Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coffee Talk Wednesday

When Obedience Becomes Radical

Today is week 3 of our Coffee Talk and we are on chapter 3 (neat how that works, but pay attention because we are going to be changing things up soon).

Lysa challenges us to become radical in our obedience to God.

Be Holy (1 Peter 1:13-16)
3Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
I am going to write this verse down and leave it in several places so that I can write it on my heart. I want to prepare my mind for action and self-control is something I strive for as well. I don’t want to conform nor do I want to live in ignorance any longer. I want to be holy in all I do. Wow, that’s a tall order. It certainly is radical.

Lysa talks about the Lord instructing her to turn off the television. (There is more too but I’m not going to give it all away here).

We made that same choice about two years ago. A lot of people see that as being radical. I’m not against television. I enjoy movies and we do occasionally watch a movie or play a video game, but we have, as a family, become very intentional about it. Now watching a movie is an event, a special time together and we are very selective with what we watch. A lot of my friends and family don’t understand it but that’s okay. I am not sitting on my holy high horse saying, “television is evil”. It was, we felt, instruction from God for our family and we were obedient.

Lysa talks about God stirring in your heart to give up something, either permanently or for a season. In studying this it almost seemed like baby steps, it’s a lot easier to give something up that you already have then it is to take a step into the unknown. We had television, we knew what watching t.v. was like, so by giving it up we were letting it go and I think that is a wise place to start if you want your obedience to become radical. Take that first step by looking at your life, your habits, and your day-to-day living and ask God what is good and what is best. God only wants what is best for His children and that may require us to give up something that, to us, is good but to God is not nearly as good as His plans for us.

A lot of our discussion last night revolved around a four-letter word, FEAR. Scriptures dealing with fear and how to overcome fear weave in and out of the Bible. Perhaps because God knew that just telling His children one time wasn’t going to be enough. Almost everything that comes against us has it’s root in fear. What is God laying on your heart? What has He challenged you with doing that you just haven’t been able to say yes to yet and why? What is holding you back?

One of the statements in Lysa’s book is, “ We need not fear what our obedience will cause to happen in our life. We should only fear what our disobedience will cause us to miss.”

I know I have missed out on God’s best due to fear time and time again. I’m not willing to settle for that anymore. I want the best for my children. I don’t want fear to keep my kids from following God’s leading, so it’s time to face my own fear(s) and know that my Father is with me no matter what.  As long as I am walking with Him, I am headed in the right direction and that’s the best place of all to be.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Your love and desire for us to be all that You created us to be overwhelms me at times. I want to be radically obedient and follow close behind you Father. I want to see You in my day to day life. I want to hear Your voice and know Your will because I know that You only want what is best for me. Thank You for all You have given me and help me to discern what is Your best in my life. Amen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I got for Christmas.


Every day we start out with 24 hours. From 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. we have 24 hours in which to accomplish all that is on our to-do list. Over the holidays my 24 hours seemed about 4 hours shorter then normal and my to-do list seemed about 2 pages longer. Due to construction and destruction at our house, working and shopping and baking and cleaning (okay, not so much the cleaning but at least I stayed on top of the laundry) we were all feeling the frantic rush of the holiday festivities.

Until Wednesday night.

I blogged a little bit here about the gift my father had given me Wednesday but that wasn’t the only gift I got. I got the gift of time with my family. Normally we are all so rushed and getting together is a hassle to plan. Sometimes, because it’s so quick with everyone coming and going, that you wonder why you even bothered. But this year was different. This year we sat and talked. We looked at the photos my father and brother had put together in a video for us and laughed and remembered. We laughed in the kitchen about chocolate covered mice (is that blood?  no, it's a bow!) until we cried and our stomachs hurt. Not one single gift was given that you could hold in your hand, but God gave each of us a gift that night in memories and connections made stronger.

Thursday dawned busy with last minute shopping and getting ready for Christmas Eve services at church and once again the anxiety of having everything just right started to overwhelm. My dad and my brother and I always go Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and I was in too much of a rush (due to poor planning on my part) to be able to enjoy this tradition that goes back as long as I can remember. I felt like I had let my dad and my brother down by not being able to slow down and spend the time with them but DD and I got the shopping I had put off to the last minute done and headed home to get ready for church.

We made it to service and were able to slow down enough to hear what Pastor Matt was talking about, a gift, The Gift of our Lord and Savior and I felt the calm and peace settle in me. The message was inspired and the worship music was amazing and my cup once again was filled to overflowing. We left service and went to my brothers where more food was eaten and more laughter shared.

Christmas morning we woke up and had presents to open. There was laughter, tears and the gamut of emotions and lots of pictures taken. But then I had to go to work and I will admit while I was grateful that I have a job it was hard to be “stuck in the office” while my family enjoyed time together. Again, Satan was trying to steal my joy. So I tried to pray for the doctors and nurses and the patient’s that were working with me as well, for the other editors that were on call and for friends that I knew were working. The hours went by a bit faster when I started thinking about others, not about myself.


After work we were out the door to mom and dads where gifts were exchanged and more memories were made. Money has been tight for everyone this year, including us, so we didn’t buy a lot of gifts but it was just right. We didn’t spend 3-4 hours opening presents but we got to spend time talking and resting and relaxing together. I thought it was hilarious that after all the gifts were opened the kids had more fun with the bubble wrap. We stayed late at my parents and came home to get ready to go see WH family the next day.

WH’s family lives a couple of hours away. It is hard to have a relationship with someone when you don’t get to spend time together. As a daughter-in-law you can get your feelings hurt or inadvertently hurt someone else’s feelings because you haven’t had a chance to get to know them. I prayed I wouldn’t say something stupid or embarrass WH or DD and that we would all be able to enjoy the day. The day was a gift.

The kids did great, everyone got along, there was laughter and goofiness and my sister-in-law gave me some elephant sauce (so I could eat my elephant one bite at a time), and games were played, babies loved on, and more pictures taken and connections were made stronger. I felt more like a daughter and a friend, not just WH’s wife or DD’s mom, or a wicked stepmother. I felt accepted and loved and that I belonged and that was a wonderful gift.

We spent the entire day and I never once looked at my watch. We got home late Saturday, tired but refilled in our hearts. DD said on the way home that while she hadn’t got a lot of presents that was okay, because she had been able to spend time with her family and that was a great feeling. Yeah, she's pretty smart and I'm glad she realized what a gift she had been given.

I am back at work this week and New Year will be spent with more family out of town. I’m looking forward to that gift as well because now I know what the secret is, slow down, breath, and laugh together. It’s a priceless gift you can share with everyone and the cool thing is, when you give it away you get it back.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Picture is worth a 1,000 words.

My father has been a professional photographer most of my life. He has taken amazing photographs and made visual mementos for people to cherish. These photographs, moments in time to never be forgotten, are in homes all over this county, this state, and even the country. There are photographs on walls and in albums of loved ones and precious moments preserved.

My father took pictures before the digital age and made many of his photographs with slides. Growing up there were a lot of photos taken of my brother and me but not a lot of photo albums. Through moving and packing and unpacking the slides were put away and many of those tangible touchstones were forgotten, until I said something. (I know, me and my big mouth).

I wanted to see them. I wanted to have a record, something to show my children and perhaps one day my grandchildren of my mom and dad and my grandparents, my family.

