Thursday, March 30, 2017

MORE THAN

 
 "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
 Romans 8:37

More than a conqueror! That phrase has been ringing in my heart and mind for a few days now. What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? I mean, isn't winning the battle enough? Isn't the title belt of "conqueror" sufficient?

I'm sure it would be...but why quit there when you can add more to the equation? You know, kind of like degrees behind your name after two years, four years, eight years of college. You're immediately a college student upon completion of the enrollment process but there's more.

Becoming more. A conqueror has simply won the battle. Becoming "more than a conqueror" involves going through, enduring and coming out of the fight with more than a trophy and a belt. More in a spiritual sense includes walking away with increased faith, more strength and determination, and more love for God, etc. 

Joseph would have been considered more than a conqueror. He walked away from the battle with his integrity in tact, respect and the second highest position in the land just to name a few things. Job walked away from his struggle with renewed hope in the Lord, his latter being greater than his beginning. His life was enriched and his relationship with God was strengthened. There are many more examples of "more than's" in the Bible. Think about Queen Esther! It's not meant to just remain within the pages and the characters in the Bible though. 

WE. ARE. MEANT. FOR. "MORE THAN" TOO.


Those trials we face day to day. We will come out labeled "victorious!" because the Lord is faithful to see us through. Yes, we've won the battle, alright. 

God has more for us than just a "W" in that column, ladies.


If we do it right - His way, we'll come out of our trials stronger, filled with greater faith, endowed with more joy, and God's list goes on and on. The Lord's desire is for us not to settle for only "victorious." His plan is for us to be more! It brings Him glory. 

So, now I'm looking for something extra during those times of trials and tribulation. I don't want to settle with being "just victorious"; sure that's good, but I want to be MORE THAN A CONQUEROR. The slogan, "Be all that you can be...in the Army" comes to mind. I want to be ALL I CAN BE in this life when it comes to spiritual things! What about you? The God that sees us through, the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine, the Almighty who sets us up for more, can make it happen. 

Are you in a trial today? Maybe this will help you look at it a bit differently. Be encouraged. You're not alone. And please, join me and choose to come through labeled - MORE THAN! - His Word says we can be.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Other-Centered Out Loud


So, I'm in the process of reading a new book I recently acquired. It's entitled Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman. By the way, this post is not meant to be a book review; however, I have really enjoyed what I've read so far and wanted to share. Here's a little secret I'd like to share with you:  I'm not only reading it; I'm trying to live it out loud. The subtitle of this little nugget is Other Centered Living In a Self-Centered World. Wow! Isn't that a mouth full? 

There is a command in God's Word. Just for an extra punch, let me tell you that it's written in those red letters...you know, the ones that mean they're actually the words of Jesus. The command was this - "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:39) I don't know about you, but that verse sounds any and everything EXCEPT self-centered. Wouldn't you agree? It also doesn't sound too much like the world in which we find ourselves living today.

I've found myself challenged though to reach out - more than ever before. To be mindful of those whose paths I cross each day. Whether it be a cashier in the checkout line, or some unknown person I pass in the paper product aisle, I'm trying to be more intentional. I'm making myself take time to look others in the eye, to say something kind, to forget about myself and what's on my to-do list and simply allow God the opportunity to bring about divine appointments during my busy day. 

I'm not trying to build myself up in any way, it's about doing stuff God's way. I'm so excited to share this with you though, because to tell you the truth, it's been simply amazing and invigorating to say the least. Possibly life-changing.

I met a sweet cashier the other day at our local Sams club. She was working hard and my husband commented on her work ethic. That began a conversation which is still going on today. I found out a bit about her while standing in her line, like the fact that she is the mother of four precious children...and I walked out the door with all of her contact information. 

I invited her and her family to be in service with me Sunday. It felt so exciting! The next day, I sent her a text telling her the gist of pastor's sermon. Today, she thanked me. Today, I also ask her if she'd meet with me on her break tomorrow so I could buy her a slice of pizza or a pretzel. So we could sit and chat for a few moments. Intentional. She text me back and said she'd love that! O, happy day!

