some heartache in ministry and a situation that did not make sense to us by human eyes. We knew without a shadow of a doubt though, that we have been called here to our current place of residence. Why would the Lord bring us 800 miles to “nowhere” and then, to proceed to stop us “dead on our tracks?""

“Jehovah is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works.” Psalm 145:17

Great Expectations! That is it! Our Savior works in ways we don’t always see or understand – but, He is constantly opening new and awesome avenues we could have never understood or see before hand! That is why we don't lose heart and why we persevere.

Not everyone has a Christian woman’s “Great Expectations though. A very well known Hollywood actress, Playboy model and fitness guru, Susanne Sommers, recently declared her willingness to down 40 pills a day, take physical injections and submit to “going under the knife” in order to maintain her looks. She vows to do these things 100_2020until she in 100. Sadly, this beautiful woman does not possess the “great expectations” of a Godly woman who possesses beauty inwardly. She could though…

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according the the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7

Let’s make sure our mind is set on the truths of God’s eternal promises to all who love Him. For He alone is become our God of “great expectations!”

A song to share: Dc Talk “Heaven Bound”

It is a love from above not of this world Kinda profound, a trump will sound And all God's children are Heaven Bound

God has promised us a home in glory Trust in Him A trump will sound And all God's children are Heaven Bound.

Close and Personal:

1. Do you remember a time in your journey when things did not make sense at the beginning later found out that God had all things under His apt control all along?

2. Where do you find your Great Expectation?

“Dear Heavenly Father I want to thank you today for you being with me during times when no one else was. Thank you for your longsuffering. I also want to thank you Lord again teaching us that you have all things under your control and whether we understand when things happen we know that you allow everything in our lives for our very best! Thank you for loving us that much, my Savior and friend!”

In Him,

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let Her Works Praise Her!

Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates. 
~ Proverbs 31:31


Godly Woman, what is your role today? Wife? Mommy? Sister? Friend? Teacher? Neighbor? Or all of the above?

Everyday as we fulfill these roles, our works will fall into one of two categories...whatever the task. We will have accomplished them along the 'broad way' or we will have accomplished them along the 'narrow way'.

Consider our ideal model carefully described for us in Proverbs 31 - a woman so near the heart and mind of God that not only do her works praise her, but her God does as well!

Paul reminded the Corinthians that ...He is our Master. He is the One to Whom we will render our accounts in all the works our lives have produced in the 'olam hazeh (the present world).

And it is only by HIS grace that we will be found faithful stewards of that grace. The Hebrew word for works ma’aseh that results in a finished product(good or bad).

Does this bring to mind the Proverb that teaches even a child is known by his deeds (Pr. 20:11)?

May I ask what are you known for?

Have you ever thought about it?  Really, really thought about it?

Do you believe our Great and Holy God would praise you presently in your works (present responses to trying situations)? Do you believe on that Great Day that HE will praise you because of your faithfulness to Him with those rich, heavenly graces that He bestowed upon you as His servant on earth?

What does your fruit-ometer reveal - is it on E or F?

Which kind of seed are you sowing into your future harvest...right now?

I heard a preacher once say that there are only two types of Kingdom workers - those who build up (Builders) and those who tear down (Destroyers). I used to mistakenly believe that there was a third group - those who do nothing. But, the Proverb (18:9) revealed that ...

‘the lazy man is brother to the destroyer’.

Oh My! There really are only TWO WAYS in life! Which worker are you? Do your words, thoughts and deeds build up or do they tear down?

May we make it a point to remind our (sheepish) selves that BOTH kinds are workers, indeed. Both the Builder and Destroyer do their WORK...but only one’s work will escape the fire (2 Peter 3:11-12). Remember, we have no permanent city (home) here (Hebrews 13:14).

"But we seek the city that is to come..."

Woman of God, may we pray for one another - for His Name’s sake - that we each learn to carefully examine our works (Galatians 6:4) before our Great Shepherd and Faithful Father. And may each of us receive that glorious praise from our works (seed-sowing) done in faith... but especially, may those praises ring from our Great God, HaG'dulah BaM'romim (The Greatness on High)!


The God of shalom brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Yeshua, by the blood of an eternal covenant. May that God equip you with every good thing you need to do His will; and may He do in us whatever pleases Him, through Yeshua the Messiah. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. ~Hebrews 13:20-21



Carmen would love your presence at Women Of the Word!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Kid


The Internet is thrilled to welcome Gery Vandenhaak back to the Cafe!

