Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roots of Faith

“These commandments that I give to you to day are to
be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

Deuteronomy 6: 6-8

"God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly
patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for
a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Still, he doesn't ignore sin. He holds sons and grandsons responsible for a father's sins to the third and even fourth generation."

Exodus 34:4

The other day as I was combing my hair and I was gazing into the mirror, I realized that my hair color needed to be touched up; my roots were showing. I have been coloring my hair for a while now to combat the gray. This task is something that must be done repeatedly, if not then I live with the effect that I noted in the mirror; the roots of my natural color peeking through at the scalp. This need for ‘touch-up’ was making me look old, worn and tired.

I relate my hair needing a touch-up to my need to keep myself spiritually glowing and renewed. To do this I must stay in touch with Jesus through reading the word and through frequent prayer.

I, like all sinners, have a great need to cover my less-than-desirable behavior with the love of Jesus. However, for this cover-up to take effect and hold, I cannot just spend a few minutes once every six or eight weeks reading His Word. Rather, learning to glow for Him requires that I spend quality time in His presence every day.

Remember when Moses spent time on Mt. Sinai with God? When he returned to camp his face glowed. This glow came not because of anything Moses had done, but simply from being in the presence of God. That is a most humbling thought.

As I thought more about my roots I realized a parallel between the roots of my hair and the deep faith that comes from being blessed to have an extended family of Christ followers.

I was raised with a built in support system that was ready and willing to keep me focused on following God. This support system came from an extended family of prayer warriors, teachers, encouragers, and ministers. Each one of these people, Uncle’s, Aunt’s, Mother, Father, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., have held me up and have supported me along my faith journey. I realized what a rare honor it is to have such a rich history godly family members.

When I look around today I see so much dysfunction in families. Children are living in broken homes and are missing out on the blessings that can come from being a part of large Christian family.

One of the members of my extended family was my Uncle Locke. Uncle Locke was a minister who loved the Lord and served Him all the days of his life. It was he who introduced me to the Lord on April 13, 1974.

My Uncle Edgar was also a minister. I cannot name one of my Aunt’s or Uncle’s who did not know the Lord and each one strived to serve Him all the days of their lives. Some were vocalists and sang in their church choir, others were Sunday school teachers, and others worked in the private sector yet lived their lives in such a manner that God was given praise, honor and glory.

My mother and father were Christians who lived life using principles developed through their personal relationship with the Lord. My dad was a deacon and served in our church for most of my life. My mom served on many committees and was always practicing hospitality. It was a rare occasion when we did not have an extra mouth or two around the table for Sunday dinner.

Growing up I could spend time in the home of any one of my extended family members and my parents were assured that I would be flooded with wise counsel that is only developed through a deeply intimate relationship with the Lord.

Unfortunately having this rich and wonderful family of faith could not keep me focused and bound to the Lord. For many years I walked away from the faith. I lived a life characterized by sin. I had allowed earthly challenges, hurts, anger, and disappointment to cloud my vision. The evil one was all over any negative circumstances that came into my life. I began to listen to his lies rather than reaching deep into the foundation of my faith and turning toward God and the big roots of my faith. I began to think that the only way I could survive was on my own.

For many years I believed that God had forgotten about me. I believed that my profession of faith in Jesus had not been enough. I could see no other reason why I had been subjected to the pain and devastation that I secretly lived with. I could not understand how a God of love would allow so many hurtful attacks to come upon one life and rather than face my pain I chose to burry it under more bad decisions and sinful practices.

As I look back across the years and pages of my life, to those many years where I was not living out a life characterized by the love of the Lord, it was then, when I was the most venerable that He was carrying me.

Now with a life fully dedicated to service of My King, I can honestly thank God for the blessings of family life. As I attempt to show my boys what a godly mother looks like I draw from the rich well of memories that those who have gone before have left behind.

It is my greatest desire in life to live each and every day expectantly waiting for my God to show me where I am to be at work for Him. That my witness will leave a lasting imprint on the ones I love and that one day they too will look back and praise God for deep roots of family faith.

Thoughts to Ponder:

How did your family impact your life?
If there are Christians among them do they know how their witness affected you?
What legacy are you leaving for the next generation?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just One Step

“That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you – every time I prayed I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength.” Ephesians 1: 15-19 (MSG)

Today I stood on the edge of a cliff. Although the drop from the edge to me looked perilous, I held tightly to the hand of another who reminded me to keep my eyes focused and clearly locked on him. He assured me that all would be okay as he urged me to just step off the edge; on faith alone.

Great preparation has gone into this moment in time. Many things have taken place to bring me to this point in my journey. I keep thinking to myself, “I’m not ready. This can’t be happening. This can’t be how it all ends.”

But the man beside me keeps urging me to just step off the cliff. He assures me that he knows what is best for me. He tells me that if I trust in him all will be fine.

So, knowing that I have done all I can to prepare for this day. Knowing that I can go on no longer as I have been, and being encouraged to learn to fly . . .

. . . Today I turned in the keys to my desk and left a job that I really enjoyed. I will no longer be associated with the title of “Administrative Assistant,” “Human Resource Manager,” “Medical Assistant,” or any of the other titles that I have worn during my employment career.

Today I stepped from the solid ground of employment off the cliff into the unknown future of applying for Social Security disability. My title will now be “Disabled due to Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.” My future ability to provide financial assistance to my family is no longer under my control. (Nor has it ever been much to my argument with God of said point at times.)

Monday morning I will sit in the waiting room of a Social Security office, with a little white three-ring-binder in my shaking hands and pray that the documentation I will be providing will be carefully reviewed and then my application for disability benefits stamped “APPROVED.” My fate will be placed in the hands of a stranger. The only information that they will have to rule on my application for disability will be what is provided by my doctors and what they see going on in my body for the few minutes that it will take to process my paperwork.

Of course I know that my God has the situation under His perfect control. I must trust Him to work out the details and in the interim trust in His provision and grace.

Yes much has led me to this day; first and foremost being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in February of 2006, second, the very rapid decline of health with correlating rapid increase in symptoms. These two things have created many physical, emotional, and psychological challenges. Once my doctors began to speak about disability I realized that soon my life would be changing. I went into prayer mode. I knew that no matter what the future held, I could not make it through even one day without the guidance of my Savior.

I poured out my heart. I gave Him my fears, and my concerns. I specifically prayed that I would not have to apply for disability until our financial picture was such that the loss of my income would not cause missed payments, the need to sell off assets, go into debt, or sacrifice our outstanding credit score.

God answered that prayer and worked out the details in some amazing ways. I could no longer use that excuse. I knew that He was speaking to me telling me that the time had come for me to trust Him. I knew that He was calling me to stand on the cliff edge and jump off on faith in Him alone.

Today I begin this new journey; but I know I will not be alone for He continues to hold fast to my hand! He has blessed me with intelligent decisions and discernment of my situation. Therefore, today with my eyes focused and clear, I know that He is calling me to a life of even greater faith. He wants me to grow in faith in Him as He bestows upon me His utter abundance, so that I might do His work and teach others about His love, through His supply of endless energy and boundless strength.

Today I trust and I will not fall!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And the winners are. . .

Yep, yep, yep!! I said winners, plural. I know the contest was only supposed to have one winner, but I have had so much fun with this contest that I decided to have a grand-prize winner and a runner-up.

So, thanks to the random generator here are the winning numbers:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 25 7
Timestamp: 2008-12-13 19:26:46 UTC

That makes New Every Morning the winner of the Disciple's Cross Necklace and "The Shack" book.

And, Spring Fricks, as my runner-up you will also receive a Disciple's Cross Necklace.

Thanks to one and all for playing along! I hope you will stop by and join me again sometime!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I am oh so excited about this whole Christmas give away that Lysa TerKeurst has put together. There are so many opportunities to win some great prizes, but the best part has been that I am getting to meet other bloggers and read what they are posting about. Now that is what Christmas is all about; sharing the Christmas season with some new bloggy friends!

