Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh nuts!

There is only one Christmas carol that I know of that is called The Christmas Song. You know it, right? Chestnuts roasting on a open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.... Well, when this song came to mind after we returned home from the holidays, I didn't picture chestnuts...more like joining Shadrach, Meshach, and Abeddego in the firey furnance of festivities. And come to think of it there were several "furance" issues as well this holiday...I melted aluminum foil in the bottom of a brand new covection double-oven that is only 3 weeks old (a technician is coming...another blog for another day...only I could melt aluminum foil-how?!). If that were not enough, while visiting family my husband drove an hour back home to our house on Christmas Day to make sure that I had turned the stove eye off from our breakfast biscuts. I know! But nothing could prepare me for the heat I felt during the holidays.

As I foucsed on inequalities, I was slowly consumed. Why is this person not joining us? How come this person is doing that? Why isn't that person doing this? Why didn't they tell me...? How come they get to...? Why do I have to...? And the questions went on and on. And to think, I was disappointed that I wan't more in the Christmas spirit. What a mess! Then upon our arrival home, I hear Chestnuts roasting on an open fire and I had just about had enough. My holiday scenes were not chestnuts, not Hallmark or even Norman Rockwell! I don't remember if I audibly heard the song or it just came to me, but I remember thinking not an open fire, more like a firey furnance, right Lord? Not exactly. God illuminated that there was more green than red coloring my sight this Christmas.

Slowly, I am learning that the green film of envy and jealousy is not a flattering color for me. But it is a color that needs to be purified in my own heart. A green book that my son Jeremiah received fom Christmas, The Squire and the Scroll, ends with this verse, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word" Ps. 119:9. It is kinda embarassing that I am 36 and still trying to get that right and can't even adhere to the basic Ten Commandments! What number is "Thou shall not covet" anyway? Again, what seems to be a very slow process, most purifications are, I am learning that coveting isn't only wanting what someone else has, but wanting what I want. Covetedness is really selfishness. How awesome is God's Word that Exodus 20:17 (the last commandment, by the way) and Galatians 2:20 "not I, but Christ" can mean the same thing.

And what about the furnance? Well, God is merciful and gracious. Whether we have been thrown in the furnace by the enemy or stormed in because of our own self-righteousness, remember...we are not alone. We are always +1! But, we can't stop short with just recongizing that He is with us. We are called to trust Him for He makes all things new. I trust that much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I was bound, but from my time in His Presence, even in a furnance, I will walk out of 2009 not burnt, not bound, but free.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Watch out for the "I" of the Storm

It is really a long story, but I was on the National Hurricane Center site looking up how to determine what level a hurricane is and read, "Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance."

Ok. I'll tell you the story.

Salvation Army bell ringing was on the calendar for today with my son, Jeremiah. I was running late, trying to call the Salvation Army with a few questions, making final plans with other volunteers, throwing mittens, toboggans, and scarfs everywhere, and raised my voice, "Jeremiah, this is why you don't play in the closets, Mommy can't find..." and the Christmas Nativity music box spontaneously begins to play. Spooky? No, I just say, Ok Lord. I am not in the "Christ"mas spirit. I hear you. And out the door we go. This isn't going to be a barefoot day, is it?!

"Oh Great!" I say over the radio Christmas music. There is no one for us to relieve at the grocery store where we are to ring the bell. I worried about this! Where is the bell? Where is the bucket? I drive downtown to the administrative offices to get answers from the morning-long unanswered phone calls to learn, "Ma'am the bucket, bell, and sign are at the customer service desk at the grocery store." And, now back across town. But as we were passing through the thrift shop, I looked around. This is the spirit of "Christ"mas. God, thank you that I have the opportunity to buy new the things I desire and have choice to buy the things I need.

As we commence the bell ringing 11 minutes late according to Mommy's time, my son, once again, becomes my teacher. He tells each and every person "Merry Christmas" that passes through the door coming or going - a heartfelt, cheerful greeting to the sound of ringing bells. He didn't care what they looked like, if they donated or not, young in the cart or old holding on to one. He was the spirit of "Christ"mas. He gave "Christ"mas to everyone. It was beautiful. By the time he donated a toy sword to another charity later that morning, I was really feeling the weight of conviction. "Thank you young man. That will make someone a fine Christmas present!" Jeremiah answers the volunteer and says, "I know it will" as Love smiles on his face. He was the spirit of "Christ"mas. He knew the gift he gave was enough.

