Monday, December 14, 2009

For a Powerful Life, Stay Connected

John 15:5: I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Lately I have been having power connection problems with my laptop. At first I thought the problem was with the cord, but now I know it’s the actual connector that is the culprit.

Yesterday the power supply worked fine and actually charged up my battery. Then it stopped working. The battery was full for a while, but eventually lost power too. Today it will not even power on!

This week, as I’ve struggled with my laptop, the Lord has reminded me that I also need to remain connected to him. It’s not enough to just fill my battery and then run on my own strength. I need to stay connected to the real source of power – God himself.

It’s a simple analogy, but at this busy time of year, one I really need to be reminded of. I hope you too are taking time to be connected to the Lord so you can be more fruitful in your life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be a Light This Christmas Season

Matthew 5:14: You are the light of the world.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year. There’s nothing like the shining lights in dark places and the giving spirit displayed by many. I love the Christmas music as well as the foods we only make at this time of year.

This season, I want to concentrate a little less on the holiday lights and just be the light myself to those around me. For those who are hurting right now, I want them to have the same hope I too have found.

Some have lost loved ones and this is their first Christmas alone. There are also people who have lost jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. Many just feel empty and don’t know why.

What can I do, Lord, to support these people? I think the answer lies in seeking Him daily and contacting those who come to my mind. What I say isn't as important as just listening and letting them know I am thinking about them and praying for them during this tough season!

Let me encourage you this Christmas season to reach out and touch someone! It may light up their life!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Following Jesus

Luke 9:61-62 (The Message): Then another said, "I'm ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home." Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day."

I recognize it’s been a busy few weeks for me, and I’ve made the excuse that when things settle down, I will once again pick up blogging. However, today I was challenged when I read the above verses in The Message. I know God has called me to write. I just have to make time to sit down and do so.

As a wife and mother, especially at this time of year, I want things just so so for my family! There are certain decorations I want out, certain things I want to shop for and bake. I spend a lot of time picking out just the right foods and recipes. It's one of my favorite times of year.

However, I have a tendency to procrastinate and not do all I know God wants during this season. I have a book on my shelf I should probably read one day. The title is what attracted me. It's called, "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World." That kind of sums up the challenge I feel right now.

I have a pretty good idea what God wants me to do, and know I'm not doing it completely. No more excuses. It’s time to follow Jesus all the way.

What about you? Are the holidays a time of challenge because of the added activity? What is God calling you to do during this season?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hospitality

Romans 12:13: …Practice hospitality.

October is one of the months I put hospitality into practice the most. Maybe it’s because we live in Arizona and the weather is perfect in the fall – at least most of the time. Our home becomes a revolving door with those we love.

Since we moved here from across the country, it’s nice to have our friends and family come anytime! Before they arrive, I contact them and let them know how excited we are about their visit and find out if there are things they don't or can't eat. I ask about their favorite foods and snacks. How embarrassing it would be to have meals prepared and discover the guests are allergic! I also try to have some things made up ahead of time that freeze well.

I'll admit, I do like to have my house clean and organized with little special touches like a basket in the bathroom with things they might have forgotten and sometimes a bouquet of flowers in the guest room. However, once they are here, I want them to feel like they are in their own home. The thought of keeping things perfect goes out the window and a more relaxed approach is adopted.

I show them where things are like drinks, snacks, etc. and let them get things themselves. There are times I go places with my guests but there are times they go out alone. I have a collection of brochures and magazines highlighting what to do in this area in a basket in the guest room. I have a friend who once told me she also made a basket of brochures, some bottled water and other things the friends might need for a day trip and had it waiting on their bed.

With each set of guests, I learn new things I can put into practice for my future company. I would love to hear about some of the things you also do to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Too Much To Do & Not Enough Time

Psalm 90:14: Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

When I was in elementary school, I can remember summer days when my mom would make me go outside and play. (I loved television a little too much.) I can still see my face pressed against the screen door telling her how bored I was.

Now I laugh at the thought of being bored. Even though we all have 24 hours in our day, most people I know don't seem to have enough time to do what they need to do. How is it with all our modern conveniences, we still can't do everything?

There are many roles we play as women, and learning how to balance everything is quite an art. When I think I've got it figured out, something happens to tip the scales again!

