Monday, July 19, 2010

First blog entry in over six months... I guess I can't claim the title of "Blog Queen", huh?!

I went to my 25th high school reunion last weekend. I still cannot believe that it's been 25 years since I graduated from high school - yikes! I really had a great time, though! Surprisingly, I really wasn't concerned at all with all the "typical" reunion thoughts the week before the reunion, like "Can I lose about 80 lbs before the weekend?", or "Why didn't I color my gray hair?", or "Am I going to 'measure up' in my accomplishments in comparison with everyone else?". I was just really excited for the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends ("old" as in friends from previous days - none of us are "old"... yet!).

Like I said, I had a great time, both Friday and Saturday evenings. But what really stood out to me was realizing the impact that everyone had on one another's lives. Whether it was in a small or a big way, everyone affected everyone else in some way. While I'm usually doing good to remember what I had for breakfast, there were so many memories and stories that we all had to share. Some were very close friends, and many were people I went to school with from first grade through high school graduation; but some were people I knew, but would never have expected them to remember me at all. To my surprise, not only did most of those people remember me, but we all seemed to remember each other, have stories about one another, and were genuinely happy to see each other and catch up with what's been going on in our lives.

So that got me thinking... if a bunch of dorky kids can grow up to remember so much about each other and the events of our school days, what kind of memories are we creating with those around us today? Whether we realize it or not, we are always influencing someone, either positively or negatively. People are watching us; what do they see? What they observe and what they experience, no matter how insignificant it may seem or even if only for a short time, has an influence on them. And it should. Jesus has called each one of us to impact others for Him. Where is God calling you to serve? In what way could you impact those around you today?

Now don't get me wrong... I'm not trying to add any "pressure" to our already stressful lives by implying that the world is watching us, so we have a responsibility to always be "on"! What I am trying to say is that we do have a responsibility to keep our focus on Jesus, and allow Him to influence us - to change us - and everything we say and do; that is the only way that we can truly have the kind of influence on others that God has called us to make. In fact, I think a big reason that this stood out to me so much at the reunion is because I prayed before the reunion that God would open my eyes to see and my ears to hear those around me; that I would see and hear through His eyes and ears. I told God that if there was someone at the reunion who needed to talk or needed to hear from Him, that they would feel comfortable opening up to me; and that He would make clear to me if there is an open door with them, and then give me the courage to speak and/or act as He leads. There were at least three people who are facing tough times in their lives right now who opened up to me and who I was able to reach out to for Christ. Some just needed a friend (no matter how old that friend may be!) to listen; and some I was able to share with them books, experiences, and other resources that have helped me in my walk with the Lord, and that I thought may be of help to them as well. One friend followed up with me the following Monday and told me that she had already gotten a book that I had told her about ("Experiencing God" by Blackaby), and she had actually already suggested it to someone as well. So that initial opened door that God showed to me helped to reveal an open door for them to reach out to someone else, too!

You may not have a reunion planned any time soon, but maybe you can take a few minutes to remember some of the people who have had an impact on your life. Maybe you can even find a way to reconnect with one or two of them - either through email or an old-fashioned note - and share some memories and thank them for touching your life. More importantly, maybe you can ask God to open your eyes to someone in your path today who you could make a Christ-like impact with. I'm ashamed to say that I all too often don't spend the one-on-one time I need to with God; and I'm realizing that by not keeping that special time with Him my first priority every day, I'm not only hurting myself and leaving a huge void in my life, but I'm also missing out on the opportunities that God gives me to reach out and show God's love to someone else (even lack of action impacts those around us!). After all, how can I expect to hear God's voice, be obedient to His call, and enjoy the privilege of being His hands and feet to someone else if I'm not taking the time to quiet myself, opening my heart, allowing Him to change me, and spending time getting to know Him more intimately every moment of every day?

So... will you accept the challenge - the gift - to make a difference in someone's life today?! I am so grateful for all of those who have spoken into my life in one way or another (I'm sure if you're reading this, YOU are one of those people!); and I pray that I will take every opportunity that God gives me to be that person for someone else!

Have a blessed day! Make a difference for someone today, and thank someone who's made a difference in your life!


Friday, January 1, 2010


Wow... 2010... Can you believe it?! It seems like it wasn't long ago that the world was in panic over Y2K; that "yesterday" was 10 years ago. Like most years (especially as I get older!), 2009 seemed to fly by. But there were also times throughout the year that seemed to last an eternity. I think that's how it is with any type of change... and 2009 was definitely a year of changes for me!

