Thursday, October 2, 2014

Patience is More than a Virtue

Several years ago, my son went to the same school as one of my coworker’s kids. Our desks were literally right next to each other and our kids went to the same school. The afternoons were intriguing to me as a certain phenomenon would happen over and over again. Here’s how the afternoons would go.

Quittin’ time!! We both would walk out to our cars together and we both would pull out of the parking lot one behind the other. She would speed down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, at times getting far enough ahead of me that I couldn’t see her anymore. I would choose the lane I wanted to be in and stay there.

It never failed! Nearly every day we would end up turning into the parking lot of the school one behind the other, exactly how we left the parking lot at work. No matter how fast she weaved in and out of traffic, it didn’t get her to the school any faster.

I know that we live in a fast paced world. Everything is instant gratification and even that isn’t fast enough. We are always looking for the newest and greatest inventions to make our lives easier. Most of the time, when we say that, we mean that we want something that will get the job done faster.

Why are we so focused on speed? Why is faster better? Why is waiting and patience so difficult for us? Why do we insist on finding a quick fix for our problems?

The truth is, God often asks us to wait, to be patient, to endure until His perfect timing comes. In fact there are countless lessons in scripture that show us that God rewards those who patiently wait for the fulfillment of His promises. There are just as many lessons that show us how impatience leads to disaster and disappointment.

Take Abraham and Sarah for example. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, yet he had no children. Instead of waiting on God to fulfill His promise, they took it upon themselves to find a way (without God) to have a son. This son that Abraham had with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and not with Sarah, was Abraham’s son, but he wasn’t God’s promise fulfilled. It was a human solution to a God promise and it neither fulfilled God’s promise nor did it create a happy healthy family environment. Sarah began resenting Hagar and it caused strife in their family.

Abraham and Sarah made poor choices because they focused on the waiting instead of the promise.

Now, let’s look at Jacob. Jacob had a dream and it was to marry Rachel!! The Bible says that Rachel was beautiful in every way and Jacob wanted her! He went to her father Laban and asked to marry Rachel. Laban agreed but only if Jacob worked for him for seven years first. Jacob agreed. Genesis 29:20 says:
“So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”
This tells me that Jacob was not focused on the waiting; he was focused on the promise!

Jacob spent his time working for Laban and although Laban tricked him into marrying Leah first, he did end up marrying Rachel as well. (If you don’t know the story, go read it in Genesis 29).

Where we put our focus matters, and it matters big!! If we spend our lives focusing on our problems instead of God’s promises to us, we are setting ourselves up for heartache. But if we focus on God’s promise to us, we can rest assured that He will fulfill it and we can live a much more peaceful life.

God is asking us to stop weaving in and out of traffic and speeding down the road. He wants us to slow down, stay in His lane, and keep our eyes on Him!

You see, we both made it to the school. It isn’t that I made it and she didn’t, but our journeys to get there were vastly different. Her journey was full of uncertainty and caused anxiety (especially for those cars around her). My journey was calm and peaceful.

Let’s choose the calm and peaceful journey. Let’s make up our minds now, that no matter what is coming our way, God’s way is the best way and He will never fail us. Let’s get in His lane and keep our eyes on Him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sheep or Goat?

We’ve all been there. We pull up at a stop light and there standing next to our car is someone holding up a cardboard sign, wanting money, just staring at us while we wait for the light to change so we can hurry up and get away! You know exactly what I’m talking about. I know you have been there!!

We ponder what we should do. Should I give them money or should I just drive off and act like I didn’t see them? I sadly must admit, I almost always drive away and act like I didn’t see them. I would venture to guess, I’m far from alone!

Monday, I was driving home from a quick out of town trip and I made a pit stop about half way home. There she was. A woman standing on the street in front of the gas station I stopped at, gas can sitting next to her and a sign in her hand. She was trying to get home and needed gas (at least that was her story)…

Isn’t that what we always say? “At least that was their story”, like we are sure that isn’t the truth of the situation.

I saw her, I noticed, I went on in to the gas station. As I did, I felt an overwhelming urge to give her some money. So, as I left the gas station, I looked at what I had. I had a $20 bill, a $5 bill, and two $1 bills. I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $2. Then the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. So I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $5. Again, the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. Sigh…

I thought for a minute and I said, Ok. I’m supposed to give her all of the cash I have left. So I headed toward her. I had no clue what to say (I am quite terrible in situations like that; I never know what to say).

