"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why do we think everyone elses story is more important than ours?

We are obsessed with stories. Whether we find it in a good book, an engaging conversation or a new movie, we are obsessed with stories. We are particularly taken with the epic.

Ever wonder why?

Why do we have favorite TV shows? Why do kids tell tales around the campfire? Why are Disney movies so much a part of our culture? Why did Harry Potter books fly off the shelves upon their release? (Save your judgment, please – it’s a fact.)

We were born with a craving for story. We were born to believe in the epic, the love story and knight in shining armor. The epic resonates in us because we were born for story and born into a story. We find ourselves in the epic because our lives are a story that unfolds moment by moment, day by day, page by page, just like a script.

Like characters in a movie, each of us is purposefully written into a script:
“You saw me before I was born.
  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
  before a single day had passed.”
Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

When life gets confusing, remember there is a script.

When it doesn’t look like there is a rescue, remember there is a script.

When it looks like you’re losing the battle, remember there is a script.

When you’re trying to figure out your next step, remember there is a script.

In that story you are all you dare to believe you can become. In that script, you accomplish the impossible, slay the dragon and win the big game. That script is your story, God’s story. In that story is the power to change the world. You are not only written in the story, the story is written in you.

It’s all in the script and the author is available for conversation about it.  Thanks Scott Allen. You said it far better than I could. Why re-invent the wheel?   Here's the deal. Your story is significant. So is mine because, it's mine.  What I really want to know is why do we tend to think everyone else's story is more important or interesting then ours?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why write? Fully persuaded.

As I begin to write this post, I think what do I have to share that might be worth someone else reading? I just read a couple of great posts by people that I consider to be much better "writers" than me. But I learned from each of them. My friend Sara from http://walkslowlylivewildly.com/ shares snippets of daily life, reminding us that life is about family and friends, keep it simple. She has a gift of rejoicing in life, much like her mother who happens to be one of my great friends. Their family has encouraged our family for many years to enjoy one another often by spontaneously doing something, always accompanied by a lot of laughter and sometimes tears.

The other post I read this morning is from http://janellrardon.wordpress.com  Janelle is a friend of one of my best friends. We have talked over the phone and exchange e-mails is years past. I've never met her face-to-face but I like her. She is a wife and mom like me. She loves her family and she loves God. She loves to learn about God and encourages others to do so too. But, like me, she doesn't just want to learn about God. She wants to know Him and live day to day with Him. So she shares her life. If you check out her most recent post you will see that she recently has had some really serious situations going on in her family's life, brain surgery for her daughter. 

My recent situation, shoulder surgery for my husband pales in comparison, but it's "my" situation. The faith and trust factor is just as pertinent for me as it is for Janelle. The circumstances are just different.  My daughter and I have often remarked of ourselves that we seem to have more faith/trust in the "big" things than we do in the day to day. Well, I have a chance to take a step of faith in the day to day right now.  My husbands shoulder surgery went from the 80% prediction of no big deal to the 20% okay he has a rotator cuff tear and a bone spur. Both of which are now fixed, thank you Jesus (& Dr. G). Currently he's resting (thank you Jesus) in his recliner with a machine hooked up to him that provides compression to the area and icing automatically. Hmm, not what I expected as we now have months of recovery/rehab with some restrictions vs 3-4 weeks with no restrictions.  But you know what?  We prayed for God to protect and guide the surgeon. We prayed for complete healing and this is the outcome we received. So I'm believing that God is in control. This is what is needed.  I am "fully persuaded that God is able to do that which He promised." (Romans 4:21 NIV)  Am I disappointed? Yep, ask anybody who talked with me yesterday. Do I believe? Yep, ask me. I'll tell you.

So again, why am I writing? Because I believe that we all  have disappointments and joys and that we can still believe through them. Especially when we are willing to be honest about it. Learning and growing in each situation we experience. It's easier when you have someone to walk through it with you. You realize you are not alone. You are not stupid for experiencing disappointment, doubt, frustration. You are a child of God growing up.  So feel free to join me in learning through life. Because I am "fully persuaded that God is able to keep His promises."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fully Persuaded?

So we're working on trusting God with our relationships. That doesn't mean we get to "kick back" and just coast in our relationships. What it does mean is that we learn to love our family and friends. We choose to do or not do things because we love them.  Just like God did. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for our sins." Romans 5:8  We weren't perfect (and still aren't) but God gave the ultimate sacrifice. He sent His only son to earth to live and die for us. But then, He rose again so we can live with Him now and in eternity! If He can do all of that He can take care of me and my relationships!  That's what this is all about we have to be "convinced" that God can handle us, our life. Convinced, really convinced - to know that you know, that you know THEN you'll trust God with your relationships. (& life!)

Abraham was a perfect example. Check out his life. "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, BEING FULLY PERSUADED THAT GOD HAD POWER TO DO WHAT HE PROMISED." Romans 4:20-21 NIV, emphasis mine.  Did you catch that? Fully persuaded, not thinking maybe, or sometimes or for someone else. Abraham was fully persuaded that God could fulfill His promises. (period)  I'm gaining on this one. How about you? And how does this effect your everyday life?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Relationship Anxiety

Okay, I'm going to say what I think many of us are thinking but don't want to admit. I've thought about posting this for a few days and chickened out for awhile. I think it's a fact that we struggle the most with those we love the most. Dumb, right? I think it's true.   To me it's pretty obvious, especially right now at Christmas time.

We get together with both sides of our family in a 36 hour period. We have fun eating, talking and playing games. Our families are pretty different and yet the same. We want to be together. We eat. We talk.  One side has alot more people, activity and noise. The other is quiet and can be almost dull. Both are full of love but their is always some tension too. Why?  After thinking and praying about this for a few days I believe it's because we want everyone to be happy and because we just keep thinking about ourselves.  In my case, it's both! (smile) I want everyone to be happy so I can be happy. See it's about me. I'm afraid of offending somebody and "losing" them.  Guess what? Even I know when I read that, that it will never work. Why? Well, #1 I'm not in charge. I can't control anyone except myself.  This year my son and daughter-in-law will join our family craziness for the first time. This year both Grandma's have health issues that change their normal position of being "in charge".  So then who takes that place and how will they do it? My mind has been going in circles for days regarding food, who likes what and who can eat what. Then there is what to do at the quieter house to engage everyone. As opposed to how to keep everyone happy at the busy-er house where we are crowded and there are lots of "bosses" in the mix.

I admit it this is NOT what relationships and holidays are supposed to be about. It's about love. Being loved so much that God sent His son to earth to live with us in this world. This crazy, try to keep everybody happy world.  The amazing thing is God knows everything. So He knows that we won't all accept His son and He did it anyway. He gave us His all and we choose whether to accept it or reject it.
Hmm, I think I get it. I love my family, all of them.  I'll give them my best because I love them. They then choose whether or not to accept it. It's their choice. I can't make it happen but I can choose to trust my God with them. I can trust that He will protect our relationships. Will you join me?

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Relationships are ours for the Making

My friend posted this on her family's blog this past week.

….until one morning in Bethlehem.
As a group of lowly shepherds, misplaced in the city, came bursting through the disrupted streets claiming something about angels and a baby and a….barn?  They must have had a rough night out on the fields!  Surely they had no idea what they were talking about!  And who is Mary?  Joseph?  These are nobodies!  Somebody please, send them back where they came from!  Enough of this nonsense!
And yet, something about the urgency of their message and the glow in their eyes may have caught my attention.  The spring in their step seemed a bit too giddy to have come from no where.  What would I have thought?  Would I have wondered enough to pursue my curiosity or simply rolled my eyes and gone on with my day to day tasks?  Could I have missed it?  Could I actually have slept through it?
I’d like to think not.  But the fact is, Jesus entered this world quietly.  Simply.  Ordinary.  In the most humble of places.  Dependent on the very people He had made. Only a few shepherds got to hear the mighty angelic proclamation of His arrival, and the rest of the world went on unaware.
Now, 2000 years later, we’re about to celebrate Christmas.  It’s one of the biggest holiday celebrations of the year.  Christmas itself is hard to miss—the lights, trees, decorations and ornaments, music, mall displays and Santa visits make it pretty clear that something is going on.  There is hardly a moment to spare in the hustle and bustle of the season with parties to attend, gifts to find, boxes to wrap, cookies to decorate, and families to please.  We are the epitome of Dr. Seuss’s little Who’s down in Whoville, all blissfully going about our duties…..
….while Jesus quietly waits for us to show up at the manger.
This Christmas, I want to show up at the manger! I want to adore Him from the core of my heart!  I want to still myself in the midst of the busy activity and be fascinated with the mystery of His birth….the simple, humble entrance of Yahweh God into this broken, fallen world.  He has come to fill me with HOPE and JOY everlasting!  I think I would prance all giddy and wide-eyed through the streets of Bethlehem for that!
Oh come let us adore Him!  Oh come let us adore Him! Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the LORD!
This is a song by Casting Crowns called “While You Were Sleeping”.  It’s one of my favorites and really inspired me to write this post.

