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Monday, November 30, 2009

"Lord, please change my heart!"

"I don't know if I love my husband anymore." "Being a mom is too hard." "I don't like the fact that I am aging."

"Lord, please change my heart!"

"The Christian walk is too hard." "I'm tired of struggling." "It feels like I've lost my desire to serve."

"Lord, please change my heart!"

"I don't really have the desire to read my Bible regularly." "I don't feel like praying anymore." "I think I'll sleep in this Sunday...."

"Lord, please change my heart!"

These are all thoughts I have had or that have been shared by others. What do you say to someone who is struggling in one of these areas? What is the answer? God has been gently opening my eyes to the fact that I am powerless to change my own heart. He has to do it for me. I cannot "will" myself to change any of these things or "muster up" something from within myself and make it better. It has to be a work that God does in my heart.
As I have been learning this I have felt such a sense of freedom wash over me! Now when I become aware of an attitude or thought that is not what it should be my prayer is simple, "Lord, please change my heart." That's it.

I am His precious child. I picture myself holding up my heart to him and saying, "...please fix it!" And He begins the beautiful process of changing my heart!

I am so thankful that God has been showing me this because it has begun to make such a difference. Praying this way is producing things in me that I never imagined!

Attitudes and mindsets that I have wrestled with for years are changing because of one simple prayer and a merciful, loving, grace filled God that delights to change his child's heart and bring it more into conformity to His own heart.

I have a long way to go...but I find hope and comfort in the fact that all I have to do is ask and He will change me.

The best part is that as my heart is changing and I am more aware of the fact that it is nothing that I could have done, I then give Him all the credit...and He gets the glory...and that's really why we are here anyway.

To glorify Him!

"Lord....please show us the areas in our lives where we are in error and not thinking Biblically. Please place within our hearts the desire to want to be changed, and then...PLEASE change our hearts...that we might glorify YOU!"

(Gina has begun writing again after taking a few months off. She has some fresh, new perspective after going through some very dark times. She would love it if you stopped by for a chat and some coffee! You can find her at her personal blog: Chats With An Old Lady.)

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend Blend...Gratitude

Welcome to Weekend Blend at the Cafe!

We know how busy the weekends can be. Filled up with errands, activities and spending time with the family; we know because we live that life too! We've decided to "help a sister out!"

Beginning this month, we're going to 'serve up' favorite devotionals from our archives! The Oldies but Goodies, our Favorites! We know that you don't have time to linger all weekend, so we'll be putting them together for you to enjoy at your leisure!

Join us every weekend for the "Weekend Blend!"


Friday, November 27, 2009

What's In the Doorway?

It was 9:00AM on July 9th when I got the phone call.

My daughter’s unintelligible words mixed with tears told me something bad had happened. “Mom, I think I just got bit by a poisonous snake”.

I tried to stay calm as I rushed to get my clothes on. Maybe she was wrong. Did she really know snakes that well? Moments later a conversation with her father confirmed it. My daughter had been bitten by a baby copperhead while walking through the doorway at work.

It lay hidden between the thresh hold and the door.

It took several weeks of healing before she was back on her feet. From that point on, she watched where her feet were planted.

Months after her healing, I realized something profound. That is a picture of my story.

Jesus came to me and offered me salvation. I accepted. I had no clue what it all really meant. I knew that I had alot of sin and needed forgiveness. I knew I needed love. It was by grace that I was saved.

I walked through the door and was immediately bitten by the serpent that lay hidden in the doorway of religious activity.

I was loaded up with a list of things that good Christians do. If you want to love God well, you should spend at least 30 minutes a day in quiet time, preferably in the morning, like Jesus did. Every good Christian made prayer lists, volunteered to teach Sunday School, attended Bible study and every church service, evangelized, signed up for VBS. You get the idea.

I look back on it now and realize something astounding. Grace brought me to salvation. But I left grace behind once I walked through that door. The list of “should’s" took over my life. I lost sight of the invitation to just be loved. In fact I didn't really know that being loved was the offer. The serpent had his bite into me and I didn’t even know it. With my imperfections he began to spread his poison of shame throughout the veins of my life. I never seemed to do enough to feel loved.

The serpent lurks about seeking who he might destroy. If he can keep me bound to a life of should’s he will keep me bound to shame, for I will surely fail. If you don’t believe that, think about how you feel when you miss your “quiet time” for several days or haven’t prayed for anyone. Guilt and shame rear their ugly heads.

Here’s my reality. For God so loved, He sent Jesus to restore me back to love. I am an image bearer of the Most High God. I and all my old, dead flesh have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live. Christ now lives in me.

I didn’t get it back then, but I am starting to now. Jesus brought me to salvation to bring me back to living as one who is loved. The One who knew He was loved because of who He was to the Father says to me. “Just as the Father has loved me, I now love you.” It’s a love where there are no conditions, no expectations, no requirements because all was fulfilled by Him.

It’s the most stunning thing I’ve ever known. Words of invitation are extended,

“Jewel, let me love you into who you are.”

“Take off the shackles of slavery to the should’s."

“You are free.”

“Live out of my love.”

“Don’t return to a yoke of slavery.”

“Not to sin.”

“Not to works.”

“It’s no longer about what you need to do.”

“It’s now about Me and what I will do in and through you.”

“Follow me, Jewel..."

“I will make.”

“I made you to love you, it’s that simple.”

“As you live in love, you will fulfill all the Father desires for you.”