Now hours later, my confession slowly and painfully begins. I wasn't the hustle & bustle holiday mom endlessly shopping while commercializing and compromising Christmas. I was GIVING today for goodness sakes. Right?! Oh, so wrong! Father forgive me for I know not what I do. I was giving time, plans, and pursuits, but I wasn't giving YOU. You, Your Son, Your Spirit, or Your Love wasn't beging expressed to Jeremiah or others this morning. More than anything, you want people to receive Your gift of "Christ"mas...not benefit from any thing I might offer. I was so self-centered concentrating on what I was giving, I didn't let others see what You gave me. God, You gave yourself. Incarnate. Immanuel. Immaculate. God, you are the Spirit of "Christ"mas. How can a 3 1/2 year old give the right gift at Christmas and I didn't?! I am so sorry I gave of myself instead of giving YOU.

So after waiting with crowds to pay taxes, moving with snow-expecting crowds through Wal-Mart, and pulling into the driveway with a crowd of groceries to be carried-in I hear, "loves like a HURRICANE, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of HIS WIND and MERCY."
Today has ended barefoot, blogging, and blessed. I know that I am forgiven, I have seen the cross (see hurricane photo above) and will remember..."depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance."

God, prepare my heart to give this "Christ"mas.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Little, Two Little...

Answer this from an old college interview:
If you could be a toy, what would you be?

I want to be a puzzle.

Today, we have yet another blogging squeal...another piece in the puzzle of my life. See, that is what I love about blogging (journaling), you make note of what is happening, record where you see or hear Jesus in your life, and then sit humbled when He arranges all the pieces, shows you the puzzle, and to your surprise, it isn't what you thought, it is just a radiant portrait of Himself.

So, remember when I shared "Ok Lord! I hear you Loud & Clear!" Well, a lot has happened since those first 3 pieces tugged on my heart. I asked around to see what books friends would recommend on prayer. An e-mail came late one night mentioning one specific book on intercessory prayer. I tucked the title away and kept listening. The very next morning started with a long awaited playdate for my 3 year old - as much for moms as kids, if you ask me. As conversation jumped from "play nice," preschool field trips, "don't grab, share," domestic tips, and good children's books, I took a leap of faith and inquired, "Are you involved in a Bible Study?" Now, the conversation got really interesting. This rekindled friend shared that although her heart longed to deeply study God's Word, she wasn't involved in a Bible Study. I was excited to learn that some other moms had been talking about an early morning Bible Study time, but nothing had been decided. Then, she shared an attempt to do a solo study, but just read the first chapter. Guess what the book was - you know that I asked! YES! It was the same title that arrived in my inbox that very morning on intercessory prayer.

Through God's providence a small women's Bible Study is being pieced together as I type. A perfect seven met this morning...bright and early at 6:00 a.m. for discussion and prayer. These women have an eagerness for God's Word, a heart for daily intimacy with Him, and desire to rise and shine for Jesus. The morning's stillness freshened my day with prayer, sharing, and testifying. God even had His Hand on some meditation music the Spirit prompted me to bring. Although Kari Jobe's song, Be Still was new to most, one member had just sung You are For Me the previous Sunday in her home church. Seven different pieces, coming together in one beautiful portrait of confirmation.

Later in the day, I was humbled when two early-risers e-mailed me. We had the date, time, location, topic, and Holy Spirit. God knew one last piece remained. Their encouragement for me to lead our Bible Study was God's gift to me today...one of many! After getting the first message from Him on November 1st and then seeing all the pieces fit together, 23-days later, I told them and God, "Yes!"

I am giving thanks today and over turkey Thursday for:
One little, two little, three little pieces,
Four little, five little, six little pieces,
Seven little, eight little, nine little pieces
May be even ten little pieces seeking You!

How beautifully radiant you are, Father. May we rise & shine to meet you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ALL CRACKED UP!

When I first instituted Tunesday, I blogged about the revelation I had over hard boiled eggs. Well, here is the sequel...

Yesterday, again barefoot in the kitchen, I made my famous, easy, guilt-free hot breakfast of hard boiled eggs for Jeremiah. And as I peeled eggs, not onions, I started crying.
Culinary Lesson #1: Did you know, the more you tap the shell, the more cracks you put into a hard boiled egg, the more you seek to fracture it...the easier it is to get the shell off?
Culinary Lesson #2: Watch out! If you are in a hurry and pull the shell off too soon, you can literally tear the egg a part and it isn't whole anymore!

It was like dynamite went off in my head and the salty aftershocks rained down my face.

The more broken we are before Christ, the quicker our shell comes off.