Emily, like all of us have a choice. Christmas, the birth of Jesus can be an interruption, a hassle, a fairy tale. Or we can choose to look for Jesus who came quietly. He came for us, but He does not force Himself into our lives. He presents Himself and we can choose what kind of a relationship we want to have with Him. How great is that? We can choose to have a relationship with the God of the universe!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Created for Relationship

The French philosopher, Pascal once said that each person is created with a lifelong deep desire for something more, and that longing is filled only by knowing God.  Newsweek May 7, 2001 had an article entitled, "Your Brain on Religion". It stated that our brains are "hardwired" for God.  Now some people say they don't believe in God or at least doubt His existence. They say therefore they don't have or don't need a "relationship" with God because He doesn't exist.  I would challenge that. It's the Christmas season. Some people believe in Santa Claus, some doubt and some do not believe he exists at all. Their relationship or apparent lack thereof dictates alot of their actions and attitudes during December. Do they celebrate Christmas in any fashion? Do they buy gifts? If they do, how do they mark them, from themselves or from Santa? Do they watch the movies that involve Santa Claus and/or his elves?

In my opinion the same is true with God. If you choose to believe He does not exist that takes as much effort as believing He does. Do you avoid all church related activities, community service projects and holidays? Do you pick and choose a few that "do good" which over rules your disbelief in God? Do you just try to ignore all " religious" conversations?

I believe we were created for relationships with God, with others and with our self. Without any one of those we are unbalanced and often frustrated with life. Once I grasped that I need all three my life became more peace-filled.

It's the Christmas season there are lights and ornaments, Santa and mangers everywhere. Take some time this month to think about your relationship with God, with others, and with yourself. Does your life include all three? Should it?

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Plans...or Relationship?

"Men tend to multiply duties in their observance of religion. This practice enables them to give Me money, time and work without yielding up to Me what I desire the most-their hearts."  December 6, Jesus Calling 

Wow, that quote caught my attention this morning.  We've had a busy 3-4 weeks and things around the house had really gotten away from me. BUT, I had a plan!  Friday I was to finish a costume for a Christmas event on Saturday morning, then get the long overdue grocery shopping done, plus a couple of other errands, maybe even a bit of Christmas shopping. Event on Saturday morning, clean and put up Christmas decor on Saturday afternoon. Church Sunday morning, afternoon off and small group at our house (looking clean and lovely) Sunday evening.  Do I even need to tell you that Friday didn't work out anything like what I planned which made me crabby?  So then there was tension in the house. Well after and in between all activities this entire weekend I cleaned, took down fall decor and put up Christmas decor. As I worked feverishly, I nearly ignored my husband, did ignore two phone calls and didn't call my parents as is the normal Sunday afternoon routine.  But why? Because we were having small group at our house last night.  But even more than that, because it was MY plan. I wanted it.

Well the decorations are up and the lights are all lit. Admittedly, I love the lights. They are pretty and peaceful.  However, our whole focus of small group is relationships. Life is about relationships. Why do I get so caught up in doing things my way, in my time? It certainly doesn't build relationships. I hadn't even talked to my kids all week.  So for the rest of this Christmas season (it's a starting place) I'm going to intentionally choose to make relationships the #1 priority.  Do you have thoughts on how to keep this focus?  What do you do?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sometimes I'm Fickle

It's sad how fickle we can be, well I can be anyway.  The day before Thanksgiving started with such a grateful, peaceful attitude.  Somewhere in the middle it got detoured momentarily.  Some unexpected interruptions and late starts played with my attitude but thankfully I got back on course pretty quickly.  By Friday I was tired and ready for some relaxed time, regrouping, putting up the outdoor decorations and then off to see our daughter for the weekend.  Well, I didn't realize my husband had work to do before any of that could take place. And by the end of his work it was later then either of us wanted and he was aching all over due to some old injuries and the cold weather. RATS! Not the way I had envisioned the day. I was ready to just go back to bed and skip this day. BUT GOD is faithful.  Through some quiet steady lets just keep moving forward time. God reminded me again (and again) that my life is totally in His control. He is not surprised by any of it and He can handle all of it.  Thanks God.  I guess our II Corinthians chapter 4 theme for Treasure Chest Ministries is really a life theme.  We will not lose heart.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trusting God with No Umbrellas

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (emphasis mine)

"I don't think I'm testing God to see if this or that direction is true and from Him, like Gideon. But I may be testing myself to see if I can hold water, holy water. I wonder if this whole thing is more about my ability, or my willingness to soak up the rain He causes to fall on me. Maybe it's about throwing away my umbrella, getting rid of the protections and distractions that keep me from seeing what God wants to dump into my life."  from "Surprise Me God" by Terry Esau.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord... 
That was my journal entry on August 30, 2010.  At that point I posted most of that.  I was going to try life without the umbrella. Try to live soaking up whatever God had for me, not afraid of getting wet or messy.  Today I am so, so thankful.  It's been a long time since I've had such a season of peace.  Life is not quiet and calm right now, in fact there have been some major changes in the circumstances of our life in the past few months. But God is in charge of it and HE has provided peace for me. I trust Him. My confidence is in Him.  I have seen Him walk me and our family through some tough situations. I have seen Him shower us with blessings and loads of laughter. I trust Him. Because I trust Him I don't have to have all the answers and that is a great relief. (Not that I ever did, but I seem to think I was supposed to have answers)  So this Thanksgiving I can honestly say I am thankful for my life, right now, right where I'm at with all of the good and all of the challenges.What about you?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thankful for a first!

So my friend J is thankful for a new experience in her life, a short term mission trip to Mexico. See what she has to say.

I went on a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico in October , 2010 with a group from church. I had no idea what to expect . . . but was looking forward to what God was going to do there with us!!! We took children from a very small orphanage to a local zoo. The language barrier made things interesting as I know very little Spanish!! But love knows no  language barriers . .  we got to love on them, buy them treats and watch their faces light up!! They REALLY touched my heart!!! They just soaked up the hugs you gave them!!! I saw where they lived with so little . . .  yet they were so happy!!!  I realized how materialistic we are!! Their meals were NOTHING like the meals I served  the children in my daycare!!! The one day we were there, it was 10:30 and they hadn't had breakfast yet!! But every little face greeted us with a smile!!
    On a very rainy day, we went to visit and share at a tiny church. The path (not road or street!!) to the church was very muddy and rough. The church was no bigger than maybe 15 ft wide by 23 ft long, seating was old movie theatre seats bolted down, no doors on doorways, "window" boarded over and lighting consisted of 4 hanging light bulbs!!!!
The pastor was embarrassed at the small crowd ( 7 people other than our group of 11!) due to heavy rains that day . ..  most of his parishoners walked .  . they had no vehicles!! Our pastor preached that night - most of them came  forward for prayer. One gentlemen there, who spoke good English, told us he slept in the front of the church at night - his bed, a mattress behind the chairs!! He was so  happy to know that Christ was his savior!!! The praise band - a gentlemen playing an old, cracked guitar that was out of tune and missing strings!! He played that guitar like it was a fine instrument - especially when Pastor was praying over him . . . he all of a sudden started to play his guitar with an unequalled passion for God!!! The Holy Spirit was definitely in that building . .despite the fact that  it didn't look even remotely like a church from the outside!!!  I had the opportunity to pray with parishioners there  that night. God got me outside of my comfort zone!!! We didn't understand each other at all  .  . . . but one couldn't help but feel the zeal each one had for worshipping God!!!
     I came to truly love the Mexican people!!! You saw where they lived, how little they had and yet they welcomed  us Americans with open arms and wanted us to pray for them. It was good to be immersed in their culture .. to see who the Mexican people truly are .. . especially when you usually hear only negative stereotypical labels for them in America! We had a common bond - we had the same God!! We had the same desire to worship God and to know God better. This was just the first few days of an awesome, eye opening and life changing visit with the people of Tijuana.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Giving Thanks for Teachers

An old High School friend, Craig, sent the following story of an event in his life that he realizes now was truly a "changing moment".  Thank you Craig for sharing.

Following my freshman year in High School, my parents moved to Cumberland, IA which meant I'd have to change schools.  During the first few weeks of classes at C&M High School, one of the teachers asked me to come to her room during one of my study halls.  As it turns out she was the Contest Speech Coach and she wanted to talk with me about joining the team (apparently my gift of gab was quite evident :-)).  We talked for 15 minutes or so about Contest Speech and then she directed the conversation to my transition into this new school.  She was extraordinarily well connected and I'm pretty sure she had learned of my prior reputation for all manner of disrespectful and illegal behavior at my prior schools.  She proceeded to tell me exactly what I would need to do in order to be successful at this new school and even listed several kids by name whom I should avoid getting involved with.

Never before had an adult taken such personal interest in my well-being.  This act of personal care literally changed my life.  I joined the speech team, made new friends, had some success and raised my grades considerably.  And I even managed to stay out of trouble -- mostly :-).  Looking back at the course of life chosen by my prior friends and the path taken by the kids this teacher named -- I am extraordinarily grateful for her boldness to set my feet on an entirely different and better road!  In my senior English class, which this same teacher taught, we read Robert Frost's, "The Road Not Taken."  To this day I cannot read that poem without overwhelming gratitude for her willingness to choose a road less traveled that resulted in me choosing one too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some "Moments" are Bigger than Others

Well some of these "moments" in our lives are bigger than others.  Check out Mike's thoughts:

“We need to schedule an MRI as soon as possible just to make sure there isn’t a tumor growing in your inner ear.”

I wasn’t sure I heard the doctor correctly as he was talking to my wife.  But at that point, he was stumped over her symptoms.  She had a severe case of vertigo that made her nauseous.  She was pitiful as she sat there holding her blue mop bucket hoping, no pleading, that the room would stop spinning.   

For a whole week I played over in my mind what life would be like without her.  Certainly I would miss the laundry, the birthday parties, the elaborate meals at holidays, and the energy that she brings to our home.  But the thing I would miss the most would be her simple calmness at night.  That night I watched her as the prescriptions took over and offered simple rest.  I watched the rhythm of her breathing and between those breaths I thought of the first time we met, our first fight, our kids, our first house,  and the times she encouraged me when no one else could.  It was almost like God was reminding me of the tremendous gift He had given.  That night I wept as I thought about a future without her.  I repented for the times I took her for granted.  I just held her hoping that God would not take her away.  I woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of thankfulness to God for blessing me with such a great helpmate. 

Fortunately, the MRI showed nothing and it looks like her Benign Positional Vertigo is the result of a virus.  

Now that's a thankful moment! What's yours?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meeting God Through the Moments

 So how many times have we asked for something we really wanted and then were surprised at the answer? Check out my friend Jan's story!

Earlier this fall, I left for a 10-day solo drive through the Pacific Northwest to fish four states.  (My life goal is to fish all 50 states.)  My plans included spending the first 3 days in a remote cabin in the north woods, seeking answers from God’s Word for some challenges I was facing.   I had hoped to spend time reading, hiking, and praying…just me and God. 

I desperately needed alone time with Him.  My stress level was very high and I needed some answers to decisions I needed to make.  This was the perfect spot…no tv, no radio, no phone, no neighbors.  Just me and God in the beautiful northern mountains.  A small creek ran behind my cabin and the owner of the property had told me it was a beautiful place to sit and pray.  He also told me that wildlife sightings were rare, which was a disappointment to me, because I have long wanted to see bear or moose in the wild.  Nevertheless, the beauty of this place was perfect for a retreat.

Upon waking the first morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a breakfast bar and sat down with my Bible and journal.  As was my practice, I jotted down five questions that related to the stress I was going through.   As I have often done in the past, I had planned to open my Bible and begin to read, writing down any verses that stood out to me and compare them with the questions that were listed.  God so often has spoken to me through this ritual and I was both excited and afraid to see the answers He would give me.

And then, feeling a little silly, I wrote down a sixth question:  Lord, would you allow me to see a moose or a bear?  I felt foolish, as this request was certainly frivolous compared to the heavy-weighted issues that were reflected in the first five questions.   As I began to settle in and read, I felt compelled to once again go outside to take a stroll in the mountain air before digging deep into God’s Word.

I opened the door, stepped outside, breathed in deeply and with a smile stepped off the porch to walk with my Savior in the beauty of His creation.  I sensed a movement and stopped quickly.  My jaw dropped-- there was a bear in the yard!  Not real close, but close enough that I could see the color of his snout.   I backed up quietly and slowly into the safety (can bears break down doors?) of my cabin.  Within seconds I was trying to plan an escape route if Mr. Bear should decide to come calling at my cabin window in search of the food I was sure he could smell. 

I was both scared of the bear and in awe of the bear.   This beautiful black creature was bear-ing the message that God would answer even my frivolous request…that He cared about the simple things in my life and that He cared enough to manifest His love and concern through His creation!   If He was gracious enough to do that, He would certainly provide the direction for me in the deeper issues that were recorded on that page.

Needless to say, I had plenty of time to study.  I had no courage (and too little faith) to go outside for a walk or sit by the stream.  The bear remained all day, keeping me captive in that one-room cabin.  It was what I needed to focus on the verses surrounding part of Moses’ life through which I received the answers to my previous five questions.  Not only did I receive the answers, but question by question, I could embrace His answers, stand on His answers, and take confidence in His answers… all because of a bear.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sharing the Moments

As you have already noticed I've missed a few days again. It wasn't intentional this time. I've started a 1/2 time job to help us continue in ministry and we're still working the "kinks" out of the schedule.  I just want to say that my current "moment" of recognizing God is how peace-filled I am in amongst the change. It is a great encouragement to me to think I've learned a little something in my lifetime and that I know God is with me.

Anyway, I'd like to start sharing the great thoughts of my friends. We are attempting to give God glory by thanking Him for the "moments" in our lives. Also, we are trying to challenge you to recognize the moments realizing God is with us in every one of them.  Like this one:

"For me it was the many times that I listened to my dad share the Lord Jesus with people, as a small child I was on his lap as he was giving the gospel to someone. As a teen I would be like "Oh dad come on lets go, it is time to leave!" LOL ...:) But when I became an adult I realized that I was learning from him all this time how to share with people the saving knowledge of Jesus!! Those lessons were priceless, but at the time I didn't even realize it!! God is good, He always supplies for us in life what we need, even when we are not aware of it!!"
I grew up with this gal and witnessed these conversations. God uses all those around us to teach us, whether we realize it or not. Let's realize it! Thank you God!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saying Thanks for the Moments

 So it's November, a definite change of season month for our household. The leaves are falling and it's our job to clean them up, good dirty work. It's the month "the holidays" start. Thanksgiving leads off the winter holidays and for the past couple of years in particular it has offered me a time to thank God and others for their part in my life no matter how huge or how tiny. This year I'd like to concentrate on those seemingly insignificant moments in our lives that later, looking back you realize were really "big deals" to you. You know the type - it seemed like just an ordinary day, or it was just a phone call or note but later you realized it made all the difference. I've challenged some of my friends and family to join in on this exercise. How about you?

I'm starting us out with a devotional thought from the "Proverbs 31 Woman" site. Check it out!


28 Oct 2010

Samantha Reed, P31 Executive Assistant

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NASB)
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. The same is true for the story of our life. Our education starts in kindergarten, goes through elementary and middle schools and ends in high school or college. A romantic relationship begins with friendship, passes into dating and culminates in marriage. Meals start with appetizers, lead to a main entrée and finish with dessert.

How about our salvation story? The middle of every believer's salvation story is a relationship with God, and the end is eternity with Him. What about the beginning? That's different for everyone. Maybe a salvation-seed is planted while attending church with a neighbor. Perhaps a grandma's prayers are rays of sunshine on a cold heart. Hard, bitter soil may soften through the kindness of a women making room on the pew. Or roots sprout when a stranger in the front of the line buys lunch for those behind her.

Yes, every salvation story has a beginning. Have you considered the possibility that you could be part of someone's beginning? Unbeknownst to me, I was part of my friend Javier's!

Javier and I were neighbors in college a decade ago. Our roommates dated, so we hung out often. We cooked dinner. Spent lazy afternoons watching movies. Cheered next to each other at football games. When I took guitar lessons, Javier taught me chords. Despite all this time together, I'm sorry to say I rarely brought the Lord up in conversation. Over the years we've kept in touch sporadically. So when Javier sent me this email, I was humbled and amazed.

Just wanted to thank you for being in my life in college. I came to Christ about four years or so ago and when looking back in my life, I think of people that were examples I wanted to follow. Even though we hardly talked about God, I knew you wer e a Christian and really admired that about you. Talk about planting a seed that didn't bear fruit right away. 10 years in the making. I am glad I am able to tell people who helped me find Christ how important they were.

The day I received Javier's email was one of the best days of my life! To know I had planted a seed in his salvation-story is an honor. Our key verse teaches we each can play an important role in bringing salvation to others. We may not always be fortunate enough to know the outcome of the seeds we plant, or water, but we can have confidence the Lord will cause growth.

Javier's story inspires me to plant more seeds by being intentional with my words, deeds and actions. I want to be the neighbor, grandma, woman or stranger... the friend or family member ... church member or coworker ... who plays a role in the salvation stories of others. How about you?

So who influenced you in a positive way? How did they do it? What was that little incident? Won't you share it with us? You don't have to include your name if you'd rather not. Say thanks, in a public way this month. Encourage others!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Really Makes a Difference?

I'd love to be more original in my sharing of what I'm learning but why when someone you know says it so well. So once again I'm going to share a portion of my friend, Arlin's morning e-mail. First, I think you'll find his answer to his question what are "10 Things I Accidentally Learned Along the Way" of 25 years in the technology business. Arlin's business is successful and growing so I find his thoughts very interesting. See what you think.

"After catching up some of the desk items that piled up the last couple weeks, it was time to work on finalizing some of my presentations for the big shows – and the main focus was on the deck I am presenting for the ConnectWise Partner Summit which follows our HTG event immediately in the same hotel.  As I worked to reduce the content I had pulled together it occurred to me that much has changed in the 25 years I have worked in IT.  My topic for two breakout sessions I am leading is “10 Things I Accidentally Learned Along the Way”.  It is the top ten list of learning’s I have had leading a company the past quarter century.  Remember that we are a technology company – have always been one – and as I pondered and prayed about what ten things mattered it was a bit shocking.  Not one of the top ten things I have learned really has anything to do with technology at all.  Over the last 25 years I have spent thousands of hours learning speeds and feeds, sat through hundreds of presentations on the latest and coolest gadgets and hardware, seen the development of things like the Internet, mobile phones, notebook computers, PDA’s and dozens of really useful and cool technologies.  But when I boiled down the things that really matter – technology didn’t even make the list.  I am not sure it would even make the list in the top twenty things I have learned. 
So what did?  In a word – every learning that really makes a difference has to do with people.  That caught me a bit off guard.  The keys to success and growth have not been about chasing the latest cool and shiny objects – it has been around taking care of business which inevitably means people stuff.  I expected that the top items would focus that way – but never expected all ten of my top learning’s would be about everything except technology.  It will be interesting to see what the response is to my presentation.  It is a technology event after all, and attendees may expect some words around that topic.  But the reality is that we live and serve people and the technology is just a tool to get that job done.
Sunday night in small group we finished our series on work.  The lesson was rather powerful as we were challenged to get our life-work balance in order.  The key point is that there are only a few things that we alone can do.  That no one else can come close to replacing us in.  I submit there are but three:

1.     Our relationship with God
2.     Our relationship with our spouse
3.     Our relationship with our kids

Andy Stanley makes the point a few dozen times that when we make the CHOICE to spend our time on work and effectively ignore our other responsibilities – we are cheating those we love of what they deserve.  We are in fact cheating them of what God intends.  No one can have your personal relationship with God, spouse or kids but YOU.  So while we try and justify the reasons why we spend so much time on other things, there is no excuse.  It is a choice.  We try and make it sound spiritual by asking God to step in and replace us at home – but it doesn’t cut it.  We have to take back our time and our focus.  There is enough time for all that matters if we make the right choices.  Are you?  I know often I didn’t and still don’t.  But I have made some major changes and am confident that God is honoring that effort."

I totally agree with all of this and can say I have made some changes in the past few years and have even more to make. I think this is all about the daily choices. It's great to have an anniversary date or an annual vacation with your family. But what do you do daily? Do you know what's going on in your kid's life? Do you tell your spouse daily that you love them and appreciate them? Do you come home and actually engage with family members or do you head to the TV or computer? What do YOU think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Share what you know

So what do I know, really know that I can live out in my life. I know, "I am convinced"that nothing can separate me from the love of God. (see Romans 8:38-39)  Since I know that is true I can have peace. Peace because God who knows me from the inside out really loves me. Because I know He loves me, I know He wants the best for me. So I am going to trust Him with my day. (and my life)

Today that means starting a new job, new co-workers and a new setting. Today is a fresh start, just like everyday. I am going to trust that God has ordained this day, these people, this situation for me. I'm going to watch for Him to surprise me today. Has He surprised you lately? Encourage someone today. Share how God has surprised you? Share what you know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Too Much Learning??

This comment from Rick Warren's teaching at the Desiring God Conference earlier this month jumped out at me.  "You only believe in the part of the Bible that you actually do. We're supposed to be doers of the word and not hearers only. The problem today is that we are teaching too much. We're learning more than we can do. There's a wide gap between knowing and doing in America Christianity. It's because we're teaching too much."

I immediately thought of our farmer friend that I've quoted before. He told Mark during harvest one year, I already know more about farming than I'll ever be able to do.

I wonder what would happen if we actually started to use the knowledge of God that we have? If we actually lived like we believe, really believe we are sinners saved by God's grace. I think it's easier for us to "do." To go to church or another Bible Study, give a little money in the offering, work hard and don't party too much is something to make us feel like we're good people. It just occurred to me that it sounds like my goal is to let everyone know how good I am. Sad. My life should be reflecting how GREAT God is.

Don't get me wrong, I believe we need to keep learning but not just for the sake of appearances or to make ourselves feel good. Our goal is to get to know God, to have a relationship with Him. If our goal is to get to know God better, just like getting to know a new friend, we will spend time with Him. We won't rush through each meeting. We'll listen to Him and watch for Him. As we do, it will change our life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Work, Ministry...Ministry, Work...

Okay, I admit I'm one of those people who have talked about "work" separate from "ministry" - but it's not true. This article really says it well. Very timely for me as I return to "work" 1/2 time in the very near future.

From Worklife Coaching newsletter
 Working Christians often hear a call to "capture the boardrooms for Jesus" or to "transform the marketplace for Christ."  Those missions miss the mark entirely. We should not aspire to be a Christian workplace but rather a workplace filled with Christians. The battle is about character, not culture.
The difference is huge. The distinction is significant. Becoming a Christian workplace focuses our energies on capturing control of an organization or institution, thinking if we control its structure we assure ourselves a God-honoring environment. Unfortunately, experience (and sinful human nature) has taught us the same workplace stresses, struggles, and foibles exist in Christian organizations that are found in corporate workplaces.
We burn off energy targeting influential people because we believe their positions offer us a chance to capture the environments they control. Instead of seeing those influential people as sinners needing Christ (or Christians needing encouragement), we see them as means to an end, tools to be used for objectives we set.
Our goals should always be grassroots in nature, focused on individuals and not institutions. Our objective must always be to introduce others to Christ and to encourage those who already know Christ to grow in their understanding of His call on their lives.
Revival sweeps a culture one person at a time. It starts when an auditor decides she cares so much for the other workers on her team that she swallows her fears and begins to share Christ with them. It grows when a programmer moves alongside another programmer and helps him grow in his budding faith. It is enhanced when Christians in the workplace begin to let their faith influence their individual actions on the job. And revival can really explode when the followers of Christ in a corporation commit themselves to honoring each other rather than fighting the finer points of faith, so others see the bonds that bind and not the dogma that divides.
We do not need a movement that sweeps like a glacier through the culture of our work worlds. We need one person deciding to completely surrender herself to Christ, inspiring one more person to surrender himself completely to Christ, inspiring one more person to surrender...and so on.
Then those who don't know Christ will see Christ in us, and some of them will want to know Him, too.  Let our faith today not be governed by a desire to control institutions but a desire to honor God and a desire to lead coworkers we care about from the terrible fate that awaits them in an eternity separated from Him.
What do you think?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life with Faith?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION! What are you doing in your life right now that requires faith?  I'd really love to hear your answers. seemingly little, big it makes no difference. Just think about it, what are you doing that requires faith?

When I was in school I remember my choir teacher throwing me in with a bunch of Seniors to sing for state contest. I quivered in my shoes every time we practiced. They were so intimidating but they needed a sixth person - She chose me. So I showed up. I just had to believe she knew what she was doing and that she wouldn't let them kill me. I'm still alive. My faith in Miss Fields was rewarded.

Today I can say I have faith that even though it looks like I'm returning to some regular nursing hours that the Lord will enable me to have the time and strength to be healthy, enjoy the life He's given me and do the things He asks me to do.  It's a bit scary for me as I've been "over done" many times in the past by my own poor choices. Today I can say I'm trusting the Lord is working it all out and that HE will enable me.

So what about you? What are you doing that requires faith?

"Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."  Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Following with Glad Anticipation, really?

So in a season of many questions/decisions I open up a little devotional book, Jesus Calling, that I am currently using to start my thoughts toward God yesterday and it says, "Be willing to follow wherever I lead. (Okay, I tell God that I'm willing to follow His lead pretty often) Follow Me wholeheartedly, (ALL of my heart) with glad anticipation (really? glad anticipation? I'm supposed to be glad?) quickening your pace. (because I'm excited to follow the Lord. Anticipating what/where He is taking me) Though you don't know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! (inserts mine)

So I must admit I'm wrestling with this between my head and my heart.  I know, that I know, that I know, that God is in charge. He has a plan. He is a good God, a loving God, a creative God. I know that I cannot control everything, that I make plans, and that I have a limited viewpoint as well as capacity for creativity. I know that all in my head. Now it's my heart that needs to learn to live with that knowledge.
I do know that I am learning. I'm learning to stop that crazy, going in circles thinking by asking God to take it over. God is surprising me daily by the people and stories He brings into my everyday that remind me of our need for Him. Yesterday I read a newsletter from an single young woman who has moved to China. She saw some "Ugg" type boots in a window. Went in to check it out and found that they had her size, which she says is unusual. She didn't have enough money with her to buy them at that time so she headed out with her friend thinking she would come back another time and get them. However, she wasn't far out of the store and felt the Holy Spirit urging her to go back and get them. "Really? Borrow money from a new friend? Surely not." But after a short time she did ask her friend to borrow the money, turned around and went back to get them. In doing so she met 4 new people and had significant conversations with each one of them.  Point being, if God can use boot shopping to arrange significant meetings, He can use our most daily, ordinary activities. Hmmm, it's my daily activities that I currently have so many pending decisions.

"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for Him to act." Psalm 37:7  Also note, 2 Cor. 5:7,
Psalm 96:6, John 8:12, and Psalm 36:9 if you need reinforcement.

Are you listening? What do you hear? Share a time you heard God.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Surprise Question

So my latest "surprise" from God is a question I read in Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love". I'll paraphrase it, if you were to go to heaven today and find that it is everything you dreamed of, no cancer, no bullys, no lies and everyone you loved was there but Jesus was not there, would you be satisfied? Wow, that one caught me by surprise and I haven't been able to "shake" the thought. Honestly, I'm not sure of my answer. We all "know" the right answer, but is that my answer?

If I am focused on really getting to know God my whole perspective changes. When I focus on Him in my day, the circumstances don't sway me so far. I don't get so frustrated when my day is interrupted and I don't get everything on my list done. Why? Well, because as I get to know God I'm learning how much He loves me and knows me. He had  plan for all my days before I was even born. (Psalm 139:16) He only wants what is best for me. Not only what is good for me, but what is best for me. I just need to get to know Him better so that trusting comes easier. If I focus on Him, nothing that happens in my day can rob me of my joy of knowing Him. My situation can change and I don't have to be happy about the situation but my day is not ruined because my heart knows that God is still in charge and He is looking out for me. He loves ME!

"And this is eternal life (it means) to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand) You, the only true and real God, and (likewise) to know Him, Jesus (as the) Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah) whom you have sent." John 17:3 Amplified Version

John Piper says, "God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him." Hmmm, the question is am I satisfied in Him. What do you think?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm still asking, what do you do with what you know?

So what do you do with what you know? My observation is that a lot of us just keep collecting knowledge and/or waiting for _______(you fill in the blank) to happen and then I'll __________.(again, you fill in the blank)  If you don't believe that, look around your home. I bet you are like me and you'll see several projects that aren't done, some not even started. Why? Because you are waiting for something. Is that really how you want to live?

I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Phil Vischer's family a bit. The following is a quote from his web site. www.philvischer.com

"This morning in my devotions I was rereading the notes I had taken from Henry Blackaby's study on the book of Samuel, and I came across this quote from Mr. Blackaby:
"To tell the people that He is with us in all of His power when there is no evidence of it in our lives is a betrayal to God's people."
This convicted me when I first read it 7 years ago, and it convicted me again this morning.  It's so easy for us as leaders to stand up in front and proclaim God's awesome power.  They hear it in our messages and our praise choruses.  But do they see it in our lives?  I mean, really?  Is God's power visible in our lives?  Or is it just lip service?

But… this will only reach its potential if God shows up in it.  If His power is manifest in this work, and, more importantly, in my life.  Am I just giving God lip service?  Just repeating things I've heard in a million praise choruses?  Or am I bearing witness to a God who has made Himself present in my life?  Am I focusing on the work, or on God?
How about you guys?  The world doesn't need to see how clever we are.  The world needs to see the manifest presence of God in our lives.  The power of God.  On the canvas of humanity. (emphasis mine) It doesn't matter what comes out of my mouth, if it isn't coming out in my life.
Thanks for the reminder, Henry."

Besides the fact that he is reviewing notes from Henry Blackaby one of my favorite author/teachers, he is asking the same question I am asking. Do you know God? If you do, how does that relationship make a difference in your life, your daily life? What do others see?

P.S. Check out Phil's web site and see his newest project "What's In the Bible"DVD's.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What do you do with what you know?

So what fun is there in knowing something if you don't do anything with it?  I mean, I'm sitting in a room with a couple of files full of great colored paper, multiple cutting tools, adhesives, markers and TONS of photos. I know how to use all of those things to create scrapbooks full of wonderful memories. However, at this moment there are so many photos, papers and adhesives that I haven't used in a long time that it's hard to get started. After all it could take months of full-time scrapbooking to get caught up and then you've got to maintain your scrapping. And none of this takes into account learning to really use your new camera with a ton of great features. Overwhelming, so it just doesn't get done, even though I really like doing it when I do, do it. Really!  Exercising can be the same way, but let's not get started down that road....

That's what I'm thinking about this morning. One time a farmer friend of ours told my husband while discussing the many new features on his new combine, "I already know enough about farming that I'm not putting into practice. I don't need one more new thing!"  Sometimes I think we miss out on really getting to know and live with God because we just keep trying to see one more "new thing". Don't get me wrong, it's okay to keep learning but only if you use what you learn.  I love books and I can get snagged in just by a title. Bible Studies and conferences can be the same way.  I get drawn in and I just have to go! For other people there are just too many choices of things to do. It's overwhelming.

This morning I read "Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. Psalm 37:7   Hmmm, "be still in His presence". Be with Him. He is with me, but I have to acknowledge that.  I need to soak in His presence. It makes me smile just to think of Him sitting here with me.  I don't have to rush to the next book (I've already read from 3 different books + the Bible this morning).
I just need to soak in His words and watch Him act, follow His lead.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let God Surprise You Today!

So since to this point I have not blogged daily and I'm wondering if you have forgotten what we are in the middle of. We are spending a month asking God to surprise us on a daily basis.  Those of you who are reading this are welcome to join in right now, whether you've been doing it or not.  The thing is a couple of you have admitted to me you've stuck your toe in the water to test the temperature. (meaning you've prayed this prayer a time or two) But, you've not shared what happened. Speak up! The point of this blog is to "do life together" reminding each other that we are all "treasures" in God's sight. He loves us all equally and He gave us each other to support, encourage, challenge and yes, even reprimand each other. So join in, share, ask questions...there are no wrong answers or too stupid of questions.

As you probably have noticed by now, I don't always share original thoughts. Often I'm processing something I've read. Today is one of those days. Often I use devotional books to start my thinking process in the morning. Today's entry was just too good.  God is currently surprising me by allowing me to trust Him in a season of change like I've never trusted before. I'm surprising myself! :)  Anyway, what do you think about this:
" I am perpetually with you, taking care of you....I am not limited by time or space; My Presence with you is a forever-promise. You need not fear the future, for I am already there. (Bold added) Your future is in My hands; I release it to you day by day, moment by moment. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow.
 I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do, Don't be distracted by future concerns. Leave them to Me! Each day of life is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today. Much of their energy for abudnant livign spills over the timeline into tomorrow's worries or past regrets. Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full. I am training you to keep your focus on My Presence in the present. This is how to receive abundant Life, which flows freely from My throne of grace."
Matthew 6:34 (read vs. 19-34); John 10:10;James 4:13-15
Quoted from September 30, Jesus Calling,  by Sarah Young Thomas Nelson Publishing

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"...because hurrying keeps your heart earthbound."  I read that phrase yesterday and I keep thinking about it. Now it's just one person's opinion, but the more I think about it the more I think it's true.  When I'm hurrying (and I have been the past few days) I'm thinking about what I'm trying to get done now AND how I will get the next thing done. I'm usually stressing a bit thinking I'm going to be late or how can I change something a bit to make it quicker.  I've needed a couple of things from a store that's not on my everyday route for a couple of weeks but I haven't taken the time to go get it because I'm always in a time crunch to be somewhere else.  I hate that!  So while I'm figuring out the schedule and how to get it done, I'm not thinking what is the Lord saying to me right now. I'm not paying attention. I'm missing out on what the Lord is doing and saying all around me.

