Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Today I passed a friend as she was buckling her son into his car seat. She turned around and smiled and I said what almost all her friends have said, "You haven't had that baby yet?"

Bless her heart, she is expecting her second child and that little boy inside her is still resting and taking his own sweet time about making his debut. She is definitely "expecting."

That word, "expecting", it got me to thinking because lately I've been feeling something inside - a renewed sense of expectation. I've had this feeling since the end of last year, but lately it's been increasing. Then looking at my friend, I started thinking about the similarities between what goes on in the spirit realm and the physical one.

Now, I'm not one to write about "expecting" since I've never been pregnant myself; however, I am surrounded by women who are! At my school I'm convinced there must be something in the water because it seems like every hall I go down I see pregnant women! 

I noticed that when a woman first discovers she is pregnant, she can be a bit, well - moody. I understand the hormones are going crazy. Sometimes she feels sick, sometimes elated, sometimes overwhelmed. That's a lot like the way a person feels when they first start to realize that God has something in store for them. 

Some women tell everyone; some keep it to themselves - they just aren't quite sure what to do with that news. It's the same with those who begin to hear from God...some shout it out and others just tuck the ideas down into their heart and wait.

After a while, it starts to become obvious that God is doing something - you can no longer "hide" what is growing inside. The excitement turns to preparation....and waiting. 

The waiting is the hardest part. People ask dumb questions like, "Haven't you had that baby yet?" and like my friend you do everything you can to hurry things up so the day you've waited for so long will finally come. But birth will not be rushed....all you can do is wait. I thinking is "expecting" at its finest!
(This, by the way, is kind of where I find myself - knowing something is near but there is nothing I can do to speed up the process!)

Bless their hearts, women in the final weeks of pregnancy look so uncomfortable. They walk around rubbing their "tummy" in anticipation and yet they can barely move. They do everything they know to do, and probably wonder, "Won't this baby ever come?" Sometimes they look so tired, but always they have that beautiful look of "expectation" about them.

Finally come the birth pains. I won't even attempt to talk about those since I have NO idea what that must be like...I've heard that some women didn't even realize that they were in labor, and I've heard of women who made sure EVERYONE knew they were in labor! Either way, this baby is on his/her way!

I once had a birthing coach share an interesting fact about the birth process and the word "transition." Transition is the point that is the most difficult. It's usually the point when women decide that they don't want to go through with this after all...they'll just stay pregnant forever. I've had times when I was waiting on the birth of a dream from God and things got tough....really tough. I wondered if I REALLY wanted to go through with all this after all....

Then finally comes the joy of the arrival. All the pain is forgotten....and the real work begins.

Yes, I can feel the stirrings of expectation. God is up to something good. I've been through the moodiness, the excitement, the fear, the comes the waiting. You can't rush God - after all, He's God!

I know that something is coming - something wonderful that will bring great joy. Every minute of waiting will be worth it. I also know one more thing....once the expecting becomes reality, that's when the real work for now, I'm expecting!

Romans 8: 22- 25 (MSG)
22-25All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Romans 12:12 (NLT)

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

just sharing

This is a link to another blog site with a challenge to make our homes a haven. During these crazy and stressful times, that sounds like a good idea to me.
Click on this link to go to the challenge: Women living well ministries
As for me...something is stirring. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I know that something exciting is on the horizon. Beginning each day with praise and His Word. Learning to be obedient in the small things and trust the big stuff to Him!
Have a great day....don't forget to dream!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

God doesn't move as fast as me...

I admit, I tend to move quickly most of the time. I don't really think of it as being in a hurry, I just have things to do and don't like wasting time in between. That's probably why running appeals to me - I can hurry up and get it over with and be done! It's not that I'm really a very fast runner, actually I'm pretty slow compared to "real" runners...still I try. My son once asked me why I walk so fast and yet run so slow. I guess it's because walking is usually what I'm doing inbetween something else.

I tend to do most everything quickly - eat, read, work, talk, even sleep! My husband, on the other hand, doesn't get in a hurry about anything. He moves slow and steady. We always manage to be at about the same "place" however because while he moves in a straight line, I'm bouncing back and forth like a pinball in a machine. My "movement" isn't necessarily moving me forward!