Just when I think I KNOW JESUS, I tell Him, What do I really know about it all? Do I get it? Do I listen?

After a weekended seeking to control and judge others, I broke with the eggs. Over the saucepan, I let the steam carry my prayer of repentance to Heaven. I told the Lord, I know better than to judge someone else, that's not love. I know better than to control the mood and men in my life, that's not peace. I know better than to dwell on my opinions, that's not self-less living. I was so sorry and embarrassed before God. I know better.

Then, feeling the stream, hot water, cracked shells, and warm eggs within my hands, with my offering, He whispers, "Look at me with your unveiled face." 2 Corinthians 3:18 is such a beautiful reminder of His grace and mercy, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. I thanked Him for his forgiveness, decided not to wear make-up the entire day even though I would be getting together with friends later (huge deal for those of you that know me!), and took our breakfast to the table...it was a NEW DAY!

So, imagine my stillness in the library parking lot later that day as Jeremiah is ready to hop out of the mommi-van and there is this incredible song on the radio that halts me. Mind you, I've never heard it before, it is a new group to me, and we are going into the library to give the old and get the new. A line from Addison Road grabs me, If You touched my face, would I know You? And the rest of What Do I Know of Holy are the lyrics of my heart. I share them with you!

It's Tunesday and I am excitedly seeking to be all cracked up, continually unveiled, and daily learning more of holy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From Park to Deep!

I am proud to announce that I am a proud momma of a "Guppie" graduate. This morning, my 3 1/2 year old son had to show the lifeguard instructor all that he learned in preschool swimming lessons to pass his class. As we arrived at the aquatic center and I put the car in "P" I thought, I should pray for Jeremiah before he "graduates." Then, the Spirit prompted me, "Jeremiah would you like to pray before your last swimming lesson?" With clasped hands and a bowed red head he prayed, "Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you (his classic beginning to every prayer), please don't let me go into the deep. Amen." Rather odd, I thought, but OK.

A perfect performance got him a ride on a huge square float. As they conversed, the instructor asked, "Where do you want to go, Jeremiah?" With pride, he pointed is little pruney finger and said "Over there!" And, she guided him into the DEEP! Without the least bit of resistance, he went where he feared. The float was not spent in worry and anxiety, but laying on his back looking up and elaborately conversing pretending to be pirates in a huge ship on the big open sea. Our instructor threw back her head, laughed, and said, "He makes my day!"

What a picture of our relationship with God! We make His day when we follow his "gliding" into the deep. Converse with Him, tell Him what delights your heart, He hears you! When you have demonstrated what you can do through Christ, be brave and dive into what you fear the most. But, if you can't dive just yet, FLOAT! God heard Jeremiah's prayer...and He answered it. God didn't let Jeremiah go into the deep, my little Guppie was carried the entire time on a faithful float that would not fail.

That "float" is Christ! So, I have to ask. Are you
A. failing?
B. flailing?
C. floating?

Don't worry, you won't flunk the test, but you have the opportunity to make His day! Don't you want to? Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you, thank you for continuing to teach me about prayer & how Your Son intercedes for us and delights in keeping us afloat. I pray for those who read this...give them courage to float with you anywhere...even into the DEEP!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LOUD & CLEAR!

Ok, God! I hear you loud and clear!

Tonight as I was working on my LHBI coursework "intercession" came up for the third time in a matter of days!
November 1 - Scripture reference that struck me from my daily devotional book, Hebrews 4:16 " So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help" (MSG)
November 4 - A friend shared over the phone she was excited to go back to her church's intercessory prayer services on Wednesday nights because it was such a blessing to her.
November 9 - Last night's homework scripture referenced Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (NIV).

I had to look that verse up in a couple of translations to make sure it said what I thought it said...Jesus lives to make intercession for us? Doesn't He have other things on His list with a little more priority like preparing a place for me, if not, He would have told me! Not to get too picky with the Word of God, but does this mean...Christ is just eager to intercede on our behalf at the throne of God or was Christ's very purpose in arising Easter morn to fulfill this duty? So after six translations, my answer is both. My favorite scripture that I found during my impromptu independent study assignment was Isaiah 53:12 "For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." The cross itself was intercession!?! The death, life, and resurrection of our Savior is all to be my advocate, to make my petition, to speak on my behalf.

Cool, but what is He saying about me? Romans 8:27 says "the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." I want to know more about this thing...intercession...that Christ lives to do for me. And as His Light, I need to know better how to do it for others. Living a WWJD life holds an expectation that we practice intercession like Him, right? Stay tuned (or bookmark me).

The Words I Would Say is a good intercessory song for Tunesday. Sidewalk Prophets ends the song like this:
Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
Thank God for each day,
His love will find a way,
These are the words I would say

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dependent Health Care?

My pulse? Racing.

I grew up on Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, on the other side of the Lone Star state from Ft. Hood. So the recent events and images in the national media hit really close to home...and that's not the only reason.

Living on a military base is like living in another world. All major buildings have horizontal numbers in military black stenciling and citations were given if you neglected to cut your lawn. I was a senior in high school before I knew what a pharmacist was or that you had to pay for dental and medical care. Imagine flashing your drivers license every time you went into a store...we did...if you didn't have your military ID you didn't get to shop! I couldn't wait to be old enough to carry and flash my own card and not just be a dependent. Imagine my surprise last Thursday to learn that our son's first dental appointment fees were not covered even though the insurance card said, "Dependent Coverage: Yes." I quickly learned that that only meant spouse, not child...and thus my culture shock continues as I learn how the other half lives.

Live media broadcasts form Ft. Hood, pans of the largest military base in America, news anchor reports from every network, take me back to my childhood home and memories of my dad. Have you ever considered the sound bites between the 6 & 11:00 news do not convey the true tally of all victims? This is not an anti-media posting, but rather a call for sympathy and compassion for ALL those involved, much like a recent post about Susan Klebold.

I remember when my dad, decorated Retired U.S. Army First Sergeant, was the headline; and we went to retrieve his truck from the scene. The reporter and camera man literally came running…could they have hit the jackpot to be the first to interview the accused’s family? They interrupted a neighbor mid-sentence to grab cords and raced to where my brother keyed the door. How quickly feelings of deep sadness, mourning, and grief can be pushed aside by anger, hate, and contempt!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Jesus Christ demands that His disciple does not allow even the slightest trace of resentment in his heart when faced with tyranny and injustice.” How big is a trace? I think the size of a trace depends on the size of the hurt. Some of the smallest injustices leave the largest resentments. Then, like in today’s headlines and my own experience, the largest injustices can have the slightest trace of a fractured heart before God. With only Chamber's eloquence, he simplifies, “Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.”

I can not be the peacemaker or the persecuted except through Christ.
I cannot be turn the other cheek, forgive, or offer my cloak except through Christ.
I cannot withhold judgment or go the second mile except through Christ.

What a reminder that we are always marked as a dependent of our Heavenly Father! We are so unable to attain, maintain, or sustain anything outside of His care. Through Christ, pray for ALL victims in today’s horrific and unwarranted tragedy.

My pulse? In Rhythm.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...it is Tunesday!

In the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed the privilege of speaking about public speaking. Neat, huh? The simple helping out a friend, by presenting at a few scout meetings, turned into a personal reflection. How is it that when we help out someone else, we are the ones who are ultimately blessed in the end? And, why are we surprised by it?

When given the chance to try their hand at public speaking, the older scouts withdrew and guarded what they shared as they introduced themselves while the younger group was open and demonstrated total freedom. What joy! Despite age, maturity, and experience the more eloquent speakers were the younger group of scouts. I had to go look in a mirror! Do I remain free? open? vulnerable myself as I speak about You, Lord? In the last few weeks (as evident by sparse blog posts), the answer is "No."

God explains, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:17-20. My honesty came with an uncomfortable shock. Have I forgotten that I am STILL being transformed into His likeness? With even more honesty, I answered "YES!" Oh, how I have a lot of transforming to do! I went into the scout meeting encouraging others to stand up to one of mankind's greatest fears, next to death, and publicly speak. All the while, adjusting and fidgeting with my self-applied "veil." You know how it is. Anything that keeps us from reflecting the Light that is in us serves to veil our vision...our vision of what we want to be for Him and to see His vision of what He wants for us. Right?! Veils of fear, indecisiveness, competition, lack of faith, and pride have all been torn. Why do I keep reapplying?

Natalie Grant's song Perfect People has this one line that says, "So look up and see Love. Let grace be enough." And with that thought, I do look up and pray...

Thank you for being my mirror today, Lord. How incredibly complete You are. I needed to be reminded that there is no longer a veil between us. I am sorry for blocking Your Light. True freedom (my heart's desire) comes from allowing Your Spirit to unveil what You have already created in me. I am free to be me because I am in You. Amen.


Friday, October 30, 2009

A Note via A Blog

Last week, I learned that Susan Kelbold shared her story with O Magazine. I could relate. If I could send her a note, it might read something like this...

