Monday, March 31, 2014

Stop Fighting!

Don't repay evil for evil.  Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing.
1 Peter 3:9-10

For any of you who have driven the eighteen plus hours, to Florida from Indiana, in a packed car, with more than one child, you know what this scripture is all about.  My friend had text it to me during the week of vacation having no idea how I would desperately need it, on my way home, as I was playing referee to 4 children crammed in the back seat of our car.  I felt like this was the theme of our return home.  As a mom, the one thing that really disappoints me is when I hear my children yell at each other and put one another down.  It hurts to hear them throw insults back and forth!  As a pregnant, younger me I envisioned my children to be best friends.  I dreamed of them one day helping each other, playing nicely together and having one another's back.  Although still a dream of mine, reality has snuck in and I since remember my own childhood.........even smaller cars, packed with more stuff, driving 20 plus hours to Florida with a super dad who never stopped for bathroom breaks.  

Praise God for new technology and my phone app that has amazing devotions on it, and every bible translation I could ever ask for!  As we were on our way home God knew exactly what I would need to help my children get through their drive home, and even more, He showed me a thing or two about my own life:

Listen, God!  Please, pay attention!  Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries?  King-God, I need your help.  Every morning you'll hear me at it again.  Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your alter and watch for fire to descend.  You don't socialize with Wicked, or invite Evil over as your houseguest.  Hot-Air-Boaster collapses in front of you; you shake your head over Mischief-Maker.  God destroys Lie-Speaker; Blood-Thirsty and Truth-Bender disgust you.  And here I am, your invited guest - it's incredible!  I enter your house; here I am, prostrate in your inner sanctum, Waiting for directions to get me safely through enemy lines.  Every word they speak is a land mine; their lungs breathe out poison gas.  Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides.  Pile on the guilt, God!  Let their so-called wisdom wreck them.  Kick them out!  They've had their chance.  But you'll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you.  Let the party last all night!  Stand guard over our celebration.  You are famous, God, for welcoming God-Seekers, for decking us out in delight.
Psalm 5:1-12 The Message

This is all I needed to understand how to handle a situation just like what my children where putting each other through.  I could read this to them and use this drive as a teachable moment.  As I read this scripture over and over I could also hear God say to me, "You can do this!  Give these people to Me.  Let me take care of those who hurt you and call you names.  Let me handle the people in your life who annoy you, and you just continue to love them."  So as I would say to my children I also would say to you and me.  God wouldn't want us to get revenge.  God wants to do our "fighting" for us.  He is ready to take care of those who hurt us, and lie to us.  God has plans for the people who make fun of us and who are evil.  He just asks us to pay them back with blessings, to keep on loving and in return we will receive God's blessings and more!  Just ask my kids, the task is not always easy.  As having "sat back" a time or two,  I understand how hard it is to sit there and let someone say things that you wish you could defend yourself from, I have also seen the work God can do without my "help" or interfering.  So next time you are tempted to get revenge or your children are in a boxing match, pull out your bible and recite these scriptures over and over until the urge subsides and you are able to see straight :)  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time With God

I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing:  To live with Him in His house my whole life long.  I'll contemplate His beauty; I'll study at His feet. 
Psalms 27:4

I just love the sound of this statement.  If I had to choose one scripture right now to use as my personal slogan this would be it.  I want nothing more than to live in God's house.  I want to be in His presence every hour of every day.  I love Who He is and I love how He treats me.  My favorite day is one where I am totally tuned into Him; a day full of studying His word and hearing His Spirit lead me.  As seasons change and life happens I see that every day buried in the bible for hours is just not always possible and although it is a daily goal for me to read scripture and pray, I have to admit some days I don't get enough and I feel distant from God.  

As I am on vacation this week I miss my God.  I miss our long conversations and I miss sharing Him with my GFF's.  I can get caught up in feeling like I have let Him down and feeling like I have ignored Him.  I wonder every day why He isn't speaking big revelations to me, but as I sit here typing, my perspective starts to change.  I need to be flexible for my God.  I need to be available for His work and for the opportunities He provides for me every day.  I'm on vacation!  I am with my beautiful family for a week with no distractions.  Spending time with His blessings is just as important as spending time with Him.  I admit that I can put my kids off when I want to spend time with God but He is telling me to spend time with Him in different ways.  There is more than one way to enjoy God and be close to Him.  

Nothing can take the place of reading scripture.  Nothing can take the place of praying and conversing with God, but can spending time with my kids glorify God in the same way?  Can teaching my kids about God and living out my faith while on vacation bring Glory to God? Yes and YES!  Sometimes my bible time may be shortened and my prayers may be quick but what I am doing with that extra time is what makes the difference.  If I am skipping time with God to follow through with His promptings and share His love with others then I am not really skipping time with God because He is present in those moments.  He is present in my children and friends and even the strangers I encounter.  And while my dream is to study at His feet all day I will take this life He has blessed me with and go with it.  I will vow to live my life like Jesus would and glorify my God through every situation I am in.  I will see my time with God in a new light, be blessed with my "alternative" time with Him, and use it to bring Glory to His name.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

God Is Working

But Jesus replied, "My Father is always working, and so am I."
John 5:17

I love this!  As I sat and thought about Jesus' response I couldn't help but smile and think of all the things going on in my life and the lives of those I love.  When my best friend is having a bad day, when things are looking down for me or if my prayers don't seem to be heard and answered as I would choose, I can be confident that God is working.  God is always working!  He has an ultimate plan that will succeed exactly how He wants it to.  Even when it appears that bad things are happening, God is working for us and for His ultimate goal.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

When we can think of our problems differently, with a new perspective, we can see and trust that God is working through our "ugly" as much as He is working through the good times.  He is always working to fulfill His plan.  We can rest knowing that we don't have to do it all!  We don't have to fix anyone or anything.  We just sit back and wait for God's good to shine through.  