Today I had a random thought - God just isn't as "fast" as me. Now, granted, He managed to make everything there is in only 6 days and I can't even seem to bake a cake without ruining it. (I either keep opening the oven to see if it's done or go off and completely forget about it until someone mutters, "Is something burning?") What I mean is that He's just not in as much of a hurry as I am.

I'm thinking, "Okay God, tell me what to do and I'll get 'er done!" God seems to be content to just wait. Maybe that's one reason why He doesn't reveal too much to me. If He showed me everything I was to do, I'd either become completely overwhelmed or I'd hear half the instructions and be off like a light...making mistakes every step of the way. I have students like that. They are so quick to start their work, they forget to wait for instructions! They wind up making mistakes simply because they didn't listen!

Today we had a guest pastor at our church, Pastor Charles Simpson, and one of his main points was that we don't know how to listen! He brought up Isaiah 55:3 where it says "Hear and you shall live." Listening will save you. It's not what I say to God that makes the difference, it's what HE says to me! The key here is hearing (and that means stopping long enough to do just that) and then taking the steps He tells you to take.

See what I mean? God just isn't moving as fast as me...or at least that's how things appear to one who is bound to this earth and cannot see exactly what God is up to.

I had a friend who once taught on Moses crossing the Red Sea. He told the story in a way I'd never heard before. It seems that in the scripture the parting is described in detail in a way that I usually just skim over. (See, I told you I read quickly.) According to my friend, it tells of how the sea began to part on a certain side - and that was NOT the side they were standing on. The sea started to part and all Moses and the children of Israel could see was water. To make things even more interesting, it was probably dark. They couldn't even see the miracle until it was right in front of them and it was time to do the crossing.

Okay, I get it. It's not like I ACTUALLY thought I was faster than God...I just act that way. God is doing things in His perfect timing. He is moving in ways I cannot see and when the time is right, I get to join in. I'm just having to learn to wait on His timing. I once heard that God isn't in a hurry because He controls time. If you're feeling pushed and rushed, it's probably the enemy of your soul because he's the only one running out of time!

Since I know it's hard for some of us to just sit, I find encouragement in knowing that waiting does not mean just doing nothing. I can praise, I can worship, I can serve with whatever God has placed before me...and I can work on my listening skills.

That should be enough to keep me busy till He tells me to move. In the words of Betty Robison, "Don't get in a hurry to settle for less."

The following is copied from my friend, Courtney's, facebook page. I thought it was a perfect fit for the blog: "If you are going through a wilderness period today, know that God has not forgotten you. He is trying to accomplish something important (usually to change us), and when the timing is perfect He will deliver you...He promises. He works ALL things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28). There is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). Hold on a little longer...He is faithful."

2 Peter 3:9, 15 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

That's how muscles grow...

Most who have read my blog for any length of time know that I am pretty honest about the struggles and mishaps in my life. Today's blog may be too honest, but I felt led to write so here goes.
I am hearing God speak to my heart in some uncomfortable ways lately. Now, I realize the uncomfortable is something that a Christian should get used to because, to paraphrase the words of Gen. Jeff Hammond, God isn't interested in my comfort as much as He is in my character. Evidently my character is undergoing a major overhaul lately.

All this shouldn't really surprise me. While I am not a fitness professional by any means, I have learned a few things about how muscles get stronger. In weight training, I am prompted to push myself to the point when I feel I cannot possibly do one more rep. My muscles burn and I think I cannot move those weights even one more time. To be honest, I am tearing those muscles down....then comes the rest. It is in the day of rest that the muscles build back up, but they can only do that after being pushed to exhaustion. This is why a good trainer will never let you work the same muscle group two days in a row.

Anyway, back to the blog.

It started with hearing God tell me to trust Him...then the prompting that I still wasn't trusting enough...then a prompting to make some changes in my life....then in a prompting to give...
Now, the first two weren't all that scary - okay, so maybe they were - but compared to the next two they were a breeze!

Prompting me to make changes - how could it be possible that God is leading me into an area that means I'll have to deal with something I truly hate? Still, I keep hearing Him say "Trust me." I know I can trust Him so much more than my feelings. For example, the last thing I EVER wanted to be was a teacher...yet He led me into teaching and there I have found the greatest joy and growth! While there are times I want to pull the covers over my head, most days I look forward to reaching, teaching and laughing with my students as we grow together. Oh, sure I sometimes mentally "quit" my job at 3:30p.m. - but by 7:00 a..m. the next day I'm ready to start again. So, it shouldn't surprise me when God leads me into an area of my "discomfort" and says to me "TRUST ME."

Then came the prompting to give. It seems like everywhere I turn, I am hearing devotions and messages on giving. This is NOT the message I want to hear. Money is tight right now! That isn't quite's almost non-existent! The cost of food and gas just keeps climbing and my paycheck just stays the same - or thanks to things like insurance, it even goes down! God, haven't you noticed what's going on down here? That's usually about the time I hear something that reminds me compared to the rest of the world I am filthy rich.

Okay, so I'd give if I had something to give....I'll start next month. Then I heard God remind me of the money I'd deposited in savings this month. I was so proud of myself for finally doing that, surely God didn't want that small amount. But yes, it did seem that He wanted me to give that. So I immediately wrote out a check and placed it in the offering plate as it went past. Well, to be honest, I argued with myself for a few minutes first; but I knew I'd have no peace unless I took this step of obedience and trusted Him.

Now comes the part of the story where I tell you that I came home and there was a check in the mail...only that's not what happened. Instead, I had to take BOTH kids to the doctor this week. I did get something in the mail but it wasn't money; it was another bill. I still see one more week staring me in the face until the relief of payday eases the stare. This is NOT what I expected to happen.

Yet still I hear God say, "Trust Me."

Then I hear yet another report of the economy getting worse and there is no relief in sight for at least the next year - and this was from a Christian perspective! Yet still I hear God say, "Trust Me." Really God? Have you been paying attention?

Oh, He's paying attention all right. His unfailing love nevers ceases. He sees every penny that passes through my fingers...and every one that I hold in my clenched fist. And He loves me.

God is not interested in my comfort - He is constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone. I finally get it. At 52, when many are thinking of retirement (or the lack thereof), God is prompting me toward doing more. Now that I finally get myself at least somewhat in shape physically, I discover I am diabetic and find that I have yet another level of fitness to consider. I am learning new disciplines so that I can keep moving and serving until the day God says it's time to come home. I think I understand now - life isn't supposed to be easy or fair.

So now what? What do I do with all this stretching? I guess I grow....for I do trust that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. Muscles never grow unless they are first worked to the point of exhaustion. The good news is that in between the exhaustion, God will make sure I have times of rest - because that's how muscles grow.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him

Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2

The Message (MSG)
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Matthew 11:29

The Message (MSG)

28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Trusting Him...

Lately I've been coming across the same theme in my devotions - trusting God with EVERYTHING!
It all started one day as I was leaving the gym...I had one of those thoughts come into my head. You know the ones...those that are unmistakably God speaking to you. This one had to do with my giving and I felt like I heard my Father say, "You aren't trusting me enough." I mentioned it to my son as we drove home and just sort of tucked it away for later thought.

Then, for the next few days, everywhere I turned I came across devotions and stories of people who had trusted God with everything and I was getting more and more convicted. This wasn't some sort of "You aren't doing what you should" kind of was more of a "Trust me to take care of everything" kind of conviction. I could feel God tugging at my heart to let go of the worry and just trust that He would take care of it all.

My family is like a lot of other families out there right now. Money is tight...okay, that's an understatement. Let's put it this way, if my money were a pair of jeans, we'd be lying on our back, gasping for air trying to get them zipped! There just never seems to be enough. I always run out of money long before I run out of month! And God is telling me to trust Him more? That can't be right - still, there was no doubt in my mind that is just what He was saying to me.

Then, as if to make sure I got the picture, God did something that spoke to me with a shout. He put it on a dear friend's heart to buy my husband and I tickets to see my favorite band. I just mentioned on facebook that I'd like to see them for my anniversary and the next thing I knew tickets were provided...and more! God was not only providing for my needs, He was adding extra! He was blessing me with a want!