I walked up to her and smiled at her. She was in quite a state. She was either a woman in her late 50’s or 60’s or she was just a woman who had lived a very hard life. She was filthy. I mean, black dirt covered, nasty, dirty, filthy!! She was extremely skinny, you could see her shoulder blades sticking out, and she had no teeth. My honest, gut feeling told me that she probably was on drugs and that one part of me wanted to turn around and not give her the money. But, I was already standing there so I couldn’t do that. I also couldn’t really change the amount I was going to give her, because I had it in my hand already. And then there was the tiny little thing of just being obedient to God!!!

So, I handed her the money. I expected a thank you, and quite honestly, expected her to keep standing there begging for more. But what happened next genuinely surprised me. She looked down at what I had given her and she smiled so big. She said, “That’s it! I’m going home!! I’m going home!!”

It took all I had to choke back the tears. I hugged her and told her that I would be praying for her and that I hoped that she had a blessed day. Now, in hind sight, I wish I would have said MUCH more, but at the time, that’s all I had!!

She hugged me back and said thank you. Then she picked up her gas can and walked across the parking lot to a green car that was sitting there. There were other people in the car too.

I didn’t hang around to see if she filled up her car and left or not. Part of me wanted to, but it really didn’t matter. If she genuinely needed gas to get home, then giving her that money helped her get home. If she didn’t need gas and was standing out there begging for money for drugs or something else, well, that’s between her and God, but at least it got her off the street corner.

As I’ve been processing this moment this week, I’m taken back to two things. The first is obedience. No matter what I think in my natural mind about a situation or a person, that doesn’t change or negate what God asks of me. No matter what my flesh wants me to do, obeying God is far more important!!

And secondly, it takes me back to Matthew 25…
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I want to be a sheep, not a goat!!! This issue of caring for strangers in need is something that God cares about deeply!!!

This woman... this dirty, filthy, possibly drug addicted woman, is a woman that God cares deeply about!! I prayed most of the rest of the way home for her and I will continue to pray for her. I don’t know her name, but God does!!

Will I stop and help every person I ever see on the street begging for money? Probably not. But I hope that I will stop and ask God what He wants me to do in that moment. And when I do, I will listen for His reply and do what He instructs. I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will also do the same.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Win For Religious Freedom and Women’s Rights

It has taken me a few days to muster up the courage to actually put my thoughts on the internet concerning the recent victory for Hobby Lobby in their Supreme Court Case against Obamacare. Such a controversial subject, and based on the varying facebook posts and tweet’s I’ve read, it is a breeding ground for unwanted comments and a general feeling of nausea when I think of the remarks I may have to respond to after this is posted. However, I feel led to be a part of this discussion. It is an important issue and worth me spending time talking about and  using my online space to do that. Since we still have freedom of speech, that is what I am going to do.

Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it, but in an effort to build a small amount of credibility on the subject, let me share a little about myself. I am a born again, spirit filled, married, Christian woman. I also am a woman who has taken oral contraceptives for a majority of the last ten years.

The media headlines have been incredibly misleading concerning the case with Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby’s concern was not related to birth control in general. They did not file a suit regarding paying for birth control. Their concern was paying for specific types of birth control which are not preventative in nature, but abortive in nature. They are not denying all birth control, only those that essentially cause an abortion. So, from their perspective and mine, this was a case about them being forced to fund something that they are fundamentally against. And in all reality, the ruling takes nothing away from the women who work for them. Those women will still have 16 of the 20 available contraceptives covered in their health plan.

As a matter of religious rights, I absolutely agree with the Supreme Court decision and am thrilled that the results turned out the way they did. No one should be forced to pay for something that goes against their religious beliefs.

Some who disagree with the ruling do so based on women’s rights. This is an issue that I have always found vastly confusing as related to a woman's right to choose. I am a woman, and I believe in women’s rights, but not at the expense of another human life. Just because you are a grown woman and a newly fertilized egg is only a few days or even hours into development, it doesn’t take away the sanctity of that life. Claiming women’s rights (or a woman's right to choose) on the abortion issue is just making an excuse for murder.

To me, it is no different than a grown woman killing a 5 year old child. Their reasoning could easily be the same: raising them is too hard, they cost too much money, I just wasn’t ready to be a mom, kids are too much responsibility, I’m young, I just want to have fun for a while. If any of those excuses were given by a woman who killed a 5 year old child, they would be found guilty of murder.