I’ve been on this path for a few years now. He’s held true to His promise. My true identity is emerging as I receive His love. Guilt and shame have for the most part dropped away. They frequently try to visit, but have become unwelcome guests.

His Spirit has taken me to places I didn’t know existed, straight into the heart of deep intimacy with the Father. I've never known love like this before. As I’ve settled into His embrace, I’ve found the place of grace. It’s the doorway where love covers a multitude of sins. It’s where love covers me.

You can find Julie at her blog: Jewelz Sightings

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Truly Thankful!

Today is Thanksgiving (for our American visitors) and we have a very special guest.

Amydeanne is joining us from the 160 acre woods and is graciously sharing her gifts with us today in a visual reminder.

So as we gather around the table, break bread and cheer on our favorite football teams; as we map out our Friday shopping strategies, let us ever remember to truly "give thanks,to sing an anthem."

What does your "thanksgiving anthem" sound like?"

In Him,


Amydeanne, wife to Mr. C, mom to 4, photographer an avid reader, and a struggling Christian, who is trying to get over the fact that we live in an imperfect world. Join her daily at her home on the web, the 160 acre woods.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We were in the kitchen last week as my daughter's and I were discussing the Thanksgiving menu for 2009! I said, "Girls, we are discussing this already and it is still a month away?" "Yes!" They shouted with excitement!

Listening to their excitement about their favorite dishes that they wanted to prepare, it began to stir my emotions inside of me! I am not sure what has perspired in your lives since Thanksgiving of last year with still having a heart and spirit of being thankful, but I know that it got me thinking!

Have you sat down recently and began thinking what exactly does it mean to be thankful in all things? The girls again reminded me of that during our Woman's Bible Study this past week! Does it not just get you when the younger ones are the ones reminding you? UGH!

Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

We began discussing how this verse says, in everything to be thankful and then you let your requests be made known! Ouch! Does that mean you have to be thankful before coming to Him with your requests? YES! I don't know about you guys, but that can be pretty difficult at times.

So, again we continued with our Bible study and after we finished I could not get "with thanksgiving," out of my mind. Upon recalling some of my stories since last Thanksgiving, I was thinking this could have given me a heart attack!

For instance recently with one of our newly "adopted" daughters who came out of sexual abuse and incest for 23 years had an opportunity to be interviewed and share her story. One thing that struck me was her thankful attitude towards the Lord as He had protected her all those years! She was thankful that she was now in a family she could count as her own. Somewhere she was safe and loved! She brought me to tears and it was a sweet reminder to me that in every circumstance there is thanksgiving! Wow!

Is this a difficult proposition to be thankful in all these matters before even coming with our requests before the Lord? YES! Can it be done? YES!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Listen to this from Acts 16:22-25: "Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them." If that does not bring me to conviction!

So this is what I simply gathered. To be thankful in all things! This Thanksgiving, when you gather with your family and friends, remember those that came before us and their difficult times under their circumstances and conditions. Their thankful attitudes and hearts should encourage us to come with thanksgiving before bringing our petitions to Him!

Close and Personal:

What can you be thankful for in the midst of unbearable circumstances?

"Thanksgiving." Should it be only celebrated in November?

Can you think of a time this year that now looking back you realize you should have been thankful?

My dearest Savior,

I want to take time to tell you thank you for those moments this past year that seemed so gloomy and difficult! Those times now looking back you were using for your Glory and Honor yet I saw them so hard to endure! Father I love you and I thank you for entrusting those difficult times to us and our family! May this Thanksgiving we remember that it does not end in November but rather last all year round! I praise you now and forever!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

5 Ways to Stay Sane!


Recently, I returned from a beautiful trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. Beauty, peace, strength, wonder. These are just a few words describing the awesome grandeur of those mountain regions. It is a breath taking as its counter-part, the desert…which is where I went spiritually that same trip.

I'm sure many factors played a part: lack of sleep, lack of oxygen, pregnant, travel, God, and even the Enemy of all of us who say we love Jesus, Satan. It was strange for me to find myself at the end of a week surrounded by the wonder of creation to be so far away from God. Random and strange thoughts blew through my mind. Sleep called out to me. Fear began knocking on my door and everyone's grass looked incredibly greener than mine.

I was feeling lost, alone, and a bit out of control. Thankfully, I had enough where-with-all to realize that if I didn't do these 5 things to stay sane, to stay connected, I could certainly go down the path of destruction further and further.

The first thing to do when you feel a "disturbance in the force" is to start talking!

The first person I went to was my husband. Second, I went to my girlfriends. The emails that were returned began to have an affect. The truth spoken to me by others came as a balm when I was unable to sort through the truth and lies for myself.

If we don't talk, we bottle-up and things become greater and bigger and worse. Our ability to diffuse the situation and discern from what is real and what is not is greatly dimished.

There are many-a-time when I'm driving that my kids will be talking to me and I simply do not hear them. Sometimes, I simply don't listen.

If you find yourself dealing with a time of darkness, loneliness, feeling unattached from God, or flat crazy, you must take opportunity to listen. Listen to your husband, or friends, or Pastor. Take time to ingest what they are saying because sometimes those words can speak louder than our deceiving heart.

In our microwave society, we find that we want all things to go at the speed of a button and a click. This is not always the case in the things of the heart and spirit and mind. Although the Spirit of God never goes into a state of inactivity, we would do well to find ourselves taking time to rest.

