Thursday, January 31, 2008

Looking Back, “She Speaks” Conference Reminds:
Never Enough of God in My Life

Bringing in a new year has caused me to pause and reflect on the year of 2007. Many exciting events have taken place in 2007 that have changed my life. Not the least of these changing events was the adoption of my son on August 17th, 2007. The other life changing event was my attendance of the Proverbs 31 “She Speaks” conference.

Anytime a child is brought into a family it is inevitable that life will change. This is especially true when a child is adopted at the age of 34 months, (2 years and 10 months, for those of you who, like me, are a little math challenged.) by a woman who was very comfortable with her very quiet, orderly, organized, neat, and often very selfish lifestyle.

Needless to say, my home is no longer quiet. Nor, is it orderly, organized, and neat. More often than not one would be likely to find my home in a state of cluttered, messy, chaos. However, I am happy to admit, the adoption of this miracle child has forced me to become less selfish and more dependent upon the Lord. I wish that I could say that giving up some of my selfish desires has come easily. However, the truth of the matter is that I am a fighter, and tend to give up my selfish desires only when I am forced to do so, and then only while kicking and screaming.

Another of the changes that this wonderful addition to my life has brought about is a renewed desire to grow closer to my precious Savior; Jesus Christ. This desire was cultivated not only by my son’s adoption, and the realization that I want to give my very best to my efforts to raise him in a home where God is placed first above all else; but also by the faith and witness of one very special woman, Lysa TerKeurst.

For those of you who may not know Lysa, she is the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, co-host of the ministries national radio program and she is the award winning author of several books, including her latest release, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, as well as What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Leading Women to the Heart of God, and many other wonderful titles. She is the featured writer for the monthly magazine, P31 Woman and has had her work published in other publications such as Focus on the Family magazine and Crown Financial Ministries’ Money Matters.

My first encounter with Lysa was through reading some of her online devotions, posted at The second encounter I experienced with Lysa was at a women’s retreat in Sullivan Indiana during the early summer of last year. Lysa was to be the keynote speaker and I was so excited about attending the conference. At the time of this conference I was knee deep in the roller-coaster ride of emotions surrounding my son. He was living in my home in a foster care capacity, and it was uncertain when if we would ever receive the blessing of adopting him. I had high hopes that I would gain a fresh perspective on life in general and a renewed desire to grow closer to my Savior at this conference. Lysa did not disappoint me, nor were my expectations of a life-changing experience left wanting.

Lysa’s Biblical insights were life changing, she was inspiring, fresh funny and clearly on fire for the Lord; and she mixed every topic that she shared with personal stories that were real and moved my heart. Also at this event, she gave a challenge to all women who were either women’s ministry leaders, writers, speakers, or who hoped to one day be a part of leading women to God through one of these avenues; to attend “She Speaks,” an annual conference hosted by Proverbs 31 ministries. When she extended the offer to join her at “She Speaks,” in June I knew that I had to attend. I felt that the “Women’s Ministry Track” of the conference would help me in my newly appointed role as Co-Leader of women’s ministry at my home church. But, what really intrigued me was the prospect of learning how to hone my writing skills, and to develop what I consider to be my calling in life, by attending classes from the “Writers Track” of the conference.

So, in June of 2007 I packed my bags and headed off to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend “She Speaks.”

I was genuinely impressed by the quality and depth of each presentation that I attended. I was gaining skills, thoughts, and ideas that were sure to help me develop a sound women’s ministry at church, and I was gaining some very beneficial information about the pursuit of a writing career. However, what I was most surprised by was how every presentation and every class I attended, every contact that I made with other women who were also seeking to serve Jesus, I was being challenged to develop and grow my spiritual walk with Jesus.

Before this conference I felt that I had a good relationship with Jesus; during and after the conference I realized that a ‘good’ relationship with Jesus was nowhere near enough! On Saturday evening, after all of the presentations I was wiped out, both physically and emotionally. I knew that God was touching my life in a very profound way. I was exhausted and I wanted to sleep. I realized that I would not be able to sleep until I had a talk with my Lord. So, I fell on my face, on the cold marble tile of my hotel room’s bathroom floor. I began to pray and call out to God. I wanted Him to transform me. I asked Him to renew me and sculpt my broken vessel into what He desires me to be. I realized that what I had really been seeking my entire life was not just to be a ‘so-called’ good Christian and to look good in my service to Him. No! What I desired; what I must have is a very intimate and personal relationship with my Abba Father. What mattered most in life was for me to take Jesus captive as my very breath of life.

