Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That’s my Boy!

Well, I promised a blog on my son Brandon.  Brandon is my second child, my only boy.  I gave birth to him when I was 19 years old.  My daughter and him are 2 years and 1 month apart. Yes, you read that right; I had 2 children at age 19. Easy? NO NO NO!!! Worth it?  Absolutely!

Brandon is my comedian.  Is that boy hilarious!  But, his humor sometimes gets in his way.  He gets in trouble—a lot at school because he has to be the center of attention and loves to make people laugh.  He loves to diffuse situations when people are upset by being funny.

This son of mine is also called to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  He has been prophesied over that he will do amazing things that will not only change the Nation, but the world.  Does that make a momma’s heart proud!  WOW! Yes! We had one of our guys at church tell us a few weeks back that Brandon (who was at the altar praying for adults) had placed his hand on his back and he said “I just felt fire go down my whole back and legs!” Yes, my son is called to be a mighty man of God.  I don’t mind reminding him of that either.  He needs to remember that there is something so great ahead of him that he can’t even fathom it.

Brandon has a huge heart.  When Hurricane Katrina went through, he was very upset over the images.  Right after his birthday, he came to me, handed me his birthday money, and asked me to please make a donation in his name; “the people there need it way worse than me momma”.  That’s my boy! Another time, quite recently, there was a friend of his that couldn’t be located.  He asked me if he could get a friend and go on a search.  He felt ill and needed to find this person.  Yes, he has such a big heart.076

Brandon and his sister did not always get along, esp. only being 2 years apart.  Man, did they ever fight!  It is no wonder I have gray hairs!  However, recently since they have both matured they have become close.  It came to pass that they were in an alliance against us!  Yup…parents of younger children, hang in there! The day will come they will actually GET ALONG!!!! GASP!!! Just a bit ago, Brandon was having some girl problems and was talking to me about it; well, then decided he would call his sissy to ask her.  That made my heart smile. They talked on the phone, said “ I love you” to each other and that was that.  How nice to see that my dreadful thoughts about them always hating each other proved to be false. 035

Brandon has always been my little thinker.  My daughter is very very open with her feelings (sometimes to a fault).  Not so with him. He can be thinking about something and you’ll never know.  He is an observer, taking in every little detail, figuring out how the pieces fit.  Here’s an example of his thought process.  Several years ago, when they were about 13 and 11 we went to my bosses’ home in Roan Mountain, TN.  Knowing we would be in the mountains for a week we bought Shelby several of the “teen girl” magazines…you remember ‘em'; Teen Bop and stuff like that.  So, anyway, one of their fights started.  Next thing we know, she is having a canary screaming at him (I think she yelled “stupid little idiot”).  Upon questioning both of them, we found out that she had made him mad, he had then taken her teen magazines and chopped them up with an ax! My bosses back deck overlooks a beautiful big waterfall and stream.  Brandon proceeds to say “well, I was gonna throw them in the stream, but I was afraid I would stop it up and flood the whole town!”

Yup…that’s my boy!  

 

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tempted!

So lately I have been tempted.  NO!  I know what you all are thinking! Not in that way!  :) I have been on a diet program fairly stringently for a couple of months.  I have been tempted lately; and I have failed.  I can get back on the track though and continue to lose weight, or I can decide to continue eating what I want and stay at my current weight or even gain some back.  The choice is mine.

This is the way with all of our temptations.  We are given a choice.  It is up to us as to what we do.  The Bible tells us clearly that God does not tempt us.  Ever.  James tell us this :When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  We are tempted by our own evil desires; our flesh; our worldly man. Then it says this in I Corinthians: “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” You see, God provides us a way out! It is our choice though as to which way we are gonna go. God will always, always provide you a way out.

Now what happens if we choose the wrong road?  Do we have to stay on that road?  Do I have to each day eat wrong because I messed up one day? Of course not; that’s ridiculous!  I can make a choice to order the right things or fix the right things at home and get back on track.  It is the same way with God. We are offered grace to cover our sins.  We are offered a chance to start over.  Lamentations puts it so wonderfully:

Yet this I call to mind
       and therefore I have hope:

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.

His mercy never runs out. Does this mean we can just live like the dickens and sin all we want knowing grace is there for our taking?  That’s ridiculous too! 

The point is this: we all mess up but we can be freely forgiven if we just ask.  God does NOT tempt you but He will always provide us a way out.  And last but certainly not least---you don’t have to stay on the road you’re on if you are sinning.  We mess up, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue on.  Or, in my case, I throw away the chocolate bar that I want sooooo bad, and get back on that diet!

 

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

God at the Top

One of the classes I am taking right now is called “Christian Spirituality”  It is truly a wonderful class.  I have gained so much knowledge and insight by reading Tozer’s “In Pursuit of God”.  This is small (10 chapters), yet powerful book about the seeking of God.  Each week I have to pick a chapter and write a spiritual reflection on it.  Normally, the only one who sees these are my professor and myself.  This week however, the chapter really hit home with me, so I thought I would share with you what I wrote.  It’s just a tidbit, so I recommend this book to each of you who want to seek Him with all of your heart.  Enjoy!

Chapter 8-Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation

“Not perfection, but Holy intention made the difference” (99). To me, this sums up my relationship with Christ. I am so far from being perfect. I am so far from being what I want to be. However, I am so much better in Him that what I was in the world. I know that I can be forgiven and that He will help me. I know that, like David, even though I mess up, if I have a heart after God, He will meet me where I am.

Many people think that one has to be perfect or somewhat perfect in order to be saved. This is simply not true. God wants you as you are; and then He will take the lead in changing your heart, mind, spirit.

As Tozer tells us in this chapter “God will unveil His glory before His servant’s eyes…” (101) All we have to do is put Him in His proper spot. We must put Him above our money, our job, our recreation, even our families. He must be exalted over all or we will throw off the balance which was put into place by God in the beginning.

Tozer goes to great lengths to make sure we understand that God is the “I am”. Nothing exists outside of Him. Nothing is above Him or beyond Him. He states that in relationships there must be a center (94). “Such a center is God” (94). God should be the center of our lives. Everything we do, say, and feel should be related to God. Is this easy? No. However, he has promised us help; the Comforter.

Another point Tozer made that I particularly like is that “every soul belongs to God and exists by His pleasure” (96). We may think we can run and hide from the creator of the world. We can’t. Everywhere we go He is there. Psalm 139: 7 states “where can I go from your Spirit; where can I flee from your presence?” (NIV) That is the answer. We were made for God. We were made for His pleasure. We do not have to be any certain way; He already knows our hearts. We just have to be willing to come to Him. We have to be willing to admit our sin. We have to be willing to exalt Him over all things. We have to know that He is the great I AM.

Works Cited

Tozier, A.W. “The Pursuit of God” 2006. Wing Spread Publishers. Camp Hill, PA.

 

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Monday, May 31, 2010

A Tribute to My Mamow

Well, many of you know that I was in Georgia for a few days with my Mamow, who was in the hospital for 2 weeks.  I thought that I would share with you about this awesome woman and why I love her so much.

My Mamow’s name is Grace. She is the mother of my biological father (from whom I am estranged). For the longest time when I was a little girl, I thought the song “Amazing Grace” was about her.  I mean, I thought she was pretty great, and thought that everyone else should think so too. So, when we would go to church, which we always did, and I would hear them singing that song, I would just join in and sing loud ‘cause after all, it was MY Mamow we were singing about. I was the first born grandchild for her and we had and still have a very special bond.

Mamow is blind.  She has been blind since she was a little girl.  This has not stopped her from living life though.  She raised 4 children pretty much on her own.  She taught herself to play piano, guitar, and drums; and has played all of them in church.  She sings like an angel; she is where I got my signing talent from I am sure. She taught me my first song to sing in a talent show when I was 7.  It was something about climbing up sunshine mountain, where heavenly breezes blow.  I won that talent show. Mamow has always been my biggest fan.

When I was small we would take a walk to the downtown shops and go to a consignment shop called “Lollipop Lane” where I would surely talk Mamow into buying me some frock in there that I just couldn’t live without.  Then, we would walk to the corner Woolworth’s and buy hot roasted cashew nuts.  All the while, I would be leading her; telling her when to watch her step and when cars were coming.  I protected her. 

My friends never could understand why I was so excited to be spending time with my grandma.  They just didn’t understand how much fun we had when we were together.  We would lay in bed at night ‘til all hours telling goofball jokes and just laugh and laugh. 

I had a thing for soup and eggs..no, not together!! That’s disgusting!  I loved eggs, but they had to have the yolk in them so that I could dunk my toast.  Well Mamow not being able to see would sometimes poke my yolk and bust it.  She would then put the egg on her plate and cook me another one.  We went through this until I had the egg I wanted and then she would eat the others.  We often joke that that is why she has high cholesterol.  My soup love was stronger.  If I didn’t have soup for lunch I didn’t think I had eaten.  My mom would come pick me up after she got off work and I would quickly tell her that Mamow had not fed me.  Mamow would say “well Buttons (her nickname that she still calls me), don’t you remember you had a grilled cheese?” Well, I didn’t have soup and to me I was starving! I loved to have Mamow’s hand made biscuits.  I would stand on the stool next to the counter beside her while she put all the ingredients into the bowl and then she would make a hole in the middle and pour the buttermilk in the hole, all the while mixing with her hands to “feel” for the perfect consistency.  Remember, she couldn’t see to measure out anything, it was all by feel. Then they would come out of the oven and I would smear butter on that biscuit and just know I was in Heaven.

My parents divorced when I was 8 and I felt my life had been ripped from me when I had to move away from Mamow. I can only imagine how she felt. We spent all waking hours together.  My mom had to work a lot, so it was Mamow who took care of me.  She practically raised me for 8 years.  She used to watch her “stories” in the afternoons.  At that point, she could still see shadows and would lay on her stomach on the floor in front of the big console TV.  I would go lay on her back and ultimately fall asleep.  Mamow would just lay in the floor until I woke up.  After my parents divorced, we did still see each other; she would come stay with me, my mom, and my stepdad (who later adopted me).  When I was 16 I went to live with Mamow for about 6  months.  Those were some of the best times ever.  I hated to leave her, but for her health reasons, I had to go.  During that time though, Mamow made sure I got back into church and she pushed me (literally) on to the platform to sing a song; the first song I had sang in a long time.  She told me God had given me a gift and I must, must, must use it for His glory.  So, I practiced and she would tell me “go back to that second verse Buttons and try to hit that note a little stronger” I hated that song by the time I sang it!! Ok, well  not really, but I was tired of it. :)

Yes, she was always my best friend and even as a teenager I knew I could trust her with anything.  When I would get in trouble (which was very often as a teen), I would call her collect to talk to her about it (there were no cell phones back then!)  She still tells people that she knew when I called in the middle of the day collect that I was in some type of trouble.  She was actually the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter at 17.  I knew she would calm me and have some words of wisdom.  I was right.

Yes, she is an amazing woman.  This blog is just the tip of the iceberg.  I could write for hours telling you stories about her.  She is an amazing woman of God and loves Jesus.  I know many nights I made it home because she was on her knees praying for me. She believed in me when no one else did.  She encouraged me and never judged me; EVER. She loved me no matter how I messed up.  She always told me God has chosen me for a great work.  She was and is my biggest fan.  I know she would lay down her life for me.  I have never once doubted her love for me.

So you see, I have to be there for her.  If it means driving to Georgia, then I will.  If it means staying in the hospital all night with her and not sleeping because she bottoms out, then I will do it.  I will do whatever it takes to be there for her as she always was for me.  I will rub her back and hair to calm her while nurses are sticking her with needles.  I will read to her to help her relax.  Whatever needs to be done, I will do that because she always did that for me. She is an awesome woman of God. She was my strength when I was weak and a prayer warrior for me before I acknowledged I needed prayer.  She is a fighter; an over comer.  She is my Mamow; and I am HER biggest fan.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

God-Space

I was listening to my Mandisa CD the other day (love that girl!) and her song “Voice of a Savior” came on.  I truly LISTENED to the words and started thinking about how true those words are.  We all have a hole in our heart; our Spirits that we need filled.  We try to fill them with all kinds of different things.  Some of us try drugs, sex, alcohol.  Others look for it in success or money or earthly things.  Still some look for it in attention from the opposite sex or even in their spouses. Some just love to deny that there is a God; yet only God could make someone as remarkable as you!

We all have a place that needs to be filled.  I have talked to so many people over the years that have said “I just feel like there is something more out there.” Well, yes there is.  I have never been so happy as when I am doing God’s work.  I have never been so happy as when I was in China, filthy dirty with mud building those people a church. Never will we be so fulfilled as when we are serving God and others.

I looked around my church this morning and saw so many people from so many different backgrounds.  I saw people who had once been hooked on drugs.  I saw people who have been having marital problems due to their own mistakes (and we all make mistakes). I saw people who have been hooked on alcohol and some who have been in jail.  But, I saw them all gathered in one place praising God.  They found what fills that hole in their heart.  They found out it is not alcohol, drugs, sex, or otherwise.  No, they found their space is only filled by the living God; the God who made the universe.  The God who formed the sky, moon, stars and YOU.  They found they are truly happy when they are in His fellowship. 

We all have to come to the conclusion in our own way (see blog on Point of Brokenness) and we can fight it as long as we want to.  We may feel like we don’t want to give up our current way of life.  We may feel like we won’t have any fun.  Let me assure you of this…I have been drunk, high, etc and never did I truly have fun.  My church family means the world to me and with them, I truly have fun.

So, now we all have a choice…what or Whom will you let fill your spot? You are in need of a savior…will you listen to His voice, as He is constantly speaking, and allow Him to come in and fill your God space? Will you allow your life to overtaken by the one who gave it to you? Will you offer yourself to Him to use for His glory? Will you listen to the voice of a savior?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hungry??

The Bible tells us that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.  So my question to you is: how hungry are you?  How thirsty are you?  My husband spoke on this last night in youth and it really hit home with me.  Sometimes I don’t feel like I do enough.  Sometimes I feel I am just not good enough.  No matter how hard I try, how hard I pray, how hard I seek God.  I just feel like I fall flat on my face.  I feel like I make a mess out of things.  I feel like I don’t the “right” things to say to someone who comes to me seeking advice or needing to be ministered to.  Sometimes I  just feel empty…..

This week has been one of those weeks for me.  I feel empty. I don’t feel like I have another thing to give.  I was supposed to preach at youth last night and I just could not do it.  I have had personal problems; people who are dear to me have been sick and have to have tests run this week and next week; I have had the enemy come against me in so many ways-and it’s only Thursday!! So, I told Michael “baby, I just can’t do it.  You have to preach.”  You see, we minister out of our overflow.  If I don’t have an overflow (and right now I don’t feel as if I do), then how can I minister to people?  I am sure I could’ve prayed and fasted and God would’ve given me the energy and grace to preach, but I just did not feel I could do it.

So, now what is it I need to do?  Well, the above tells me what I need to do.  I need to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  I need to pray, fast, and grab hold of God.  I need to tell him like Jacob did in the Bible “I am NOT letting go until you bless me” And I need to mean it.  I need to dig my heels in and be ready to go for it.  The awesome thing is that I really don’t have to do much; just seek.  I need to come to Him hungry, weary, and ready to receive.  That’s all; He’ll meet me right where I am.  That’s the awesome thing about Jesus.  He is ever ready and willing to refuel us.  All He wants is a contrite heart and a willing spirit.  I do mess things up.  Why? I am human.  He is there to make it right though.  He is there to scoop me up in His arms, smother me with grace and fill me up with His spirit.  He is there to love me.  Do I deserve it? NO; none of us deserve what He did for us…that is grace at work. 

Are you tired? Worn out? Weary? Then, come to him hungry and thirsty, ready to receive.  He will meet you right where you are…

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More of the Michael Chronicles

Well, people loved hearing about the crazy boy who turned into my husband! I have had so many questions; legitimate ones.  “How did his family feel?” “How did they react to you?” “When did you tell Shelby?” So….I will continue the Michael and I story here in this blog.

Well, of course his family loved and still love him.  They were not too sure of me.  I can’t blame them at all.  Of course, at that time, I just didn’t understand why they didn’t know I loved him.  As a mom with a soon to be 17 yr old boy I can say that I would not be too sure about the situation if my son came home with a girl who was pregnant by someone else. Like any relationship it took time. They got to know me and my heart…they talked to me and heard my story.  They realized that I really did love Michael. I will say this…they never judged me and they never treated Shelby any way but like family.  After a little bit, they came to see that I wasn’t looking for a daddy for my baby when Michael came along.  I wasn’t looking for anything; but God had a plan.

As far as telling Shelby that Michael wasn’t her biological father, we waited until she was about 12.  Why did we wait so long? Well we waited because we thought it was best.  We wanted her to be able to understand the whole story.  BUT we didn’t want her to old enough to feel like she had been lied to for her whole life. I know you are asking yourself “well, how did you tell her?  What did you say?” Well, I am so glad you asked :)

We simply told her the truth.  I told her that her father had not been ready. Even though he was way older than I was, he just wasn’t ready to mature.  I told her he left us.  I told her I went to school and worked at Publix to save money to buy everything I needed to provide for her because at that point I didn’t know I was going to have a husband.  She cried.  She wept.  She just looked at us like we had shattered her life.  That’s some of the worst pain I have ever felt as a mom…the feeling that I ripped my daughter’s heart out. We asked her if that made her feel any different about Michael.  She just looked at us.  Then, she went to take a shower.  I remember this like it was yesterday.  She called me into the bathroom.  Once I was in there she said this “momma, remember how you asked me if this made me feel different about daddy?  Well, it does…it makes me love him even more.”  I knew then that God was in control of all of it!  All the pain that I had felt, all the pain that she could’ve felt.  God brought me into a family-Michael’s family that accepted me and Shelby.  They love us.  God brought me a husband and Shelby a dad.

In summary, I just want to say that I love writing these because it makes me remember all that Michael and I have been through.  It makes me look back and remember times that I usually don’t think of.  It makes me see the hand of God was all over our lives way before we served Him.  He has a plan…believe it!

Now, as you know we have a son named Brandon and no, I haven’t forgotten him.  He has his own blog coming…. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Give Me Your Eyes

So I was recently talking with a friend of mine.  This friend had been out of work for some time but has recently found a job (thank the Lord).  She was sharing with me how humbling her time unemployed had been to her.  As I listened she began to tell me how many nights she had prayed for someone to invite her to their house for dinner because she had nothing to eat.  She told me how sometimes she would eat just plain spaghetti noodles because that’s all she had.

As she spoke I began to get so angry at myself.  I should’ve done more.  I knew she was unemployed, but because she always seemed in a fairly good mood, I didn’t think things were that hard for her. I went home that night and cried.  I cried because I felt like a failure, not only as a friend but as a Christian.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in life and “changing the world” that we don’t see the hurt going on right in our own back yards. I felt like I wasn’t tuned in good enough to God…that maybe He tried to tell me but I was too busy to hear.

Does anyone get what I’m saying??? Have you been there?  Well, I prayed-I don’t want to be deaf to God’s voice.  I want to be tender hearted and eager to help others.  When He says “do!” I wanna do.

I love my friend…and if she reads this, she will know who she is---to her I say this:

“I am so sorry for not being there better for you.  I am so sorry that I was so “busy” that I didn’t hear God speak to me (if He did).  I am so sorry that I didn’t just take it upon myself to bring you a bag of groceries.  I am sorry for failing you as a friend.  And humbly, I ask your forgiveness…”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Will the Real (insert your name here) Please Stand Up???

 

This is a blog that I have been trying to get together in my mind for quite some time.  We all wear masks.  At some point or another, we are different people at work than we are at home or different people at church than we are at work.  Maybe we show more grace to our co-workers than we do to our own family. I know that sometimes I do.  The point is, at some point you hide your true self to appear better on the outside.  I have something to tell you though: God sees the heart.

He knows your insecurities.  He knows your hopes.  He knows your dreams. He knows when you think you aren’t good enough.  And he knows when you get a big head.  He knows your heart and loves you anyway.

We need to take off the masks.  We need to be real with people.  People don’t need to look at me and think that I have all together.  I don’t.  Only through the strength that God gives me can I have it together.  The more real we are with others the more receptive they are.

Some days I struggle.  I struggle with my temper, my thoughts, or any number of other things.  I tell God.  And I tell my prayer partners.  The Bible tells us to pray for one another.  When I am having a hard time, I need sometime to pray with me and for me.

Take off your masks today.  Reveal yourself to God, because He already knows.  Sometimes I have youth ask me how to pray.  I tell them to talk to God the way they talk to me.  He loves you and you know what---He likes you too!!! You are exactly what He needs you to be to fulfill the plan He has for you. He wants you to bring your brokenness to Him…He wants you to bring your dreams to Him….He wants you to bring it all to Him so that He can begin to mold the broken clay into His work of art.  Not what you want yourself to be, but what He designed you to be.

As “The Real Me” by Natalie Grant states…..wonderful, beautiful is what you see when you look at me…..you’re turning the tattered fabric of my life into the perfect tapestry….

Thursday, May 6, 2010

All Because 2 People Fell In Love

Tonight I thought I would share another part of my testimony----the story of Michael and I.  We have been married for just over 18 years….he is my rock, my man, my best friend.  Here’s our story:

We went to high school together in our senior year (I had just moved here).  We met, became friends quickly, hung out; did things that teenagers do. Well, I was not exactly a “good” teenager.  I liked to party, drink, etc.  I ended up becoming pregnant (with Shelby) at the beginning of my senior year.  Michael is not her biological father.  Her father was 24 (I was 17)..yeah I know what you’re thinking.!!! Anyway, after he found out I was pregnant and that I would NOT have an abortion, he left me.  We had worked together at Publix; that’s how we met.  I went into work one day and asked where he was; he had gotten transferred to the Publix about 30 minutes up the highway.  He wouldn’t take my phone calls—nothing.  So, I worked and worked, saved and saved.  I went my whole senior year pregnant; being talked about and judged.  I didn’t care.  I loved my baby and knew I could do it! 

Well, it got to be prom time.  I of course, was not going. Why? Well, did you ever try to find a prom dress to fit around a girl who was 9 months pregnant? Back then, it wasn’t that popular!  Michael, however, had a different plan.  He asked me to prom.  I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.  He told me I deserved to be at prom just as much as anyone else and he would be more than honored to take me.  Ok, don’t cry—I know right now you want to!!! :)  Of course, I said yes. This boy fought for me; people ostracized him for wanting to be with a girl who was pregnant with someone else’s kid.  He didn’t care; he already loved me.  From that moment on, we were inseparable.  He went with me to find my dress, shoes, jewelry, etc.  He made me laugh; and that was something I had not done in a long time.  The rest, as they say, is history.  We fell in love.  We were just 17 years old, but I knew God (who I didn’t even serve at that point) had brought me this crazy boy.  I was scared…I had been hurt enough.  It took a while for me to trust him.  Then, it took a while for me to be ok with the fact of him helping me raise my child.  I wondered if he could love her.  I wondered if he would bond with her.  I wondered. He was there when she was born.  He changed her first diaper.  She got his last name after we were married; he has raised her as his own for almost 19 years now; and will continue to raise her. He will walk her down the aisle and be the one her children call “papa”.  He is her dad in all meanings of the word. 

We have had more than our share of problems….we were way young when we got married and I don’t recommend that to just anyone.  When I was ready to throw in the towel through the years, he was the one who kept fighting for our marriage.  He is a dedicated man and he loves me; still after all of these years.

Now, we have our 2 children, our 3 wiener dogs, our youth group, our home, and our happiness…….all because a crazy boy chased a pregnant girl and those 2 fell in love…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are????

So, last night I went off on a slight tangent on my Facebook status about people judging others.  This troubles me to no end.  We are not in a position to judge other people! Let me assure you: YOU ARE A SINNER!!!! The Bible states that we all fall and come short of the glory of God.  It is by faith alone that we are saved and made righteous.  That being said “who do you think you are?”

Above all, we are called as Christians to love others.  Am I saying we have to love what they do? NO.  We are not to love sin…..but we are to love the person.  God is judge alone.  He loves all people.  His son died for ALL people and in the end, he will stand as judge. Instead of judging others….I have an idea! (light bulb appearing over my head) Why don’t we try loving them so that they will be receptive to what we have to share with them when it comes to the Gospel? WHAT?!?!?!  Love them?!?!? Huh……interesting idea…..  People are so much more receptive when something is offered to them with love instead of condemnation.  I have witnessed to countless people (a nd had them actually listen) when I do it with love, without a pointing finger in their faces.

The Bible states that we will be judged as we judge others.  For some, that’s scary.  We better be careful.  We are sinners also; our sins just happen to be covered by the blood of Christ.  We are in no way to boast as if our salvation came from us! No! Our salvation comes from God alone…….He is the author and finisher of all things.

Allow me to challenge you.  The next time you meet someone you wish to judge….try to see them through the eyes of Christ.  Is this always easy? NO WAY! There have been plenty of people in my life that I can’t believe grace could come to so easily (see previous blog on grace).  But, that is not for me to determine.  God knows the heart.  Isn’t it so awesome that God looks to the heart of people? God sees hidden things that we can’t see-whether good or bad.  God knows the person and loves them anyway-just like He sees your heart and loves you anyway.  You are not above any….I am not above any.  Leave the judging to God, believe me, He is able to do it, you are not.  Love instead. It is what Jesus exhorted us to do while He was here on Earth. Things go so much more smoothly that way.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Raising a Teen? YIKES!

So, in the whole episode of my daughter flying the coop (see previous blog) I have had several people ask me how I did.  How I raised what seems to be (at this point anyway) a pretty grounded kid with a fairly good head on her shoulders.  How did I form such a good relationship with her and my son? How did I do it---having 2 children by the age of 19? Well, first off, let me say I am no perfect mother! None of us are, and if you think you are, you better think again.  As we all know, children don’t come with an instruction manual.  Nope, you get thrown in there and here ya go! There are a few simple things that I have always tried to remember while parenting. I will share a few of those here.  Please note: I am no parenting expert and my children are NOT perfect.  They make plenty of mistakes, but overall they are pretty good kids…

First, I have always kept the lines of communication open with my kids.  I have never balked (well not openly) at anything they have told me.  I always try to remember what it was like when I was there age, how I felt about things, and what influenced me.  Here’s the thing: we grow up and obviously, what is important to us now is not what was important to us when we were 14, 15 or 16. So, we have to rewind and remind ourselves of how we felt at those ages.  Don’t ever minimize what they are feeling; what they are feeling about a certain situation is very real to them (no matter how absurd it may sound to us)! Listen, hold them and try to remember so that you can empathize with their feelings.

Next, you don’t always have to give advice.  I know, I know! It is built into us! I know!!!!! Learn to hold your tongue.  When my daughter got her first real heartbreak, I just went to her room and held her while she cried; I said nothing.  I wanted to scream “see I told you—he was a moron!” I didn’t.  Why? Because she was already hurting, she just needed to be loved. Sometimes they don’t  need to hear what you think, they just need to feel your arms around them and feel your support.

Finally, you are the parent.  It is great to hang out with your kids (I love it!), but you are the adult! Believe me, when they get to be 16, 17, and 18 years old they will push you to your limits.  They will try to take control of your home.  Do NOT ever let them control your home.  Is it their home too? Of course, but you are the adult and you make the rules. Period.  May they speak to you and ask for certain things to be reconsidered? Of course….but it doesn’t mean it will happen.  I know parents who are afraid that their children will sneak around, so they let them do whatever they want.  NO! Then that child has control of the home….not good! When the child comes to the point of running your home, you are in for big problems.  I am not saying be a drill sergeant, but kids actually want boundaries, they just don’t know they do.

Above all, let them know you are there.  When they need you, you are there.  When they are ready to talk, you are there.  NOTHING is more important than your children. …invest the time, because before you know it, they will fly the coop…..treasure them, enjoy them, love them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flying the Coop

Usually I have something inspirational to say.  Usually I try to encourage everyone. Usually I write because God has used some “A-ha” moment to get through my very hard head and I want to share it all with you, so that maybe He can use that same “a-ha” moment to get through some other hard heads. But today, I got nothing.  Sorry to disappoint you. I have nothing awe-inspiring to say. Nothing that is covered with “hallelujahs” to bring a smile to your face.  Sorry….I can hear your disappointment right now. No, today I am not Kim the worship leader or Kim the youth pastor or Kim the counseling/theology student.  No, today I am Kim the mommy.  That’s all-----Kim the mommy.  I have been a mommy for almost 19 years now (I am only 36-you do the math). Being a mommy is my GREATEST accomplishment to date.  People told me I would not or could not ever be a good mommy since I was a teen mommy (that’s another blog) but as usual, when someone tells me I can’t or won’t that makes me even MORE determined to do the opposite. I knew I would be a good mommy and their negativity was even more fuel to the fire (a great big shout out to all you doubters out there!!!) Being a mommy is the most important thing (outside of my marriage and God) in my life.  I don’t write a lot about being a mommy because I don’t have a lot to offer.  When they are little, there are so many things to write about..hints, suggestions, things to make life easier.  However, when they are true teens and young adults (not teenagers) there is little to say except this:

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6

That’s pretty much all I can offer someone when they are out on their own, driving, dating, working, going to school and doing God knows what.  There are many nights of being on your knees praying, staying awake waiting for the headlights to pull in the drive way, and wondering if you are gonna have to literally kill the boy who touches her. No, all I can offer to you is the above.

My oldest is moving out today.  I am sad.  In packing her room, I have come across her baby book and pictures and I have thought of all the moments and times together.  I have also thought about all the moments and times missed.  All the mess ups that we do as parents. So, I guess in addition to the above verse, I do have one more small piece of advice….don’t waste time! It is too precious! They grow up so fast. I know how long 18 years sounds…believe me it’s not.  Do not put work, ministry, housework, homework, TV, or anything else in front of your children.  Believe me, the dust will still be there tomorrow-I promise! I thank God that I was able to be a SAHM for many years.  I volunteered in their classrooms and took field trips.  I helped her get ready for her first dance, and I helped her get ready for prom.  Today, I will drop her off at her new “home” and walk away to come to my own home.  I am terrified, I am sad, and I am reminiscent of the past. 

One more piece of advice: enjoy your children.  When they drive you crazy, when they are little and getting into everything, when they are young teens and have a smart mouth, when they are young adults and know it ALL (and believe me they know it ALL, just ask them)---enjoy them.  Each and every moment—enjoy it.

So, that’s all I got for ya today….  But, from one mommy to another…..you got this (well you and God got this), hang in there!

052

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stereotyped?

blog button I have been thinking about the homeless man in NYC who got killed while helping a lady who was getting mugged.  People walked past him for more than an hour while he laid there either already dead or dying.  No one offered to help! This has disturbed me so badly.  I was watching a psychologist talk about it on TV and she said they have a name for this.  Basically people don’t see the situation as alarming and so they don’t stop to help.  She stated that possibly people could tell he was homeless, they have become immune to seeing the homeless, and so they just thought he was lying there.  No attention needed.

May I never become immune to seeing or feeling for the homeless.  Now, please don’t misunderstand me.  I know that people in NYC see a lot more homeless than we do.  I know many homeless people “hit” on these people daily, wanting money, etc.  I understand.  I saw and experienced this first hand in Beijing, China.  However, I truly hope that I don’t become calloused when it comes to feeling for others.

So, as I said, I have been thinking about this.  This poor man helped a woman get away from a mugger and was killed in cold blood.  No one helped.  Why? Because he was stereotyped as a “just another homeless man”.  He was expected to be lying on the street.  No one saw anything wrong in that.  However, if it had been a man lying there in a business suit, people would’ve done something.

Have you ever been stereotyped by people?  I have.  And it stinks! It took me years to get over things people had said about me when I was younger. Years! Do you stereotype others? If you do, please stop! It hurts more than you know.  The only thing that matters is what God says about you.  And He says that He loves you.  So much that He sent His son to die in your place.

I pray that this homeless man knew Jesus as his personal savior.  I pray that he will be remembered, not for being just a number; a homeless number on the street.  No, I pray he will be remembered for his bravery, for the honor that he showed when he helped the lady in trouble.  I pray that people will now look around them and care about what they are seeing.  Whether in a suit or in used, dirty clothes, all are people and deserve respect and love.  It’s what we are called to do.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alarm System Needed?

On my daughters 15th birthday she was awoke by the doorbell ringing.  It was summer break so her and my son were home alone, I was a few miles up the road at work.  She looked our her window, didn’t know the guy, so she didn’t answer the door (smart girl).  A few minutes later she got up and walked into our kitchen….right into the guy who had rang the doorbell! He had come in through our back door and was in my house…with my 2 children! She stayed calm, asked him what he was doing and demanded he leave.  He did.  We know who it did it, but he was never formally charged.  He made away with my son’s PSP game which was sitting on our kitchen counter…but that was easily replaced.

I often had people ask me what I would say to him if I had the chance.  I would say to him------ “thank you for not hurting my children”.  He could have very easily “taken care of” the witness and fled my home.  Thank God that my husband and I regularly pray Psalms 91 over our home and believe that God will do everything He says in this Psalm.  Here is how it reads:

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
       will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
       my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
       and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
       nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
       nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
       ten thousand at your right hand,
       but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
       and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
       even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
       no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
       you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
       I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
       I will be with him in trouble,
       I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
       and show him my salvation."

I truly believe that God puts His protection around our homes.  I know that He alone protected my children that day.  I KNOW THAT. I thank Him for that.  That day could’ve been a tragedy. I don’t have anything against security systems…I have had one….but nothing beats the protection of the Almighty.  Pray Psalms 91 over your home, replacing the word “you” with “I”.  For example…..verse 10 states “then no harm will befall you…” Pray OUT LOUD…..”then no harm will befall me…” Make it personal, claim that Word for yourself, your family, and your home and  feel the peace that it brings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Giving All You Have to Give…

When we were in China in 2008 we took turns within our group doing a daily devotion.  When it came to my turn I spoke on the following scripture:

“When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,d and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. you did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Why did I choose this? I am so glad you asked :) Every day when we went to the village to continue building the church, we would be welcomed by our welcoming committee (the women of the village) and then they would disappear for quite a while.  Eventually we would see them coming back, with bags full of fresh vegetables.  They would then all gather into a home and fix enough lunch for all of them, plus 12 of us on a 2 burner stove—the kind like we would take camping! Every day they did this for us.  Day in, day out. They would watch us eat, then they would eat the leftovers (if there were any).

As I began to think about them doing this for us, I couldn’t help but thinking of the above scripture.  You see, they were giving us the best that they could.  They had hardly nothing, but everything they did have, they were giving to us with a grateful heart.  They wanted to please us, they wanted to thank us. 

Just like the woman in the story above; she was giving the best that she had to Jesus.  You see, they had that part of servant hood down.  So many of us here do not.  We are always in too big of a hurry and too busy thinking of ourselves.  We don’t take the time to think of others and what would make them feel good.  Nor, do we always offer our best to Jesus. We make every excuse in the book as to why we can’t do something.  We don’t have time, we aren’t smart enough, we are talented enough…the list goes on and on, when really all He wants is the best YOU have to offer.  He already knows you inside and out.  He already put everything within you that you need to do the purpose He created you for. Offer your best…I promise He is worth it.  He deserves it.  And you will never be as fulfilled as you are while doing God’s work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Missed Opportunities

A couple of months ago in church, God told me to pray for someone.  He even told me what to pray for---specifically.  I thought “ok, as soon as this (whatever this was) is over I will do it”  I really don’t have a problem praying for people anymore.  I used to.  I used to be scared.  I used to think “what are they gonna think about me? They’re gonna think I am like a Jesus fanatic” Well, after a couple of times of praying for people and them breaking down into pure tears before God, I was ok with it.  I still get nervous, but I am pretty obedient now.  Ok, anyway, back to my story.  Well, after whatever was going on ended, church was out.  She walked right by me.  I could’ve stopped her and asked her if I could pray for her…..but I didn’t.  I let her walk out.  That was the last time she came to church (and she was a regular).  No she didn’t die.   She left her husband.  She left her family. She is now living in the world and of the world and her family is torn into pieces.

 

So now.  I wonder what would have happened if I would have prayed for her?  Do I think that it is me who changes things? NO WAY!  It is totally God! What would God have said to her if I had prayed for her? Would she had been receptive? I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I do know that I can’t let it consume me.  I do know that I have to let it go and not dwell on it.  I do know that I have to be assured that God is still in control, no matter what I do. I do know that I will not miss an opportunity again if I can help it. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let It Go!

I speak with so many people who have a problem with forgiveness.  I am talking about the forgiveness we give others---I already blogged on that.  No, I am talking about receiving the forgiveness that is available through Christ to YOU.  Let me begin by saying that it doesn’t matter what you have done….nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.  The Bible tells us this:

“Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)

38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Let me say this again…there is NOTHING you can do if you are saved by accepting Christ as your savior to separate you from Christ.  He loves you.  He adores you.  He wants the best for you.  That is why He did what He did on the cross.  When you do not accept your forgiveness, it is saying that what He did was not enough for you.  It is saying that all He went through on the cross… all the pain and humiliation, the death was not enough to cover what you have done.  You are saying that something else must be done to cover your sins.  That’s kind of a “slap in the face” isn’t it?  Accept your forgiveness.  Leave your sins in the past, which is where He leaves them.  If you carry that around you will not move into the plan that God has for you.  Be freed!  The Bible says “who the Son sets free is free indeed.”  You are free from that condemnation.  If you have a relationship with Christ, you have been set free.  Put down those chains, leave your mistakes behind, and walk into what God has for you!  You will be amazed!

I have attached the video to my new favorite song.  I urge you to listen to it and READ the words.  This will explain to you exactly what I am trying to say.  You DO NOT have to carry the weight of who you were…..

Friday, April 9, 2010

WOW!!!!

So, I was going into Publix yesterday evening.  Now, anyone who really knows me knows that there are 2 places I absolutely HATE to go-------Publix and Wal-Mart!  Hate it!  Would rather take a beatin!  Well, as I was mumbling to myself, God instantly brought to my remembrance the people  in China that I met while on our missions trip.  They would have loved to be able to go to Publix.  I was so convicted!  I just whispered “God, forgive me.” Forgive me for being so selfish.  I am so blessed to be able to go to Publix and buy the food my family needs.  I am so blessed to have a job that supplies the money I need to pay for that food.  My friends in China had nothing!  When I say nothing, I mean nothing!  They are so poor and impoverished. Yet, they were thankful for everything they had and they were so happy!!!!  We are a selfish people.  I challenge you to begin to think of the good.  When I mop (which I hate) I am thankful I have floors and not dirt.  When I wash clothes, I am thankful I have them and a washer and don’t have to do it by hand.  You get the point….let’s start counting our blessings!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Compromise? No Way!!!!!


I often ask our youth if they live 2 different lives. Do they live 1 life at school and another at church? Are they willing to compromise their beliefs and hide their faith to fit in with a certain group? Well, now I ask adults the same thing. Why? Because we do it too. I had a job once where I worked with a lot of people and a lot of them were my age. I wanted to fit in so badly. So, I began to compromise who I was and what I believed. What happened? Well, I opened that door and the enemy slipped in. I won't go on from there, but it was not a pretty scene. I ended up leaving that job and when I started my next job I made a promise to myself and to God that I would NOT EVER compromise what I believe in or who I am. And, I have not! If my friends can't accept who I am then they are not my friend. God says that He would rather us be cold or hot than lukewarm. If we are lukewarm, He will spit us out of His mouth! Now, just picture that! I do not want to stand before my maker and try to explain that fitting into a certain group was more important to me than Him. I will NEVER put people and what they think above my savior again. I am who I am and believe what I believe. If you don't like it, then you don't have to be around me. Let me assure you, if they are your TRUE friends, they will be there for you. So, let me ask you......do you compromise??

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Point of Brokenness

We all reach a point where we realize we need a savior. I like to call this our point of brokenness. Mine was when I had brain surgery in 2001. Actually April 19th, 2010 will be 9 years since the surgery. Now, that is not to say I had not been through some really hard times prior to that. Let's see........ being molested as a child, a biological father who had nothing to do with me while growing up, pregnant at 17 (and her biological father split the scene)..shall I go on? But none of those things were enough to break me. I was self sufficient...I am an extremely strong person emotionally and didn't need anyone-including God! BUT, oh, God knows how to reach us! I remember on April 18, 2001 while taking my dogs to the boarders, I closed my eyes in the car and prayed this prayer in my mind "God...I don't know you and have no right to ask you for anything....but if you are real and you bring me through this and let me raise my children, I will give you my life and serve you for the rest of my days. I will give you everything I am." That was it! I didn't feel any different...I didn't see doves or hear hallelujahs, but I knew I needed a savior. I knew if I died in that O.R. and my mamow was right about her Jesus that I better make it right with Him. That was my point of brokenness. What's yours? We all have one.....sometimes more than one. You see, the Bible tells us that God loves a broken spirit and a contrite heart. What does that mean? Some meanings of contrite are to tear, break, or quench. Why would God love that? Because then we call on HIM...then we are not self sufficient. We realize we can't do it through ourselves, we need someone to carry the burden for us. The point of brokenness can be a beautiful thing. Call on a savior who loves you and see what He can do....

Ps:34:18. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Friday, April 2, 2010

He Makes All Things New

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy." Psalm 30:11

God can take all things and turn them for His glory and His honor.  If you read my blogs, then you know some of what I went through as a young child and a teenager (if you haven't now is a good time to GET READING!!! LOL).  Yet, God in his glory and His awesomeness has now taken those experiences and He USES them so that I can minister to others. He can do the same for all of us.  When we allow him to use those bad things, those things that we feel destroyed us, then we begin to feel not so bad about them...we begin to feel like "wow this is awesome...I know how she/he feels and I can help her/him" God is an awesome God.  Allow Him to strip away the things that you thought were bad and allow him to strategically put you in places and situations so that He can use them to reach others.  That's what we are here for.  THEN, you will see that He has taken your mourning and made it joy...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Cleaning?

Oh yes my friends, it is that time of year.  We clean out all the stuff, clean all the dust away, bring out the summer wear and start dieting so we can fit into them :) Uh-huh, don’t even act like you don’t!!!  :)  But, what about our spiritual junk?  We need to get rid of that too!  You have to walk away from the bad and walk into the good.  You have to let the baggage go and walk into what God has called you to.  There is work to be done, and we are the ones to do it!  We can’t do it with mess in our spirits.  So, while you are doing your spring cleaning on the outside, pray and seek God so that He can help you clean up the inside.  Remember, you are called for such a time as this and if you are called He WILL equip!  Get rid of that junk and get on with the Father’s business!!!! 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reach out….

"A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said "Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  "I am willing", he said.  "Be clean!"  Matthew 8: 1-3

It is easy to just read a verse such as this and keep going.  But, we need to really stop and consider what God is saying through this.  Back in the day, lepers were feared.  They were thrown out of their villages and treated as outcasts.  It was absolutely the worst thing you could have other than demon possession. They were required to yell out "Unclean! Unclean!" if they came across anyone's paths. Notice in this Jesus TOUCHED the leper.  Now understand that Jesus could have just told him to be healed and it would have been done.  But, Jesus knew this man had not been touched in a while.  He knew that this man needed to be loved; and it just so happens that this is what Jesus came to do---LOVE.  So, Jesus reached out and touched the man.....touched a leper.  This was against Jewish law and anyone who even touched a leper was to be punished or even put to death.  You see, Jesus didn't care what the rules said or what other people thought, he wanted to love this man.  He wanted this man to be made whole physically and mentally. Do we always love?  I know I don't.  I could be a lot better.  We are called to love all people  no matter how dirty or rotten they may be or we think they may be.  Reach out today and touch someone's life....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Patience? Hummm………

“Patience is a virtue”.  We have all heard this familiar saying.  What does it mean?  Well, by definition, virtue means “an admirable quality” or “a characteristic of particular value”  The Bible tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. HOWEVER…….sometimes all of this is easier said and read than done and lived.  Patience?  Really?  When the kids are screaming and the dogs are barking? When the boss is blaming me and it’s not my fault? When I have to get an assignment in and I have a house to clean and bills to pay and…..well, the list goes on and on.  How about when I am praying for that perfect job and the doors just aren’t opening?  How about when I am sick and praying for a healing and I am just as sick as I was yesterday? Or when I am praying so hard for my marriage to be restored and I don’t see any change in my spouse? All of these are things that people I personally know are going through.

There was a man in the Bible named Abraham.  Now Abraham and his wife wanted a child.  They wanted a child in the worst way.  They had been promised a child by God.  However, when it didn’t happen in their time, they decided to fix it themselves.  So, Abraham got Hagar (his wife’s servant) to bear his child for him.  Hagar has a son and begins to treat Sarah like dirt!  This child was not the promised child.  This child was a result of Abraham’s impatience with God.  We are still feeling the consequences of this act today in the middle East specifically.

Patience must be cultivated and grown.  We are not in nature patient people.  We live in a now society.  If I want information, I go online, Google, and PRESTO!  I have my information.  If I am hungry I go through a drive thru or nuke something in the microwave.  But God’s word says “I waited patiently for the Lord.  He turned to me and  heard my cry”.  Wait.  Be patient.  Know that God is not a man that He should lie.  If Abraham would have just waited and believed in God’s promise, he never would have had the mess he did and his wife would not have been hurt the way she was.  Poor Hagar and Ishmael would not have been turned away and sent out of their home.  When we take things into our own hands, everyone gets hurt.

I know that patience is not easy.  I tend to be a very inpatient person actually and have to remind myself continually to slow down, don’t try to fix it, and let God do His thing.  Hard?  Yup!  Does it work when I do this?  Yup…you better believe it! “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12. Let me encourage you (and myself) to slow down, read the Word of God, pray, and know that God is not limited by time the way we are.  He already knows what He’s doing….just be patient and trust.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Desires of Your Heart…

God’s word tells us that He will give us the desires of our hearts.  This does not mean that every single thing we desire will be given to us.  No, if we read the verses above that verse we will see that the Word tells us “trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness…” THEN He will give you the desires of your heart.  As I mediated on this word, I began to really notice the word cultivate.  (This is, by the way, why God tells us to meditate on His word, not just skim through it out of duty.  Things sink in that way). Cultivate means “to nurture; to grow or tend” If we nurture faithfulness….if we do the things of God, even when everything and every force of hell is against us, then He will do what He says He will. You see, we have no testimony if there is no test.  You will never know He is faithful without a trial.  You will never know He is a deliverer unless you call on Him.  You will never know He is a healer unless you are ill.  We have to go through trials.  This is true.  BUT, if you cultivate your faithfulness and remain true, He WILL give you the desires of your heart.

Last August, I felt that I needed to go back to school. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up.  I want to be a Christian Psychologist.  I knew that I had to go to a private Christian university to do this.  So, I began my search and then my application process at what is one of the best universities around now; Southeastern University.  I got accepted.  My next step was financial aid.  Got that done with no problems. From the time I began the process to now has been smooth. I even had favor and got my application fee of $200.00 waived!  I have worked my tail off and put in a lot of hours a week in studies.  Top that with working full time, being a mom to 2 teens, a wife, a worship leader, and a youth pastor and you have one busy woman.  But you know what? God gives me endurance.  God gives me enough time to get it all done.  He can after all, hold the sun in place if He needs to. I have not neglected any part of my life, I simply get it done.  School is a desire of my heart and God, seeing my faithfulness for many years, gave it to me.  I have to do my part and work hard, but He set it all in motion.  Awesome!  I just found out today that I have made the dean’s list!  What an amazing accomplishment!  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What are the desires of your heart?  Have you shown faithfulness?  If you have, keep cultivating it, keep doing good.  He will give you the desires of your heart that line up with His will….

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Past is Past

Your Past Needs to Stay Your Past

Have you ever been going through your Christian life smoothly and then---BAM!!!---something happens that in turn brings up something from your past that you really wanted to forget for good and never think of again??? Well, of course you have, especially if you are a Christian. This is the enemies number one plot against us. He loves to make us remember times that we have hurt people or times we have done something so bad it makes us want to vomit to think that we are capable of such things.  He loves to bring to our remembrance things we have said and done that would make us seem so inadequate as a Christian that we can't fully accept God's love or His plan of redemption.
But I have good news for you.....this is not what Jesus has called you to be, feel, or do. When you accept Christ as your personal savior, all of that is wiped clean. His word says he was make us as white as freshly fallen snow. That is not to say that people forget what you were or things you did.  However, they can see you as the new creation you are. They will probably doubt for a while that you have really changed, and that's ok. Just keep living for God--they'll see the change.
Leave your past in the past where it belongs.....except for when it is being used by God to bring honor and glory to His name. Times when you can share what you used to be to and things you used to do to bring honor to God (and God will open chances for you to do that). He has cleansed you, saved you, and loves you more than you could ever imagine. Don't allow the enemy a chance to come in and remind you of your mistakes to make you feel bad.....instead remind him that the Word of God says that God uses all things that the enemy meant for destruction and uses it for good, remind him that Christ says He makes all things new---and that includes you...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes all you can do is…..PRAISE!!

Sometimes life is almost too much.  There are times of financial stress, worrying about our children, times of illness.  God never said it would be easy.  I have learned though, in those times, all you can do is PRAISE.  Those are times to let out a shout with a voice of triumph and let the devil know we can’t be moved!  I have a dear friend in our church right now who just found out she has cancer…for the 2nd time.  Sunday, though, she was in church.  She wasn’t at home feeling sorry for herself.  She wasn’t in her seat with a downcast look.  Nope….she was praising God!  She was lifting her voice in powerful praise and awesome worship.  The enemy has not stopped her!  No way.  She says she has too much to do.  Her mere countenance brought me to tears. Sometimes…….all you can do is praise!  Praise Him for who He is, for all He has done for you.  During worship one time I stated “Lord, if you never done another thing for me, you have already done enough for me to serve you the rest of my life” He does not have to do another thing.  I gotta praise! When our bedroom flooded last week, I cried.  But, then something rose up within me and I
began to praise! Why?  I know that I know after all these years that God is up to something good.  I know when the enemy comes in like a flood (no pun intended) that God is right behind him sopping up the mess!  I know that God is already working the thing the enemy meant for destruction for my good!  So I praised!  I praised Him while I cleaned up my mess, I praised Him while I was throwing stuff away, knowing that He would bring me new things to replace what I had lost.  My dear friend with cancer knows the same thing.  She knows that all she has left is her praise.  That’s all she can do.  Praise and trust. Praise is a declaration.  A declaration of trust and of victory! It is a war cry saying to the enemy that you will stand strong and continue to trust in God.  So, people of God…whatever you are going through, wherever you are right now in your life…..PRAISE!  Let out a victory cry and let the enemy know you are standing strong in your faith. 
“I will bow down before your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word” Psalm 138:2. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Selfish Much?

I have had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in the hospital this week.  Not a great place to be as you all well know.  Well, my “room mate” was this little old lady (Ms. Marguerite as she became known) who had a bowel obstruction (brings lovely thoughts to your brain right now doesn’t it).  She had a lovely daughter who was there with her through the day.  From the time visiting hours started until the time they were done, the daughter was there. However, once the daughter left, I felt responsible for this little lady.  Now, here I was writhing in pain and I felt responsible for this lady.  On one of the nights there, she was mumbling (in a drugged stupor) about being cold. So, I get up, steady myself (I was in a drugged stupor too) and find a nurse to get her a blanket.  Another night, she is mumbling about her tummy hurting.  I find a nurse to help her out. I am not saying all of this to pat myself on the back…..believe me, I am NOT.  But, this experience did make me wonder, hope, and pray that if I can not ever do these things for myself, that someone will be willing to go get help for me.  You see, we are basically selfish people. We basically look out for ourselves.  BUT, we are called to look out for others.  We are called to serve. Servant literally means “a person who serves another out of debt or duty”.  We have a duty as a Christian to serve others.  When was the last time you asked someone how they were and really LISTENED to their reply?  I do this all the time.  I work for an attorney and ask practically every client I speak to during the day “how are you?”  However, I don’t always listen to what they have to say. I am trying to change that. I am making an effort and praying that God will give me a bigger desire to be a servant.  To be able to love others as He loves.  Who knows, I may be the only Jesus they see that day.  When I got checked out of the hospital, I held my roomie’s hand, smiled at her, looked her in the eye and told her I would be praying for her. And I have.  May God give me a heart to serve the way He did as He walked on Earth.
“Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but the interests of others as well” (Philippians 1:4).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stressed?

Today, I am stressed.  This week has been a very trying week for me.  There has been one thing after another after another.  School, work, illness, money woes, teens….well I could go on, but I won’t bore you.  I find myself longing for bed time each night.  Have you ever had a week like that?  What kind of human would I be if I never admitted I had a bad week?  I wouldn’t be a normal human for sure. It can’t be all doves and roses all the time.  We all have bad days, weeks, months.  It’s what we do with them that matters.  It’s how we react.  Here’s the thing. Satan CANNOT read your mind!  He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or all knowing.  To be so would mean that he is on the same wavelength as God.  We all know that is not so.  So, what does Satan “go” by?  Many times, he goes by our reactions.  Something happens to us and Satan (or one of his do-boys LOL) are sitting there waiting to see “how is she gonna take this?” He wants to know where our faith is.  Are we going to claim the word of God over our lives or are we going to poor me…….WHY GOD????  WHY ME????  I sadly, have done both.  This is when knowing the word of God comes in.  If the word is hidden in our hearts…..at the perfect time it will come forth.  We will know that Jesus is there, in our most stressful week, saying “peace, be still.”  I love the song that says “sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms His child”.  There are times we have to go through things.  Not around them….the Bible says “though I go THROUGH the valley…” Sometimes there is no other way but through.  It is in those times, though, that my faith has grown.  It has been in the hard times that I have planted my feet and declared that no matter what, I will serve the Lord.  I will see the battle through…..I WILL simply trust.  That’s what it comes down to….trust.  Do we trust Him to bring us through the bad weeks?  Do we trust that no matter how it ends, it is all for His glory?  Do we trust that He loves us enough that He always, always has our best interest at heart? If we do, then the bad weeks, the stressful days, well they won’t seem quite as bad.  Psalm 85:8 says “I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to His people, His saints.” I think that’s enough said. 
Here’s wishing you a stress free God filled weekend…….