BUT now what I want to share with you is that one of these sweet bloggy sista's is a graphic web designer. The blog designer is Edie and her blog design company can be accessed by clicking here: Edie is offering to help with the blog design of the winner of her contest as part of the contest that Lysa started this weekend. Oh how I would love to have the services of a professional blog designer. So, check out RichGift Graphics!

One Cool GiveAway Day!!!

Greetings to all who have jumped to my blog via Lysa TerKeurst's blog and the "Cool Christmas GiveAway."

I have two items that I will be giving away. The first is a hand-crafted "Disciples Cross."

The second item is a copy of "The Shack," by William P. Young.

If you would like a chance to win these items, please click on the word “comment” below and make sure that you include your email address or a way that I can contact you to get your mailing address.

Oh, and don’t forget, once you have entered my contest, click on the Christmas tree at the top of this post to take you back to Lysa’s blog and surf some of the other awesome contests being offered today.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!!

BTW, I will leave this contest open until next Friday December 12th. I will notify the winner by Monday the 15th and will post the winner and a link to your blog (if you have one).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

People Passion

“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does.”
I Corinthians 14:1 (MSG)

I have been pondering my proclivity for seeking to honor God in the way I love others. If I am to be honest with myself, and you, I must say that I have not been overly zealous in seeking out relationships with new people.

My natural bent is not that of “social butterfly.” I am usually the shy, quiet one who ends up playing with the children, when given a choice, at gatherings, parties or social events. This allows me to protect myself from putting my feelings out there and allowing for opportunity to be hurt. It also prevents me from utilizing my spiritual gifts to minister to the heart of those around me, and blocks me from receiving some of God’s best gifts.

So lately, when reading God’s word, He has impressed upon my heart a need to emerge from my cocoon of safety. It is time for me to become what God intended me to be all along; an approachable, caring, compassionate woman of God. A woman who humbly shares the rough places of life that God’s grace has carried me through.

Last year at the annual conference “She Speaks,” hosted by Proverbs 31 during one particularly moving session, each lady in attendance was asked to take any person, possession, task, item, or “thing” that was holding them back from surrendering to God completely and name the “thing” on a slip of paper. The paper with the “thing” spelled out on it was then to be carried to the front of the room and laid at the foot of a cross that had been set up for this purpose.

Participants were instructed that as they placed their constraint down they should retrieve another slip of paper from the foot of the cross. These “replacement” papers displayed various scripture messages. We were all told at the beginning of the invitation exercise that each verse had been prayed over; the Proverbs 31 team had prayed that each woman in attendance would receive the exact scripture that God would use to speak to hearts and open doors.

During that invitation the scripture verse that I received was, “for you are a chosen (woman). You are a royal priest, a holy (daughter). God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9

Oh my, what an impact that verse has had on my life. I keep it tucked into my bible and I read it often. I realize that I have been “chosen” to “proclaim His truth in everyday speech.” I Corinthians 14:3 (MSG) I am not to speak with an offensive, I’m better than you attitude, but from a humble servants heart.

I am trying to live out my status as “royal priest” by sharing what God is doing in my everyday life. I am utilizing my God given gifts and talents as an “adopted daughter of the King God Most High.” I utilize this blog space to share the things He teaches me, I pray and study His word and then teach others what insight God imparts to me by leading bible studies, and I am beginning to embrace face-to-face, one-on-one interaction with my wonderful sisters in Christ as I share my stories and experiences.

However, I am not doing any of these things on my own; I am only capable of these acts of service through His well-spring of love. The thing I am learning through all of this is that you cannot out give God. The more I surrender to His will for my life; the more I walk down the path He has laid out for me, the more I experience His love and grace.

His blessings are new each morning. I am developing friendships that I once longed for. I am being allowed to share the love and acceptance that God extended to me to others. I feel more fulfilled and alive than at any other point in my life. (This coming from a woman with a progressive neurological disease, pretty impressive what God can do, eh?)

My God is so good! It is my desire to share His love, goodness and mercy so that others may experience the joy that only He can provide.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PD Delivers Two More Arrows To The Heart

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)

Was it a strike to my pride? Or just more arrows to my heart; launched from the ever present bow of Parkinson’s Disease?

Recently I took my son to parent night at school. During this particular session everyone was to dress in pajamas, bring a blanket and sit on the floor to listen to stories and then sing songs.

Needless to say, I had to check my pride at the door as I walked in sporting my blue and black (racing) cane. I looked around the room at all of the moms and kids in their p.j.’s, looking happy and content. As I surveyed the room several moms and children had already begun to spread out blankets and get ready for the fun ahead. I began to feel out-of-place and “old” as I realized that there was no way I would be able to get down into the floor and sit with my son. I knew that if I got down onto that cold, hard tile floor I would not be able to get back up again.

This experience launched arrow one into my heart. I was sad and felt bad for my beautiful son. All of the other children had young, healthy moms who were sitting in the floor with them. They were laughing and having fun listening to the stories and singing the songs. I had to sit at the back of the room at a table, while my son sat alone on his blanket without his mom to laugh with.

The second arrow came with stealth, drove deep into my mind, and has caused unease within my soul. I was putting together a scrapbook page for my son’s third birthday. The project was nearly complete when I decided I wanted to add a large handcrafted number three to finish the two-page layout off.

When I started to sketch the three, my mind went totally blank. I could NOT remember what a three looked like, much less how to write one! Talk about freaking me out. I knew that I could look around the room and find something with the number three on it, but I wanted to see how long my mind would block the memory, so I purposefully did not look around.

Instead I sat and tried to visualize numbers in my head. I could see every number one through ten, except for the missing three. This strange blockage lasted for almost thirty minutes and by then I was almost to the point of tears. Then suddenly it was like a fog lifted from my brain. I began to be able to visualize the missing “3” in my mind.

As I look back, parent night is now but a memory, and thankfully I am retaining the ability to visualize all of my numbers. (At least for the moment.) But, these two events have caused me to evaluate my health status. I am beginning to ask myself, “What will my health be like in five to ten years?” I am questioning if my seemingly rapid increase in symptoms are being caused by the PD itself, or if one of my medications are to blame. I do know that one of my meds can cause side-effects that are similar to the cognitive difficulties I have been dealing with lately. I am also questioning my diagnosis. I have wondered if maybe there is something besides PD going on with me. Maybe I am just being overly cautious. Maybe I am just freaking out a little because a dear friend just had her diagnosis changed from PD to MSA (Multiple System Atrophy), and our symptoms are quite similar.

At this point I am feeling much more humble. God has my attention and my praise! Even during this time of mental reevaluation and readjustment to having a progressive neurological disease, and given the concern I am feeling for the future status of my health; I am able to praise God for I know that He loves me and He is in control. I give Him praise for situations which teach me humility for it is truly my desire to grow in His wisdom.

Dear Lord, keep me serving You in humility. Bless me with Your wisdom. I have no power or strength of my own, but through Jesus all things are possible. Allow me to cling tightly to Your promises and to lean upon You for my support and strength. I love You and I praise You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life’s Little Inconveniences

Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him?
Job 39:11 (NIV)

Once upon a time there was a young woman who was quite physically strong and fiercely independent. She was known to take on jobs that most women would not be willing to consider. She worked as a roofer, a painter and even as a forest-fire fighter. She was more than willing to get her hands dirty and take care of most challenges in life on her own terms. She did minor car maintenance herself; oil changes, replace spark plugs, rotate tires, check belts, etc. She did not need to call a handy-man to assist with plumbing or carpentry repairs for her home; she gladly tackled such projects on her own. She did not have a gardener. She kept her yard mowed, the hedges trimmed, and the walkway edges clipped. Did I say this woman was quite self-sufficient?

Turn the pages in the book of life. At a relatively young age this woman is now facing a progressive neurological disease: Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. (Just in case there is any doubt, this woman is me.)