Next time you are experiencing something bad look to God and praise Him for working in your life.  Keep your thoughts on God and the work He has planned for your circumstance.  Things may get worse before they get better but be sure that He is still with you working to accomplish His goals for you and everyone involved. 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Matter of Perspective

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever!
Psalm 136:1

Are you in a situation that is less than ideal? I'm learning that when I'm in such a circumstance I need to change my perspective. Let me explain. 

We are vacationing in Orlando, FL. and tonight as we go out of the car I heard what I thought to be thunder. And of course, my initial thought was, "Oh shoot. Rain will just ruin our plans to lay out and have fun by the pool tomorrow." As we went up the elevator to our 5th floor room, the "thunder' continued. As I rounded the corridor to our room, the sky lit up with brilliant light miles away. The noise wasn't thunder after all. It was the concussion of fireworks at Disney World. The sky was beautiful, but I didn't see it until I was in a new position. 

Our life is much the same. Situations are painful and even ugly at times and while we are in  them it's hard to see the good. But I'm amazed at the new perspective we can gain when we go to the Lord and thank him for all that he is and all that he has done for us. Thankfulness provides a new perspective. Thankfulness helps us rise above the situation. 

So, whatever you are facing, choose to give thanks. Yes, 'choose." Thankfulness isn't our natural response, so we must make the choice to be thankful! Thank the Lord for his creation and creativity. Thank him for the way he intricately designed you and planned your days before you were even breathing. Thank him for the salvation that is freely given to you through His son's death and resurrection. Once you start thanking Him, your attitude will change and He will lift you to new heights! He will give you a new perspective! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Follow Up

For all you animal lovers who are sitting at the edge of your seat waiting to hear the outcome of my Ginger story, I am sad to say we had to put her down.  As I think about the last two days and remember wondering what God had planned to use this untimely, devastating incident for.  I could never pin point it until now.  Yes, God could have been just trying to give me a speed bump in the road (no pun intended) warning me to slow down.  I can hear Him say, "your life is crazy let's just add one more thing to your already jam packed schedule, and see how you handle it", and although that could very well be the reason behind this mess, I believe it was deeper than that.

The message I learned yesterday was one that will carry with me in every decision I ever have to make in the future.  I will always have to think of this moment when I have to choose between my way and God's way.  When we choose to be completely committed to God then every command in His Word applies to our life.  We can't pick and choose the easy stuff to follow and find reasons and justification to ignore the more difficult rules.  God wants all of us and He wants us to choose His way because we trust that He knows best.  It doesn't matter how small or big, God wants us to trust in His commands.

It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before.  By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and was made right in God's sight.
Hebrews 11:7

Noah was a man of faith and He trusted God's command to build a gigantic arc, to put animals in, to save them from a huge flood, that would be the result of water pouring out of the sky, something that had never happened before!  Noah trusted God and said yes to this big task.  Noah got ridiculed and persecuted like many people today.  He was made fun of for applying God's word to his life and for trusting in God.  His faith condemned the rest of the world and he didn't have to fight back or prove his cause.  Noah just acted in the way God wanted Him to and the rest was taken care of.  Yes the persecution hurts and being made fun of for being "radical" is very difficult at times but in the end followers of God always win out!  (Watch this trailer from Evan Almighty)  Yes some commands may sound crazy but if God tells us to do something are we willing to go all out for Him? 

Is there something that you feel God nudging you to say or follow through with that you hesitate doing because you are afraid of what others will think?  Are you holding back being completely dependent on God because you have friends and or family who won't quite understand?  Like me going to the bible to decide how to handle my injured dog (if my husband thought I was crazy he was very good to hide that from me :), the things God tells us to do may sound weird or radical in the world's eyes but never ever let that stop you from doing what is right in God's eyes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.  They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground."
Genesis 1:26

I was convicted this morning as I looked at my dog who sat on the floor watching me with those eyes that asked the question, "Are you gonna help me?".  Encouraged by her wagging tail that was nothing but limp just hours before, I realized that she, like me had feelings.  She was a creation of God and as I thought of that I recalled early in Genesis that God commanded humans to rule over all the animals.  

Let me back up a little and share with you my crazy night last night that included running over my dog in our driveway.  She is a small dog, who since she was born, barked at tires and liked to chase the car down the driveway.  She has always been very good to get out of the way and has managed, for almost 3 years, to stay out from under the tires.  Last night her luck ran out and as I heard her barking and crying out in pain it processed in my brain that the thump I had felt under my tires was our family dog.  As my family has grown over the last year and a half and our life has become way busy I have to admit my love for my animals has diminished some.  Yes I'm still a sucker to let her sleep in my bed and I most definitely talk to them when I am home alone, but I'm not near as emotionally attached, with 5 kids to take care of.  