I tell you all these details because this is about stepping out of my comfort zone, out of the box I call home. This is being intentional about doing things God's way. This is magnifying God. This is living surrendered. This is practicing Other-Centered-Living. This is me encouraging you to do the same. 

You can't begin to imagine the excitement I feel at the possibility of being the hands and feet of Jesus to this lady. This is someone I knew nothing about on Friday, but God has allowed me to step into her life and I pray, I'll be able to make a difference as I show the love of Jesus to this precious soul. 

I am filled with such exuberance and happiness while telling people about the divine appointments I've been partaking in. And...I'm looking forward, with anticipation, to the "next" encounter. So, this is what it's like to live life to the fullest! When we step out of ourselves and allow God to touch other lives through our weak, but yielded vessels. Are you up for the challenge, friend? Other-Centered. Out loud.

*I hope to update you on this later...please check back. And, if you take the challenge, let me know how it's working out for you. I pray you'll be as inspired and awed at God's
way as I have been myself.




Monday, March 27, 2017

Come Anyhow!

"Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: 
God is a refuge for us. Selah."  Psalms 62:8

A funny, but oh-so-real thought came to me this morning. I've been thinking about it all day and decided to sit down and record it so I can be reminded again later. 

I've watched my children pout, pitch a fit, or throw a temper-tantrum when they were little. He might not have gotten the toy he wanted, or she may not have been happy having to settle for a fruit snack instead of a chocolate, fudge cookie. I have multiple pictures of my children with red, tear-stained faces to prove some of those very moments. Been-there-done-that! (My parents probably have pics of me too!)

But...I've been there personally too - even as an adult I must confess. I've had my own bouts with being upset and disappointed. Hurt and confused. Misunderstood and uncertain of what to do next. What, you too? I'm sure we've all had our own share of moments filled with red, tear stained faces with mounds of white, wadded-up, tissue scattered about. Maybe some of us have even  gotten a bit violent on occasion. I'm sure we've all screamed out at times in moments of confusion and frustration. That's natural. The Bible tells us that we WILL have troubles. (John 16:33) These are reactions.

The Bible also tells us to cast our cares on Him (Psalms 55:33, I Peter 5:7) as well as to cast down all imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5). I have to do that often too! What about you? Have you been there too? 

Isn't it a relief to share these things?! Aren't we all thankful we have somewhere safe to ditch those crazy thoughts and things we imagine on the darker days of our lives? And...aren't we glad it doesn't matter what it looks like while we're doing it either? What a blessed assurance that I can't scare Him away when I'm having a bad-day. Hey, we all act like spoiled brats on some days, don't we? He's still working on me!

Shew! When I find myself red, faced and with hot, tears streaming like the Niagara, or when I'm ready to let out a scream of frustration, I'm thankful I don't have to put up a front or hide behind a mask. I can come to Him unashamed. Just like I am. He doesn't mind what it looks like as long as I'm coming to Him. After all, He has all the answers and longs to care for us because we are His children. It's His delight to be our refuge.

When I come to Him, laying everything willingly down at His feet, He is always waiting, and willing too. He takes my load and replaces it with good things.  Is it right to act so childish? That's a simple answer: NO. However, He simply takes what I bring Him and changes my perspective while I pour is all out at His feet and allow Him to work on my behalf. 

Are you ready? Maybe you want to bring some of your load to Him too. He waits...always knowing that we'll need Him. He's always there with open arms. We'll never be turned away. Even if we're re-acting like little children on the playground. Let's take off our masks and come before Him, it doesn't matter what it looks like, He's waiting right now. Come anyhow, sulking and pouting~


Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Gift of Encouragement

Encouragement, I need it and so do you...