Half his head is shaven. The middle part is green and the right side
bright orange. He is clean, very clean. His red jeans are ripped, to show
his boxer shorts. His torn T-shirt is white and clean. Lots of piercings;
huge earlobe holes, like some African tribesman. Have not seen that since
1954.

He is talking to a crying old Native man. I see him going to the coffee
counter and returning with a coffee and a bun and giving it to the Native
man. That was the last I saw of him that day.

Two weeks later he wandered into the kitchen while Sue and I were trying
to figure out how to feed about 80 people on 30 eggs and 72 buns. First we
decided the staff would not eat that day, so no worries as to sticking to
my diet plan. Someone brought in a hot apple strudel, six inches by
twelve. We looked at it and just laughed.

He stood in the doorway as we boiled the eggs - very small eggs, not meant
for sale and therefore donated to the shelter. He got in my way as I was
peeling the eggs. Suddenly he found himself with a spoon and knife in his
hand. "Cut the eggs right through the middle and scoop out the egg, dump
it in the green bowl" The old lady, me, had spoken.

He looked at me funny and went to work. One of the guys ran out
and got a jar of Mayo. In no time at all, we had egg salad on the buns and
got the kid to bring out the trays to the hungry.

When all the buns were gone and the apple strudel still on the counter,
the kid got busy. He ran to the back freezer and came back with – two half full pails, chocolate and strawberry.
It was just the two of us in the kitchen. He found the styrofoam soup bowls and had the
plastic spoons. We divided the strudel in some 60 pieces and added two
kinds of ice cream. When he carried the first tray out, he was greeted
with a shout of "DESERT!" Sue came back and took the second tray.

Again it was just the two of us working together. When everything was
gone, he suddenly said: "The way I live I have about 10 to 15 years to
live." "So do I,” I informed him dryly. He glanced up at me with a stunned
look on his face.

"I had fun," he said. "Got drunk everyday, that's why I am here. Community
service. Can't wait to get back to drinking."

"First time?" I asked him.

"No, the second and the last time," he said.

I agreed and told him that the third time would probably be jail and even
more fun.

He asked, "Well did you have a fun life?"

"Sure did and no splitting headache in the morning. Besides that I can
even remember the fun I had." I asked him if he’d ever played in a band,
toured Europe by motorbike or traveled all over the world. I told him that
I completely understood that going to a bar and spending the evening
drinking and then staggering around with a splitting headache was, of
course, much more fun. But at least I had fun for more years than he had
had.

We cleaned the kitchen, no longer talking. Before he left, he told me he
had six more hours to serve and probably would not see me again. I agreed
with him and told him I realized that it would be jail for him. He left
but came back a little while later. "Look,” he said, “if I ever want to be
told off, can I look you up?”

"Sure, be glad to,” I replied. We grinned and shook hands! So now there is
another kid in my prayers and I do not even know his name.

In Him,
Selemat

Gery Vandenhaak’s take on the second greatest commandment has her
preparing meals for the hungry – and scolding scamps – at an homeless
shelter.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

"I've Been There"

God astounds me.

God takes things that I think are meant for others and uses it to get my attention.

My Girl's Bible Study is doing Vicki Courtney's, His Girl and that week I shared with my girls Bible Study class Hebrews 4:15-16 with them.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

We spent some time talking about the Jesus that they have in their lives. How THIS Jesus was human and HE was tempted in ALL the ways that they are tempted....

He was tempted to cheat.

He was tempted to lust.

He was tempted to stay mad.

He was tempted by jealousy.

He was tempted to let things steal his joy.

He was tempted IN EVERY WAY, not just in a few ways, EVERY WAY.

I reminded them NEVER to think of Jesus as a "guy" who walked an "easier" path then they do. He didn't. He faced EVERY temptation that they do. "It doesn't say SOME," I told them, "it says EVERY."

Bible study class ended but I took that lesson with me, and it resurfaced in a mighty way.


Jesus was tempted in EVERY WAY?
He was tempted to have a pity party, tempted to get bogged down with life's circumstances, tempted to turn away and take matters into His own hands, tempted to be aggravated?

The other night I was lying in bed praying at 3:00 a.m.
The list went on and on....


Prayers for a friend and fellow dancer of my daughters' who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Prayers for a grieving friend.
Prayers about a family decision.
Prayers for another grieving family.
Prayers for a friend facing uncertain health issues.
Prayers for a friend whose son phoned her to tell her that one of the men in his Platoon had died in his arms.
Prayers for what apathy in the world.
The list went on....until somewhere around 5:00 a.m.