As I look back on the events of last year, I can’t help but look forward to this new-year. I know that Jesus and I are on a journey together. I know that He is growing me, and that I am falling more in love with Him each day. I also realize that despite my desire for spiritual growth and my resolve to change, I am still just a fallen sinner and I will continue to struggle to grow my relationship with Christ. There have been many times since that conference in June of last year that I have found myself sharing Lysa TerKeurst’s feelings recorded in her blog posting from Tuesday, January 1st entitled: “The Song of My Rag Tag Soul.” In that blog posting Lysa said: “I have been obedient but only to a certain point. I have been good but I am not holy. I have faith but still struggle with the desire to be put in a position to really have to practice it.” (For the entire article by Lysa go to:

I can so relate to what Lysa said. Maybe you can too. I know that my desire to grow a greater relationship with my savior is strong, but I find myself saying; “Lord, no matter how much I grow in you it will never be enough for me! I want to give you everything, yet I struggle with my human frailties. My greatest prayer is to serve you with great abandon. To allow you to be so real in my life that I love nothing more than taking delight in our bond. I desire to say yes to your every request, and to make you known throughout the world! I desire to have nothing delight me more than singing your praise through the way I live my life.” So, although I have never been one to make new-year’s resolutions, this year I am making some. Here they are.

· I resolve to continue to listen for God to speak to me and,
· I resolve to do my very best to follow His direction.
· I resolve to continue to strive to lay down my selfish desires and cherish every gift God sends my way, as they have been many.
· I resolve to extend grace, grace, grace, to those, also imperfect, souls with whom I find myself doing life with.
· And most of all; I resolve to not beat myself up when I am less than perfect and find that at the end of 2008 I must make these same resolutions all over again. Because, let’s be honest folks; there is not ever going to be a day when I will be perfect at maintaining these resolutions, at least this side of glory.

PS – If you are on a spiritual journey of your own and wish to grow closer to the Lord in 2008, I encourage you to make plans now to attend “She Speaks” this year. I have already related to you how wonderful I think Lysa is, but what you may not be aware of is that this wonderful woman is offering a FULL SCHOLARSHIP to attend “She Speaks” this year. (That’s a $525.00 value folks!!)

So, if you have stayed with me and read this entire article, and would like to attend “She Speaks,” but like me, funds are tight; surf on over to Lysa’s blog at: and read her post dated: Tuesday January 29th, 2008 entitled, “Win A Scholarship to She Speaks 2008.” You will also need to check out the Proverbs 31 website, for more information on the conference. Here is a link to that page: I hope to see you at “She Speaks!” I know that if you are able to attend you will not leave disappointed!

Friday, January 18, 2008

“Me Do”

My 2 ½ -year-old is forever providing me with little life lessons. Just the other day as I was rushing to go out the door, and trying unsuccessfully to rush him as well, he provided me with another such lesson.

This particular day I was running behind schedule as usual and wanted my son to stand still while I helped him put on his socks, shorts and shirt. My son has just started learning how to dress himself and he particularly enjoys trying to put on his socks. In my haste, I wanted to assist him so that we could shave a few seconds off of the time it was going to take for us to be out the door and on our way. My son became frustrated with me and my attempt to assist him. Finally, he yanked his socks away from me with the proclamation; of “me do!” Of course, he really needed my help, and a few seconds later he said “Mommy do,” but he wanted, and for a second, even demanded his independence.

Don’t we, at times, display a stubborn streak of independence to our loving heavenly father as well? We put our hands on our hips and stomp our foot with the mind-set that we can handle a task on our own strength. Then we stubbornly set about completion of that task without even the slightest consideration for the outcome. Yet, if we are given a little time for reality and a sense of perspective to set in we realize that we need our Father’s help; that is if we want the task to be completed properly.

Sure, God will allow us to muddle through on our own efforts, and make a mess of things, but wouldn’t it be beneficial to us to seek Him and His guidance first? Wouldn’t we save ourselves much heartache and disappointment in life if we would take even the smallest of tasks to Him in prayer first? Isn’t it easier to ask for help first, rather than having to seek forgiveness later?