But let's get real for a few minutes... My opinions don't matter. What matters is what God says. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that we are valuable and created for a purpose and that God knew us and loved us even before we are conceived in our mother’s womb. Yes, even if you were called “a mistake” by your parents, you were NO mistake to God!

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

I know what some of the responses to that will be. I can hear it now. “God was talking about Jeremiah, not me, and not the "mass of cells" that is inside of me. He didn’t appoint me as a prophet”. Well, let me share a few more verses.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism”. – Acts 10:34

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and if He doesn’t show favoritism, than it stands to reason that if He knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mothers womb and set him apart for a purpose, then the same is true of you and me.

God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. Yes, even if you were the result of a less than ideal relationship, God still knew you and set you apart. Maybe you are carrying a baby that is the result of a horrific injustice to you, such as rape. If that is the case, I am truly sorry that you are dealing with that and I pray God's peace on your life. As hard as that situation will be to walk through, God knew your baby before that horrific act happened to you and He has a plan and a purpose for both your baby and you. That plan may include adoption, but it absolutely does not include murder.

The bottom line is that our own selfish wishes and desires do not justify taking the life of a baby, no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are. They are far from insignificant to God!

As a Christian company, these scriptures are only a small part of the justification for Hobby Lobby’s court case against Obamacare. As followers of Christ, asking them to pay for something that could cause an abortion, is asking them to completely disregard their core beliefs and to fund what they consider to be murder.

As a women who believes deeply in religious rights and lives a life based on my faith, a win for religious rights, is a win for women’s rights. If my religious freedoms are revoked and the government is able to force me to participate in something that I don’t agree with, then my rights as a women have been diminished. So, kudos to Hobby Lobby and to the five Supreme Court Justices who ruled in their favor.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Wish Fulfilled

Left to Right: Angelia, Jenel, Thomas, Lexa
Meet my friends, Thomas, Angelia, Jenel, and Lexa Carpenter. This family is like none I’ve ever met, and I would venture to guess, I won’t meet another one like them in my lifetime. They ALL inspire me to greatness!

Their son, Buck, died in a car accident in 2011, but his legacy is growing each and every day! Because of a wish Buck made in Kindergarten, Buck’s family is traveling to Africa to give toys to kids. I could tell you his story, but hearing it from his mom’s heart is better than me telling it.

On October 20, 2011 our 8 year old son, Buck, was taken to heaven in a car accident. Shortly after the wreck we were invited to Africa for a missions endeavor.

While preparing for the trip we came across a Kindergarten school assignment. Buck was asked to complete this sentence:
"I wish every kid could..." his teacher said without hesitation he replied, "I wish every kid could have toys to play with in Africa!"

As the Lord would have it, on October 20, 2012, we were in Africa on the "one year anniversary" of Buck's home going- passing out his toys to homeless kids. Then 10 days later, October 30, we visited an informal settlement called Red Hill. Again, we passed out toys in Buck's memory; this would have been his 10th birthday. This experience was a great work of Redemption for us!

Many toys have been donated to us for Africa even though we have never asked for one. God just sends them. :)

Last year the Chi Alpha group from UCA carried 50 bags of toys to children in South Africa. We also included a notebook, pencil, toothbrush and toothpaste. They deserve things they "need" as well! Lord willing 50 more bags will go with Chi Alpha students this year in May.

My husband, Thomas and I along with our two daughters, Jenel and Lexa will be going to Africa in June. This will be our daughters first time to go. We are looking forward to handing out Buck's Toys together!

This family has been a great encouragement to me. They have walked through hard times and faced them with an unwavering faith in God. They understand what it means to Trust God and they live it out each and every day.

They are still raising funds to get them to Africa in just a few short weeks. Here are some ways that you can help make a difference in the lives of kids in Africa!

Buy "A Heart 4 Africa" Necklace
I am making and selling necklaces to raise some money for their trip and for other expenses related to Buck's Toys 4 Africa. You can order one from my Etsy Shop. There are two different types to choose from.

Online Donations
If you would like to make a donation to Buck's Toys online, you can do so through the Special Touch Ministry Website at Choose Thomas & Angelia Carpenter in the missionary name drop down and put "Buck's Toys" in the notes column. Then enter the amount you would like to give and select submit and it will take you through the rest of the donation process.

Follow them on Social Media
Facebook - /buckstoys4africa
Twitter - @bucktoys4africa
Instagram - @buckstoys4africa
Pinterest - @bucktoys4africa

Share their posts
Help spread the word by sharing, re-tweeting, and re-pinning using the hashtag #buckstoys4africa.