So my father, because he rocks like that, complied. He went out to the barn and salvaged 10’s of thousands of slides and for the past month he has been going through them one at a time. Technology finally caught up and he was able to transfer many of those slides to digital images and now they are mine to print, frame, look at, blog about, or just remember.  The Wednesday before Christmas he unveiled the first wave of memories for my mother’s family.

There were pictures of my aunts and uncles and all of us cousins, together at the holidays, at Sunday dinner, laughing, growing, but there was someone else. Someone who has been gone for over many years who really was the lifeblood in our family.

My grandmother, Irene.


That's me and her opening presents many years ago. I'm probably "helping" her open hers. She would let us do that (can you say spoiled much?). 


She was the matriarch of our family who slipped away too soon to Alzheimer’s. My grandmother was Christian when Christian wasn’t cool. She loved her Jesus more then anyone I knew. She was not afraid to tell you about it and she knew scripture backward and forward. She was the first woman I ever saw write in her bible (I didn’t know you could actually write in it) and a light would come into her eyes when she talked about her Heavenly Father.

I got older and so did grandma and I became rebellious and a “know it all” attitude came between her and I (I was the know-it-all, not her).  I lost out on so much wisdom and guidance because grandma was just old and didn’t understand (sound familiar?).  Yes I wish she was here to see, to listen and to talk to, but I think she lives on, in my mother, in me, and in my daughter and nieces and will for generations to come. 

Now, three generations later, her great-granddaughters will never get to know what a wonderful woman she was, but hopefully, through her grandparents, her parents and aunts and uncles, we can impart some of my grandmothers' wisdom and will probably repeat a lot of her prayers over our own children and grandchildren and maybe, just maybe one of them will look back on one of us when we are gone and say, "because of their words I was able to do _______".

My father gave me back those memories and I can almost feel her when I’m sitting at my dining room table with a cup of coffee and my bible. I pray that one day she and I will get to sit in heaven and have one of her “come to Jesus meetings” but the cool thing will be, Jesus WILL be able to come and I think that would just tickle both of us.

So right now, think back, with the year coming to a close and a new year about to start, who has poured into you either recently or in your past?  Who inspired, prayed for, encouraged, or even sat you down and had a "come to Jesus meetin" with you?  Is there anyone that can say you did that for them?  It matters and will matter for years to come in ways you can never imagine but God can.  So listen to that nudge to sit down your kid or grandkid or friend, sister, or brother and tell them what you believe.  Speak Truth into their lives, even if it doesn't look like they are listening, you never know what will happen when you plant that seed.  My grandmother did and it took almost 20 years for it to grow and I'm still pruning but she helped plant and water those first seeds. 

Thank you Grandma for all you poured into me. Although you never would say, “I’m proud of you” because it wasn’t right to be proud (Proverbs 16:18) I pray that you will know how much your words, your wisdom, but more then anything, your prayers did for me. I love you Grandmamma, and thank you Daddy, for giving me back the pictures to go with the memories.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What Christmas is all about



In all the different times I have heard "The Christmas Story" this is by far my favorite. Simple, to the point. The complete passage can be found in Luke 2  At Luke 2:10 the angel states "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." 

ALL

THE

PEOPLE

Everyone.  Not just a few, not just one or two, but for ALL PEOPLE.  That's one of the things I love about my Jesus.  He is an equal opportunity Savior.  Not based on skin color, height, weight, hair color, eye color, politcal or economic views.  All based on your heart.

I pray your heart is filled with the love and joy that today holds and if I could give you one gift it would be that every day would be Christmas for everyone.  Think how much better the world would be if we celebrated Jesus every day. 

Happy Birthday to my Lord and Savior.  Thank you for giving us the most important gift of all, You. 

Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coffee Talk Week 2


I’ve been a bit busy this week, you know that whole Christmas thing, well, actually, I don’t HAVE to do anything and Christmas will come but there are so many expectations that I feel like I have to meet. My WH even said that he was actually getting to the point that he dreads Christmas, not because of what it means (the celebration of the birth of our Jesus) but what it has turned into.

I’ll be honest, I have had very little time to spend with my Lord this week and I am really feeling the impact of it. Last night we had our Coffee Talk and I had been attempting to read my chapter for the past week and with frequent starts and stops. I finally was able to absorb some of it. I realize now why Satan really didn’t want me to read this particular chapter because it helped open up eyes to how to hear from God. Do you hear from God, do you recognize His still small voice?

We played a little game last night. I had asked two of my girlfriends who didn’t know each other very well to participate and they were willing (I wonder if they will do that again?). I had seen my pastor at C3 do this before but I sorta tweaked it a bit.

I blindfolded one and then set up an obstacle course. The other volunteer stood mid-way down my walkway and guided the “blind” through the path. However, the rest of us stood around screaming out opposite instructions. The one who was blindfolded was not really familiar with the person’s voice that she was supposed to be listening for and she had to really focus and concentrate to hear her voice over the screaming around her. Once she made it through my impromptu obstacle course, (water bottles and candle luminaries) she removed her blindfold. She shared how she had to really focus on the voice of the one that she was to listen to. That it was distracting and hard to concentrate with all the other noise going on around her. Do you see where I am going here? How often do we get distracted by all the voices? How does our crazy pace make it hard to hear when God calls our name?

The second chapter in “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” talks about discerning God’s voice and how to know if what you are hearing is God’s voice. But you have to be able to quiet the noise of all the other voices around you so that you can hear His voice. I haven’t been able to do that very well this past week and the lack of time with Him has shown up in all aspects of my walk. Feelings of being overwhelmed, the disorganization, inadvertent shortened conversations (sorry Renee), and a short temper has my life feeling like it is spinning like a top and I’m just holding on. I had to stop the spinning and get on my knees. I had to shut off the music, shut down the computer, put away all the lists and turn off the phone and be quiet.

Being quiet for me is difficult (those that know me are nodding their heads right now). That was the other challenge for me from this week’s chapter. It is only logical that in order to have a relationship with anyone that yes, you talk, but it is important that you stop talking and listen. I get so excited about God and the changes He has made in my life that once the mouth starts going, it’s hard to shut it up. Well, my heavenly Father loves to hear my praise, I know that but my heavenly Father has all the answers to my questions and wants to hear my prayers. He’s just waiting. But if I come to Him in a hurry, frantic pace, rushed and inattentive, and am not willing to hush and listen, I am like a young child who runs to her father crying with a problem and then runs out before he can fix it.

I have to stop. Completely and totally stop. Take a deep breath and bring Him the needs of my heart and then I have to wait. To be quiet and listen and slow down so that He can fill me up with His love, guide me with His direction, and replenish my waning energy with His power. It’s all there, I know that, but I keep running by it full tilt, mouth on fast forward. How about we all slow down, grab a cup of decaf (cause I certainly don’t need any more stimulation) and just listen for His still small voice.

My wonderful, patient, heavenly Father,
I want to hear you, I want to know you and I want to know that I am following your instructions in every aspect of my life. Help me to turn off all the distractions and the noise in my life, and the distractions and the noise in my mind, so that my soul can receive the peace, beauty and stillness that I long for. Amen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FIVE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009.

Contest business: The winner of the I-Tunes gift card was…

Leslie Pennington!

Leslie if you will email me at leigh at leighfrance dot com I will get that in the mail to you this week. I promise it will get there before my Christmas card does. Thanks to everyone who signed up to follow my blog. Will have more contest just for my “followers” throughout the coming year. LOL, membership has its privileges.

