Monday, January 30, 2012

Time for a Fill-Up?

"We ourselves must be full of life if we are going to make life fuller for others."
-David Sawyer

When was the last time you stopped for a fill-up? I'm not talking about your car, I'm talking about your soul. When did you last put down all of your obligations and responsibilities for just a little while and do something you love, just because you really needed to? 

It's important, you know, that balance of work and play. Productivity and pure pleasure. For me, I begin to lose perspective if I go too long without doing something creative just for the enjoyment of creating something new and pretty. It might not be something that anyone else would appreciate, but for me it is a tangible thing that grounds me a little, refreshes me, and lets me go back into the jungle of everyday life a little bit better equipped to do what needs to be done. 

It's not easy, and many times I get to that point only when I've pushed past my limit and just don't care anymore. That's not a good way to do it, trust me. It's so much better when I allow myself some down time without feeling guilty. 

My example for that is the ultimate authority on humans and our behavior. It is the creator of life and the one who, while in human form, took many documented breaks from the work he was doing. Some of us feel like what we do is just too important to let up at all, but Jesus had the most important job ever, and because his job was so earth-shaking, life-changing and important he took time for breaks so he could continue to do it well. 

The world looks at people who work 50, 60 or more hours a week and hails them as dedicated, loyal, and what makes companies successful. We must remember that Jesus does not think like the world. He understood the need to be away, to rest, to engage in something restorative on a regular basis. Can we do any less?

Think about your situation. Are you running on empty? Do you just go through the motions, productive on the outside but empty on the inside? You don't have to stay that way. Make it a matter of prayer. Ask God to help you have  a better understanding of balance and filling yourself up, and ask him to help yo figure out how to do that. 

There is nothing wrong with working hard or with working over-time for special occasions. We all have to bite the bullet sometimes, dig deep and just keep going. For a time. There is a time to put things down, walk away for a while and recharge. 

What we give to others comes from the well of our own spirits. If we let that well run dry we have nothing for others. There is a time to be selfish for just a little while. Do it before the well runs dry. 

This weekend I didn't write or work. I sewed and organized things, and I loved every minute of it. Not only do I enjoy the activities, but when I'm done, I have something to show for it that makes me feel even better. 

What will you do to recharge and refill? Do you have a secret for that? Share it with us. 

I am praying for you. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Refuge of Great Men

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming
conviction that I had nowhere else to go."
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, January 23, 2012

What God sees

Today I saw a video of a 10 year-old boy who was autistic and blind from birth, probably due to the drugs and alcohol used by his mother before he was born. Many people would see him as damaged beyond repair or use. We are a society that worships perfection.


As I watched this video I had several thoughts. First, we are all imperfect and while we may say we know that, we often don't have any idea how true that is, how far we have actually fallen from the true perfection of God's creation.

My second thought was this as I listened to him sing Open the Eyes of My Heart:  his precious little heart and mind will never be as distracted by the things of this world as my 'healthy' ones.

My third thought: how God's heart must burst open with love and pride and approval for the offering of praise of this little child!

If you would like to see this video I encourage you to click on this link: Open the Eyes of My Heart

Oh how I pray that God will make my heart like that of a little child. I pray that my offerings of praise will be as innocent and sweet and free of guile as the song of this child.

What do you offer God today?

I am praying for you.


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Prayer Position

W all do it. Whether we're in church or sitting around the dinner table, someone says, "let's pray" and we automatically assume the position: head bowed, eyes closed, and for some of us, hands joined with the person sitting next to us. The prayer position. In yoga this is often the position that ends a workout. It seems to connote peace and serenity, respect and reverence. All positive things.

Sometimes though we can get caught up in the outward trappings of prayer and miss the point, or miss the opportunity all together. Have you ever been faced with something and thought, I need to remember to pray about that? Why not go ahead and do it? Just pray right where you are?

Think about this: how many times a day do you check and/or update your Facebook page or your Twitter account? Now think about the kinds of things you write or read there. Anything life-changing or earth shattering? Most often not. Most of what we read on social networking sites is the small stuff that we do every day:
  • went to a movie
  • shot a deer
  • finished a workout
  • cheered for a football team
  • bought some new shoes
  • got a new haircut
The list can - and does - go on and on. Did you ever think about why we do this? What about texting? Are you as amazed as I am that so many people seem unable to even complete a single meal without checking their phones?

