Monday, July 10, 2017

What blessings do you have lying dormant?

So Brian is a friend of ours and he sent me a text yesterday, in which I responded with fireworks and strobe lights that the latest iPhone update has as features.  He was quite impressed, in which I responded, "Don't be jealous that I have magical powers, envy is a sin."  He replied, "Call me a sinner.  I'm envious."  The funny thing is, his phone had the exact same capability as mine, they were just lying dormant.  Just because he was unaware.  All he needed to do was access it and unleash its ability.

The same can be with our spiritual life.  God has given us access to so many things like PEACE that surpasses all understanding when life gets crazy, JOY that you can have when the ship seems to be going down, LOVE for people that haven't necessarily been worthy of it.  All of those things could be lying dormant in your life simply because you were unaware.  Well -- now you know! 

Now all my friend needed to do was open up his settings and turn a few things off to enable the feature to work.  And spiritually, all we need to do is open up the Word -- our Owner's Manual, to be getting the most out of our life and taking advantage of every benefit it provides. 

Just like we can go to the Apple Bar to find out all the features our iPhone has, we can plug into good teaching that helps us access what's already ours!  But what good are all of these amazing features if we don't know how to access it?!

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid."  John 14:27

"...no one will take away your joy."  John 16:22

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."  1 John 4:8

Sunday, July 2, 2017

God never designed us to know the future

We keep hearing the struggle of being 'present'. 
Well, it is actually that...a present.  A GIFT! 
To be opened and enjoyed today.  Yet too often we leave the present wrapped up sitting on a shelf while we get entangled in worrying and wondering about tomorrow.  The future.

The funny thing about the future is...God never designed us to know it!  So in fact, it's really not our business worrying about it.  A bit harsh?  I know, I know...we should be responsible citizens and plan for the future and not be clueless and have all our ducks in a row so we have our retirement all taken care of so it will one day take care of us. Heavy sigh.  (And yes the run on sentence was intended to empasize that whole blah, blah, blah notion.)   But is that where our faith should lie?  In our comfy little nest egg?  God is the ONE who will ultimately take care of us, not our bank account.  You'll never hear Bank of America say, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest!"  (They'll just send you an overdraft charge for your burden.)  Thanks B of A!

James 4:13-15 says this, "And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, 'Today -- at the latest tomorrow -- we're off to such and such city for the year.  We're going to start a business and make a lot of money.'  You don't know the first thing about tomorrow.  You're nothing but a wisp of fog catching a brief bit of sunshine before disappearing.  Instead, make it a habit to say, 'If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that.' "

You thought I was harsh.

Ultimately we are citizens of Heaven, and the investments He is most concerned about are people.  He wants us investing in the people around us.  Primarily our family who get a front row seat to watching us live out our crazy -- umm, I mean our faith ;)  It's a Mission Field not in a foreign country but often on foreign soil when it comes to all the changes our kids can go through.  We often need a translator.  KPC.  (Keeping Parents Clueless) LOL

We spend much of our days, and likely our late nights wringing our hands and tossing and turning about the future.  I think it's no accident.  If the enemy can distract us about the 'what if's' and get us devoting such mental energy to figuring it all out, then we miss what God is doing right now.  We didn't even see it.  We got too busy with our telescope that we looked past what was directly in front of us.  Then days turn into years and we look back and wonder where it went.

Uhhh, so confession...I'm kinda guilty of all of the above.  I mean, compared to who, right?!  I know a lot of people who flip out over the small things and have no peace in their life.  They'd say I was mellow in comparison and can withstand a lot and just have faith that things will work out.  But at the end of the day, that's not relevant.  It's not about on a scale of 1-10 how am I compared to others.  It's about His standard.  And if He says worry is a sin...that means even teensy tinsy worries.  Not just the BIG ones.  Dontcha just love how He gives us so many things we CAN worry about.  (eye roll)
He gives us lots of practice.  We get to take the test again.  He's the God of the do over.

So how are you mastering the art of staying present in your today's?  Any helpful tips you can pass on to a sister trying to raise the bar in that area?



 




Saturday, March 5, 2016

What's blocking your hope?

So my friend Dee messaged me right as I was about to write this.  She sent me a little video and said it reminded her of how I use my writing to spread hope. So of course I was desperate for any idea (since my muse wasn't showing up) and my mind went right to my little yorkie Hope (shocking, I know!)

I was trying to feed her the other day, and she walked around the bowl and began wandering around staring up at the sky.  I slowly escorted her back to her food.  She normally inhales it, barely bothering to chew (with the few teeth she has left ;)  But she wandered off aimlessly yet again.  I literally began to hand feed her since she is very frail lately.  The Vet said to try and feed her more often since I was concerned with her weight loss.

So I slowly slipped away to see if she would continue to eat on her own, but low and behold she started to look confused, staggering as if she was blind.  I really started to worry, considering she is 77 yrs. old in doggie years (and not a spring chicken...um yorkie anymore!)  Age will inevitably start to take its toll.  Sigh.

But when I took a closer look, I soon realized her 'lack of sight' was fixable!  The poor thing had her hair matted down 'blocking her vision'.

I wonder how many things we have 'blocking our vision' of God that is fixable? Within our control?  Things that are crowding in on us, getting between ourselves and a 'clear view' of the destiny God has set before us.  

Now little Hopey clearly needs a simple bath to improve her sight...we may need a little spa treatment too, or a little R & R to clear our head.  Life tends to go at lightning speed where we can barely catch our breath.  Sometimes we know to be intentional and take the time, and sometimes God has a way of intervening to give us some forced rest.  Like my hubby who is down for the count with the Flu and has no alternative.  (poor thing)

So whether we simply have to clear the hair out of our eyes like my yorkie, or clear our schedule and some of the excess things that make it harder to focus on the Bigger Picture, we all need to be careful of what 'blocks our view' of Him.