Pray for Them
Pray for this family as they finish preparing to go to Africa and while they are there. If you will follow them on social media, you will get updates along their journey. Pray for provision for the remaining funds needed. Pray for safety as they travel and for divine appointments while they are there!

Here are a few pictures of their last trip to Africa in October 2011 and the Chi Alpha trip to Africa Summer 2013. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Candied Grapes

I am really excited!! This is the first food post I have written, ever for this blog, well just ever, period.

I have been on the hunt for ideas for snacks and other healthy recipes lately and Pinterest is one of my favorite places to collect them all.

I saw this idea on Pinterest for “Glittery Sour Patch Grapes” and wanted to try it. Mostly because it looked good and super easy! The other reason I wanted to try it is because my son is in a stage where he is constantly eating and the first thing he wants is something sweet. I’ve been on the hunt for some healthier alternatives that my VERY picky eater will actually eat. The pin said they tasted like sour patch candy so I thought for sure it was something to try.

Because I have a boy and anything “glittery” is girly, I just called them candied grapes. I also only used one flavor of jello instead of two. That is one of the great things about this recipe too, you can choose any type of grape and any flavor jello and the combinations would be limitless. Another plus, using sugar free jello would make this even healthier.

Candied Grapes

Grapes, washed and removed from stem (we used purple grapes)
1 pkg unprepared Jello (we used strawberry flavored)

All you do is pour the unprepared jello into a bowl or on a plate and roll the grapes in it. Put them in a container with a lid that you can refrigerate. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer if you like frozen grapes.

It’s just that easy!! Not only is it a healthy snack, but something fun and easy that your kids can make with you. My picky eater loved them and keeps asking for more!!

The only down side for this to me was that the jello mix got on your fingers and stained them. My fingers were red for the rest of the day but after several washes, it came off.

If you try them, let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Jesus Bible, NIV

I received a complimentary copy of The Jesus Bible, NIV from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest and objective review. I can honestly say, I love this Bible and so does my 10 year old son.

This Bible is designed for kids ages 9-12 and it is definitely designed well for that age range. It is hardcover Bible which is great for kids to carry around without ripping it. The design is simple but “cool” for a kids Bible.

It includes several great features to help kids see Jesus throughout the Bible. There are 365 devotions included, each with a short prayer at the end. Each book of the Bible begins with an introduction to the book which tells kids how Jesus can be found in that book.

There are also application notes called “Live Like Jesus” to help kids apply Biblical truths in their own lives. I also really like the “Hints of the Savior/Jesus Revealed” sections. This section highlights promises and prophesies made about Jesus in the Old Testament and tell you where they are fulfilled in the New Testament.

I would highly recommend this Bible but what do I know, I’m not a 9-12 year old kid. My son however had this to say about it. “Mom, when you finish reviewing that Bible, I’m going to read it from Genesis all the way to the very end”!! That statement tells me all I really need to know about it. If it encourages my son to read the word and gets him excited about it, that’s all that matters to me!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trust, Joy, Miracles!

I have been incredibly blessed to get to know some fantastic women in Arkansas who spend countless hours sharing their lives online. Tell me what you want to know about, and I can probably find a woman in Arkansas who is blogging about it! Parenting, Marriage, Family, Food, DIY, Travel, and so much more!

One of the things I noticed at the beginning of the year was people sharing what their focus word was for the year. Different people may call it different things, but a focus word is a word that you are going to keep in front of you for the year. Something to help keep you focused on a goal you have or a habit you want to form (or get rid of). It isn’t really a new year’s resolution, but an effort to make your life better in some way this year.

Karen over at Tings Mom wrote about her word being less (Be sure to go read her post). Less stuff, less technology, less stress!! I could definitely latch onto that word too, but God has been putting different words in front of me.

Now that it’s the middle of February, I’m going to share my focus word(s) for this year (better late than never). There were three constant themes that kept recurring for me in January and I kept trying to decide on one to use as my focus word, but I just couldn’t shake any two of them. They all three are sticking.


Over and over again I am confronted with situations that have been overwhelming to me. Situations that I could not control and could not change. In the midst of that I kept hearing “trust me”. Sermons, songs, advice from friends all reminding me to keep trusting in the Lord and I will be ok. Trusting God is an ongoing journey for me. Not because I don’t have every reason to trust Him, but because it is a process of letting go of your human will and emotions and letting Him be in control.

