The Trees and Me and Something Free for You

April 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

Sycamore trees fascinate me. We have several small ones in our front yard. Until about a week ago they held tight to their brown dead leaves – leaves that were once bright and green. Early last fall they turned a beautiful orange color and then they turned brown and drab. Those stubborn trees held tight to their dead leaves through fall, all of winter, and into spring. Finally last week during some unusually high winds, these trees finally let go of their dead leaves. It was at that point – when they had given up what they were comfortable with – that their spring buds for new leaves could form.

Those trees and I have a lot in common. I get used to the way I do things or how I do things. I get used to sin in my life and I cling to it. Even though it is brown and dead and nasty. I like it. Maybe it started as something I was doing for God, but it turned into something about me. Oh, but I cling to it. I cling to it because I remember what it once was. It was once beautiful and it even turned a glorious orange color for a short time. But God has other plans. In order for me to grow and change and stay healthy I have to be willing to let go. I like my trees have to give up what I am comfortable with so that God can grow me and change me.

Is that true in your life? Do you hang onto things God is calling you to let go so that He can do a work in your life? Would you share with me?

Here is what I am letting go of for God to do a work in me…It is also what begins my list of things I am thankful for:

381. God is tearing apart my little dreams that aren’t His and replacing them with buds of new dreams that are God-sized dreams.
383. My kids running and hollering together.
384. God is changing my heart
385. My supportive husband
386. God’s word (my breath of life)
387. Encouraging friends
388. God is making my heart teachable
389. Rejection that reminds me God has other plans
390. Nerf dart tag
391. Sound of laughter
392. Speaking truth into the lives of kids (mine and others)
393. Health
394. Water
395. My husband’s heart
396. Sweet friends who testify to my husband’s heart
397. Encouragement from others walking similar roads
398. That God would use even me
399. Forgiveness from my kids
400. Three blessings with their arms wrapped around their daddy.
401. I have an exciting free resource for you…Go to Resource page from the list on the left hand column. I pray it blesses you.

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment! I can’t wait to hear from you!


Rethinking My Dreams

March 8, 2011 § 10 Comments

What is not going “your way,” but God’s way? Share what God is doing in His way. I can’t wait to hear about what He is doing for you.

Same Flood Different Foundation

February 18, 2011 § 3 Comments

Did you know that I am writing a book? I have a few friends reading over the manuscript currently. One of them e-mailed me and said that the difference between Christians and Non-Christians is their foundation. The wise builder and the foolish builder went through the same flood, but the one with the firm foundation wasn’t wiped away.

We all go through floods. Floods of illness, infertility, financial crisis, death, loss. The question is how firm is your foundation? Have you allowed Jesus to be your foundation? Have you dug in deep to His truth? Are you walking in close relationship to Him daily?

I do not always walk closely with my Lord. I sometimes falter and fail. I turn to myself, my friends, my husband, my children and build my life on them instead of Him. Those parts of my building crumble when the floods come. Only the parts deeply rooted in Jesus stand firm. There were times when the floods came and I discovered I had Jesus as my foundation, but nothing deeply rooted in Him. The flood swept it all away. I was left with my foundation. I was left with my Savior.

He is more than enough, but I don’t want to labor in vain. I my life to stand firm despite the raging flood. I want my life to count. Not because it makes me a better person, I am a wretch. Not because it makes God love me more, all my deeds are like filth to Him. I want my life to count because I want to bring glory to God. I want Him to get the credit, honor, and glory for all of it.

How do we build a firm foundation? We read His word, we find a fellowship of believers who sharpens us, challenges us, guides us, loves us, supports us. We pray and live a life of thanksgiving to the Giver of all things. Each thing we thank God for strengthens our foundation. Each prayer sent up draws us ever closer to Him, who is our Strength. Each time we dig into His word, we discover more about His abundant grace. Let’s never forget to dig down deep into our God who loves us so!

How is your foundation? What are you doing to dig deep into your Foundation? Stick around and share with me…I can’t wait to hear about your foundation.