My spirit weary and my soul sad, I was tempted to let the sadness invade my spirit and keep me from going BOLDLY to the throne. Tempted to greet the day with a cynical view rather than with a spirit of hope and joy. It was sometime that morning, after a talk with my husband about how my spirit felt burdened, that this verse came flooding back to me.
"I've been there sister," Jesus whispered. "REMEMBER what I told you? I've been tempted to let the enemy steal my JOY, tempted to see the glass half full, and tempted to give up hope, tempted to take matters into my own hands and not let the Father lead. I've felt it all, remember I told you that in Hebrews 4:15 -16?"
I smiled with tears in my eyes.

That little reminder changed my perspective.
It changed my day.
It changed my Spirit.
What a gift we've been given. Our Savior FELT each and everything that we feel.

Because of that, He "gets" me.
In that HE gets what I'm feeling, because somewhere, sometime, HE felt it too. That makes me so thankful. Thankful that MY SAVIOR feels and understands me in ways that I can't put into words.

I cling to that.

I pray to one who has felt those very feelings that plague my soul and I leave restored and full of hope. I am ready to face whatever comes at me; praying unceasingly for those who need it.

All because Jesus took the time to remind me that HE felt it all too. He understands.

wow.

Father,
Simply I say thank you. Thank you for sending your Son to live and walk in complete humanness so that HE may understand my heart. In times when I am burdened, HE walks with me. In times when I lose hope, HE picks me up. In times when I feel the enemy stripping my joy and saddening my Spirit, HE whispers to me. Thank you Father for the gift of your Son, Jesus, the Jesus who understands.
Amen








Join Lori daily at her personal blogspot, where she continues to astounded by the graces of God.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Glimpse from the Past


Last week I received a most amazing email that really caught me by surprise. Let me explain.


Back in 1995, our church took a missions outreach team on church planting crusade to the small town of Murom, Russia. The city was located about two hundred miles east of Moscow, and at that time very few foreigners had ever been to this region because it had several classified military bases.

I’ll never forget getting out of the plane in Moscow and walking through all the very tight security. So much darkness and oppression filled the air as the result of generations of being ruled by an atheistic government.

When we went out to minister on the streets, crowds would gather from all over the town. They were so hungry for the message of hope that we came to share with them. Their hearts were open to receive the gospel, and it was an experience I will never forget.

Each night at the end of our services, hundreds would run to the altar as the invitation to receive Jesus was given. They were not ashamed at all as we led them in a prayer of salvation with the help of our interpreters. When we packed up and departed from Murom, we left behind a brand new body of believers filled with faith and a hope for their tomorrow.

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said:

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

In short, this verse simply means that we are to be shining the light of this glorious gospel to all of those around us. We are the messengers of hope, joy, and freedom to a world in darkness. Satan has ruled over the lives of so many, and we are the ones who have been sent to bring deliverance from the oppressor.

Very few of us will actually have the opportunity to shape world events, but we all can impact the communities and neighborhoods where we live, work, shop, and play.

Even after all these years we’ve remained friends with some of the Russians we worked with on those trips, and one young girl named Jane, who was my interpreter, became like a spiritual daughter to me.

Now, that brings me back to that amazing email I was talking about when I first started this story. Here it is verbatim from Jane:

Dear Papa and Mama,

I just wanted to let you know that i am traveling right now with Paul and Barbara Dodge, and today we were in two services in Murom and Kovrov. It is been a great blessing to be here and just to see what the Lord has done to this two churches, how he blessed the people and grew them and how the churches got stronger through the years. I even watched the video today of how everything got started here…Remember? One lady in the Murom church asked me about Susan and I asked her, is it Susan Amato? and she said yes. I promised her to pass her e-mail unto you. She said to tell you that it is a joy to serve the Lord and for you to know that He is faithful!

Love Jane

Now, to think that after all these years, a young girl I had the honor of leading to Jesus is still serving Him today. I wonder how many of her family and friends she has led to Christ since that time?

We may never know on this side of heaven all the lives that we have impacted, but it was such a blessing from the Lord to let me get that email from Jane.

May we never cease in letting our lights to shine brightly for Jesus, for the harvest is truly plentiful.


Something to ponder:


How are you letting your light shine for Jesus?