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

A friend of mine said a few weeks ago that her prayer for everyone this year is that their journey would be a journey of joy. I immediately said, count me in!! I haven’t shared my whole story on this blog and likely never will, but the last few years have been full of tears and sadness. I am ready for some joy in my life. This year I am going to seek out in my own life what it means to have the Joy of the Lord and for it to be complete.

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11 (NIV)

How many of you know that, as Christians, we serve a supernatural God? We serve a God who has the power to change situations and circumstances, but do we really believe that He can and will? I hear story after story of people being healed, delivered, and set free. I am ready to see myself and the people around me, be healed, delivered, and set free.

I know that God can and will, because He has done for so many people before me. I wrote a blog post a while back about this (you can read it here). Not only can we see miracles through the stories from the Bible, but people living and breathing and walking around today have amazing stories to tell.

This video is of Sister Martha Tennison preaching a mother’s day service in Adrian, Michigan. If you ever get a chance to hear her preach in person, don’t miss it! She will have you laughing and crying all at the same time and I promise you that you will leave changed in some way.

This entire message is on trust, but there is a story in this video that starts around 18:40 into it. It is a story she tells often of 16 red roses. I encourage you to watch the entire thing, but to get my point, at least skip ahead and listen to that story.

For Moses and the Israelites, the miracle was in the Red Sea. For Noah, the miracle was in the flood. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the miracle was in the fire. For Lazarus, the miracle was in death. And for Missy, the miracle was in 16 red roses and a man she had never met before.

God is in the miracle working business, and I believe that if we trust Him we will see miracles happen this year!

For me this year is about trusting God completely, finding Joy in Him, and not only seeing the miracles happen, but by my trust and obedience, being able to be a part of other people's miracles.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Challenge to Obey and Encourage Obedience

Today has been quite an interesting day. In fact, I haven't had a day like this in quite a while. A day that has both challenged me and given me much to think about.

I had to go to Dallas for work, so I boarded a plane in Little Rock this afternoon and was on my way. The thought provoking moments began as soon as I hit the airport terminal, but those aren't the stories I want to tell today.

I flew on Southwest Airlines. If you have ever flown Southwest, you know that there are no assigned seats. They assign you a boarding order based on when you check-in for your flight. The first ones on the plane get the first choice of where to sit.

I was excited to see when I checked-in the day before online that I was in boarding group A and was 13th to board. I thought, "oh good, I can get a good seat". Well, we boarded the plane to find out that this flight was a connecting flight and was already VERY full when we boarded. I ended up going almost all the way to the back of the plane but I at least found an aisle seat.

There was a lady sitting next to the window on the row I sat on and that left a middle seat empty. As the flight attendants came over the speaker they told those still trying to board that only middle seats were left so please just take a seat in one of those. Two ladies who were flying together were trying to sit close to each other. One of them asked me if I would move to the middle seat (her friend was sitting across the aisle). Because just the idea of confrontation, especially with strangers makes me anxious, I obliged and moved to the middle seat.

The lady sitting next to the window leaned over and said, "that was very kind of you, but you didn't have to do that". I smiled, and said, "oh, it's ok". That started a conversation and I really enjoyed talking with this lady on the flight. Turns out, she was a flight attendant for Southwest and was returning to Dallas after working the last three days. I was delighted when she spoke of going to church in the morning and of listening to K-Love while she traveled. 

At the end of the flight as we were descending, the lady sitting in the aisle's phone rang. She pulled her phone out of her purse to see who was calling. Here is the conversation that followed between the off duty flight attendant sitting by the window and the lady sitting in the aisle.
  • Window Seat: "ma'am, your phone should be on flight mode or turned off". 
  • Aisle Seat: "really"? 
  • Window Seat: "yes, you should have put it on flight mode when we took off in Little Rock". 
  • Aisle Seat: (gave a dirty look and slid her phone back in her purse) "well, thank you". 
The lady in the window seat leaned over and said to me, "I guess it doesn't matter that she could cause the plane to crash, I guess she doesn't care about that". She proceeded to tell me that if she was working the flight, she would have done more, but that since she wasn't, she wouldn't make a scene.

This got me thinking. How many times do we live life like that? How many times do we do one of the following:
  1. Know what we are supposed to do, but don't do it. Know what God has asked us to do but we don't do it.
  2. When corrected, ignore the correction that is being given. When God reminds us what He has asked us to do, we ignore it or just straight up say "no".
  3. Look on someone else doing something that we know could hurt them and the people around them, but because we don't want to cause a scene, we don't do all that much about it.
Obviously, because I'm sitting here writing this post, the plane landed safely, but what if it hadn't? Had her phone caused any problems with the safe landing of that flight, it would have been due to the things above, her disobedience AND the off duty flight attendant not wanting to cause a scene.