Five days until Christmas and my list of things to do is feels like it’s longer then Santa’s and I will certainly be checking it more then twice to make sure I get everything taken care of this week.

Each year I tell myself, “Self, you need to start Christmas shopping in January, you need to put aside a certain amount of money each paycheck, you need to take a family picture in August so you can send out Christmas cards, etc...” And every Christmas I still find myself scrambling to know what to buy, never getting out Christmas cards, and getting bogged down, overwhelmed and frustrated during what should be a time of joy, praise, thanksgiving, and celebration.

This morning I am making out two lists. I will be listing the things I need to get done by Friday and asking WH and DD to help where they can, but my second list will be something I can do daily with my family or alone.

To think about this week for Mary and Joseph and what it meant to them. To imagine what they were experiencing 2,000 years ago this week. There was no Christmas. But there was a journey, a young woman traveling on a donkey. A woman who was very pregnant and far away from home. Far away from her mother and other women to help her. A woman who would deliver the Savior.

In the song, “Mary Did You Know,” the most powerful lyric to me is, “Mary did you know that the child that you delivered would soon deliver you?”



I don’t believe that Mary or Joseph had any idea of what was to come. If you knew what God’s ultimate plan was for your life do you think you could wrap your head around it? I know I never thought 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 1 year ago I would be doing what I am now for my God.

I am going to make my two lists and become very intentional with making sure Christ is at the beginning, middle and end of every single day. I will go look at Christmas lights and remember the light of the world that came down and how the beauty of a Christmas tree will pale beside the light of my Jesus.

I will wrap my gifts and pray for each person that will receive it that not only will they know how much I care for them, but also that the gift I have given them pales in comparison to the gift from our heavenly Father.

I will slow down, way down, and realize that satan would love nothing more then for me to rush through all this and miss the real meaning. A birthday is a celebration and a chance to show love and appreciation to someone. But with Jesus’ birth a life was begun that became a gift beyond compare. Love came down and walked among men.

So, Mary did you know and my friend, do you know as well what the true meaning of this week. How are you going to slow down this week? What are you going to do? I would love to hear from you and in case I forget it on the list, have a wonderful and wonder filled Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Days, Snow Cream, Sledding and Soup



They say there is a possibility of snow tonight and/or tomorrow. Here in North Carolina that is a big deal. I lived in Chicago for one winter and people didn’t “see” the snow because they were equipped to deal with it and life could go on as normal. I thought that was sad. Because here, when they call for snow, magic takes places and it’s like a gift waiting to be opened.
Praying for snow is the first prayer I can really remember outside of saying the blessing and saying my “now I lay me down to sleep” prayers as a child. Sitting in front of the t.v. while the news talked about the possibility of snow the next day and anxiously waiting to see if school would be cancelled or not. My father would wake us up during the night as soon as he saw it falling and more prayers would be sent up from an excited little girl who just wanted a chance to live in a snow globe for a bit.

Looking back now I know what made the magic of a snow day. First we have no guarantee of snow every winter so it’s like a surprise party in the making any time the weatherman mentions the word snow. It is hard to know how much snow, what kind of snow (there are different kinds you know) and how long it’s going to hang around. All surprises.

And then to look out the window and see the water falling, but it’s not rain; it’s like a kiss from a child falling on your cheek, to be treasured, like a gift.

Growing up snow days, when there was enough snow, meant sledding but we had a problem, no hills around my house, just flat land and deep ditches, but my father improvised. He got us a sled and tied it to whatever vehicle we had, sometimes it was a go-cart, or a jeep, or a truck and he would drive in circles around and around the lot in the back yard. The snow would get packed down tight and it would become almost like ice and you had to pay attention or you could get slung off into a drift. My father would spend hours with us holding on tight and laughing at our antics. He got to stop, slow down, because the world outside had stopped, and spend time with my brother, my friends and me. It was a gift.

Then we would come inside and there would be soup on the stove, homemade vegetable beef soup. Nothing tastes as good as my mom’s soup. With grilled cheese sandwiches and still dripping snow all over the warmth started in the belly and spread out to the hands and feet but the warmth in the heart as mom stood in the kitchen laughing and smiling stayed long after the snowflakes melted. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that too was a gift.

The highlight of the day came when mom would make snow cream. There are many different ways to make it and I have posted the recipe I use below. It has to be clean snow, mom would often put a pot out just for the snow for snow cream, or if the drifts were big enough Dad would get the snow from there. You want clean snow since you are going to be eating it.

1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 c. whole milk
1 egg (don't have to use it if you don't want to, make sure they are fresh)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
Add enough snow to well mixed ingredients to desired consistency. Amount of snow needed depends on how "wet" the snow is. Dry, fluffy snow makes the best ice cream.
The fire in the fireplace would be burning and hot chocolate would be served WITH marshmallows (I like the mini ones best) and sometimes rice krispy treats but nothing could match the snow cream. You could have hot chocolate and rice krispy treats anytime, but magic had to happen in order to have snow cream. Another gift to be treasured.

People wonder why southerner’s freak out when there is a slightest chance of snow? They complain because we don’t know how to drive in it, or that we run out and buy all the milk and bread. It’s because we get it. We know what a gift a snow day has the potential to give. And even though I’m grown now, I still find myself praying for snow, just like I did 30+ years ago so let them laugh and make fun.

I went and got my milk and bread last night so I can make snow cream and grilled cheese sandwiches for my daughter. I need to go Christmas shopping, I need to do a thousand things, but if the first flake falls I’m hunkering down, pulling out the mini marshmallows and soup will be put on. Come on over if you don’t mind driving in it and have a bowel of soup and a sandwich, maybe we can even make snow cream. 

It’s not as much about the snow as it is about the slowing down and enjoying the gift.  Do you have a memory of a snow day that you can share?  Leave a comment! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coffee Talk Wednesday

We are just starting out on a new adventure. Coffee Talk Wednesdays will be a day to discuss a book. We have the living, breathing version at my house on Tuesday night and then I will be posting here on Wednesdays.

The book we are going through right now is called, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst. This book helped me to grow deeper in my relationship with God by helping me to understand what having a relationship with God was truly about.

I will be talking about chapter 1 today, “A Soul That Longs For More.” If you are doing our coffee talk online great! Please feel free to leave comments on the blog, or if you need to talk one-on-one, shoot me an email Leigh at leighfrance dot com. (You have to spell it that way so that spam bots don’t track down email addresses. I will be putting a contact button on my blog soon, as soon as I can figure out how.)

When I start a new book that I am looking at to answer a question or to further equip me in something I try to make sure I have several things with me while I am reading. I get post-it notes, a journal, bright colored index cards, my bible and a pen. For this chapter I went through and highlighted the bible verses that were referenced, wrote them down on the end of my index card and found them in my bible. I placed the cards there and would jot down thoughts that came to me as I read those scriptures. When this chapter is done I will write the scripture out on the card and use it to help me memorize that scripture. Scripture memorization is something I struggle with. I can remember song verses from 20 years ago but I can’t remember passage and verse to God’s Word, so I find different ways to help me.

I also write, highlight, underline throughout the book I am reading. If my thoughts are “too big” for the margin that’s where my journal comes in. I reference the date, book and page number and then write down where my thoughts take me. Sometimes it’s a question, sometimes is a sudden revelation, and sometimes it might be a reminder to pick up milk (seriously) but WHATEVER is on my heart I have found the reason it is there will become clear at some point.

