Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

One month ago, our lives took a detour. It was a beautiful May morning, perfect for getting out the Harley and taking a day ride. I took the day off work, we suited up and headed down the driveway. Five minutes later we were sideswiped by a car changing lanes, slammed up against the guardrail, dragged the length of a bridge, and finally came to a stop-both of us seriously injured but alive.

We were ambulanced to a local hospital. I was then airlifted to a trauma hospital 300 miles away, had a six and one half hour surgery, and spent five days there before returning home. My spouse was treated locally. We are facing a long year of recovery but we are grateful God isn’t done with us yet. My next few posts may be short but I want to share some of the amazing ways God has come through for us.

You never know when something you read will come in handy. Years ago I read an article on motorcycle accidents that pointed out your chances are much better for survival if you can keep the bike upright. So, ever since, I have repeated the same simple prayer every time we mount up and head down the driveway. Nothing literary, theological, or complicated. Just four simple words, “Lord, keep us upright.”

We would not have survived the accident if our bike had gone down. We’d have been thrown into freeway traffic moving 60 to 70 miles an hour. But, by the grace of God and the sheer determination of my husband, he was able to keep the bike up after the car disengaged and bring it to a stop leaning against the guardrail.

I won’t go over the details here of what followed because it was traumatic and extremely painful. What I want to emphasize is the power of a simple prayer.

Often times we feel we have to be eloquent, detailed, super-spiritual and long when we pray. We forget God already knows what we need. In this situation, God did exactly what I asked. I know there is purpose in pain and hardship and that God’s people are not guaranteed a struggle free life. I also know there is still purpose for my life and my spouse’s life because of God’s response to my simple prayer. He kept us upright and as we battle through the next few months I will never lose sight of His faithfulness in that.

In Matthew 15:25, a Canaanite woman prayed a simple prayer.” Lord, help me.” And Jesus rewarded her for her faith by healing her daughter.

In Acts 7:59, Stephen prays,” Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Stephen, facing death, did not beg for mercy or healing or that his life would be spared. His simple prayer was to be welcomed into the kingdom and he was.

Luke 18:13 is the perfect example of a simple prayer. Jesus points out that the eloquence of the Pharisee has little merit. But the prayer from the humble heart of the tax collector, “Lord, have mercy on me”, God heard.

What is your simple prayer today? Here are some suggestions:

  • let me reflect Jesus
  • walk with my children
  • show me your glory
  • soften my heart
  • strengthen my walk
  • deepen my faith
  • make me like you, Jesus

Speak your simple prayer and spend your day watching for answers. Small prayers results in big answers. I know.

Read Full Post »

A quick pre-cursor to this post: my husband and I are recovering from a serious motorcycle accident. I am not quite ready to post about it yet but we are praising God for our life. I am typing one handed and under the influence of pain meds so bear with me. This post was started before the accident and is still pertinent so here goes.

The school shooting in Texas has consumed the news and social media. A horrible tragedy initially that is re-run and re-run until our minds are consumed by it. It causes us to concentrate on the moment of evil and blocks out anything God would offer to help process through the incident.

It’s easy to see evil and turn angry eyes to God for blame. It takes great faith to see evil and turn pleading eyes to Him for healing. The first reaction leaves satan an innocent bystander. The second reaction puts satan right where he deserves to be – the guilty party – giving God an opportunity to be the compassionate, loving and powerful Being He is.

Satan may have the power to hurt and destroy. But he will never have the power to bring people together in love and mercy toward each other. Only God can do that.

Evil exists. Horrible things happen because we live in a broken, sin-filled, dysfunctional world. Society has created a disregard for human life when it cries out for things outside of God’s design, like the right to abort babies or genocide or any number of things being pushed by the world today that stir up hatred and rage. Disregard for human life leaves a troubled heart open to evil influence. And a school shooting happens. Road rage happens. Domestic violence happens.

Our best response after we recover from the shock of an evil event is to pray God into the midst of the tragedy. Let Him do His part. Our part is to love more, respect people more, reach out more. We need to become more aware of the hurting and damaged hearts around us. As hard as satan is working to hurt and destroy, we need to work that much harder to heal and build up.