Here is how this all challenged me, and my challenge to you. The next time you feel like your falling from the sky and your about to crash, take a good look at where you have been. Ask yourself if you have done anything in disobedience. Look to God to see what you need to do to make it right. And then be willing to obey what He tells you.

Also, if you are near people who are disobeying God and living life in a way that is detrimental to themselves and others, you have a responsibility to confront them in love. You won't always get results, but as followers of Christ, I don't think we can sit back and keep quiet when those around us are falling and crashing. Their wrong choices are not our burdens to carry (we can't live their life for them), but that doesn't mean that we should sit back and watch them crash without trying to help them.

Obedience isn't about what you can't do, it's about doing what God asks us to out of love to Him.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15

Obedience is an act of Love toward God. Encouraging obedience is an act of love toward each other.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Goodreads Value and a Free Book Sample

A while back I decided that I was going to start reading more books than I had before. A friend of mine invited me to join goodreads. I joined just to see what it was and I did like seeing what other people were reading.

Beyond that, I really didn't see much value in it. That is until a few months ago. One of the first books I read (and posted on goodreads) was Redeemed: Embracing a Transformed Life, by Kerry Clarensau. I posted a book review on the book here on the blog if you would like to go back and read it. This book is truly a life changer if you let it sink in!

I also had read and posted on goodreads Love Revealed: Experiencing God's Authentic Love and Secrets: Transforming Your Life and Marriage both by Kerry Clarensau as well. Secrets I have not finished reading yet, but Love Revealed and Redeemed were read and rated on the site.

A few months ago, I was contacted through goodreads by someone who works at MyHealthyChurch which is the publisher for those books. She said that she had noticed my interest in those books and offered to send me The Jesus-Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick to read and review for free as an e-book. That was a great deal for me because I was planning on reading it anyway. After I finish, I will post a review here of that book as well. That was enough for me to be convinced that goodreads was worth the effort.

After the first of the year, this same contact at MyHealthyChurch emailed me again and asked me if I was the blogger she had talked with previously about posting a sample of Redeemed on my blog. I told her that I was not the person she had talked with, however, I would love to do that if she was looking for others too also! She said that was great and sent me a pdf of the first chapter of the book.

So, if you are wondering about Redeemed here is your chance to read a sample of it. This sample includes the Forward, Introduction, and Chapter 1. Click on the image below to view the book sample.

I had my doubts about the value of goodreads, but I'm convinced now, it's worth the few minutes it takes to add the books you are reading and leave some ratings. Enjoy this sample and if you would like to purchase the book to read the rest of it, the information to do so is at the bottom of my previous book review.

UPDATE: January 21, 2014 - This book is only $1.99 through February 2 as an eBook!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Milestone Ahead

In a few short months, my life will hit a milestone. I’m not talking about a graduation, wedding, or the birth of a child. No, I’m talking about turning thirty.

Now, before you write me off as shallow and think this post is gonna be a whiny one about getting older, read it through to the end.

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about life. Where I’ve been, where I haven’t been, and where I am going. Where I’ve been is somewhere I’m glad to not be anymore. Some of the things life has brought my way were not pleasant and I’m thankful to be moving past them.

Part of me wants to say that where I haven’t been doesn’t matter because I haven’t been there. In reality, the places we don’t go in life are just as important as the places we do. Staying away from things we don’t need in our life matters just as much as being surrounded by the things we do.

Where exactly am I going? I can’t really answer that question. One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11 which says; “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 hope and a future”.

While I don’t know what the future holds in detail, I know that the plans that God has for me and my family are GOOD! They are plans that will bring hope and a future to our lives.

For those who know me best, they know that I am a planner. I have a hard time doing things at the last minute. I also am early almost everywhere I go. If I am on time, I feel like I’m late. These qualities, whether good or bad, make patiently waiting difficult sometimes. I am much more comfortable knowing what’s coming and “being prepared” for what’s to come.

I have found that life in general doesn’t work that way. You can prepare for a trip, a meeting, a dinner, a birthday party, or a day at the park. What you can not prepare for is tomorrow. What if your trip, meeting, dinner, birthday party, or day at the park is happening tomorrow? Your preparation is for the activity, not for the day. It is for the event, not for the time. In most cases, whatever you planned for tomorrow, will probably still happen and maybe just like you planned. Sometimes though, your plans just don’t work out.

