Thursday, April 29, 2010

Online Book Study

I am participating in an online book study with 2 sweet blogging girlies over at The Bloom Book Club.  I've never done this before, so I'm excited!  I've been trying to decide on a new book to read anyway, and this will give me the chance to hopefully make some new friends, get feedback from other women and engage in an online discussion!  If this sounds like something you might be interested in, here's is the info you will need to get on board:

Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart 

online discussion and more info about the study (including a note from the author)

Schedule for the book study:

Sunday, May 9: Chapter 1: Awakening

Tuesday, May 11: Chapter 2: Desire

Thursday: May 13: Chapter 3: Pain

Sunday, May 16: Chapter 4: Losing Heart

Tuesday, May 18: Chapter 5: Control

Thursday, May 20: Chapter 6: Trust

Sunday, May 23: Chapter 7: Vulnerbility

Tuesday, May 25: Chapter 8: Forgiveness

Thursday, May 27: Chapter 9: Sexuality

Sunday, May 31: Chapter 10: Loving Beyond Reason

Tuesday, June 1: Chapter 11: Living Beyond Fear

Thursday, June 3: Chapter 12: Longing for Resolution
So, anyway, after just browsing through the book, it looks really good!  Check it out, see what YOU think, and leave a comment if you plan to follow along!  I'll be posting my comments and notes here, too, so feel free to join in!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Noise in the Garden (re-posted)

(I am re-posting another article from 2008.  Ever notice how God takes you back sometimes?  And then He does it again?  As I was reading these posts from years ago, I remembered what He was speaking to me at that time. And guess what?  Although I am in a different place, He is still speaking this to me, on a different level, concerning different things and areas in my life.  Just like in scripture....I can read it, and then read it again and it speaks something new to me.  His word is alive. living and powerful, ministering to and changing those who will hear it......... Purpose to hear the word He has for you today.  Maybe it will come from my blog as you read about His word to me as I read in the beginning of Genesis, maybe it will come from a phone call you've been waiting for, or maybe it will come in your quiet time,.....but if you are listening, it will come!)

Following you will find part of my 2008 notes from Genesis........

Check out Chapter 3. Temptation. You know.., the part where it's all the woman's fault (smile).

 There was some "noise" in the garden. A voice other than the Lord's. And what did Eve do?

 - She listened to the voice (of the enemy)

- She agreed with and believed it

- She acted on it

How often are we swayed by voices other than the voice of the Lord? How often do we allow the voice of the enemy to convince us of something contrary to the Word of God?

 Eve had everything she could ever want or need! I mean, she was in THE GARDEN!! She was QUEEN of THE GARDEN! She walked with the Lord!! Literally! There was only ONE thing she couldn't have! The voice of the enemy will remind you or bring to your attention the one thing you don't have and cause you to forget the blessings all around you.

I can just hear the conversation.

"What? God said you can't eat the fruit from THAT tree? Why not? What??...he said don't even touch it? That is ridiculous! It won't hurt you! You will SURELY not die! What's the big deal? In fact, if you do eat the fruit from that tree, it will make you like God! You NEED that fruit!"

 After listening to the serpent, Eve started thinking maybe the fruit wasn't so bad for her after all. She probably began to desire it, she began to want it. Why? Because she listened to the voice of the enemy. And she forgot the Word from the Lord.

Verse 6 says she SAW the tree.....she began to look at it and think about it. She saw that it was good for food. She saw that it was pleasant to the eyes. She saw a tree desirable to make one wise. And she was no longer satisfied.

How many times has God told us "don't touch it", "it's not for you", "stay away" ? And the more we look at it, the more we think about it, the fainter His voice becomes. Until finally we have convinced ourselves that He must have been mistaken or maybe we didn't hear Him right, or ....SURELY this won't hurt me. In fact, really, we NEED this.


 So we begin to doubt God and His word to us as the final authority. As did Eve. And once she acted in disobedience, a separation occurred. Her relationship with God changed. You know the story.

 But it's my story, too. I have chosen many times to listen to something or someone telling me things contrary to what I knew was God's word to me. But I am learning to hear God above the noise. I am learning to hear Him through the noise, and in the noise. But even when I hear Him, I have to choose to disregard the voice of the enemy, because inevitably, it comes. And I have to choose to believe God and His word over anything else. Over the adversary, over my flesh, over "logic", over my emotions, over my friends or families opinions, over other "Christians" opinions, or over anything that proves to be contrary to His word to me.