Every Christian knows this world will be troubled (John 16:33). And every Christian also knows we are the solution, spreading the fragrance of Jesus in a smelly world. (Eph 5:1-2)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in Hs wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

,

Read Full Post »

I did something very courageous this week – I submitted a proposal to Leafwood Publishers. I’ve been working on the book for two years. Pushing that submit button was like putting my heart and soul on an airplane and sending it off into the unknown.

There is a lot to preparing a book proposal. In fact, for this one, there were more than ten sections that needed to be filled out carefully and thoughtfully before even inserting the sample chapters for review. Much of the preliminary work had do do with social media – what was my platform, how many followers, how do I publicize my work, how will I market my book if it gets published, and so on.

All of that was daunting. I’m not a tech nerd. I really just dabble in the social media stuff. In fact, I struggled just figuring out how to see how many followers I have. Once I did I realized I don’t have a crowd of followers and I almost quit. But as I prayed over whether to keep going I discovered something.

I don’t have a crowd, I have a precious circle. I shared the first chapter of the book with my circle for feedback and it was heart lifting. Here is what I discovered – the thrill of having a book published will never come close to the joy of touching the heart of one sister in Christ. To get the feedback from this small circle of women and know that the writing touched them, felt personal to them, spoke to them and helped them in a time of hurt or brokenness is the greatest compliment I could ever hope to receive.

I don’t write to get famous. I write because God puts things on my heart to share. He wants to use my gift for His glory and there is no greater privilege or purpose.

I’m glad I put my book out there for the publisher to consider. It took courage and commitment. But I’m at peace with however God wants my words circulated – be it to my small circle or a wider audience. If one woman’s heart starts healing because of what I’ve shared, it is enough.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t help for you to “like”, “share” and especially “follow” my page, ladies. If nothing else, it would boost my confidence to see those stats grow a bit.

It’s kind of like pulling a scripture and sharing it with you. God gets a “like” and a “share” and hopefully a “follow” as a result.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26

May I continue to serve You, Lord, through the sharing of Your Word, and of the words You put on my heart. Amen

Read Full Post »

Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. This was the week Jesus completed the work He came to do. I can’t help but reflect on the path I will walk my last week on earth.

Will I willingly choose to go into a place where I know I will suffer but where I also know I can have great impact? Jesus did. He entered Jerusalem fully knowing the crowd that welcomed Him would soon turn against Him. Hatred would soon permeate the air, and in the midst of that Jesus would perform the greatest act of love in history.

Will I take to time to stand up for what is right, for what matters? Jesus did. He entered the Temple and saw unrighteousness happening in that holy place. He took a stand that was unpopular and added more reason for the religious leaders to despise Him. He did it anyway because the honor of His Father was greater than any consequence.

Will I continue to witness and minister even when if I’m scorned and accused and questioned about my authority? Jesus did. He went back to the leaders who refused to accept Him and continued to teach them about the Messiah who was standing in their midst. He taught about love to those who hated. He warned about hypocrisy to the hypocrites. He cautioned, He predicted, He urged understanding. He used every minute He had left to make sure they understood His Father’s plan.

Will I make time for those most precious to me? Jesus did. He shared the Passover meal with His disciples and made memories they would need to carry on.

Will I make peace with my enemies? Jesus did. He gently and carefully washed the feet of His betrayer, Judas. He forgave before there was anything to forgive.

Will I accept what comes my way even if it’s unfair and cruel? Will I stay as close to my God as I possibly can? Will I speak healing words even as I face death? Jesus did. He prayed. He shared His agony with His disciples and let them see Him lay it all at His Father’s feet. He healed the soldier injured in the fight to capture Him.

Will I make sure my last words are ones that change the world? Jesus did. “Father forgive them …” Every heart in the crowd that witnessed His crucifixion witnessed His grace. The one who delivered the most brutal blows, the one who shouted angry words the loudest, the one who spit on Him – each received the same message – forgiveness.

To say the last week of Jesus was as glorious and impactful as the week of His birth is an understatement. I pray that I can set my soul on the same goal. Let me go out in a blaze of glory – doing what God has called me to do no matter how hard, unrewarding or painful. I long to hear my Master’s words:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

Read Full Post »

Funny how the minute March/April arrives the magazines on the newsstands start boasting articles titled – Organize Everything, or Spring Cleaning Is a Breeze.  There is just something about the promise of spring that makes us want to clear out the clutter of winter and breathe in the freshness of open spaces and tidy shelves.