Chapter 1 A Soul That Longs For More.

Longing. Most of the time what we long for is something out of our reach, perhaps it’s a husband or a wife, perhaps it is a job, or a better job, perhaps it is a child, or perhaps it’s for something less tangible.

Sometimes our souls long for acceptance, approval, love, understanding, forgiveness, and sometimes, the one thing that our soul longs for is something even more, bigger, wider, and deeper then we can put a name on. Sometimes what our souls are truly longing for is a living, breathing, touchable, hearable, meaningful relationship with our God.

Lysa talks about some of the moments that God placed a burden on her heart to do something that was outside her comfort zone. How she was able to bless someone by her obedience to God, but how she, in turn was given so much more. She calls these “divine appointments” and I love that but she goes on to say:
“How many times have I told You no, God? How many times because I was too tired, too insecure, too uncertain, too busy, or too selfish have I walked right past Your divine appointment for me and missed experiencing You?”

I cannot count how many times I have told God no and I missed it. I missed getting to experience God working.

It’s time to take a step into the unknown and become a woman who says yes to God.

During my study time I realized that I do not have to be perfect before I can say yes. I don’t have to have it all together, know all the answers, or have more money, more time, more ________. I just needed to say yes and give up control to the One who controls the universe.

Giving up control.

Woman today have earned the right to vote, we have earned equal pay for equal work (most of the time), we have broken the glass ceiling in many careers and the world is our oyster. We work, raise our kids, some take care of their parents as well, love our husbands, balance the checkbook, run our household, etc. It is no wonder we are so tired. The world has told us over and over again that we have to fix it and we have to be in control but the ironic thing is, we aren’t.

Control is a perception. I control the car I drive, but if my car breaks down, that’s out of my control. I can discipline my child, but if she chooses to disobey then it is out of my control. I can work hard at my job and make all the right decisions, but if the company decides to lay me off, that is out of my control. There is only One who truly has control. Who can keep me safe in my travels, help me to raise a child, and can put me in a better situation is I should lose my job. Saying yes to God means letting go of that control.

Lysa sums up this chapter with six very powerful words,
“Whatever God says do, do it.”
I couldn’t put it any better, so I’m not going to try, but I am going to take another step closer to my God and be ready to do WHATEVER He says do.

Study these verses to find out more:
Deuteronomy 6:5
Psalm 16: 7-9
Psalm 19: 7-10
There are great questions at the end of each chapter to help you go deeper. Pick up the book; we will be doing a chapter a week. Next week will be talking about “Hearing God’s Voice.” Have a wonderfully blessed week.

Dear God, thank you so much for each person that took a few minutes out of their day today to stop and read the words you placed on my heart. God thank you for all that you are doing in my life and the lives of those around me. God, I feel like I get to take part in preparing the guest list for a party that will be taking place in Heaven one day and that You are throwing little pre-parties all over earth just to give us a taste of what is to come. God, this book has been such a blessing in my life and I pray that each person that takes the time to follow it’s instructions will be in awe of how their life changes when they decide to say yes to You. I pray that You will guide their words, guide their hearts, and guide their steps God to speak of You, love You, and grow closer to You every day. Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blind-Sided

This weekend my WH (wonderful husband), DD (darling daughter), and I went to go see the movie “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I have always been a huge fan of Sandra Bullock. I think she is a great character actor and she makes me laugh. She also went to college at ECU and I have a friend who knew her at ECU so in a way, she and I are like really good friends, sort of, okay, not really, but I would be her BFF if she wanted me to.

Anyway…

Our household had been going back and forth for the past few weeks with all the sickness crude going around and DD was supposed to dance in the Christmas parade on Saturday but she had been complaining of a sore throat again so WH decided it would be better for her not to dance and for us to all do something together. I wanted to see “The Blind Side”. Watch a bit of it here.



I had heard it had great reviews and that the story was inspiring and amazing and it had my BFF Sandy staring in it, so off we went on Saturday to see the movie. (I’d like to say now that I still get blind-sided that a matinee for 3 people can still cost 20.00 for tickets and 20+ for one large popcorn, two drinks, and one candy! Good grief). We will be eating Mac and Cheese for the rest of the week, but it was so worth it.

First of all, thank you Blind Side director for allowing a Christian family to not have to be a bunch of weirdo, bible thumping, holier-than-thou, everyone else is going to hell and I am so much better then you hypocrites. I don’t blame people for not wanting to know about Christianity because often the way we are portrayed is not a true picture at all. In the movie, which is based on the true story of Michael Oher, Leigh Anne has a temper, she drinks a glass of wine, and she stands up for what she believes in, no matter what other people might think. There isn’t an overwhelming mention of God, or faith, but there is an undercurrent, an understanding and she wears a cross necklace (no that doesn’t make you a Christian, but I thought it was interesting that it was always there, no matter what she was wearing). I also found it very interesting when she went to where Michael was from to “confront the enemy” the camera was angled so that the viewer saw her cross necklace and then the necklace the bad guy was wearing, it was a machine gun. (check out the video at 1:43)

Everyone has a God; it might just have a different name.

“The Blind Side” is about protecting the quarterback’s blind side in football, but it is so much more. Leigh Anne and her family were blind-sided when they brought a young black man into their family. They were blind-sided by the difference it made in all of their lives, not just Michael’s. Michael was blind-sided by the opportunities that came his way, not only in the moment they took him in, but for the rest of his life.

Satan was blind-sided, which is the BEST part. Think about it. One woman followed God’s leading. One child was rescued from Satan’s clutches, and it could have stopped there and been amazing.

But then God was able to take what happened and inspire people all over the world. Satan isn’t the only one that can pull a sneak attack.

People are looking for more in life. For a richness and a depth. They are searching for ways to make an impact, to make a difference, to effect change in their lives and the lives of those around them. It is the overwhelming cry from a world gone crazy.  Everyone wants to know,

“Do I matter?”

God’s promise is that we matter more then we will ever know and/or understand. Living for God doesn’t mean that you can’t have a glass of wine, or say a curse word. It doesn’t mean that you become better then everyone else or that you do everything right.

But it does mean that God might just blind-side you, put on your heart to do the unexpected. Leigh Anne Tuohy did and see what happened? Watch out, because you might just get blind-sided.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Stop It."

Our Pastor talked about how Jesus was wonderful counselor this past weekend at church.

Pastor introduced his sermon with a video that blew me away. I found a shortened version of it that gets to the point.



I laughed too; it was very funny, but also true. That girl was me for a long time. All the excuses and the lies I told myself for much of my life, the blame that I put on others and on myself. Negative self-talk, depression, obsessive-compulsive, suicidal thoughts, anger, helpless, all of it.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am certainly not saying that there isn’t a time and a place for therapy and even the initiation of medications and possibly hospitalization when our quality of life and ability to function is impacted. I have had years of therapy, some great and some not so great, but there came a point that no matter how long my therapist and I might discuss something, or break it down, dissect it, ultimately the decision was mine and I had to chose what I was going to think and what actions I was going to take.

Jesus never negotiated, he never begged, and he never pleaded with anyone. With the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus, (John 8), He questioned the crowd, wrote in the sand, and then looked up and gave her two things, a gift and command.