There really is nothing like the beginning of a new year! The ball has just dropped in Times Square, and as silly as it may sound, every year when I see that site I have tears in my eyes. I guess it's just the excitement of new beginnings that makes me so emotional. But you know what? With God, we can have that same overwhelming feeling every single day of our lives because He is the Author of new beginnings!

At this time of year, many people are anxiously setting new year's resolutions, and that is great for those who choose to do that (especially those who actually have the discipline to stick to those resolutions throughout the entire year - which is usually not me, by the way!). While resolutions are good, I believe our focus really should be on making life changes, not just resolutions (there's that dreaded word again... change!). As followers of Jesus, we must continually become changed individuals; we cannot staty the same, either in thoughts or in actions, and expect to enjoy the privilege of being used by God. We'll never do the same thing and move on with God - We have to be willing to go with God to the next place (even when - or I should say, especially when - we don't know where the next place is or what the next place holds!).

Before we look to the future of what 2010 holds, I think it's important to take some time to reflect on 2009 and the lessons we learned along the way. I could probably write an entire book on the lessons and happenings of this year alone. The Lord has called me to make many, many changes in my life (and, thankfully, I FINALLY quit fighting Him and answered His call!). I am so grateful that God is persistent and doesn't give up on me! I really don't know why we (or at least I) argue with God. First of all, He always wins eventually (and what do we miss in the time we waste in disobedience to Him?). Second, His plans are always so much better than any plans we could even imagine. With that said... I don't know why I do it, but I'm afraid I still do it all too often; but I am getting better at answering in obedience much more quickly.

Probably the biggest change for me this year was deciding to give up my office and my business in order to stay home with my son full time. Again, this was a very big challenge for me, to say the least! I knew this was the path God wanted me to take for at least six months prior. But I didn't know why He wanted me to make that change, and I didn't know what He wanted me to do instead, so I wasted a lot of time and energy arguing with Him (and/or trying to tune Him out!). I discovered a lot of things through the process of making that change: 1) It is only after I took that first step in faith that God then showed me the next step I was to take. It wasn't' long after I decided to make that change that God made it clear to me that I was to enter into a Ministerial Study Program. 2) Just because God calls you to do something, doesn't mean that you aren't going to have any challenges or that the journey is going to be easy. I went through some very tough, heart-breaking times throughout that process. But in retrospect, I realize that if it weren't for those challenges, I probably wouldn't have made the changes I did (at least not in the time and at the level that I did). 3) It is possible to be in total chaos, and still have peace in the Lord. There were many times that I felt I had some sort of "spiritual schizophrenia"! On one hand, I was totally confused, lost, frustrated, etc.; on the other, it was exciting to be experiencing the presence and peace of God in such a real, personal way. 4) I expereinced first hand the wonderful gift of people that God puts in our life. There were so many people, both long-time friends and some new acquaintenances. Those who know me know that asking others for help - or even accepting help when it's offered - is not my strong point (the word obstinent has been used to describe me far too many times! But for the first time, I began to really understand the importance of allowing the circle to be completed. I have always loved being the one others turn to for help, but I was not allowing them to be that person for me. During these times of change, God made it very clear that I could not do it on my own; not only did I need to trust Him and rely on Him, but I also had to receive the gift of friendship and wisdom from others. 5) I re-discovered what an amazing blessing it is to be able to be a stay-at-home mom! It's in those day-to-day "little" moments with my children that the real gifts of God are experienced.

So... I wanted to highlight just a few of the many, many (did I say many?!) lessons that I learned (or at least began to learn!) over the past year (in no particular order):

- Knowing about God is fascinating; knowing God personally is life changing. I never understood when people would say that "God told them..." or that they were following the path that God had set for them; I believed them, but I just didn't "get it". I found out that it is not only possible to hear the "voice" of God and to receive His direction, but God truly wants us to hear His voice, and He wants to convey His plans to us (in His perfect timing, of course). I also learned that there is no way to tell anyone else what that personal relationship with God is like. There are times that my heart breaks when I see people who are believers, but who are missing out on so much by not listening to that still small voice in their heart.