On a serious note: To know that God loved me first. That gives me such hope because I understand that He knew me before I was born. He knew what my characteristics would be, what my strengths and weaknesses would be, how I would struggle and fight my way through life difficulties and trials, how I'd fall flat on my face during growing seasons and would need help to pull myself up again...how I'd need His mercy, grace, forgiveness, long-suffering, gentleness, acceptance and patience...and He still loved me in spite of all that. He loved me (and you) so much that He went ahead and died for me in advance. So even on those days when I'm not feeling so lovable...at that very moment, He couldn't love me any more. That is encouraging.

On a little lighter note: To be sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying nice quite, music and the low rumble of voices, to be sipping on a tall decaf Carmel Machiato made with non-fat milk and 1 1/2 pumps of syrup (extra hot) is very encouraging to me. (Just one of my favs!) Either relaxing at a tiny table in the corner, searching for the hidden objects throughout a children's Highlights book, getting lost in an uplifting book, or simply chatting together with someone special to my heart. Encouraging. Uplifting. The simplest things in life, I've found, are the most satisfying and enjoyable.

One final note: Encouragement is something we can bless others with any time. It doesn't cost us much, yet its extremely valuable...to us and the receiver. You see, as we encourage another, we'll soon find ourselves encouraged too...it's the boomerang effect. You can't send it out without it coming back to you again. A joy shared! Truly, we all should try to be an encouragement to each other more often. Encouragement is a life giving, uplifting opportunity...a God given ability and privilege given to each of us TO SHARE. Indeed, it is more blessed to give than receive. How will we encourage someone today?

 "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
 I Thessalonians 5:11



**first written here on this blog 7/25/15 - it popped up again today and I thought it was worth re-sharing. I "re"needed it today!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Expectations!!!

And...it came and it went. Along with any high expectations I might have raised in the middle of it all. Goodness! Those things can get you into trouble, won't they? Like a popped or deflated balloon...those dashed...expectations.

Expectation. Eager anticipation. Promise. Hope.

I've heard it said, "Don't expect anything and you'll never be disappointed." Doesn't that sound ridiculously safe? I say that in a not-so-convincing tone, too. Really!? Come on, people. Isn't that impossible? We are wired to expect. It's normal. It's OK. True, there might be disappointments that come along with it at times, but what would life be without having expectations?

There are all kinds of verses in the Bible about expectations. This is my favorite though:

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." 
Jeremiah 33:3


Talk about exciting! Who says we shouldn't get our hopes up? Who says we shouldn't show up each and every day expecting? Some of the greatest things God does for us are those things which can catch us totally off guard. Like surprise parties! While we're expecting one thing, God shows up suddenly with something BIGGER and better. God never disappoints! We may have no clue what He's doing at times because His ways are higher than our ways. Yet, He always meets and exceeds my expectations. 

I'm finding that whether He answers the way I'm expecting Him to or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that He always answers, and it's always the best answer. Always! I don't have to worry about being disappointed because He always gives good gifts, the best gifts, to His children. 

When I find myself disappointed and disillusioned by unmet expectations in this life, I still have hope. I only have to cast my eyes upon God. I cannot be let down by Him. He never fails. He cannot lie. He is perfect. Strong. Able. 

So, if your hope is lagging today, if your expectations have left you with a handful of popped balloons, turn your eyes to Him. Invite Him to work on your behalf and when He gets started, oh boy! Get ready for the ride of your life. It might just lead to an amazing, crazy adventure which leaves your head spinning in awe. How does He do that?! Hallelujah!!!


Now that we have our expectations soaring again - and in the right direction...doesn't it feel much better than settling for a hopeless, dead situation? One thing is for certain, when He's throwing the party, you might as well EXPECT to be thrilled and end up with a dynamite of a testimony. He has an expected end for each of us~

An oldie but goodie to share with you today:

O the answer's on the way, this I know
Jesus said it, I believe it and it's so
Our Heavenly Father knows our needs before we pray
And we can rest assured
The answer's on the way
 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating Life


Today is a very special day in my life. Feels kind of odd even writing this, but...Happy 44th Birthday to me. By God's grace and mercy, I've made it another year. How abundantly blessed this girl is!!!