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Dear Susan,
I know it took an amazing amount of courage to come forth with your story. Seven years ago, my family was affected by murder and suicide. I have only been able to publicly speak about it this year. God has brought much healing to our extended families and I am now sharing my testimony and story; it is always difficult, but not as hard as the first time. Thank you for sharing your story. I could so relate to your described feelings about how others perceived you (law enforcement, community members, victims’ family), your internal struggles as a victim, and the apologies you offered. I understand from Good Morning America's interview with Gayle King that you felt that you could not do a TV interview, but wrote the article for O Magazine instead. You did so much with your article. I applauded your willingness to vividly share, your call for awareness, and vulnerability to the public. One line said, "Dylan changed everything I believed about my self, about God, about family, and about love." It is my prayer that God will bring complete healing to you, you will come to know Him in a very intimate way through this, and experience His all-sufficient love even when you don't hold the answers. Today, as Oprah's November issue hits the stands, we should offer you compassion as we did to the families of the Columbine tragedy 10 years ago.
You have mine,
A Survivor


When I went to pick up a copy of the magazine to read the story. These front page articles caught my eye: Who Are you Meant to Be? My answer is Rev. 4:11. And, How to Talk So People Really Listen, I would site 2 Timothy 2:2. It was a good $5.00 investment to be reminded of the Author and Perfecter who holds answers to all of my questions and confirms all of my steps.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good to the Last Drop

Thanks to so many of you who have inquired about this past weekend’s speaking opportunity at the Women’s Retreat in West Virginia. God moved in a mighty way throughout the entire weekend. Here’s the story…

Friday, God Filled My Cup
Have you noticed the days are getting shorter? Not only do the days pass by more swiftly, but there is less and less daylight in each of them. My how time passes was my exact thought as we drove 2 hours to see one of my younger brothers earn his junior black belt. We shared a milestone despite time and distance. As we drove home in the early-setting darkness, I got comfy, slid off my shoes as my oldest younger brother of 30 years, shared his heart. The season was about to change.

This past summer, he met my desire to share my testimony with a great deal of anxiety, hesitation, and even frustration. You have to understand, until God healed and changed MY heart, neither of us was openly, let alone publicly, comfortable to share that our dad committed murder and suicide. Now, in autumn darkness, headlights illuminated our way. My brother shared how after the previous Sunday’s sermon, Living in the Spirit - Not Flesh, he went to the altar. Not quite done with him, God tugged on his heart to openly share, on a Sunday morning to a full congregation, the story of what our dad did in the flesh. What a milestone! What a God moment!

I know of my own painful, agonizing, gut-wrenching experience of sharing our story publicly from earlier this summer…only to be met with fireworks as I left Michigan. On my late night drive home, after getting lost, somewhere over Canton, Ohio, I saw fireworks overhead and was reminded of an earlier-heard quote by Sarah Young, “When your joy in Me [Christ] meets My [Christ’s] joy in you there will be fireworks of celestial ecstasy.” That moment was a bright and shining celebration of being obedient to the Lord.

As my brother talked about how God worked to change his heart, we had the opportunity revisit the summer’s conversations…some very heated! He understood the urging that the Spirit can have on your life and the need to obey. Just then, my husband interrupts and points. “Look over there. Did you see that? There were fireworks!” Are you serious, “It is October” I said, but immediately I knew that didn't matter. In a dark sky, on an autumn night, near an interstate, God again showed me His celestial ecstasy in our sibling healing…we shared the same bright colorful Joy. Are you surprised to know my brother finished sharing his story with us by telling how the next afternoon brought a call from his Pastor rejoicing that someone in the church was saved, citing my brother's testimony as an impetus? A stranger, but not to God, gained his sight and welcomed His Light into his life from our family's darkness! Praise God!

Saturday, My Cup Overflowed

So the next morning I drove in the twilight to West Virginia to speak of King Hezekiah’s tunnel and share how God helped me find a way to overcome my walls of shame, embarrassment, and resentment to bathe in pools of blessing.
The Spirit washed over me with ease - I just shared.
My words were from healing– not just hurt.
There was no anxiety or wrenching – just Truth.
God spoke to hearts – just used my mouth.

Sunday, I Got a Refill!
I never expected more on Sunday. But, I serve a generous God! What a bright day...full of Light...to bathe in His Presence after seeing Him the past two days. As we sat down, looked at the bulletin, the text for the Sabbath’s sermon was Exodus 3:1-10 where God called Moses to be barefoot…no excuses!