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Obedience

From ages 5 to 8 I was molested by a family friend.  I NEVER told anyone…including my husband.  I was at a women’s conference and God spoke to me telling me that He was going to use this part of my testimony. My first job?  To tell my mom.  I remember taking her to Golden Corral for a coke and just blurting it out…..she just sat there and looked at me.  Then she said “that explains a lot.”  That’s it??  That’s all I get?  But for her, that’s all that needed to be said.  It explained to her why I had been a depressed teen.  It explained why I ended up pregnant at 17.  It explained to her why when she asked me one time “what would make you happy!?”  I looked at her and honestly said “I don’t know.” I didn’t know.  I had no idea.  I had so much anger and guilt built up within me I didn’t even know where to start.
Well, from that day on, God began to use this part of me.  I spoke at a ladies’ convention and had a seventy something year old lady come up to me and tell me that her dad had molested her and she had never told anyone until then!  Can you imagine how in awe I felt that God could use something so bad for His good???  Then I spoke on forgiveness at our youth group and used this as my example. I was scared to death they were going to laugh or poke fun at me for what had happened.  I had 12 kids come forward that night!  I told them “I would go through it all again to know that I could help you guys.” I meant that.  I have learned that once I took the step God told me to take….once I obeyed and began to LET HIM use this, it was all turned around for good.  What is He telling you to do right now?  What are you not obeying?  What is holding you back? Fear? Guilt? Don’t let the enemy steal anything more from you.  Obey God and watch Him work!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Your Worth!

In my life as a youth pastor’s wife, worship leader, mom, etc. I notice that alot of girls/women don’t realize their worth. This is a problem to me. Why? Because God wants each of us to realize about ourselves what He already knows about us--that we are precious, that He has given each of us unique gifts and that He wants to use us. I know this is a problem because I have lived it. As a teenager I didn’t realize that I was worth anything. I wasn’t raised in church, I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents and I thought I had nothing to offer but a pretty face and my body (thanks to the man who molested me as a child and told me this was all I was!) My desire is that all teenage girls would see themselves as beautiful. That you would find your God-given gifts early and begin to use them. My desire for every woman is that she would see herself as adored, realizing that it’s never too late for God to use you. Know that you have more to offer than what the world indicates to you (your body and sexuality). I have friends who I know have certain gifts that God wants them to use. They either don’t realize it or choose not to use them. The world and what it has to offer looks good. It’s not. Believe me, I have lived both ways and would not go back to what I used to be for anything.

So, how do you find your gifts? I hear this alot. First, examine yourself. What are your strong points? What are your weak points? What moves you--what makes you so mad that if you could, you would change it today, right now? What are your passionate about? Are you passionate about souls being saved? Are you angry when you hear about child abuse or animal abuse? What makes you mad? Let God use that righteous anger for something good--learn to channel it for good. Before you can do any of that though, you have to realize that you are worth alot. You were worth so much that God himself in human form died a cruel death on the cross for you. That’s how much you’re worth. You can’t truly love until you love yourself. You can’t realize the worth of others if you don’t even know the worth of yourself. Don’t let people abuse you, know that you are worth so much more than that. Plant your feet, know you are beautiful, adored, and then let God use you through the gifts He has already given you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Wilderness

There are times in our lives when we are just going to feel alone. We never know when these seasons are going to appear, why they appear, or for how long they will last. Going through one of these seasons myself (and a really long one I might add), I did some research. I looked up "wilderness" in the dictionary and the definition that really hit me was: "a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland." This hit me particularly hard because out in the wilderness it seems that we are indeed in a place that is inhabited by wild animals—animals that want to destroy you—to consume you. Jesus himself was tested in the wilderness remember? At that point of fasting, Satan appeared to Him in the wilderness and attempted to devour Him—in the wilderness. Remember how He overcame? With the Word of God. There are times when the last thing we may want to do is pray or read. I have been there too. To overcome the creatures waiting to devour us, we have to be equipped. If you were in a literal wilderness, you would find something to defend yourself. The same is true with a spiritual wilderness. These are all lessons that I have had to learn. I have to be equipped and I can't expect anyone to do it for me. I have to seek God, I have to worship, I have to feed myself His word, I have to do these things; not my church, not my friends, not my husband, just me. Just Jesus and me out here wandering around. Who better to be led by? Who better to seek and depend upon? I know that no matter what, He is in charge, even when I am tired and worn out, He is there, ready to take my hand and help me around the mountain one more time. The definition also states that it is "a tract of wasteland". In a spiritual meaning, it could most definitely be a place of waste. I know people who were on fire for God, when everything was going good. Then, in a place of wilderness, in a place of testing, they turned their backs on Him and His goodness. That is indeed waste. The biggest waste of all. I am responsible to make sure that I don't waste away out here—that I get enough to eat—enough of His word to sustain me. I will not be defeated. If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you that I am slightly hardheaded. LOL

All wilderness I will encounter will end, eventually. And I will come out ahead, I will come out victorious having learned another lesson and another dimension of my faith that I wouldn't know existed if it wasn't tested. How do I know that? Because the word of God tells me that He has a good future planned for me, a good life, He will prosper me and not harm me. It also tells me that I will go through these times. If I believe His word, then I have to believe all of it, not the parts I want. That's ok. It's all about trust......




Just a thought…

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's NOT About YOU (or me!)

If there is one thing I have learned from years of being a worship leader-----IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!!! This can be a very hard thing to sink into our human minds. We love to be the center of attention--to think that when God moves strongly in a service it must be because we must be such an "anointed" worship leader. We love for people to tell us that we are so talented and awesome, and it's ok to accept compliments.....BUT-we have to be careful to not let these things go to our heads. This is not only in worship or singing, this is in anything we do for the Lord. We have to be careful that we are doing things for the edification of Christ....not the edification of me.....as Kay Warren so beautifully puts it "the kingdom of me must fall". We must become less and Christ must become more. So, the things that you are doing for God--are they out of a pure heart? Are they out of love for the King? Or, are they out of love for one's self? Out of desire for people to notice what you do and compliment you on these things so that you look like the "good Christian" is supposed to look?

Examine your heart, examine your motives. Are you pushing open doors so that you can be seen? Are you serving in areas you really don't like but do it anyway because it's noticed and people think it's a good thing? Remember, it's NOT about you.....let everything you do be to further the kingdom of God....let it be done for glory to Him, not glory to self......

just a thought....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Orange Trees!

I was on my way to the post office to drop off some mail and noticed what used to be a very lovely orange grove. However, right now it’s not so lovely. Weeds are overtaking all of the trees. What started with one little piece of growth has now grown up, around, and in the trees. They can hardly survive because they’re being choked out; not getting enough air or nutrients. They’re not producing fruit, they can’t—they have hardly any life left in them, how can they produce something else?

Isn’t this how it is with sin and us? What starts as just one little compromise, one little sin becomes bigger and bigger until it overtakes us, sometimes it overtakes our whole life. That one curse word, that one drink, that one little peek at porn on the internet, that one little ounce of unforgiveness (I’m talking to myself here too) and before we know what happens, it grabs us and begins to grow. We begin to separate ourselves from God (because we know we’re wrong) so we’re not getting our nutrients, our “life” from our provider. We’re being choked out and we’re not producing fruit in our lives either.

We have to be so careful to not allow that kind of "stuff" into our lives or our hearts. We have to immediately take every thought captive and focus on pure things, good things. We have to run to the life giver Himself, allow Him to plow up our weeds, give us some life, and then we can go back out and produce some fruit for His glory and His kingdom….