The key for me is to begin my day in the presence of the Lord. If I find my satisfaction in Him, He gives me the strength to handle all my other responsibilities. In addition, I'm not looking for anything or anybody else to fill that God-shaped spot in my life!

For those of you with little kids, I understand how difficult it is to carve out that time. I can remember days I was so desperate for God while my kids were small, that I journaled standing in the kitchen with a toddler hanging on my legs. I heard Susanna Wesley (mother of 19 -- the famous John and Charles Wesley were two of them) used to throw her apron over her face -- and her children knew to leave her alone.

As my kids grew older, they got used to my need to get alone with God. I remember one day when I was not getting along with one of them. He said to me, "Mom, have you had your Prime Time today? You need to go spend time with God." He was right. When I spend time with God first, I communicate much better with my family and am much more capable of handling things that come my way.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Staying on Guard

Proverbs 4:23 (God’s Word Translation)
Guard your heart more than anything else because the source of your life flows from it.

When I think about guarding my heart, one of the things I picture is a little guard watching what I allow in my mind! Fleeting thoughts will come and go, but it’s what I dwell on that will enter my heart.

Every day we will have an opportunity to be offended or to just think negative thoughts concerning something that is going on. It’s just a fact of life. We may not be able to change our circumstances or what other people do or say, but we can choose how we think about it and react.

How do you handle negative things that come your way? For me, I pray and hold them up to God. He will give me the ability to either leave it in His hands or give me wisdom to know how to handle the matter.

If I am really struggling to forgive someone or just get bogged down with life, journaling helps me sort it all out. I journal on the computer in the form of a prayer and sometimes it’s not very pretty! In fact, when I go back and re-read it, it’s no book I want to remember. So I hit the delete button and start all over again in a more positive way – and by this time my entire perspective is different.

If I dwell on negative things or just bury them, they do not go away. When I visited Ireland a few years ago for a missions trip, we were told not to drink the water because the pipes were contaminated in certain areas of the building. In the same way, if I allow negative things like unforgiveness to dwell in my heart, what flows out will pollute others. Instead, I want my pipes clean so God can flow through me to refresh those I come in contact with.

Matthew 12:34: …For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Go & Do Likewise

Luke 10:27: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Today I was reading the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and it really spoke to me. As the story goes, a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and a group of robbers stripped and beat him, leaving him half dead. A priest and later a Levite passed by and just ignored the man, moving to the other side of the road. Maybe they were on their way to church!

Then a Samaritan (who was hated by the Jews) came by and had compassion on the man. He bandaged his wounds and took him on his own donkey to an Inn where he took care of him and paid his bills.

Jesus asked the question to an expert in the law, "'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:36-37)

One thing I discovered in this story is that God can use those of us who are untrained and ordinary. We don't have to leave the job to those in full time ministry. It is our responsibility to reach out and touch our neighbors.

I love Acts 4:13. It says, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."

Do you shy away from hurting people because you don't know what to say or do? Spending time with Jesus is the answer. He will give you the wisdom you need to know how to proceed.

The Samaritan in this story just met the man's practical needs. Often it's just a listening ear a person needs -- or a word of encouragement. They probably don't want you to give them advice anyway. There are times when a hurting person needs someone to sit with him or her in silence. There may be times when the opportunity presents itself to pray with the person.

I will admit, serving others is not always convenient. We have to be willing to lay aside our own agenda. I like marking things off my list as much as you probably do, but I have discovered life is much more fulfilling if I accept divine appointments that come my way.

Let me challenge you today to ask God to bring people in your path you can be neighborly to!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where Do You Go When You Need Advice?

John 14:20: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

What do you do when you are having problems and you need advice? Do you go to a friend, your spouse or God?

Let me challenge you to begin by praying and reading the Word. I know it's easier to go to a friend, because he or she is visible. However, if you go to the Lord first, He may show you what you need to know. Then when you do talk with your friend or spouse, their words can be a confirmation to what you are already sensing. I have had that happen over and over to me.

I remember a time when God showed me something specific in His Word. My sister-in-law called me that very day to tell me the same thing God already had. It gave me confidence that I really was hearing the right instruction from God.

Just this week, God woke me up in the middle of the night and gave me a scripture. The next morning I discovered God revealed the same thing to Jerry, using different scriptures. There have also been times when what God has shown me is confirmed by sermons at church, emails, radio, or tv.

Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

In the world we live in today with so many uncertainties, we definitely need to be hearing from God. Even the "experts" don't really know what the future holds. Join me as I cry out to God that He would give us direction and show us things we need to know!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Peace in Trials

James 1:2-4 (The Message): Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Last week, this blog was about finding peace in the midst of trials. It does seem everyone is going through something these days. I have learned that I can have horrific circumstances and have perfect peace and contentment, knowing God is in control. There are other times when just the smallest thing causes extreme turmoil within me. Have you noticed that happening in your own life?

I believe the difference is whether or not I have left the entire situation in God's hands. There are times when I give things to him and take them back. Have you heard the story of the little girl who had a broken doll? She gave it to her dad to repair. Yet, she would not take her hands off of it. That's me sometimes. How can I expect God to take care of things if I don't leave it with Him.

When I truly let things go, I am able to walk in perfect peace, no matter how difficult the storm. Last week we talked about journaling. In times when I am having a hard time letting go, God knows it anyway, so getting it out on paper really does help me gain a better perspective.

Another thing I do is find scriptures that apply to my situation. I put them on 3x5 cards and put them in various places around my house so I can pray them often. Romans 10:17 tells me that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so I must hear it so I can believe it.

Even though at times I have struggled with believing, by praying scriptures daily, eventually something happens. It's like scales fall off of my eyes, and I really believe what I'm praying.

Listening to worship music and singing words of praise to God, even when I don't feel like it also help me! There have been times when I had to force my mouth open, but when I did, it got a little easier with each note. As I sang sacrificially to God, His presence flooded me in a way I can't even describe, and supernatural peace was finally mine. I love Psalm 50:23. It says, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."

It also helps to have a friend to share my burden with (Gal. 6:2) -- someone who will stand with me and encourage me. However, I'm not a fan of sharing all the details with everyone who comes along. I feel it just emphasizes the problem if I talk about it that much. I need to be dwelling on God's promises -- not my circumstances.

I know this is not an exhaustive list. Are there things you do that I have not listed that really helps you while going through trying times? I would love to read your comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HELP! I Need Peace

Philippians 4:6-7 (God's Word Translation): Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

The last couple of weeks, I have talked with many who seem to be going through struggles of some sort. Whether your trial is physical, financial, emotional or due to circumstances beyond your control, God wants to give you more peace than you can even imagine.

It sounds like a simple formula -- just rejoice, give your requests to God and then you will have peace! Have you ever found yourself feeling so gripped with fear that you could not even open your mouth -- you felt paralyzed? What did you do to move from that place?

For me, I've found journaling to be a tremendous help. As I write down my concerns and empty those thoughts that play like a horror movie through my mind, something refreshing starts to happen. Scriptures I've memorized before start to resurface, and I'm able to rise above the circumstances and trust God.

David was a good example for us. In Psalm 43, after journaling about his despair, David was able to say, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing God's Word. Sometimes my mind has to be emptied of all the other voices to really hear the Word. Then instead of just words on a page, they become alive, and I am able to have peace in the midst of the stormy circumstances.

My next blog post, I will discuss other things I do in times of trial. In the meantime, I would be interested in hearing what helps you when you are struggling.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reach Out & Touch Someone

John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

One thing I pray daily is that God will prepare me for the day. I give him permission to interrupt my plan with His own. His Word says the Spirit of truth will guide me. I will admit, I don't really like interruptions. I like marking things off my list, but I've learned His agenda is so much better than mine.

There are times friends come to my mind. When that first started happening I would just think, "I wonder what is going on with them," and go back to what I was doing. I learned the hard way, it is often God wanting me to pray for and maybe even contact them.

Today I read the story in Acts 10 about Cornelius. He was a Gentile -- a devout, god-fearing man, and in a vision an angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter. The angel could have shared more, but instead God chose to use Peter.

Is there someone God has chosen you to encourage today? Even a text message or quick email can speak volumes to a person who is struggling. I'm not asking you to preach a sermon--only to let people know you care. Just expressing you are thinking about them is often enough to make them feel refreshed.

Ask God today who is on His mind and heart and be willing to pray for them and possibly reach out.

I would love to hear your comments!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

God, Change Our World -- Begin with Me!


Deut. 6:10-12: When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

I believe the toughest trial we will ever face is success (and let's face it, we all have a measure of success in this country, even with today's economy). It's in times of ease that we have a tendency to be distracted from our relationship with God.