When I returned from our vacation, I had no option but to rest physically and spiritually. Meaning, I was okay with letting the Spirit do what He does even if I couldn’t see it or feel it. Just because we feel bad doesn't mean He throws His hands up and walks away for a bit. It just means He is faithful even when we aren't.

Calm down.
Slow down.
Sleep and little bit more.
Get to bed earlier.

In my time of separation, number 4 was the last thing I wanted to do: pray.

I found myself thinking a lot and pondering the things in my heart, but not really having active prayer with God. However, that does not mean He doesn't uphold who He is in me.

For instance: He's the author and perfecter of my faith. He is interceding on my behalf. He never stops praying for me. He is living and active. He holds me together by His powerful word...not mine.

Over a few days, His faithfulness to communicate with me in Spirit (even when I didn't know it) drew me back to faithful and active prayer.

However, if you find that you have the strength to stay in active, engaging prayer, well then, by all means, do it!

Up in the mountains I suffered a little bit from "How high are we?" tummy ache! I didn't have to endure waiting for Tylenol to kick in so I could go back into town. But, spiritually, it was a different story. I was getting sick and no earthly pill could snap me out of it.

I knew it.

God knew it.

By Sunday, JT knew it.

By Tuesday, my friends knew it.

I had done the first two things: talk and listen. I was in resting with sleeping better. I had a profound sense that my friends and husband were praying for me when I could not, and I was left with the final way to get back closer to my God: waiting.

That's it.

Not far from the art of resting is the art of waiting. Technology is quick and easy, but the things of the Spirit are to be experienced, tended to, and waited upon. Not in the sense of inactivity, but a humble awareness that God is working regardless of how we feel.

Allow yourself, and Him, time to restore your soul. Waiting is an art form. Practice it well.

The Five

These things were a life-line to reconnecting with the One who loves me most. I pray that in times of difficulty or in seasons of disconnection, you too will try using these five things.

Just so you'll have them:

1. Talk

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16.

2. Listen

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:113.

3. Rest

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone... Psalm 62:5 4.

4. Pray

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26, 27

Christ at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

5. Wait

I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm27:13, 14

Keep these five things active and you'll find your connectivity will be active as well. When you find you've lost track, kick these back into gear, and well, wait. :)

Serving you,


Check out my personal blog and my blog for Women's Bible Study


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Forgiveness...As Seen By A 9-Year Old

My oldest son and I were having one of those talks in the car again.

We got on the subject of forgiveness. He was asking about it and said that sometimes he doesn't want to forgive. I let him know that is fairly normal when we've been hurt by someone else. He said that some things just seem like they are too hard to forgive.

He went on to ask about the things that have hurt me in my 38 years on this earth. I told him about handful of them and he seemed a little dumbfounded that I could forgive such big things. I then told him that I'd been forgiven so much for the things I'd done wrong that I could not withhold that forgiveness from another. My response seemed to suffice.

For the time being, that is.

Backtrack with me if you will to last year's Thanksgiving weekend. We made our yearly trip down to visit family and seemed to have every electronic gadget known to man to keep the boys from driving us nuts entertained on the long trip.

DVD players...check.



Only somewhere along Interstate 35, Noah lost the iPod that he earned for making straight A's for his entire 3rd grade year. I don't know where it fell out of the car but I can assure you that Noah's mistake made someone else's day.

Noah and I continued our talk about forgiveness as we went to the grocery store that afternoon. During this talk I brought up his carelessness about losing his iPod AGAIN. I didn't yell, but definitely let him know AGAIN that he needed to take better care of his things. As if he didn't know that already.

And you know what he said to me?

He said, "Mom, you sure can forgive the big things that are hard to forgive but you can't let a little thing like losing an iPod go."

Ouch. He was right. So, I let it go.

Figure some of you might need to join me about this sort of thing.

I see that hand.

Visit Cindy daily at her personal site,

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Blend...Gratitude

Welcome to Weekend Blend at the Cafe!

We know how busy the weekends can be. Filled up with errands, activities and spending time with the family; we know because we live that life too! We've decided to "help a sister out!"

Beginning this month, we're going to 'serve up' favorite devotionals from our archives! The Oldies but Goodies, our Favorites! We know that you don't have time to linger all weekend, so we'll be putting them together for you to enjoy at your leisure!

Join us every weekend for the "Weekend Blend!"


Friday, November 20, 2009

What God Has Done

Just over a year ago, my family moved clear across the country to a small town out west, very different from any place I'd ever lived.

Let's just say this Southern girl wasn't exactly thrilled.

The following is an excerpt of a post I wrote on my personal blog not long after that move.

What does God do when your life is going along smoothly, happily, without a real care in the world, (compared to a mother whose child is hungry and she has nothing to feed her or a father who is struck down with cancer and can no longer work?)

What does God do when you think you've been through it all, an ongoing battle with depression, the stuff of life that happens, but what sometimes feels like it happens all at once?

What does God do when your child loves her school, her friends, is doing well academically, and you feel so blessed in the opportunity that (you think) you know is rare?

What does God do when you fall in love with your church, your home, your neighbors and you are so grateful (but never grateful enough,) savoring in the moment in life when everything is going along smoothly, happily, without a real care in the world?

I'll tell you.

God moves you.

He challenges you.

He plucks your family from their cozy nest and plops them in what seems to be the middle of nowhere.

He lets tiny battles of sadness and anxiety rise up in what was once a Cease Fire Agreement.

He leads you to a new school that makes you a little unsure, but thankful nonetheless.