I know I'm not going to get any votes for animal lover of the year, by saying this, but my initial response was to put my dog out of her misery.  The thought of vet appointments and all the money involved with getting her healed was not something that was planned into our budget this year.  I have enough going on and plenty of kids to keep healthy so nursing a dog back to health was low on my priority list.  Well I saw the reaction on my kids' face when I told them she may not make it, I had to feel them out and warn them of the possibilities since in the back of my mind she was all but dead.  As I was feeling them out I felt God doing the same with me.  

God began to convict me of His command saying we should care for all of the animals of the world.  When I opened Genesis I was reminded that, just like each human baby born is a miracle, every animal was a miracle creation of God.  At that moment I knew that we needed to give our dog a chance.  As I remembered a devotion I had just read the day earlier stating that we need to be faithful in the little things, I understood that I was being tested in that very area.  I knew Gods command to care for His animals but I did not want to listen, and I realized I was picking and choosing the things from God's Word that I wanted to apply to my life.  And that, my friends, is not being a totally committed follower.  I quickly had to ask forgiveness and hand over my will.  So as I type, my husband has Ginger at the vet awaiting xray results and lab work.  Time will tell how she recovers but I will love that dog with all I have because God says so.

Care for the flock of God entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly -  not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 
1 Peter 5:2

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keep on Keeping On!

I don't know what God's laid on your heart, but what ever it is don't give up. Maybe what you're praying about hasn't come yet. Perhaps you long to have your marriage restored, a friend to find salvation, a ministry, or a job change. Whatever it is, lay it before God and wait.
Invest yourself deeply in the Word of God, turn up the Christian music, find an accountability partner and keep working the fields as you wait!
But whatever you do, don't let go of the dream. God will clearly show you what to do and how to do it. He will fine tune you and your desires along the way until they are fully aligned with his. He will work in others until just the right time. And then, you will reap the glorious harvest!

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work of the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." Galatians 6:9-10 MSG

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stay Connected To The Vine

"I am the Vine you are the branches.  When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can't produce a thing.  Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.  But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon."
John 15:5-8 

I am highly anticipating spring and summer this year.  Yes, this crazy winter has helped encourage that immensely, but another reason is because I enjoy gardening and manicuring my flower beds.  I like a clean look so I am constantly eyeing dead branches to cut or dead flowers to remove.  I enjoy spending time in the quiet outdoors (yeah who am I kidding, with 5 kids even the outdoors is never quiet), soaking in God's beauty in nature.  As I was reading this passage from John I tried to picture, in my mind, this scene.  God choosing one beautiful day to head to His garden.  As He strolls along the thick, strong vine He smiles at the branches that are producing much fruit but then He approaches an area that is visibly unpleasing.  Realizing that one branch has broken off and is the reason for this bear spot,  He reaches in to remove it.  God continues this walk through His garden and gathers up many more dead branches that have separated from the Vine, to make room for new growth.  At the end of the day He  throws them all on a pile to be burnt.

Friends, this scripture is both encouraging and alarming.  The encouraging part is God will not just remove a branch that is dying on the Vine.  No, God is patient and He knows that as long as we are connected to the Vine there is still hope that we can gain life and begin sprouting fruit.  As long as we are connected to Jesus Christ and we believe in Him there is still a chance that we could turn from our sinful ways and one day bear fruit again.  But as soon as that branch, so dead and brittle, is blown by the wind or kicked hard enough, it can be detached from the Vine.  When we are living in sin for  a long time we become weaker and weaker.  The living Word is no longer a part of our life and we replace it with something else.  We live less and less for God and more for ourselves.  When that happens there isn't much holding us on the Vine and satan can easily come along and blow us over or kick us down and tempt us away from Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, we can no longer sustain life apart from the Vine. 

As spring approaches and you have work to do in your flower beds and trees to trim and sculpt, remember this vision of God cleaning up His orchard.  Be encouraged that even though you feel far from Him now, as long as you are connected to Christ, there is time for you to change and start greening up and producing fruit.  Just don't wait too long to begin that change and choosing God first in your life because at any moment, if you are weak enough, you could fall to the ground.  You could become like this deadwood and be added to the bonfire.  So stay close to Christ and enjoy the life giving nutrients that come from staying connected to Him!  When you are a part of Him you can produce much fruit!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Know Whose You Are

The devil brought Jesus into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here.”
 Luke 4:9

In this passage Satan tempts Jesus to prove who he is. Jesus however doesn’t fall for the trick. He is confident in whose he is, so there is nothing to prove.

As I read this passage, I realized how I’ve spent my entire life, up until the last year, trying to prove who I was. I tried to earn love from others by being what they wanted or needed. I compromised God, myself and others in trying to prove that I could handle life on my own. When others didn’t approve of who I was, I just did what they wanted. I changed to become who they wanted me to be. I did things I didn’t want to do. I even sinned to receive their approval. I did things for God so he would do things for me. I hurt others by not having a firm foundation in God.