The problem with spring cleaning is – you get into it, you are going gangbusters and then you come across something you forgot you’d kept, or something that brings up a flash from the past – and cleaning comes to a screeching halt. 

You look it over and you remember.  Might be a box of pictures and you have to sit down and thumb through them. Maybe it’s letters you kept and you find yourself reading them again. It could be a baby blanket or child’s artwork and you find yourself standing there with a tear in your eye, reliving a moment in the past.

Memory is a gift even though there are some things we’d prefer to forget – like hard times or mistakes we’ve made or times we’ve acted inappropriately and hurt someone we loved.   

I would imagine the disciples wished they could have forgotten the time they abandoned Christ in His hour of greatest need.  I guarantee that Peter would have loved to have lost forever the memory of denying his dear friend.  But if we remember only the good things – life would be shallow for us.

How could Mary Magdeline have truly embraced the miracle of complete cleansing if she had not first experienced the filth of her previous life?  How could Paul have recognized the miracle of his ministry had he not had a clear memory of his part in the persecution of those he now ached to reach for Christ?

The truth is we must never forget where we came from so that we can glory in where we are.

The story of Christ’s crucifixion, brutal and painful and horrible – that’s where we came from. 

The story of His resurrection – of rising from the ashes, of forgiveness and mercy and love – that’s where we are.

Our sin stood at the cross of Calvary, but our Savior stood in our place,

We were condemned, but He is the one who pled guilty,

We deserved punishment; He gave us a great reward. 

Soon, we will celebrate the exciting, triumphant memory of His resurrection.

 It will only have full meaning for us if we make ourselves dwell between now and then on the memory of his death. 

Open your Bibles this week and read again the tragic story of an innocent man climbing a hill called Calvary to suffer and die for those He loved.  Let yourself be sad and sorry.  Only then will you be in the right frame of mind to be jubilant and joyful on Easter Sunday.

Revelation 1:17b-18a: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and Last. I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever!”

Read Full Post »

Lifeway provided me with this picture book, The Marvelous Mud House by April Granley, for an honest review.

All I can say is Yes! This is the perfect time of year for gifting this book to a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other child who needs a Mud Housemessage on abundance.  Beautifully written, it is the story of the hungry household where there is a constant want for more and the contented family in the marvelous mud house. It’s about discovery and joy and looking beyond yourself to see a greater need.

Not only is the story well done, but I was captivated by the illustrations – rich colors and appealing designs.  Children will love discovering all of the interesting things on each page that point to the different cultures. And the song the mother and her son in Kenya sing declaring their great wealth (though they have little compared to the hungry household) is beautiful.

The ending is perfect.  “Two houses that night rang with laughter and dance, one marvelous mud house on a mountain, and one happy house on a ranch!” 

What a beautiful story to teach the value of fullness and joy.  I highly recommend this book be placed under every Christmas tree, in every church nursery and on every grandparent’s bookshelf.  It is sure to become a classic read.

Read Full Post »

As autumn sweeps over the valley I call home I can’t help but marvel at the beauty and wonder that in all actuality signals the death of summer and warns us that winter is just around the corner. I am a warm weather lover. I don’t shed my jacket until the air hits at least 75 degrees, 80 is better and 85 is perfect. I want to be out in it, inhaling sunshine. But as soon as that pre-winter chill hits, I’m the sit by the fire and read girl, a quilt over my legs and a hot beverage in my hand.

Still – autumn captures me. I love russet maples. I love the sight of trees that rain down gold and yellow. I love the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet and I smile when one lands lightly on my hair or floats past close enough to brush my cheek. Logically I know they are dying. But spiritually, I sense them dancing.

They have accomplished their mission in life, to bud and unfurl and shine lush green, giving shelter to birds and squirrels and frisky house cats. They have dressed the branches in a vibrant veil of life and given the breeze something to tickle. They’ve provided shade for the summer lover, a cool spot to sit and watch bees and butterflies do their thing.