What if we talked to God like that every day? What if everything we talked and texted to others about we brought before God as well, and every thing else in our daily lives? Would we be different people? What do you think?

Would you say "I can't pray at work, I don't have time"? How many texts and personal phone calls do you get at work? Really? Be honest.

Here's a thought: praying in the car while driving is infinitely safer than texting. Just sayin'...

Here's another: God will never take something you tell him in a weak moment and use it against you to hurt or humiliate or punish you. You are completely safe with him.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray continually". That's it, the whole verse. Pray all the time. More than you use Facebook. More than you make calls on your cell. More than anything else. Pray.

We are drawn to social networking sites because we are complelled to share and connect with others, but also because we need to be heard. God waits to hear everything you have to say. Good and bad, big and little, happy and sad, triumphant victories and dismal failures. He waits for you. He wants to connect with you. He cares about every little thing in your life and loves it when you share. That's all prayer is - talking with God.

Don't make it harder than it has to be. The next time you share a picture on Facebook of a beautiful sunset, be sure to tell God how much you appreciate his handiwork.

Make a point of turning to God to share all through your day. It might feel a little strange at first, but soon it will be the best thing you do throughout you day.

What is your prayer position? Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whatever your thoughts or feelings. That is your prayer position. Try it. You won't want to quit.

Dear Father, I pray for each precious soul who reads this post. Reach right down into their hearts and place in them such a strong desire to share with you that they can't help but turn to you in conversation to share their joys and fears, plans and successes, failures and hurts. Help us all to be mindful of your presence with us, and to always remember that you seek us out every moment of every day just to love and bless us. Never stop doing that. We need you so much. In your name I pray. Amen.

When was the last time you just talked to God like he was your friend? Do it right now. There's no better time or place to start.

I am praying for you.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quiet Courage

Do you know someone who is facing a gut-wrenching life event and wonder how they keep going day after day?

Have you watched people fail at something - a job, a marriage, a friendship - and keep smiling and doing the things they need to do in spite of the hurt, embarassment and pain?

Do you feel small, helpless and hopeless sometimes when you consider your own situation?

Do you feel like quiting and walking away because you just can't do it anymore?

Do you feel like a weakling, a wimp, a coward because you just don't want to deal with IT anymore - it's just too hard?

Do you ever wish you could be courageous and strong?

Consider this thought from an annonymous writer:

"COURAGE isn't always a lion's roar.

It is sometimes the heart at the end of a day saying,
'I will try again tomorrow.'"

That's really what it is, isn't it? Sometimes just getting up and starting another day when yesterday was so bad takes more courage than we ever thought we had or would ever need.

Romans 5:3-5 says:
"...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has
poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us."

Isaiah 40:29,31:

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak...
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will
soar on wings like eagles,
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

Over and over the Psalms promise that God is our refuge and strength. That day that you survived with no clue how you kept going? That was God's strength in you, holding you up.

Sometimes courage is simply being willing to give it your best, when your best is nothing. Do you feel worthless and like the biggest liability to walk the earth? Are you willing to try again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow until God makes it right?

There is purpose is our weakness and in our failures if we have the courage to look. God is always teaching and correcting and refining us because he loves us. Are you willing to let him do that for you?

He is enough. His grace is sufficient. His love is unconditional. His promises are true. Trust him and try again tomorrow. He will be faithful to you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

T-Shirts, Philosophers, and Scripture

I love getting junk catalogues and looking through them at all the things I wish I'd invented and marketed - you know all those things that are completely ridiculous that people buy by the truckloads, making their inventers rich? My favorite section is the T-shirt section. I love reading the sayings on the shirts.

While I wouldn't be caught dead in public wearing some of them, others are so clever that I am compelled to write down the words. One, however, I actually had to have. Believe it or not, it summed up how I feel about my spiritual walk with God. Who knew?! I ordered it and am considering framing it and hangin it in my office as a reminder and an inspiration. Here's what it says:

"Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning
the Devil says Oh crap she's up!"

I don't know about you, but I love that! It sounds like a woman who is strong in her faith and in her God. It sounds like a woman prepared for battle who has fought and won many times. It sounds like a woman who is not afraid because she knows the battle is not hers but Jehovah's. Yes. She sounds like my role model - the way I want to be.

As I thought about that, some other famous quotes came to mind that have a similar theme. Here, from the English philosopher Edmund Burke:

"All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good (wo)men do nothing."