He allows a moving company to make such a mess, such an inept attempt at packing, storing and moving household goods that even the cynical you is still in disbelief.

What does God do?

He knows all, sees all, is in control over all and all the while He never takes His eyes off of you and your little family still shaking off the goose down you left behind in your cozy nest.

Without explanation. Without excuse. But not without purpose.

What do you do?

You wait. You pray. You cry.

You laugh at the absurdity,the disbelief, and the frustrations.

You settle in the new cozy nest that you've found once again called faith.

You lean not unto your own understanding but rely on His Will, His Love, His Sovereignty.

In your own humanness and shortcomings, you try to fluff this faith nest for your little family, nuzzle them and find shelter from the cold.

You give thanks that your living God, the one true God has created this nest called faith.

And you wait to see what He will do next.

Over a year later, what has God done?

I'll tell you.

God has stretched me more than I thought I could ever be stretched. I've been tested in areas of my faith, places I never knew needed testing. (But He did.)

Sometimes I failed those tests, but I've learned to rest in His Grace and Forgiveness and that there are things and Someone greater than myself. His Love and His Son.

My family has grown closer.

Changes and challenges were thrown our way. Because of them, I now home school our daughter. It has been a blessing that I may have never experienced without this move.

What else has God done?

He has watched and listened to my kicking and screaming, put my tears in a bottle and wiped them away.

He understands that I miss my friends and my family, my magnolia trees and fresh peaches. He understands that I long to dip my toes in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

My Savior, who was both man and God, has experienced being torn from His own home and placed in a dry place. I take great comfort in that.

As He understands my pain and sadness, He also has a purpose for me. I accept that (even on mornings when I wish I could still watch the blue herons swoop down over our old pond.)

I do not know what else God will do. I have to take things day by day. I am thankful for new friends I have made and for being reunited with old ones. I am grateful for a new bond I have with my husband and for the daily science and grammar lessons with my daughter.

I'm anxiously waiting (and sometimes still kicking and screaming a little) for what God will do.

I still miss boiled peanuts and sweet tea, but I know His Plan is always greater than my own.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD."For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

Has God moved you to a dry place (literally or figuratively?) What has He done in your life?

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

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cafe Chat

Hey my dear "Cafe" friends. Thank you for the continual encouragement that you give me and this community weekly.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving (I am sure you already knew that though), and I won't be posting a "Cafe Chat" question on that day. I hope you will be enjoying Thanksgiving Day with the Lord, your family and friends. But, I could not let the opportunity go to ask you what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Please list up to 5 things that you are thankful for... I encourage you to think a little deeper and come up with something that you are thankful for that you might not have thought of before.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Prayer Walk

Please join us in welcoming our Guest Barista, Courtney Joseph today!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

My prayer walk begins as I pull the crumpled blankets from a sweet nights rest up "Lord, bless the man who slept here last night - give him strength for today’s trials, integrity for today's temptations and wisdom for today's decisions." I go around to the other side of the bed and pull the blankets up "Lord, help me, help me be a blessing to my husband today, be patient with the children, and wise for today's challenges."

I walk into the bathroom - bathtub toys are strewn across the floor, I pick up the match box car "Lord, bless my little boy who dreams big and plays hard - help him use his strength for you." I lay my daughter's bath baby back into her bucket - "Lord, bless my little girl, she has so many words to say, help her be wise in her word choices."

I walk down to the kitchen, crumbs are wiped from the morning breakfast table "Lord, use this table to comfort weary souls and encourage my little pilgrims on their journey". I wipe the first chair "Lord, help our leader husband to be healthy so he can complete the ever mounting tasks on his plate." I wipe the second and third chair "Lord, give the children laughter in their adventures together - knit their souls together." And then the fourth... "Lord, help - I just need help...tears bubble under the more words for her need to be said - the Spirit already understands what words cannot express."

Then into the living room, pillows are straightened prayers are said for visitors, friends and family who once sat there. Dust is wiped from the piano as praise bellows in my heart for the joy that has come through the blessing of that black wooden box with ivory keys. Memories of children singing and dancing flood my heart with overwhelming joy. The joy is broken...the newspaper is lifted from the entry way - the world's troubles vomit on me - prayers are lifted for my city, state, country, and President.

My heart is heavy as I lift the heavy laundry basket and carry it out of the room and up the stairs - the basket seems to get lighter as I thank the Lord for giving us these clothes in abundance. The drawer is opened, the clothes slip into their comfy home ready to be used.

I walk past the television and pause - "Lord, have we dishonored you by the things we have watched on there? Help us to not waste our time on useless viewing which turns into useless living."

I walk to my computer...there it sits...the world at my finger calls my woos me to come and sit for a while.

My Bible is right beside the keyboard...there it sits...God's only written truth there at my finger calls my woos me to come and sit for a while.

Why am I so torn - why does the computer's wooing seem stronger than the Bible's? Pause for repentance - "Father forgive me for weak moments where time spent on my computer has caused me to neglect your word."

I open my Bible and drink a tall glass of refreshing living water that is spilt on every page. Sweet refreshment - I rise refreshed as distant little voices call out "mommy"...temptations to carry my heavy burden rise with me. I move forward leaving my burden to lie at the feet of Jesus. My heart is light - I walk in peace - I walk with the King - the King walks with me.

Today - pause, take the time to pray over the people in your home, over the places they sleep, their toys, the television that will capture them and keep them hostage for as long as you allow, the computer which can bring life or death into your home. Let God use a daily prayer walk to transform your family...if you don't pray for them - who will?