You know it's like that in our other relationships too.  When I hurry around in the morning I don't always here what my husband is telling me about his day and often that leads to a hassle later in the day. When I keep really busy I don't have to think how I'm feeling about what is going on. I just "do" and move on.  That's not good either. Jesus came to give us life. He is our peace and our joy but in order to experience that peace and joy we have to pay attention to Him.  We have to watch and listen for Him. We have to slow down.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Activity Addiction?

I know I don't write every day. Part of the reason is I'm learning to not rush through each thought. I'm trying to learn to let it really soak in and become a part of my life.  Those words "activity addiction" from a devotional book of mine have been repeated at a women's retreat I went to this weekend and somewhere else that I was reading. I was reminded again that our culture rewards busy-ness and appearances. However busy and bigger isn't always better. An old friend of mine used to say there is only one letter difference between God and Good, don't confuse the two. Something can be really "good" like reading a Christian living type book by a famous teacher but is it stealing your time directly with God Himself? Have you spent any time in His book today?

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about. What about you? What's your activity addiction? Let's get real. Let's "talk". We can learn from and with each other.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lessons in the Classroom of Life

Okay, I really feel like a school girl, in class. It's that obvious to me that God is teaching me a specific lesson right now. Of course, my idea of specific has about 100 side lessons as only God can do. After all He is the ultimate teacher. You know I always tell everyone I got one of my favorite school teachers 3 times in elementary school. (No, I didn't flunk. She changed classes) I love that! I do know that in upper elementary she told my parents I talked too much so she changed the seating arrangement and put me in the front of the room, right next to her desk. Then, I talked to her! :)  I think I do the same thing with God. He's teaching me, but the whole lesson would go alot faster if I'd do more listening and less talking.

Yesterday, I read something that talked about spending time alone with God. It said it can be difficult because it goes against the "activity addiction" of this world. I've not heard it put that way before. Personally I don't have much trouble getting alone with God. Now getting quiet and truly listening? That's a whole different story. I'll listen for about 3.2 seconds and then it's back to my questions, concerns etc. God is so patient though. He is teaching me to trust Him. I mean really trust Him. That only comes with knowing Him.  This verse jumped out at me this morning. John 17:3 (Amplified Version) "And this is eternal life: (it means) to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand) You, the only true and real God and (likewise) to know Him, Jesus (as the) Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent."

Keep teaching me God. I'm listening. How are you doing? What are you learning? Are you listening?
Do you trust God?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Minute by Minute

So over the past few days I've come to realize that this is a minute by minute deal. I am having to make choices multiple times in a day.  My choice? To trust God with what is going on (or what's NOT going on) or to try to take care of it myself.  I continue to think I know or at least have a general idea of what my day, or situation should look like. It continues to be different or to change. Am I worried? Sometimes. Do I get anxious? Sometimes. Do I over think? Lots of the time.  Wasted energy.

God loved me before I even knew Him. He knew me before I was born. The Bible refers to the "days He has planned for me." I just need to relax and follow. "To you oh Lord I lift up my soul. In you I trust oh Lord." Psalm 25:1

What about you? Are you worried or anxious? Are you trying to control things that are out of your control? Let's talk about this.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Content = "A state of heart in which you would be at peace if God gave you nothing more than He already has." Love Focused

That statement has really made me think. What I've concluded is that if you are not always focused on the "outcome" of what you are doing it's way easier to be content. For example, we live in a home with 3 stories, basement, main floor and 2nd floor. The bedrooms are on the 2nd floor, the laundry and office are in the basement. My husband has two bad knees. Not a great combination. So for several years I've been praying about a ranch style home. We've even looked into a couple. Nothing has worked out. It used to really bother me, but today I realized it doesn't bother me anymore. We have a home and the living expenses are reasonable. When we actually "need" something different I'm sure the Lord will provide it. He always has.

Now the challenge is to take that contentment to the rest of my life. This can be really challenging in relationships. What about you? Tell me about contentment in your life.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I'm always reading something. Honestly usually more than one something. I read the Bible everyday in my quite time in the morning and I'm often reading a devotional type book, usually another book too. Right now I've got 2 or 3 things going and more waiting!  Anyway, yesterday I was struck by a comment a author friend of mine, Terry Esau said.  This is keep it simple time is inspired by his "Surprise Me God" experiment and book of the same name. (You should really check it out).  He said something like, you know maybe this experiment isn't so much about what God can/will do but about how much I will absorb. He compares it to rain falling and our willingness to "soak it up."  It rained here yesterday. We rushed around finishing our outdoor work so we WOULDN'T get wet.  Great analogy.  Spiritually speaking God rains on us constantly - love, care, grace, forgiveness, the list could go on and on. The question is will we take away our own protective, self-imposed umbrellas and receive it? How come so often we think it's all for "the other guy, not me."

Well it's time for me to go outside. Don't think I'll take my umbrella today. I'll just see what happens. How about you?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not So Hard

You know, I'm discovering that it's not so hard to "let God" handle my life. Really! I just keep finding scripture that reminds me that He's "got my back." He's looking out for me and that He has a plan that includes the whole world. It's not all about me.  Truthfully, I love that. It totally takes the pressure off of "me needing to do it right."

The verse that caught my heart today is "he is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:27b-28a  He's not far away. He's involved with me. IN HIM we live and move and have our being. He's right here. I love it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 5-Trust?

Okay, so now the rubber meets the road.  I am only in control of me and sometimes that's questionable! :)
I'm in the middle of a circumstance that I did not directly choose but I agreed to and now I seriously doubt the validity of the situation. However, I have no concrete reason except my own "gut".  So as I prayed last night and this morning, "Lord, help me love this person and trust you with the outcome." I realized that the problem is I don't want to be taken advantage of or hurt. So it's time. Time for me to live what I believe.  I believe God is in charge. He will not abandon me. He will protect me. He loves me. Deuteronomy 4:29, Hebrews 10:23
Keeping it simple. I am to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind and love my neighbor as myself. HE will take care of the rest.
So here I go, "for this I have Jesus."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keeping it Simple - Day 4

Okay, no huge revelations, just a whole lot less mental stress.  When I start down that mental path of mind boggling trying to figure out the future, including just the next 1/2 day I'm reminding myself to stop. I think about the fact that "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 God loves me. He loved me long before I loved Him. If He truly loves me like that and He does, then what do I have have to worry about. He's in charge. He has a plan for me (and you).  My job is to love Him with all I've got. Then I'm to love those around me.

So when I start to spin around all the "what if's" in my mind I remember He loves me, really LOVES me. God will be with me whatever the circumstances. That is enough. A pastor/author I like said, "for this I have Jesus" as different situations presented themselves in his day. I like that. So as I head off to work today I'm thinking "for this day I have Jesus." What more could I need?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day Two of the "Life is simple" challenge

So I can say that my attitude has been great for nearly 36 hours now! I'm smiling a silly grin.  I know it hasn't been that long but really a weight has been lifted.  I don't have to figure everything out. I don't have to make everyone happy.

God is in charge. God is love. (I John 4:8) A real sacrificial, no matter what kind of love. Which means He wants the best for me. Not just good. Best!

I'm am to love Him with all I've got. Then love others. (Matthew 27:37-39)  How freeing!

Simple. How do these thought effect your everyday life?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's simple

Okay, call me simplistic or unrealistic or whatever, but I really think we make life too hard. At least I'm sure I have.  Life is really very  simple. I didn't say it was easy but it's simple.  Why do we make it complicated?  I think we make things harder than they really are. Usually that happens in my life when I am really making it "all about me."  Now I may not admit that. In fact I may have some pretty convincing reasons that it's NOT "all about me" but often it's really "all about me."

So to prove life is supposed to be pretty simple check out Matthew 22:37-39. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."