I was intrigued recently with a series of post on Heather’s Dish. She wrote a series on Living Boldly starting on the day she turned thirty. Thirty-one days of stepping outside of her comfort zone to challenge her to become a woman boldly on fire for Christ. What I was most intrigued by was the fact that some of the things on her list were not spiritual things. They were seemingly small, everyday decisions, but they challenged her heart.

What does this have to do with my future? While you can’t always make plans for tomorrow, you can be prepared. God has a way of preparing us for the unknowns of tomorrow. God knows what our future holds even though we may not.

Looking back on where I’ve been (and where I haven’t been) I can see some of God’s preparation for me. He has lead me down specific roads, brought specific people into my life, and challenged me more than I ever wanted to be by specific things that I’ve had to face in life; all for His glory, and all so I would be able to face my unplanned tomorrows.

I don’t know what thirty will bring, but God does. That being said, my goal for this year is to stop trying to plan so much. My goal is to live life, trusting God, not worrying about tomorrow. God knows, so as long as I know God, I’m good!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Growth Requires Challenges

I have been thinking a lot lately about my life journey. The good, the bad, and everything in between. While I am trying each and every day to live in the present and not dwell on the past, short times of reflection can be helpful. What is standing out to me at the moment are the ways that the Lord has challenged me and helped me grow closer to who He wants me to be.

Here is my list of ways I can currently think of that He has helped me to grow in Him.
  1. Worship Music
  2. Scripture
  3. Prayer
  4. Working in the Ministry
  5. Books
  6. Friends
  7. Life situations that seem impossible
  8. People who seem impossible
  9. My son
  10. My husband
I might could name more and I definitely could be more specific but I won't do that today.

The point is, God can use just about anything to help us to become the people that He created us to be. He can use the ordinary, every day things, or the not so ordinary, seemingly impossible things, to challenge us in our faith, our patience, and our endurance.

When we face the impossible, God is asking us to not only trust Him but to actively pursue Him. He is asking us to seek Him for solutions and praise Him even when you see none. 

What is God doing to challenge you? What are you doing in response?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado

At some time or another in life, we all will reach a point where we just aren’t sure if we are going to survive. Hard times that last over a long period of time can make us feel as though life will never get any better and things will always be hard. If you are going through a hard time in life, You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado is a must read.

This book is a combination of the life of Joseph and Lucado’s real life experiences. He takes you on a journey through the life of Joseph, from being born the favorite and having it made, to being thrown into a pit, to coming out of the pit to be sold into slavery, to being thrown in prison and ultimately as second in command over all of Egypt.

Lucado strives to encourage us that we will survive the storms in life. As I was reading this book I thought of several different people in my own life as well as my own situations. This book literally has something in it for everyone whether you are dealing with job loss, divorce, health issues, or the death of a loved one. You name it, he covered it.

There are a few things that I really liked about this book. Lucado used one person from the Bible to draw his illustrations from. He didn’t skip from one story to another. The other thing I really liked about that was it gave me a chance to seriously dive into Joseph’s life. I learned things about Joseph I had not known before and by the end of the book could relate my life in today’s world to his. All of this while being encouraged that no matter what I’m facing, with God, I will get through it!

Before I finished the book I wrote my thoughts on a specific chapter of the book: Waiting While God Works. Feel free to return to that post for a little more information on that specific chapter.

This is really a great read for anyone! Even if you aren’t in a low point in your life, you will take something away from this book. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Brokenness and Scars

I have really struggled lately with a lot of things. I have struggled with life circumstances that I’ve been forced to deal with. You know, there are things we bring on ourselves, but then there are also things that get brought on us without our asking for them. I’ve had those types of issues to wade through: the unwanted and unasked for ones.

Through all of it, I haven’t ever doubted God. I’ve never given up on what I know He can do. I have had plenty of questions for Him and many times that I have not understood the path I was walking down, but I have not doubted Him.

I have spoken lately about my scars. I have used that word specifically to describe the wounds that I have inside of me. Emotional scars, not physical ones. Scars that seem like they will never heal. Before I used the word scars, I used to say that I was broken; that I had been damaged and was just broken inside. Lately, I've discovered, there is a difference between brokenness and scars.