Father, I thank you for the opportunities you present to us each day to let our lights shine for you. Let us never get so busy that we forget they are so many without hope as they walk in great darkness all around us. Give us a heart for the lost, the lonely and those that need your light so desperately. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Join Susan daily at her personal blog,





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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Call Me Capital "C" Crazy


Call me Crazy, but I think it is even Crazier that God’s pronouns are not Capitalized in many Bible translations. It doesn’t matter to me what the official grammar rules are…just can’t wrap my brain around it. But again, I may be Crazy.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I would stop Complaining about it inside my mind and do something about it. Instead, each time I come across this in my Bible, I take my handy dandy pen and change the small h in “him” or “his” to “Him” or “His” (same thing for the "y" in "You.") One little bitty straight line makes an ordinary pronoun into proper case. And I think the Proper Case puts Holy Pronouns in their Proper Place.

But then again, I may be Crazy. Certifiably so.

I do realize this borders on self-righteousness and legalism, (and even obsession), but it works for me, because my motive is purely this: I love to see HIS NAME in all its forms in capital letters. It makes Him jump off the page instead of blend in. Trust me, with the way I’m wired, it’s a good thing.

But the main question really should be…

Do I LOVE HIM with capital letters?

And…

Do I live with Him in proper case and me in lower case?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and with all your soul 
and with all your mind 
and with all your strength.”
Mark 12:30, NIV
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Acts 17:28a, NIV
He must become greater; I must become less.”
John 3:30, NIV

When I think about how much God loved me, I realize it was a Capitalized, underlined, in bold, big font kind of LOVE. God sent His baby boy to live in a sinful world and be Crucified on a Cross for sinful people, even knowing that many would reject Him and never love Him back. And now my risen Lord and Savior Continually pours out His love for me every single day in tangible ways, in miraculous ways, even though I don’t deserve a lick of it. Some might even call Him Crazy for it.

How about you? Can I call you Crazy too? Will you Love the Lord in Capital Letters and Live for Jesus Christ in Bold? Is there anything in your life hindering you from keeping Him in Proper Case? Have you allowed Him to be your First Place?
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all Heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
Ephesians 3:14-21, The Message (with capital pronouns added)

In the Key of HE,

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Introductions

I was sipping citrus-flavored mineral water when she asked me.

It was a 'Let's get together and chat, have some tasty appetizers, listen to a presentation about home-based business, and then browse through a catalog of gorgeous items while considering our budgets' kind of party.

I do love tasty appetizers.

So she asked me. She wasn't the first. Someone else at the party had asked the same thing.

"What do you do?"

As I swallowed my sip of citrus-flavored mineral water, I paused for a moment, considering her possible response, and I answered, "I am a Stay At Home Mom."

"Oh."

Several years ago, I would not have left it at that. I would have recited my resume of accomplishments, some fairly remarkable, but most not. I would have explained the whys and the hows and the maybe one days.

But not anymore.

Oh, I could tell her what I do. I do laundry. I do dishes. I do the floors. I do the grocery shopping. I even do windows, on occasion.

I get up in the morning, still sleepy from the night before, roll out of bed and shuffle to the coffee maker. I warm the frozen pancakes and trod up the stairs to wake my sleepy daughter for school.

I trod back down the stairs, trying not to trip over the cat who thinks she is supposed to be the first one fed. Then I check on the microwaved pancakes, pour on the syrup (I don't skimp) and set the plate at the kitchen counter, calling upstairs for my sleepy daughter to come down to eat or we will be late this morning.

Meanwhile, my husband is getting ready for work. I try to make sure he has clean clothes, and tell him a quick "Good Morning" before he rushes out the door.

Once I coax the sleepy daughter to eat, get dressed and brush her teeth, I head out the door in my sweats, no make-up, except for some under-eye concealer, and drive my daughter to school before I start my day of doing laundry, doing dishes, and doing the grocery shopping.

But the woman at this party eating spinach-artichoke dip doesn't really want to know all of that. She doesn't really want to know what I do. What she really wants to know is who I am.

For many women, who they are is so tightly woven into what they do, they lose the unique pattern of their identity. The woman's nature is to be a doer, a fixer, a nurturer. It is so easy for women to become that which they do each and every day.

What about me?

I am a wife. I am a mother. A daughter. A friend. I am a church and school volunteer. I am all of those things, but lately, I am learning that there is only one job, one identity that is truly important.

I am His.

"For we are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Galations 3: 26

When I am doing the laundry and the dishes, and even the windows, my prayer is that I will reflect what Christ would have me be through Him.

I fail miserably, mostly when I try to do everything in my own strength. It is when I give it all to God, that His Love shines through, not mine. Only when I humble myself and remember what I am not, can I share with other people what an awesome God He is.