Simple. Not complex. Not always easy but not complicated and a hidden mystery.  So how about we focus on this for the next month?  Want to see what happens?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What are you celebrating?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything but that's because I'm contemplating many things. Life is so interesting.  I am very curious why very generally speaking we tend to be so negative. Even when something good happens we tend to celebrate briefly and always tell the down side of things.

I'd like to celebrate a few things. I have an amazing husband. He's fun, interested in lots of things and loves Jesus. My kids are also great people. All four of them truly care about people and have a wide variety of friends.  They like simple things like just being together, playing games and watching movies.

 I love the colors of nature. There must be 100's of shades of green plus all the other colors in flowers, trees, animals and even bugs!

I'm a music lover. Isn't it amazing all the styles of music.  I can like almost anything except the really hard head banging loud electronic sounding stuff.

Lastly for right now I'm celebrating that there is a sovereign God of the universe that not only created me but loves me, truly loves me. No conditions, no performances, God loves me. (He loves you too.)
What are you celebrating today?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Makings of a Hero

So as I continue to learn from meeting my new "heroes" I continue to realize their conviction is what makes them stand out.  I've just met 9 people who truly believe and live out 24/7 their belief that "one died for all...that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Cor. 5:14 and 15.

Carrie told her story of being a missionary in Iraq along with 4 others, one of them being her husband. She describes a great day of making a new contact with group of people who had a very unreliable small water supply. Her husband and their friends provided ways to improve the water supply. That is how they ministered to the physical needs of these people. After a great meeting on the way home their vehicle was suddenly overtaken by terrorists with automatic weapons. To make a long story short 3 of her friends were killed right there. Her husband died the next day. She tells of brave Iraqi men who came to the rescue of her husband and herself at great danger to themselves. Standing there after many surgeries, a month in the hospital and many, many months of rehabilitation she states, "the only difference between those Iraqi terrorists and me, is Jesus."  See?  She believes Christ died for ALL. That He loves us first. His love is not based on us. It's based on Him. He is love.

When I stop and really think about that, it changes everything. It changes me. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Real Live Heroes

Hero (he-ro)  1. In mythology and legend, a man, often born of one mortal and one divine parent, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. 2. Any man noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose especially, one who has risked or sacrificed his life. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

I gotta tell you my life has been deeply touched and forever changed. There is an old phrase I've heard before, "Heroes of the Faith".  Mostly I've seen it in articles and books referring to people who lived long before my time, like Martin Luther, A.W. Tozer and D. L. Moody. Today we might think of people like Billy Graham, Chuck Swindoll or Henry Blackaby.  But last week I got to "do life" with some truly incredible people.  You wouldn't recognize most of their names unless they are your relatives or you attended the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference last week.  I  ate meals with them, watched them interact with their families and friends and listened to their stories. They are real. They make jokes, laugh, chase their kids around and learn.They are honest, sincere, and compelled by the love of God (2 Cor. 5:14). Darlene and Tim, Heather, Troy and Tara, A and T, Carrie, and Steve are 9 real life missionaries. Most of them grew up in the Midwest. They are young. Two of them have young children. They liked eating sweet corn and going boating on the Lake. They all had one thing in common. They can't wait to get back to the people God has led them to. Cambodia, Haiti, South Africa, Iraq, Myanmar, and a country we shall leave nameless are all countries without many of our American conveniences. They all speak different languages. One of them told of a village where spoke more than 3 different dialects of the same language in one village.

What makes these people leave their jobs, homes, and extended family for very different homes, food, sometimes lack of good medical care? Christ's love.  Their eyes lit up every time they would talk of someone they had met in their area. I won't forget hearing about Collette or the "policeman". A normally pretty quite gal exploded with "NO, we can't let that happen" on stage in front of hundreds of people when their was talk of tightening entrance to some countries after the recent killing of 10 in Afghanistan. She quickly added that God did not call us to a life of safety and convenience. He called us to life. A life of loving Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind AND loving our neighbors as our self. (Mt. 22:37-39) Troy and Tara as well as A and T cried multiple times as they told of the people they ministered to and with. They long to go back and are only here because of they had to leave due to unrest in their countries. They are very anxious to get back even knowing there is danger involved. I don't think any of these people are "pastors" or have a degree in Bible. They worked in the countries they went to some with families with HIV/Aids, some taking ways to get water to villages, teaching basic health to pregnant moms and moms of new babies just to name a few. They are "regular" people but they are true "heroes" in my eyes.
I have witnessed REAL compassion, compelling compassion. These people are driven from their hearts out to share life and Christ with people whom we (I) think of as so different from us and yet we are really all the same. We are people looking for love. Those of us who know Christ have that love and we're not supposed to keep it. We know that. So we casually show up at church, put some money in the offering, and maybe teach a Sunday School class or Bible Study. Don't get me wrong, these are good things to do. But when was the last time or better yet how consistently do you intentionally live your day looking for ways to share the love of Christ in your neighborhood, work place, or school? Are you looking for ways to make the people around you lives better?  It's my opinion that the difference between my new heroes and me is that they are compelled because they are convinced, really convinced, that Christ died for ALL. Christ died for ALL, not just those who will come to church. That includes our family, neighbors, the sick, those with different morals than ours, those that don't look like us or talk like us. ALL means, well, all, no exceptions.

Thank you Darlene, Tim, Heather, Troy, Tara, A and T, Carrie and Steve. Thank you for allowing us into your hearts and lives, really. For putting "skin on" compassion in a day and age of selfishness. I am challenged to rethink how I live on a daily basis. You are my Heroes! How about you? Are you "compelled"? Share your thoughts. Let's change our world one person at a time. Who will you see today that needs the love of Christ extended to him?

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, tat those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again."  2 Corinthians 5:15-16 NIV


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Living Intentionally

Today I am not original at all. This post is a copy from our friend Arlin Sorensen. He speaks our heart, so why re-word it. I'm just quoting him.

Had lunch with Pastor Dan and really enjoyed our conversation about church and leadership and life.  As I reflected on our conversation, there is one quality about him that really stands out.  He is a very focused and strong question asker (if that is a word).  That is a trait of a good leader.  Seek information, opinions, ideas and understand others before speaking your own.  It was very interesting when he shared the two words that God had been speaking to him about lately.  One was exactly the same as a word in the set of three words that God has put on my heart – that being the word intentional.  We need to live intentionally and on purpose.  Far too many days go by with little or no intention in them at all.  Life comes at us and passes us by without a response.  We just go through the motions and let it happen.  That should not be.  We should be very specific in how we use our 168 hours each week, how we interact in each relationship we have, how we invest the resources God has entrusted to us, and how we live each moment. Shouldn’t we?  Are you?  I am not always that intentional.  The meaning of intentional is “done on purpose”.  That should describe our lives.  We need to live on purpose and for a purpose.  That means we need to have an identified purpose so we know how to live.  It really is a key to being intentional.  In fact, without a clear and concise purpose you really can’t be intentional. 
Harvard Business Review had an interesting read from Clayton Christensen called “How Will You Measure Your Life?”  He really makes some great points as he talks about three questions every person needs to answer:
1.     How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
2.     How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
3.     How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?
These would not be the questions I might choose to measure life with, but Dr Christensen has some good thoughts around purpose.  Remember that this is an instructor who teaches MBA students at Harvard Business School, not some religious institution. How refreshing that before these folks enter the business field which is all about making money and working hard – someone is challenging them to slow down and figure out what the metrics should be to measure life.  He talks about many who have washed up in life.  The reason he gives – “they didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, energy and talents”.  Did you catch that?  First, we need a clear purpose.  Second, we need to live by it which means we have to CHOOSE (there is that pesky word again) to use our resources on the things that matter and fulfill our purpose.  We have to be intentional about how we live.  I love what he says about folks who are too busy right now to define their purpose.  “If they think they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts, because life only gets more demanding”.  Have you experienced that?  Life never gets slower and easier.  It just goes faster and we run harder all the time.  He goes on to say this about his life purpose: “It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Without it we live like a rudderless ship and float around unsure where we are trying to go.  Life just goes by.  “Without a purpose, life can become hollow”.  The good news is that God has a very specific and personal purpose for your life.  Find it!  And do it sooner than later.  It won’t get easier tomorrow.  There is no magic bucket of unused time coming then either.  Make it a priority and spend time with God and discover why He created you.  He knows – He drew the blueprint for your life.  He is the source of that info.

Tell us what this makes you think?  Do you need help discovering your life purpose? 