In Him,


Courtney is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Evangelism and Discipleship. She has been married 12 years to her high school sweet heart and home schools her son and daughter (ages 6 and 4). She enjoys blogging in her spare time at

Walk with the King!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Potty Training & God Training

I know that many women have been able to potty train their kids over night, but that has never been the case for me. Whenever I read an article that boasts, "Potty train your toddler in 24 hours," I want to laugh.

All their lives, toddlers have been doing their business in a diaper, and overnight they are expected to change everything they are comfortable with and used to. . . ?

Come on, now! How is that possible?!

Yes, I know some of you have experienced that potty-miracle, but not this chick; and I suspect many other women haven't experienced that miracle either.

My second born son is now almost three, and I must confess, I so wanted to keep a diaper on him until he turned 16. I have a lot of regrets from potty training my first born, and I was not looking forward to rehearsing all my mistakes.

This time I was determined to have realistic goals for my son. I decided to be a big ball of spiritual fruits -- patience, kindness, self-control, etc.

It has been two months since I started potty training my son, and he will go pee-pee in the toilet; but he still will not go poo-poo (you can add your own bowl movement euphemism).

When I first started potty training my second son, he wouldn't even sit on the toilet, let alone do his business. He was scared of it. So my only goal has been to de-fear him.

Everyday my son sits on the toilet after we eat lunch, and we play. I read him books, we sing songs, we play games . . . I do everything to make the toilet a fun place to be. I will continue to work towards making him feel comfortable, while demanding and expecting nothing from him.

Though he hasn't as yet completed the desired goal, I'm still proud of him. He has come a long way from the boy crying gator-tears, sitting with his legs in the air on the toilet. He now sits comfortably, while laughing and smiling.

Would you mind if I tied this potty experience into something that God taught me? He doesn't waste a good metaphor, does He?

God is constantly training us to be more Christ-like, and change is very hard. I have a friend who moved and lost all of her spiritual-support group. She is alone in another country, and she is having difficulty being intimate with God. She is very relational and not having the influences of her Christian friends has created a gap in her spiritual-growth -- a gap that God wants to fill.

She says that she doesn't feel God doing anything with her. She doesn't feel any great movements of the Holy Spirit. She wonders if she is doing something wrong.

I told her, "You are doing something right!"

God is allowing my friend to get comfortable just being with Him without her usual infrastructure of spiritual help. He is not pushing her or expecting much of her; He just wants her to get used to this new level of intimacy. Once she is comfortable, He'll be ready to ask more of her.

Do you feel like God is doing nothing with you? Are you scared because you are in the middle of change? Don't be hard on yourself! God will not push you! He cares for you, and He wants to make this transition easy.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11.30 NIV).

"Thank You, God, for making Your yoke light. Help me to understand that You are caring and gentle, not hard and demanding. Guide me and show me how You are making me into the perfect design that You created me to be. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen."

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Silent Treatment

Please help us welcome today's Guest Barista, Kristy Stachmus!

Joy. She’s my five year old. Her name suits her in so many ways that I never could have expected. One of the skills she has developed in her short years is the ability to deliver a zinger. Somehow, it just comes natural for her to speak her mind in a way that can make me burst out laughing, or cut me like a knife, in just a few words.

One morning as we sat together at the table, I read some work papers as she chattered on and on to her dolls about how she “loves pancakes.” In the midst of her chatter, she stopped talking to them and asked me a question. I heard her ask. I processed what she said. But, I wanted to finish reading the current sentence before I answered.

Well, as you can imagine, to a five year old, that brief pause must have felt like a lifetime. Just when I was ready to answer, I was stopped short by one of her zingers….hereit comes: “Well, I guess you’re giving me the silent treatment now,” was her (now famous in our house) response to my silence.

I don’t guess this would have seemed funny coming from an adult, because we are surely know to give one another the “silent treatment.” But from a five year old it was – well, unexpected. Once I collected myself from laughing out loud (and hard), I did my best to answer her question. Ironically, being the typical five year old, by the time I got around to answering her, she didn’t even remember what she had asked and soon went on with playing

Though her zinger caught me by surprise, it also made me wonder: How often have I responded with the “I guess you’re giving me the silent treatment now” comment to my Heavenly Father? Does He laugh out loud at that impatient reply? Does it surprise Him when we react in the same manner as a five year old?

The Psalmist wrote much about waiting (from the NLT):

Psalm 5:3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

These verses give us solid instruction on how we should respond when asking something of our Father. First, He should be familiar with our voice, hearing us speak with Him on a regular basis (“each morning”). We should then be brave and courageous while we wait hopefully, and expectantly, for Him. Finally, we display our patience by quietly listening for His reply.

These are just a few of the examples His word gives us on the subject. Since there are so many, I am led to believe that He rarely answers us right away. It seems as though we should be prepared to wait. We know in our hearts that we should never assume that our Father, is giving us the silent treatment.

But aren’t there times when we assume that He is not hearing us?

Do we faithfully lift up our voice to Him?

Do we display a quiet patience as we wait for Him?

Father God, I pray that you we help all that I am to wait quietly before you. My hope is secure in You. Help me to be strong and courageous today and always.

In Him,


Once a journalism major, Kristy laid down her writing pen in 1989 to pursue other interest. But, in 2008, when life circumstance seemed to become overwhelming, she found that the words, thoughts, and emotions had nowhere else to go but on paper. Kristy has been writing again for the last year and has recently started publishing some of her work on her wordpress blog, “Taste the Smell.”

