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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

I fell in love with this chair from the moment I saw it in the furniture store that was going out of business.   It had my favorite new color in it and it was definitely different.  I patiently waited, because I wanted the best price.   I anxiously checked back from time to time, hoping it wasn’t gone.  And near the end of the sale, it was five dollars less than I had offered them!

It screamed my name even though from a design standpoint it didn’t match my sofa and love seat, which is floral and much more traditional.   Yet somehow, I knew I had to have it and didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect, and my husband thought I was a bit crazy.

As we  say good-bye to 2015 and look toward the new year, I can’t help but think about life.  Sometimes we have dreams that don’t match the reality of what happens during a year.

There are times in our lives, when no matter how hard we try, we just aren’t perfect.  In fact, we can be a hot mess! And life can be a hot mess too.

In our A-F society and culture, we often grade ourselves by comparing ourselves to others.   We listen much more closely to what others might think or the appearance we are putting out there.   If we are not careful, we can forget who we are and what we love.   We can stop being heart centered people and get caught up in our image driven, competitive culture in our drive for the “perfect life” and ultimate pinnacle of success and being the top of the heap.

Truth be told, I have always been driven toward perfection and it has paralyzed me sometimes.  Looking back as a child, my parents unintentionally created an atmosphere of affirmation and recognition totally based on performance.   And somehow, I never felt “good” enough.

I love winning!   Who doesn’t?   But maybe my idea about what winning is has been a little skewed.

I like being in control!  I am not a detail person in the sense of boring, minutia, but I like to control the outcome of what I am doing.   But sometimes, just maybe the outcome is none of my business and no reflection on who I am.

I learned something from this chair.   It’s ok to do something just because you love it, whether it makes sense or not.   It’s ok to be a little mismatched, to be different, to let what you love shine through.  It’s ok to not live by someone else’s expectation of who you are and what you should be….(in fact, most of those expectations are a figment of our imagination….not many people really are that engaged).   It’s ok to live in the moment without a worry about tomorrow.  Sometimes, it’s ok to live on impulse!  To do something just because you love it or want to.  It’s ok to make mistakes and make messes, just like it’s ok as a child to play in the dirt or be wildly imaginative and creative.   It’s ok to not be a cookie cutter image of someone you admire or disagree with them.

And it’s important to give yourself a resting place.   A place that you love and feel secure, peaceful, joyful, present, and 100% YOU.

My dear friend and mentor recently said to me, “I determined early on that I was going to set a routine in my life, where I first did what brought me peace and joy and love and all the things that were important to my well-being, even if it meant I had to live in an apartment the rest of my life.”   Guess what?  She isn’t living in an apartment.   She is one of the most successful women I know.   Why?

Because she get’s the lesson of the chair.   Life is full of beauty.   We are created uniquely and perfectly designed to live in our own skin.   We can’t help and truly love others if we haven’t taken care of ourselves first.

So my 2016 word is “Effortless.”   It doesn’t mean I don’t have to try or work, or that some magic wand will appear and make all my dreams come true.   It does mean this is a year when I understand the value of being me…..100% authentically me…..messes and all.  Where I understand that sitting in a beautiful chair and resting, reading, planning, writing, or anything else is ok and valuable.   That renewing my strength is important and that relinquishing control of the outcome brings me power to move forward.

This chair is both my resting place and my launching pad into more than I ever asked or thought!   2016 is going to be an awesome year.   What’s your word for 2016?

 

the chair

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s not popular today to speak in terms of  “good and evil”.  Having grown up in a religious setting that tended to breed condemnation rather than confidence in the work of Christ in our hearts, I can understand it.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore either word.  There is obviously both good and evil in the world.  Everywhere we look there is are hard things.  Poverty, sexual slavery, broken families, crime, bigotry, injustice, wars, and so on.   On the other hand, we see good in those work to make a difference or rise above their own negative circumstances or a raw hand that was dealt them.

What determines whether someone is good or evil?  Luke 6:43-45 makes it clear that it is the kind of fruit one bears.  It makes it clear the fruit we see comes from the condition of one’s heart.

Christ’s sacrificed life made it possible to live in goodness.  Salvation is for body, soul, and spirit.  Reunited or back in agreement with God, it is now up to us to plant and tend to the vineyard of our hearts, that we might produce GOOD FRUIT.