Recently God has changed my heart to love him for who he is, not what he does. He also showed me that he loves me for who I am and not what I do or don’t do. And in getting me to realize that this is true love, I have been freed to be myself. I no longer need to prove who I am, because I know whose I am!

Do you feel lost? Are you striving to prove yourself? Then begin to find yourself by asking God to reveal who he is and in finding his greatness, you will find yourself. Why? Because you are his masterpiece! He created you, loves you, and has the plan for your life! In order to find who you are, seek to find whose you are.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Lord Will Stop You

On the journey when Moses and his family had stopped for the night, the Lord confronted Moses and was about to kill him.
Exodus 4:24

Before today I don't ever recall reading this verse in the bible.  Although I had no idea that one of the most famous men in bible history was just moments away from death, the reason for his impending death caught my attention even more.  God loved Moses very much.  Moses was chosen by God.  For 40 years, God prepared Moses for the huge task of leading His people out of slavery into the Promised Land.   He trusted Moses to complete the Exodus and He had to be sure that Moses was ready for the tough job ahead.  

God's jobs are real!  He is serious about the missions He chooses for us to carry out and the tasks He lays in front of us.  Just before Moses entered Egypt and just before He was to begin his ministry of leading the Egyptians out of slavery God had one last thing to take care of.  If you have read the whole story of the Exodus you would know that God expected his people to obey Him and we learn later on that when they don't obey there are consequences to pay.  There was one area in Moses' life where He wasn't obeying and God was ready to kill him if He didn't change his ways.  The man He spent many years preparing and grooming had not yet circumcised His son and God was finished waiting on him.

As I think about this verse and the reality of what happened I realize that God really expects me to obey Him and if He was willing to kill Moses then what would stop Him from disciplining me for my disobedience?  It makes me think about my life right now and I ask God to show me where I have gone my own way.  God has laid a huge ministry on my heart and I look forward to living that out but what area in my life do I need to change first?  It has taken a while for it to get anywhere, is He waiting on me to obey Him in some other area of my life?  What is He waiting for you to do?  Where have you disobeyed God?  God will stop me and you if there is something He wants from us.  He will not let us carry out His mission until we are willing to obey His every command.  

Dear God, show me where I have disobeyed you.  Reveal to me those sins that I have not yet repented from.  I want to do your work on earth and you need me to be Holy so make known to me the things that need removed from my life.  God I praise you for all that you are and for the power that you have to help me overcome these issues.  Forgive me for my sin and the times I have disobeyed your commands.  I am sorry for blowing you off and making excuses for the the things that I was not ready to do for you.  Transform me today and trust me with great and marvelous works on this earth.  Use me to bring people to you.  Amen and Amen


Saturday, March 15, 2014


"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then  come and offer your gift." Matt. 5:23-24

Ok, Ok! I've been running from God on an issue. He spoke to me, and I heard. But, I didn't want to listen. I had been rude to someone. Their life choices had left their family in pain. I witnessed their pain, and it breaks my heart. So when I saw him for the first time since these choices, let's just say I was less than loving. It wasn't that I didn't love him, I was just hurting for the hurt he'd caused. God was quick to bring it to my attention. And I heard him and intended to fix it that day. But I didn't. He's reminded me several times, and I've put it off. 

It wasn't until last night as I lay in bed with my granddaughter asking for "Jesus" before we went to sleep that I heard him say he was serious. When Emma spends the night we tell a Jesus story before we snuggle into my bed to sleep. I decided to tell her the story of Jonah. All was going well until I got to the part where Jonah realizes he'd been running from God. BAM, WHAM, OUCH! Smacked right in the forehead, I was! I was acting just like Jonah on this issue. God will not let it rest until I take care of it. I then hear this still small voice say, "If you love me you will obey my commands." (John 14:15) And this morning I'm greeted with the above scripture. So, needless to say, I'm off to make amends!

Thank you, Jesus for your relentless love that will not let me remain disobedient!
I love you! Amen

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tell Them

But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust?  And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted?  And how can they hear if nobody tells them? 
Romans 10:14

What kind of life are you living today?  Do your friends know that you are a christian?  I'm not talking about the friends you spend a lot of time with, of course they know!  I am more concerned about those who you are just acquaintances with.  How about your coworkers or maybe the check out clerk at Walmart, do they know who you claim to be?  Everyone should know, by just watching and listening, Who you put your trust in.  Maybe they do and that is a big part as to why they enjoy your company.  Maybe the people around you are drawn to the Jesus in you.  Do they see His characteristics in you?  Are you open to discuss biblical topics?  Are you willing to expose your true beliefs by sharing the gospel with someone or would you rather sit back and keep that stuff to yourself?  Do you believe in God and His call on your life to "Go make disciples"? (Matthew 28:19)  

So many people need Jesus in the very community you live in.  Believe it or not there are people living right beside you who do not know Jesus.  Yes many know of Him but they don't know Him on a level that changes their lives like you and me.  They don't trust Him because they don't know He can be trusted.  Will you be that person who brings them to Christ?  Will you get real with someone who needs Jesus?  If you are a christian your answer better be yes.   