My once fierce independence has become incredibly interdependent and dependent. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and have learned that I can count on him in interdependence. I also have a dependent relationship. I am a child of God, and as such I am blessed with a relationship of utter dependence upon Him.

I no longer fight for independence. I have learned that I am much more blessed and fulfilled when I live in dependence on God and in interdependence with my Husband. I can’t say that I got to this point without a fight. I think that most of the life lessons that I have learned have come about with more than a few battle scars. My dad always said, “Joan has to learn everything the hard way.” He was right!

Now that I am facing an uncertain future with my health limitations, I have had to swallow my pride; yes I said “swallow my pride,” and ask my husband to assist me with many things that I have always done for myself; not only the more physical tasks such as car repairs, carpentry and the like, but also some tasks of daily living. Many days I need assistance to cut my meat at dinner. I am no longer able to beat eggs. I would require assistance to brush my teeth were it not for the use of a battery operated spin-brush. You see, even some small tasks are now impossible because of the quick repetitive motion required.

With Parkinson’s Disease repetitive motion tends to put muscle groups into a state of arrest. Think of the heart when it goes into cardiac arrest. The normal rhythm is interrupted, the beat becomes irregular and then the heart stops altogether. This is very similar to what happens within my nerves and muscles. I can begin the action but as I continue to place my body under the demand of those quick repetitive motions, the neural impulses begin to fire irregularly and the muscle freezes up. Often this will cause muscle cramps and intense pain.

Relying upon my husband’s help for these normal life tasks is, well, humbling to say the least. (Not that I don’t need a good dose of humility from time-to-time.) God has blessed me with a greater love for my husband through these stressful times. My husband is accepting me, assisting me when needed, and loving me in spite of an unknown future. What woman wouldn’t respond to an unconditional love like that?

Within these struggles I am being blessed by learning how to live more fully dependent upon God. He has become my strength in weakness, my comforter when I am feeling down due to the loss of physical abilities, my solid rock during the ever changing progression of symptoms. God is blessing me by growing my faith in Him. He is teaching me that when I am weak, He is strong and mighty. Within these struggles I am being blessed by learning how to live more fully dependent upon God. He is teaching me that my “salvation requires [me] to turn back to [God] and stop [my] silly efforts to save [myself]. [My] strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on [God] — The very thing [I’ve] (for far too long) been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)

I am so grateful that God is a patient God. I am grateful that during my years of stubborn independence He loved me enough to carry me along. I am grateful that He is now teaching me to trust fully in His divine wisdom, plan and calling on my life. In fact, even with the pain, limitations and struggles that PD presents in my life, I have come to realize that this disease is a strange sort of gift to me. God is allowing me to use what was meant for harm to give praise and glory to my God and Savior Jesus. I am learning through suffering, due to illness, not to live my “life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:2 (NIV)

So, if these little life inconveniences are a tool that can be used to focus just a small portion of glory and honor upon the Creator of all life, I say, “Bring it on!”

Related Verses:

Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you've been unwilling to do. Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1&2 (NIV)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Learning to Live in Sufficient Grace

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Any serious illness can test ones faith and belief in God. But for those who suffer, like myself, with a chronic, debilitating disease every day brings about confusion, weakness, worry and fear. None of these attributes support an attitude which will allow me to see God in my everyday life, nor will they bless me in my daily walk with the Lord. My goal then becomes, “How do I learn to live in the sufficiency of His grace, trusting Him with every aspect of my daily life, laying it all down at the foot of the cross.

In January 2006 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Due to my ego and belief that I was almost bulletproof, I thought to myself, “No big deal. So I’ll shake a little. I can handle that.” Of course, I had done the research and I knew very well that a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can bring a broad variety of symptoms. I just wanted to believe that my experience would be a slow progression and I would only be challenged by mild symptoms at worst.

That of course has not been my experience. As I have studied and researched this disease and have lived with it and the symptoms. I am learning just how much of my daily life can be impacted by a non-curable, progressive neurological disease. In a physicians P.D. lingo one of the tests used to measure a patients progression rate is what is called P.D.R.S., or Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scales. In the almost three years since my diagnosis I have gone from a PDRS score of 2 to a current rating of 57. The rating scale reflects 0 as being no symptoms to a top score of 100. This rapid increase in symptoms has me classified as progressing at a rate somewhere in the top 5 – 10% of all PD patients.

Given these facts, how then am I coping with the rapid changes in my physical condition? I am learning to rely fully on the power and strength of Jesus Christ. I have often heard it said that one cannot live a life of faith if they are never pushed beyond the point that their own human ability can carry them. It really doesn’t take much faith to walk or run when one is fully healthy. It doesn’t take much faith to walk into a job everyday prepared to give your best work to your employer when the mind and body are healthy and whole.

However, when it takes every bit of energy one can muster up just to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed to go into a place of work due to physical limitations, faith and reliance on God is increased. When one can no longer process verbal requests from co-workers and must ask them to write their requests down so that no mistakes are made and nothing is forgotten or overlooked, ones faith and reliance on God is increased. When at the end of the work-day one has no physical strength or stamina left to give, and there are still the responsibilities of cooking a meal for the family, playing with a child, or giving time and attention to ones husband, faith and reliance in God’s strength and provision is increased.

I am learning that to get through each day I must ask God to help me to focus on the tasks that He puts on my to-do list. There will be many tasks on my to-do list that never get attended to, and I have learned to release these items to God. He knows what activities are required in my job, in my ministry, and for my family and home life. For those required activities He will bless me with the ability to complete tasks and touch lives with the love of Jesus. The only requirement is that I remain in contact or communion with Him in order that I may have wisdom and insight as to what God has placed on my priority list for me to accomplish each day. This is where my challenge comes in, and where the Lord blesses me with the most opportunities to live by faith in Him.

Over the next few weeks I am going to try to look at a few of my daily challenges and share how I am learning to see God’s hand in the midst of my daily life. I will share what God is teaching me and how my faith is being increased as a result.

I have the honor and responsibility to share the wonders of Jesus with those around we who are lost and alone. Once again, I pray that God will bless me with the opportunities to “boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Praise His name.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Strength to the Weary, Power to the Weak

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31 (MSG)

I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in February of 2006. Since that time my disease has progressed rather rapidly. I find that every day living with a progressive neurological disease is a struggle in one manner or another. I am learning the importance of trusting the Lord to be my daily portion, my strength. I have discovered that I am tired and weary, and my body is becoming increasingly weak. But God . . .

. . .two simple little words, but not really simple or little at all. In actuality they are BIG, words. HUGE words. Actually, these two words carry life altering implications. For example:

I could be lost in a world of sin and despair . . . . . . but God!
I could feel abandoned and unloved . . . . . . but God!
I could be struggling on my own . . . . . . but God!
I have no strength in my own power . . . . . . but God!
I will sin, struggle, stumble, fall . . . . . . but God!

See what I mean? Powerful and power filled words!

On the days that I experience struggles with a low spirit, low energy, the inability to cope with any of life’s little stressors, or a lack of physical strength I remember that the Lord is the everlasting God. He is the Creator of the earth and He loves me; He loves all of His children with a depth and richness that we cannot fathom.

I run to Him and I ask Him to give me His strength. I ask Him to increase my power, not so that I might accomplish the items on my to-do list, but that I might not miss an opportunity to serve Him. I have come to understand that by serving Him I can truly realize what it would feel like to soar on wings like an eagle.

If my spirit is willing, my eyes open and my mind free to follow His path, do His will, He will equip me for His service. He will provide the required strength and power. It is not easy giving up my list of priorities, but God blesses abundantly when I remember to daily surrender my life to Him.

I have surrendered my health. I have surrendered my marriage. I have surrendered my family. I have surrendered all I hold dear. When I realize that everything comes to me by God’s grace and belongs to Him anyway, and that His love is much greater than any here on earth, what do I have to fear by living a life surrendered? Nothing! In fact, I have much to gain. When I remember this truth and even give Him the smallest details of my day, God rushes in and overtakes me with His blessings.