It's not intentional. There are just so many things to do--many good things. The family must be taken care of, our houses have to be cleaned and many work an outside job. When we relax, the television draws us in (for me it's HGTV and the Food Network). Then, of course, there's the beloved internet. What did we ever do before email, facebook, twitter, texting and blogs. Today we have the opportunity to stay connected more than ever before.

All of these are tools, and if used properly, we can benefit from them. However, we can easily become so engrossed in these activities that we miss our connection with the greatest communicator of all, Jesus Christ.

I've been reading in Judges this week and notice when the Israelites did enter the Promised Land, at first they served the Lord, but then a generation grew up who didn't even know the Lord or what He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

Our society seems to be headed that way as well. I was at a conference recently and the speaker, who was about my age, said in his grandfather's generation 65% had a genuine relationship with the Lord, in his father's generation that percentage went to 35%, in his generation 15%, and the teens of American today only 4% truly know the Lord.

When I heard these statistics, my heart was grieved. Our children need more than church attendance on Sunday. The power of God must be demonstrated in our everyday lives. A scripture I pray often is Habakkuk 3:2. It says, "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known!"

Every time I read the book of Acts, I am no longer content with my spiritual life. The early church members walked in power and had divine appointments everywhere they went. God was moving and it was obvious. I want to know God the way they did.

However, the early Christians first started out by spending time in the upper room on their knees. Acts 1:14 says, "They all joined together constantly in prayer." I don't think it was a five-minute prayer either.

I know we are busy, but I think we can at least set our minds on things above. We can pray while we do housework and drive the car. We can use some of these communication tools to share testimonies of God's faithfulness.

Join me today as I believe God for a changed life first, and then a changed world because of my influence!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Where Are You God?

Deuteronomy 31:6: "...God will never leave you nor forsake you."

The last couple of weeks have been busy, but that is not the reason for the time lapse between posts. I just haven't felt I had anything to share that would be worthy of your time to read. I made the decision when I started this blog that I didn't want to just write for the sake of writing.

When I sit down lately to get in the presence of God, I feel nothing. Do you ever have seasons when the heavens seem like brass -- with prayers bouncing back? I know I'm not alone. In those seasons, I've learned to:

1. Search my heart to see if there's anything blocking my hearing -- either sin, unforgiveness, wrong attitudes, etc. (Psalm 139:23-24)

2. Take authority over Satan in the name of Jesus. (Luke 10:19; Matthew 18:18)

3. Control my thought-life. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

4. Discern whether I'm distracted and start listening closer. (Luke 8:14)

5. Continue to read the Word and ask God to reveal things to me. (Jeremiah 33:3)

6. Continue to praise Him -- whether I want to or not. (Philippians 4:4)

7. Do those things God has already told me to do. (James 1:22)

In past seasons when I have followed this pattern, eventually the feelings return. In our world today, feelings are probably overrated. Could this be why there are so many divorces in our land? Instead of commitment to marriage for life, many commit as long as the feelings remain.

My life is God's forever -- not just when He makes me feel all tingly. I continue to hold onto those words He has told me before. I know He is here. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I can trust Him -- and so can you!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Waiting For Storms to Pass

Psalm 37:34: Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.

Our trip to Colorado ended with a bang. We left for the airport in plenty of time because we preferred not to be stressed while waiting in long lines. As soon as we arrived at the car rental facility, it started raining. By the time the bus dropped us off at the terminal, it was raining so hard, the roof sounded as if it would cave in.

While waiting in the security line, we watched funnel clouds form in the distance through large glass windows. We were glad to be inside the terminal where we were safe.

The weather delayed our flight a couple of hours -- not exactly what we had hoped for. We were really ready to get back home. While we were watching for the plane, time seemed to drag on. However, once we got settled in and found things to occupy our time, the wait seemed shorter.

Once we got on the plane, we were seated with a pastor from the Denver area. It was definitely a divine appointment. As we swapped stories of God's faithfulness and the miracles He has performed in our lives, time seemed to fly. After we had been talking for quite a while, we realized we were still on the ground and had not even noticed. The flight seemed to land in Phoenix in record time -- although in actuality it took longer than normal.