Dear God show me today who needs to call on you for help.  Lord give me the words to share with him or her and guide me in telling them what I know about You.  I don't want to live a shy and quiet life anymore.  Give me confidence and a new boldness to live my life out loud.   I want people to know all about this Jesus who lives within me and loves through me.  I want to share my experiences of trusting You.  Help me to show my friends and acquaintances that You are the Savior of the world and that You are someone who can be trusted.  Like a lifeguard throws out a life preserver I want to throw your name to the world and give someone hope and a safe place to turn.  In Jesus' Name..........Amen    

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Make it Your Business

"Rescue the perishing; don't hesitate to step in and help. If you say, "Hey, that's none of my business," will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know- Someone not impressed with weak excuses." Proverbs 24:11-12 MSG

"I don't know him very well, but I hate to hear he's doing that. It's just too bad."
"Yes, I heard their marriage was in trouble. It's so sad."
"She used to walk so closely with the Lord. I don't' know what's happened to her."
"He's always been a trouble maker, I'm not surprised by where he's at today."

You've heard these statements, along with a host of others, justifying the right to keep one's distance from certain situations. But Friends, these simply won't hold water when we stand before our Lord and account for our actions (or lack there of).

Christ's purpose is to save the lost. He left his seat of royalty next to God almighty. He took on flesh, endured every temptation, underwent every form of persecution, and bore the weight of every sin that ever was or ever will be. He sacrificed everything so that each human being would have the opportunity to receive salvation, forgiveness, and the grace of God.

So, who do we think we are to decide who we will or will not reach out to in their time of need?   Of course God called me to talk to them! They are his children. They are lost and hurting. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God in us. Therefore we are to reach out to them. Now, what we are to say or do will be determined by the Spirit, but we must reach out! We must extend His love.

Determine today to pray about situations when they are brought to your attention. Then ask the Spirit to lead you. Step out in confidence and offer Christ's grace and love, even in the ugliest of ugly situations. They are your business… because they are His children! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Dark and Winding Path

All of you that honor the Lord and obey the words of his servant, the path you walk may be dark indeed, but trust in the Lord, rely on your God.
Isaiah 50:10

I hate to tell you but this walk with God, developing my faith and putting my complete trust in Jesus has not been a stroll in the park.  Has it been absolutely amazing and fulfilling?  Sure, but it hasn't been an easy road.  Many of the things God has been teaching me have to do with loving and accepting others just the way they are.  He is taking me places where I am uncomfortable.  He trusts me with big things that I don't have the ability to handle on my own.  God is stretching my faith and I am learning with every stride how to trust Him with my every move.  Yes this trip I'm on is winding and at times seems like I have gotten off course, but with God by my side I can never be lost. 

I think for many who accept Christ, they give up when the road gets too curvy.  Things start to get hard and they end up going back into their same way of living......self sufficiency takes over and God is no longer their trusted provider.  One reason is that no one told them how hard it was going to be.  We are taught that trusting God and living for Him will bring us great glory and eternal salvation.  Joy and peace are with believers and we hear about all the great things that come with the christian lifestyle, but no one mentions the part that says we will have difficulty.  No one warns us that satan will be angry with our choice to live for God and that he will do everything he can to keep us from transforming.  Many aren't prepared for the obstacles along their journey and when they hit that fork in the road they choose the wrong path.  Not because they are a bad person but because they weren't prepared.  A difficult decision is hard to make alone and without a friend to hold you accountable you can very easily make a wrong turn.  With satan putting doubts and lies in your head it is easy to make a wrong choice and understandable when you give up and turn back to the familiar road.  

Friends choosing to live a God First life is a huge deal and a hard thing to do. The road isn't always smooth and straight.  You will run into pot holes and detours and a whole lot of construction but in the end you will be the person God had planned for you to be.  You will receive a ton of blessings along the way and more importantly sow seeds of faith and love.  So don't give up when things get hard, stay focused and on the path chosen for you.  Don't be afraid of what satan will do and how he will try to stop you.  Be prepared for him to show up from time to time and have a plan to overcome him.  Call on God to help you get around those detours that seem too hard to handle and when you feel you have lost your way.  Stay on this dark and winding path because eventually, when the time is perfect you will be brought into God's shining light!  In fact, all along this path you will get glimpses of this beautiful light. A light that brings hope and smiles keeping you focused and steadfast.  Hold onto those moments and keep walking, running, skipping or biking.  Whatever your mode of transportation......just keep moving forward!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Recipe for Healing

Do you feel broken? Are you part of a family that has been hurt by sin? Is your marriage on the rocks? What are the pains and places in your life that need the healing touch of Jesus?