Now, trust me, I'm not some "Name it and claim it" sort of believer; and I don't believe in giving to get. Still, I know when God is showing me something. This time, I'm pretty sure He's showing me that I don't have to worry. The economy may be bad, but He still has His eye on me. I have been blessed with so much more than I realize, and yet He wants me to trust Him for even more....and He wants me to live with an open heart and an open hand. Not sure I know quite how to do that yet, but I'm excited about what God will do as I learn to listen and obey.

We have been blessed with so much more than we deserve...yet we feel like we are poor. How ridiculous is that? I want to walk in the knowledge that if God leads me to give, He's got it all under control.

In all this, I am also having to learn something else that for me is even harder. I'm having to learn to receive. You see, I'm pretty much a "do it myself" kind of girl. I don't like to depend on others...I can handle things just fine, thank you. But God has a different plan it seems. He is MAKING me depend on others...from the person who makes sure I take care of my health by FORCING me to go to the doctor (love you Cheryl!) to the person who provided for a MUCH needed evening with my husband (love you too Candace!!!), God is knitting me into His family. He is teaching me how to receive. I'm not really very good at that...but I'm learning.

So, there you have it. God is working on this old girl teaching her something new. I'm a bit apprehensive about how this will look as I walk it out, but I'm excited too. God is doing a new thing in me. I'd love to hear what God is speaking to you, too. Feel free to comment and share with others. We can all be encouraged together!

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

Luke 21

1-4Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, "The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all!"

Matthew 6: 25 - 34
25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Did I just yell at Jesus?

Today was one of those really cool days in Children's Church. I walked in without a lesson, planning on just using the video lesson that was provided. I don't like doing this since I know there is something "fresh" that God wants to say to the children. But this had been a hectic week and I had nothing. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Then it happened.

One of the younger children came over to me to tell me another older child and her friend had been "mean" to her, so I went to investigate. What happened next was...well, I just sat and listened as God guided me on what to say.

I sat down and told the little girls I didn't know what had just happened, but I had a question for them. I wondered would they have just done or said whatever it was if they had been talking to Jesus instead of the other little girl. Big blue eyes stared back at me as they shook their heads "no." I said, "Well, you know that when you are mean to someone else, it's just like being mean to Jesus." There is was - today's lesson.

A little while later, as I stood to teach, I talked to the children about the things we say and do. When we are mean to the kid in school that smells bad, we're being mean to Jesus. When we talk about someone and say unkind things, it's like saying unkind things about Jesus. When we only play with our friends and won't let others in, it's like shutting out Jesus. When we are disrespectful to our parents or a teacher, it's like being disrespectful to Jesus. Even when we fight with our brother or sister, it's like fighting with Jesus! Eyes were big as each child sat soaking it in...I know they were because they were actually quiet for a change.

That's when God started speaking to my heart as well...He never just lets me share without stepping on my toes a bit in the process. When I get angry at the driver in front of me and yell, "What an idiot!", it's like calling Jesus an idiot! Whoa! Yelling at that crazy driver is like yelling at Jesus? Pretty much.... and when I get frustrated with a co-worker and come home complaining to my husband, it's like complaining about Jesus. When I judge others - it's like judging Jesus. Okay, I'm stopping now because I know you have the idea and I'm afraid I may reveal a bit too much about my character!

Then came my favorite part of any message - the part that brings hope. I asked how many had just realized they had done something that week that was unkind and now realized they had done that to Jesus. Hands went up everywhere, including mine. I told the children that no matter what we had done, God has promised to forgive us and cast our sin into the sea of forgetfulness. The analogy I used was that it was like taking a penny and tossing it over the side of a cruise ship that was in the deepest ocean. I asked if they thought they could find that penny. Of course they couldn't...and God has promised that He won't even look for it again. It is gone. One of the children asked, "But what if we do it again?" Of course the answer is, He will forgive us again and hopefully we'll learn and we'll find that we are "doing it again" less and less.

With that, we prayed and asked forgiveness, saying we were sorry for sinning against God and thanked Him for His forgiveness. It was such a simple lesson, but one that I truly believe will make a difference in their lives....I know it will make a difference in mine.

I've thought about that lesson all day because I have a feeling it's one that I will have ample opportunity to practice this week. Like the kids, I may mess up again, but I know that my Father forgives me and I can start over once again. Oh, and once again I am so thankful that God provided the "meal" when I came up empty handed.