The last few days, the words of the song by John Waller, "While I'm Waiting," have been going through my mind. Part of it says, "I will move ahead, bold and confident, taking every step in obedience while I'm waiting. I will serve you while I'm waiting. I will worship you while I'm waiting. I will not faint. I will be running the race even while I wait."

All of us seem to be waiting on God for something. What are you doing while you are waiting for God to answer your prayers? God has an appointed time for your answer to arrive. Like yesterday's flight, I'm learning I can't shorten the wait, but I can sure enjoy the journey more if I find things to do (like serving and worshipping God) while I'm waiting!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

God's Timing is Perfect

Micah 7:7 (The Message): But me, I'm not giving up. I'm sticking around to see what God will do. I'm waiting for God to make things right. I'm counting on God to listen to me.

Jerry and I flew into Denver on Friday evening. Once we got off the plane we were required to take a train to the luggage area. It's amazing how fast those trains actually travel. However, at the second stop, the train waited for a few minutes before taking off again. One couple grew tired of waiting and decided to walk to the luggage area instead. Once they got off, it was only a minute before the train started moving again.

It made me wonder -- how often do I wait on God for something to happen and then give up one minute too soon, walking away! Yes, this couple would eventually get to their destination, but it definitely took longer.

Today, I'm determined not to give up but to wait for God to answer my prayers in His timing. After all, His ways are higher than mine, and He knows just what I need when I need it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebrating Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

"Love is not finding the perfect person, it is loving an imperfect person perfectly."

My niece has the above quote on her Facebook page. I'm not sure where it came from, but it has provoked some thought. Of course, no one is perfect; however, you single girls -- be careful not to settle for any guy who comes along.

You are unique and special and deserve the best. There are awesome young men out there, and it's best to just wait until the right one comes along! In the meantime, concentrate on becoming the best you can be. That way you will attract the right type of person.

Thursday Jerry and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. It hardly seems possible. The years have flown by! He's not perfect and neither am I, but he is perfect for me. God knew exactly what I needed when He brought Jerry Gray in my life. We are opposite in a lot of ways -- which makes him truly my other half. I need his perspective! We each have learned to appreciate seeing a different viewpoint.

To love perfectly is a dream--one I'm not sure exists. Marriage is hard word but well worth the effort. I believe the only way we can come close is by crying out to God everyday for Him to love through us. It takes commitment, and I'm so glad Jerry has overlooked my faults and stuck with me through the years!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reflections of a Blessed Mom

Psalm 127:3-5: Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and I don't take for granted the children God has blessed Jerry and me with. Raising kids is definitely not a walk in the park. It's hard work but well worth every ounce of effort it requires.

When mine were young, I knew they would be world changers but some days secretly wondered -- would it be positive? I know I didn't do everything right, but I tried and then prayed -- and prayed -- and prayed!

As Jerry and I partnered with God, we have been able to see Proverbs 22:6 come true: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Although they are not old, they are adults -- and are doing a good job at it!

Allow me to brag a little about my kids:

Jerry and I had been married almost four years when Erik was born. We were so ready for him to arrive. He enriched our lives in ways we never imagined. As a young child, he loved matchbox cars and books. He used to sleep with them both. Sometimes there was hardly room for his little body. As he grew, sports became his new passion.

His first year of t-ball, he sometimes threw his glove in the air and sat in the outfield. However, as he grew a little older, the competitive part of his personality kicked in. He became good at every sport he attempted. We stayed so busy in those years just keeping up with practices and games.

Today he is a teacher, coach and the athletic director of his school. I am so proud of him and his awesome wife, Lauren, also a teacher. They now are investing in the lives of their students and other teens as well.

Kevin, was born when Erik was three. From the very beginning, Kevin was drawn to musical instruments. One Sunday while in church, I noticed Kevin had escaped from the nursery and was headed for the stage, his favorite spot. He wanted so badly to get up there and perform.

From an early age, he began playing the guitar, drums and writing songs. It was no surprise when he moved to California at 18 to make his mark on the music industry. As a young child, he would never take "no" for an answer. That drive has been necessary to see his dreams fulfilled. We are so proud of the way he has continued to do what He knew God wanted him to do.

His newest CD, "Now is Your Moment," is almost complete. Some of his music can be heard at www.kevinmichaelgray.com and purchased on I-tunes.