 I cherish my relationship with Him. I WANT to hear Him. I WANT to obey. He is my hope, my strength, my redeemer, my help.......

 Teach me to listen, Lord. And help me to obey.

 "Show me Your ways, O Lord. Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me. For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day." (Psalm 25:4-5)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Please Send Someone Else!

(Re posting from 2008)

Moses felt inadequate and questioned God about sending him to rescue the Israelites.

Ex. 3:11 "Who am I, that I should go and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

He felt inadequate because he was! himself. But God did not expect him to do it alone or in his own strength.

Again Moses reminded God of his inadequacies and weaknesses (like He didn't already know!) and pleaded with Him to reconsider and send someone else.

v.10 "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

v.13 "O Lord, puhleeeaaassseeee (emphasis added) send someone else to do it."

First, God's reply was -

v.11 "Who gave man his mouth? Who made him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

and then
 v.12 And God said "I WILL BE WITH YOU"

But after Moses continued to beg to be replaced by someone more qualified or with a Masters in Speech and Communication :-) , God agreed to let Aaron (Moses' brother) go and speak for him.

Moses was so overcome with feelings of inadequacy that he could not trust even God's ability to help him. Been there.

My friend J. (quiltermamma) commented on my last post about the bible stories we heard growing up. No mention of struggles, inadequacies or weaknesses for the most part. (Where's the reality in that?!) Just plain ole superheros of the bible! But truth is, they were ordinary people like you and me. People (superheros) who had struggles and problems and issues. People who when God called them to do something, sometimes didn't think they could do what He was asking! But the one thing that I believe gave them superhero status was that they did it anyway! Even if they whined a little in the beginning (or ran away for awhile!), they eventually obeyed and fulfilled their mission, their assignment. They allowed God to do great things through them.

Each of us has been given an assignment. Probably several assignments. Let's remember what God told Moses, "I will be with you." He doesn't expect us to go alone. He knows our weaknesses and inadequacies. The great thing is, He loves us anyway! And He doesn't change His mind about His plans for us!

I have so often been filled with feelings of inadequacy and thoughts of "I can't" or "There's no way" or "You want me to do what??" or "How, God?" or "Can't you send someone else??" and the list goes on! When the world (and the church) so freely exercises their judgement and takes pride in exposing other peoples' weaknesses, stepping out in faith and doing something you've never done before and don't feel qualified to do can be terrifying! I mean, leaving the wilderness with your GPS set for Egypt can be a little less than exciting! (Especially when the last time you were there you were a wanted man!)

Moses was worried about how the people would respond to him.

Ex. 4:1 What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say "The Lord did not appear to you."

As Moses, I too have also done this many times. The What-If Game. I can sit and play several scenarios in my head of different things that COULD or MIGHT go wrong. What if I mess up? What if I say the wrong thing? What if they hate me? What if? What if? What if?

When we put our eyes on the people and not the assignment, we get into big trouble. People can be scary! (Can I get an amen?) And mean!

So, as I am traveling once again through the Old Testament, I am being reminded that I am a perfect candidate for helping to carry out God's plans and purposes on the earth. My resume is filled with some of the same "qualifications" as Moses and other bible superheros. Not that I should be ok and content with my weaknesses and inadequacies, but that I should not let them be a reason or excuse to give my assignment to someone else or allow them to stop me from fulfilling my purpose. God choose me (and you) even with all of our flaws. We have to learn to trust God's ability, and not our own. He is a big God. And even when we don't, He knows what He is doing.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not as Good, but Good Enough?

This morning as I was making preparations for tonight's dinner, I realized I was out of cooking oil.  I didn't have a back up plan and since my family expects to eat every night, I HAD to make things work somehow.  So.....what could I use in place of the oil? 


After choosing butter, I began to think of other substitutes that I had used and other times I had improvised.  And then Holy Spirit began speaking.

One definition for improvise is to make do with whatever materials are on hand.  Some synonyms are fake, make do, invent, throw together, wing it, extemporize.