I too, have these places of pain and brokenness. If your like me, you've tried lots of things to find healing. Perhaps you've tried to 'stuff' your feelings only to have them explode at some point. Maybe you've given yourself away emotionally and/or physically to find something to soften the hurt. Have you tried to numb the pain through drinking? We've all tried to deal with our pain in a variety of ways, but this week as I was reading God's word, I found the most simple and clear directives. They go like this:

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land." 
                                                    2 Chronicles 7:14

Acknowledge God for who He is! Praise him. Allow him to love you!
Humble yourself. Be willing to be wrong and to be changed.
Pray always.
Seek God's face by reading his Word regularly and earnestly.
Remove your sin. Hold nothing back, surrender it all!
Receive and offer forgiveness.
Allow the healing touch of the Lord to reach into the depths of your heart!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Do Something

Don't put it off.  Do it now.  Don't rest until you do.
Proverbs 6:4

We all have ideas and dreams for our lives and the lives of others.  Most of us have things that we think of quite often, things of which we could change or do differently.  Many of us have read the newspaper or have been exposed to an unfortunate incidence that could use some help or prayers.  We have all been touched by a commercial asking for money for the poor or assistance for the sick children.  There are things that we come across every day that we know in our hearts needs done or done differently.  How many of us are willing to take that next step for change?  Who of us are willing to carry out that vision God laid on our hearts or assist that person who needs our help?  

Stop reading for a moment and watch this video  Do Something by Matthew West

When I first heard this song I fell in love it.  In my faith walk I am at a place where I can't get enough of God and better yet I can't get enough of carrying out His will.  My perspective has changed dramatically and I see things very differently.  I notice things that God wants done.  I see the hurting people and I acknowledge the things that God wants His children to take care of.  Yes when we are true followers of Jesus Christ we will have His eyes and we will be His feet and hands.  We will carry out things on earth that He wants taken care of.  So what is it that God has laid on your heart?  I am certain that there is at least on thing that we each encounter every day that is screaming for us to say or do, change or start up, join or quit.  For example, Mary and I understand the importance of a strong family with Christ as the center, we love people and have compassion for those who hurt.  We want everyone to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and we are committed to helping people achieve that.  We want to love people where they are and accept them, mess and all.  Our vision is a huge ministry consisting of so many areas and ideas.  God has a huge plan for this ministry but if we don't act on it and "do something" with it then it will sit idle and possibly never amount to anything.  Like this song, God created us to bring this idea into reality and He expects us to obey Him.  It's time for us to do this!  

We want to hear what it is you are feeling God calling on you to do.  We know there is at least one thing He is asking of you.  Please share it with us so we can pray for you.  Please pray for us, as well.  We will be meeting with someone about the things God has laid on our hearts this week on Wednesday.  We know it's not easy to act and as we gain the courage to step out in faith we ask you to do the same.  We want you to act now!  God created you to do something!  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Input = Output

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 
Luke 6:45 NIV

Let's keep this one simple. This is exactly how our hearts work…our input equals our output. Whatever you are putting into your heart is exactly what will come out of your mouth and fill your mind. Consider the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the books you read, and the words your friends speak. Are they Godly? If not, in given time, you too will speak and become exactly what you are inputting. We must be careful to protect our heart and mind.

Dear Lord,
Reveal to us today what it is that we need to remove from our lives so that we can live pure and holy before you. Show us the evil in our hearts so that our testimony to others is worthy of you.
In your precious name we pray,

Friday, March 7, 2014

Not Afraid

artwork by Patrick Laurent

I was listening to the radio one day and heard the song Believer , by Audio Adrenaline, that immediately caught my ear. It started out with these lyrics: I want to live this life unsafe, unsure but not afraid. I thought about the meaning to this statement and immediately grabbed hold of it to represent my life. I understand that life is unsafe. Yes, our salvation is protected by a God who loves us but the world around us is not safe. As a christian I am not exempt from a life of unfortunate circumstances. We are not safe from ridicule or the choices of other people. Life, unfortunately, is just not always safe. My life is also very unsure. I never know what the next day is going to hold let alone what will happen in a month or year from now. Life is unpredictable and we never know what cards we are going to be dealt. We don't usually have the privilege of knowing, in advance, the troubles or excitement heading our way. We live a life with a future that is very unsure. But, in the midst of these words that seem so bleak and scary we can live unafraid. Just because we are not certain of what the next moment or day will hold we can keep on living with confidence that whatever circumstance we face, we have God to walk us through it. We have God to make good from the bad. We have God to praise when we are blessed with great things! Friends, just because we are unsafe and unsure doesn't mean we are to be afraid! Yes some adventures are scary. There will be situations that we face in which we are uncertain of its outcome and that can be scary but God says, "Be Not Afraid". Just because we face a scary illness, a scary job loss, a scary temptation or a scary future without that loved one, we can still live unafraid. Something scary does not have to paralyze us. With God, an unsafe and unsure future should not keep us from moving forward!

I trust in God so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?  Psalm 56:11

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.  Psalm 91:5

"Don't be afraid, I am here."  John 6:20

"Don't be afraid.  Just have faith."  Matthew 5:36


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sin is Sin

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you.” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” 
John 18:2-11

Today I was struggling with forgiving an offense. The offense comes with pain and a lot of ugly! But as I worked through the need to forgive I was reminded of this passage. It is the bolded part that really spoke to me. What was it exactly that Jesus wrote on the ground? 

Today I feel that it was a list of “insignificant sins”. As humans we often categorize sin into one of four categories: insignificant, small, big, and horrible. There is really no middle ground. Mostly we categorize based on the amount of damage caused to another individual, but God sees sin as sin. All are equal. All are ugly. All separate us apart from our God.

So, if you were standing there before this “adulterous woman” would you have cast the first stone if Jesus had written, “white lie, tithing, gossip, sarcasm, or lust?” Would you have walked away when he wrote, “pride, greed, or jealousy?” 