Nate was born five years after Kevin, and has just completed his second year of college. When Nate was 12, he began a venture with a team from his youth group, "The Nate Gray Show." With a video camera in hand, they did random things and played it for the youth group. Nate's love for video and production was born at that time. He is very gifted in this area and has worked in the field quite a bit for his young age.

He also has been involved with Young Life for a number of years, and now is leading some high school students himself. I don't know what all God has in store for his future, but I know he will continue to make his mark in this world in a positive way.

For those of you who are in the midst of training your children, some days it's fun but others, it's tough! Just hang in there. Where you are weak, God is strong, and He can give you the wisdom you need to raise little men and women of God who will change their world!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Out of Balance

Mark 6:31: Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he (Jesus) said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

While washing clothes recently, I suddenly heard loud rocking noises coming from the laundry room. My load was unbalanced, and my washing machine was sitting in the middle of the floor.

Do you feel like your life is rocking you back and forth and moving in a wrong direction? As women, keeping balance is a constant battle. There are so many demands on our time, and we feel we must do it all!

Jesus understands our dilemma. Even he was so busy at times he didn't have the chance to eat. Mark 6:31 reminds me that I must take time away from the craziness of life to be refreshed -- spiritually and physically.

In Mark 6, Jesus and his disciples went to a solitary place to be alone, but when they got there, a crowd had already gathered. Instead of being frustrated, Jesus had compassion on them and ministered to them.

As women, we have to be flexible too. We may plan on some rest and relaxation and be forced to change our plans due to unexpected circumstances. In those times, we can rely on the compassion of Jesus living through us.

Because of Jesus' willingness to give up his own plan, people were ministered to, miracles occurred in their midst and when he dismissed the crowd, he was finally able to spend time in the presence of God that he needed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learning from Life

James 1:2-4: Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

This weekend Jerry and I went to a HOPE (www.helpovercomingpainfulexperiences.org) Conference at our church. Hearing stories of God's faithfulness when people experience tough times was very refreshing.

We all experience trials. They are just a part of life. We can't prevent them from coming. We certainly can't shorten them; however, we can probably lengthen them if we don't learn quickly what God is trying to teach us.

When my kids were small, if they embraced discipline and instruction, life was easier for us all. The punishment was necessary to form their character just as life challenges are designed to form ours.

Besides journaling (which I will talk about another day), here's what I ask God during tough times:
(1) Is there anything I have done to cause my trial?
(2) Is there anything I need to repent of?
(3) Is my perspective wrong?
(4) How do I need to react to these circumstances?
(5) Is there anything specific I need to do?
(6) What can I learn from this situation?

In the Bible each battle mentioned was different and required a specific battle plan. In the same way there's a unique strategy for each situation I face. I need to hear from God instead of doing my own thing.

As I work through things, there are times God changes my circumstances; however, other times He just changes me instead.

What have you learned in times of trouble in your own life?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enjoying the Race

Hebrews 12:1: ...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

It's been a few days since I've posted a blog. I have been busy running the race God has marked out for me. Part of my race is just keeping up with the everyday routine.

Sometimes it's not exciting to vacuum the floor -- again -- and do the laundry one more time; however, it is those very things that teach me consistency and persistence.

The tasks don't bother me near as much when my mind is fixed on spiritual things. Keeping the worship music playing speeds me up which helps me finish faster. I can pray and listen for God's voice as I'm cleaning the shower, and I can sing praises while I'm mopping the floors.

When I'm communing with God as I'm doing those less desirable chores, I feel joy in the menial. I might be working on earth, but in my mind, I can be seated in the heavenlies with Christ. What a view! In that position, my perspective seems to change and what once seemed like drudgery, now is enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

His Race or Mine?

Hebrews 12:1: ...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Just thinking about my list today is exhausting! I feel entangled! The race I want to run is not the one the Lord has marked out for me. It's my own agenda!

Even though I have journaled and prayed for God's help in letting some things go, I'm still wrestling. Quite frankly, I really want to do it all.

In addition to the prayer and journaling, I need to:
(1) Prioritize
(2) Release the stress as it invades my thoughts
(3) Replace anxiety with the promises of God
(4) Focus on the words of the worship music I have playing

The difference in God's race and my own is that He created me and knows what I can handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: "...All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He'll never let you be pushed past your limit; He'll always be there to help you come through it." (The Message)

If you, like me, are struggling today, let's make a decision to walk back on God's track so we can feel that holy breeze on our backs, helping us accomplish more than we could possibly on our own!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Choose Life!