A substitute is a person or thing acting or serving in the place of another

There have been many (many) instances when I have had to improvise or find a substitute.  Some things have worked well, others.....not so much

Like the time I was out of detergent for my dishwasher. (You know what I'm going to say here, don't you?) Yes, ....I did.  Being young and inexperienced in the dishwasher department (because growing up I WAS the dishwasher), I thought surely a little bit of regular dish soap would work just as well.  Unfortunately (as those of you who will admit ever doing this know), that was not the case.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the detergent bubbling out of my dishwasher like molten lava from a volcano!  Overflow would not quite describe what happened in my kitchen that day!  I'm not sure I ever told my husband about it, but I"m sure he noticed how clean and shiny the floor was that particular evening.

Unlike my dishwasher story, the butter proved to be a more worthy substitute.  Not as good, but good enough.

As Holy Spirit began to speak to me, He, once again, challenged me to examine my life.  How often do I substitute things for my time with God?  How many times have I found myself lacking in an area or in need of something and instead of getting exactly what I needed, I improvised?  How many times have I settled for not as good, but good enough?

Don't get me wrong....improvising can be a great and useful tool when it comes to things like using a stick of my kids school glue when I run out of my scrapbooking glue, hand drawing a poster when my printer runs out of ink or using white thread when I would rather have light pink.  But when it comes to our relationship with God, there is no substitute that compares, nothing that fills our heart or completes us the way He does.

There have been times when I have been stressed out, in need of peace, joy or comfort and turned to dark chocolate or a large stuffed crust pepperoni lovers pizza with extra cheese dipped in ranch to make me feel better.  (Note to self: ...this would be one of those not so much times.....)

I don't want anything concerning my walk with my Savior, my journey with the King of Kings to be just good enough.  Jesus gave everything for me.  I don't want something that is not quite as good, but good enough, I want a real relationship with the One true God, my heavenly Father. 

There is nothing, or no one who compares.

"Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works." Psalm 86:8 (NIV)

*All definitions/synonyms found at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Share Your Story!

I think one of the biggest obstacles that we face in pursuing our relationship with God and operating in the ministry that He has called us to is letting go of our past. For me personally, there was a lot of regret, shame, and guilt over things that I had done or things I had neglected to do. Past failures, mistakes, and disappointments that we have never let go of have a tendency to hide in the cracks and crevices of our heart, resurfacing at strategic times to bring condemnation or convince us that we can never go beyond where we are. If allowed, our mind can paint images of ourselves that are far from how God sees us.  If we do not know the truth, we will succomb to the lies that are meant to hold us captive and prevent us from fulfilling our destiny.

In and of myself, no matter how "good" I am, I can never be good enough to deserve what Jesus has done for me. Even though I always make better choices than I did when I was away from God, self occasionally tries (and succeeds) to rise up with selfishness, greed, pride, bad know the ones! when I totally blow it with my kids or say things to my husband out of hurt that I can't take back. I always feel like a real winner when that happens. I have learned that if when I mess up, I just need to take a deep breath, step back, be quick to ask for forgiveness, and start over. I even try to use those moments as opportunties for teaching and growing.

Imperfect in all my ways, there is One who emcompasses all that I was created to be, One who possesses all the qualities and charactersitics that I long to reflect. God, in all His majesty.....Jesus, perfect in every way....Holy Spirit, comforter and so much more.....3, yet One. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He Who knew me before I was in my mother's womb (Jer. 1:5), He Who thinks good thoughts toward me (Jer. 29:11), He Who is love (1 Jn 4:9).... loves me!

I continually remind myself what God says about me, who He says I am, and that He has good things in store for me. As I do this, just as the sun rises every morning forcing the darkness to hide or lose its existence, so does the hope that is on the inside of me - rising to dispell any negative thoughts or discouragement that may have crept in. I remind myself that my Father's love is unconditional. Immersing myself in His presence, I see how beautiful He is and become unaware of anything else, because nothing else matters in this moment. His grace falls like rain, covering every inch of my being.

My past is who I was, not who I am, but it will always be part of my testimony. We each have a story to share, telling of obstacles we have overcome, lifestyles that have been changed and all the grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and goodness of God that came with it! And everytime we share our story, it not only has the ability to set someone else free, but it helps us to continue to overcome the enemy in our own life and strengthens our faith.

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11).

Within each day lies the opportunity to embrace or reject the path that has been set before us.  Our lives cross so many people who have no hope and do not know that there is One Who loves them more than any other.  Look for the opportunity to encourage someone today. Let them know what God has done in your life. Use your story, your testimony.  Don't allow your past to determine your future.....use your past to go forward and step into the ministry God has called you to!