And now that their virile days are over, they don’t go out without making a statement. Oh no – nothing quiet about their golden age. They transform. They get out their catchiest outfits, they wear red, they laugh in rusty tones, they twirl and float and settle soft.
They know the secret. They know that while others might see their purpose at an end, they have much more to offer. Children will love to jump and play in them, friends will enjoy walking through them, couples will grasp hands for warmth and share special moments taking in the beauty they add to the landscape.

Winter will come, snow will cover them until the world forgets they were ever there. But they will still be doing their work, mulching the earth to provide nourishment for the new growth that comes with the spring.

Never forget that like the leaves, God has a purpose and a plan for us at every age. Our mission is to listen, follow His leading, and embrace our value in our current season. Don’t lament the fertile green we once wore when you can dress in a ball gown of autumn colors. Don’t regret the day you find you must rest at the root of the tree when you can treasure the memory of the journey that brought you there and the rich heritage you leave for the new growth that is nourished by it.

“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” . Psalm 71:18

Read Full Post »

Lisa Harper’s book, The Sacrament of Happy, What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World, is aSacrifice fast but truly valuable read.

What I love about this book:  It’s not a textbook on how to be happy, it’s not a make-you-feel-guilty if you’re not happy book, and it’s not a super spiritual do this and you’ll be happy book. It’s practical, it’s amusing, it’s real. Sometimes life circumstances make us unhappy but happy isn’t about life circumstances. It’s about perspective.

I’m currently suffering through a few weeks of recovering from an injury that has me on crutches and – worst nightmare of all, unable to drive. This was the perfect book for me to review at this point in time.

Lisa opens with a chapter called Is Happy Even Holy? And – you’ll be happy to know it is. She points out that happy is “a covenant state of being for God’s people.” And then goes on to ask Is God Happy?

This was my favorite chapter because I’d never grasped before that a perfect God would have to be happy. And how that is proven in scripture when it says He takes great delight in us. A delighted God is a happy God.

Further on Lisa explains how we get happy, how we stay happy even in sad times, and how we regain happy when we’ve lost it. Some of her illustrations are eye opening, I never thought of that kinds of revelation. For instance, in her use of the Good Samaritan story in chapter four she points out that the priest, the very one who passed the injured Samaritan by, had probably been burning incense and offering sacrifices all week in pursuit of God’s guidance and favor.  Clearly God tells us how to be happy but so many times, like the priest, we walk right by the opportunity.

I loved her “momma, I lub your breasts” story and the reminder that God laughs (Ps 2:4a). I loved her emphasis on the outward expression of happy through dancing and arm waving.

Lisa ends this book with some great thoughts on cultivating happy by taking our thoughts captive and remembering it’s the pouring out of ourselves that bring the best return and builds the happiness that withstands the hard blows of life.

I highly recommend this book regardless of where you are on the happiness scale at the moment. If you are up, you’ll need the information contained between its pages to help you when you’re down.  And if you’re down, you will be inspired out of your dark place into a place of light where you can learn to laugh again.

I was provided a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

 

Read Full Post »

Best book I’ve read on what God’s mission for His people is and how we are to respond.

In the very first chapter the authors make clear what the mission of God is by Israel’s mission in the Testament, “to live its life in such a manner that people would want to be saved by their God”; the mission of Jesus, atonement certainly, but to show us a life to imitate in order to lead others to God; and our mission, “God intends for His people to make disciples of every nation including our own.”

The book is concise and to the point. It is broken down into small chapters that cover where I am called to go with my church, my neighborhood, the nations, my job and anywhere else.

I loved this statement in chapter one, “Our mission is upward, inward, backward, forward, and outward.”  Capturing people for God through His word along with gospel-motivated and gospel-centered actions is the basic theme. And each chapter ends with a fill in the blanks Call To Action.

I found the chapter on the church to be profound in it’s clarification of what church is and how to find a “real” church. And this:  “Today on planet Earth King Jesus is the head of a body that the Bible calls the church. It is truly an incredible organism animated and empowered by his Spirit. It has a mind that can think his thoughts and have his perspective. It has eyes that can see the needs of neighbors. It has ears that can hear the cries of the nations. It has a mouth that can proclaim the good news of the gospel. It has legs that can walk to the hurting. It has arms that can embrace those in pain. It has hands that can serve those in need. It has feet that can be blistered and backs that can be whipped, all for the sake of a King who did all of this for us and so much more. This body called the church makes Jesus Christ real to this world.”