My prayer is that I will be able to influence many to join me in my journey to daily surrender and to enjoy the way that He brings power to the weak.

Dear Lord,
Help me to live surrendered to you. Your ways, Your plan, Your to-do list, all impact an eternal perspective. I ask that You send Your power when I am weak, provide me with strength to resist the temptation to try to go it on my own. Show me how to serve you so that I may plant many seeds that lead to salvation. In Jesus’ name.

Related Verses

Psalm 37: 23-24, “If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (NIV)

Psalm 68: 35, “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” (NIV)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where Does America Stand With God?

1 "When Israel [America] was a child, I loved him [her], and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more I called Israel [America], the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim [America] to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
5 "Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria [our enemy the devil] rule over them because they refuse to repent?
6 Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them.
8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim [America]? How can I hand you over, Israel [United States]? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.

Hosea 11: 1-9 (NIV)

I took the liberty of adding [America], the gender [her], [our enemy the devil], and the [United States], in the recording of Hosea 11: 1-9 above. I did this to make a point. My point is that the bible is effective in teaching us today using principles that were recorded in Old Testament times. By looking back, often we can see areas of trouble here in the present.

Are the verses above not just the very picture on how America looks today? Haven’t we pushed God out of almost everything? As a country we continue to remove God from our schools, our justice system, our homes, our cities and our everyday lives.

Given this fact, is there any wonder that God is allowing our economy to suffer, many natural disasters to hit our land and take lives, and to top if off we are living with great concern for the direction of the upcoming elections and what changes could be forthcoming.

As I have been reflecting upon the elections, our economy and the lack of preservation of Christian values and guidance in our land, I am convinced that Christians everywhere should begin to fervently pray for this election and America as a whole. If we do not turn back to God, and put Him back on the throne, I believe that more difficult times lie ahead.

Won’t you join me in prayer for America? I have set aside the time of 12:00 noon to pray until the end of the election. I have programmed a reminder to pop-up on my computer to keep me accountable.


“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What God is Teaching me Now

"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” Matthew 5: 21-22 (MSG)

There has been a powerful storm moving through my home lately. This storm has seemed to develop a life of its own and for many weeks has been gaining intensity. The swell has built to the point that I grew concerned that this storm would overwhelm and utterly destroy the balance of peace in my life.

This storm is what I will refer to as tropical storm “Gabe.”

On vacation in Florida recently we were forced to alter many of our plans due to tropical storm Faye, which made landfall on the second day of our vacation and then just sat over Orlando for several days. During this period of time the wind blew and the rain fell, often with driving force. So great and prolonged was this storm that many areas in Orlando and surrounding towns were deemed disaster areas once Faye finally moved on. I watched firsthand the devastating effects that a tropical storm can have.

During my quiet time as I was reading the word of God, I was led to the passage of scripture from the gospel of Matthew above. Two points in particular struck me as I read.

The first, was: “. . .anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.” Now I have read this verse many times. And as I often do, I sort-of glossed over it. I guess one could say that the weight of that statement never really hit me where I live. But today was different.

For many long weeks my husband and I have been struggling to cope with angry outbursts from our almost 4-year-old son. Needless to say these outbursts have made our home feel more like a war zone than a place of rest, contentment, acceptance and love. Much to my dismay I realized that in the same way as tropical storm Faye caused so much damage due to the amount of time she hovered in one place, the negative and sinful behavior in my home had also been hovering without course correction for far too long.

My husband and I have prayed over our son’s behavior. We have spoken to his teachers and anybody else that we thought could offer us advice on how to guide him to an understanding of how damaging his anger is. We have read book after book after book, looking for help. We have tried any reasonable suggestion and some not so reasonable ones in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the escalation of this harmful behavior.

The second point that struck a cord within me from this passage of scripture in Matthew was: “Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire.”

The use of the word ‘stupid’ has become one of my son’s staples. He flings that word out against anything or anyone who frustrates or angers him. Now I am not suggesting that my son has the mental capacity to yet understand the weight or seriousness of his actions. However it is my responsibility to teach my son that his words carry great significance and that he is to strive to build others up in his actions, words and deeds; rather than carelessly fling words about that cause discomfort, strife, hurt feelings and pain.

I have come to the painful conclusion that because I have allowed this behavior to continue, my son’s actions and words are destroying the peace in our home. The simple fact is that his words are killing! Not only the peace and calm in our home, but they are also destroying our ability to relate to him in the proper manner.

As I have been reflecting upon all of this, my heart has been troubled and the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about my need to model appropriate behavior. I need to conduct an attitude check of my own life. Although I don’t use the word stupid, does my attitude, volume level or actions ever convey the message that someone or something is stupid? Do I all too often react in a sinful and angry manner?

I must trust God to be my daily portion. I need to rely upon the strength of the Spirit to help me to not react in negativity, or with returned anger, during my son’s outbursts; or for that matter to any other perceived injustice or hurt. The Holy Spirit has spoken to me that administering reproof for my son’s bad behavior is not enough. I should also be teaching and providing him with the tools to appropriately deal with his anger and frustration

In order to quiet the storm within my son, I must ensure that my stormy seas have been calmed and that I have confessed any sinful behavior to my Lord allowing me to be utilized to teach him through the outpouring of God’s love.

I can only accomplish this goal by immersing myself in God’s Holy Word and by faithfully praying for His wisdom and guidance.

Related Scripture Verses ~

“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.” Psalm 119:66 (NIV)

“A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

Friday, September 19, 2008

By These Stripes . . .

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
” Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)

My head began to pound, my palms became sweaty, and a deep ache flooded my heart. At once my hands began to shake and I found myself wondering if I would be able to complete the project that I was working diligently to finish.

The project that I was working on was a kitchen remodel. I had spent hour upon hour looking at paint chips, planning matching fabric for draperies, picking out coordinating tile for the back-splash and just the right blend of artwork to display upon the walls. I had decided to paint the kitchen and adjoining dining room utilizing three deepening shades, the first was called “Crescent Moon,” an almost off-white color, with a subtle undertone of yellow. The second shade is called, “Aztec Gold,” and very much plays off of its unique name. The third and final shade is called, “Wheat Bread,” and is almost the shade of a beautiful milk chocolate.

I worked diligently to develop a design plan that would tie these three color choices neatly together and bring a unified look to the space. Part of my design plan included painting an accent wall of vertical stripes on one of the kitchen walls using my three paint colors in varying widths.

An interior decorator I am not! So, I was so pleased with my ingenuity and forethought.

At this point one of the things you should know is that in my marriage my husband and I have worked out a deal when it comes to any household remodeling projects that need to be completed. This deal was hammered out over time when we began to realize that for us to maintain marital harmony it would be important for us to never work on any remodeling project together.

Our deal is this: “Whoever is in charge of a particular aspect of any project has the right to complete the project in any manner that they deem necessary and appropriate; and the other party (the one not in control) will not give advice, criticism, or critique while the project is being completed.” In effect this deal says, “If I am doing the work, I am totally in charge of the project and have the final say on color selection, decorating style, etc.” The same holds true if he is in charge of the project. This deal has served us very well over the years. We now take a look at any potential project and determine who will be responsible for the completion of which portions of the job.

On this particular kitchen remodel project, it was decided that my husband would be in charge of the demo on the dining room ceiling and hanging the new sheetrock to replace the ceiling that had been damaged by a water leak. He was also responsible for hiring someone to come out and apply the sheetrock mud to fill the joints and prepare the ceiling for paint. All of which he accomplished with my support and my tongue kept safely tucked into my mouth; with no coaching or suggestions on how to accomplish the project from me.

Once my husband’s portion of the project was complete, we had agreed that the balance of the kitchen remodel job would be my responsibility. This seemed very logical as my husband has never had much interest in decorating or design, he doesn’t enjoy stripping wallpaper or painting, and has always trusted my judgment when it comes to color and style. He is usually very happy with the outcome of a project, just as long as I stick to our agreement and do not ask for his help.