Hope you have a blessed week...and remember - don't yell at Jesus.

Matthew 25:40

The Message (MSG)

37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Football cleats, manure piles, and life

I walked into the kitchen this morning to be greeted by the unmistakeable stench of my son's football cleats. We had put them into the washroom, but the smell had crept out under the door and now was working to permeate the rest of the house. Ugh! This is an aroma that I think must be a mix between Pepe' Le Peu and a dead rodent. Think of how bad they said "Sweet Feet's" shoes (from the movie Holes) must have smelled. Yeah, that bad.

Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder if they are out there playing on grass at all. It really smells more like they have wading in manure as opposed to walking in green pastures! (Maybe they have been doing a lot of fertilizing lately....but that's a random thought for another time.) Still, even though the smell is awful, it's not about to stop my son from playing the game he loves....and there we find today's random thought.

I've decided that life is full of manure piles, things that just stink up the place. I'm not talking about major difficulties, but those daily difficulties that you find yourself stepping right in and then having to deal with the stench for the rest of the day. The smell follows you, and you may try to rub it off, but the fragrance remains. The question is, what are you gonna do about it?

I know what WON'T happen....there is no way my son will quit playing what he loves because of some stupid smell. He will tie those shoes right back on the next day, even if they do smell like a dead animal has been stored there overnight. He will play each play with the fury and enthusiasm of a professional whose life depends on the next win. And, since he plays with lots of others, he'll probably ignore the smell from his own feet but notice that on the feet of those around him. After all, he's gotten used to HIS shoes.

Thankfully, my son has the good sense to look to me for help. I'm learning how to clean up the stinks of life, at least in the shoe department. We'll take those shoes and wash them, air them out, and do whatever it takes so that he can have "sweet feet" out there on the field. I'm learning too and as life hands me those "manure piles" I take them to my Father who washes my feet so that they can once again carry the good news WITHOUT the stench of life's manure piles.

There are lots of things in life that qualify as major tackles - something that takes you off your feet for a while, but most things really do qualify more as manure piles. We run right through them, sometimes even without realizing it, and keep on playing. Of course we do...we love life and we're not about to let something minor sideline us...but after a while the stench just becomes too much. Some people try changing cleats (churches) hoping that will fix their problems but before long they find that things stink there as well. Some try to "wipe off" the smell onto someone else, like that's going to work! They just manage to make ANOTHER stinky problem, not solve the one they have! Some, sadly, just take off their cleats and leave the game completely deciding that there is no other way to handle the "piles" the devil keeps throwing their way.

I'm still learning to go to my Father QUICKLY....after every practice and game, but thankfully I am learning. There are times when I "step in it" early on in the day and then can't seem to find the time to "clean things off" before having to go on and deal with people. I don't want to carry that with me into each day. I want people to say, "Blessed at the feet of those who bring good news", not "Here comes old stinky feet again." The faster I go to Him, the better off I'll be - and maybe that smell won't seep into every crevice of my life. (Okay, I admit that yesterday I ran through a BIG pile and managed to spred it to a few others instead of first taking it to God....I did say I was LEARNING!!)

I know that in this life I WILL face will happen whether I serve God or not...but those "piles" will not cause me to quit serving the One I love. 

So there you have cleats, manure piles (even if they do look like grass), and the game of life. I plan to get the stink out and get back into the game!

John 16:33 (NIV)

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

John 13 - Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

1  1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

(I encourage you to read the entire passage of John may never look at feet the same again!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Run to God

Note: Okay, I know most of my posts lately have been on idea why. I think God is trying to tell me something!

Today was a different sort of Sunday. Tornado warning sirens kept me from jumping in the shower and then a fresh wave of rain dumped on me when I finally did manage to get ready and brave the elements to get to church. Once there, we had a shortened service due to the incoming storm. Simply worship and communion - but that was enough for God to speak something to my heart.

As we worshipped, I got this mental image of Jesus standing there and me running to Him - knowing I had done wrong but wanting nothing more than to bury my face in His robes and feel him wrap His arms around me in a loving embrace. I was overwhelmed with the desire to confess to Him all that I had done wrong, knowing it was against Him that I had sinned...and yet He still forgives. My desire to be close to Him was so much greater than my guilt and fear - I wanted nothing to stand in my way of being with Him.