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

According to His Own Purpose

Being the word nerd that I am (and frequently call myself such), tonight I grabbed 2 of my favorite books to jump start my post. Nothing like a dictionary and a thesaurus to get me inspired! ;)

First a word from good ole' Webster himself:
JOY - The emotion excited by acquisition or expectation of good

And my faithful companion, The Pocket Word Finder Thesaurus:
JOY - delight, enchantment, amusement, excitement, glee, happiness, laughter, merriment...

Reading this definition and list of synonyms immediately brought to mind images of my 1 year old niece that my sister recently sent my phone.

Oh how I love that smile. And how I love watching her. She is only 1 and life is GOOD!. ;)

No pressures, no expectations (except an occasional diaper change and some food).

Lots of joy! Delight, enchantment, amusement, excitement, glee, happiness, laughter....

She does not concern herself with bad hair days, skinny jeans that don't fit, or accessories that don't match. She could care less what people think of her. It does not bother her that someone might think she should be doing THIS or should have done THAT. She is confident in her identity and knows who she is....she is her mommy's little girl! :)

And her mommy loves her more than she can ever know.

She is a baby, becoming a toddler, still a little wobbly at times, but pressing forward and taking one step at a time. And when she falls down, guess what? She gets back up.

She is enjoying the simple pleasures of life, discovering new things every day. She finds joy in the moment - a gentle wind across her face tickling her nose, a butterfly landing on a nearby chair, a handful of sand thrown in the air, a field of flowers. Delight, excitement, laughter.

Life may not always be simple, but I pray that today, you can find joy in the moment, and enjoy the simple pleasures that surround you every day. You are your Father's daughter, created according to His own purpose and grace!

It is not what we do, how much we accomplish, who we know, how well we speak in front of a crowd, how much we please someone else or how spotless our house is that makes Him love us. He just loves us. Period.

When we begin to embrace our identity in Him and realize the full capacity of His unconditional love for us (although I don't think that is 100% possible!), we will begin to experience once again the joy as of a little child. And when we do this, we begin to take our place, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle in the body of Christ, each with our own space, each serving a purpose, each pressing forward one step at a time, each making the puzzle more complete.

"...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." 2 Timothy 1:9

(A link to this post can be found on Rachel Olsen's blog and Devotional Carnival. You can also find some fantastic blogs to read, all discussing this month's topic....JOY!)

Proverbs 31 Ministries Writing Contest

I'm so excited! I found this yesterday which led me to here!

I have never been to one of these, but I thought it might be a chance to meet some really great women, get encouraged and linger in the presence of God! So why not? ;) Especially if I get the chance to go for free! ;)

So ....what is it?

Well, click on the links already!! Whadda ya think I posted them for?? ;)

Ok...OKAAAY!! Geeezz! (Wink, wink)

It's a writing contest for Proverbs 31 Ministries Magazine. And the prize is a scholarship to their conference this summer!

Here's one little section by Glynnis Whitwer that caught my attention ;)

"As the director of the writer's track at She Speaks, I meet women every year who are wondering if they have what it takes to write. They might think the dream is foolish ... because who would read what they have to say? But the dream beats so hard in their chest they just had to come to the conference. However, they tenderly protect that dream, even as they put themselves out there for all the world to see.

Is that you? Do you have a dream to write but haven't taken the first step? Or have you been writing for awhile but know God is prompting you to take the next step in your writing journey?

Today, I have the privilege of announcing a contest to help someone take that next step of obedience in their dream to write."

So for all my writer should check it out! Even if you don't want to go to the conference, it's a great opportunity to get your article published and read by thousands of women who may need to hear exactly what you have to say! I personally LOVE getting their devotionals by email. Sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered!!

Let me know if you plan to enter!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Place Near Him

One of my favorite passages of scripture in the bible is found in Exodus 33. Moses tells God that if His presence does not go with him, then he does not want to go. He then asks the Lord to show him His glory.

v. 18 And he (Moses) said, "Please, show me Your glory."

v. 19a ....Then He (God) said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you....."

v. 21 And the Lord said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock."

God said there is a place near Him....