God is gracious and loving and He wants to be involved in even the smallest detail of our lives. Nothing is too trivial, mundane or unimportant to God. He wants us to be dependent on Him for our every need. Won’t you join me in recommitting every task and all of your effort to Him today? I know that He will bless us for our faithfulness!

My Mother was a wonderful Christian woman and her life exemplified the “Wife of Noble Character” found in Proverbs 31. I would like to share with you some of the ways Mom blessed my life.

My mother raised me with Godly spiritual wisdom. Many times I saw my Mom read from God’s word. I realized early on that the Bible was an important part of her life. She was a woman of prayer and she prayed with me at nightly when I was young. She also prayed for her family, her Church, her community and her nation. She was faithful to her Church both in attendance and tithing. Although she struggled with her health for many years before her death she always remained steadfast in her faith and praise for God. She knew her life, no matter how it was to be lived, was in His hands.

Speaking of hands, hers were never idol she toiled all day long. She had the most beautiful flower gardens in the neighborhood. Often her back would be hurting so badly that she could no longer physically walk around to pull the weeds from the flowerbeds. It was those times when you would find my mother crawling around on her hands and knees weeding the flowers.

Mom often wondered how I, of her three daughters, turned out to be her best cook since I never wanted to be in the kitchen when she wanted to teach me. What Mother didn’t know was that even though I pretended not to be interested, I was quietly watching because I wanted to grow up to be a great cook just like her.

Mom was a good steward of money. She was thrifty and knew all about recycling before it was something that was popular. In our house tin foil was recycled over and over, and over, and over again.

I praise God because I was also blessed with an artistic Mother. God chose to bless me with the ability to paint and draw as well. The joy of drawing and painting was a bond we shared during her life.

But of all the gifts that Mom has given me over my life she saved the very best gift for last. I would like to share with you the story of Mom’s best gift.
My Mom’s health steadily declined over all the years of my life. I can’t really remember my Mom ever being truly healthy.

For the last two months of my Mom’s life she was unable to care for herself. By the time we moved Mom into my sister’s home she weighed around 92 pounds. Mom required 24-hour care and my sister needed help. Daily for two months I watched Mom grow weaker and weaker in body, but stronger and stronger in her faith. During this time, as I ministered to Mom’s health needs God began to minister to my heart.

You see I became a Christian when I was thirteen but I lived most of my adult life separated from God’s will. For all intents and purposes I was a Christian in name only. My daily life did not reflect God’s indwelling spirit! I began praying daily and meditating on His word. I would sit by Mom’s bed and sing some of the old hymns to her. On really good days Mom would sing a bar or two with me. I spent a lot of time holding Mom’s hand and praying at her bedside.

The last week of Mom’s life she was in constant pain and had to be kept in a Morphine induced sleep to curb the pain. On the rare occasions when Mom would wake up and open her eyes she was unable to see very much as her eyes had become completely clouded over with a dull yellow film. She had even lost the strength and ability to squeeze my hand, as I would sit by her bedside and talk to her.

On the morning of April 30th, I woke up somehow knowing that Mom would soon be in heaven. As the day wore on Mom’s breathing began to become labored and her heartbeat became erratic. I was monitoring her vitals closely and I decided it was time to call the whole family to her side. With the family present I sat on the side of Mom’s bed and held her hand. I prayed that Jesus would come and take Mom home so her suffering would be over. After I prayed I whispered to Mom, “Jesus is waiting Momma. His arms are open wide. Can you see him? He is waiting to welcome you home. It is okay for you to go now. I’m here holding your hand and I promise I’ll walk with you as far as I am allowed, until you can take the hand of Jesus.”

Once those words left my lips, at 2:43 p.m. on Tuesday April 30, 2002 Mom gave me her most beautiful and wonderful gift. Her eyes opened and miraculously they were completely clear, they were the most brilliant blue that I had ever seen them in her life. She squeezed my hand tightly and firmly one last time then turned her head slightly in my direction and smiled the most sweet and brilliant smile.

Later when discussing the miraculous way Mom’s eyes cleared, my cousin said she believed God allowed Mom’s eyes to clear so she could look at me and give her baby girl one last smile, but I don’t think so. I will always believe Mom’s eyes were cleared and she was smiling because she was looking into the eyes of Jesus as she stood before Him with a healed, pain-free and perfect body.