Deut. 30:19: I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.

When my son, Erik, was just a toddler, he walked up to our fireplace and said, "No, no, no, no, no," and then lunged forward. I only wanted to protect him. At that age, he had no concept of fire.

Fortunately, I was there to rescue him before he was burned. However, as Erik grew, I wasn't there to move him from dangerous situations. It was a choice he had to make for himself.

As we mature in Christ, He expects us to obey Him too. As any loving parent, He wants what is best for us. He's not trying to keep us from having fun!

Today I choose life and blessings, and hope you will do the same!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Multiangular Memories

Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

When the kids were small,we spent Easter at my parent's home. Having the table set and the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen produced an atmosphere of warmth.

Besides the annual bunny cake, my parents made it a tradition to hide Easter eggs in the backyard for the grandkids. My boys loved going out with their cousins finding those goodies. Eating the candy was not half as much fun as the hunt itself.

I'll never forget the year my dad thought it was a good idea to put a ten dollar bill in one of the eggs. Two of my boys headed for this loaded egg, so they each thought they deserved the $10 prize! Due to the arguing that followed, that was the first and last year we had "green" Easter eggs.

Even though that particular scene was stressful at the time, now I can laugh about what happened. Today one of my sons and I were reminiscing about this episode, and he remembered things I didn't. I'm sure if the rest of the family were here, we'd each have a different viewpoint.

It's kind of like watching replays in a football game. The footage shows every possible angle, and they are all accurate. Seeing the play with all the points of view is what decides how the game moves forward.

Mixed with the good memories in life, we all experience tough times. However, looking at every angle (what we can learn, do differently, etc.) will give us a new perspective on how to continue this game called life.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

No Leanness Wanted!


Psalm 106:15: And He (God) gave them (the Israelites) their request, but sent leanness into their soul.

When my son, Erik, was really young, people would ask him what he wanted for Christmas. His response was, "All the toys at K-Mart."

Isn't that just like us sometimes with God? We want it all! However, even though some things are good, they are not always beneficial for us. I know we should pray for specific things to get specific answers,however, I have told God to never give me anything that would bring leanness to my soul.

When I was pregnant with Erik, I wanted a girl. In retrospect, I'm so glad he was a boy. A few years later, his brother, Kevin, joined him, and five years later Nate was born. I'm so thankful God blessed us with all boys. He knew exactly what Jerry and I needed.

Their growing years were great but sometimes challenging. When the kids were all young, my mom told me once that my entire life I never had a reason to raise my voice, so God gave me three boys to help "round out my personality."

Just like shaking a soda and watching it explode over the top, I never knew what was inside of me until they shook me up a few times. Instead of screaming and losing control, I had to learn to be patient and calm. They taught me consistency and firmness. I also learned how to pray because of them.

We were supposed to be raising them, but on the flip-side, they raised us. God used them to build character in us and teach us many life lessons. For that, I am grateful.

They have become awesome young men of God. Five years ago I got my first girl, my beautiful daughter-in-law, Lauren. Before we knew her, we prayed for her. She's the perfect mate for Erik, and brings much needed balance to our family.

Yes, God does know exactly what I needed then and He still does! I want His way more than ever now!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Captive & Content

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

One day I'm going to get a new laptop, but in the meantime, I'm trying to be content with what I have. Often when I'm typing, the cursor jumps to an entirely different location--kind of like life does sometimes.

Have you ever found yourself in circumstances you didn't plan on? It reminds me of what God told the Israelites in Jeremiah 29. They had been taken captive to Babylon. I'm sure they didn't want to be there. However, God told them to build houses, settle down, pray for the blessings of God on that place, and trust His plan.

My friend, Katie, is in the hospital. She's pregnant and for the safety of her little girl may have to stay there until her birth--which could be a long while. She could be complaining, but instead she is looking at the bigger picture, wondering how God is going to use her situation for her good.

Yesterday I visited Katie to bring her a little sunshine. I was extremely fatigued when I got there, but I left refreshed and able to conquer the rest of my day. She encouraged me instead.

I'm sure Katie is a favorite of all the nurses on staff there. If she can't change her location, she will change the atmosphere around her. She's settling in and making the most of every opportunity that comes her way.