“And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11)

“Neither do I condemn thee” Looking back now I see where my anger, self-pity, depression, all the dark were feelings of self-condemnation. Guilt and anger at myself for mistakes I had made and destructive actions I had taken. I allowed Satan to get a stronghold in my thoughts and convince me that there was no help for me and that there was no hope for me (I didn’t know it was Satan at the time. When you don’t understand how powerful God’s love is, it’s hard to grasp how persuasive the king of lies is).

I didn’t understand God’s love for me. God doesn’t condemn his children to hell; we condemn ourselves when we refuse to receive the gift He has given us.

Jesus gave the woman a gift by not condemning her, but then He gave her instructions…”go, and sin no more.”

They didn’t sit down and talk about it some more. He didn’t tell her to go on Oprah and discuss why she felt the need to be in an adulterous relationship. He didn’t pat her head and look for someone or something in her past to blame. He told her to “go”, action verb, get up, walk away, move forward, don’t just stand still, but go, live your life, continue on…BUT…”sin no more”. Don’t repeat you’re past mistakes, don’t do it again, in other words…Stop It! (My friend Karen talks more about Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor here, go check it out, but be sure to come back!)

I had to come to the realization that the only way I was going to be able to move forward in my life, live my life, and find hope, joy and happiness was if I stopped blaming, being angry, and stopped making excuses. I had to stop it.

What are you doing that you need to stop? (Take a minute right now and think about it.)

Depression, anger, bitterness, sadness, acts of self-destruction. Feelings that we can look at, hold under a microscope, peel back layer by layer, point the blame at others or even at ourselves. Ultimately we have to come to the realization that whatever came before is over and done, there is no looking back, and that we must stop it so that we can move forward and live this life we have been given. If we are still breathing then God has a job for us to do, but we will not be able to DO IT if we don’t STOP IT.

God, thank you for forgiving me. Help me to stop those things that I do that are not for your glory and help me to move forward and sin no more. In God’s name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Contest Winner and The Easy Bake Oven

Good morning everyone!  Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.  Turning 40 was something I looked forward to but dreaded in some respects but God is so cool that He will put women into your life that can model what being 40 and 45 and 50 and 60+ is supposed to look like and these are women that do it with grace and style and joy in their heart.  No matter how old we are there are women that have gone before and that we can look to to come alongside and take that next step, but don't forget as you are looking forward, there are women coming along behind you.  That's why you have two hands, one to reach forward, and one to reach behind.  That way we all get further on this journey of life together.


Speaking of moving along on the journey.  The winner of the contest yesterday was #4 Mama C (Carol).  Congratulations Carol!!!  Thank you for sharing your favorite birthday!  Get ready because the book, "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God." is going to rock your world. 

Thank you to everyone else who played!  The book is available at C3 in The Source so stop by there and get a copy, or two, or three.  They are 9.99 and are great gifts too. 

Sorry, don't mean to sound like an Infomoricial but it really is an amazing read. 



On to the story of the Easy Bake Oven.  For my 40th birthday yesterday my WH (wonderful husband) and DD (darling daughter) gave me with an Easy Bake Oven. 

I mention in my testimony that growing up I got everything I needed and almost all that I wanted but that I was still coping with not getting an Easy Bake Oven (EBO), it is mentioned in humor and is a way that people can connect with me.  I love to make people laugh and the best way to do that is to pull from your own life.  But anyway.... 

We all have things in our life from childhood on through our teenage years that we didn't get, okay, most of us do.  My parents gave me so much and yes I was spoiled but in that secret corner of my heart as a child it was the EBO that held all the happiness in the world.  The EBO would give me popularity, it would make all my friends want to come over and play at my house, it would give me the pass I thought I needed to become a "cool kid", not to mention I could bake those awesome cakes in my room and how neat would that be?  The world said I needed the EBO to become truly happy.  Sears WishBook said I needed it, the commercials on Saturday morning cartoons said I needed it, and dag-on-it, the girl next door had one and she was older and cooler and I wanted to be like her!  (Does any of this sound familiar?)

But I didn't get an EBO.  They certainly have changed in 35 years haven't they?


My parents were fully aware of how accident prone their little girl was and the EBO required electricity, very hot light bulbs, and a daughter who was easily distracted and just a bit clumsy, okay, I said I would be honest on my blog no matter what and I can trip over a wind gust, okay? These things are not a good combination and I was likely to suffer 3rd degree burns or burn our house down.   They put those warnings on electrical applicances for a reason, and I could just see me thinking that taking my EBO in the bathroom to make a cake while I soaked in the tub was a win/win situation (hey, I was 5, gimme a break).  But my parents knew better. 

I talk about the EBO, not because of the oven itself , but to make a point . We have all been children who have been denied something. It might have been due to the cost or the impracticality of it. For most of us that denial comes out of love from others who are older and wiser. We can focus on what we can't have and allow that to take our joy away, or we can be thankful that there are others who care enough about us to say no.

You don't explain to a child all the ins and outs of why and why not they can't have something you just say, "No." but then my amazing mom brought me into the kitchen and sat me on the counter and taught me how to cook at a real oven with real appliances.  She gave me the beaters and she gave me the bowl and the spoon to lick afterwards but more importantly she gave me time and attention that 100 EBO's could never have given me (not to mention kept us out of more doctor's offices).  My parents knew what was right for their daughter. 

Guess what?  The God of the Universe loves us so much that sometimes He says no because He knows better then anyone what is best for each of us.  Do not allow your life to lose it's shine, do not allow your heart to lose it's joy, and do not allow your mind to dwell on what you see as a rejection when God says no, because if you listen, you will probably hear Him say, "No because I have something better."  He wants to spend time with you, to teach you and to help you to live the life that He has given you and not a fake one.

I still love to bake and I still lick the bowl and honestly I feel a little resentful when I have to give my daughter the beater (just being real here).   She and I are going to have a blast with my EBO and there will be laughter and stories to tell, but it will also be a reminder to me that sometimes what God has for us is so much MORE then what the world around us tries to convince us that we will never be complete without ______.  What was/is your Easy Bake Oven?


Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm celebrating the creating of my belly button!


Today, 40 years ago, I entered the world. I had no idea how fast the time would pass, no idea the many adventures I would embark upon, nor how much heart ache and tears I would shed over the past 40 years. I’ve been a bit apprehensive about this birthday. It’s like a pinnacle in some respects and no I don’t mean that it’s all downhill from here, it’s more like now I am officially 100% an adult but I don’t feel like one. I certainly don’t feel 40. I don’t feel like those adults I saw as a kid who looked and acted so old. Yes, the hair is a bit gray, and there are lines on my face that weren’t there a few years ago. My eyes have officially become 40, I look like I’m playing with a yo-yo when I answer my phone in order to see who is calling. But, I still wanted to sit on Santa’s lap when I saw him at the store yesterday and tell him my hearts wish and my secret wants. I still get excited about seeing my friends and spending time talking with girlfriends. I recently reconnected with my oldest friend, the sister of my heart, and it has felt like a piece of my heart has been put back in place and that makes me feel young.
There have been a lot of challenges throughout my 40 years, but now even though I don’t feel very mature in some situations, I have matured, matured in a way that I didn’t know I would or even could. My faith has grown up. I no longer feel like a child in my walk with God. I no longer need to be spoon-fed and I don’t need someone to hold my hand and walk me through passages of scripture. I have gone through the rebellious period that teenagers go through when God wasn’t cool and I could do it all myself. I think I was spiritually stunted in my growth for a long time because it took a while to turn back to my Heavenly Father. But I have grown, grown to the point that I can be thankful for everything that I have experienced.

Every. Single. Thing.

I still have questions about things, the intricacies of certain scripture passages and how to apply it to my life, but now I have more then just a religion. My faith is 100% totally based on my relationship with the amazing God of the Universe. I never thought that the trials and tribulations of my past would be something I would ever be thankful for, but now I can speak to others, share my story, and tell them how much God loves them too but more importantly, because it’s the hardest thing to understand, I can explain to them how He forgives them as well. Knowing that someone is forgiven opens the floodgates to healing and finally peace and joy.

Growing up in my faith has taken years but now I know how to battle Satan and I know how to forgive others and how to forgive myself. But true growth comes from the fact that now I can be thankful for all that I have been through and all that is to come. I know, no matter what, that now I’m growing up in God and maturing the relationship with Him and this is better then all the wishes on all my birthday candles coming true.

Over the next 6 weeks I am going to be doing a “coffee talk” using Lysa TerKeurst book, “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God.” This is one of my favorite books and did a lot to help me grow in my relationship with God. I'm still growing and not just older so some of my girlfriends are going to be coming to my house on Tuesday nights (starting 12/15) for a couple of hours to discuss the chapter that they read and how they are going to be saying “yes to God” in their life. If you are in the neighborhood and want to join us, just let me know.

I will also be blogging about each chapter on Wednesday morning so we can do a “coffee talk” here as well every Wednesday so if you aren't close by and want to join us, just let me know.  I'll be doing some fun stuff on the blog as well while we take this journey.

I am giving away one copy of “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God?” today for my birthday. Please leave a comment on the blog answering the question:
“What was your favorite birthday?”

Contest closes at 12:00 Monday night. Please leave email address so that I can contact you on Tuesday morning!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I was so excited about the helmet of salvation and protecting our minds from satan’s attack in my last post that I decided to break this up into two entries and really give undivided attention to the sword of the Spirit.

We need to remember that Paul is writing to the Ephesians a group of Christians that lived in Ephesus. The time was about 60 A.D.

It is believed that this letter was intended to circulate throughout all the different churches (first chain letter.) I doubt if he requested anyone to send dishcloths or a recipe to the first person and add their name to the bottom though.


A sword is a weapon. It is used to fight the enemy and many people read this verse and relegate the sword of the Spirit to the Bible, the Word of God and that is what it means by very broad definition. However, if we look at this a bit closer I think we will all be blown away at exactly what God has placed into our keeping to fight the enemy with.

In a fight a soldier had to be adept at many different types of swords. There was not only one sword that fit all occasions. There were long swords, short swords, broad swords, and daggers. A soldier had to be equipped to fight with each different type of sword and in order to use the sword effectively a solider had to study and practice and know the parts of his sword.

If you look above at the sword you will see that there are many different parts to the whole. There is the pommel and the grip; this is where a solider would hold the sword. The cross-guard protected the hand of the swordsman from his own sword and the pommel gave (It is impossible to fight if the arm is rendered useless.) As we move down the body of the sword, to the blade itself we can see that there are different attributes and benefits. The pommel helps hold the hilt together, but what you cannot see is so important. It’s called the tang. You do not see the tang when you examine the sword, but it is placed there during a swords’ creation and is essential for joining the blade and hilt together.

While moving down the sword, just beyond the hilt to about halfway down the blade is the strongest part of the sword. It is also called the “forte”. Forte also refers to someone’s strength, something at which they excel.

As we move down the blade, we reach the central ridge. This is the weakest part of the sword and is also called its foible. A foible is also translated to mean a minor weakness or failing of character; slight flaw or defect.

Now that you probably know more about swords then you EVER wanted to know, lets look again at Ephesians 6:17.

“…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

There are many of us that are misunderstanding this verse. It is not applying to just “The Bible.” We have to go deeper and look at how the King of Kings wielded this mighty weapon.

Each verse is a sword and we have to understand The Word, read The Word, and memorize The Word so that we may fight. Satan knows the bible; he knows the Word of God and cannot stand against it. Look at Mathew 4:1-11. Satan battles Jesus in the desert. He tempts Him and Jesus, verse by verse, wields the sword of the Spirit and defeats the King of Lies. But Jesus had to know the scripture, just as we have to know it. He had been in the desert 40 days, he was physically hungry and his body was weakened. Satan attacked during what he perceived as a weak period.

Satan said to him, “ If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

How many times have you been tempted? “If you only had ______, if you could only do ______, but it is only ________, then you would be _______. You can fill in the blanks, we all have the blanks and the weaknesses and the temptation.

But Jesus knew His heavenly Father’s Word and fought back against that temptation by saying,
“It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Can’t you just hear the clanging of the blades as they come together? See the sparks fly? Feel the vibration flow down the blade into the hilt and up the arm. We are at war and the battles will be intense.

Sharpen your sword and make sure your blade is straight and true. Reading our bible and comprehending and memorizing scripture makes your sword arm strong and perfects your aim.

Accepting God into your life connects your hand (the hilt) to God’s word through the tang (Holy Spirit) living in you. It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but the Holy Spirit is absolutely imperative to hold it all together.

And we must come together as soldiers in this war so my strengths and weakness can be complimented or covered over by your strengths and weakness. (Forte and foibles)

Find a bible that you can understand and memorize God’s word, discuss it with fellow Christians and get involved in learning more every day about how to fight the good fight. God wins the war, but the battles are intense. Armor up and ensure your blade is sharp. We are in the thick of this battle, up to the hilt. From head to foot, protection is important, but the most important is what you use to fight back and defeat the enemy. Sharpen your sword.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6: 10-18


The Armor of God

Today I want to draw your attention to two parts of this passage. First, verse 17 states,
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The helmet of salvation. It’s not a stretch to understand the importance of protecting our heads. We wear helmets when we ride a bike, motorcycle, or play football (go Heels), etc. Many jobs require us to wear helmets as well.  A helmet is required to protect our skulls from injury. There are people that refuse to wear a helmet because it doesn’t look cool, it’s uncomfortable, or they are under the false impression that nothing could happen to them. Unfortunately, there are many examples of people whose lives are forever changed all due to the fact they were not wearing a helmet and were injured or died. There are also a lot of examples of people who were wearing helmets, which protected them when involved in horrible accidents. I know that you all know the importance of protecting our skulls from injury but what about our minds and our thoughts?


When we put on the FULL armor of God that requires the helmet of salvation but you don’t walk around day to day with a helmet on, (perhaps if you are as prone to accidents as I am you should though). Again, we are talking about imagery. Understand what a helmet does, what it protects but also because it protects, what does it allow you to do? When you have on a helmet you can walk into a construction site and your skull is protected from falling debris, low hanging beams, harmful things that are all around you. You can walk with confidence and concentrate on your job. The helmet of salvation does the exact same thing.

Ephesians 1:13 (New International Version)

13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

Having believed. We are required to accept the word of truth, that God sent his one and only Son, SO THAT, who ever believes in HIM shall have eternal and everlasting life. The helmet of salvation covers our mind because satan will come at us intellectually, tempting us to question, to doubt, to distrust. He did it with Adam and Eve in the garden. There wasn’t 1,001 different temptations running around the garden, there was only one and Satan used it, “did God really tell you that you would die if you ate of the fruit of this tree.” Doubt, loop hole, temptation.
But God…

God knew that we could not defeat Satan on our own and so He, in his wisdom, provides us with a beautiful set of instructions on how we are to fight my friends. We are to protect our minds but reading God’s word, praying and deepening our relationship with God.  We are to trust God in all that we do, not just when it’s convenient or when we are going through things that are really hard. How long do you want to be in a relationship with someone who only comes to you when they want something?

There are so many things about the helmet of salvation and all that it covers (pun intended) but for today, and due to the fact I have to get to work, accept that your salvation covers you from the head down, it protects you from a horrible existence (hell) and it also enables you to walk through this life and do the job that God has created you to do.

God, thank you for the awesome gift of salvation that you gave to us when you sent your son to walk on this earth, lead by example a perfect existence, and then paid the ultimate price by being nailed to the cross. Help us to honor that gift every day in our walk with you God by living each day as your humble servants. You are wonderful and marvelous and how amazing it is that You love each one of us. Thank you God.
 I thought we would cover both the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit but we will talk about the sword tomorrow (Saturday post!!!). I’m also going to be doing a giveaway this weekend for my birthday so be sure to stop back by.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ephesians 6:16 Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:16

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

I have always pictured a shield this way. A single component, used in a battle one on one.

However, a shield can also be implemented with a group of soldiers in a very effective way. There are several references made to how Mark Antony used the shield to overcome insurmountable odds, however, the soldiers had to work together.


Cassius Dio writes about the testudo when describing the campaign of Mark Antony in 36 B.C. : "this testudo and the way in which it is formed are as follows. The Baggage animals, the light-armed troops, and the cavalry are placed in the center of the army. the heavy-armed troops who use the oblong, curved and cylindrical shields are drawn up around the outside, making a rectangular figure, and, facing outward and holding their arms at the ready, they enclose the rest. the others who have flat shields, form a compact body in the center and raise their shields over the heads of all the others, so that nothing but shields can be seen in every part of the phalanx alike and all the men by the density of the formation are under shelter from missiles. Indeed, it is so marvelously strong that men can walk upon it and whenever they come to a narrow ravine, even horses and vehicles can be driven over it. "
A shield protects from a direct or glancing blow. It protects in close battle and in attacks made from a distance, but, if we do not know how to use a shield then it becomes useless. Shields can be very heavy and awkward to use without pratice and strenthening our muscles. A young man trained from a very early age with lighter, less cumbersome pieces of armor until he became comfortable and then he would be given increasingly heavier weapons. A solider was equiped for battle over a period of time, he did not just wake up one morning and ta-da, he was a soldier ready to go to war. We do not wake up and “poof, we are Christians ready to do battle.” Just as a solider prepares for battle every day of his life, Christians must prepare every day. Our shield of faith is part of that preperation.

Satan will attack from each and every corner of our lives. Areas that we feel we have in control, Satan will undermine, relationships that we think are solid, Satan will try to erode, beliefs that we have held as sacred Satan can attempt to chip away. Friends, it is all around us, every single day we are in a battle with the king of lies and deceit. By weilding the shield of faith we can protect not only ourselves but those around us from satan’s attack. How do we use this weapon though? Dr. Martin Luther writes it better then I ever could. Read his words on faith here.
faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13)
So our faith is something that we can only obtain by our trust in God the Father. Faith is not created out of what we “do” or how “good” we are. (You can’t do enough and you can’t be good enough.) We do not know what lies ahead. (But that’s okay, God does) We cannot know what tomorrow is going to bring. (But that’s okay, God knows). We can only move forward in faith believeing that our Heavenly Father will be there to give us the strength we need to get through each day.

That strength comes through faith, and we strengthen our faith by using it daily, so we can boldly step into battle, raise our shield and know that with the shield of faith in place satan’s arrows will fall short, his blows will be glancing, and he will not be able to get to our hearts. We will be able to hold everything together with God’s truth (belt of truth), that our hearts will be protected with God’s armor (breastplate of righteousness) and because we know that what we believe is The Truth we will be able to stand firm because are feet are fitted with the gospel of peace. And just like the soldiers who stood together and lifted their shields, how much stronger are we as Christians when we come together and stand side by side, and can move as one, protecting our brothers and sisters and moving through this battle together.

Start working your faith muscle. Trust in God starting today in ALL THINGS. Allow Him to lead you in this battle. Reach out to your friends that are Christians and stand beside them. Your shield doesn’t have to be huge. Your shoes don’t have to fit perfectly, your belt doesn’t have to be through each belt loop and your breastplate can be a little small right now. It’s okay, but stand my friend. Put it all on, others can help you get used to it. There is no time to wait until you “get it right”. We are at war and today is the day that you can lift your shield of faith and step into battle.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Armor of God: Feet

Ephesians 6:14-15

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
 Our feet. Take a look at the verse again. “your feet fitted”. We know that having shoes protect our feet, and it’s not a reach to understand that having shoes on in battle helps us to move and to attack. But the verse talks about having our feet “fitted”. Custom made.

I have never had custom made shoes. I know you can relate when I talk about having to “break in a new pair of shoes.” It’s uncomfortable. And there is nothing worse then having a pair of shoes that just don’t fit right. We get blisters and calluses and no matter how cute the shoes might be, if they don’t fit, then we could wind up hurting our feet. I have several great pairs of shoes that I bought in the thrill of the moment. That after I got them home and got over the shopping thrill (I know, it’s a curse) I realized that the shoes were a bit tight, (well maybe I could stretch it out), or it rubbed a bit on the heel (oh, I’ll just bend it and help it), or the toes were a bit to narrow (again, they will stretch) and we all know what happened to the shoes. I’ve worn them a couple of times, only to wind up taking them off mid-way through whatever function I was attending, so consumed with the ache and pain in my feet that I couldn’t enjoy wherever I was and could only anticipate leaving and taking the bane of my existence off my feet.

But friends, we are at war and the armor we need has to fit properly.

Soldiers in battle would have their shoes fitted by cobblers. They would take a sketch of the soldiers’ feet and would mold the shoes. The shoes became like an extension of their body because they were formed around each foot. The shoes did not have to be “broken in”. There was no “getting used to” a new pair of shoes. The shoes fit because they were created for the one who was wearing them. When the soldier walked into battle he could do it with confidence, the safety of his feet were not in question because they were protected and he could advance on the enemy and move forward.

This is what God instructs us to do in Ephesians 6:14-15. By fitting our feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace we are equipped to go into battle with our feet standing on the gospel of peace.

OK, what is the “gospel of peace” and how do we stand on it. The gospel of peace is the understanding of the Good News. But what if you don’t know what the Good News is?

This is the good news, the great commission, and what everything in our beliefs as Christians is about.
And that of we believe in our hearts (which is protected by the breastplate of righteousness) and say with our mouths (which speaks the truth that we learned from the belt of truth) that Christ is the risen Lord, we will be saved. (This is the gospel of peace).
Having this knowledge, this understanding, and firmly standing on that belief, will give you the protection and the confidence to step boldly and proclaim to others what you have been given.


The gospel promises that peace and God’s word proclaims, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15).

Sweetheart it’s time to take off those ill-fitting, leg cramping, blister causing shoes that look really cute on the outside but are cutting off the circulation to your soul on the inside and step into the peace that never goes out of style, always fits, and looks good with everything. Stand firm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.

A breastplate was used during a time of battle to protect the heart, the internal organs, the weakest and most vulnerable part of the body. Righteous by definition is:
 
right·eous (rī'chəs) adj.
          1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin: a righteous parishioner.
          2. In accordance with virtue or morality: a righteous judgment.
          3. Morally justifiable: righteous anger.

To be without guilt or sin. Are any of us without sin? No, that is why we have Jesus, and with Jesus we can embrace the relationship with God, a relationship that is without guilt and without sin. To go boldly before our heavenly Father, to thank Him for our blessings that He bestows and to ask for His aid in our endeavors.

That’s the explanation for the verse but how do we apply it? We have already covered the fact that we are at war. The battles that are waged daily between Satan and God’s children are brutal. Our first step is to recognize the enemy and how he attacks. Satan comes against us is our hearts, our emotions, and our feelings. Feelings can be influenced and changed. Feelings are not always constant and we need to realize that Satan knows that too. He can use the lies that he whispers to make us doubt, to make us feel that God cannot forgive us, to harbor unkind feelings towards our family or friends. But with the Breastplate of Righteousness we can move into battle with our heart protected and our feelings true, because they are protected.

When Satan attacks he has many things in his arsenal, but in my opinion, one of his most powerful weapons is to attack our faith. If we start doubting God’s word, His truth, then Satan has made what could be a fatal blow directly to our heart. By striving to be virtuous, moral, without guilt or sin, we can heal the wounds from the past and reinforce the armor for future attacks because my friends, the attacks will come. We need to protect our hearts with the breastplate, to keep all the tender parts safe, our heart whole, and we must step boldly into battle with the knowledge that we are morally upright, without guilt or sin, and wrap our hearts with righteousness because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  Armor up, the battle is at hand.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Belt Of Truth

Last week I started talking about the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-20 but my ADD kicked in and I got distracted. Seriously…it did…oh look…shiny…

Other things had come up, like the porcine plague and I put the armor of God on the back burner. It’s my blog and I can do that.

So today I wanted to talk more about the armor God has equipped His followers with and how we can use it today. Not many of us have need for real chain mail or plate mail armor. It looks really neat but it’s hard to keep polished and really uncomfortable on the commute to work, not to mention all the weird looks you would get from the carpool at your kids’ school. No, the armor that the Bible talks about is figurative. I had never heard about the armor of God before until last year when I was trying to find something to speak about at the She Speaks conference. I am a very visual speaker, I move a lot and I like to have things for people to relate to. That way if they don’t remember what I said, maybe one of my visuals will lock in a thought or an idea that will simmer in their subconscious and God will use that as a trigger for how they can apply it.


In my talk about the armor of God I was equipped with what I pictured as my “belt of truth”. It was a tool belt that I blinged out with rhinestones and crosses (hey, I told you I saw something shiny). In my tool belt I carried my journal, my bible, my coffee cup and my pens and markers. But we are talking about the belt today. The belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 states,
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..”
Yes, there is more to it, stop rushing me. Truth. Truth is the key to everything. If you know the truth then nothing can come against you. Satan uses lies and misunderstandings, criticism and blame, to cause a rift amongst believers. If Satan can cause two Christians to come against each other, then he has won half the battle already. Think about this for a moment, how many times have you jumped to a conclusion, went with the wrong information, ran off at the mouth, spread gossip, or whispered a secret that caused pain or hurt to someone else? All action, all detrimental and all something you probably shouldn’t have done, but look back up at the scripture, “stand firm…” Don’t move, be still (and know that I am ...sorry, ADD moment again.).

Truth.

Jesus starts so many of his lessons with, “I tell you the truth...” John 14:6 states,

                          “ 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
                            No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So your belt, what holds it all together, what binds you, what ties all the rest of your armor together is truth. God’s truth, which can be found in His son, Jesus.

I believe that it’s listed as the first piece of armor because in order to have the rest of it, you have to have that piece first. None of the other works without the truth. I cannot have righteousness, or readiness, or peace, or faith and I cannot fight the Evil one without Jesus, without truth. If Satan is the king of lies, then who do you think is the King of Truth? The truth that God equips us with through His word is how we fight Satan but we can only fight when we know how to use the weapon. We have to learn God’s truth. Satan’s lies permeates everything, the television we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, conversations we have, conversations our kids have, Satan is everywhere, but the cool thing about that is, so is God and His truth works against every single one of Satan’s lies. Get out your tool belt, bling it up if you want to, and put it on. Equip yourself with the truth, God’s truth, so that you can fight Satan’s lies, the ones that come against you in your day to day battle, not only with the outside world, but with the lies that Satan whispers in your head.

Here are a few weapons for your arsenal.

Psalm 139: 13-16

Philippians 1:9-10

Romans 8:38-39

These are only a few of the wonderful truths that can be found in scripture. Read them, study them, and understand that they were written for us and for the battle that we are fighting every single day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

God Power Washed My Heart.



My WH (wonderful husband) got a great deal for a power washer from a friend at work. He brought it home and tried it out on our front walkway. I had not noticed how dirty it was because it happened gradually, it covered all of it and it was just part of my surroundings. I didn’t realize until WH power washed only one part of the walkway.
That cold, rocky concrete was a perfect example of my life on display. If you have read much of my blog, or listened to my testimony, you know some of the major obstacles I have dealt with. Some of those were due to my own decisions and some were due to others, but all of it left a mark. The guilt and pain and failures added layer upon layer of dirt and filth to my heart but in many ways I ignored it and in some cases didn’t even realize it. Many times lies and hurts, mistakes, and disobedience can sneak into the cracks and crevices of our hearts and we don’t even realize the squalor we are living in, or not living, but only existing.

But God…

God wants to clean that up. He wants to not only forgive us but also give us the ability to forgive ourselves. Yes, sometimes even now, I can slip down into the dirt of what was before, but the Bible says in Hebrews 10: 22-23 to
“Let us draw near to God with sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies WASHED with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
See, proof, God power washed my heart.

God has such a great sense of humor because while standing on our porch looking at how nice that one part of the path to our front door was I was blown away by an ah-ha moment. That small part of the walkway showed, in sharp contrast, how dirty the rest of the sidewalk had gotten.  I had no idea how filthy it was until I saw how nice it could be, and what a difference getting rid of the dirt made.


What about your dirt?  How does your past impact you today? How does it impact your future? When you ask God into your heart and you repent of your sin, He washes all that away. 

There are still days that I feel like He truly needs a power washer with a brutal spray to dislodge some of the things I keep picking back up and carrying around, but beloved, He's already wiped it away!  I am the one who choses to go back to it, I am the one that choses to dwell on the mistakes in the past.  He no longer sees it.  It is gone and He doesn't want me to keep returning to what was before.  He wants me to concentrate on Him, just Him and His perfect will for my life.  Isaiah 43:25 says,

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." 

If the God of the Universe loves me enough to forget all my sins so that He and I can have a relationship, let me repeat that, THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE... then shouldn't I love Him enough to accept it and not try to limit Him?  He can do it and to believe otherwise is limiting God. God’s power is without limit; it is only us who limits God. There is NOTHING that can separate us from Gods love, except our refusal to accept it.

My life was very much like that sidewalk until I asked God to wash all the dirt and garbage away. There is a constant reminder when I leave my home of who I was before and who I am now. I don’t know if I want WH to power wash the whole thing yet.