As with other projects I shared my design plans, decorating thoughts and color choices with him prior to purchase of materials. Because I shared my plans in advance of beginning the project, and he was pleased with my choices, I was of the opinion that this project would proceed to completion without any foreseeable issue.

So, what transpired that was the cause of the symptoms I related to you that threatened the completion of this project?

During one of my discussion sessions about the project with my husband I relayed to him my plan to paint one accent wall in the kitchen with vertical stripes. At that point he said to me, “I wish that you would reconsider painting stripes on the wall. I have never really cared for stripes.”

I told him that I would take his suggestion under advisement. However, he was to remember our agreement, that if I am doing the work, I have the final decision.

After my husband made his comment about the stripes, I pondered his request. I ran through many scenarios in my mind as to how I could accomplish my design goals in a manner that would produce the designer look that I wanted and would tie my three paint color choices together, without the vertical paint stripe treatment. Finally, I decided that my entire plan was based around those stripes, and I just “had to have them!”

As things worked out, the first opportunity that I had to resume work on my kitchen project was a Friday evening, and my husband just happened to be out of town attending a meeting. I saw his absence from the house as the perfect time to tackle the stripe treatment. I reasoned, my husband would not be around to second guess my math skills and my methods for marking the wall in preparation for paint application. And, maybe in small part, thought that once the stripes were on the wall he would like them, or at least would not be mad that I had not taken his suggestion.

Everything was going along according to plan until I had completed approximately one-half of the paint treatment. It was at that time that my head began to pound, my palms began to sweat, my heart started to ache and my hands began to shake.

After a few minutes of feeling baffled as to the origin of these physical symptoms, I realized that God was speaking to my heart. I realized that I was falling under conviction from the Holy Spirit; conviction that I should NOT be painting the stripes on my kitchen wall.

Suddenly, I realized that even though my husband and I have our very successful remodeling agreement in place, and even though we have agreed that the person in charge of the project has the final decision and vote, I, as a Christian wife, should honor the request and wishes of my husband.

If that were not bad enough, my mind then rolled over the thought, “How would I feel if I asked my husband for a similar consideration and he dismissed my request?” Of course my answer to that question was, “I would feel hurt and rejected, and as if my opinion did not matter to him.” OUCH!!!

As further complication to my newly acquired attack of conviction, I had just started teaching a new Bible study class at church on marriage and issues relating to how “A Wife is to Respect Her Husband.” This study began on Wednesday and my painting conviction was occurring on Friday. How in the world was I to look my class in the eyes and teach about “respecting ones husband” when I was failing so miserably at doing so?

I stopped painting and thought to myself, “God, couldn’t you have spoken to my heart several hours ago, before I started this project? Did you have to wait until I was this far into it?” My next thought was, “Now, what do I do?”

I took a break to consider my options and to pray. Option one was to let the paint dry, sand everything down and paint over the stripes returning the wall to a solid color. Option two was to stop where I was and wait for my husband to come home and ask for his opinion to see if he truly didn’t like the stripes. Option three was to finish the project.

I didn’t like option one, as it would have been very labor intensive and I did not feel as if I would be able to complete the project before my husband’s return home on Saturday. Option two didn’t seem to be the correct response either. So, I ended up choosing to finish the project.

While finishing the project I realized that when my husband returned home, I must offer him my apology for not respecting his wishes. I would tell him that even though I had operated under our remodeling agreement, I felt convicted that as a Christian wife, I should have honored his request as head of our household.

On Saturday when my husband returned home, I did just that. He graciously accepted my apology. He even offered that maybe he “should have taken the time to understand my plan better before passing his judgment.”

Through this project I have gained a better understanding of what it means to truly respect my husband. I have learned that even if I believe that I am entitled to do things my way because of an agreement that has been put in place, my responsibility will always be to err on the side of honoring my marital relationship over my desires or freedoms.

If I fail to honor and respect those who are near and dear to me, I am failing to honor God and in fact I am committing sin. When this happens, as it did to me in the case of the kitchen stripes, “My guilt overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” I must remember that sin is always crouching at my door. Sin desires to have me and the devil does not want to see me or my marriage succeed. But because of the sacrifice of Jesus, and the pain he endured on the cross, by His stripes I am healed. I praise His name and I thank Him for the power of a humbled and convicted spirit.

Post log: After a period of time, my husband decided that he actually likes the stripes! He said, “I have to admit that the stripes look good; although, I would not have wanted them painted on all the walls.” What a happy compromise! Score one for the home team!

“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Psalm 38: 4 (NIV)

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Genesis 4: 7 (NIV)

Friday, September 5, 2008

In Search of Wisdom

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” ~ Francis Bacon

“A single conversation across a table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.” ~ Chinese Proverb

“A single moment of understanding can flood a whole life with meaning.” ~ Author unknown

What is your opinion about the quotes above? Do you agree or disagree with them?

What is wisdom? What does wisdom mean to you? How is being wise different from being smart? Do you think that it is important to God that we obtain wisdom? defines wisdom as: 1 ~ the quality or state of being wise; (Thanks Mr. Webster that clears things up!); knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. I like the second half of that definition. There is no way to learn or know truth apart from God. There is no just judgment apart from God and we cannot put our faith to work without action.

Many people believe that gaining knowledge is the same as having wisdom. But, knowledge is the accumulation of facts. All that you learn in school, in the Bible and through other experiences in life is knowledge. Every day that you go to school, you are learning knowledge. Scholars have much knowledge because they often spend their entire lives studying and researching. Yet knowledge is worthless if it is not correctly applied.

So, how about understanding? Understanding is a critical aspect relating directly to knowledge and wisdom. Understanding is a step beyond knowledge. It is the ability to evaluate the knowledge. This requires seeing the big picture, to see how the knowledge fits. To understand knowledge is to see the meaning or significance of the knowledge.

So that brings us back to our question; “What is wisdom?”

Very basically put, I believe that the Bible teaches that wisdom is, “A knowledge of God that brings about the skill to live God’s way.” Let’s take a look at some scripture verses together.

Proverbs 1: 1 – 6
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance – for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.”

The proverbs were given to us as a tool for obtaining wisdom and then applying it toward living a disciplined life for God. The writer of proverbs gives us words of insight into the characteristics of God, so that we may be better equipped to understand His words.

Proverbs 4:5
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words, or swerve from them.”

We are to seek wisdom and understanding and then bury the truth in our hearts.

Proverbs 2:6
“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Who gives wisdom? We may seek wisdom, but unless God is involved we will not gain it. Let’s go back to page 1 and read again about knowledge and understanding. “Knowledge is the accumulation of facts. “To understand knowledge (or gain understanding) is to see the meaning or significance of knowledge.” Isn’t it amazing that apart from God, there are no facts; there is no meaning or significance in anything that we learn? This verse tells us this is so, “. . . from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Apart from God, there is no truth. In the absence of truth, is there a point to learning?

Proverbs 8: 10 – 11
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

Am I seeking the right kind of instruction? The kind that is more precious than rubies, is better than gold?

Proverbs 2: 33
“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it”

If we desire to be wise, we must become students of the word. And, not ignore what we learn. Have you ever heard it said, “You may hear me, but you are NOT listening? I say that to my 3-year-old frequently. I believe that quote could be a good paraphrase of this verse in Proverbs.

Psalm 111: 10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.”

What does this verse tell us is the beginning of wisdom? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? If not, fearing the Lord is a good starting point.

James 3: 17 (MSG)
“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.”

The only way to have a holy life is to know God, and the test of your connection to God as described in this verse is, do you “get along with others”? This verse is further backed by the teaching of Jesus himself, where in Matthew 22: 37 we read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Did you see a recurring theme in these verses? Not only are we to study God’s word for knowledge and understanding, but we are to then put our learning into action. Wisdom comes through gaining understanding about how God wants you to live and then applying that understanding by putting it into practice in your daily life. If you do that over the course of your life, you’ll be wise! And as our verses tell us, being wise is better than being rich, popular, and famous, a great athlete, or any of the other earthly goals we set for ourselves.