I’m finding it so much easier to offer grace when I stand before another person, who’s caught in sin, with my own sin behind me (confessed, forgiven, and free) but frequently peeking in my rearview mirror just to make sure I don’t forget where I’ve been! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Go To God

"I will comfort you there as a child is comforted by it's mother."  
Isaiah 66:13

We have a new baby in the family.  He is a sweet 8 month old baby boy and we just adore him.  My children just love to play with him and talk to him like he has been here for ever.  He is very pleasant and aside from being sick, he has been very easy to care for.  He doesn't complain much and seems to be pretty content in our home.  His smile is contagious and his voice so gentle and innocent.  Until his most recent illness, he has been very independent and in fact wants nothing to do with cuddling me.  This is hard because as a mother of 3 children I love to cuddle.  Two of my three were rocked to sleep every night and I have never been one to let my kids "cry it out" for too long.

You could say he isn't used to me yet and doesn't trust me and that would be a very likely reason for his independence.  I might also say that he is just that way, like my youngest son, and wants to go to sleep in his own bed with no one to bother him.  But after two long nights, in the very early morning hours, as I held him in my arms and he finally snuggled into me I imagined myself snuggling into my God.  I, like this sweet baby boy could be very independent when I was feeling well.  When things are going my way and I feel healthy and confident I don't always choose to snuggle into God.  It usually takes some sleepless nights and a few less than perfect circumstances for me to fall to my knees and need hug from my Father.  I thought of us all and how we love to be cared for and held, but so often we are too busy to go to God for comfort and cuddles when are coasting along and don't need that hug or encouragement.  I also imagined how I felt when I couldn't console my crying baby and the frustration and sadness that overtook me when he wouldn't let me comfort him.  Does God feel the same way when we don't go to him every night before we drift off to sleep?   Is He disappointed when we only go to him when we are in desperate need?  Does he feel unwanted or unneeded in those moments when we are doing fine on our own?  Does he feel taken advantage of when we only come to Him in need?

Dear friends, there is no such thing as an independent Christian.  We must go to God every day, in the good and bad times.  He, like so many nurturing mothers, wants to rock us to sleep every night.  He wants to hold us when we are happy and feel our arms wrap around his big, strong neck.  He longs for the touch of his beautiful children just like I longed for the trusting look and touch from my new baby.  God loves us and wants to be loved by us!  He wants to be there for our every need and every celebration!  If things are going good for you right now, go to Him.  If life is hard and you need a break, go to Him.  Don't wait another moment.......get used to cuddling up with God on a regular basis.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Olympic Christian

Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Are you an Olympic Christian? I know, I know! You're brows are furrowed and your mind is stirring to figure out what I'm talking about right? This verse made me think of the recent Olympics. There were so many competitors! The opening ceremony took hours just to allow each one to make an appearance. Each athlete had trained, spent endless hours and countless dollars, sacrificed, and had the same goal in mind… a gold medal! I totally am amazed every time on Olympic athlete rises to the podium and gets silver or bronze yet their face bears that look of failure. I'm thinking,"What? Are you kidding me? You're the second/third best in the world! How can that feel bad?" It feels bad because they had a goal. Gold! And nothing short of gold will satisfy their hard work and the desire to have attained that ultimate prize. 

I too competed in this past Olympics in some ways. I read articles, I watched some of the events, and I even knew a few of the athletes names. I could have tried out!  I mean I can skate a little. I could ski (if I wanted too!) With some practice, I could probably even manage a trip downhill on a snowboard. But, I really don't want to do any of those things. I'm content just to be a spectator!

That's how our Christian life can be also. I can go to church when it's convenient,  attend Bible study here or there, maybe even read the Bible on occasion. I could be a bronze medalist in my faith. But this scripture says we aren't to settle for bronze when the gold medal is available! Our faith as Christians takes sacrifice, dedication, and training. We need to have accountability partners, we need corporate Bible Studies (intense sessions), and weekly worship within a community of believers. We need private prayer and devotional times. We need times of confession and times of all out praise! This walk is hard and the time we choose to invest will determine our relationship with God. Sure, you can go for bronze. But my question is why? Why would you settle for less than the best that God has to offer? He has store houses full of gifts to give his children. He has unlimited love, grace, and mercy. 

The choice is ours! I am not competitive on any level. I'm athletic enough to get by if I have to play. But when it comes to my walk with Jesus, I don't want to settle for anything less than Gold! So the question is now posed to you… Do you want to be a spectator Christian? Are you aiming for bronze? Or will you devote your life to the Lord fully and Go For the Gold? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Jesus My Friend

You love him even though you have never seen him.  Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
1 Peter 1:8

Odds are you are visiting this blog today because you love Jesus.  He is a man you have only ever seen portrayed in pictures and movies, or read about in books but still you believe in Him.  You trust that He is real.  Jesus is the son of God who died to take away our sins.  Your belief pushes you pray to him everyday and you trust Him to answer those prayers.  Just like this scripture, you are happy with an inexpressible joy when you  think of Jesus and His place in your life is a glorious thing.  