I got to thinking about how much I want to discipline and correct my children the same way Christ disciplines me. It is natural to want to run and hide from authority when we know we have done wrong. You only have to look at Adam and Eve to find an example of this, yet running away and hiding is exactly what we do NOT need to do. When we run TO Christ, we find forgiveness and a new start....AGAIN! I emphasize "again" because I find I have to do this over and over. ( I wonder what would have happened if instead of playing the blame game, Adam and Eve would have run to their Father God for forgiveness?)

I want to not only remember to run to Christ, I want to learn to walk in forgiveness LIKE Christ. Even if the person who has wronged me doesn't ask or receive the forgiveness, it is there...waiting for them. Change me, Lord, to be more like You.

I also want to instill in my children this picture of forgiveness. I want to help them realize that when they run to me, they can FEEL the release. I want them to crave that more than they fear the consequences of their actions. Knowing that I am just the parent God has placed here on earth, I want them to run not just to me, but to Christ. There they will find complete forgiveness and freedom.

For my children and myself, I want to remember that when I run to Him, He can calm the storm that rages inside of me. I do not need to cower or be afraid - He is waiting with open arms to welcome me and heal the damage I have done.

Not bad for a short service.

Genesis 3:8 - 13 (Message translation)
"When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.
9 God called to the Man: "Where are you?"
10 He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."
11 God said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"
12 The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."
God said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"
13 "The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate."

Psalm 37:39-40
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bring on the rain....

It's been a long, hot, dry summer and thanks to a Tropical Storm we are finally getting some much needed rain here in the South. While it is a storm that many are watching, especially those in New Orleans, it is also a storm that has brought some relief from the oppressive heat we've had for the past two months. You can almost hear my poor brown grass gulping up the water as fast as it comes down.

Still, that's not the point of this's a comment a friend made that caught my ear. She awoke to water coming into her home through a small leak in her roof. Hopefully it will be minor, but it's the fact that she now knows she has a leak that caught my attention.

I could almost feel that hand of God stopping me..."wait, did you hear that? The leak wasn't revealed until it rained."

Now I have always associated rain with blessings from God. Dry times are miserable and barren. Rain brings growth and good things. So what's with the rain and the leak? Well, the rain simply revealed a problem that was already there.

I got to thinking about times this may have happened in the Bible. I found this in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

The Message (MSG)

 10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you're going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn't build, well-furnished houses you didn't buy, come upon wells you didn't dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn't plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don't forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
(I added the emphasis on this myself.)

Okay, so what is the leak? I could almost hear the Lord's voice. "Pride." That little leak is the evidence of pride - thinking that you have things under can do this yourself. Okay, I'm not liking the direction my talk with God is going. I have a feeling it's about to get personal.

Then it hit me. A couple of days ago I read a friend's blog where she mentioned that she was going to attempt to write a blog a day in September. She was working on getting back into the discipline of blogging. I read that and thought to myself, "What a great idea! I think I'll do that!" Today as I thought about that "leak" I could almost hear the Lord asking me about that decision. It was not something I felt the Lord tell me to do, but in my pride I figured this was something I would do. I saw a squirrel (see yesterday's blog) and started chasing it. There is no nice way to describe what I did - it was a leak of Pride thinking I could do this my way. See, I told you it got personal! OUCH!

Now what? I don't know...except to work on that leak. Don't expect to see a blog a day in September - unless God gives me something specific to write. The rain reveals leaks, but it also reveals His love for me. You gotta love the rain.


Once again, I must admit I am easily distracted....I'm a bit like the dogs from the movie "UP" and just about anything flying across my field of vision can cause me to go off on a tangent. "SQUIRREL" has become somewhat of a catch phrase for me to describe my lack of attention span. In fact, I even had to write down what this blog would be about as soon as I could because I knew if I waited I'd forget!

I don't think I'm the only person who deals with this; I'm pretty sure we've become a nation distracted. We have forgotten our purpose. We need to go back and look at why we were created. When we can keep our purpose, our vision in mind we can stay on course and not be distracted from what is important.