So, as our thoughts turn to a new school year, I encourage you to focus on obtaining knowledge through the instruction in God's word as you seek true wisdom. As one who is suffering from the mental confusion and mind robbing effects of dealing with the progressive effects of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, I can tell you that the things I have learned in a classroom are not things that bring real value to my life, nor are they always easy to recall. However, the truths of God that I have buried in my heart over the past years, never leave me and they are the things that sustain my life. I encourage everyone to spend some time daily in the study of scripture and in prayer. Pray that God will bless you with wisdom as you study His word and that He will help you to apply the things that you learn to daily living.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How cool is God?

Lately, since about mid July, every time I am feeling harried about something in life, during my quiet time with God I find myself reading a scripture verse that reminds me to just be quiet before God and allow Him to lead me.

This journey started when I found Zehpaniah 3:17 (NIV) "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Then this morning I read: "So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time." This one is from James 4: 7-8 (MSG)

Over and over again, God keeps prompting my heart to be quiet before Him. It may be to physically be quiet; as in to hold my tongue and not yell when my son acts in inappropriate ways, after he has been warned repeatedly. It may be to stop and remain quiet when I am searching for an answer. It may be to remind me that when I have a quiet spirit I am offering praise to God.

I am so grateful that God does honor our prayers to "Teach us His ways," and that he does quiet our hearts!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


For many years I have wondered what it would be like to get older and have to visit the doctor on a regular basis. I wondered if, in my older years, I too would need to carry a pharmacy with me when I travel. I have wondered if I would ever be in the position of having to choose between buying groceries and buying my medications.

Well, it seems that some of those questions are already being answered for me. Although I don’t consider myself to be “older” just yet, my body has taken to feeling old. I guess that is just one of the down sides to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

As I prepare for vacation I have answered the question about carrying a pharmacy with me when traveling. Check the “YES” box on that one! I had to check each of my prescriptions and ensure that I would have enough of my medication to see me through the entire length of my trip, and call the pharmacy for a refill on the one that would run out during my trip. I just hope that the airline doesn’t think I am a druggie!

I also have realized that were it not for insurance, the cost of my drugs would be HUGE! So, I am thanking God that my husband has excellent insurance through his job. I truly feel for those on a fixed income who have no such benefit.

With PD not only do I have to visit my neurologist, who now wants to see me once every three months, but I also visit a Movement Disorder Specialist once every six months. So, I think I can safely mark the “visit the doctor on a regular basis” box as “YES,” too.

I guess that one of my biggest “wonderings” of all though would have to be, wondering what my life will look like in five, ten, twenty or more years into the future. I realize that Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease and I know that my health will continue to deteriorate. However, I am doing better at taking a proactive approach to my health. I am trying to eat more healthy, and to exercise on a regular basis. I know that my mental outlook has a great deal to do with how I feel from day to day. But, most importantly I have surrendered my disease, my health and my life to the Lord’s direction.

It is strange to some people how I often say that even with all of the bad things that come from Parkinson’s Disease, having Parkinson’s Disease has not been the most terrible thing to enter into my life. Not at all! In fact, Parkinson’s Disease is teaching me to rely more fully on my Heavenly Father, to have great faith and dependence on His strength to see me through each day. So, in many ways I am grateful for carrying this thorn-in-the-flesh and I join with the Apostle Paul in saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12: 9 & 10 NIV)

My prayer in the midst of all of this is that I will act with strength and dignity, and that I will continually Praise the Lord!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


. . . “The Shack,” by William P. Young

No matter what, get your hands on a copy of this book and read it! I was loaned one and I read all 248 pages of it in one day! The book is mesmerizing and will take you on a journey into the very heart of God our Father, or as Mack, the main character in the book learns to call him, “Papa.”

Mr. Young weaves his story and plot so successfully that at times I would have to remind myself to breathe, as I became so riveted by the word pictures he painted. I was drawn so deeply into a world, which by the author’s admission is a work of fiction, yet I walked away feeling that Mr. Young so accurately captured the very essence of the three-person Trinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Somehow, Mr. Young’s story makes perfect sense, and he brought me a step closer toward understanding that God is “especially fond of” each and every one of His created children.

God bless and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wallpaper Woes

If you are buying, selling or contemplating ever buying or selling a home, please read this!

First, please, please, please, promise me that you will never, ever, ever put wallpaper on any wall of your home! If you MUST do so, please, please, please, promise me that you will remove said wallpaper from the wall yourself before you sell your home and paint over said wall with a very neutral color. As they say on HGTV, “That rooster wallpaper you love so much may not suit the taste of the next owner!”

Second, please, please, please, promise me that you will never, ever, ever apply popcorn paint to any ceiling in your home. If you MUST do so, please, please, please, promise me that you will scrape said popcorn from the ceiling yourself before you sell your home and then paint the ceiling without any items that will fall from said ceiling if it is brushed with a broom. Another quote from HGTV, “Popcorn ceilings are so 1980’s. Always remove before placing your home on the market to receive the best sales price.”

Okay, so you may be wondering what has triggered my begging and pleading for every homeowner in the world to do away with wallpaper and popcorn textured ceilings. One word: Remodel! The 1980’s called my house and they demanded their kitchen, dining room, and upstairs hallway back! So, for the last few weeks I have been stripping wallpaper and dealing with the little white “popcorn” balls that fall off of my ceiling’s.

And let me tell ya, the previous owners not only put up 1980’s wallpaper, they put it up over drywall that had not been primed or painted; therefore it is tearing up the wallboard in many places when I am removing it, and if that weren’t bad enough, in several areas there are two layers of the hideous stuff! Not fun ya’ll!!

Well, hopefully my saga will be coming to an end soon and our home will be 1980’s tacky wallpaper free. As for those popcorn ceilings. . .

. . . well they will remain. With the way the job was going I was afraid to scrap said popcorn down because none of the drywall was hung properly and I was worried that the tape on the joints would not hold up if I began to scrap on them. Sigh! At least they will be crisp and white for another few years. And who knows, maybe by then we will be ready to sell the house and the next owners will get to deal with them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

LOVED, therefore CHOSEN

Recently I traveled to N.C. to participate in the Proverbs 31 conference, “She Speaks.” On Saturday evening after a particularly moving testimony and presentation by Renee Swope, all women were asked to write down any doubts or fears that needed to be released in order to know and serve Him more fully. We were instructed to take the doubt and fear and lay it at the foot of the cross and replace it with a scripture verse of promise that had been left at the cross for us to pick up.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post by Renee that better describes the scene for you. “Hundreds of cards with eleven different promises were created and placed at the foot of the cross on Saturday night. We anointed them with prayer and watched, knowing that as women came forward to lay down their doubts they would pick up God’s personal promise and His new name for them. It was beautiful!!!!

The next day I heard that many women didn’t know that there was a word “shadowed” on the card behind their verse. The news spread that there was more. It was SO powerful to see women look beyond the first promise to see the second one in a shadow behind it.”

At the conclusion of Renee’s post referenced above she requested that those of us who attended “She Speaks” write to share the promise we picked up at the foot of the cross, the shadowed word behind it and how the verse spoke to our hearts or what it meant to us.

The following is the verse that I received.

“. . . for you are a chosen (women). You are a royal priest, a holy (daughter). God’s very own possession. As a result you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9

I have to admit that the first time I read my verse my thought was something like this, “Oh, well, that’s nice.“ But as so often happens with God, when I read the verse again in my quiet time, several of His perfect truths from this verse began to penetrate my heart.

The first words that reached in and touched my heart were, “you can show others the goodness of God.” Since the adoption of my son I have been struggling with what I guess would best be described as an ‘identity’ crisis. I have been a working professional woman for most of my adult life, and now I find myself in the position of having a child to raise. And albeit a true blessing from God that I find myself once again in the role of Mommy, I do admit that this role has been a challenge for me.

I have been feeling God calling to me and asking me to join Him in a very active role in raising my son. I have sensed the Spirit asking me to give up my job, take my son out of daycare and spend these very important first years of his life teaching him about the love of God.

For me, this has seemed like an impossible task. First, the issue of finances and how can we make ends meet if I am not working? “Trust me!” Seemed to be His reply. Second, my doubt, fear and insecurity as I complained, “Lord, I am so inadequate. How can I, with all of my sin and failings, teach my son about Your love?” But through this verse, God once again spoke to me and reminded me that I can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, show my son the goodness of God.

In my wrestling within myself over this calling, or ministry if you will, I have realized that I also have been fighting the sin of anger. I have been angry about many things. I have been angry because I was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease in 2006. I don’t want this disease and I know that the disease steals my energy, causes aches and pain, and often impairs my ability to cope with things in a calm and rational manner. I have struggled with anger because I have felt that I am being asked to give up a part of who I am to take on the full-time Mommy role. But most of all I have felt anger because I feel so inadequate to take on the challenge that God has placed before me. I know how to succeed in business, however I am less convinced about my mothering skills, at least if I am to do the job with any amount of success. Yet God’s promise says that He has “called me out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

And finally, as I looked at my promise from scripture I realized that the shadow word is “CHOSEN.” Any time a person becomes a parent, God has chosen to match two individuals in this unique relationship. But I think that in an adoption situation the truth in that statement is even more profound. God CHOSE me to be my son’s mother! Flaws and all! I am God’s royal priest, His holy daughter. I am His possession, and so is my son. God is calling me to this highly honorable mission field and He can and will equip me to carry out my duties.

It is with this assurance that I am free from doubt, fear and insecurity. It is now that I can embrace this mission field and teach my son to know God, and to love and trust in Him.

“Dear Lord, Your love is amazing! Your word brings life and truth. I give myself to you and to this new area of ministry. I place my son in your hands and ask that you strengthen me for the journey ahead. Please bless me with wisdom, compassion, strength, and grace to display the love of Jesus in everyday life. Help me to make you real in my son’s life. Not some far away, living up in the clouds God, but a very real and personal God who loves to give good gifts to His children. I wholeheartedly seek you and ask you to become greater in my life. I seek more of you and less of me. I thank you for answering righteous prayer. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

“She Speaks” Doesn’t Disappoint

My expectations for “She Speaks” this year were very different from last-year. Last year, I went hoping to grow my relationship with God, but I also went hoping that one of my meetings with book publishers would net me a book contract. Not so that I could become the next Beth Moore, but because I truly felt that I had some good information to share with my fellow Christian sisters.

This year however, I cancelled both of my meetings with book publishers. I did this for several reasons. First among my reasons, was that this year I really wanted to attend “She Speaks” without the added stress that those meetings cause. Second I was not able to pull my two sample chapters together with the degree of professionalism, polish and finish that I felt was necessary, and third; the most important reason of all, I wanted to attend without distraction so that I could clearly hear the sound of my Master’s voice. You see, for many weeks prior to the conference I had been asking God in prayer to speak to me in a great way during the “She Speaks” conference. I had been wrestling with some big issues and I felt that God would speak great truths to me during this time with the P31 team.

Well let me just tell ya, when God shows up He shows up in a BIG way!! This year, not only did God help me answer many questions, he affirmed my calling in ministry. Through the ministry and words of the P31 team, He gave me hope, peace, rest, and spiritual rejuvenation. I was strengthened and encouraged in my daily walk with the Lord. I came home to my family ready to blaze new God honoring paths in the name of Jesus Christ.

Praise His Holy Name forever and ever!

Special thanks, Big Hugs and lots of Love to all the women of the P31 Team! You all ROCK!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Then I Prayed Some More

If you have read my post from May 30th, entitled Answered Prayer, you will know that I am getting ready to attend “She Speaks.” You will also know that I have been attempting to pull together a book proposal to be presented to a couple of publishing houses.

Well, after many attempts at writing the content for the proposal, nothing is really working the way I would like for it to be. So, although I still am convinced that the book is worthy of writing, and I believe that I have much to share through this book; I have decided that this is not the year for me to move forward with presenting my ideas.

I called the Proverbs 31 office and requested that my book presentation appointments be given to the first person on the waiting list. I have prayed earnestly for the woman who will be ‘pitching’ her idea to these people. I have a great peace about this decision, so I am feeling that I made the right decision. I am feeling as if a weight has been pulled off of my shoulders and I am excited about attending the conference without that added stress. I am looking forward to just being quiet before the Lord and allowing Him to speak to me. Having the distraction of meeting with publishers last year seemed to impede my listening skills.

I will continue to work on my book, and as I said before, I will accomplish the goal of putting together a complete manuscript. I will trust the Lord with this project, and I will continue to seek to glorify God in every aspect of my life.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Answered Prayer

As I am preparing to attend “She Speaks” I have been trying to work on a book to present to a group of publishers. To say the least, it has not been going very well. As I have struggled for many days with this project my prayers have gone something like this, “Dear Lord, I believe that you placed a calling on my life to write. I believe that you gave me talent to string words together that are clear and concise and that point readers to you. But God, you know that right now I am struggling with this current project. I seem to not have the words, the tools, or the inspiration to get the job done. I have a deadline to meet if I am to present this book at the conference I will be attending. So, Dear Lord I am surrendering this project to you, if it is your will that this book get written please clear away all of the distractions. Please give me the very words you would have written, and take away any selfish ambitions or areas of sin in my life that would keep me from living out your plan for my life.”

God’s timing is perfect and so is His plan, if only we can release ourselves to wait and watch for His hand to move, then follow along with Him. Today, three weeks before I needed to have two sample chapters put together to take to “She Speaks” to present, God lead me, during my daily devotion and quiet time, to the verse in Ephesians above. How fitting and how divine are the words, “He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. . . . Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.”

God led me to scripture that described this very book that I feel He was compelling me to write. As I read the words in my Bible this morning, my eyes flooded with tears. How could there be any doubt that I am to write this book? How could I ever doubt that indeed my life has been built brick by brick to serve God?

I know that, short of a miracle, I won’t have the book completed before I go to “She Speaks,” but what I do know is that I will make the presentation, and no matter what comes from my meetings with these publishers, my book will be written, it will be read by someone one day, and most importantly, God will be glorified!!

Praise His Name!

Oh, BTW ~ The Title of the book is: Brick by Brick, Building a Life for Service to God

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Oh Boy, Oh Boy! Just three weeks from today I leave for the Proverbs 31 “She Speaks” conference for 2008. I am so pumped! I know that Lysa and all the team have worked so hard to make everything bigger and better than ever.

What makes this event so wonderful? Most importantly, I think, it is that each attendee can rest assured that the P31 team has spent many hours in prayer preparation for the event. Seriously y’all, they cover every aspect of the conference in prayer and they pray specifically for every person who will be attending; by name. This year that means that they have prayed for at least 500 women. Talk about prayer warriors!!

I know that lives will be changed, hearts touched, that Jesus will be praised, and women will be equipped to carry the gospel message to many more because of this event.

For those of you who will be attending, I hope to get to meet many of you. (With 500 women running around I know I won’t get to meet everyone.) For those of you who cannot go this year, I pray that you will be able to attend next year.

Blessings all!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shhh, Quiet Please

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3: 17 NIV)

I love the verse of scripture above. It has become an intense prayer of my heart.

“Lord, please quiet me with your love.”

Webster’s dictionary gives many definitions for the word quiet, but the ones that I like most, that fit my prayer, follow.