Have you ever seen something bad unfold and thought, "why doesn't someone do something?" How many bad things happen because the perpetrator know that no one will bother - or risk - doing something? As Christians we know the battle against evil has been won already. The outcome cannot be changed and we know who the victor is. In the meantime, we know that we are called to fight against evil until the Lord comes back. In otherwords, God never said, "I got this, ya'll just go on and have a good time. Don't worry about all this bad stuff going on."

Now from scripture. What does God say about the Devil and his fighting skills? 
  • he's looking for a victim - 1 Peter 5:8
  • he's a liar  - John 8:44
  • he's a wimp - all we have to do is resist him and he will flee  - James 4:7
I love the picture of that. Satan fleeing from me! If he's scared of me he can't be all that big and bad! Webster's defines the word flee this way: "to escape as from danger"

To quote Grady Nutt, "put this all in one pile of putty and think with me":
  • the devil attacks
  • I resist: I do this by...
  • using the armor of God which is faith, scripture, my salvation, the righteousness of God in me...  see Ephesians 6:10-18
  • that unleashes the power of God in me which...
  • scares the Devil to death and he flees, runs away like a scared little girl, because he knows...

"...the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."
1 John 4:4

Amazing, isn't it? The Devil scared of little 'ol us! Don't ever be fooled. He's not scared of us at all. He is powerless before the One who lives in us and is working his will in us. How do we resist the Devil? Speak God's name. Call on his promises. Speak them out loud and turn from the Devil to God. Don't give him an opportunity to worm his way in. Put on your spiritual armor and give God free reign to fight your battles. When the Devil sees us clothed in the full armor of God and standing strong in His spirit, then we can truly make him say every morning... "oh crap, she's up!"

Don't know about you, but I want to be that woman!

Pretty good philosophy from a t-shirt, huh? What do you think?

I am praying for you.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Speak it out loud!

"Whoever acknowledges me before men,
I will acknowledge him before my Father
in heaven."
Matthew 10:32

Last week I was in a local hospital seeing a patient and got on an elevator with a man in scrubs, whom I assumed to be a doctor. It was a short ride, only one floor up, but something made me speak to the man. I asked if he was having a good day. His reply...

"Every day is good when you have Jesus!"

I was so struck by the ease with which he said that, not knowing anything about me at all. I could have responded with disdain and mockery, or just politely agreed and then turned to face the wall, or I could have been someone angry and hurt enough to take issue with him right there in the elevator.

Instead I was able to agree wholeheartedly and enjoy a bond with a total stranger because of Jesus. What really struck me, though, was that that would never have been my response to that question. Not because it's not true, but because... well, I'm still trying to figure that out.

I don't believe I have to say that or something like that to be an effective witness, but what a witness it is to simply acknowledge that life is good with Jesus!

It made me think of the scripture written above. It this what God means by acknowledging him before men? Should we as Christians, in a world awash with every imaginable mess of men, be so at ease with this simple testimony? I think the answer to that question is 'yes'.

The world is looking for answers, and for the most part they're looking in all the wrong places. What if each of us, with the simple testimony of "every day is good when you have Jesus", presented an open door for a seeker to ask questions, to sit and listen to the gospel and what Jesus means to us? What if we all did that every day?

What if we said it even on those days when everything was falling apart? What if we said when:
  • the car breaks down
  • we lose our jobs
  • our spouse or child gets sick
  • we don't feel good
  • we're frustrated
  • someone hurts our feelings
I don't mean say it like some people say "praise the Lord", as a habit instead of an offering. But what if someone asks how we can say that on such a bad day and we can tell them why?

Is every day for you a good one because you have Jesus? Have you told someone today?

I want to be one of those people so excited and comfortable with my faith that I can say that and say it from my heart. How about you?

Have a blessed day today because Jesus lives! I am praying for you.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Armed & Ready and not Without Hope and Help

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons
of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power
arguements and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every
thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV, emphasis mine)

The purpose of fasting is to help us refocus on God and seek him in a deeper way. Anytime we have an encounter with him whether in scripture reading or prayer, or when we obey his directive during the day, we are changed. You can't meet God and not be.

This can be an uplifting experience, a 'spiritual high', and we can 'feel' so good about where we are in our spiritual walk. Those are really great days and we should enjoy them because...

The other days are not so easy. Sometimes our encounters with God reflect things in our lives that need to be changed. Those things can sometimes be obvious: cheating on tests or taxes, having a bad attitude and letting it spill over into our family or work place, poor stewardship, not tithing, etc...