In verse 21, the word place in Hebrew is MAQOWN, which means: standing place, post, station, city, land, region, place of human abode, etc. MAQOWN originated from the Hebrew word QUWN, which means: to arise, become powerful, to be established, to be fixed, to be valid, to be proven, to be fulfilled, to persist, etc.

I believe there is a place for each of us where we are more near God than anywhere else. A specific place. And when we are in that place, He will establish us there, causing His plans and purposes to persist in and through us.

Also in verse 21, is the word stand. The Hebrew word is NATSAB, which means: to stand, take one's stand, stand upright, be set (over), establish, be stationed, be appointed.

This word is a verb, which conveys an action or a state of being. In that place, we will stand (we must take action, DO something, and BE that which God has called us to be).

v. 22 "So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by."

In that place, the glory of the Lord is so great that we, in our current state, cannot handle it. So much so, that God will have to protect us, lest we be destroyed. He told Moses He would make all His goodness to pass before Him and that He would proclaim the name of the Lord before Him. In that place, God's goodness is revealed! And His name is proclaimed so that all who see it will know that it is Him!

I believe that place has been created by God and is reserved for each of us. In it, is our destiny, our purpose. There, His grace is abundant to do that which He has ordained us to do. There, His goodness is undeniable. There, His glory is all consuming. It is there, in His presence, in that place that we are so near Him, that we are changed, made whole, healed, and set free! It is there, that we are able to give out what He has placed within us.

If His presence does not go with me, I do not want to go.

I pray that the glory of the Lord will be revealed in my life, that I might be near Him and know that which I was created for, that He might establish me in His plans and purposes (not my own) and so that others can see His grace and His goodness through me. That I might find that place....

I pray, today, that you might find that place and that His glory is revealed through you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Compelled into His Presence

This weekend as we celebrated Easter, we were surrounded by lots of family. We are truly blessed. And yesterday, as we sat down in the restaurant for lunch, Logan (my five year old) grabbed our hands and announced that he would be the one to give thanks for our meal. As he prayed, my sister and I sat in awe and with tears in our eyes at the words coming from his mouth. I know He hears God speaking and he understood what that day so long ago was all about....

God ( Gaaaawwwwd - long and drawn out, Texas style)....thank you for the birds. Thank you for the trees. Thank you, God, for my mom and my Aunt Vicki. (long pause and thinking.......) Jesus, you died for us! (in a loud 5 yr old voice) You died on the cross for our sins! And today you are alive! Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for us! We celebrate You today! Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross! And God (Gaaawwwwd), thank you for our food. In Jesus' name I pray....Amen.

A powerful prayer full of emotion from my five year old. Thank You, God, for my children who love you.

For the last couple of days, I've heard the word compel. I know what this word means, and how to use it in a sentence, don't worry (smile) but, being the word nerd that I am, I looked it up for it's exact dictionary meaning. (And yes, I am still a member of the word of the day club.) There were several definitions but here are the ones I particularly liked:

compel - to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc

compelling - requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect

I feel like God speaks to me sometimes through words, or a single word. I can hear a word over and over in my spirit, and then it seems that everywhere I look or everything I read the word is there..... and I know that He is trying to tell me something. It is exciting to search for the meaning like a hidden treasure and then feel the confirmation in my spirit when His message is opened up and revealed to me. He is so good and He loves to speak to His children.

So with this word, I feel like God is saying that He requires acute (extremely great or serious; sensitive even to slight details or impressions) admiration (the act of looking on or contemplating with pleasure), attention (observant care and consideration) and respect (the condition of being esteemed or honored) from me. And He wants to have a powerful and irresistible effect and influence over my life, every moment of every day. But I must answer when He calls (no matter what I'm doing at the moment). The Father is jealous of my time and desires my exclusive, fixed, undivided attention.

One moment with Him is unlike anything on this earth. I truly am complete when I am in His presence.

Is He compelling you today? Won't you answer Your Father and allow Him to speak to you this moment? He has secrets to tell and treasure to give.............

Father....I surrender my time to You. Order my day and fill it with Your presence. Let me be sensitive to Your voice above everything. In the midst of my busyness, let me hear Your call and answer without hesitation.........Your love overwhelms me......Thank you for desiring my attention, thank you that You still speak to Your children..........

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

"And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door..........He is not here; for He is risen, as He said......" Matthew 28:2,6

JESUS LIVES!! He is the reason we celebrate!