Kristy is married to husband, Jeff, is a mother to Gillian and Joy, and a caregiver to her disabled mother. Since 2001, Kristy has served in her local church as a teacher, prayer leader, and worship director.

Author own and retains the rights to the submitted works and intellectual material herein.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Blend...Gratitude

Welcome to Weekend Blend at the Cafe!

We know how busy the weekends can be. Filled up with errands, activities and spending time with the family; we know because we live that life too! We've decided to "help a sister out!"

Beginning this month, we're going to 'serve up' favorite devotionals from our archives! The Oldies but Goodies, our Favorites! We know that you don't have time to linger all weekend, so we'll be putting them together for you to enjoy at your leisure!

Join us every weekend for the "Weekend Blend!"


Friday, November 13, 2009

Trading Places

The call came from New Hanover Hospital’s emergency room after the crisis with my three-year-old granddaughter had passed. "Mom, Katelyn’s okay, but we just spent four hours in the ER with her," I heard my daughter, Emily, say on the other end of the phone line.

Even as relief flooded my mind with the words, "Katelyn’s okay," panic rushed right in behind it as the second part of the sentence, "four hours in the ER," seeped in.

"It was just awful, Mom. We were at a self check-out at the grocery store. I was scanning our groceries and Katelyn was sitting in the cart with her baby doll. Turning my back to her for just a second, she attempted to climb out of the cart and fell face first to the floor," Emily said.

Katelyn’s little head hit the concrete floor with a sickening thud. Those in the store who observed the accident were frightened and directed Emily to the nearest medical facility at Carolina Beach where they were vacationing.

"We were so scared, Mom. Katelyn’s head was bruised and bleeding. We took her to a walk-in facility and they sent us directly to the hospital. I cried all the way there. I wanted to trade places with her, Mom. I wanted to take her place."

I know that feeling well. My heart would break as my children were growing up and experienced illness, injury and heartache. I would have given anything to trade places with them. I wanted to take their place. Parents as far back as time itself have hurt when their children hurt. Emily wanted to take Katelyn’s place and bear her pain but she couldn’t. As much as I wanted to take my children’s places as they suffered I could only remain close by and let them know that I loved them.

God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, so that all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Jesus left Heaven and came to earth – a place that is full of sin and suffering. And Jesus, being fully God, did exactly what Emily and I wanted to do but couldn’t – He took our place. There on Calvary’s Hill Jesus died on the cross for us, He paid the price for our sins - a price that was ours to pay. He suffered as He hung on the cross waiting to die. The suffering should have been ours. Jesus traded places with us. Jesus took our place.

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

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cafe Chat (Can today be the day?)

First, I want to say thanks so much for all the prayers that you all prayed for my mother last week. My mother is still recovering in the hospital, but we are hopeful that soon she will be able to come home. (I am posting updates on my regular blog if you want to know the latest information).
I was so encouraged last week by how many people responded to my request for prayer, and at the same time my heart went out to those that left prayer requests of their own. So, my new plan is that at least once a month, I will open up the "Chat" for prayer requests. I think praying for one another will be one way that we can draw closer to one another, and Jesus. Thank you all for showing me this last week!!!
With all that being said, let's "Chat".
As you might have noticed already the title of the Chat today is, "Can today be the day?". The Lord has really been working in my heart over the last several months. I feel like He has been dealing with me in the area of letting things go. Sometimes the things are outright sins. Sins that have had me in their grip for a long time. Sins I have been wrestling with for what feels like my whole life.
On the other hand, there are things in my life, things that I neccessarily consider sins. Some of the things are good things, or at least that is how the world might define them. However, these good things have become idols in my life. Things that I find myself not able to do in moderation, if you know what I mean.
I am speaking today in general terms, because I don't want you to get focused in on any particular sin, and I don't also want you to feel like I am singling out things in my life that I think you all should give up as well. What I am asking you to do is to pray to God and see if there is something He wants you to give up. Not give up eventually, or one day in the future, but TODAY.
Can today be the day you begin your journey to freedom from what binds you?
Begin your journey with prayer, and then seek God in His Word. Ask Him to give you the desire to change, and the strength to do the hard work that is required. Seek out friends and loved ones that will support you on your journey to freedom.
Jesus came to set us free... Let's seek freedom together.
(Today, if you feel led please share with us what thing you are asking God to set you free from, or at least that you decided today is the day to change...)
Cheering you on,

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Close For Comfort

Our family has been cleaning, purging and reorganizing around the house for some time now. The stuff in our garage is constantly shifting around as a result. And each time it changes, I have to relearn how to maneuver my large SUV in and out of my designated spot in the garage. This, for a woman with horrible depth perception and peripheral vision…oh my.

Picture me backing out of my space with EXTREME caution so that I don’t scrape up the entire right side of my vehicle, or hit the fence, or the trash can (again). What this means is that I go in reverse, stop and look, pull forward some to get further away from the wall, then reverse again. Admittedly, sometimes it takes me several backs and forwards. Try not to laugh. It will hurt my feelings. ;)

So one day not long ago, I was going through my normal brake & gas wasting ritual whilst backing out of the garage, and my teenage son in the passenger’s seat interrupted. “Mom, go ahead. You can make it.”

“No, Austin, it’s gonna hit.”

“You’re not going to hit, Mom…go.”