The list can go on and on, but sometimes what needs to change is not so obvious and as God begins to reveal it to us we struggle. There may be a habit that we are so comfortable with that we don't recognize it for what it is - sin. There may be motivations or dreams or plans that while not bad, are not God's plan for us, yet that is where we spend our energy. It may be a practice or mindset that is not godly. Something that no one knows about. No one but God.

Dealing with those issues is hard. No way around it. As bad as withdrawal from sugar and caffeine can be when you start a fast, letting go of some other things can be infinitely more painful.

We are not without help for these battles. Read the verses at the top again. What weapons are they talking about?
  • the armor of God - Read Ephesians 6: 10-18
  • the Spirit of God who prays for us - Romans 8:26-27
  • the promise that God is always with us - Matthew 28:20b
  • the promise that God is greater than anything - 1 John 4:4
So many other promises that God gives us! What others would you add to the list?

Whether you are fasting or not, if you are a Christian, these weapons of spiritual warfare are at your disposal. Pray, seek God, trust him to know what needs to be changed to make you more like him.

Most of all, don't be afraid of the struggle. It is not a sign of weakness or of separation from God, but rather an indicator that God is present and doing battle for you every moment of every day.

As you begin today, don't do it as someone who has no hope and no protection. Both are there in full measure for you. Praise God for the fight, and ask him to strengthen you through it.

You will never be the same, and isn't that really the whole point?

I am praying for you.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ministry Project Update

Coming Soon...

Jackson County Community Emergency Shelters

The shelter work group has been hard at work over the past few weeks making plans, finalizing policies and recruiting support for the emergency shelters. Plans are underway for both a men's and a women's shelter. 

The board is in place and we are seeking interested individuals from Jackson County to act as advisory members. We will begin publicizing soon so watch for more details in the local papers and in the news. 

Right now we are looking for two mobile homes and the furnishings, and a van to use for transport. We are also talking with various agencies about partnering with us to provide services to individuals who will be sheltered with the goal of restoration to family and/or a self-supported life. 

Keep the date of January 26th in your prayers. On that day volunteers from Bay and Jackson Counties will be taking a count of the homeless individuals in our area. This information will let us know how many people need help and where they are located. If you would like to be a part of this count please contact me at as soon as possible. 

The definition of a homeless person is:

A person sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation or in an emergency shelter, or in transitional housing.

Do you know how many people like that are in Jackson County? I don't, but we will find out on January 26th.

Until then, please continue to pray for this ministry and for each person we will contact on the 26th. Pray for God's provision for the shelter and for his favor with agencies in the community. There are people who deny that there are homeless individuals in Jackson County. Pray that God will open their eyes and soften their hearts. Pray that we can come together as a community to wipe out homelessness in Jackson County.

Thanks for stopping by today. Leave a comment and tell me what you think about this issue.

I am praying for you.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Audience of ONE

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men...
It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Colossians 3:23, 24b

This directive goes so much deeper than it looks at first glance. I always tended to think that this was a mind-set, how I thought about my work. I've come to see it a little differently now and now I have some work to do.

As part of my prayer time and meditation during this fast I am looking at the things that take up my time and energy. Rather, I am letting God take a look at them.


I've told him that I am willing for him to take whatever is there that doesn't need to be. That's a little scary. There is nothing on my agenda for any given day that is illegal, immoral, unethical or otherwise unsavory or wrong. It's all normal, good stuff:
  • work
  • volunteering
  • writing
  • home
Hard to find fault in that list, but what if, as the sign says, I'm so busy doing good things that I can't do the excellent ones, the ones that will really matter?

So my task for these three weeks is to let God get all up in my business and sort some things out. He's been waiting to do this and I have a mental picture of a mad scientist in a basement somewhere rubbing his hands together with glee as he anticipates getting his hands on my agenda.

Now I don't mean any disrespect by that, but I do know that God is pleased when we allow him free reign in our lives. I know he waits patiently and draws us to him every second of every day. He directs every moment of our lives, all with the purpose of furthering his plan and making us more like him.

In the end, that is what I want. It is scary, though. As I look at my list I am reminded of those people on shows like Clean House. They know they have a problem - too much stuff. They call in the experts for help. Then they greedily, selfishly, emotionally hold on to all the stuff that was creating the problem in the first place. If I were the host of that show, going in to help people, I would just walk away and leave them to their disfunction. I have no tolerance for that.