Andy Andrews, in his book The Traveler’s Gift, talks about one of the seven principles of success–I have a decided heart.  If we choose to follow Christ, then we must also decide to become like Him.

Luke 6:40 says “everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” A decided heart is one that refuses to let things unlike Christ remain in their heart.

One can’t have bitterness and say they are following Christ.  Nor can we dwell in unforgiveness, a vengeful spirit, self-centeredness, pride, apathy, rebellion, greed, etc.    Those attitudes will choke out the good fruit and fill our hearts with unhealthy habits and desires.

We also can’t live in the land of unbelief, a place that denies what God says about us or the priniciples and promises of God.   It is impossible to please God without faith!  Not just faith in his redemption, but walking it out by being who He has called us to be and producing good fruit.

Luke 6:45 says”For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Faith is a matter of confession and profession.  What you say matched by what you do  indicates the faith you have.    It is not enough to say “Lord, Lord”.   We must have faith that is rooted deep in our hearts vineyard.

That kind of faith, fills our heart with the qualities of God.  Love, forgiveness, peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness, temperance.  It is other focused.  It is about blessing, not cursing.  It is about us rising up to our position in Christ’s kingdom and living from a decided heart!

It is work because faith without works is dead.  It’s not about performance for the sake of performance but it is about truly accepting the work of Christ and letting Him transform our hearts into a vineyard…the planting of the Lord.  It takes self-examination under the light of the Holy Spirit.  It takes a decision followed by committment, that we will continue to add the character of God to our lives, letting go of the things that hold us back or produce rotten fruit.

I am challenged today to inspect my fruit and pull out by God’s grace the things that produce bad fruit.  I am determined to put into my heart the seed that will create a bountiful harvest.

How about you?  What do you need to pull out or put into your heart to produce greater fruit?

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I’m hoping as I share God’s word for me this morning it will encourage you in your 2012 journey.

As I continued to pray about some scripture for the year, I read Jereimiah 1:6-12 I got excited.  Here’s what I found for my life.

1.  2012 is  a year for  no excuses.  (Verse 6,7)  We can do whatever God asks of us.  He is in charge!

2.  2012 is a year for no fear.  (verse 8) .  Whatever we come face to face with God is with us and will deliver us.   He has promised!

3.  2012 is a year of speaking His words.  (verse 9)  God Himself has spoken and all we have to do is open our mouths (and hearts) to let Him fill us with what He is sending His word to do.

4.  2012 is a year of appointment!   Verse 10 tells how.  Oversight of the nations and kingdoms.    You may not think you have that oversight but you do.  You have kingdoms and nations within your own life’s circle.  Your family, community, yourself, your church, your finances, etc.   It’s time to rise up and take note and exercise the authority you’ve been given.

Verse 10 g0es on to say….. we have been appointed to Root Out and Pull Down.  2012 is a year to dig deep and get rid of the roots that are entangling us and keeping us from our destinies.  It is a time to pull down the obstacles that are standing in our path.

2012 is a time to Destroy and Overthrow.  It’s time to recognize the enemy and go on the attack to remove his lies from our life.  We are in charge not him.  What we choose to believe is up to us.  What we choose to follow is up to us.  We do not have to succumb to his influence….emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.   God is greater!   If  we want more of what God has for us then we must stand and declare NO MORE to the enemy!

2012 is a year to build and plant.  Having cleared out the old places,  we can start on level ground.  It’s a time to welcome the dreams and begin to put them into place.  God will establish the work of our hands.

Sounds like a full appointment to me!

5.  2012 is a the year of the almond tree branch.  (verse 11,12)  When asked what he saw, Jeremiah answered, “the branch or shoot of an almond tree.”  This branch was the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter.    The Lord commended him for what He said, promising that, “I AM alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.”

For many of us, 2011 was difficult.  We’ve needed hope.  We’ve needed faith.  We’ve needed love.  And we’ve needed answers!  We’ve done all we could to hang on to God’s promises.

As we enter 2012, unsure about what the year holds, we have this assurance.  God is Alert (well aware of our lives and His plans).  God is Active (involved in every little itty-bitty detail).  God is Watching  (over every word He has spoken to see that it is performed). 

Regardless of what the year brings, 2012 is a year of Overcoming! How do I know?  Because He has appointed us to oversight of everything that is holding us back.   We have been granted authority based on His own words and have His promise to perform it!   Therefore…..

If God be for us, who can be against us? 

Be strong and courageous in the Lord!  Watch the walls fall down!   AMEN!  (So Be It!)

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It’s common in Christian circles to hear that we are God’s favorites or that we are walking under the favor of God.  In my experience, often times that is equated with some special treatment or blessing that God pours out on our lives.  For me, that message always carried with it some sort of preferential tone that led me to believe when things weren’t always pretty I had somehow slipped from that place of favor.

The truth is that message needs a little perspective.

The Greek word for favor is charis (khar’ese).  According to Strong’s Concordance it refers to graciousness of manner or act, specifically the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in life.

The message and the work in Mary, told in  Luke 1:28,30 was one of divine favor.  Her heart was influenced by the message she heard and the supernatural messenger who delivered it.  It was no ordinary word and it carried with it the choice of an obedient heart.

Mary’s choice to submit herself to the plan of God and walk in obedience, carried with it a blessing of favor.  It wasn’t a choice without cost.  There was much to consider and some pain involved, not just at Jesus birth, but along the journey of raising him, and through His death on the cross.

The same is true for us.  Our destinies begin with the influence of God and Holy Spirit on our hearts.  The message is often beyond our own capabilities or thoughts.  It often seems impossible. Along with the unspeakable joy, there is pain.

Yet as we choose to accept the mission and walk in obedience, God’s favor shines through each step.  It is a blessing not based on our own ability.  It doesn’t carry a “You are my favorite child of the family,” message. Instead it is one where our hearts are changed over and we enter a season of growth, and result producing influence in our world.  We move from underachievers to overcomers!

God’s favor has nothing to do with our status in life.  It has to do with the divine influence we allow Him to have in our life.  Rich or poor, a citizen of America or some third world country, educated or not, the message is the same. It is a call to all of mankind.

Your story is important to the world.  You have a destiny.  God has a plan. You are my creation and I want to create things through you. 

The questions are the same too.  Will you hear the message?  Will you move beyond the things you don’t understand?  Will you accept and allow His plan for you?

When you answer yes and follow-up with your actions, the flavor of God’s favor is beyond what you could imagine!

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Life is  a journey.  There are so many ups and downs and along the way. If we are open, we will hear and see messages that lead us to our destiny in God.

I believe there are messages and messengers all around us.  God communicates with us in so many ways.  Through His word, people, circumstances, dreams, visions, the world around us….the list is really endless.

There are those extraordinary moments that the message comes in some awe-inspiring form.   Think of Moses and the burning bush, Gideon, Esther, just to name a few.

In Mary’s case, God sent the message by special delivery.  Gabriel, the highest angel, whose name means “Strength of God” brought the news.

There’s more to come as we break that message down into bite size pieces but for now, the point is:  When we are being called to birth something God delivers the message of impossible things through a place of strength. 

He will inspire, confirm, and move you to laughter or tears over the things that you are called to birth or influence. He will bring strength for the journey.

His message is unique to you and for you.  Others can do what you are called to do but I truly believe no one can do it like you can.

Mary was chosen uniquely to birth the Messiah.  It wasn’t an easy calling, but it came with a place of blessing and favor.  Yours won’t be easy either but the satisfaction and adventure of  living it out is worth it.

Take some time this season to reflect on your life so far.  What has God spoken to you through the peaks and valleys of your journey?  What are your places of strength? In what ways have you felt God speaking to you in the past?

Don’t be afraid to just sit in stillness.  Set aside time to sit with a paper and pen nearby. Close your eyes,  open yourself, breathe deeply, and invite His presence.  As thoughts come to mind, write them down.  Maybe you’ll see a picture or remember a scripture, something you read, or just an impression.

What do you hear?

Whether you are reaching for your calling, or dealing with obstacles or tragedy, God is the master of turning the impossible to possible.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

With the message comes a choice to have faith and believe, or succumb to the idea that you are insignificant, weak, and unable to make a difference.

Which do you choose?

 

 

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Considering Possibilities

I’m sure, like any young woman, Mary was hopeful and excited about the possibilities of her life with her soon to be husband, Joseph.  Can’t help but wonder what it must have been like when God’s chosen purpose for her became clear.

Face to face with His angel, hearing the words of being chosen to conceive the long-awaited Messiah, must have been both thrilling and scary!  So much responsibility, so many miracles needed, so much reputation to be lost, so many things to consider.  Overwhelmed would be the word of the day, I think!

Before Mary would actually become pregnant by the Spirit, she had to think about it all.  Her response was the key to it all.  Would she say no, denying man the miracle of a savior?  Would she risk her own reputation, her preconceived life plan, her possible loss of Joseph?

We are faced with those same questions every day in our lives.  Will we open ourselves up to what God has for us?  Will we stop caring so much about what others think and just do the right thing or be who we are?  Will we submit our will and plans for our future to God, trusting Him with it?  Will we move beyond our own understanding of what is possible for ourselves,  our kids, our spouses, ourselves, our community, our world?  Will we accept that if God says it is so, He will do the impossible?  Will we understand that His ways might look different but they are full of possibilities that change us and the world around us?

Mary had to accept that Father knows best.  She had to consider carefully what it means to open herself up to the Spirit of the Living God.  Her life was never the same and her decision impacted the world eternally.

What is facing you today?  Challenges of health, finances, family, relationships, career?  God is the God of impossibilities.  (Matthew 19:26)

What might be possible if you open your heart to the Spirit of God and let Him breath His life into the situations?

Consider you might become pregnant with the Spirit and deliver the plans of God to the world.  That no doubt would change a lot of things, wouldn’t it?

 

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It’s been quite a year.  About half way through our family entered into a season of unexpected blessing mixed with heart-wrenching tragedy.  The life-changing effects of both were unexpected.

As you may have noticed, my posts have tapered off.  I had to focus on what was at hand and until I could get it to some balance, needed to give up some things.

Today I knew I could start up again.  I can’t promise I will write every day but as God lays it on my heart I will.

Throughout the Christmas season and until the New Year, I’m going to share part of my book, Moms On Mission, Discovering Destiny.  Each post will cover the possible impossibilities of our lives, learning from the story of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

I hope you’ll join me as I share how we can apply Mary’s becoming Pregnant By The Spirit in our own lives.

For now, I’ll close with this thought.  “There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Albert Einstein

Brilliant man, don’t you think?

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This has been a week where I’ve been so conscious of pain.  Not so much my own, but that of those I love or the world in general.

So many stories.  Some involve injustice or hurt at the hand of others.  Some tell a tale of consequences for personal choices.  Most of them are really about both.

Regardless of the source of our pain or loss, it is clear that how we handle it will determine the power of it in our life.

I speak from experience.  I know the difference between the two.

I spent years playing the role of a victim.  I justified my own choices and the my reaction to the hurts inflicted by others by staying in that familiar space.  Poor me.  People are awful.  Why me?

When I learned to look at pain differently, my life had a seismic shift!  I am grateful for the lessons I learned.  Hopefully sharing it with you will help.

First of all, it’s God’s love that allows us to experience consequences for our own choices.  He always has our best interest at heart and His purpose is not to punish but to set us on the path that opens the door for the abundant life He promised.

II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct produce a repentance (change of mind) that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil and never brings regret…..”

When we let God direct the pain of the consequences of our choices, He will step in and change us from the inside out.  Sometimes we have to sit for awhile with the pain, contemplating our part in it before we can give it to God.

When we accept our responsibility for our choices, we can expect God’s forgiveness and His action on our behalf.  The consequences may not go away but we can look at the future with hope, knowing somehow, some time God will turn even this for good. We can walk toward that future without the shame and guilt, free to move closer to our destiny.

The same is true with the pain that is caused at the hands of others.  Betrayal of someone we love or trust is never easy.  Injustice  is a horrible thing.  Regardless of the circumstances or the story, our choice is the same.  Will we allow God to direct us and our pain for good or choose bitterness, victimhood, and unforgiveness?  Will we turn trouble into triumph, or let the pain rule our life?

This type of pain can wound and scar us so deeply.  There is no doubt that it can change the course of our outward life such as position, jobs, finances, etc.  It can also affect our emotional or physical well being.  Even the purposes and gifting that God has placed on our life can be delayed.

What we do with that pain will determine how much power we give it.  We can be forever stuck or forever free.

It’s not necessarily easy.  It takes thought, prayer, and processing.  But, the quicker we choose to ask God for help, asking Him to heal our souls and direct our footsteps, the sooner He can turn it to good. And the sooner we will experience a peace that passes understanding.

“and never brings regret: ”  The rest of that verse says, “but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of a pagan world) is deadly. (breeding and ending in death!)” (Amplified)

When we go through pain,  we have to options.  We can choose between a bitter, death producing life of victimhood or life, hope, freedom, repentance and a number of God’s wonderful gifts.

There is truly a gift in pain and grief.  It’s up to us to open it.

What can you do to open the gift today?

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I love how quickly God can speak to us through His word.   Doesn’t always happen but today I just bowed my head, said a prayer asking for what God wanted me to know, opened my eyes and looked at the page my Bible was open to and voila!

Deuteronomy 31:3 “The Lord your God will Himself go over before you, and He will destroy these nations from before you and you shall dispossess them.”

Mmmmm! Strange verse but my heart jumped at the first 9 words. There are always things in our lives that seem as big to us as defeating a nation.  I’m facing a few obstacles right now and I love this promise.

The context of this verse is the story of Moses leading Israel to the Promised Land.  He tells them he is old and can’t go out and in anymore and that he will not be going into the land with them.

Sometimes I feel like that .  Leading a family isn’t easy.  Mommas never lose their sense of protection and responsibility even when the kids are grown.  Leading a business isn’t easy either.  There are a host of relationships to maintain and challenges along the way.  Caring about others isn’t easy either.  Sometimes we want to fix things and we can’t. Keeping our dream alive is definitely not easy because there are so many competing voices in our heads.

These are some of the areas I’m facing obstacles in.  What are yours?

The good news is just when we think we can’t go any farther, alone without someone to lead the way,  in comes God.

He has laid out the plan already and provided for us to reach our destiny.  He will bring someone to help us or step in supernaturally.  The Spirit will remove the things standing in our way as we keep being obedient and following Him.

God goes before us.  He is the one who has all power and authority and we go in and dispossess the obstacles (nations) and possess the promises.  He asks us to be strong and courageous and firm.  (Vs. 6)

Too many are stopped cold by fear.  They are afraid of the obstacle, afraid of others, afraid of themselves.  When we live in that place of fear we can begin to feel terrorized by what comes at us and frozen in place, unable to move forward.

That same verse says, “fear not nor be in terror before them for it is the Lord Your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.”

God has and still goes before to clear the path.  Then He goes with us along the way.

What or who is there to fear?

What can you do today to let go of the fear and put your faith and trust in the God who goes before?

 

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People disappoint me.  How about you?

Relationships can be difficult when you live in the land of expectations.  So often we want things of people that they never promised to give.  Ever been upset because someone didn’t give you what you thought they should or act the way you wanted them to act?

That’s me.  And I’ve been faced with that ugly thing over and over again. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning, especially when it resurfaces old scars.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  I have a high expectation of myself in most areas of life and my values are really strong.  Sometimes I can use those as clubs over other people’s head when they don’t share the same values or are not living up to what they say they want. I expect them to want what I want and do what I do or at least what I’ve convinced myself I do.

Get it?  It’s easy  to hide behind rags of self-righteousness–convincing ourselves that we have given all and that our heart is pure.  There are times when we have a pure heart or done all but there are times when there’s something  in us to work on.

Scripture speaks a lot about unity and peace in relationships.  I’m beginning a deeper study on them.

For today, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all started to move from what we expect of others to looking for the gold in them.  Can’t help but think we would create an atmosphere of peace and unity.

Here’s a few steps that could help but before anything else know this.  God loves you and has all of your best interest at heart.  No matter what happens, that never changes.  Stay in relationship with Him above all else.

1.  Start with YOU.  Be honest and real about your hurts but never use your hurt to blame someone else.  Ask “How am I part of this problem?”

2.  Understand that others don’t know what you expect unless you’ve had that conversation.  Communication must be clear and specific.

3. Make it a habit to look for the good in others instead of focusing on the flaw you see.

4.  Make it a practice to whenever possible live at peace with everyone.  Find common ground and things to build unity on.

Psalm 133:1 says “How good and pleasant it is for brethern to dwell together in unity.  It is like precious oil upon the head. ”

Expectations are usually born from our own wounds.  People not being who they could be is usually a result of being wounded.  Oil is a healing force and if we choose to stop expecting and start finding the common purpose, I believe we can change the world.

What expectations do you need to let go of?

What can you do today to bring healing to a conflict?

 

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