Starting the day in the Word can frame your day and get your sights on Him and His direction for you rather than the world's direction.  Social media can 'block your view' as you see what other people may value and are driven by.  Billboards on the side of the road can broadcast a different message of what you need.  We are bombarded with false advertising, filled with messages of what will satisfy.  But if you read the Owner's Manual, His design for you is the only sure thing that will ultimately fulfill you. He made you, He should know.

Just as I have to regularly bathe sweet Hope and clean her eyes, we need to consistently stay on top of keeping our vision clear.  The enemy loves to catch us napping and if we're not alert he can lure us away, aimlessly wandering around like a yorkie in desperate need of a shampoo!

And how many times are we missing out on a blessing right in front of us like Hope's big bowl of Pedigree...because something is blocking our view of God's provision inches away?


Psalm 119:18

"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things."




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't sacrifice God's best for the enemy's 'immediate'!

I posted in Facebook today, and quoted Steven Furtick...

"Beware of giving up what you want most for what you want 'now'."

I was listening to the story of Esau, and to think he traded his Inheritance for a bowl of stew!  We do the same thing.  Like my wise mom says, we try to get our legitimate needs met in illegitimate ways.  We settle for counterfeits because we let our self get too hungry...not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are hungry? 

 DON'T!!!

We end up buying things on the shelf that we don't even need. Things that aren't even good for us. Why??  Because we are starving and everything looks good.

Esau gave up his very own birthright because he let himself get so hungry that he was willing to forfeit it all for a quick fix!  An immediate satisfaction.  He sacrificed his Inheritance for a stinkin' bowl of stew!  Is that crazy or whaaaat?!?  
We sit with our arms crossed shaking our head in glaring judgment, neglecting to see that we do the very same thing.

We compromise our integrity for a shortcut.

We sacrifice true love for a quick thrill.

We covet affection from outsiders rather than enjoying the blessing of what God     has given us.

We seek approval from man rather than an audience of One.

As we fix our eyes back on the One who gives us our very breath, we realign with the Author and Finisher of our faith.  We seem to get so sidetracked because of our pride.  We crave to have our ego stroked, being built up.  Yet God says to die to self.  Yet we keep feeding our flesh.  And each time we feed it, we keep it alive a little longer.  And then we become a slave to it.

The bible says we are called to be slaves to Christ, not to our flesh.

I believe the enemy studies us, and knows what our weak spots are.  He then targets that area and sends us plenty of temptation to get us to compromise in that area. The question is, are we onto him or not?  Is he too crafty for you that you fall for his same old schemes...again and again?  His bag of tricks really isn't that creative.  He resorts to a lot of the same 'ol, same 'ol.  But if you let yourself get so depleted, you are setting yourself up to fail!  You are not a helpless victim, God has given you every chance to put on your full armor.  Don't leave it hanging in your spiritual closet...put it on!  We are in a war people!!





Saturday, January 9, 2016

Do you have a reliable spotter?



Happy New Year!

We didn't send out Christmas Cards this year and I don't recall ever skipping a year.  But with flying back to New York the week before Christmas for my niece's Wedding, I wrestled with...lose my sanity or lose the card?!  (Probably lost a little bit of both! ;)

I came across this picture and it got me thinking...


Do you have people in your life to spot you?  Are you carrying weight that sometimes seems too hard to bear?  Having friends in your life to stand beside you during those rough seasons can literally make or break you.  

I laugh when I'm at the gym trying to spot one of these above beasts.  I stand in the position of the spotter, but God forbid I have to try and step in and sustain the weight!  I pretty much tell them they're on their own.

I want to be a friend that doesn't just 'look the part', but one who can actually step in and help ease other people's loads.  To hold the bar while they catch their breath.  That challenges others to attempt to lift more since I'm right there to catch the bar if it's too heavy.  I know I can't carry the whole load for them, I'm not strong enough.  But what I can do is give them the assurance that I'm not going anywhere.  I'm here.  If you feel weak, I can remind you you're not alone.  You are stronger than you think.

Life in isolation is painful.  Going through struggles alone can be filled with despair.  God didn't create us not to need each other.  Independence is overrated.  

I'm grateful for those who have been there in my darkest hours.  I hope to do the same for those who enter one of their trials.  Whether it's a tragedy or a mess of their own making because they are human and will fail.  Regardless, Jesus was the perfect example of someone who loved the unlovely.  The broken. He didn't require us to clean up our act completely before He engaged with us. He told the woman at the well to go and sin no more.  He said you who are without sin, cast the first stone.  He knew we were all guilty.

Let us be a people that display love in such a way that it is compelling for them to change.  As opposed to the scolding parent who just wants behavior modification but with no heart change.  We can have behavior that is in line but hearts far from Him.

Here's to 2016 and looking more like Him this year.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Day After

Most of us gear ourselves up for the 'big' day.  Like with Thanksgiving yesterday, it takes a whole lotta pre thought.  You don't just wing it!  (Excuse the turkey pun ;) It takes a lot of planning and lists and shopping (or texts to hubby to have him shop if he's cool like that.)  Everything scheduled from minute to minute so the food comes out of the oven at the same time.  And then to be able to feed your tribe before they head to their girlfriend/fiances house to spread the love over there too.

And now it's over.

The good news is, there are leftovers.

So many of the big life events like the Holidays, or the Weddings, or the Birthdays are a blast and memorable.  But most of life is not lived there.  It's the day after.  But remember to enjoy the leftovers.  The memories.  Let those carry you when you're back to doing laundry and the everyday routine.

As much as I love to Celebrate the BIG stuff, I'm quite content enjoying the small.  It ends up the small really is big.

My son just got back from an amazing trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with many adventures.  And the small thing I missed was our morning talks over coffee.