"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galations 2: 20

My prayer, my hope, is that when people meet me, they won't wonder what I do, or who I am. They won't even want to know anything about me, but somehow through my faith and failures in this imperfect life I live, they will want to know The God who helps me through it all.

They will only see Him for Who He is. They will see His goodness. His mercy. His love.

And they will turn to Him and say, "Nice to meet you."

Reflections:

Something to consider today as you do the laundry and pay the bills:

Do you feel lost in what you do?
A job?
Your family?
Ask God to give you peace and reassurance of who you are in Christ.



Join Melanie at her personal blogspot, "This Ain't New York."

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

God's Amazing Love


He Loves Me! He Loves Me!
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called you by name. You’re Mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:…That’s how much you mean to Me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.
Isaiah 43:2-4


Have you ever sat thinking about the one you love and, perhaps while you were dating, wondering if they really loved you? We’ve all seen it before. The young girl holding the beautiful flower, plucking one petal at a time, saying, “he loves me, he loves me not”.

As I read these verses in Isaiah chapter forty-three, I found myself reflecting on the reality of God’s love for me. Besides John 3:16, which clearly tells us how much Jesus loves us, these verses are screaming of His deep love for us. Word after word, it says to my heart, “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me”. Read over it again. It says, “He is our personal God, our Savior”. He paid a huge price for us. Why would He do that, we might ask. His word clearly replies, “that’s how much we mean to Him”. “That’s how much He loves us!”

Do you remember the song Jesus, Loves Me?

Most of us probably learned this as a child and could still sing it today. For most of us, it’s probably been a long time since we found ourselves singing this sweet melody, but I am grateful for the reality that we can never outgrow the love of Jesus. If anything, this precious song that we learned as a child should be even more meaningful to our hearts as adults, as we grow in the understanding of the incredible depth of His love for us. Take a moment to sing this song, and allow God to whisper to your heart through each phrase, “I love you, I love you, I love you”!

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
For the Bible tells me so!


Lord, thank you that you love us. Thank you that you not only tell us in your Word, but you have shown us with your life that you deeply love us. Help me to be mindful of your love and may I experience the breadth, test its length, plumb the depths, and rise to the heights of your love for me (Eph. 3:19). Thank you that nothing can separate me from your love.

In Him,


You can read more from Tammy at Steps In Our Journey

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Waiting with Rejoicing

I smiled as I watched her get everything ready. My nine year old daughter on a mission. Dressed in her pink striped fuzzy robe, she grabbed her little white wooden rocking chair (thank you Grandpa) and her Build-a-Bear Bunny, dressed in its own Bunny robe (thank you Grandma) and walked out onto the porch. She situated her rocking chair facing the street so as to be able to see the delivery truck long before it got to our house. She and Bunny sat and smiled and and rocked and waited. It was 9:00 am.

For the previous few months, she (and Bunny) had been saving their money. The goal was a doll who was "so beautiful!" that she just had to have it. Finally the day had come. Just the night before, we'd checked the tracking information, and the delivery was set for the next day. That was today. She was so excited. She stayed on the porch the whole day. She ate out there. She changed Bunny's clothes out there. She missed 4 spelling words out there. She was happy and busy and cheerful and full of anticipation. She was all smiles as she talked about the clothes she ordered for the doll and the (OMG!!!) earrings that came with it! She was so very happy. . . while she waited. She trusted and imagined . . . while she waited. She was committed to the watching and the waiting.

As I watched her, I thought of how much of the delivery process she didn't understand. She had no idea how our delivery guy had gotten her package. She didn't know what route he'd take or the odds that he'd get lost . . . or not. She didn't know his present location or exactly what time to expect him. She only knew his promise. The email said that her long awaited prize was to be delivered today. Mom and Dad had confirmed it. Enough said.

As I watched her, enjoying the sweet show, I wondered if God might feel the same way about us sometimes.

He has promised to return for us. Promised. How amazing is that promise!? As we wait for Him to return, what do we busy ourselves with? Have we set our face in the direction of the clouds? Or do we constantly wonder if the promise is real? Do we busy ourselves with and find joy in our present responsibilities . . . as we wait, or do we grumble that it's taking too long? Do we beg God to change His time-table for our personal agendas - or do we trust the timing to Him. Do we wait with rejoicing, knowing that the fulfillment and the delivery of the promise is far, far more amazing than anything we can think or imagine or dream?!