· restrained in speech, manner, etc.; saying little: a quiet person.
· free from disturbance or tumult; tranquil; peaceful: a quite life.
· Free from disturbing thoughts, emotions, etc.; mentally peaceful: a quiet conscience.
· Said, expressed, done, etc., in a restrained or unobtrusive way: a quiet reproach; a quiet admonition. 1

In the recent weeks I have been struggling with discipline issues for my 3-year-old son. My running prayer has gone something like this,

“Lord, I need a daily portion of your manna in the area of strength, patience and wisdom. I am feeling so incapable of being the Mother my son needs me to be. His father and I seem to be at an impasse in reaching him. In getting him to understand and follow the rules of the house. Temper my heart with love, grace and compassion. Help me to teach and not punish, allow me to guide with grace.”

Then, as so often happens with God, one morning as I was reading my Bible, God graciously led me to Zephaniah 3: 17. Although, the whole verse is good, the section that took my breath away was, “he will quiet you with his love.”

It was as if God gently flooded my soul with the answer that I had been searching for. God spoke to me and said I needed to allow Him to quiet my spirit, and my manner of addressing my son.

I would love to report that things in our household are now running 'quietly' and smoothly all of the time, but that would be incorrect. But, what is changing is my reaction when my son breaks or violates the house rules. These seven very simple words permeate my actions and my reactions, and keep me on track with God’s plan.

I may never be the mother I would like to be; but God, when I get out of His way and allow Him to work through me, is more than able. I praise His Holy Name for that great gift today!

1 From - “quiet”

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Out of the Corner of My Eye – Part Two

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (MSG – James 1: 25)

In my last post on this subject I began to ponder a few questions based upon the verse above.

My first question was this; “What or more accurately who, is the revealed counsel of God.”

My answer was: One name: Jesus. Our Lord and Savior lived an earthly existence to provide us a glimpse into the heart and mind of God our Father, to set an example of how we should live our lives, and the sacrifice Jesus made through His shed blood, poured out at the foot of the cross paved the way for us to be redeemed of sin and to give us the hope of eternal life. (John 6:47)

The second question, or more accurately put second and third questions were:

“If I am truly no longer a ‘distracted scatterbrain but a woman of action,’ what actions should I be focused upon?” And, “If I focus on carrying out those actions, will I truly find ‘delight and affirmation’ by doing them?

After many days of reflection and time spent with the Lord in His word, the impressions that are on my heart in answer to these questions follow.

Please keep a couple of things in mind as you read my thoughts. First, these are the things God has placed on my heart. Each person will be different, and the ‘action items’ that God places on your heart may look totally different from mine. Second, often I tend to be a little slow at realizing what God is trying to teach me and it takes me a while to get on board with His plan for my life.

1st Action Step – God is to become greater, I am to become lesser! “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV) I have embarked on a journey to not think so highly of myself. Not that I am putting myself down. I realize how truly blessed I am to be loved by the King; Most High God. But, as Louie Giglio says, “i am not, but I know I AM.”

This action step is tough. It goes against everything that most of us have ever felt, been taught, and believed. The world shouts at us to make a name for ourselves. We are encouraged to amass as much of the worlds toys as possible. We are told to do whatever it takes to climb the ladder to success. But, I must remember these are lies of the world, brewed by the master of evil and are contrary to God’s perfect teachings. In God’s word He tells us, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (I Peter 5:5 b, NIV) I not only want God’s grace, but I desperately need it as well. To more fully enjoy the riches of God’s grace I need to practice humility. Make much ado about Jesus and pay less attention to attempts at garnering glowing reviews on my performance.

2nd Action Step - “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thess. 5:17 NKJV) This means I am to pray about everything. The big things in life and the small things. When I arise in the morning and all throughout the day. Not just during my devotion time, or before I close my eyes at night, but all the time! My continuous prayer has become, “Dear Lord, grant me an attitude of prayer in all of life circumstances, no matter what I am doing.”

3rd Action Step – Humility begins at home. I am being called to become a better model of a godly wife for my husband. “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.” (I Peter 3: 1-4 MSG) I am to honor him with my actions, my words and my deeds. I am to be quick to praise and slow to anger. God is teaching me many ways that I can improve my performance in this area.

4th Action Step – Make showing Jesus to my sons a priority. “Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7 MSG) I must be daily in the word. I must be ready, at any given minute, to respond to the challenges of parenthood with Godly instruction. I desire to point the way to Jesus by the manner in which I live my life. This is critical in raising children. Without knowledge of God, a child has no true compass; no way to reach the full potential for their lives that God uniquely designed them to fill.

Looking over this list of action steps, I realize that I have my work cut out for me. Each one of these things will challenge me, and test my resolve to follow Jesus. All combined, I realize that apart from the grace of God I would have no chance for success. I realize that, this side of heaven at least, I will never grow to the point of living in a state of perfection on any of my action items. But, praise God, He doesn’t call us to live a perfect life. He calls us to have a heart that desires to do a little better each day, and to strive to live out the desire to grow in Him.

“Father God, Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your amazing word and how it has the power to soften my heart and change my life. Thank you for not expecting perfection from me. I pray that you will give me the strength, willpower and determination to open myself fully to your revealed word. I pray that I might willingly surrender any stronghold that keeps me from hearing your voice and following as one of your faithful sheep. Help me to allow You to become greater while I become lesser, assist me toward giving myself to a life of prayer without ceasing, please help me to become more humble, and give me the knowledge and wisdom to point my sons to your unfailing love. I ask this in the precious Lord and Savior, Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Out of the Corner of My Eye

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (MSG – James 1: 25)

I don’t know what your life is like, but lately I have definitely been acting like a distracted scatterbrain; and I don’t like it at all! So, when I read this passage of scripture this morning my interest was piqued. This verse tells me that if I catch a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God, even out of the corner of my eye, I am not a distracted scatterbrain but a woman of action.

As I began to ponder the verse, a couple of questions came to mind.

First, I must question, “What or more accurately who, is the revealed counsel of God.” I think that it would be safe to answer that one with one name: Jesus. Our Lord and Savior lived an earthly existence to provide us a glimpse into the heart and mind of God our Father, to set an example of how we should live our lives, and the sacrifice Jesus made through His shed blood, poured out at the foot of the cross paved the way for us to be redeemed of sin and to give us the hope of eternal life. (John 6:47)

What I find intriguing is that this verse doesn’t command that I must reach some goal or lofty religious pinnacle of success to gain the ‘free life.’ Rather, it states that all that is required is that I ‘catch a glimpse’ of Jesus. I like that! I am human. I fail. Often many times I fail before I can even begin to gain a small amount of ground in my quest to live life more as Jesus did. You see I really want to follow Jesus and live my life out loud for him, but I struggle with selfish desire and human weakness. I can relate to the apostle Paul when he wrote, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 NIV)

What makes this verse even more powerful for me is the fact that I have very limited peripheral vision in my left eye due to a birth-defect. So, this verse provides me hope and assurance that when my heart and mind remain set on following the path of Jesus, I have already won the race for the free life. Yes, there will be times when I fall down as I run. Yes, there will be times when I become distracted by the things of this world. There will even be times when I hurt the cause of Christ by my selfish and sinful actions. However, as long as I sincerely desire the cross of Jesus to shine in my life, even a slight vision of Jesus out of the corner of my eye, will allow me to repent and quickly jump back on track and finish the race strong. Now that’s what I call, the power of God’s amazing grace.

The second question that this verse brought to my mind is this. “If I am truly no longer a ‘distracted scatterbrain but a woman of action,’ what actions should I be focused upon?” And, “If I focus on carrying out those actions, will I truly find ‘delight and affirmation’ by doing them?”

These are some really BIG thoughts for my little mind to ponder. For the next few days I intend to mull them over and allow my soul to steep in the thoughts that the Holy Spirit impresses upon me.

If this verse speaks to you, I invite you to put the kettle on and brew yourself up a big helping of reflective Jesus tea, and ask the Lord to reveal to you what action you should to be taking. I’ll come back in a few days and let you know what has been placed on my heart. If you are willing to take up the challenge and are willing to share your thoughts about this verse, please post a comment to share.

May God bless and enrich many coasts through this time!