Sunday, May 31, 2015

God IS Amazing!

Quick post today...just because I'm thankful.

Thankful to be home before the storm begins...sure was a beautiful sight to see the bright sun shine so brilliantly from behind and around white, billowy clouds as dark, storm clouds began to slowly make their entrance onto the scene. Now the thunder lowly rumbles in the distant...and God is amazing! Just reminded me once again: No matter what it looks like or how dark it gets...behind every storm cloud in life...God is consistently shining brightly behind the scenes. The same yesterday, today and forever! So glad I have a God like that. And again I say, GOD IS AMAZING!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rise & Shine

Here's a challenge for us all...

Everything you've been thru in life thus far has brought you to this moment...there's no time like the present to change your life outlook: time to rise and shine.

Rise to every occasion which will propel you along the path of God's will for your life. Shine brightly with the love of God to those you come in contact with each day. With every passing day, make a difference and a positive impact, in every life you're privileged to touch. God has amazing plans for you in doing so! The world needs people like you to lead the way and share the love of God without reservation. Yes, it's time to rise and shine. Lead the way.

Deuteronomy 3:28  "...charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see."

As vital as food is to sustain life, in the day we live in, so is the need for us to rise and shine. Nurturing others. Giving of ourselves. Encouraging our neighbor. Being part of positive growth. Indulging ourselves - and others - in things that will push us and them toward the final goal. HEAVEN! This is the "land" we will inherit.
 
Will you choose to take this challenge?  I'm not saying it will be easy, we'll learn together along the way. Let's use the talents and gifts God has given as we share them with others. Give cheerfully and unselfishly to this world until that day we'll receive our ultimate reward. By being intentional, and giving it our best shot, it will bring God glory and point others to Him along the way. 

God bless you as you begin this new adventure with me. Let's be the salt and light. Enjoying every moment of change - living abundant life. Taste and see every day that the Lord is good. WE are responsible for shining the light of God's goodness into every day - not only for ourselves but to share with others along the way. Let's not wait on someone else to do our job. It's our responsibility but also a wonderful privilege worth celebrating.

God bless you in the days ahead...let's rise and shine~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Over Hauled

Restoration. Life can be complicated. We can find ourselves sitting in a proverbial junk yard beaten up, full of dents and hopelessly rusting away to nothing. Has-beens.
I love those transformations were a crew chooses a "has-been" vehicle, then has it towed into a garage where it is stripped down to the minimal and barely resembles what used to be. Step-by-step, the crew meticulously restores, renews, replaces and reassembles the pieces until the ugly, forgotten, rust-bucket is transformed into a beautiful piece of  art. Over-hauled!
That's what so many people desire today...they don't want to simply be changed or restored, they want to be transformed. Life has a way of marring our original beauty. Mishaps, mistrusts, run-in's, misunderstandings, miss handling, hurts, sin, etc., causes damage to the hearts of men, women and children leaving great people stuck in junk yards. (Just a note: Remember, this is so important, our words can make lasting impressions which can never be undone. Use them with caution. People tend to believe what they hear over and over!)
There is hope though...we have the perfect Restorer. The perfect Transformer. The One who can make all things new. He won't leave us like He found us. He won't even be satisfied with restoring us to what we used to be. He desires to transform us - restoring us far beyond the beauty of what we once were. He has something in mind that will turn the heads of everyone who looks on - because of His work within you. He's interested in preparing us for a place that's out of this world. To God be the glory! 
Today, if you're feeling like an old, rust-bucket, stuck in the back of a junk yard in the middle of a wilderness...just give your mess to Him and trust Him to do the rest. We have a God that specializes in over-haulin'!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

No Extended Stay for Me

I'm sure we're all well acquainted with extended stay motels. You know, the "home-away-from-home", completely furnished with everything thing you need to be comfortable - pet friendly, free Wi-Fi, low cost, etc. You can stay a few days, a week, a month or a more extended length of time. How convenient, right? While this isn't the type of place I'd prefer to stay, sometimes I find that I frequent a place much like it without thinking.

Sometimes memories can be like one of these hotels. There are times when a memory pops into my mind and although it is an unpleasant one and caused me pain, instead of immediately moving on and keeping the visit short, I tend to stay a bit longer than I need to. (Today, I realized I've done this again, so I know what I'm talking about. Just keeping it real, folks.) These types of stays are not vacations; they're more like dreaded business trips. So why do we stay? Before I realized it, I found myself stressed out, blood pressure up and feeling really cranky. Doesn't sound too enjoyable, does it? Certainly not. You know, those memories can pop up at any time (We have little control over that! The littlest thing can bring a memory to mind.); the trick is not to check in as an extended stay-er. Visit and move on...quickly.

When we unpack our bags at an Extended Stay of Ugly Memories, more often than not, we'll find ourselves rooming with the enemy of our souls. No matter how "alone" you might feel at that moment, you're certainly not. In those places, he slips up to us and begins to add lies about our character to the mixture of memories and before we know it we can find ourselves in a state of hopelessness. Check-out. Move on down the road. We might not be able to control what memories or thoughts pop into our minds, however, we can control whether we check-in for longer than we need to. Realizing it was in the past, that God brought you through it, and that you aren't required to hang out there anymore can help you find freedom. (Remember, God is with you too.) Don't be fooled by the "fully furnished" tag. You don't want or need anything that will tempt you to get comfortable there. You'll always end up hurt and disappointed. That's just the facts.

So, I remind myself and encourage you too, don't check in at this Extended Stay with such memory baggage. Keep your visit brief then drive on. As a counselor once told me, "Don't stay there." (Makes so much sense, but I still fall for it at times.) It's not worth any of the amenities advertised, period. Cast your cares (and memories) on Jesus and let Him give you sweet peace of mind. He desires us to experience victory and freedom in Him. Just remember this: No Extended Stay for me. (I'll take the Hilton instead.)

Dear God, 
Thank you for reminding me of this today. 
I'm not intended to "settle in" -
I'm meant to travel on.
 Amen~ 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shoestrings...Keep Running

Shoestrings...boot straps...sometimes you just have to pick yourself up, dust off your knees and keep moving forward. 
God has a plan for our life which includes far more than we could ever imagine. He has a certain template and purpose for our lives and in order for us to fit into the mold He's designed for us, we've got to give and take. We have to give ourselves completely and take whatever may come our way...giving thanks and praise always..."for this is the will of God concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)
He didn't promise it would always be easy. He didn't say everyone would understand or be pleased with what we become. He didn't say we'd always like how we felt during the process either, but He does promise that His plan is perfect. He is pleased with what He has planned. He knows what is best - always. He sees the outcome of His plan for our lives. His plans for your success far outweigh any obstacle which may come to detour you. Pain and suffering are inevitable in this life, but have a way of bringing about growth and maturity. One day, if we keep clinging to Jesus, we will "come forth as gold." (Job 23:10) Yes, Job knew this full well. There was nothing that could be taken from him which would not work out for his good...in God's time. God has a template.
Let's not be discouraged although it's quite easy to be so on some days. Instead, let's yield to God and whatever He allows to come our way. We can do this, knowing God is in control. After all, He wants what's best for us. He will bring us through - his precious trophy-winning masterpieces. Pick yourself up, get those shoestrings tied back up and keep on running this blessed race. Give those boot straps a hard tug and jump back into the saddle - ride toward victory. Nothing can hinder or keep us from the love and plan of our God. 
Romans 8:37  "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

Dear Lord, help us to realize you have plan and purpose for our lives.
You, above all, know what we can be and what you want to do through us.
Help us not to be weary in doing well and to know that we will
one day reap, but we've got to keep pressing on and giving
way to the plans you have no matter how it may feel at times.
You always know best! Amen~

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lessons from a Songbird

Did you know there's a difference in a bird's call and its song? I didn't. While waiting my turn in the doctor's office, I was reading an article in a magazine when the Lord began dropping thoughts into my heart and tears flowed from my eyes. (Yes, in the middle of the doctor's office! How convenient!) The article was about birds and their songs. Simple enough, huh?
You see, according to scientists, a songbird's call is instinctive...it is born with the ability to call. In fact, most of the noises a person hears coming from a bird is merely a call. These sounds are short and quick. Songs, on the other hand, are more complex and melodious and in most cases a bird's song must be learned. (I can't tell you how excited I was when I read that!) OK, those are the facts...now on to the good stuff.
How many times do we find people in the Bible calling upon God? Psalm 120:1, "In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me." Often times, right? David knew, just as we do, to call upon the Lord. Just like a bird, our call is an inborn trait. We are designed, by God himself, with an innate desire and ability to call upon the Him. It comes naturally; especially when a person is born again.
Just as David knew to call out to God; I'm sure he must have known there was a difference in a call and a song. Impact! Passion! Experience! David, known as a shepherd first, was also a musician before he became king. Psalm 77:6 reads, "I call to remembrance my song in the night...", yes, David learned that it wasn't enough to call upon God. He would find himself in desperate times which called for desperate measures; times where he'd have to learn to sing unto the Lord. It would be a necessity!
You see, another interesting fact about the song of a bird: a song is normally saved for a certain season while a call is used any old time. There are seasons in the life of every Christian. And friend, it's going to take more than a short, quick call for the victory to come at times. It's in those desperate times, those dark, nighttime hours, that we learn to sing complex and melodious songs. Think about songs and hymns we sing in church - the words behind the songs - most of them were born out of a dark season. That's why they carry such weight and we sing them with such passion and conviction. They were born out of desperation! Lessons learned. Songs.
Aren't you thankful that God gives us seasons? That He gave us a voice? To sing? Sure, He gave us the ability to call upon Him any time, and that's a blessing, but He patiently teaches us as we learn to sing a new song - for His glory. Psalm 40:3, "And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Be encouraged and SING A NEW SONG unto the Lord for all to hear!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Blind Truth

Real life...that's what we're living in! No "made-in-the-shade, easy-peasy," life like we find in story books filled with fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. No, the truth is, on any given day, at any moment in time, we can be inundated with the most perplexing, unnerving news or ugly tragedy. These obstacles have the ability to turn our world upside down. We all live this life. The label "Christian" doesn't make one exempt. We all have these types of stories we could share.
However, as Christians we can take courage in knowing that we may be shaken but we don't have to "lose heart". (Yes, I know it may be easier said than done at times! Each opportunity offers a chance to exercise our faith though. The beauty of grace and mercy!) There is an exercise we can do!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18,Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Remember when we were little? How we'd cover our eyes and think we had hidden from the world? We were safe in our own little world. If only we could do that as adults! No matter what it may look like on the outside. No matter how heavy a punch a trial might deliver. When we feel like we've been knocked out of the ring entirely or we find ourselves down for the count...there's something WE CAN DO...just close our eyes - like we did as a child. (Seems like I remember Jesus saying something about coming to Him as little children. Did I hear that right?) It's not about what we see it's about what we DON'T see. As long as we're walking with Jesus, we will be renewed daily. No matter  what it looks like, how heavy the load might be or how long the trial has been..we can just close our eyes. Don't look! 
What we see is temporary but it can be disheartening and cause us to lose focus. When we close our eyes we become voluntarily "blind" to our surroundings. When we close our eyes we can focus upon what we choose to. (Oh, the places we can go!)  Close your eyes and imagine this...what's going on in our lives pales drastically compared to the glory of what's going to come out of it. Every time we determine to sit there and squeeze our eyes shut tightly, we can be assured God is up to something. He's working something within us...something eternal.
Real life...there is a remedy to those ugly days and situations. There can be a "happily ever after" if we follow the simple truth of this verse and build our faith with this easy exercise.  How simple...just closing our eyes. Focusing on Jesus...He's working on our situation but more importantly He's working on US. Preparing us for eternity. That's the blind truth! Blessings on you~
Next time you see a child sitting in the corner or a room with his eyes closed tightly...maybe you'll think of this post and share this simple thought with someone you care about.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Tribute to Mothers

We are who we are in part because God in His omniscience knew exactly WHO we needed to be our mother. Imagine that! Remember, He formed us in her womb! Psalm 139:13-16 (msg)  
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.
He knew how she would love, nurture and rear us. He knew what she was capable and incapable of, as well as what her weaknesses and strengths were....because He formed her too. What? You don't think your set of circumstances were quite the ideal? Not perfect? That too, was part of His plan. He never misses a single detail. He prepares us for our future in so many different ways!
You see, His ways and thoughts hardly compare to ours. (We have all kinds of ideals I'm sure He snickers at. Yes, I'm sure He has a sense of humor!) He knew the kind of mother we each needed...after all, our upbringing has brought us to this point in life - "the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day." We've learned about love, nurturing, living and all sorts of similar topics - from our mothers. No, they weren't perfect and probably didn't make the right choices 100% of the time, but are we so unlike them? I've been around long enough and seen enough to realize that every mother/daughter (or mother/son) relationship isn't always the "picture perfect" ones we may read about in Mother's Day cards lining the aisle at our neighborhood Walmart. (Yes, that's why a person will stand in the aisle and read 15 different cards before choosing one.)
But thankfully God always has a plan...in His infinite wisdom He knew mother's would need help and so allowed other ladies to impact our lives too. That's part of the beauty found in His Word and being part of the body of Christ.  Titus 2:3-5 talks about the older women being a good example "...that they may teach the young women..." God never leaves out anything, does He? He's a Master planner!
We are all created with different talents, personalities, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses...we definitely aren't cloned...we're originals. Even identical twins have some differences that distinguish them; if not in appearance, in personality, etc. God allows our mother's influence to be entwined with the influence of other mother figures along the way. School teachers, Sunday school teachers, aunts, grand-mothers, pastor's wives, elder ladies in our neighborhood or church, etc. All these influences combine to form the perfect mixture in our lives. Amazing! Isn't it a relief to know that we've got help along the way? (As a young mother, I've always wondered why God didn't issue directions with each childbirth. How was I supposed to know how to be a mother?) I can't imagine not having those types of special ladies teaming up with me to help influence my children to be godly. (I am certainly a mom who isn't afraid to admit she doesn't have all the answers! Lord help me!)
Sadly, Mother's Day isn't as joyful for some as others. There are many reasons which contribute. And while our memories or circumstances might not be perfect in our opinion, we are not lacking...because God doesn't make mistakes, people do. No matter what a relationship may or may not be with a biological mother or what it might be with a child or children, or maybe there are those who aren't privileged to be a mother at all...this Mother's Day we can thank God for placing us in the perfect womb - according to His will. Regardless of how we might feel about it, He did so that we might become exactly who He anticipated we would way back during the time we were being formed. In my own life, I remember watching my mother consistently working around the church. And today, I can see how her example has been a blessing to me as I do what God has called me to do for the Kingdom. It's a beautiful thing. God's plan! 
Let us be thankful for our precious mother's and all they invested in and taught us. It is through them, with God's approval, that we were brought into this world. Who are we to question the divine plan of the Master? Let us thank Him for knowing us - even while we were in her womb. We are each blessed because we have been mothered. We are who we are today because we have been mothered. Thank you, moms and for those who have been "stand-in's", for always giving it your best shot. We give thanks to and honor you this Mother's Day weekend.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crazy Prayer...God Cares

Wednesday night, during our church service, we were blessed  to hear a victorious testimony and admonished that indeed God does care about every detail of our lives. It was a powerful service and faith was high. Amazing. Simply put!
After tonight, I wanted to add a personal testimony of this very fact: God does indeed care about every detail of our lives! Let me share with you a quick story:
Tuesday night, my husband and I rode with my son to the ballgame. Following the game, my son made a stop by the gas station to fill up his truck. Not thinking, he laid his wallet on the back of the truck while the tank was filling...you know the rest of the story...he forgot to pick it up before we left the station - in Macon. We got home, to Forsyth, and walked in the door of our home...it was at that moment that he realized what he had done. So, he got in his truck and retraced the route from the gas station and home searching...no wallet. I'm sure you know that the next steps involved contacting the bank about bank cards, getting a new drivers license as well as a wallet, etc. Wallet counted as gone forever. Amen.
As mom, I was just crazy enough to pray that God would still let this lost wallet be found and returned. I knew God could do it if He willed to do so. Why not pray? Why not ask? Why not expect it to happen? I didn't say anything to anyone, I just prayed. That was Tuesday night about 9:00p.m. When we arrived home tonight, Thursday - 2 days later - about 9:30p.m., my husband saw something sticking out of the storm door. He thought it was some religious literature. As he reached to grab it out of the door, I caught a glimpse of it and screamed, "NO, that's Katie!" (My son has a pic of his girlfriend...IN HIS WALLET...her name is Katie.) Sure enough, what was thought to be religious literature was actually my son's wallet stuck safely in the door. Two days and about 20 miles was no obstacle for my God!
My son and daughter were pulling in the drive way at that point, I excitedly grabbed the wallet from my husband and ran down the steps and out to the vehicle screaming..."Son, tell me God doesn't answer prayers...tell me He doesn't care about every detail of our lives!" He looked at me questioningly, then I handed him his LOST WALLET. He stood there in amazement at the sight and listened as I told him what seemed like a "crazy prayer" I'd been praying. He looked through it and everything was still there...not a thing was missing. That's the kind of God I serve!!!
We immediately ran in the house and began to call people and tell them of yet another incident that proves God is concerned with EVERY DETAIL of our lives. Isn't He amazing!? My mind immediately replayed the pictures in my head of the brother standing behind our church's pulpit proclaiming this incredible fact - indeed God does care about every detail of our lives. It's  a memory that I'll not soon forget...so impacting. Nothing goes unnoticed! NOW...chew on that a while and watch for an opportunity in your own life to share the same message. Let's not overlook those moments - they're faith-building stones.
Meanwhile, I'll be basking in the blessing of knowing and loving such a God! And knowing that He's watching everything that goes on and listening to every crazy prayer we pray. When it happens to you, feel free to come back here and share your story! Expect the impossible. He can do it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

We all know some; they can cause "go-getters" great stress at times; especially if we're paired to team up with them. They're found there at the end of the day, "bringing up the rear." They're the ones that will definitely finish the race eventually, but they won't be close to winning the First-Place Ribbon or even taking a spot in the Top Ten. Stragglers...crawlers...snails...defined: to move or proceed slowly, someone who moves more slowly than others. Got anyone on your mind right now that could have this word inscribed on their name tag? They're not worried about winning a blue first-place ribbon...they are content with "honorable mention" or just having their name show up on the competitor's roster.
We find these types all over the place! Look at the babies who are "slow learners"; they take off crawling about two months behind the other babies in their nursery class. We can find them in Kindergarten classes; they're the ones who are requiring extra help to form the correct curves for the letter "S" or the humps on the letter "M". They show up in middle school too, as they stand by waiting to be chosen for a spelling bee or quiz bowl. In high school, they're usually the last ones in the lunch line, to show up for a pep rally, the last one to receive an invite to the party or they're voted the least likely to succeed.
Just a side note: There were even stragglers, one's who came in last place during the running of the Kentucky Derby! Those horses weren't "slow" by any means - just slower than the others.
Guess what? It doesn't stop there. Even as adults, some are found still straggling along. The last of their group to get married, last to have a family, last to find a career path, etc. It shows up in every area of life. Even in the Christian walk! Some are quick to "get it" and are almost immediately changing and making a great impact in the Kingdom; while others are slower to catch on. It's not necessarily because they're not interested or even enthused...they just progress more slowly.
When this idea was dropped in my heart today, I thought of the children of Israel as they crossed on dry ground through the Red Sea (Exodus) and again as they crossed the Jordon River (Joshua). No matter the situation or circumstance, there was always those who were "the last" to get to land. The beautiful thing is that those waters stayed until the very last person crossed and was safe on the bank. God didn't punish the straggler...they were making progress. How patient is the God we serve!
Sometimes we may be tempted to give up on these types of people; but we must stop and realize God never gives up on us. We all have areas of struggle in our lives, when we just aren't "getting it", yet God never punishes us as long as we're making progress in His eyes. Remember this verse? 1Corinthians 9:24,  "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." True, there can only be one first-place "WINNER" but every runner can win when they're on God's team as long as they're running to obtain.  Heaven is our goal! The race is for the one who endures to the end...do you recall the story of The Tortoise and The Hare? I've never forgotten the phrase, "Slow and steady wins the race." So run with patience! (Hebrews 12:1) If we will do so, we know the back of the book says "WE WIN!"

Dear God, help me to run with purpose. Help me
to be patient with others and even with myself as I run.
Thank you for being ever so patient and for
always being right by our side should we need your help.
Thank you for having a reward for each of us 
who finish wholeheartedly with You.
Amen-