The morning routine of getting up at 5am and hitting the gym with my boys is small, but really big to me.  (and not just the fact that I'm getting my butt up that early, but trust me that too is BIG!)


(oh and P.S.  I was home cooking during this photo shoot, didn't want to mislead you ;)

Cracking up at my girls when they banter back and forth in sheer craziness as their father and I just look at each other and sometimes need a translator.  BIG!




Be careful of not getting so caught up in all the trips and the events and the activities and the calendar, that you bypass BIG things that can be disguised as small.

Steven Furtick says that we can get so caught up on Facebook and checking what that guy we went to high school was having for dinner (who we didn't even like)...and yet we don't even know who our teen is hanging out with.

Wishing you all some memorable 'day afters' filled with messy bed head, jammies and sips of coffee with your loves.  That's the BIG stuff!


And don't forget to laugh.
Happy Day After.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Are you breathing at full capacity?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  "You are better having a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn.  If you fall, your friend can help you up.  But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble."

I was on the phone with a friend today and mentioned that I was having a harder time breathing, especially when I have been working out at the gym.  My other friend had just recently told me that she noticed I was taking very deep breaths even before we started our 3 mile walk.  

So I mentioned that my son Carter let me try 2 puffs of his inhaler, and what a difference that made.  

I could breathe. 

Without effort.  

It was as if I had become so accustomed to not breathing well, that it was my normal.  How do you even know it's abnormal if that's what you have been used to for so long? As I look back, it's kinda comical because my kids would think I was frustrated with them (because it sounded like a heavy sigh).  When in reality, guess I just wanted a little oxygen...call me crazy!

I wonder how often we go through certain seasons of difficulty, not even realizing the toll it has taken on us.  The strain it has caused.  It can feel like drowning in sorrow, and trying to come up for air.  And then we gasp for air, (which probably sounds like my so called 'heavy sigh').  It has just become our normal.  And so we walk around not breathing at full capacity, because it doesn't even register we need a little relief.  Maybe a spiritual inhaler of sorts. Something to open up our airways so that it doesn't take so much effort just to function.

God allows certain storms for a season, and I read recently that 'not all storms are in the forecast'.  But there is no shame for you to accept a little relief, just like an asthma patient shouldn't feel bad about accepting relief from their inhaler.  I think our Maker sometimes has us in certain situations where we need to depend on each other, not just go it alone and be independent.  And although our tendency is to isolate when we are struggling, the most unhealthy thing you can do is to isolate from your 'inhaler'. 

Maybe it's even a lifestyle that we have embraced, not recognizing that it is squeezing the life out of us.  We aren't eating healthy enough, not sleeping enough, running ourselves ragged with our over packed schedules.  Then we run to a doctor only to find out the answer is within our control.  There's no pill that can reverse all of our poor habits and lack of discipline.  (darn it!!)  There are no short cuts.  But we have become so accustomed to functioning with this lack of sleep and nutrition, dragging ourselves around exhausted...that we don't even know that this is abnormal.  It's become our normal.

Sometimes it's helpful when someone recognizes it.  Whether it be my friend noticing my labored breathing before our walk, or your friend who reminds you of the difficult season you have endured.  It's helpful to recognize that we can find relief, whether it be through the Pro Air inhaler or the friendship that allows you to breathe easier...friendship can be oxygen to your soul.  Either way, don't skip your recommended dose.  Your physical and spiritual health is counting on it.

   


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A prison of your own making

I was watching a show called, "Enjoying Everyday Life" where they do prison ministries and give each prisoner a little gift bag including a book on spiritual things.  As I watched the look of joy on some of the faces of these men who are doing life behind bars, they seemed happier than many people who have so called "freedom". 


 It made me wonder about the bars people are behind that aren't visible to the eye.  They may not be an obvious prisoner dressed in stripes, but they are 'locked up' in their own head. 



THEY AREN'T FREE!

You can be more 'free' in a high security prison with limited access to daylight than people with large bank accounts with access to every luxury.  They can feel more locked up than an inmate.  Some definitions of the term 'Prisoner' is:
 
- a person captured and kept confined by an enemy, opponent, or criminal.

- a person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation or set of circumstances.

Have you ever felt captured by your crazy thoughts?  Do you recognize we all have an enemy that wants to confine us and destroy our very life?  The bible states clearly that we are in a real war for our soul.  Satan wants to destroy us.  And he doesn't want us to experience the real 'freedom' that we are given in Christ.  So he will do whatever he can to convince us we are a convict and we don't have access to certain freedoms.  And we believe it.  We take the bait...hook, line and sinker.  So even though the door of the 'prison cell' is left wide open, we stay in our cell.  Sounds silly, but have you met people like this?  Are you like this?  I venture to say we have all at one time or another been this person.  Freedom is a choice, but we forget.

Some prisoners are held captive against their will, some prisoners are imprisoned because they did illegal things, and then some of us are held captive by ingrained thoughts that war against our mind. 

Are you a Christian POW?  A Prisoner of War is someone, usually a soldier, who is held as a prisoner by the enemy during a war.  But we are soldiers of Christ who can be held as a prisoner by the enemy Satan during the war we face everyday we go into battle.(If we let him.) Remember, we have freedom in Christ, he can't steal that from us.  He will try.  He will persist.  And he will try and wear you out.  But keep in mind that you were bought at a price.  A very high price.  Jesus went to the cross and His life was ransomed for you.  So don't take that freedom lightly.  I'm sure it makes him sad seeing us sit in our little concrete cells when He has provided a way for us to experience such freedom in our lives.

Imagine being a parent and your child was living in this little shack with no electricity and no furniture, and you decide to buy them a beautiful home fully furnished.  Yet they choose to stay in their shack.  Even though what you have offered to them is free to them.  You fully paid the cost.  That's what Christ has done.  He has fully paid the cost for your freedom, but you are choosing to stay in your shack.  Lets venture out and experience the true freedom that only comes through Him.  Lets take off the shackles that have been keeping us immobile.  We've been given the key to the handcuffs we are wearing, we just need to use it.  It's called the bible.  It unlocks all the things that have been keeping you confined.  It's the Owners Manual to how you were designed to operate.  And although its been told that real men don't ask for directions or read owners manuals, this is the time to break that stereotype. ;O)


Friday, August 7, 2015

Are you experiencing your own personal drought?

I asked my son Carter for a writing prompt, because I want to write as an 'exercise'...not just when an idea pops in my head.  Just like I don't physically exercise only when I 'feel' like it.  (Cuz who ever truly 'feels' like it?)  Crazy people, that's who!!!!!! 

He mentioned the drought and to tie it in spiritually. Okayyy then...

California has been hit pretty hard by the drought out here.  My lawn is living proof (or should I say dead proof?!)  Getting fake grass was a topic of discussion recently.  I mean hey, if we don't have the water to sustain 'real', we may have to settle for 'fake'

John 4:14 says, "But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again."

This kind of water sustains a 'real' life, not a 'fake' version (a cheap alternative.)  And it never runs out.  Have you ever felt spiritually dry.  Nothing excites you anymore.  Just going through the motions.  Could it be that you need a taste of some living water?  Your drought is causing you to be brittle and dying like my poor grass. 

Many of us are not living the 'real' life God created us to live because we are lacking in the water He offers us.  It's not a drought we have no control over like our California drought.  It's a self inflicted drought. The faucet or well of God's word is sitting right there, we're just not drawing from it. Pretty silly, huh?!  We're literally so thirsty, like on a Desert Island...but we're 'choosing' not to drink from what has been freely offered to us.

The other thing I've learned is that sometimes we don't even know our own thirst.  Many times we actually 'feel' like we are hungry, when in fact we are truly thirsty and dehydrated.  So we stuff our face with food and never get the real legitimate need satisfied.

That's what we humans tend to do.  We are actually spiritually thirsty, but we fill our life with other cheap imitations, thinking that THAT is what we are actually hungry for.  (Money, success, relationships, drugs, food, etc.)  But those things will never satisfy what we are truly craving.  Some living water from our Living God!

This last month for me has been a season of loss.  It really gets you thinking about the important things in life.  I don't want to settle for the fake alternatives, because they really don't satisfy during seasons like these.  When you are dealing with the death of someone close to your family, filling your life with fun activities and vacations may distract you for a bit...but they won't sustain you.  His Word is the only place where real comfort can be found.  It may not have all the specific answers of why things have happened, yet I can rest in the One who knows.  And I can draw strength from Him, in the midst of not knowing.  That is what faith is for, to rest in the 'not knowing'. 

What are some unhealthy ways you try and fill that thirst within you?
Try and come up with some healthy alternatives.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Am I an extinguisher or lighter fluid?

Yep, it's fire season!  Major fires in our town yesterday.  My daughter and I had to drive towards the fire to run a quick errand, and she asked me, "How do you think it started?"  I didn't have a definitive answer, but I can safely say it started with a "small spark".  Usually does.

In life, have you found yourself right smack dab in the middle of a huge fire and looked around wondering how it started?

Was it an accident?
Did someone intentionally 'start it'?
Could it have started by an oversight, possibly you were distracted and didn't even notice the curtain brushing up against the candle?

Regardless of HOW it started, or WHOSE fault it is, the wise thing to do (rather than speculating and evaluating who is to blame)would be to go grab a hose or a bucket of water and tend to the flame. Try to limit the damaging effect.  Prevent it from spreading further, and destroying more.  Trust me, God will allow us to experience natural consequences that will hopefully draw us back to Him.  That way we don't return to the same behavior that may have caused the whole thing to go up in flames!

Let me be transparent, I've caused major fires in my own life.  There may have been 'contributing factors', yet I was ultimately responsible for rubbing those 2 sticks together that created that spark. But what made the difference in the destruction was a lot of outside influences.  The temperature outside can make a fire worse...so can the 'climate' of a room full of people. Extreme heat can fan the flames...and so can extremely 'heated' people.  Are we responsible for keeping the flame hot, or for helping it die down.  Are we throwing more kindling on the flame so it bursts into a blaze?  And what about the wind?  What a nightmare that can be for some of these Wild Fires, it spreads out of control!

I'm sure that won't be the last fire that I will be responsible for starting.  (I can be a slow learner.) And I'm grateful for the lessons I learned going 'through' it.  I took responsibility and owned what I needed to.  Didn't blame everyone for my mistakes.  And I am mostly grateful for those who came along side me (in the midst of my crazy poor decisions)...and loved me anyway.  In spite of me. The love that my Father in heaven has for me.  The love that doesn't make me 'clean up my act first'.

Were there consequences?  You bet.  And the people who walked with me through it didn't excuse my sin or endorse it in any way.  And their love toward me didn't let me off the hook.  It gave me grace that I didn't deserve.  But that's what grace actually is.  Unmerited favor.  I did nothing to earn it in the first place.

I pray that as we see fires in our own backyards (literally AND figuratively), that we do our best not to fan the flames...but we help extinguish them.  That we don't stand on the sidelines saying we don't want to get involved.  That we become 'First Responders' rather than 'Armchair Quarterbacks'.

That we're wise enough not to pour on the lighter fluid to exasperate the problem.


Do I have this mastered?  Not even close.  I'm simply a combustible flame ready to happen.  HELP!

Galatians 6:1
"Brothers, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.  Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].  For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bunny wisdom from Charles

My bunny thinks he's a Yorkie.



He follows them around like he's one of them.  He goes toward their bowl while they eat.  He jumps up onto the couch.  He has even been caught going to the back door just like them.  He just assumes he can do everything they can do.  I mean hey, he's never seen a mirror!  What else is he to think?!

 


We humans also tend to mimic the behavior of those around us.  (good or bad) We can be stretched to raise up to new heights when being in the presence of those who have attained great success.  Figuring (like my bunny)...if they can do it, I can do it!  It's as if we ignored that mirror that would tell us otherwise.  That reflection that often tells you that "you're not able".  (Plus...you have bunny ears for heaven's sake! ;)

On the other hand, you can also be persuaded by those around you to follow the herd mentality.  Regardless if they are on the right path or not.  Be wary.  The crowd isn't always on the right track.  Mere numbers can be deceiving!

The bible calls us to be like the Berean's.  They are an example of how we should listen to a teaching, investigate into God's Word (no matter who the teacher is), and make sure it aligns with scripture.  Ultimately we will be held accountable in how we applied scripture to our everyday decisions. We shouldn't just take someone's teaching at face value.  Aren't you grateful we have a standard to measure everything up against?  Otherwise we would flounder around, buying into everything that sounded good.

Are you brave enough to follow God's advice rather than man's?  Or are you more concerned with how people will view you?  Are you prematurely wanting your "Well done" heard here on earth from man...rather than waiting for the ultimate "Well done" from God's lips Himself?  We often forfeit the best so that we can have the "immediate".  We crave people's approval (which is popular)...instead of God's approval.  (which isn't always.)

God's ways are always higher. 




Now chillax here like Charles, and be who you were called to be :o)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Who are you reflecting?

My prayer today...

I need to make it my aim to be less of a blurry reflection of You each day --
as in the mirror after a shower, the reflection gets clearer as the steam fades away. 

When I blow off steam, it's hard to see that reflection.  It comes between me and Your Image.  Just as I open the door to the bathroom to let out the steam, help me to open the door of my heart and hand over the steam of anger or bitterness to You so that I more accurately reflect Your image.       Amen.


What are some things that could represent "steam" in our life.  The things that cloud out His attributes, making it harder to recognize Who we belong to?  When people see us, do they notice the resemblance?  Is it a dead giveaway like those cute kids that all look just like their father?  (No paternity test needed! ;) We should look just like our Father in heaven.  A spitting image indeed! 

Would people need to check our I.D. to verify?   (As they eye us up and down with a skeptical glance?)  Would they assume we stole someone else's I.D.?  Convinced that we're an imposter? 

Lets face it, living a life pleasing to Him is no small task.  I'd rather live a life pleasing to me, myself and I on most given days.  That's much easier.  Less sacrifice.  More indulging.  Catering to the flesh doesn't require discipline.  We pretty much slip out of the womb with that habit in place.  Got it covered!  Whaaaaaa!!!  Feed me, wipe me, let me sleep...feed me, wipe me (you know the drill!) 

Our selfish nature is hardwired into us at birth.  It's not often you see a newborn that you would call a Servant.  They demand their way and they want it NOW!  Everything is in a state of an emergency when it comes to babies.  They never have the attitude of, "Hey...when you get a sec, could you grab me my bottle?  I know you're busy, so take your time." 

So it requires a boat load of reprogramming as we try and be grown ups.  Looking out for others as being a priority over looking out for #1.  That takes growth and a whole lot of maturity. 

Next time you're tempted to put yourself above others...picture your grown up self in a large pair of Pampers with a pacifier in your mouth.  Then chuckle and reconsider.

Name 3 things in your life that represent "steam" which is ultimately causing people not to see His reflection in you?  Then go ahead and open that bathroom door ;)

Philippians 2:3

"Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves."



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Weep with those who weep

I pretty much always have background music on as I study or work on my writing.  Typically it's Classical, but yesterday I had the "Spa" music on (minus the massage :-( 

Suddenly I heard all these birds chirping...thought I was in some kind of bird sanctuary.  At the same exact time, there were birds directly in my backyard tweeting.  (No, not the Twitter kind of tweet -- and for sure no hashtags ;)

I literally muted the music to be sure it wasn't just the music coming from different speakers.  It was as if the outside birds were joining the inside choir.  Echoing what was going on inside.

In life, the outside world doesn't always echo what is going on with us internally.  We could be going through an incredibly dark season, and yet the world around us is laughing and celebrating and the sun is even shining.  (The nerve!!)  There should be dark, heavy clouds to match the scenery of my heart.  It's like the Set Designer of your movie was given the wrong script, and the scenery and music does not match the scene.  All you hear is upbeat Chick Flick music playing during your tragedy scene in your Dark Drama. 

Just wrong.

This can compound the feelings of abandonment and isolation that certain 'seasons' of our life can bring.

These are the moments when I am again reminded that the world is not our home.  We are aliens.  Our citizenship is in heaven.  And I sit back and reflect on the idea of being known by a God who hears the cries of our hearts.  He is not apathetically going on with His business of running the Universe, and totally out of sync with what I am dealing with.

John 10:14 says, "I am the good shepherd and I KNOW MY SHEEP and am known by my own."

Exodus 33:17 "...and I KNOW you by name."

We should also be in tune to what those around us are struggling with.  It just might be you next time.

Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

I have had my own share of difficult 'seasons'...some of my own doing.  Rebellion.  And I have also endured trials that I did not bring upon myself, and yet God still used these to grow me in my walk with him.  Either way, I've learned much and have appreciated those who walked through my Valleys with me, and didn't stand on the sideline and judge.  Foxhole buddies who were on the front lines fighting a battle with me, rather than running for cover.  But for the grace of God, there go I. 




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We're in Enemy territory, make sure you have back-up!

Does your back-up need back-up?

I'm not so good at remembering to back up my phone.  Well actually, I'm pretty AWFUL at it!  It just never crosses my mind.  So today, after being sick for 5 days, I decided to get a fresh start -- a clean slate.  So I tried to back-up all of my photo's, etc. onto my computer.  And guess what?!? 
 
NOW MY COMPUTER IS FULL! 

No.storage.available.

It's like my storage units need storage units.
My back-up needs back-up.
My life simply needs U-Haul trucks traveling safe behind me at every turn.
 
We all eventually need back up.  My son does Patrol Duty, and I always want to know that he has a reliable back-up.

Spiritually, we all should have a reliable back-up too.  Who do you go to when you need to unload a bunch of 'stuff'?  Vent.  Download your clutter onto a trusted advisor, so you can sort it all out.  And that dear friend should have a place they can also get their back-up.  The ultimate back-up needs to be our Maker Himself.  If we rely on mere humans who don't have the Lord as the keeper of their soul, how do we expect to get wisdom from them?  Their counsel will be guided by their flesh -- their fickle feelings that are fleeting.  They shift and change direction as often as the wind on any given day.  They are unstable in all their ways.

If we are entering enemy territory, we want to know that our back-up is not only prepared and alert, but knows the schemes of the opposition. 

God's Word is filled with clues.
 
He left us the perfect blueprint -- a strategy when entering the front lines.

Who in your life would you consider your back-up? 
If you had a major life altering decision, who would you consult? 
Are you surrounding yourself with God-honoring people who place His Word above their own?
Or are you in close company with people who are self-absorbed, not placing a premium on a moral code.
Are they people who are more concerned with your feelings than your God?  (Life is filled with people like that if you're just looking for people to agree with you.)
Are they brave enough to step on your toe to save your soul?
Or are they persuading you to follow your heart and trust your gut?
(Regardless of what His Word says.)
Our hearts and our guts are not the most reliable sources, because they don't stay the same like God's Word.  They are easily influenced, extremely fickle, ever changing...and in most cases shouldn't be trusted.

Take an inventory of your current back-up.  You may need to fire some and employ some others.  Be wise, your life could depend on it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Is your power cord broken?


I recently got my laptop back from being fixed – grateful it was just the power cord. Phew!





Did I say 'just'???

It’s a quick, cheap, $30 fix. But no matter how expensive the laptop is, and how intricate the capabilities of it, it’s rendered ‘useless’ without power.

It sits all pretty on the desk … but its capabilities are paralyzed.





Frozen.
Paused.

I think of all the abilities and capabilities we have lying around dormant –
being unused…
because our ‘power cord’ needs to be fixed.

Certain functions and God given talents can only be unleashed by His power.

No other cord will do.

Just like we could try and borrow someone else’s laptop power cord that wasn’t designed for our specific computer --
we tend to borrow all kinds of power that the world offers us.

The ‘Power’ of Positive Thinking.
The Law of Attraction.
The Self Help Movement.

The. List. Goes. On.
The only power designed to charge you up is from The Designer Himself.

The God of the Universe.

And unless we plug into Him, we will never function the way He intended us to.

As I was just using my laptop, I was getting agitated because there seemed to be a delay.


I would give it a command --
longggggg delay…

then finally it would do what I wanted. (Frustrating!)

How often am I like that???

God gives me a command --
longggggg delay,

then FINALLY I do what He wanted.

Sigh.

Matthew 4:20 says, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

(They didn’t call their Mama, didn’t check their horoscope, never contemplated or even scratched their head…IMMEDIATELY!)

No delay.



In what specific ways are you trying to get power from sources that aren’t capable of recharging your spiritual batteries? No wonder you are exhausted, you are slowly being drained…and just like your computer or your phone, nothing functions quite as well without a fully charged battery. Plug into the only reliable Power Source, the One who designed you and knows how you run best. Who are we to argue?





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Be careful what you tune into!


Galatians 5:7-9
“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for He is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!”


We pay attention to what we’re tuned in to.

It’s funny… my mom, who is on the East Coast, emailed me and said she was praying about the earthquakes. My response? 


"What earthquakes ???" 

I apparently missed when that chipper news was being announced. I’ve had a few deadlines to complete some books I was asked to read and review, so I’ve had my head buried in those. As a result, I was clueless about quakes and focused more on how not to come “Unglued” when you hear of such things. (small plug for Lysa Terkeurst's book “Unglued” that I was reviewing ;)

You know how when you’re driving along, listening to that Christian Station on the radio, when suddenly it starts going to that other station where they sing about kickin’ the dog and leaving your spouse?  (Sorry Country Music lovers, I know they’re not ‘ALL’ about that ;)

Any hoo…

do you ever feel like that in life? One minute you’re tuned into a positive station, and before long, another station is competing for your affection. And the further down the road you drive, the louder and clearer that station tunes in. Eventually you’re tempted to just switch completely over to that station, just to avoid the static.

Be careful what you tune into just because it’s loud and clear. (It doesn’t make it good and right.)

Just because the squeaky wheel gets the grease…doesn’t mean the clearer station should have our attention.

There are many messages being shouted at us through the megaphones of life…don’t let the ‘clarity’ persuade you or the pervasiveness.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7
“You’re flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing”, but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast.”

What are a few things you have been tuned into lately that may have been a result of driving too far down the road and your connection isn’t as strong? The radio station may not seem life altering, but it’s those other things that can do damage that starts out pretty subtle. The staticky station is a warning sign as you continue to go down that road... keep alert.





Monday, December 8, 2014

Buffet Style Faith


Jeremiah 15:16
"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts."

My dog Faith wasn’t feeling good this morning and threw up a few times.




When she came back inside, I fed her some dog food. It’s the kind with several different colors and flavors.

Just watching her cracked me up as she picked out the pieces she didn’t like and chucked them out of the bowl and across the floor. Those were probably the pieces that were good for her, she just liked the other ones more.


I was thinking about my Pastor’s Sermon on the book of Jude. He asked us, “Are you a cut and paste type of person? Do you pick and choose?”

We tend to be just like my dog. We take the stuff we don’t like in the bible and chuck it across the floor, and we choose the stuff we like. Possibly the reason we’re sick (like poor Faithy) is because we’re not ingesting those hard things that will bring health to our soul. Of course we prefer grace and forgiveness and love, especially when we’re blowing it. But how about sacrifice and discipline and surrender – THOSE pieces aren’t as ‘yummy’.

Do you have a ‘Buffet Style’ faith, where you carefully pick out only the things that go down easy, and please your palate? Or are you seated at God’s table and eating everything that He has put on your plate, even if it happens to smell like asparagus and might actually have some nutritional value?





Remember, we need all the food groups to live a healthy physical life, just as we need balance to live a healthy spiritual life as well. Some don’t go down as easy, but produce healthy results. Others, like Cotton Candy (is that a food group?!), disappear magically as soon as you ingest it and only end up making you sick if you have a steady diet of it. Plus it will never give you the energy to go the distance. You will just crash and burn from the sugar coma. 

Choose well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I'm constantly needing a Routine Perspective Check-up

Perspective.

Who doesn’t need a healthy dose of that?!? 

It doesn’t change your reality, yet it pulls you away from the impact it’s having on you. 

It diffuses its effect.
It waters down its potency.

If you’re crammed in that small place, wishing you had more ‘room’ (physically or figuratively speaking)…then I think of my Robbie who just got released from a tiny hospital room after 117 days! That’s 4 months!!!

Day in. 

Day out. 

Her Aortic Stenosis, her pneumonia, her UTI’s, her ventilator and trying to wean her off, her muscles  starting  to atrophy because she wasn’t breathing on her own. Her having to get a new trache, then getting an infection in that area. Yeast infections in her mouth, and heart valve issues. 

She is finally home, sitting on the deck in the sunshine with a great big smile! I don’t know about you, but that gives me perspective. One big helping of it! My ant problem becomes laughable. The car with no air conditioning that makes me cranky…yeah, so what! The broken washing machine that sends me to the Laundromat and ‘inconveniences’ my comfortable little life…get over it.

Perspective.

It’s a gift we receive by taking a look around. It comes freely when we aren’t so introspective, but by observing outside of ourselves. You may need to go looking for it, whether it be found in a Cancer Ward or a Soup Kitchen…but chances are you don’t have to go far. You won’t even need a Passport. It could be next door as your neighbor is carrying a huge load. Something unbearable.

Philippians 4:11-13 says, “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy, whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

My brother’s fiancĂ© Robbie, who I mentioned above, has since passed away. She went to her forever home in Heaven on December 20th of last year. (The ache in our hearts still remain.) With all of the difficulties she endured in her earthly body (ones I would never pretend to even come close to fathoming), she did it with such grace and humility. She was a visual reminder to “have no confidence in the flesh” as Philippians 3:4 instructs. I thank God for the privilege of learning from such a selfless soul…lessons I will continue to try and apply in my own human weakness. She was a gift, and with her favorite Christmas Holiday coming up, I will continue to unwrap all of the lessons she has given me since she entered my life. Can’t wait to see you again my sweet sister!  In the blink of an eye!





 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is your hope restless?

Matthew 8:24
"Suddenly, a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat began to be swamped by the waves.  Yet Jesus kept sleeping."
 
My dog Hope is a restless soul. She takes forever to get comfortable. Literally. The conditions have to be perfect for her to rest. There can’t be any bumps, or she has to get up and keep moving around until every little uncomfortable spot is smoothed out.

Exhibit A



Does this remind you of yourself? Do conditions need to be perfect in order for you to rest? Really rest? Do you need no bumps in the road in order for you to be okay? Does life need to be smooth sailing so that you can be civil towards others?

Jesus was able to sleep soundly on a boat ‘in the midst of’ the storm, while the waves crashed around Him. (I’m sure there were plenty of bumps too, Hope! ;) We don’t read about Him tossing and turning, or pacing, or spinning around in circles like you…uh, errr…I mean Hope.

We too can be in the eye of the storm and rest…as long as our eye is on Him. Just as Peter kept his eye on Jesus, he was able to walk on water despite the waves around him. But when he chose to look around at the storm, he started to sink. His fear of the storm was greater than His faith in the Lord, which caused him to sink.

Is the fear of your current situation greater than your faith in the Lord? Is that causing you to ‘sink’ in despair? It’s not too late to shift your focus on the One who has the ability to either calm the storm around you or the one within you. He has the ability to stop the craziness around you, but all too often His goal is to calm you on the inside regardless of what is happening around you. His aim is to grow us up in Him. To not be like Hope who needs perfect sleeping arrangements. To not be like the newborn who cries incessantly til it gets their way. We grown adults shouldn’t need pacifiers and blankies to keep us content.

Let Hope serve as a reminder to how silly we must look when we are pacing and spinning when we are uncomfortable. What we must look like to an unsaved world when we are unable to be at rest because arrangements aren’t like a 5 Star Resort. God allows us to be uncomfortable in order to show a dying world what real rest looks like, despite bad conditions. This is the time we should shine.



What can you choose to do differently during your next uncomfortable situation?
It really is a choice.


(Poor Hope, she’s gettin’ some bad press on my Blog lately…she does have many redeemable qualities too, stay tuned! ;)

 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Is your head hanging low too?


1 Peter 2:2
“Desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.”

My friend brought me flowers yesterday…just because. (Aren’t those the best?!) There’s nothing obligatory about it when it doesn’t fall on a Holiday.