If Katie can be content, can't I do the same? It kind of puts things in perspective. After all, Jeremiah 29:11 tells me He has plans for me that will give me a hope and a future. I just have to trust Him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Appoint Me Lord!

Jonah 4:6: So the Lord appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.

In the Arizona sun, we all depend on shady spots. Today I was eating on the run and looked for a parking place under a tree. The first place I chose caused the shade to be on the passenger side of the car. Eventually I had to move because the heat made it so uncomfortable.

Growing up there was a plaque on our kitchen wall that said, "Bloom Where You Are Planted." There are certain people God has planted in my life and I'm very thankful. They have been shade for me in times when I really needed it.

In the above verse in Jonah, I love the fact that God appointed the plant. I want to be appointed by God to shade my friends as well.

The plant's job was just to be there. The plant did not tell Jonah what to do or try to change him. Sometimes when our friends are hurting, we feel uncomfortable and wonder what to say. Just being there is enough.

Has God appointed you to be shade for anyone specific today? I pray He will use you to bring refreshment to all those you come in contact with.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm being pruned!


John 15:1-2, 5 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches.

Last year my patio was filled with flowers. This year I planted herbs. I discovered I can purchase herb plants for about the same price as cut herbs, and they certainly make my cooking better!

They remind me of God, my Master Gardener, and how important it is for me to stay connected to the True Vine.

As long as I give my plants a little water and keep them pruned, they look awesome and taste good too! Spiritually speaking, the Word of God is like water to my soul -- but what about pruning!

A while back I had a dream that I was trying to go through a doorway, and I had so many packages in my hands I could not fit through. I was forced to lay some things down to walk into the beautiful room on the other side.

I'm sure in those packages were things I loved. However, I don't want anything to prevent me from entering into God's best for me!

There are times God must remove things from my life! Even though I don't enjoy the process, I do appreciate the result--more fruitfulness!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 (God's Word Translation)
Guard your heart more than anything else because the source of your life flows from it.

Since Proverbs 4:23 indicates I'm the one who must guard my heart, I need to take it seriously. No one else will do it for me. I'm the one who chooses what I allow to enter into me.

I can't change my circumstances or what other people do or say, but I can choose my reaction. If I just ignore things that offend me, I discover later they really did affect me negatively. Instead I try to make it a practice of verbalizing to God either through journal or prayer how I feel and then choose to forgive.

When I visited Ireland a few years ago for a missions trip, we were told not to drink the water in that building because the pipes were contaminated. In the same way, if I allow unforgiveness to dwell in my heart, what flows out will pollute others. Instead I want my pipes clean so God can flow through me to refresh those I come in contact with.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conficker Worm


If you've been on the computer or listened to the news lately, you've heard of the conficker virus. April 1st is supposed to be the big day. We've been warned to make sure our computers are updated with the latest Windows applications and virus software. Thieves are trying to control our computers.

There is also a real enemy trying to take control of our lives. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."


Today we are watching because we have been warned; however, I heard this worm can be dormant in our computers for a while, and when we least expect begin stealing all our personal information.

Matthew 24:43 says, "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into."

These words are a good reminder to us that we must stay alert every day. One way I keep myself on guard is by asking daily for God to show me areas of my life I need to correct. In coming days, I will discuss additional ways to stay alert. You may want to share some of your own. Feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What does hospitality mean to you?


Let your gra.cious attitude be known to all people. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

I grew up in North Carolina. If you heard me talk, you would know it! I've been in Arizona for ten years, but my accent still remains. I hope I also keep the southern hospitality I grew up with.

My parents loved everyone and it showed. Our home was a place of refuge for the weary. There were often impromptu gatherings or individuals stopping by just for prayer. People were just drawn to our home. I saw miracles take place in our living room. My mom also spent a lot of time on the telephone listening to and praying for friends.

I've heard the expression, "What you are, you reproduce." I hope that is true because I've always wanted to be just like my parents.

Jerry and I have been married for almost 32 years, and every day we strive to live a life of hospitality. Whether people are in our home or we meet them at the coffee shop, our goal is to be a godly example to them and let them know they are loved.

To keep up with the times, I feel one way I can be hospitable is to share with you on this blog. I don't claim to have all the answers. I just want to get some dialogue going between us. Please feel free to comment anytime.

You can begin by sharing what hospitality means to you.