I could go on and on with the thoughts and the quotes. But I will just say this – every church needs to order some of these and make them required reading for  at least the Board and the ministry leaders.

NOTE:  This book was received free of charge from B&H Publishing in return for an honest review.

 

 

Read Full Post »

bth_MarywithBabyJesus[1]It’s 4:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve and I never expected to be so heavy on this day with the things that are weighing on my heart. I’m not the only one I know. So many are facing much greater burdens and much greater life challenges. This season of joy and love and peace doesn’t always live up to it’s reputation, does it?

Well – actually it does. The TV specials are sparkly and white and soft and beautiful. We are led to believe that for Christmas to be Christmas we need the perfect outfit, the perfectly decorated tree, the perfectly wrapped gifts and the perfect loving family around the table. But today I’m realizing again that although the birth of Christ was the climax of that Bethlehem night, there are so many subtle lessons surrounding the momentous event.

Stress, worry, pain, shock, disappointment, confusion – all the things we live with today were in existence then. I would guess that a few sharp words may have been exchanged between Mary and Joseph along their journey, brought on by exhaustion and the weight of responsibility. Stress does that to us – brings out the irritation in our voice, the too quick answer, the sharp word.

I suspect that as Mary and Joseph made their way through the streets of the city on their way to the stable they fought crowds that had flooded the city. You can’t tell me the merchants didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to expand their line of products and overflow their streetside stalls. To purchase a simple meal Joseph would have had to stand in a long line, with impatient shoppers,  wailing children, tired, cranky clerks. Been there?

And as gentle as Mary appears in scripture, there is no way she didn’t crinkle her nose and give Joseph that “You’ve got to be kidding me” look when they entered the barn. Eating isn’t the only thing animals do in a barn, people!

God sent His Son in an ordinary way because He wanted ordinary people to be able to relate and accept this incredible gift. He wanted the poorest to know poverty doesn’t keep us from Him. He wanted the rich to know you must bow not buy your way to Him. He wanted the clean freaks to know even filth and unpleasant smells can’t keep Him away. He wanted the simple to know it’s not complicated, and the wise to know it doesn’t take a masters degree to find Him.

And the gifts – if you are anything like me, you have been wracking your brain, scouring the stores, scanning the internet trying to find the right one for each person on your list. I know Christmas isn’t about the gifts – but then again, it is. If I stopped shopping and tried to explain to my family from the 5 year old on up that I didn’t do gifts this year because Christmas is about the birth of Christ – I don’t think that would go over well. They know that but it doesn’t mean they are willing to give up gift giving.

So how can we take all of the not so wonderful things of Christmas and make them a part of the wonder, the miracle and the message? Here’s what I’m trying to do.

First, I’m taking my burdens, stress. irritations, frustrations and worry and I’m putting them in a gift box lined with prayer as tissue paper. I’m not skimping on the tissue paper either. I’m stuffing that box full until it pretty much overflows. Tissue paper is cheap. Prayer costs even less. 

Next, I’m putting the lid on that box because I know if I don’t I’ll be reaching in and taking those burdens out again and again to rearrange and ponder and carry them around for a while before putting them back. I’m taping the lid down so it won’t come off.

Then I’m pulling out the most beautiful wrapping paper I can find and covering that box with it because I want it to be visibly worthy of laying at the feet of Jesus. I want Him to know I’m serious about handing it over.

And the next thing I’m doing, after I walk away from the box, is pulling out every bit of kindness and gentleness and generosity I can find in my clothes closet and that’s the outfit I’m wearing today and tomorrow and hopefully beyond this weekend so I can bring the missing joy, peace and love to those around me.

Because I’m learning the lesson of Christmas.  God knows the pressure. He is aware of the demands on my time. He understands the things that make my heart heavy and my tears flow. But He set the Star of Bethlehem in the sky to show me the way to the Son of God in the manger and allow me to discover the truth of Christmas. 

It’s putting my trust in the Baby who became the Savior,

so I could travel from the Manger to the Cross,

and let Him come from Heaven to my Heart,

to make peace where there is none, to bring joy where there is sadness, and to give hope when things appear bleak. He gave Himself to me and I’m paying it forward.

Praying a beautiful Christmas for all of you.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: