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Archive for June, 2011

I am celebrating today!  250 Blog Posts represent a lot of words over the last year.  More than 125,000!  I can only hope they have touched a few lives along the way.

As I reflected on this milestone I began to wonder what I could blog about that would match such an occasion. I thought about where I’ve been and what I am becoming.  There are more stories then I could possibly tell but somehow it seemed appropriate to share a little more about me in the hopes that it would encourage each of you.

Besides when you are past 50 it’s natural to reflect!

In all seriousness, I believe in the power of story.  I don’t think we get enough of sharing testimony between us.  And I believe that sharing strengthens both us and the person listening.

Since I began Moms On Mission almost two years ago, I’ve thought a lot about where I was at that stage of my life.  It was my experiences from childhood through momhood, wifehood, all the way through today that have given me insight for life now.  I think that’s why scripture says the older should teach the younger.

It’s in the hope of influencing the next generation that I write this blog every day.  I understand that if I can impart one truth that will connect a mom to God, their own identity and destiny, or to another person it can ripple through the ages.  Maybe my story will encourage you to make one small change or look at things just a little different.

So here it is in a nutshell! This little girl, confident in God’s love for her, somewhere along the way, let life’s circumstances and struggles, change that.

Losing my dad at 11 left me with a sense of loneliness and abandonment.  My poor relationship with my mom mixed with normal childhood insecurity magnified my already fragile self image and worth.  I felt insignificant most of my life, even though on the outside I was outgoing and appeared to have it together.

And then there is the whole confusion about God thing.  On one hand my church experience taught me about God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus.  On the other, the legalistic rules and demands couched in the “fear of hell,” left me thinking God was more angry then loving and that knowing Him was about performing and doing all the things that a “good Christian girl” should do.

Now here’s the problem, I didn’t know what to do with all the wounds and couldn’t get close enough to God because I thought if good things weren’t happening it was because I’d messed up somehow.  So, I did what many wounded people do.  I stuffed my pain, and put on the mask so no one would know what was underneath. The I tried to validate myself by my children, my husband, my family, any role I played in life, and my church.  It might have looked pretty, but inside it wasn’t!  Because I wasn’t real!

But God knew all that, and had a plan to bring me to life again.   I can’t say it wasn’t a long and winding road but along the way, He taught me lesson after lesson, precept after precept, and promise after promise.  And I have to say, today in almost every way, I love God, I love who I am, and I love my life.  There are still struggles and difficulties but I can testify that God uses all for my good.

If I were able to give you a set of keys to unlock a life you can celebrate this is what they’d look like.

1.  Celebrate God!  Remember your blessings each day and give thanks.  Document the places of breakthrough and where He has changed your life or worked something for your good. Give Him every part of your life and being.

2.  Celebrate the Gifts in Your Past!  Don’t let the pain of the past control your future. At some point you have to let go! You can look  beyond the pain when you acknowledge the lesson learned or the gift given through it and leave it with God to work through it.

3. Celebrate You!  Take time for your own personal nurturing and growth and celebrate your uniqueness.  I use to think of this as selfishness and pride.  Now I realize just like a car, we need maintenance and fuel. And when I understood that it was ok to acknowledge your strengths and your uniqueness, it changed everything for me.  If you aren’t there yet, take time to listen to God’s love words to you and surround yourself with others who will speak positively into your life.  And speak positively over your own life!

4.    Celebrate Others!  Look for the good(or should I say God)  in people.  I am learning that if we begin to see people that way, our expectations change.  It’s not always easy, but when we move our focus away from what we want them to be and onto the things we can celebrate about them, our relationships change. We move from needing to serving.  We are called to love and honor people whether they are stranger, friend, or family.

So wherever you are at today, I pray you’ll take time to ask:

What can I celebrate about God?  What gift or lesson can I celebrate from my past?  What can I celebrate about me?  Who, what, and how can I celebrate someone else?

And while you are at it, I hope you’ll celebrate God’s plan for your future!  A future of hope, promise, and endless possibilities.

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Shipwrecked

This journey called life could be compared to a ship sailing the seas of the world. Your life of course, being the ship and the waters representing life’s circumstances.

As we navigate through life’s waters we all want calm, beautiful weather.  Nothing seems more perfect to a sailor then a glassy sea, sun reflecting on the water with a gentle breeze propelling the sails.

Unfortunately, that’s an unrealistic expectation of life and we have to be prepared for the storms because they will come up.

I’ve learned  important things in my journey.  Some of those storms are created at the hands of others.  Some are just part of life.  And more importantly, some are of my own doing!

The good news is that it really doesn’t matter.  God has laid out a formula for weathering and getting through the storms whatever their source. It’s found in I Timothy 1:18-20 (Amplified)

Ya ready?   Drumroll please……………Hold fast to your faith.  What does that mean?

Another drumroll, maybe?   It means that we understand and operate from a place of giving God permission to work through our entire being or human personality (body, soul and spirit).  It means we trust and have complete confidence in His ability to work it all for our good.  We listen to His direction which never contradicts His character and follow it.  THAT IS FAITH.

If you don’t want a life that is crushed and broken by the waves of life, there is one more thing you must be sure of.  It’s uncomfortable to talk about because few use the S word (sin) anymore.  But it is clear in the scripture above that shipwreck is eminent if this is in play.

You can only have faith in God in direct proportion to the clearness of your conscience.  When we sin (do something against God’s character), and ignore our need for forgiveness (cleansing and turning away from that choice or pattern) we are shipwrecking our faith.

Some of us, reject and throw away our conscience which is a God given part of our being that acts as a compass for navigating life’s waters.  It comes back to the same question that began in the garden.  Are we good or are we evil?

God created us as good and through Jesus redeemed that goodness.  Therefore, the choosing of goodness is up to us.  Choosing to surrender everything about us and our lives to God  frees us from shame and guilt, blaming others for our life circumstances, and helps us weather the storms.

If we want to make it through the raging seas, we must put our entire FAITH in God and make certain that God’s signals can get through.  If we are holding on to or justifying our wrong decisions and actions, we can’t expect to clearly hear His voice.

Surrender isn’t easy but it is absolutely necessary if you want to avoid shipwreck.

What say you?

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

I don’t know about you, but in the past I made hearing God much more complicated then it is.

I went from that little child stage of Jesus being my best friend to a mixed up view that somehow it was a difficult thing to hear God and know it was him.  I was kind of like the cell phone commercial–a person trying to move closer and closer to the “right spot” to be able to clearly hear Him and know that He heard me.

God never intended for it to be difficult to hear Him. In John 16:15,  Jesus himself tells us that the Holy Spirit will tell us and show us the things the Father has for us.   Why do we make it so hard?

Here’s what I think.

a. We want the answer quick and easy!   In this instant society, we have forgotten the joy of searching for something.  Remember those Easter egg, scavenger, and treasure hunts we loved so much as kids?  Why did we let that enthusiasm for the search go?  As Bill Johnson says, “God doesn’t hide things from us, he hides them for us.”  God loves a good treasure hunt because He understands we will value what we looked for when we find it.

b.  We are afraid to hear!   Somehow, somewhere, we’ve allowed fear to stop us from listening.   We are afraid hearing God means we’ll have to give something up that we’ve grown to love, or that His words to us will be disapproving.  Hearing God does and will mean that we will have to stand corrected because God is a good parent!   It may mean that we’ll be told to let go of something that is damaging to us.  But it also means, we will find security, love, joy, and peace we long for.

The ability to hear God is not in question.  What is in question, is our desire to hear what He has to say.  If you want to hear Him, consider this.

God’s voice will never contradict scripture.

God’s word can be depended on.  Even if it doesn’t appear that things are going as He promised, His promise is sure.  He can’t lie.   It may not look like we thought it was going to but He always does what He says.

God’s voice is always motivated by His love for us.   Even in the moments when we need to be corrected, it’s because He loves us.  God is not an angry God!   He wants us to know Him as a protective, loving Father, and to realize our true identity as He made us.  He will go to any length to bring us to a place of being centered in His love.  That is why He created us.

Can you hear God?  Absolutely.

Do you want to hear Him more than anything else?

If the answer to that is yes, just open your ears and eyes.  Look and Listen.   You might be surprised what you hear and see when you seek His voice like you search for hidden treasure.

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The Heart of the Matter

The words to this old hymn have never meant more to me then now.  Security, intimacy, affirming, unconditional love, completeness…..all things a woman wants.  And so many times these are the things that allude us.  Where can we find them?  By our performance?  Our lover? Our children?  Our community?  Our church?  Our career?  Our education?  I think not.

They may all contribute to the things we want and need but there is only one place I find completeness.  Ever since childhood, there has only been one truly safe place to go–the heart of God. But what does that mean?  What does it look like?

The strength of a relationship depends on how well you know someone.  That is the essence of intimacy.  Knowing their values and the essence of their character and them knowing yours.  It takes regular and open two-way communication.

The longer and more intimate you are with someone, their influence over you is stronger.  Think about it?  Don’t we become like our parents?  Haven’t you ever began to think or talk like a good friend or maybe your spouse? It’s no different with God.

Growth is like a wrestling match.  It’s about wrestling with all the competing forces for our true identity.  Will we step into God-likeness as we were created, or settle for a counterfeit identity? All of life really comes down to the question:  Who has my heart?

If God has our heart, we will find rest, peace, love, joy, and endurance no matter what is happening around us.  We will make good decisions because we understand His heart of love for us.

“We will rest quietly if we are near His heart. Our decisions will not contradict His heart but beat with it.” Marian Struble

If you aren’t at rest, check out who or what has your heart. The heart of God brings peace, protection from sin, and true identity and freedom.

What can you do today to take a step towards the heart of God?

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Burnt Toast

I hate burnt toast!  I did it twice this morning.  Put in my bread in the toaster and when it popped up it was black.  Got interrupted and came back a few minutes later and put another piece in and voila, black again!

Duh!  If you don’t want burnt toast, adjust the setting.  Turned the dial down and of course the third time it worked.

God uses object lessons and I’m certain this was a good one.

Just like me wanting toast for breakfast, there are a lot of times in life when we know what we want.  Where we go wrong is we misread what it takes to get it, or we become impatient and try to make it happen.

Sometimes we even find ourselves in crisis mode.  We find ourselves in a situation that seems like an emergency and in an effort to solve it or run from it we turn up the heat instead of turning it down.

I wish I’d understood this as a young wife and mother.  When I look back at those years, I see that most of the time, I turned every obstacle in my path into a crisis.  I wanted to be perfect, have perfect kids, perfect marriage, perfect church, perfect finances, etc.  In order to fill the hole of insecurity, woundedness, and lack of identity, my expectations of myself and others always burned me emotionally.  Eventually, I found myself, totally exhausted and used up.

In fact, there was a point in my marriage that I had decided I didn’t love my husband anymore because he wasn’t what I thought I wanted.  I remember the agony of crying out to God.  I felt like there was no hope.  I either stayed and lived empty or left and looked for something or someone else to fill me.

Thankfully, neither one of those results happened.  I dialed back my emotions, and looked deeper at the setting.  Here are some of the steps I took.

1.  I looked at God’s principles for the situation.  It had to start there.  Even though I was messed up in my theology at the time, I did not want to do something against God.  In essence, God didn’t steal my right to choose but He set a firm boundary that I could not cross if I wanted the benefit of His blessing.

2.  I looked at myself.  There came a point when I had to put away my perception of what everyone else was doing or not doing and look at what I was doing.  If I didn’t change the dial or setting, I couldn’t expect anyone else to.  While I thought I’d given everything, I had to admit, I had not.  I couldn’t have because my focus had been on everything I needed or wanted, rather than what I could give.

3.  I looked at my relationships.  Especially with my husband and kids, I realized God always calls us to bless.  I determined that I had committed before God to love and asked Him to help me love.  I remember one day, giving it all over to God and even though I was crying inside, asking God to make me a blessing to my husband and my kids.  I laid  down what I thought I wanted, for them.

You might be thinking how difficult that was.  But here’s the joy in it.  As I changed, my husband changed.  As I pushed through to find my fullness in my relationship with Christ, I found myself.  And though everything wasn’t perfect, it was better.   The more I grew, the more I found out my husband and I wanted the same things.  I discovered that he didn’t understand the messages I had been trying to send him.  And there was so much more.

What I had wanted was to be loved completely.  I found out that is only possible by God.  I had wanted security.  I discovered the more I trusted God to work in spite of our flaws, the more secure I got.  I had wanted joy and happiness.  This was probably my biggest ah ha!  I had a revelation that it’s in giving, not receiving that joy is made full.

There was a moment in time when I sat down a wrote a song, “Joy, Joy, Jesus make me a joy……”

He answered that prayer.  If you want joy, become joy.  If you want happiness, bring happiness.  If you want peace, be peace.

If you want golden brown toast, adjust the setting.  Burnt toast is not God’s plan for you.

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Who Me?

Did you ever find yourself surprised by someone’s kind words about you?  I sure have! I’m someone who is pretty hard on myself.  And because of the training I had in early church years, I have this silly notion that somehow it’s a sign of humility to not acknowledge a compliment or to push it away.

I wonder what was going through Mary’s mind when the angel came and told her, You are highly favored and are blessed among women! Can you imagine being told that by the messenger of God?

Women in that day were especially looked down on.  They were objects of men’s desires, considered low in the culture, and overall had the expectation put on them that they were there to please men and had no place of their own.

God’s message to Mary shows his heart for her and Jesus walked out that message through his life and association with the women of the day.  I believe God is still speaking the Mary message to women today.

So what does it mean to have God’s favor?  The literal translation is endued with grace.  I love that the dictionary defines grace as effortless beauty, movement, and expression; a sense of what is right, decency, and thoughtfulness towards others; divine influence on one’s heart.  It’s a virtue or gift of God on someone.

Want beauty?  Accept His Grace.

Want to fully express who you are?  Be full of His grace.

Want to make the right decisions?  Turn to His grace.

Need a change of heart?  Run to grace.

We make it so complicated, but as my friend Pam says, “It’s easy!”  Favor and Grace are gifts of God.  We can choose to believe that God is offering them to us.  We get to choose whether to open the package of His grace and favor over our lives.   We can choose whether to allow His divine influence over our life or go our own way.

Favor of God is not about performing enough to earn some top spot in the kingdom.  It’s a result of the heart.  Open heart, divine favor and grace.  Closed and willful heart, big messes!!!!!

Which do you want?  I choose God’s AMAZING Grace.

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Ever feel like you have to be supermom?  I’m sure that is common to all moms.  Here’s something to think about.

How would you feel if like Mary, you knew you were the mom of God’s son?

I can’t imagine what that must have been like for her.  Not just birthing but raising Jesus.  After all, she didn’t skip from the manger to the cross.  There was a lot of life in between.

I’m absolutely certain that he was a perfect child but that doesn’t mean she could just leave parenting out of the picture.  She still was there to nurture, protect, and teach.  And in some ways she must have questioned her own ability to do so, just like a mom today with a gifted child.

This week we’ll talk about some of the qualities that made Mary a super mom.  Not in the superhero kind of way, but a mom that stands out above others.

Today, the key to being a super mom is in Luke 1:38.  Behold, I am the hand maiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said.

If you want to be a SUPER mom:

1. Acknowledge that you are the servant of God. Everything a mom is represents service.  The problem is sometimes we feel like a slave!   When we let our relationship with God have priority in our life, we will learn what is important and what is not.  We will begin to understand and walk out the purposes of God instead of the expectations of culture and others.

2. Agree with God.  God never violates our right to choose.  A super mom agrees with the word of God.  God’s word is the lamp for their feet,  and the light to their path.  They understand that nothing works without the principles of God at the center of their life.  God blesses His word and it brings life.

Just like a disobedient child, we can’t expect good results when we go against the word of our loving parent, God.  He wants our blessing and favor and has made a way for it. And unlike us, His word is always true and never changes.

A Super Mom is one who accepts who God says she is and His purposes for her life.  She believes His word over anyone else’s,  even her own.  And she agrees with what He says and goes His way, instead of  choosing based on her own feelings, or whims.

She is pliable and flexible in the hands of her one true lover– God!

That’s the place of true joy, security, and blessing.

What step could you take today to acknowledge who God says you are?

What could you do that shows agreement with what He says?

Here’s to Super Moms who know who they are and follow God’s plan for their life and the life of their family!

 

 

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Hot Pursuit

Sometimes life is like a car chase.  You know the kind–a speeding car racing down a back road or freeway, either trying to get away or trying to reach a destination before the car chasing them gets there.

We’ve been talking a lot about this chase over the last few weeks.  Our pursuit of that illusive thing called happiness.  Nothing wrong with wanting to be happy.  It’s all in how we define happiness.

I love what Og Mandino writes on this topic in his book, The Choice.  He writes that when we depend on things outside ourselves to bring us joy and happiness, we open ourselves up to disappointment.

He explains that happiness has nothing to do with getting but is about being satisfied with what we have and don’t have.  In other words,  it’s about gratefulness, and living in a state of satisfaction and contentment.

It’s about giving and not taking.  It’s about having something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.

Did you get that?  Doing, Giving, having someone to love, and something to hope for.

Look at that in terms of the situation you find yourself in.  Maybe it’s a marriage issue, a parenting issue, a life struggle.

What could happen if instead of pursuing happiness, you asked yourself these questions?

What can I give to myself and others in this situation?

What and how can I show love to myself and others?

What is the best result I can hope for? What can I do to build my hope?

Happiness is not something we have to pursue.  It is within ourselves.  It’s up to us.  When we don’t believe that, we are on an endless pursuit that leads nowhere, leaving us empty and disillusioned with life.

No matter how difficult your life or situation is there is always something you can give, some way you can love,  and something to hope in.  When all else fails, you can put your hope in God’s word and the fulfillment of His promises.  (Psalm 119:81)

It’s part of the human condition to pursue happiness.  We all have empty places we are trying to fill.  We all have wounds we are trying to heal.  I can testify that the pursuit of happiness leads to a dead end.  To be happy, we must reach inside.  We must allow the inner places of our soul to be filled with the unconditional love and presence of God.  Then whenever we step out of the circle of our inner life we must look for what we can do, what we can give, how we can love, and where we place our hope.

True happiness is set in motion by our action.  Action outside of a self-centered focus on the outside sources we think will give us happiness. It’s recognizing happiness starts in us and flows through us.

 

 

 

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Everyday Anchors

Everyday Anchors

Seems a bit  strange to me that God would speak so clearly through a newspaper. Nevertheless, it was as if He’d held a flashlight on Saturday’s paper.

I’d been up most of the night in prayer for someone in my family who is hurting deeply.  I’d had a mysterious dream during the time I’d fallen to sleep and was contemplating it as I sat at the breakfast table.

That’s when I glanced down at the headline, “Anchor of notorious pirate Blackbeard recovered off the Carolina coast.”  The story was about the infamous pirate and the anchor of his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.  Archaeologists had recovered a 3,000 pound anchor from the wreck of the flagship.

According to Martha Waggoner AP, ‘pirates had every day anchors and special anchors, just as the rest of us have everyday dishes and good china.’

I thought that was interesting.  I think we have everyday anchors too.  The question is what are they?

Obviously an anchor can keep a ship from moving when it’s lowered or allow it to float again when raised.  If you think of that in terms of life, an anchor can be something that secures us or causes us to remain stuck in place.

Ever since I read about everyday anchors, I’ve been asking what they are.  The answer it seems is in whether we are stuck or securely fastened.

There are times when our lives are not going in the direction we desire.  Other times we seem to be tossed in the storms of life’s circumstances.  Yet, sometimes we are calm and secure internally, even though there’s a thunderstorm all around us.  What makes the difference? Maybe it’s hope.

Hebrews 6 explains the hope we have as an anchor for the soul. Our hope is based on the fact that there are two things in which it’s impossible for God to lie, according to this passage. God will bless and multiply those who patiently follow His counsel.  That is His promise confirmed by His oath.  It is an absolute that gives us consolation and hope.

Some of the anchors that keep us stuck are bitterness, unforgiveness, fear, our guilt over past mistakes, and our unconfessed sin.  All are a direct result of wrong beliefs and the more we live in those places the bigger the anchor is that holds us down.

On the contrary, when we pull up those anchors in our life and exchange them for the counsel and promises of God, we begin to understand how much we are loved and experience blessing and prosperity of soul which eventually will manifest in our lives over all.

I think it’s fitting that Blackbeard named his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.  He wasn’t a happy pirate.

When we live with a wounded soul and keep those nasty everyday anchors in place, we won’t be happy either.  And eventually we’ll act out revenge by blaming everything and everyone around us for our unhappiness.  It’s no way to live.

God made promises to His children–promises based on following His precepts for life.  Not because He demands obedience, but because He LOVES us and knows what works!

What anchors your soul?  What step could you take today to make sure you are anchored in His precepts and promises?

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