The Big Picture

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love to know and understand the big picture. Even my kids crave to know, “why do we have to pick up our toys?!” I try to paint the rosy picture of a house tidy and organized, so when you wanted your teeny-tiny Strawberry Shortcake and her itty-bitty less than a centimeter across plate of cupcakes, you would know where to find it. In my mind that huge picture is a thing of beauty, a goal to aspire, and yet often out of reach with three children. Not to mention that my twin sister stole my organizing gene. I seriously was born without one, but she has enough organizing mojo for three people. Big pictures give us a great goals to achieve. Most often the big picture, like an organized house, takes lots of smaller goals to accomplish. It is many times overwhelming and confusing to determine what the first step is. For me, the organizationally challenged mom, figuring out what the first step to making my dream a reality is a mystery. I cannot even fathom all the steps it would take to get me there.

Often that is how it is with God-size goals and dreams. Maybe you know He is calling you to write a book and speak to teach others His word. You can even see yourself signing books at a huge conference and later on stage speaking to hundreds of people. Your heart swells because you want this ministry to honor God. However you are not a well-known anybody. You are not even sure if your friends want to hear what God is teaching you much less a group of five or ten. Your dream maybe more humble, more like a tidy house, or a fulfilling preschool ministry where you direct kids to the heart of God. Maybe God is calling you to a prayer ministry that will lay the foundation for a nation-wide revival. If you are like me, you are wondering how do I get from where I am to the dream or goal or ministry I know God has for me to accomplish? What is next?

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Meaning that God may light the next step, He may even light a small passage or path to your destination. However He doesn’t show us every bend in the road. Every twist, every intersection He is orchestrating to get us to our big picture. Instead, He gives us a small short-term guide. We know that somehow the road, He is guiding us down, leads us to the main goal, the big picture. He lights our feet and our path, but not the complete road to our big picture.

My problem is that God often has to wrestle with me to join Him on His road. The one road that will lead to the big picture, the goal, in His way. I sometimes think I can get there by my planning, my own decisions, my power. Oh, but let us not forget the road is often filled with twists and turns we cannot anticipate. Your husband gets relocated out-of-state or country, you get an unexpected diagnosis, your wife is pregnant and the doctors said it would never happen. Perhaps your parents are divorcing or you got laid-off. God’s symphony of life allows many twists and turns, many hardships and painful things, as well as unexpected joys, to come so that you will be ready when it is time for you to reach your big picture.

Father God give us all a picture for our lives. Let us all have dreams and goals that we can only attain through You and Your power. As we work to attain those big goals that are beyond our abilities, may we take the next step you are placing before us. Forgive us for trying to do it our own way LORD. We know You have perfect plans. Help us to rest in them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So what big goal, dream or picture are you waiting to see God fulfill in your life? Share your thoughts and I will pray that the next step will be clear for you.

Singleness of Heart and Action

August 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

I am weird. No really I am. I like Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings. I enjoy basketball, football, and reading. I love Jane Austen books and have read some of them 3 times or more. I appreciate the movies based on the books. I am a kindred spirit of Anne of Green Gables, but I also dig the Matrix. The human body awes and amazes me. I feel God’s smile when I sing, speak, and write all about God. I hunger and thirst after God’s word. The things I enjoy do not seem like they should fit into one person. I can’t help myself. Diversity is good right? However diversity in the things I enjoy can result in me being a scatter-brained mess. I struggle pinpointing my Spiritual gifts or my personality. What does God want to do with a crazy, Trekie who loves Jayhawk Basketball, enjoys a great Jane Austen novel, and studying her Bible? How do you figure that out?

Well, I cam across something AMAZING last night in my Bible reading. Judah is under siege by the Babylonians. Most of Judah has already been taken into captivity and the final hold outs are still in Jerusalem, still refusing to obey God by surrendering to the Babylonians. However, God in His amazing patience tells them what is going to happen after He banishes them. Jeremiah 32:37-39 says, “I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in My furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.” So God, dealing with these crazy sin-loving Israelites – these people he likens to prostitutes – relents. He doesn’t punish beyond measure or out of the ordinary. No, God calls them His people, but even more He gives them Singleness of Heart and Action. Oh that I would allow God’s Holy Spirit to give me singleness of Heart and Action. This singleness doesn’t mean that I have to only like football and stop reading Jane Austen. I don’t have to give up singing to speak or speaking to write. No! It means that God is going to make my purpose and direction into something that brings me more in love and in awe of God. Then I can make an impact on the next generation. God doesn’t only want me to draw near to Him for my sake, but for the sake of those coming after me. He also says this fear will also result in good for both me and those who are coming after me.

God’s singleness of heart and action results in my fearing, loving, being in right relationship with Him AND it results is good for me. It also affects those around me. O Father God, I pray that I would have the kind of singleness of heart and action that draws me closer to You and draws others closer as well. Father I desire, through all the crazy things I enjoy, to honor and fear You. May my relationship with You draw others to fear You and find Your goodness. Thank You Father God that You use a sinner, football loving, Jayhawk cheering, girl like me. Amen.

If God can use a crazy woman like me, I bet He can use you too. What is it He is calling you to do to draw others nearer to Him? I’d love to know so I can pray for you!

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Identifying with Jonah

March 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

So, “Jonah was a prophet, ooo-ooo, but he really never got it, sad but true, if you watch him you can spot it, doodlie do, he did not get the point.”  So if you know Veggie Tales and you have seen their movie Jonah, you know the song I just quoted.  However, I often find myself acting in the same way Jonah did.  I clearly understand that God tells us to, ‘”Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”‘ Mark 16:15  So why do I often do as Jonah did and say I don’t want to and run in the other direction?  Below are some thoughts that came about while the senior pastor at our church was doing a series on Jonah.

How often does God have something for me to do and I go kicking and screaming?  “I don’t want to!” I stamp my foot like my two year old and cross my arms.  “Do I have to?”  I whine like my five year old.  Or even worse I arch my back and wail like my 8 month old.

“Daughter I have given you a story to share.  Share it.”

“But it hurts Lord, I don’t want to!”

“Daughter I have given you that story to bless others.  You prayed that those situations would bring Me glory.”

“But I do I have to share that story God?”

“Daughter I have given you strength beyond your capabilities, I have given you eloquence beyond your understanding, I have given you experiences bigger than yourself that you might share them with others.”

I arch my back and wail….

Then I wonder why God isn’t using me.  How can I be of importance to His kingdom?  What am I to do?  His answer is “go and tell.”  My answer is so often, “no.”

Father forgive me.  Forgive my stubborn stiff necked ways.  Forgive my hard heart that holds my experiences with You tightly.  Forgive my selfishness that doesn’t share Your river of life with those who are aching for it as in the dry and weary land.  Oh Father that I would have a heart like Yours.  That I would lay down my hopes and dreams, my plans, my expectations at Your feet.  Lord that I may say with Your Son, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  That I would suffer for You.  Not because of my sin, not because of my hard heart, but because I am willing to say no to myself and yes to Your will.  Father prune my vine of the things that distract me from serving You.  Father I trust that as I die to my hopes, my plans, that I will grow like a seed to produce more and more fruit for Your glory and honor.  Sovereign One, as I release my grip on the direction I want and think my life should go, may I rest in knowing You love me, You have plans for me, and You are never out of control.  The pruning makes the plant more beautiful so I pray my life may be more clearly reflective of Your beauty.  The death to myself allows me to bear much fruit and allows others to see You more clearly.  Finally resting in the back seat as You control and direct my life gives me peace, endurance, and joy that in all things that Your name will be honored glorified.

What am I for?

March 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have been reading in Leviticus and Exodus lately as I mentioned in an earlier post and I was struck by how God gifted an appointed people to do certain things.  He mentioned to Moses by name men capable of doing the gold and weaving work to make the Tabernacle and the ark of the covenant.  He appointed the Levites a whole clan to be in charge of the work in the “Tent of Meeting” or Tabernacle.  He chose Aaron (who was an idolator and led others to idolatry because he feared men rather than God at the time) and his family to be the ones who met with God on behalf of the Israelites.  So that got me to thinking about us.  How has God gifted me, am I using the gifts He has given me NOW, am I looking, praying, seeking for His direction on how best to use His the gifts he as given me…So here is the trail my thoughts traveled.

If you have a kid and you know Veggie Tales, you may know the one called Snoodle’s Tale.  It is Dr. Seuss-esk (which is fitting since his birthday is tomorrow…That was a bunny trail).  Anyway there are these creatures named Snoodles and one is born wondering what he is for.  He checks his bag that came with him and finds paints, and a harmonica, and discovers he has wings.  However as he tries his “gifts” out, his attempts are laughed at by the other Snoodles who all have wings, but none can fly.  They use their paints to tear others down.  This Snoodle eventually has an encounter with His creator.  His creator tells him why He gave him paints, a harmonica, and wings.  Soon this little Snoodle is soaring.  But he doesn’t just keep this new information to himself he shares it with the other Snoodles and they are soon soaring as well.

My question is what keeps me from soaring?  What keeps me from using the gifts God has given me?  What keeps me from sharing those gifts with others?  Why would  God want to use someone who can’t figure it all out anyway?

1.  There are many things that keep me from soaring…

—my own insecurities (what if I fail), listening to others and Satan who are telling me lies and trying to tear me down, not listening to constructive criticism, the busy-ness of life, the urgent taking over the important, believing the lie that I am not good enough, smart enough, spiritual enough, whatever enough to do something for God….

2.  The things that keep me from using my gifts God has given me…

—I don’t have time, what will “they” say, what if God calls me to foreign missions living in a hut, God can’t use me I’m too messed up, I don’t know what my gifts are, I don’t know what God wants me to do with my gifts, I am too young, I am too old, I am too small, I have young children, I have older children, my kids are too busy, my husband is too busy, my parents are too busy…

3.  I don’t share my gifts because…

—what if they don’t think I am gifted in that area, what if they think I am weird, what if they are offended, what if they laugh at me, what if they don’t laugh, what if they don’t like me, what if they reject God, what if I don’t really make a difference in anyone’s life…

4.  God uses us because…

—Ok, in a lot of ways I am totally stumped here.  I mean the creator of the entire universe doesn’t NEED me to do anything for Him.  He can handle it all and He can do it all…However here is the kicker…The creator of the universe the God of the mountains, oceans, cosmos, WANTS me to do stuff for Him.  How do I know that?  He tells us countless times, but I’ll choose one of my favorites…I Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  God wants to use US!!!  ALL of US…Not just the ones you think have it all together (no one does by the way), or the ones who have lots of money, or the beautiful ones, or the smart ones, or the ones who can sing, or the ones who can act….You get my point.  God has a place for YOU.

Let’s look at the people he has used throughout history…Abraham was a liar.  Jacob was a deceiver.  Moses was a murderer.  Aaron the high priest was an idolator (he made a calf and told Israel it was the god who led them out of Egypt).  David (a man after God’s own heart) was an adulterer (had an affair) and a murderer.  Mary Magdelene was demon possessed and yet was one of the first to find the empty tomb.  Paul who wrote most of the New Testament was a persecutor of Christ’s followers and a murderer.  However God tells us in 2 Cor 4:7 “But we [Christians] have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  That treasure is the gospel.  The clay is our sinful stinking selves.  Yet God can and does use broken dirty filthy people for His purpose glory and honor.  Many of our present church leaders have had similar conversions from murderers to druggies to alcoholics to abusers.  God can change us and use us all to show the greatness of His glory.  A treasure in a cracked, dirty, ordinary pot is even more amazing than when it is in an ornate box.  That is God’s plan so the glory is for Him and not for us, the cracked pots.

Not only does He have a job for you, but did you notice that verse…”Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…”  Does it say when you are an adult you should use your gift?  Does it say after your kids are grown you should use your gift?  Does it say that once your finances are figured out you should use your gift? Or maybe once you have lost those pesky last 15 pounds or when you feel like you have it together?  NO!!!!  It just says you should use your gift.  That implies NOW!  Kids, adults, pre-teens, teens, senior citizens that means that once you are a child of God you have a gift and God has a purpose for that gift.  USE IT!!!  How?  Be creative find something you can do…Ask if you can be a greeter if you enjoy meeting new people, if you are more behind the scenes then ask if you can help clean up after an event, if you like children find out if you can help in the pre-school department or even get on a list to babysit for parents in the church.  Pray…Ask others what you can pray for and pray.  Teach if you can teach.  The point is to USE your gifts.

But I don’t know what gifts are mine.  Pray for clarity.  Think about the things that as you do them you feel God’s smile on you.  Often the things God has gifted us with are the things that also bring us joy as we do them.  Pray for direction and be willing to try different things.  I heard once it was like trying on different shoes to see if they fit.  Some are super comfy and work well, some stretch your feet in places you didn’t know you could stretch and were not super comfortable.  However the point is you tried you are searching for what gifts God has given you and how to use them for His glory.  The journey alone is worth the trip and the end doing what God has gifted you for is quite amazing.  FYI, the journey NEVER ends until you die and see God in glory.  That verse doesn’t have an expiration date.  If you are bedridden God has a play for you and your gifts, if you are in a season where you can’t lead things maybe you can help in something, as long as you drawn breath God wants you to use your gifts.  What an awesome God that He would use even me to further His kingdom, to do something that matters for eternity.  What a God I serve.

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