Thank God he is not like that. He is always working on us, no matter how stubborn we are, not matter how much junk he has to wade through. He always sees the beauty of the finished project and wants us to see it too.

In some ways this will be a lifelong endeavor. It is a spiritual discipline that I have not exercised much. If I am to truly do everything as unto the Lord, then I must work on his agenda and not my own. So here's what I will do:
  • ask God to help me
  • list everything that I do - separately
  • ask God to help me
  • take each thing, one at a time before God
  • ask God to help me
  • offer each thing to him
  • tell him I am willing to give it up if that is what he wants
  • ask God to help me
  • make no assumptions about anything on the list
  • make whatever adjustments I need to
  • thank him for sorting out the things in my life and for clarifying what needs to be there and what doesn't
I didn't forget that I had already listed asking for his help. I just know that if I really do this it will take strength that I do not possess. I have fears about what he may ask me to put down and walk away from. Can I do it? Will I do it?

More than the fear, I have trust in the One who has called me to serve him. His agenda is and always will be, so much better than mine. I do want to do everything as if I am doing it for him. It's time to cut out the weeds and let the Master Gardner do some pruning.

Your turn: Have you every offered something to God that you were afraid he would take away when you desperately wanted to keep it? What happened?

Thank you for visiting today. I am praying for you.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Meeting God just as I am.

Today starts my 2012 January fast. It feels different from last year when I felt like I had prepared and gotten myself to a good place, spiritually, to begin a fast. Even as I write that sentence I'm noticing something right away.

First, I used the words 'feels' and 'felt'.

Second, I said 'gotten myself to a good place, spiritually'.

It was a wonderful experience, but I'm amazed at how easy it is to slip into the practice of wanting to 'feel' right, and wanting to do something for myself. I do believe in praying and getting in the word to prepare, but if I'm not careful I can make myself totally responsible for the outcome - and that's not good.

One of the insights that I gained from my fast last year is that it really isn't about me or my feelings. Now I've known that for a long time - in my head. I never really lived that way, though. I would let feelings of frustration or anger or disappointment make me 'feel' far away from God. Not worthy. Without the right to pray.

How happy did that make the devil?!!

I started praying anyway - just laying it all out before God, and you know what happened? Prayers were answered, I could feel angry or frustrated and still know that God was close and working. It was such an amazingly simple thing!

Fast forward to 2012. I'm not 'feeling' the fast thing. Not like I did last year and it is a little disheartening until I remember that God is not at the mercy of my feelings -good or bad.

Just like he is not far away when I feel frustrated or lonely he is also not closer just because I'm feeling that 'spiritual high'.

He is who he is. Yesterday, today, and forever. I'm so glad to have that assurance deep in my heart, because any god that can be bounced around by my emotions and thoughts, or pushed away because I'm struggling is NOT a big enough god for me.

I need someone who never changes, who holds me to him when I run and seek, who gets right into the middle of my mess and never gets confused by it. I have that in the God of scripture. Jehovah. My Savior, Comforter, Teacher, Equipper, Friend.

This is the God I will be seeking as I fast. I will come to Him just as I am. He knows me better than I know myself, and He sees through all my attempts to put my pretty church clothes on before I come to Him.

If I can make myself presentable to God all on my own, then what do I really need him for? My purpose in fasting again this year is to meet Him and know Him in a deeper way. I want to seek guidance for the coming year:
  • what he wants me to do
  • how I can become more like him
  • what I need to change
  • how I can be his light in the mission field where he has placed me
  • what I need to let him get hold of and change
  • what I need to walk away from
  • how I can praise and worship him better
I'm not sure I've ever really come to Him that honestly. I've tried, and maybe I will do it a little better this time - with his help and by his Spirit.

Any encounter with Him is life-changing. That is what I want. Next year at this time, I want to be able to read through my journal and see the hand of God working in my life. I want to experience it everyday this year.

Your turn: How do you want to meet God today? What are you waiting for? Leave a comment below and share your journey.

I am praying for you today.


Monday, January 2, 2012


A day late, but I hope you've had a great start to 2012. I will not be blogging this week. I'm going to use the time to prepare to fast, which I will start next Monday, January 9. 

I have some interesting things on my New Year's goals list this year that I'll be sharing with you. I hope you will share your list with me sometime. 

If you have today off from work as I do , I hope you will enjoy it. I plan to! I'll be back next Monday and hope you join me. Have a great week.