- "What is God's will for my life?" is not the right question; the right question is "What is God's will?" Once you know God's will, you can adjust your life to Him. The focus needs to be on God, not on your life! Look around each day and see where God is working, and ask Him for the courage to step out in faith when He calls me to action. I was driving myself completely crazy trying to figure out what God's will for my life was. I knew God was calling me to something, but I had no clue what it was (and I had no clue how to figure it out). Thankfully, God gave me the courage to reach out to my pastor, who told me to quit trying to figure out God's will. He told me to look around at what God is doing around me, and then see how He wants to use me in that situation. As part of my prayers each morning, I began asking God to show me where He was working around me today, and give me the courage to step out in faith when He calls me to act. It's amazing how you can see God working in people's lives every single day if you just seek to see through His eyes! By the way, my pastor suggested that I read the book, "Experiencing God" by Blackaby, and I very highly recommend it to anyone who wants to grow deeper in their personal relationship with Christ. It is one of those love-hate kind of books - it is great and will truly change your life, but if you're like me, it will also kick you in the gut quite a few times!

- The importance of surrender! We live in a do-it-yourself, pull yourself up by your boot straps kind of world. But it is in surrendering our will for the will of God that we begin to experience the presence of God in our life, and that we are best able to make a difference in the lives of others. The moment God speaks to you is the moment God wants you to respond to Him. Change is seldom easy, especially when you have been pursuing a dream and been on a specific path for quite awhile. Making a change in obedience to God does not always mean that you are going to be happy about doing so, but you can still have peace in knowing that you are doing as God willed. When I decided to give up my office and my business, I was definitely not happy about it, and my heart was broken for so many reasons. I had heard that when God gives you a new dream, that He will take away the desire that you have for your old dream (I had heard that, but I didn't know how that would ever be possible - I truly loved what I was doing, and fully expected to be doing that for the rest of my life!). But as the days went by, I found myself losing my desire for my old dreams, and becoming more and more passionate about the new dreams that God had given me. And by the way, even if the dreams you have in your heart are from God, you still need to surrender them to Him; God wants you to cling to Him, not to your dreams. He wants you to trust Him to fulfill your dreams, instead of you trying to make them happen in your own strength.

- There were a few songs that spoke very deeply to me, and that helped me keep God at the center of my life:

· "Here I Am" by Downhere - "Here I am, Lord send me. All of my life, I make an offering, Here I am, Lord send me. Somehow my store is part of Your plan, Here I am."

· "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real - "There's a wave that's crashing over me, and all I can do is surrender. Whatever You're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace. And it's hard to surrender to what I can't see, but I'm giving in to something heavenly."

· " Revelation" by Third Day - "Give me revelation, show me what to do. Cause I've been trying to find my way, I haven't got a clue. Tell me should I stay here, or do I need to move. Give me a revelation. I've got nothing without You. I've got nothing without You."

· "By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North" - "Cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall. In the dead of night whenever you call. Please don't fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding You."

· "The Motions" by Matthew West - "I don't wanna go through the motions, I don't wanna go one more day, without Your all consuming passion inside of me. I don't wanna spend my whole life asking what if I had given everything? Instead of going through the motions."

- Psalm 47:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." It is so important to take time every day to quite myself in order to hear God and come to know Him better. It's easy for me to justify that I'm talking to God all through my day (which I am, and that's important to do as well). But it is in those quite moments that God is able to speak to me as well. Yes, God will speak to me and give me direction throughout each day, but if I am in constant busyness, I will probably not be listening for His voice or looking to see where He is working around me.

- When you walk closely with God and live in obedience to His ways, you can trust that you are in the center of His will, no matter what the circumstances are around you. There are many people who believe that if you are doing as God commands and living in His will that you will never have any challenges; and that if you are facing struggles, then you must not be doing the right thing. I learned that more times than not, the opposite is true... when you are living in obedience and seeking to serve the Lord and others, you are sure to face challenges along the way. These are the times that we tend to lean on Him the most, the evil one is going to try and dissuade us from following God, and these are the times that others can often see Jesus through how we live our lives. The minute we take one step of obedience, God opens up new opportunities and shows us new areas that He is working. Don't determine your response to God by looking at your gifts; look at the Lord and say, "Yes, Lord! I know Your Spirit is present to enable me as I obey You. Thank You, Lord!" Obedience starts with having a heart that says "yes" to God.

- Once you decide to trust the Lord and obey, He will trust you with the power to do the work Once you decide to obey Him, you will know His presence like never before. It is up to us to take that first step in faith. We cannot worry that we are not capable of doing what God calls us to do. God does not look for our ability (praise God!); He looks for our availability. The purposes of God are not based on our ability, but on His ability to work through us. When God chooses you to do something, remember, this is His first choice, not His second best. God takes the ordinary, and fills them with the extraordinary. God wants to use you... not because no one else is available, but so His glory will be seen through you.

- God's love cannot be explained - it can only be experienced. While we are commanded to share the love of Jesus and the message of the Gospel with others, there is no way to tell them what it is like to have a personal relationship with Jesus, or how it feels to know that God loves us unconditionally in spite of our many shortcomings. We can share with others that God loves us so much that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for us, and that Jesus paid the price for our sins through a brutal death. But we cannot convey to them how that love fills our hearts and enables us to love others unconditionally as well. They must come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. The great news is that Jesus wants to have a relationship with them; all they need to do is ask Him and receive His gift!

- God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! We live in a world of pain and suffering, challenges and tragedies. The effects of sin are seen all around us every day. But no matter what is happening around us or in our own lives, God never changes; He is the one thing in this world that we can always count on. He is the same after the unexpected death of a loved one as He was before; He is the same after receiving the news of a life-threatening disease as He was before; He is the same after that mass shooting as He was before; He is the same after that job loss as He was before. We can always be sure that He will never leave us, that He is in complete control, and that He can take any situation and use it for good.

- Service is the pathway to real significance. It is through ministry that we discover the meaning of our lives. I was so blessed this year to be able to meet many great people and begin many special friendships, just because I was willing to serve others in some way. Whether it was through an outreach opportunity through our church, an acquaintance met through a business environment, or simply in meeting someone new and reaching out to help in some way... if I went into each adventure in prayer and asking God to show me what to say and/or do, He almost always gave me an opportunity to take that extra step to reach out to someone. In many of those cases, those I was reaching out to felt as though I was helping them; truth be told, I was the one that was receiving an amazing gift!

- Prayer, Prayer, Prayer! The power of prayer! The vehicle to getting to know Jesus more intimately, the gift of being able to intercede on behalf of others, the comfort of the presence of God... EVERYTHING revolves around prayer and Scripture. Pray continually!

So... just a few "notes" of the past year (I said I could probably write a book, and I think I came pretty close to doing just that!). Believe it or not, I've probably left out some very key lessons and many wonderful words that God had put before me this year; thankfully, the learning never has to end, for God is a God of new beginnings, and He is constantly molding us into the person He made us to be.

I pray that you will take some time to reflect on all that God did in your life this past year; I pray that you will always seek to experience the love of God and the presence of Jesus in your life; I pray that you will ask God to show you where He is working around you each day, that He will give you the courage to step out in faith as He leads, and that you will respond in obedience to what He asks; and I pray that 2010 will be a year of changed lives for you - that your life will be changed as you respond to the Lord, and that you will help to change others' lives by allowing Jesus to work through you, and willingly and eagerly being the hands and feet of Jesus.

With Love and Prayers,


Friday, October 16, 2009


"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
(1 Chronicles 16:34)

We hear - and talk - a lot about having a heart of gratitude, and I do my best to be mindful of all of the blessings in my life. But as much as I like to think that I have a grateful heart, I know that I fall short. It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day tasks, that I all too often don't take time to stop and count my blessings. So today, I want to do just that!

Here is a small sampling of THE BLESSINGS OF TODAY:

TODAY - Yes, today is a gift in and of itself!

Being unconditionally loved by the Everlasting Father, and counted a friend of the Creator of the Universe

Having a loving husband, who provides for mine and my family's every need

Being entrusted with the care of three wonderful children who inspire me to strive to be better than I am

Friends who support and encourage, challenge and comfort

Clutter that stems from having too much stuff, for that means that I have been given more than I need

Clothes that are becoming too tight, because that means that I have more than enough food to eat

Finalizing ticket orders to take a group of church women to Women of Faith 2010

Jeff returning home safely from an out-of-town business trip

A phone call from my daughter, Kelly, saying she is coming home tomorrow (Friday) for the weekend

Dinner out with my parents and my two boys

Sending out encouragement cards, because it means that I have friends to care for

The phone call from my son's class mom confirming that I will be helping in the classroom for their fall party, because I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to be home with him and share in activities like these with him

Auto repair expenses, for that means that we have reliable transportation

Always full laundry baskets, for it means that my family and I have clothes to wear

My son, Walter, learning from some bad decisions, and working hard to fulfill his commitments and to find his passion, and for direction for after high school graduation

Never-ending to-do lists of household chores, needs, and repairs, for that means we have a home

The alarm clock going off way too early, because it means that I have things to do and purposes yet to fulfill; I am alive!

Hugs and kisses from my "baby" boy, Kevin

Staying up way too late to share my heart on this blog!

I'm sure I've forgotten one or two HUNDRED blessings from today. But just think how great our days would be, no matter what we're facing, if we took a few minutes every day to thank God for the many blessings He gives us each day! And remember, just as in my list above, the "little" blessings of the day are blessings just the same. And frankly, when we really get down to it, it's those "little" blessings that turn out to be the greatest blessings of all!

I pray that you, too, will take some time to give thanks to the Lord, for He truly is good; His love really does endure forever!!!

Love and Blessings to you!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Yes, it's been another very long gap between postings! I guess I'm not really made for this blogging stuff, huh?! But I keep plugging away (or I'm just too dumb to quit - or have too much invested to stop!) :) There are so many things that I think of throughout my days to write about (I guess that's what happens when you wait two months between postings!).

One thing that's been on my heart a lot lately, though, is how God uses every single thing that we go through with Him for good. I've heard, and repeated often, that God will use the challenging things we go through either for our benefit or in order to help someone else down the road. Those words sound great, and I truly believe them... but living them is so much more exciting, and rewarding!

First let me say that I do realize that facing the challenges in the first place is not always an easy task. If you've read any of my postings, you know that the Lord has called me to make a lot of changes in my life, especially over the last several months. You may have also read that most of those changes were very hard for me to make (admittedly they were harder to make because of my fear of surrendering everything to God, but that's beside the point!). Add to that a couple of months of unfavorable mammograms, ultrasounds, a biopsy, and lots of waiting. Throw in the "normal" challenges that come with having a sophomore in college, a high school senior, and a kindergartener. Now sprinkle in some day-to-day experiences of married life. I think you get my point... while we may know that we are doing the right thing and that we are never alone, challenges are not always easy to face!

But... looking back on what came from those experiences puts those same challenges in a whole new light! For most of the things I just mentioned, it was very obvious to me at the time that God's hand was in every one of those situations (and it was only because my eyes chose not to see Him in the ones that weren't obvious to me because I know He was in those, too). Now, however, I can see that not only was God in those situations at the time, but He also took those situations and used them in whole new ways down the road.

It has become clear to me that, while God can use everything for good, it is in those challenging times or times where we need to step out in faith that God will use our testimony to impact others the most. You see, I had no doubt that God was calling me to make some pretty significant changes in my life; I had never felt the Lord's presence so strong in my life or heard His voice so clearly before (which, obviously, should be a great thing... and it was). At the same time, though, I felt as though I was in a world of total chaos all of the time; I don't know how to explain it, but there was also a peace amidst that total chaos (you may have heard me refer to that as "spiritual schizophrenia"!).

One of those big changes for me was the call to enroll in a Ministerial Study Program (MSP). This was not easy for me to swallow to say the least - I am the last person that I would have ever envisioned doing something like this! And by the way, the call for me to do this came only AFTER I took the step of faith to give up my full-time business and stay home with my son. I had no idea why God was so clearly telling me to leave my business, and I fought His direction to do so for more than six months. Almost immediately after I made that decision, though, is when God gave me the next step (a little - no a BIG lesson on faith!). One quick side note to beginning the MSP... I in no way believed that I was capable of getting through this program (and there are times that I'm still not sure). But a key point that I've learned along the way is that the purposes of God are not based on our ability, but on His ability to work through us. Once you decide to trust the Lord and obey, He will trust you with the resources and power to do the work. And once you are obedient to Him, you will know His presence like never before!

It has only been recently that I've begun to feel comfortable sharing with people that I am in the MSP; it was very difficult for me to tell anyone else about it before because quite frankly I couldn't really believe it myself. Lately, though, there have been several times that the Lord has opened doors for me to reach someone else by sharing my experiences from the MSP. And every time, these have opened other doors for me to really minister to them in a very personal way. And remember those challenges I mentioned along the way, the times that required a step of faith in the face of fear? Those are the very things that I believe spoke to those people the most. Sometimes we don't know why we're on a certain road with God until somewhere down the road; but we must begin that journey with Him knowing that He is in control and that He will never abandon us.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I think it is only natural for you to seek the Holy Spirit's presence in your life. But we must realize that desiring the Holy Spirit also means that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Spirit is given to each one of us in order to equip us to do God's will, and surrender our own will, no matter where He may lead. Scary stuff, huh?! Well, it would be if we had to go where God tells us on our own; but we could never do it on our own... and we don't have to! Each small step of faith is a giant step of growth. And with growth, often comes growing pains. When we are obedient in the small steps of surrender, God will continue to prepare us to take those bigger leaps of surrender down the road. And you know what that means... more changes, more challenges, more steps of faith... more opportunities to share what God is doing in our lives, more lives changed, more blessings... let's just say more God!

I am so thankful for all of the gifts that God has given me - the gifts of changes and challenges, as well as the gifts of sharing His gifts with others! I pray that with each step that the Lord asks me to take, I will not only take that step in faith, but that He will open my eyes to the opportunities He gives me to help others to trust Him and begin walking with Him in faith as well.

While I would never wish anything bad on you, I do pray that your days will be filled with changes and challenges, that you will respond in faith and obedience, and that you will receive the Lord's blessings in ways you could never even begin to imagine!

With Love and Prayers!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not my will, but Yours be done!

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

That sure looks good at the top of a blog page, doesn't it? But how easy it can be to forget that promise and get wrapped up in our own desires, goals, and preferences... at least for me. It's been no secret to those around me that God has called me to make A LOT of changes in my life over the last several months. While I have been excited about those changes and eager to be obedient to the callings of God, I must also confess that I have struggled with the growing pains involved with making those changes.

Obedience starts with having a heart that says "yes" to God... but it doesn't end there. To be truly surrendered means turning everything over to God, in every area of our life. I've realized that there have been certain areas of my life that I have kept "protected" from the control of God. Not consciously, mind you. But there are things that I have conveniently overlooked, tolerated, or made excuses about that really come down to a matter of surrender. And surrender cannot be a one-time decision... it is a decision that must be made daily - and really, throughout every minute of every day.

Maybe that is where the challenge for me lies? Consistency! Eating right, exercising, working on my marriage and supporting my husband, being a patient and attentive parent, putting Bible study and prayer first in my days, etc. etc. etc.... All of those things are not too difficult short-term, but seem to become a challenge over a long period of time.

Sometimes, too, I think that I allow fear that I might fail God stand in the way of giving God total control of my life and walking the path that He lays before me. But then I'm reminded that, yes there will definitely be times that I fail God and my heart my wander away from Him, but He will never fail me. It is at those times (like in the last several days!) that I am completely overwhelmed by God's love and His never-ending pursuit of me!

At times, I feel as though I have some sort of "spiritual schizophrenia"! If you ever listen to Contemporary Christian Music, you've probably heard the song, "Two Hands" by Jars of Clay (if not, check out the playlist below, song #3). The chorus of that song says, "I use one hand to pull You closer, the other to push You away; if I had two hands doing the same thing, lifted high, lifted high." I want so desperately to be obedient and to be in close fellowship with Jesus; but at the same time, I find myself pushing away the One who loves me the most and wants to bless me in ways I can' t even imagine.

Following Christ and surrendering your will to His is not always easy and it may even feel like a sacrifice (Is that not ridiculous to think that WE are the ones sacrificing?!). Quite often, doing so creates a feeling of chaos within our human souls. But at the same time, striving to be in the center of God's will - no matter how challenging it may seem at times - also brings with it a feeling of blessing, joy, completeness, and peace.

So... where does that leave me (and you)? I believe we must begin by making a point to surrender everything to Him first thing every morning and throughout our entire day. And we must be willing to ask God for the help that only He can provide. And those two things must be done in that order... God is waiting for a heart that is surrendered and ready to obey before He speaks.

I am so grateful for the many ways that God faithfully calls me back to obedience, and for the wonderful people that He has put in my life to help keep me on track! That may have to be a blog entry of its' own for another day!

My prayer for you today is that you will realize that you have a God so strong to hold you, a God so smart to guide you, a God so all-knowing to teach you, and a God so powerful to control your future... and that you will stand on His strength instead of your own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The wise person values the Giver more than the gifts!

It's easy to be grateful for the "good" gifts in our lives. However, some gifts come disguised as challenges and heartaches. But no matter what our day may hold, that very day is a gift from God. And the greatest gift of all is the presence of God in our lives - no matter where we are or what we are doing!
  • First, though, we must take the time to accept the gifts that we are given.
  • Next, we must give thanks to the Giver of all good gifts.
  • Then, we must show our appreciation by using the gifts we're given for the glory of God.
God is good - all the time! All the time - God is good!

What gifts have you been given today? Have you taken the time to give thanks to the Giver? How are you using those gifts to glorify God through your life today?

I hope you have a heart of gratitude today (and here's a hint... you can create a heart of gratitude even if you don't always feel it simply by asking yourself, "What five things am I most grateful for today?", or "Who are the five people who love me the most?" or "What are my greatest strengths or talents, and how can I use them to benefit others today?"). I'm afraid I don't always take the time to acknowledge and give thanks as I should, but I am so grateful for the gifts in my life. What an amazing God we serve who continues to give, even when we don't recognize or willingly accept His gifts! I pray that the Lord will always find me (and you!) worthy of His gifts - especially the gifts that come disguised as challenges, because those are the gifts that seem to bring us even closer to Him.

If you're reading this, you too are a gift in my life! Have a blessed day!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Wow! I cannot believe how quickly this summer is flying by! It seems like just the other day that the kids were getting out of school, and now there's just over a month until they go back to school. Anyway, I guess I've just been feeling the need to kind of "dump" some of what's been going on and what's been on my mind.

When the summer first started, we didn't have anything on the calendar, but it quickly filled up! Let's see... we had a church sports camp (I worked, and my five year old, Kevin, attended); Kevin also went to a multi-sport camp with soccer, basketball, and baseball; Kevin has been playing on his first t-ball team (very cute, if I do say so myself!); my almost 17 year old son, Walter, has been having cross country practices every morning and weight trainings or other practices in the evenings; Walter has also been doing work to prepare to complete his Eagle project for Boy Scouts (he has finally decided on a project to fill in all of the cracks and holes in the church driveways and parking lots - a pretty big job, but I'm glad he picked a challenging project to earn his Eagle rank); my daughter, Kelly, has been home this summer from college, and is working almost full-time at a Christian day care; she loves her job, and has taken a particular interest in a little girl at the day care who does not have the best of home situations (she spent the weekend with us last weekend); Kelly has also been taking an English course two nights a week in order to make up for some credits that she lost by transferring colleges; our entire family all went to Hershey Park for a few days this past week (Kevin was a daredevil on all of the rides - he even rode the Super Dooper Looper roller coaster twice- a feat that his older brother and sister didn't tackle until they were 16!); my husband, Jeff, and Kevin and I will be going to my in-laws' house in North Carolina this Friday (however, Jeff will be leaving us Sunday through Friday to go to Texas for work) and we will be returning on the 3rd of August; Walter is going to cross country camp the 26th-29th of July; he will then be going to National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) in New Mexico from 31 July - 8 August; Walter's 17th birthday is August 10th; Kelly will be staying home through all of our travels (she needs to work and earn some money!); Walter had his "official" senior pictures taken (the ones for the yearbook) and he will be having his other senior pictures taken when he returns from New Mexico; and I'm sure there will be even more going on before the summer actually comes to an end! Just as the summer is flying by, the kids are growing up so quickly - I'm afraid that the family trip we took to Hershey Park could be one of the last trips we will be able to take with our entire family together (although we did tell Kelly and Walter that when Kevin is their age, they could very well be taking their own kids to amusement parks with Kevin! - Kelly will be 32 and Walter will be 30 when Kevin graduates from high school!).

Besides being busy, the summer has been a great time of growing in my relationship with the Lord, and witnessing the many ways that He is working in our lives! It has been so exciting to me to see how God works in all of the smallest details of our lives.

The church sports camp was one of the first venues to see how awesome our God really is. There were so many ways that we saw Him work.... First of all, we went from having 70 kids registered on the Saturday before the camp started, to having 95 show up on Monday morning! This was my first experience working this particular camp, and I think I learned as much that week as the kids did. I saw attacks from the enemy try to derail workers with everything from plain old discouragement to flat tires - and I saw God overcome every one of those attempts! Personally, I experienced the Holy Spirit first hand in many ways; one of the main areas that He showed up every single day was during the coach's time with the kids. We, as coaches, were to share a personal story every day that related to the lesson of the day. No matter how much I thought about it in the days before, I never had a story going in to that day's coach's meeting - but miraculously, literally less than five minutes prior to that session each day, the Holy Spirit brought just the right story to my mind and helped me convey that story to the kids in my group. The day we were to present the Gospel to the children, it was obvious that the evil one was alive and active throughout the entire day. Not only were there a lot more challenges and minor injuries throughout the day, but the kids were just a lot more distracted and fidgety that day. But guess what? The evil one is no match for our God, and He not only overcame the challenges of the day, but He turned each and every one of those for good! A particularly exciting highlight for me during the week was hearing my five year old tell me the specifics of the day that he had accepted Jesus! Being fairly new in my own spiritual journey with Jesus, I wasn't quite sure how to know if my son was old enough to understand what it meant to accept Jesus as his personal Savior. I thought he understood, he gives of himself quite often in amazing ways, and we pray together often (many times it is Kevin who reminds us that we need to pray about a situation when our "adult" minds are busy trying to deal with things in our own strength!), and I thought there was a time that he consciously accepted Jesus, but I really wasn't sure if that was real or just a mother's hope for her son. The day the children heard the Gospel, though, Kevin told me that he "didn't need to say that prayer at the end because he had already done that before" - and then he proceeded to tell me about the details of the day that he had done that, probably about six months prior (I remembered the time he was talking about, and it was actually months earlier than the time I was thinking of!). Not only did he know that he had said that prayer to confess that he was a sinner and that he needed Jesus to come into his heart, but he remembered all of the details about that glorious moment in his still young life! What more could a parent ask for?!