I know that others like to know what the vision or purpose is as well. Every day at least one of my students will ask me, "What are we going to do today?" They simply cannot concentrate on what is in front of them without wondering what else we have planned for that day. In fact, I've started putting "Today's Vision" on the board for all to see. It's there in big letters so that their minds can rest at ease knowing what is to come.

In my daily lesson plans, I have found that I need to rewrite them in a different format that allows me to see in big letters what I'm doing each day. The big letters are important....because I'm having a bit of trouble seeing now that I've added years to my resume. I need my "to do" vision for each day because I am so easily distracted from my purpose.

I used to tell kids in Kid's Church that it didn't matter if someone told them they were ADD, ADHD, LMNOP, QRS or TUV - we have a G-O-D that is big enough to handle all of it! I know that my GOD has a purpose for my life. I believe the Bible when it says He knew all the days of my life before even one of them came to be. If He knew them all, I have to believe He has a purpose for them. My job is to write that purpose down so I can really run with it.

So, that's all today's blog is about...writing down what God has told you to do so that you won't get distracted and find yourself way off track. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll head off the mission field tomorrow, although some will. What it does mean is that we recognize in our everyday life what God is doing. If my purpose is to be an encourager, I'll encourage whether I am a teacher, a brick layer, a housewife, or a doctor. If my purpose is to teach, I'll teach whether I am a janitor, a flight attendant, a zoo keeper, or a cowboy. If....well, you get the picture. We have a purpose...a vision of what God wants to do with our life. We need to write it down and run with it. Who knows how far God will allow us to go when we finally stop chasing squirrels.

Habakkuk 2:2-3  The Message

And then God answered: "Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what's coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn't lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It's on its way. It will come right on time.
Psalms 139: 13 -18
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Correction for whose sake?

"That's it! I've had enough!" Ever said something along those lines when having to discipline your children?  I know I have and I'm starting to realize how out of line that has been! Since when is discipline an issue of the fact that I'VE had enough? Who am I supposed to be correcting?

I've been thinking about how God corrects and disciplines me. He doesn't let me go on and on until He's good and mad and about to blow. He corrects me for ME....because He loves me. Let that sink in a moment. He corrects me because He wants me to be mature, solid, strong, successful and most of all loving. He wants the character in HIM to be in ME. I'm pretty sure when I lose it with my kids the last thing on my mind is having the character of me in them.

Discipline and correction are acts of love, not exasperation. That will change the whole tone and action of my discipline if I understand this. When I correct, it won't be because I'm exhausted (although I often am), and it won't be because I'm embarassed by their behavior (although I often am). When I correct, it will be out of love for them. According to 1 Corinthians 13, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." This sounds like a pretty good way to approach correction my own children and those in my care.

Maybe we should look at some of the problems in our country right now as a result of a lack of love. If we truly love those around us, it doesn't make us soft and easily walked over. Love makes us strong because it is TOUGH to stand firm and say no sometimes. It shows love to deny the every passing demand of a child because we look not at their present desires but forward to what is best for them.

I know I will make mistakes in this....I am not God. Still, I want to look at the things I do for and with my children with their future in mind. I look for ways to say "yes" to them, but I also look for ways to help them learn from their mistakes....just like God does for me.

Loving correction isn't done for's not because I've "had enough" of their bad behavior. It is done for them that they might have life and have it abundantly. That makes firm correction a lot easier to both give and receive. I'm actually not handing out "punishment", I'm handing out "love." What a difference that makes. (Not sure my children will see it that way, but children often don't see things clearly until they have grown and matured....which is my goal in the process.) I am not here for my children's comfort. I am here for their character, and that may mean they feel some "discomfort" along the way.

Wish I could say I will never again correct out of my need for peace and quiet, but I know that probably I will slip and say "I've had enough...." Still, I'm making progress. My Father has been correcting my way of thinking. He corrected me out of His unfailing love to see me mature and to care for His children.

Who says you can't teach an old gal new tricks? I'm holding on to this one because I see the difference it makes in me and those around me. Don't think I'll ever really get "enough" of that.

Proverbs 3:11-12 (Message)
"But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this."

Hebrews 12:4-11 The Message (MSG)

4-11"In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God."