What a glorious gift my Mom had given me! She had allowed me to walk her into the arms of Jesus. I saw the glory of the Lord reflected back to me in her eyes. Her face shone with His radiant presence.

Over the next few months God continued to tug at my heart. One day I gave in to His call and I prayed that God would forgive me for my disobedience and years of wandering I rededicated my life to serving His kingdom. Thankfully God protected me with His mercy and grace waiting patiently in love for me to come back to Him.

I will never forget my Godly Mother and all of the loving, wonderful gifts she left to me. But the most treasured of all was the gift she shared with me as she took her last breath on this earth. At the moment of her death I saw the Master in her face and I was filled with the desire to serve Him fully all the rest of the days of my life. Thank you Mom, and Thank you Jesus!!!
Poo-Poo Prayer

My child is a delight; and a challenge. Right now we are in potty-training boot-camp. At least it feels like I have become a Marine drill Sergeant, barking out “Let’s go to the potty!” every 30 minutes like clockwork. (I’ll bet you never thought you would hear someone talking about potty habits in a devotional, did you?)

As those of you with children realize, this potty-training stuff is a big challenge. Not only is it a challenge for our children, but for us adults as well. We are hyper vigilant, always at the ready to pick them up and run. We monitor their intake of liquids and solids, trying to predict, and prevent, an accident from happening. We want so badly for our child to succeed, to master this new task. Mastering potty-training brings them one step closer to independence; and, truth be told, we look forward to not having the cost or clean-up associated with diaper days.

Throughout this struggle, I have gone through a wide range of emotions. Everything from, “I’m not ready for my baby to be this grown up”, to triumphant cheers; and, I ashamedly admit, a fair amount of frustration, even anger.

As I am going through this trying time of potty-training boot-camp, I find that I am doing everything I can think of in an attempt to help my little boy succeed. Yet, I know that this is a goal he must master on his own time line. I am not in control of his body; and at times neither is he.

Once I began to realize the truth of the situation, my attitude began to change. I began to relate this trial to our calling to serve the Lord. Often we see a friend struggling in an area of obedience or faith. We want to jump in and do whatever we can to fix things for them. But, ultimately unless our friend first recognizes their need and desires the end result of change, there is little we can do to help; except cheer from the side-lines, and pray. Our pushing, and suggesting, and monitoring their activities will be of no assistance.

While reflecting on this it occurred to me that the One who can bring about change in the lives His people can even assist my son in mastering the potty. You see Jesus cares about anything and everything that is a concern to us; yes, He even cares about potty-training.

Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I had missed the mark. I failed to include God in my struggle. When I finally figured out that the best source for assistance with our potty-training challenge could be found with simple prayer to God, I began to take my concerns to the Lord. I even let my son know that “Mommy is praying that God will help you to be a big boy, and put your poo-poo in the potty.”

Not long after I told my son that I was praying for him, one night during our nightly ritual, (read a book, pray, sing, rub his head) when I asked my son what he wanted to pray about that night, he thought for a moment, then with a beaming face said, “Pee-pee, poo-poo, in the potty. Get candy!”

You see my son was focused on the immediate goal of getting the “Tootsie-Roll” that we had placed on the back of the toilet as motivation to for him to “put his poo-poo in the potty.” However, his prayer request gave me the vision that soon, hopefully very soon, I would have the opportunity to teach him an important life lesson about prayer and God’s awesome love. And wouldn’t you know God answered my little boy’s prayer the following evening. My son managed to put his poo-poo in the potty for the first time, and he earned that sweet treat he had been longing for.

I rejoiced with him; clapping and saying “Great job”, and then, just a short time later, I cupped his sweet, sticky, little face in my hands. I seized the teaching opportunity and I told him, “Precious Gabe, today God answered your prayer. Today, God paused just for you and helped you to put your poo-poo in the potty. Never forget this day! Never forget that God loves you and He answers your prayers!”

My sisters in Christ, just as God answered the prayer of this precious little boy, He patiently waits for you to lay your cares at His feet. No matter what your struggles or challenges are; no matter how big or how small, God cares about your concerns. He doesn’t want you to be anxious; rather He wants you to petition Him with thanksgiving, being certain that God will hear your cries; and that He will answer them. You too are His precious child. Won’t you give Him the chance to demonstrate His love for you today by taking everything to God in prayer?

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV)

Luke 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (NIV)