 

I was noticing that some of them were starting to droop, yet others were standing up straight all perky-like. (Wow, that actually IS a word…my spell check confirmed it!) It’s interesting that each of the flowers are in the same environment, with the same food. Yet some thrive, and others droop.

It reminded me of the Church. You could be receiving the same spiritual nutrition on a Sunday morning, yet some of you will grow and others will hang your head low like my sunflowers. 

I’ve heard it said that if you cut the bottom of the stem at an angle, it allows for more water to travel up to the flower to help it blossom. And cutting it every day allows it to flourish.

Maybe we need to dig down to our roots and cut back some of the things that are hindering our growth. Anything to allow God’s Word (nutrition) to help us blossom as God’s flower. We should be a display of His Beauty, not of a wilting flower that appears to be dying. And maybe cutting into those roots regularly… of where we came from (our Heritage), or how we’ve always done things. Trimming back can bring new life that allows progress. Beauty.

I was thinking my vase may be a bit too small for all the flowers she brought me, possibly being crammed into a small space can prevent further growth. Maybe you have felt squished in so tightly too, where it feels like it’s draining the life right out of you. You don’t have the space to allow room for your personal growth. You feel like you’re constricted and maybe there’s a kink in your hose preventing life giving water from reaching you. Get a bigger vase…allow for more room in your living environment.  (And no...that doesn't require a bigger house, peeps.)  A small animal left in a tiny cage or aquarium can only grow so much, yet when transferred to a larger cage will have a significant growth spurt. Maybe we all need to think outside of the box so we are not restricted in the growth that God would have for us. Sometimes ‘we’ are the biggest hindrance of all to our personal growth as people.

Think of some tangible ways that you can allow for more growth in your life. Don’t be a big fish in a small pond, step out into uncharted waters to risk and then experience a spiritual growth spurt. What can be trimmed back from the roots of your past to allow God’s Word to help you flourish and blossom in this very short life we have on this earth?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Time to make some serious Deposits!


Have you been making any deposits into your Spiritual Bank Account lately? The problem is we tend to make many withdrawals during our crisis modes and then our balance gets dangerously low. We might even get a reminder from the bank that we have fallen below a very low balance. (Not that it’s ever happened to me – but ‘theoretically’ I’ve heard that it can happen. ;)

The challenge is if we have an unexpected expense hit the account – there’s not enough cushion built in to cover it.

So many of us don’t leave enough of a buffer – wiggle room. Most of us don’t have an Emergency Fund set aside for ‘those’ things that happen in our life that weren’t planned into our schedule. The broken down car, the hospital visit, etc.

We need to anticipate ‘emergencies’ – and start putting deposits into our Spiritual Emergency Fund. So when that unexpected phone call comes or that dreaded Doctor’s report arrives, or that betrayal that wounds you deeply happens – you have an account to draw from that you have been consistently depositing into.

The deposits are made in the form of being in God’s Word – the Owner’s Manual for your life.

The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Now why would we leave THAT kind of power on the table? We need to be making regular deposits like that into our spiritual account so we can draw from that power when we need it most. We’ll need that kind of discernment during our next storm – trust me, it is coming!

John 16:33 says, “In the world you ‘will’ have tribulation.” (not you ‘might’, or you ‘possibly could’, or ‘maybe' if you’re rebellious…you 'WILL'!!!)

And sometimes that trial you’re going through will cost more than you planned on, and then your account gets overdrawn. As a result, you start getting overdraft fees that are hitting your account. They come in the form of added $stress$, $meltdowns$, $anxiety$, and simply $no peace$. That’s what happens when your ‘account’ is depleted, you have nothing to draw from to handle that next difficulty.

Make a plan today to schedule a regular time in the Word … an Automatic Withdrawal of sorts to start building up your Spiritual Emergency Fund.





Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hope is never satisfied.

So my 2 Yorkie's...Faith and Hope...have many quirky little habits.  They are somewhat predictable, to say the least.

But one that always amuses me is Hope wants what Faith has.  (and spiritually speaking, Hebrews 11:1 says that 'Faith is the substance [dog food ;)] of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.") 

The amazing thing is that I was listening to Joyce Meyer in the background and her message was exactly what was occurring with my crazy Hope. (listen closely).  Talk about timing!  I fill both of their bowls with the same amount of food -- but inevitably she takes a few bites then moseys on over to glance at Faith's bowl.  (Not sure exactly what's going on in her furry little head, but it seem like she's evaluating if the distribution was 'fair'.)

Did she get cheated?
Did her master fill Faith's bowl more than hers?
(Sometimes she'll even go over and start taking Faith's food while her bowl is still not even empty.  The nerve!)




The similarity between my canines and us humans is pretty comical, and yet sad at the same time. 

We're not always content with what we've been given.  We think we've been dealt a bad hand and we start looking around at what others have.  We might be somewhat subtle (like Hope) and just glance over, but quickly run back to our own 'bowl'.  Or on a bad day, Hope has even taken what doesn't belong to her and she and Faith break out into a huge fight -- with their teeth showing!  (The few that they have left ;)  Thus the reason they don't eat right next to each other.

"The grass is always greener" syndrome seems to affect the animal kingdom as well as us selfish humans.  We need to be content, no matter the situation or what we've been given.  Paul learned in Philippians 4:12..."I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

So lets not worry about if our Master fills our bowl with less than someone else's...what business is that of ours?!

"God allows it to rain upon the just as well as the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

We all go though different season's.  Lets learn to be content like Paul, regardless of our situation.  If he could be content in Prison, we can choose to be content even 'in the midst of' circumstances that can tend to make us feel 'imprisoned'.

He's given us each different amounts of talents (again, that's His business)...but our business is to use what talents He has given us, and use them for His purposes.  That's what we're here for.

So learn from my yorkie Faith...and keep your eye on your own bowl.  And give grace to Hope, she's still a work in progress.