I also began my first course in the Ministerial Study Program (MSP) that I am taking. It has been very demanding and way out of my comfort zone, and at times I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to handle it (to be honest, there are still times I feel that way!). But I had a "revelation" a few weeks ago: This is not something I can do while multi-tasking other things or with the TV on and the family busy around me - I have to be alone, begin with prayer, and rely on the Holy Spirit to help me understand what I am reading and complete the assignments before me - DUH! Once I realized that I need to be in mindset of prayer with my heart open to really hear, the course became much more doable, and much more exciting. It is still very challenging and involves a lot of work, but I am moving forward, and I know that I am moving in the direction that God has laid before me. It's funny... the course I'm taking is an Inductive Bible Study course, and during any one session, it's not unusual for me to go from not having a clue how I am supposed to answer a question to being completely overwhelmed with pure joy and enthusiasm for God's Word! I'm ashamed to say it, but I have never in my life had such a passion for studying the Word of God and wanting to share those words and that passion with others. Obviously, I have a very long road ahead of me and I have only begun to scratch the surface of my courses. But God is using every inch of the road along the way for His glory, and I am blessed to be witnessing and experiencing that.

I never cease to be amazed at God's perfect timing, and how He can take what He is doing in one person's life and interweave that with what He is doing in someone else's life! Several months ago, the Lord put a burden in my heart to begin a prayer ministry for the pastors of our church. Now, I'll be honest, I tried to put that idea out of my head, thinking that I really was not the "right" person to be starting something like this. As usual, God won, and this past week I finally got in touch with our lead pastor about starting this ministry. Not only was he appreciative of the idea and supportive of me going ahead with the program, but it "just so happened" to coincide with the message that he was preaching today (and by the way, I later found out that our pastor planned out this sermon as part of a series he is preaching last December!). The topic of his sermon was how we all need to have intercessors in our lives that have our back and are mentioning our name in prayer, those who are going before God in prayer on our behalf. Do you think that God had His hand in all that was working in and around us, and "just so happened" to work it out so these two things came together at just the right time?! I did have to speak in both services to our church family about what we were beginning, but even through my nervousness I was able to see the Holy Spirit work and bring the right words to my lips at the right time (my husband asked me several times what I was going to say, and my answer was always that I had no idea, I was counting on the Lord to get me through it - I was looking forward to hearing what came out of my mouth!). We received great feedback from so many people who understand that our pastors are under a lot of pressure and who share the same desire for wanting to cover our pastors in prayer. I have to believe that if this group of committed Pastoral Prayer Partners is offering up focused prayers for our pastors, their support staff, and the church as a whole, that we are going to see God doing awesome and unbelievable things in our community through our church! Of course, that will only re-emphasize the importance of covering the pastors and church in prayer, because the more lives that are being changed, the more opposition we are all going to face. But God is faithful and God is good - all the time!

So needless to say, this has been a very busy, exciting, and blessed summer! Of course, there have also been some challenges that have surfaced and things that we still need to deal with, and I'll try and share some of those in a later post. But even in those times, God has made His presence known. Isn't it awesome that no matter where we are or what we are doing, no matter how many mistakes and wrong turns we make, God is always there to see us through and guide our steps if we will only seek His guidance and listen for His direction?!

This has been yet another very long post, probably filled with a lot of babbling; but like I've said before, this has been a great avenue for me to dump some of my thoughts and happenings, and kind of get to step back and see things from another side. From time to time, I hope that a word or two that I share will touch someone else and be helpful to them, particularly in their personal walk with the Lord. But that is out of my hands - I have no doubt that God will bring the right people to this page, at just the right time in their life, to give them a hope for what is yet to come.

I hope that your summer has been filled with blessings - or more accurately, I hope that you are stopping to appreciate all of the blessings that have come your way this summer! No matter what the situation, the Lord is showering us with blessings. If we are not seeing them, we need to ask ourselves - and ask God - why not; then listen for the answer and be obedient to taking the next steps in faith, whether they seem to make sense to us or not. Remember, the purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to allow the will of God to take over our life, and fill our hearts with love and peace with whatever the answer may be.

My God bless you and your family, and may you continually seek to know and stay in the center of God's will for your life!

With friendship, prayers, and love,