I took my foot off the brake for a nano-second, until my reflexes jerked it back to its comfortable place. “It’s going to hit.”

(frustrated sigh) "Mom. I’ve got the better view. It’s not going to hit. You’ve got like an inch. Go.”

I lifted my heavy foot from the brake again. I shut my eyes and let the car drift backwards, knowing full well it was going to scraaaape. And when it does, guess whose bank account the damages are coming out of? I thought.

“See? I told you, Mom.”

I squinted open one eye, then the other. I’d made it out free ‘n clear of damage. Wow. Lucky for him. I admitted to Austin that I couldn’t believe the truck didn’t hit the side. I knew for a fact it would…

…to which he lovingly replied, “You should trust me, Mom. I told you, I’ve got the better view. ALWAYS trust the person with the better view.”

Yes, he really said that. And the Lord has echoed that incredible piece of advice from my son over and over since that day. Not only when it comes to backing out of the garage, but also with life’s circumstances.

“Trust me. I’ve got the better view,” my Lord says.
And He does.

When God says, “I KNOW the plans I have for you, plans for a hope and a future,” we can believe Him. When He says to trust Him and “lean not on your own understanding,” we can depend on Him.

Isaiah 48:17b says,
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”


Isaiah 55:9,
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

In other words. Trust Him, He has the better view. His depth perception and peripheral vision are absolutely perfect. But this is where the garage analogy ends. Though His plan is never to harm us, sometimes His way involves pain. It’s painful because we live in a world that doesn’t make it easy to do things God’s way, and it’s painful because this world is not our home. Jesus knew this full well:

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done."
Luke 22:42

Jesus didn’t want to bear the pain of the cross, but He was willing because He trusted in the will of the Father. He suffered horribly as a result, the worst of the worst, but now look at Him. Now He has the best view of all.

Wouldn’t we, my friends, do best to keep this in mind? Can we encourage one another to trust and obey the One who fully knows? As we “walk by faith and not by sight,” our hearts will experience peace that doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world (or even to our futile minds). We’ll rest in the fact that “now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

Trust Him today, even when the way is too close for your comfort. I’ll say it again just in case your reflexes demand your foot hit the brake. Go. Trust His direction. Always trust the One who holds the perfect view.

Lord, not our will, but Yours be done. Give us the faith to follow Your lead today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

When I wanted an answer, daddy made me "look it up." "Looking it up, pre Google, you know, back in the day, meant lugging out that monstrosity of a book called the encyclopedia, remember them? My kids don't.

I have to thank grandma too. More than once I heard her say, "inquiring minds want to know." (with a wink) Not exactly an educational pursuit, more of a supermarket field trip, but inquiring none the less.

Even today these influences are part of my personality. Sometimes I can't just accept the things I read, I need to know more. Just the other day, I came across an excerpt from a book by Oswald Chamber, and my "Inquiring Mind" begged to know more.

"We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle."
~Oswald Chamber

"Moment's of inspiration, that is ALL?"

"Built for the valley, ordinary stuff?"


Thankfully, with Google at my fingertips, my
inquiring mind and I went deeper.

In the preceding text, Chamber's says;

"The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have the power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up."

Let me tell you something, I love the lawnchair view.

The view from the top. The final ascent.
Sitting in my lawnchair on the TOP of the mountain, sun shining, no distractions, breeze blowing through my hair and I am soaking it all in...maybe even getting a tan.

Then it's as if the lawn chair is being shaken,

"Go on, get off! Shoo! Fold it up and get a move on it sister. You weren't meant to STAY here girlfriend! Oh no honey, I need you back in the valley."

The proof of my 'mettle,' (or as Miriam Webster defines it, 'vigor and strength of spirit,') is when I get off my derriere, pick up my lawn chair, and come down off the mountain where I caught a 'glimpse' of heaven and the glory of God. Those times on the mountain are where God 'refuels' us! He uses those moments to refresh our souls and invigorate our spirits!

Peter, James and John could not stay on the mountain where the Transfiguration occurred, (LUKE 9:28 ~36) they had to descend to the valley, where the lowly were living and teach them and inspire them with what they had seen and knew to be the truth.

We are no different, we are called to do the same.
Come down! The mountain is a lovely place, it's a safe place. We however, were not meant to climb to the top, unfold our lawn chairs, spread out our blankets and stay.

Oh, maybe for a bit, to take it all in, but our spirits should
want to descend to those valleys of the mundane and the trials of life. Girlfriend, WE are, after all, modern day disciples! (I know, I don't often feel like a 'disciple,' but we are! How AMAZING is that?? You and I, disciples!)

We are the ones who are now called to come down and 'share' what we have seen. We are the vessels with which the Lord wishes to use to encourage others to climb to the top and experience that 'glimpse.' We are modern day disciples sharing what we have learned on our journey, sharing so that others can begin their ascent, to catch their glimpse, and for a bit, experience their own lawn chair view.

If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine it, disciples on their way up, and those making the descent, (I imagine us high five~ing as we pass each other on the way) and so it continues on, until the end of time.

That mountain top view is lovely, I have seen it. I've unfolded my lawnchair and lingered at the top, and truth be told, I've been tempted to permanently cement my chair up there.
But I was not meant to LIVE there.

"Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples." Matthew 10:38 (GNT)

I was meant to here in this valley, the valley of mini vans and hurting neighbors. The valley of troubled teens and grumpy co-workers. The valley of dysfunctional families, the tired, misunderstood and unchurched.