Before I dozed off last night, I began to think about all the things I have to be thankful for. Since today is the day that is supposed to celebrate me, I was trying to think of as many things as I could, the things that help make me, you know, me. I fell asleep pondering the gifts God has graciously bestowed upon me. Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for. 

I thought today would be the perfect day to list 44 things of which I'm thankful. Then, I thought, forty-four...seriously? That would never be enough! Why, I'd just be getting started at one-thousand.

It's simpler to just say, I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I have more in this life than I could ever have hoped for...and even more awaiting me in the life to come. God has been ever so good to me! He blesses me every day of my life with family and special friends I consider family. He continually provides all my needs. He never gives up on me. He has given me the greatest gifts a girl could ever ask for in this life - and that's not even counting the fact that He gave His very life for my salvation. If that isn't love!

My mind goes back to a song we used to sing in church as a child:

I am blessed,
I am blessed,
Every day that I live,
I am blessed.
When I wake up in the morning,
'Til I lay my head to rest,
I am blessed,
I am blessed.

Yes, I'd say I AM most definitely, blessed - and highly favored. Happy Birthday to me~


Friday, March 17, 2017

Testify! Spread the Word


So many, many people in our world are hurting. There is most likely something tender and painful that touches each of our lives - whether it be in our own lives or through the lives of our friends and loved ones. There are needs everywhere. 

From the grieving family from which cancer has finally taken away a mother, to the friends in need of healing from migraines and other diseases, to friends needing financial miracles for homes and vehicles, or those who simply need a brighter day. We need only take a quick look around in order to observe those who are worse off then ourselves. Some need peace, some need hope, some need to be wrapped tightly in a hug...some need encouraged, some need joy, and some just need someone to be present and stand in the gap in prayer.

If you're hurting. If you know someone who is hurting. Be encouraged. God hears every prayer - not only does He hear them, but He answers too.

I've seen God do some pretty amazing things lately. Diseases eliminated. Migraines vanished. Bones healed. Financial needs supplied from out of nowhere. Walls of protection in place of destruction and death. Salvation and forgiveness, chains of addiction broken and lives restored. Yes, I've seen it...all in the past month. God is STILL in the miracle working business!!! 

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."  Ephesians 3:20

 If you've had any miracles in your own life or know of any, spread the word. Let's testify of His mighty acts. Let's pray on one another;s behalf!!! If He's ever done it before, He CAN do it again.  

 

Your testimony could be the spark of fire that ignites someone's faith. 


Someone only you can touch might need to be reminded that God is omnipotent. He holds all-power to do whatever needs to be done. Let's spread the word! They need to hear us loud and clear...proclaiming God is able.

* I think God probably likes to hear us bragging on Him too! Just my opinion, for what it's worth. Lord be glorified!!!*

There are so many, many people in our world who are hurting...but there's a God who is aware of every need...there's nothing that escapes His sight and there's absolutely nothing He can't do! Now, be encouraged and help spread the word~

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Puzzle Piece

I love to work puzzles...for multiple reasons.

I was thinking the other day about God and how He places pieces together in our lives. At times we might not understand what He's doing. It might not make complete and total sense to us. In fact, most often, it might seem like nothing will ever come together.

However, the Lord knows. He holds our lives together and knows just what piece of the puzzle to place, and at the perfect time. 

Remember, only the person holding the box, with the complete picture, can see the finished product and know that it will all work out in the end.


That's what I want to remind myself, and you, today. No matter what it looks like, feels like - or any other "like" - we have a God who is an expert at taking care of us and our situations. He knows just what piece of the puzzle to insert, and when. He never makes a mistake. His ways are perfect - and the best. 

As we go about our day, let's realize that though it might not be making sense right now, hold on, God is in control. One piece at a time, He will finish the work He has begun in us. He knows what the final outcome needs to be. We must trust Him to complete it too.

And He will...one piece at a time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Never Unfriended



I was privileged to be chosen to participate in this new-book, launch team and I've enjoyed every page so far. I'm finishing the final few pages now and want to do my part to spread the word about it so you can check it out too.


If you are someone's friend.
 If you have a friend. 
You NEED the stuff crammed between the cover of this book. 


We all want friends. We all desire to be better friends. That's what friendship is all about, right? You can click this link and be taken right to the website for pre-ordering AND you can get a sample to read right now. How great is that?! 

Get one for you - and your friend.  You'll also find other great stuff on this site, so jump right on over there and see for yourself. 

They're even giving away Pre-Order "gifts" just for you.


Some quotes from this book to help whet your appetite:

"Don't quit your friendships because they're uncomfortable....Instead, ask what yourself what you can do to "guard" them as Jesus guarded His friends..." 

"Friendship will, indeed, inconvenience you. More so
if you're doing it right." 

"If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before inviting someone into it, I might not let anyone come through the door."

"The shortest distance between strangers and friends
is a shared story about our broken places."

So many, many more good things are waiting for you to discover. Oh, and I'll let you know...some parts of this book can be quiet uncomfortable too. It's oh-so-worth-it though. Great friendships take work and learning to put others before ourselves. We all know that though, don't we?

Never Unfriended - The Secret to Finding and Keeping 
Lasting Friendships

*Thanks Lisa-Jo Baker for picking me to be a part of this team. It's been great! 

 

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Known & Unknown


"What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?" Psalms 116:12

As I reflect upon yesterday and I am more assuredly convinced that God loads us down with benefits, my heart is in awe. There truly are many things we miss. I miss them! I find that I take a lot of things for granted without even realizing it. I suppose it's safe to say that we all sometimes overlook some of the benefits we receive when we're living our lives for the Lord.

Consider the single phone call, which can take our breath away and leave us feeling numb. News from the other end of the line can leave us staggering in pain, shock, grief or any number of other emotions that can catch us off guard at times. I'm reminded this morning that the blessings of not feeling any of these emotions can also be counted as a benefit from the Lord. It's those added things the Lord keeps us from that we should add to our list of benefits. The unknowns.

After an extended time of being holed up in our bedroom yesterday evening, my husband finally emerged from our room. I had wondered what was taking him so long, but I was wrapped up in doing my own thing and dismissed it quickly. His words shook me to the core! Just like that. 

My son had been in a wreck. Yeah! Not just any wreck. A motorcycle wreck. I'm sure every mother reading this can relate (cringe) to the sudden panic that surged through my being when I heard those words. 

I listened to the story of how he was merging onto the interstate, how a Mustang came zooming around him, how he locked the brakes up, how onlookers had said he flipped over and over and landed in a ditch full of water. I listened as my husband told me when our son had come to that he couldn't breathe because of the water in his helmet. Then, I faintly heard my husband tell me that our grown, first-born child came out of that incident with minor aches and pains. Suddenly, tears filled this mamma's eyes. I cried because I wasn't there with him, to be sure he was alright. I cried because the story could have ended so differently. I cried from a thankful heart as unto the Lord for keeping His hand on my baby. (I know, he's grown. Won't they always be our "babies" though?)

I didn't know when this was taking place, but God did. Yes, an added benefit of serving the Lord is knowing that His all-seeing eye roams to and fro as He even watches out for my grown offspring each and every day. How He keeps us all from so many unknowns. And the known too. We are blessed beyond out wildest imaginations, folks. Do we truly stop to realize ALL that God does for us on the "normal, ordinary days"? I don't want to take His protection, or any other benefit, for granted.

I just wanted to remind myself, and you too, let's give God generous praise for His daily provisions, protection, favor, etc. How He hath dealt bountifully with each of us! How truly deserving He is of our lives lived wholly unto Him! Even if we're not quite certain "what" to thank Him for, if we just thank Him simply for His daily benefits, He'll know what we're talking about. Both the known and unknown...


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Loaded with Benefits


"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"  Psalm103:2

Cold and drizzle were the main factors in today's forecast. After church, my husband treated me to my favorite, personalized "cuppa" coffee - Carmel Macchiato, decaf, non-fat milk, one-and-a-half pumps of syrup. Yes, special order, please.

As we drove home, I sipped my coffee and quietly browsed out rain-spotted windows. I was taking it all in. Suddenly, in the middle of the drab, gray day, I caught a glimpse of something beautiful. I wish I could say I had been able to get my phone out quick enough to snap the photo, but I can't. However, the picture is pressed into my mind so vividly.

Amid the grayness of the day, I noticed a patch of luscious, lavender-blue Wisteria. I've always loved this vine since when I was just a child and my father planted some in our front yard. I always love when they bloom each spring. That wasn't the only thing I spotted though. This colorful vine was only the backdrop for what actually caught my eye - a bright red cardinal. The sharp contrast of the bright red against the light purple was simply beautiful. And I thought to myself, "Isn't God amazing?!" He paints the most beautiful moments in our lives.

At that very moment in time, I forgot about the rain. The gray. The blah of the day. The cold. For that split second, God spoke loudly to my heart, "I am here. I see you. I'm putting this special splash of beauty in the middle of your day just so you'll know." You might think that's a little far-fetched; but God loves you and I just that much. True, He speaks through the wind and the fire, and even louder ways at times. On occasion though, He chooses to speak to us softly...in small, intimate ways that are undeniably His display of fervent love.

My heart was in awe. Such beauty. Such a loving God.

My heart was grateful. Such thankfulness. Thanking God "who daily loadeth us with benefits."

I began to take inventory. My personalized "cuppa", my sweet hubby, the rainy drizzle, the grayness of the day, the cold in the air, the beautiful spray of lavender, and the bright red spot which represented to me, in this moment, my Savior's love for me. What benefits! How easy it would have been to miss all these whispers of God's love. I'm so glad He got my attention. What's He trying to show you today? How's He trying to speak to you? Are you watching? Listening?

Be blessed today~ we are loaded with benefits. Above all, O, how He loves us!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Voice


If you're reading these words right now, there's good news: You are definitely human, and most likely at an age in life in which you've already become very much aware that some people will love you, some will like you, and some will hate you. Some people will see potential in you, some will not. Some will approve of you, some won't. Some will want to bring out the best in you, some will not. That's just the way it is. True story.

I'm pretty sure too, that you probably have at least some knowledge of a popular reality show. You know, the one where well-known recording artists take their seat and listen intently hoping to find an unsigned singing talent which they can turn their chair for during a blind audition. After which, they will attempt to coach that no-name " from the back hills of Tennessee" straight to the winners circle - the winner of...The Voice. Now, have I got your attention?

I won't bore you with all the details. Let me just say that when that unknown, no-name, person walks up on the stage to sing, in front of the turned backs of professionals, I find myself holding my breath. Will they make it on a team? That is, until a button is pushed, signifying that they are good enough to be awarded a coach. Somebody wants them on their team. Only then do I let out a sigh of relief. They're in! They're wanted. Someone sees their potential!

So, today when this thought entered my mind, I just had to share it with you.

Won't you give thanks with me today that we don't have to get up on a stage and perform in hopes of turning the head of the most important Coach of all? God. We don't have to gain His approval in order for Him to come by our side and coach us to the winners circle?

We don't have to worry if He's going to see or hear "enough" in us to turn His chair.


We're already approved. We don't have to do a thing to gain His approval.

When He breathed His breath into us and we became living souls, we had His attention. Before we were even born, He had great plans for us. There are certain things we have been ordained to do while we're on this earth. We are instilled for greatness from the start. He sees stuff in us that nobody else has a clue about. We're meant to walk on this earth, to live this life, in abundance. With power! We are indeed planet shakers.

He doesn't design us, place us on this earth, then leave us to fulfill the purpose He placed within us without assistance. Never. He never leaves our side. He is always there. Ever watchful. Always grooming us, pruning and shaping us to be the best we  can be. You and I are not a "no-name."  He knows we have great potential. That we can make a difference. He sits on His throne in glory, singing over us, delighting in our meager praises and our lives of worship...our very existence makes Him rejoice. We are His.

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." Zeph. 3:17


He already sees us in the winners circle!

We've been chosen for His team.


Let me leave you with one last verse:

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
II Timothy 4:8


Hold your head high today. Sing your praises to the Lord. You have His undivided attention. He sees you right where you're at, delights in you, longs to see you living life abundantly, wants to be your Coach and get you to the winners circle on the other side. That's the Voice I want to be consumed with. All the others must fade away. I want to hear and be attentive only to the One that says, "Well done...enter in."


Monday, March 6, 2017

Renewed Perspective & Naomi


I recently went on the Daniel's Fast with my church family for twenty-one days. Yeah, what an experience! It was indeed life changing. I don't tell you that so I can gain super-spiritual "brownie" points; but only to give you insight to what I'm writing about. One of the things I prayed for during this fast was a renewed perspective.

Then this morning, during my devotion time, I read Ruth 1:20-21:

20) And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21)  I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me,
and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Whoa! Hold up. Stop right there. I had to hurry and begin writing...because God opened my eyes to something we probably all need to realize during the hard moments in our lives. It's all to do with perspective too.

God didn't change Naomi's name like He did some others in the Bible. Naomi changed her own name. While it's true that during her time in foreign lands she lost much, she didn't come home empty. Her perspective just wasn't quite right at the moment.

How often do our perspectives get tweaked and out-of-whack during trials or the winter seasons of life? When we're "going thru", how often do  we decide - on our own accord - that God is finished with us? Or maybe that we can no longer be a mighty warrior or ambassador for His cause. How many times have we decided that our dream is dead? That we are now past the point of no return because we are simply empty. I dare say we all do it from time to time. Does that make it true?

Naomi came home without her husband and sons; however, she came home with a daughter-in-love that would be in the lineage of the Messiah. The Messiah!!!

Part of the future hope of the world may have relied upon her coming home "empty."


How's that for perspective? And, it was almost like a slap in the face. WAKE UP, girl!!! What feels like empty right now, might very well be the hope of the future. Your future. What I'm going through now, what you're digging yourself out of this very moment, might be a blessing in disguise. We may feel empty - even hopeless at times - yet, we're right where we are because God has a plan that we cannot yet see. We only need a perspective change!

I'm convinced, after going through some heart-breaking, dream-shattering years in my own life, that sometimes the darkest moments are preparing us for great, God-size adventures. We've just got to be able to cling to our faith, trust that God is in control, and open our eyes to see it from another perspective.

It's not our job to change the name of our situations.


Naomi came home from years of being away and everyone still called her Naomi - "Welcome back, Naomi!"  Why? Because their perspective of her had not changed. The name Naomi, in Biblical times, meant beautiful, agreeable. These people still saw her that way. Yet, in her state of life, from her perspective, she saw herself only as afflicted, empty, broken, bitter. Mara.

I challenge us all to focus on what God is doing behind our horrifying scenes or bad experiences of life. I wonder what changes would take place in us (and the people around us) if we continue to call our life and situations what God is calling them? What happens if we don't rename our situation, or give up; but instead simply continue to live through them by the grace of God? What if we could stay focused and not lose perspective? What amazing outcome does God have in store for us? What adventure is waiting with our name on it? Here's a secret: we'll miss it if we choose to change our name.

I'm saying to you, "Welcome home, __________!" (Go ahead, insert your name.) No matter what it may look like today, or how empty you might have felt yesterday; hang in there and wait upon the Lord. You may not be able to see it, and it might not seem an easy task, but just begin asking and thanking God for a perspective change and I know He'll do that for you too. I recall a song about what the view is like from the mountain top...we only have to endure and keep on climbing.

Even while you're seemingly in the low-lying areas of your struggle, or in the middle of your darkest storm, thank Him. Then watch and see if He won't give you a God-size adventure and a testimony of your own. Be encouraged today, He has great things in store for you just ahead.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Get Away!


"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." Ps. 23:2 

Sometimes we just need to get away!

You know what I'm talking about, right? The demands of life can take a toll on a person and momentarily drain them bone dry. You know, the moment you just let out a big sigh and say something like, "I need a trip to the mountains!" That's my "go-to" place of choice. Maybe for you it's the beach or a resort or maybe just to grandma's for a good old "taking-care-of". Regardless, our desire to be refreshed is like a life-giving supply of oxygen at that moment in time.

I'm right there. Right now! As I sit down and write at 5:30 am. Why am I writing at this time of the morning? Because sleep eludes me. I woke up for a moment and made the mistake of letting my mind start rambling about all there is to do. You see, my husband and I are in the middle of a bathroom remodel project that wasn't on our agenda. It was a have-to thing. Mold and rotten floor made it a first-priority thing.

Needless to say, gutting a bathroom has been stressful. Put us on the First Time DIY'ers program!!! Thank goodness for Google, YouTube and people with experience! There have been moments when we laughed to keep from crying and moments when I just wanted to sit down in the middle of it all and sob.

Now, add to that endless phone calls from people in need. Yes, we are all needy at times. I understand that and don't have a problem trying to be there to help someone who needs assistance. However, sometimes the weight of "being there" is more than we can carry. Then, add just plain-ole-life to that combination. You know, the stuff moms and wives must do - cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for her family, etc.

Life has it's overwhelming moments - and we need to get away to refresh ourselves. Jesus had to get away from it all at times too!


In Mark 16:30-31, Jesus told the disciples to "Come...apart into a desert place, and rest a while..." - in other words, take a break. Luke 5 tells us that Jesus would often slip away from the crowd to be alone and pray. The Bible is full of such examples.

There is a time and season for everything. Sometimes life gets overwhelming and we need to gather ourselves up and take time to refresh our souls and regroup. While that doesn't necessarily mean we need to schedule a trip to a beach resort or a quaint cabin in the mountains, sometimes it does our souls good. We need time to regroup. Even a computer has a "refresh" button! We are humans and there are times in life when we become depleted and the only way we can fill back up is to get away from it all for a moment.



Life. Distractions. Struggles. The fight. It's all real. And, God intends for us to take care of our temple during every season. Whether that means retreating to our bedroom for a few moments of solitude during a rambunctious, kid-filled day, or scheduling a retreat to our favorite vacation spot, or just taking a few moments of our day to get away and pray...it's something we MUST do. It sounds selfish, I know. Even a bit hard-core. However, if we don't take time to refresh and fill back up, we have nothing to offer those around us. I don't know about you, but when I reach my limits, I become cranky and can be hard to deal with. I know, we all have to practice self-control, but some days I'm just plain on "E."

There's only one thing to do when you're on empty. Go to the filling station. Simple. 


If you find yourself in this empty situation, take a moment to get away. Spend a few moments asking God what is the appropriate "get-away" you're needing in life right now. Maybe it's a short vacation, maybe it's just a bit more time in communication with Him, or maybe you need a week of quiet relaxation. It's impossible to give and give of ourselves without refilling. We are of little use to God or anyone else for that matter if we're exhausted and spent. We cannot be effective if we've nothing to give. Think about it. Sometimes strength will only come and be renewed after a time of rest.

So, let's not be too hard on ourselves. Let's not expect the impossible from ourselves either. After all, only God can do the impossible! There are indeed times when we need refreshing. I'm not condoning a "get-away" every other week or massive amounts of money spent on entertainment. I'm talking about legitimate moments when it's necessary to pull away from life and take necessary and intentional moments to be replenished.

Now, get away. Then get back in here - live and give some more. Blessings~