Brokenness happens at single points in time. During single events of your life pieces of your heart and emotions get broken. The moment when you find out your husband is filing for divorce, a piece of you breaks. That time in the doctor’s office when you hear the devastating news of a disease, that will do everything it can to take you out if you don’t do everything you can to take it out, a piece of you breaks. The moment you realize that your life is forever changed because someone you love has left this earth, a piece of you breaks. The moment you discover that your best friend has betrayed you and those closest to you aren’t around anymore to make everything better, a piece (or two) of you breaks.

Brokenness is what happens when you realize the mess that you are in. It is the kick in the gut at the most inopportune times that makes you question everything you have ever known to be true.

Scars are very different than brokenness. Although they are there for the same reason that brokenness is, they are not a reflection of the pain. Scars don’t tell us that someone is hurt; they tell us that someone has healed. They don’t show us the injury, they show us the recovery.

Last night I came home from work and had a terrible head ache. I didn’t turn the TV on because the more noise there was in the house, the more my head ached. My husband came home after he got off from work and while I was finishing up dinner he turned the TV on. He turned it to Daystar (the only Christian television station we can get on our digital converter box and antenna).

As we sat down to eat, a piece of the 2013 Refreshing Times Conference came on. It was a message by Jimmy Evans. Now, I like Jimmy Evans, but I honestly wasn’t in the mood to hear a message on marriage. I just didn’t have it in me last night. The great thing is that God knew that. He knew that what I needed went much deeper than that. The message that Jimmy Evans shared was about the Scars of our Redeemer.

I haven’t really ever stopped to think about the scars that Jesus carried. I mean, I know about them, but I had never questioned them. Jesus died a horrible, excruciating, death on a cross after He had been beaten and whipped one strike away from death. If the story ended there, then scars would be expected.

The story didn’t end there. Why would Jesus, in His resurrected body, have scars? Why in His glorified, redeemed, resurrected state, would He have the ability to show the disciples the scars from his death? They were no longer wounds, because in His death and resurrection, they were healed, but they did leave scars.

One side note here: did you catch what I just said? “In His death and resurrection, Jesus’ wounds were healed”. Through the most horrible moments of Jesus’ earthly life, He was healed of the very thing that was wounding Him.

Many people have said before that because Jesus came to earth in human form, He was tempted and tried, just like we are, and that He had the same emotions and feelings as we do, so He understands the things we are going through in life. I have heard that often and I do believe that. But I had never before considered the fact that Jesus, when He could have so easily taken on a perfect, resurrected body, kept His scars. The question remains, why?

I don’t think that it was to “prove” He was who He claimed to be. The people He showed His scars to were people that He had spent a lot of time with. I think there would have been countless ways to prove to His disciples and family that it truly was Him and that He truly had been raised from the dead.

Here is what I think. Jesus wanted those around Him to see that even though He had been through such torture and torment, that God had healed Him. Even after death, God had restored Him and had made His life on earth a story of Redemption.

We have wounds, we have brokenness, and even if at this very moment in time, we don’t feel as though we have been healed of those, we do, or will have scars. Our scars are not ugly and they are not a reminder of the pain. Our scars, our redeemed, glorified scars, are a beautiful picture of the power of God to heal us from the most horrible moments in our lives. They are a reflection of His goodness and His love.

Satan will do everything he can to convince you to look at your scars as ugly, rotten, no good, painful wounds. He will try and tell you that you are useless and no good to God because of your scars. He will try to keep you in bondage to your wounds by trying to convince you that you have not been healed and never will be. He couldn’t be more wrong.

If Jesus can bear scars as a way to share the power of God and His love for others, then we can too. Stop trying to hide your scars. They don’t need to be covered up and you don’t need to be ashamed of them. Someone else needs to see them so that they can finally understand that God loves them and that He can change their life.

I wasn’t the one God chose to die on the cross for all mankind (thank goodness) but I am the one that He chose (and so are you) to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Scars are such an effective way to do that.

If you are struggling with an addiction, you don’t want to hear anything about how you will get through it from a person who has no clue what it is like to struggle with addiction. But if you run into a recovering alcoholic who tells you how much God loves you and he proves it to you by showing you his scars, you will listen much harder to what he has to say. You will listen because you understand that he has been there and that his life is better now than it was before.

I still have brokenness and I still have wounds. Everything in my life has not been completely healed yet. But I do have some scars and I have many more that are in the process of healing. I’m trusting God to finish that process.

One of the things that Jimmy Evans said is that when he was at his lowest point in his marriage, and Karen was in the bedroom packing to leave him, he told God, “If you will help us, we will help others”.

That is my prayer to God today. Lord, help me heal so that I will have the scars to help others.