A lot of Life

Life is so interesting. It's been awhile since I've blogged. Mostly because I have this bad habit of thinking everything else has to be done before I can do "my thing." But also because there has been aLOT of life going on. Do you ever feel that way? It's been mostly good, challenging but good. A friend had a bad bike wreck and I encouraged others to send notes but I just never seemed to have the "right" words. So I haven't yet. Sorry Terry. We have been preparing for a teaching time. My mom fell and my family needed help. My husband and I were asked by our church to help with a ministry in a way we've never done before. That's LIFE. Living, waking up each day telling God "Good morning Lord. I trust You. Help me be what you want for me to be today" and then watching God work. It's been very freeing to watch God do His thing. It's taken away alot of anxiety but it's a choice. A daily, hourly and sometimes moment by moment choice.

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead." Phillipians 3:10 NLT

"Experience the mighty power" that takes action like being in the moment, soaking it in, feeling, doing, listening, asking questions, truly believing. I'm learning to day by day, bit by bit expect and watch for God in my life. Why? Because He loves me. I am one of His treasures. You are too. So I challenge you by referring you back to my very first post. And just in case you don't take the time to go there I'm sharing a bit of it below.

We are all valuable to God and to each other. And if we choose to live life with that in mind it could rock your world. There is a lot of talk of the complexity of life these days and the desire to simplify. We believe life really is pretty simple but we, "the people" make it complicated. We do an awful lot of talking and reading and thinking and sometimes I think that just paralyzes us. I'd like to live day by day learning to actually live the way God intended me to live. That in turn will free up those around me to live the way they were intended to live. I'd like to learn from you too. So follow along and let me know what you think, what you are learning and how it is effecting your life!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So a word I've heard a lot in the past few months is legacy. What is a legacy? I don't know the Webster's dictionary meaning yet but to me it means what we leave behind when we're done. It doesn't have to be after we die. To me it is when you leave anything. When I left my full-time clinic nursing job, what are they remembering about me or what is better (or worse) there because I worked there. What "legacy" have I passed on to my kids? Why am I thinking about this? Because I believe we have to be intentional. What do you want to pass on to your kids? Deuteronomy tells us over and over to "remember". God says set stones and remember what the Lord did for you here. Or write in on your door posts, or hands.... He also says "tell your children" or the "next generation."

I feel like my generation got pretty caught up in "me". What do "I" want to do? What is convenient for "me"? We've lost some since of what relationships really are with all of this "me" thinking. Add in a dose of "convenient internet talk" which means you don't have to see someone's face, their laughter, anger or tears and you've got a pretty non-emotional relationship. We're missing out on the depth of love. No wonder we have a hard time accepting Christ's love for us.

So what legacy do I want to leave my family and friends? I'd like them to look for God in their lives and experience God's love through loving others. I'd like them to love to learn and try new things and oh, so much more. I do know the only way to start this is to do it myself, so they can see me "practicing what I preach." What about you? What legacy do you want to leave?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We just came home from a great weekend. We spent it at a camp in central Iowa with about 25 other couples all interested in not only their own marriages but in helping others with their marriages. We met people of different nationalities and from different communities. We all had different life experiences but we all agreed on one thing. Marriage is important. We gain strength and stability by being married. While each wife and each husband are individuals, we are more well rounded with our partner.

We also agreed that God created marriage to be a life time commitment. Now don't get me wrong. I understand that we live in a broken world and good people get divorces. There are more than one in my own family. But that doesn't mean that I have to think "that's just the way it is." Many marriages could be saved but often people give up way too soon or never receive the help they really needed.

Marriage is a relationship. Relationships require that we live "beyond" ourselves. It can't always be "about me". In fact, when I make it about me, it never works out the way I was hoping. I'm never satisfied. But when I actually live my day realizing that I'm a part of my husband's team. I can make our day better by being a team player or worse by only looking out for myself. It's amazing what just that little shift of thinking can do for my attitude. It's a choice I can make.

What do you think? Is your marriage a team plan or two soloists living together?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leadership or Lordship?

So after a couple of days of mulling over Nehemiah, watching life happen and comparing it to what we've been reading, I'm reminded again, there is nothing new under the sun. The things Nehemiah was confronted with are the same things we see in our daily lives. As I wind up this pondering leadership from Nehemiah with chapters 5 and 6 conflict has hit with full force. Nothing we haven't seen before. People are hungry, taxes are very high and they have overwhelming debt. It doesn't take a psychology degree to realize that is going to mean crabby people. They complained about their circumstances and the people causing these conditions, their fellow Jews. The injustice made Nehemiah very angry. (verse 6) But I first noticed he did something we often forget when we see injustice and get angry. He stopped and thought. Hmm, novel idea. Don't let "the heat of the moment" cause you to move ahead without thinking. After thinking it over, Nehemiah deemed it necessary to confront those who were "lording" over the others. He called a meeting and declared the injustice.
A phrase that was used at the Weekend On the Farm was "leadership does not mean lordship." Nehemiah was a leader.They called him a governor, but he didn't take financial advantage of that position. In fact, he used his finances to purchase back some Jews who had been sold into slavery for payment of a family debt! He fed all of his workers without extracting more food and money from the people because of his position. He just used what was fair and what he needed. He did not "lord" his position or authority over them. Why? Because he cared about the people he was leading. As leaders it's not about focusing on our own "rights" it about focusing on our "responsibilities." There is a huge difference. When we do it right, I believe it's because we care about what we are doing and who we are doing it for more than ourselves.
Leadership happens when we realize that it's about relationships with people. It's about doing what the Lord asks us to do, what He created us for - being a part of HIS story. Which leads me to the last challenging question. Where are you leading those around you? Are you leading towards the cross, a relationship with Jesus or are you driving them away? Wow, that's a sobering question.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


So I was talking with some women at work the other day. They were telling stories of their kids and peer problems at school. In my opinion there is no stage of life harder than Junior High for girls. They are so unsure of themselves, but they don't want anyone to know that. They live by the opinions of the people around them, the media and yes, their parents/family. But you know, it's really hard trying to "be" what all those different people think you should be. I remember being in Junior High. Going to a very small school everyone was involved with everyone. I was a "good girl", which was not always the popular status. I knew God as my Savior, which included knowing right from wrong and that definitely did not always go over well. I can remember the unkind names and ridiculing comments to this day. It hurt and those kinds actions can cause you to rethink your position or go about doing what you are doing a different way, perhaps trying to hide what you are doing.
That's not how Nehemiah handled the ridicule thrown his way. See here's the thing, ridicule is not an honest problem. It's someone saying I don't like what you are doing. It's negative, often silly comments just meant to degrade or humiliate the other person. It's not based in truth. Usually the opposition has not attempted to know the truth in any way. They are just talking to cause you a problem. Following Nehemiah's lead, don't legitimize their comments. His response was to go straight to God. He just prayed to God to take care of it and kept right on going because he knew there was no truth to their talk.
When ridicule didn't work the opposition organized a bit and came against Nehemiah and the workers physically. Verse 8 of chapter 4 says they "plotted" to "fight" and "stir up trouble". But Nehemiah and the gang "prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." So now they added guards, watchmen to their defense. They were threatened so they prayed for God to protect them but they watched. I'm reminded of the verses where God tells us to "guard our hearts." That's what is going on here. God will handle the situation, like we know God is in charge of the world but that doesn't mean we just blindly stumble through our days. We need to have our eyes open, seeing what's around us. We need to make good choices.
The last kind of opposition noted in chapter 4 was the rumors or threats they were telling. Planting seeds of fear in the people. Fear is a powerful weapon. Nehemiah's response was to equip the people. They began working in pairs with weapons at their side. Throughout this entire story Nehemiah worked with other people. He did not attempt this project alone. True, God made him aware that it was time to do it but that did not mean he had to do it alone. Now when scary rumors were flying around the area, he paired the workers up. Nothing is quite as scary as it could be when you are with someone else. We were able to laugh when we were lost in Europe and didn't speak the language because their were 6 of us and we knew that together we'd figure it out.
My last notes of chapter 4 of Nehemiah talk about him encouraging his people, reminding them of whom they are serving. That's something I believe in strongly. We all need "cheerleaders" in our lives. Encouraging us to "hang in there", or go a little longer, further, or harder and why we are doing what we are doing. It's amazing how tired you can be but if someone tells you that you are doing a fantastic job you can give it that last bit of energy to finish well.
How do you respond to opposition? Rebuttal, fear, frustration or just endure until you wear out? Maybe it's time to go against that opposition looking at it honestly. Pray, set a guard, gather your team and speak the truth of why and for whom you are working. You'll be amazed at just how much you can get done. And by the way, who can you be a cheerleader for today?