So, confidently, I fold my chair and begin to walk down, grateful and humbled by the experience to have another view from 'up there.' It is with sleeves rolled up, I descend to do some real work. You know, 'proving my mettle!'

I remain always confident that HE has another 'view from the top' waiting for me, to encourage and refuel me on my way. I'm certain that the lawn chair will not be permanently hidden, just put away, for exactly the time He determines another 'glimpse' is needed.

As I descend, I'm reminded that it pays to have an "inquiring mind." Thanks gram!

join Lori daily at her personal website,all you have to give, where she'll happily let you borrow her lawn chair.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Plank in the Road

The other day I was on my way back from Starbucks gettin' my fix. I ran out of my vitamins about a week ago and coffee has been taking their place until I get my shipment in. I know... terrible trade out!

So, I glance over to my right and I see a woman eating a taco of all things while driving. I mean she's got the whole head turn thing going so as not to loose anything as she takes a bite. And then, I kid you not, she reaches down to take a swig out of her drink that is sitting in the dash cup holder - with taco still in hand. And then... yes there is more... we come to a light and she grabs her cell phone and so now she has the cell phone in one hand while eating the taco that is in the other hand. The light turns red and she cradles the cell phone in her neck to keep talking, takes a bite of taco and starts to reach for her drink. (I'm not entirely sure that her knees weren't what was keepin' hold of that steering wheel).

At that point, I holler to one of my darlings in the back of the Suburban to "look at that woman", and as I begin to point in her direction, I fling a piece of muffin, that was in one of my hands, across the front seat and begin to reach for my cell that is ringing.

Hmmm... what was that scripture about the plank in the eye? Ouch!

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."
Luke 6:41-42 NKJV

If I'm being honest, sometimes I really don't like this verse. I don't like looking in the mirror and seeing the sins that I carry and faults that I need to work through.

But, look I must.

Because, if I don't, that blasted plank will remain there and hinder my witness in Christ to my fellow sisters.

So, next time you are driving down the road and see that gal with breakfast in one hand, coffee in another, talking into her headset while jugglin' the steering wheel.... don't point and wag your "no-no" finger. Instead, pray for her... and then peek in the rear view mirror and see if there is anything hindering your view.

Oh, and if your in Texas and see that gal; pray a little harder - it's probably me... still working on juggling that plank!

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weekend Blend...on the Menu, Gratitude

Welcome to Weekend Blend at the Cafe!

We know how busy the weekends can be. Filled up with errands, activities and spending time with the family; we know because we live that life too! We've decided to "help a sister out!"

Beginning this month, we're going to 'serve up' favorite devotionals from our archives! The Oldies but Goodies, our Favorites! We know that you don't have time to linger all weekend, so we'll be putting them together for you to enjoy at your leisure!

Join us every weekend for the "Weekend Blend!"


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Struggle

We are thrilled to welcome our Guest Barista today, Christie Blackwood!

A couple days ago my husband and I were each changing a diaper (I would like to take this time to praise my husband as he has still changed more diapers then me up to this point - to all the single ladies...make "will change a diaper" a prerequisite...:). I had just finished explaining to our dear nine month old that if he would just stop struggling and cooperate, things would go a lot faster and smoother and he could be off crawling and chewing on the nearest object in the blink of an eye. Then I heard my husband in the next room also explaining the merit of being "still" while being diapered, to our two year old.

The same kind of thing happened today. My oldest had just finished a "feesee" (freezie) and was covered in purple juice. He wanted to keep playing but I saw the wisdom in getting him cleaned up before he stained his clothes and everything else in reach. It would have been over in probably 4 seconds had he just been still but the power struggle that ensued made the whole process quite longer and more unpleasant. A minute later, all cleaned up, he huffs on his way back to his important toddler schedule of playing with sticks and chasing the dog.

I found myself smiling at my likeness in my child...not physical looks (he looks just like his dad) but in the way he struggles with the things that are good for him and makes the process longer and sometimes, more unpleasant, than necessary.

Don't I do the same thing with my Father?

I fight against trusting Him fully because I'm afraid of what it might mean - what it might take away. I fight against giving up a grudge because it would mean that, in my eyes, justice wasn't done. I fight against giving that extra money because I see all the things I need it for myself.

The Israelites did this too. They fought against the way God wanted to set them free from Egypt ("You're taking us to the desert?!"). They fought against the way He provided for them ("Manna again?!"). They fought against who God gave them as a leader ("Aaron, you lead us!"). They fought against entering their freedom ("The giants are too big for us!"). I read that the trip from Egypt to Canaan actually only takes 3-4 days. Taking into account the number of people and the animals that were with them, it probably would have taken a little longer but I wonder if the forty years of wandering in the desert would have been cut a lot shorter had they not stopped struggling with God, trusted Him and let Him lead?

I can't see the future or the reasons behind a lot of what God does but one thing I do know, is that He tells me not to lean on my own understanding (stop trying to figure it all out) but to trust in Him with my whole heart (Prov.3:4-5). I pray that as I grow in Him, I stop the struggle and let Him do what He wants to do in my life.

I don't want to be left with purple juice on my face..;)

In Him,


Christie Blackwood is married to the husband of her dreams and is a fairly new stay-at-home mom of two precious young boys. She loves to read, spend time with my family, take photos and enjoy the outdoors. She is continually inspired by Isaiah 50:4 that shows her that God desires to teach something new each day when we listen for Him.

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