Waiting with rejoicing. When we wait with rejoicing, we show God that we trust Him. We display - to anyone who might be looking - that we are confident in His promise and that it is worth waiting for. And then some.

Are you waiting? Are you rejoicing? It can make all the difference!


And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thes. 3:5)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Father, We choose to be daughters who wait with rejoicing! Equip us Lord, to smile in the tough moments, knowing that You - as God - are in complete control and knowing that You - wonderful Father - know precisely how to take care of us! Thank you for Your patience while we learn to wait . . . with rejoicing! In the Name above all names, Jesus.

In Him...



Visit Darnelle at her personal blog: All Things Work Together...

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Café Chat February 14th 2009

First of all, since it is Valentines Day I want to send out my sisterly love in Christ to all the readers of the Internet Café, and especially a little extra love to the readers that have participated in our weekly Café Chats. You all are just blessing my socks off, at least when I am wearing socks .

A big thanks to all the bloggers that participated in last week’s “Chat”, as I know the question from last week was not an easy one by any measure. You ladies (so far only ladies have answered) have a lot of wisdom and depth of insight in your answers, and I am encouraged every week.

Well, I had a different question for this week, but when I realized the Chat question was going to fall on Valentines Day, I had to change it up to reflect the special day. The number one thing I associate with Valentines Day is “LOVE”, so let’s talk about love today.
Tell of one specific time in your Christian walk that you were overwhelmed with God’s love for you.
I can’t wait to read your stories this week, and regardless of whether you are single, dating, married or anything in-between have a wonderful Valentines Day! God loves you and that is what is really important on a day like today.

Blessings friends, Kim


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Friday, February 13, 2009

First Love

Well, do you remember?

I’m not sure whom I should count as my first love because there are a couple of contenders, the first being the pastor’s little boy when I was in kindergarten. Smitten? I liked him so much that I talked a mile a minute around him, and my only memory of him now is his telling me, “You talk so fast I can’t understand you.”

The other candidate for my first-love memory is my high school sweetheart. I thought I would marry him someday, but it turned out that we each married other people one day apart in our hometown. Years later, I met up with him again, and he confessed to being a terrible husband--a serial adulterer--and I was stunned. I have never stopped thanking God for sparing me the fate of being his wife.

Still, in my heart of hearts, I know there is a deeper first love than all of these. Maybe you’re guessing it’s my dad, but even before my earthly father reportedly danced a jig on the day I was born, my heavenly Father loved me. In fact 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him because he first loved us.” God loved me before I was capable of returning love.

I believe that Jesus is God’s clearest expression of his love for us, and it is Jesus who is my shining knight on a white horse, my savior, and in essence, my first love.

But I didn’t always feel that way. For a time, the focus of my existence and devotion was to my boyfriend (now husband). Through some hard lessons, the Lord showed me that although my husband is a good man, he is not a “god-man.” That is, he cannot be, nor was he intended to be, my all-in-all, go-to source for having all of my needs met. That is not who God created him to be, nor is it any husband’s role.

But we lose sight of our first love sometimes, and we seek affirmation and significance in other people or things. Then, of course, we feel dejected, misunderstood, under-appreciated and resentful.

Ironically, that kind of emotional pain is often what it takes to help us remember that as great as earthly love is, there’s no comparison to the sacrificial, faithful love of Christ, and that’s the way it should be.

Jesus always understands me, now matter how fast I talk to him! He is faithful even when I am prone to wander: “If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is" (2 Timothy 2:13). May I never take his faithful love for granted; may I never allow my devotion to my “First Love” grow cold as the Ephesians had in Revelation 2:4-5.

I have a lot to be thankful for on this Valentine’s Day. I’ve been married 23 years to a wonderful man who helps clean house, plunges toilets, occasionally bathes my little dog and brings me coffee every morning, which is no small favor, since I imagine that experience is like sticking your arm through the cage bars of a grizzled old lioness who has morning breath.

Yes, he’s a keeper.

My husband is a gift from the Lord, the very best earthly gift I could have received. But more importantly, I treasure the Giver of the gift, and that keeps the “Valentine’s Day” earthly kind of love in perspective. In other words, my First Love deserves first place in my heart.

I hope that you recognize your “First Love” today and spend a few intimate moments with him.

Questions:

1. What valuable lessons have you learned through earthly love relationships?
2. If you wrote a love letter to God today, what would it say?
3. Are you in danger of allowing your love for Jesus to grow cold, as the Ephesians did? If so, what could you do today to remember and re-focus your love?




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