Thoughts of Jesus flood my mind on days when my faith is strong and I am confident in my circumstances.  He just makes me smile.  As you face this day ahead of you and things begin to look rocky, before you get to that place causing fear and anxiety or depression and anger think of the friend you have in Jesus.  Picture Him sitting by your side.  The man you put your trust in.  The friend who brings you joy and peace.  Invite Him to calm your anxious heart, and never forget the glorious feeling He brings you.  Never forget how happy you are when things are good so when things get bad He won't feel too far away.

Yes this beautiful Son of God who loves you with an unexplainable, unconditional love is with you always!  His presence is so powerful that you believe without seeing!  Today don't let your circumstances drown out your joyous thoughts of Him.  And absolutely do not forget this Man whom you trust so faithfully to take care of your every need.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Speak Boldly

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31 NIV

Have you ever wished you'd had the courage to speak up? Have you ever wished you'd had the courage to share your story of faith so that someone else could see God's hand at work? Well, guess what? YOU'VE GOT THE POWER!

Those who accept Christ as their Savior are given the gift of the Holy Spirit as their personal confidant, friend, and guide. This is the exact same Spirit that dwelt within Jesus. Jesus even tells the disciples that when he leaves there is a better gift coming in his place, the Spirit of God. The Spirit is a 24/7 friend.

In this scripture from Acts we are told that the place where the disciples were meeting shook as the Spirit of God descended. I want to feel that power. I want to proclaim the goodness of my God boldly! Regardless of circumstance, God is great! And the Spirit of God within us is ready to proclaim His goodness. The Spirit comes with power! We should not reign the Spirit in, but rather be open to its leading. 

Each day let us begin by turning our own desires over to the Lord only to be replaced by the Spirit of God. Let us pray for the Spirit to fill us and move within and through us. Let us proclaim the goodness of our God boldly and without fear! 

Dear Lord,
I want to be a vessel for your Spirit to work in and through. Empty me of myself so that I am ready at all times to follow your Spirit's leading. Teach me to sense your prompting and to respond eagerly and boldly. Thank you for this beautiful gift! Amen

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Step Out In Faith

Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.
James 1:27

This is the scripture that I awoke to nearly 2 years ago.  I had just had a dream that I was adopting a child.  This child had no face nor could I even recall a sex.  It was very vivid in that I knew what God was telling me although the details were not very clear.  I went to church that morning and before entering I promised God that I would pursue the vision he gave me along with the scripture if He could give me one more sign of confirmation that I was thinking clearly.  To my surprise we had a guest speaker, Nach Bertsch, who told us all about his ministry which involved giving orphans a place to call home.  He helped children find parents and siblings, comfort and hope.  The call that was tugging on my heart so strongly, would now become reality.  I knew immediately that God was calling me to help the orphans.  It took phone calls and prayer and lots of discussion before my husband and I finally figured out exactly what that looked like in our life.  Today we are foster parents, something I, just years prior to this decision, said I could never do.  In fact, many of you probably say the same thing when it comes to foster parenting.  I hear so many say to me, "that must be so hard, I could never do that and give the babies back", or "it takes a special person to to what you do".  These are all the same phrases that would come from my mouth just years earlier so what changed my heart?  Obviously it was the call that I just couldn't ignore any longer.  God had laid something so vague yet so very vivid on my heart and I was finally willing to get uncomfortable. 

All the discussions of adoption in our past never got past our home and for the first time our family was going to take a step of faith.  We were ready to make a difference and obey God's call on our life.  This was the easy part........the hard part is the journey.  God never says that when we choose to go His way that things will be easy.  Once we were able to hand over our will God was able to do amazing things in our life and in our family.  We've had many bumps in the road but all of them have given us chances to grow and learn.  There were many nights I spent in the bible with my children and many lessons on love that I learned through the whole process.  Every time God stretches me just a little more and He is so faithful to give me strength to handle each moment.  Yes some days I want to quit.  Some days I don't want to have my hands full with children, I just want to be selfish and do my own thing.  But every time I get this feeling God is right there to draw my focus back to Him. (yes, I have some pretty amazing friends to encourage me too :)  Many people wonder why we do it or how we handle it.  The only answer I really have is that our God is a big big God and He will never let us down.  Now the things that seemed so impossible are completely covered by God.  He has taken my doubts and showed me what can be done through Him.  He has proven over and over that He is faithful.   He will never leave us hanging!  

I'm not sharing this to scare any of you away from stepping out for God.  In fact, it's the opposite, I want you to take a chance and step out of your comfort zone.  Where is God calling you to get uncomfortable?  What do you say you could never do?  What keeps knocking on your heart but you keep telling yourself you can't do it?  I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you how to do it.  As I sit here questioning myself and my ability to care for 6 children I am confident that God gives me power and strength to carry out any mission He lays before me.  I can tell you to step out in faith and see God work in your life.  So many of us miss out on the power of God because we don't put ourselves in a position to need Him.  Step out today and see something amazing!  If you aren't willing to take a bite then how will you ever "Taste and see that the Lord is Good" (Psalm 34:8).  

Dear God please give me the courage to step out in faith.  I want to see you work miracles.  I want to see all that I can be when you are in charge of my life.  Today I hand over my will and my doubts and fears and I trust in what You can do through me.  In Jesus name, Amen