And since it is Tunesday on my blog...
Fill my cup Lord,
I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of Heaven, Feed me till I want no more
Fill my cup, fill it up and make ME whole!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

So, I wrote my first skit today...a comedy monologue. A women rushes in to the church fellowship like a whirlwind to join all her friends for a time of spiritual retreat and renewal. She is frazzled, frustrated, and in a frenzy. She plops down with a huge purse and begins to frantically search for her lipstick to freshen up before the guest speaker takes the stage. And thus, it begins. She pulls one purse out of another purse out of another purse out of another and so on, as she in excruciating detail shares the morning's chaotic events of her life. Yes, I may be barefoot, but I do have that many purses! "I'm a tellin' ya the truth, I know my lipstick is in one of these bags," she insists. Upon finding and applying her beauty, she sits covered up by a mound of baggage. Moral of the story: We can not truly be all that He has already designed for us unless we are willing to dig through our baggage and find what makes us shine for Him.

Lord, whatever you want to use this weekend, Your Word, a skit, an analogy, or my own testimony (that I still have difficulty sharing), it is YOURS! Make me shine a beautiful shade of whatever brings You glory...I prefer Black Honey by Clinque.:)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mathmatical Mantra for Tunesday

Today is Tunesday and I have been waiting for days to share this song with you. Math has never been my strong suit, but I am so excited to be living out some eternal equations as I prepare for my speaking opportunity Saturday:

My Faith (in God) + My Trust (His Plan) = Peace (His Gift)...
Lack of either on my part can cancel out the sum.
His Peace > My Anxiety.
His Peace = My Desire

Listen to My Desire by Jeremy Camp on this Tunesday...you do the math! Notice in the video how hands start closed in prayer...in/for faith and trust. Then, the shift...hands are open, lifted up, exposed. Love that! Then, in the end, the hands again are in prayer again...thanksgiving?! Then, it all ends in the arms of peace! My favorite verse in the song and my mathematical mantra is:

All my life I have seen
Where You've taken me
Beyond all I have hoped
And there's more left unseen


How exciting is that!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Prep, Print, Post, Pray


This week I am preparing to speak at a Weekend Women's Retreat in West Virginia. Yippeee! I feel like Cinderella getting ready for the ball...a dream come true...turning the not so glamorous parts of my life into something for His glory. Speaking of which, Cinderella had bare feet issues, too, didn't she? The focus of the weekend is Psalm 18:28 "Enlighten My Darkness!" I will be sharing some of my own testimony and the story of King Hezekiah's Tunnel. So, I thought I would make short daily posts this week to invite you along for the journey. Today's preparations consisted of looking up some key scripture about the tunnel, enjoying a long talk with an inspiring mentor and friend, professionally printing some visual aids, designing business cards, and finding a really cool blog post about the tunnel! But the most enlightening part about today was finishing my study on Titus where Paul tells Titus not only to "initiate" good works, but "maintain" them. So, back to our beloved girlfriend with her one shoe on, one shoe off dilemma. I hear, "Be bold, take a step, take off the other glass slipper, don't hold on, don't hold back." Bold & barefoot...and I pray that I stay that way!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is there a chill in the air? Or is it just me?!

Being the mother of an imaginative preschooler, I know my cartoon characters. For those who can relate, what does Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo, and Bob the Builder all have in common? They all demonstrate spiritual truths. Seriously, take a look.

Thomas the Tank Engine seeks to be "very useful" and help other trains different from himself...Thomas is like the Good Samatrian. Elmo follows the golden rule and loves one another...everyone, all the time, anywhere, no matter what. Bob the Builder fixes everything! You know the song..."Can we fix it? Yes, we can!" Bob has the faith of a mustard seed and is the ultimate optimist. Isn’t he? Yes! He is!

Are we? Do we have spiritual optimism? Can we? Yes, we can! But today, I share a caution.

Obviously, our sufficiency isn’t through Bob the Builder, but through Christ. I bet we can all state the ever popular verse, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” I see that verse a lot...Posters, greeting cards, home d├ęcor. But where is John 15:5? John quoted Jesus. Jesus said, “without me, ye can do nothing.” Tucked behind the vines and branches, it doesn’t get the same popularity does it? No, it doesn't. But is holds so much meaning.

God has provided a speaking opportunity this coming weekend at a Women's Retreat. I will be sharing about God's work in my life this summer and my Bible Study of King Hezekiah. As I gather notes, get anxious, make outlines, harness my creativity...I get nervous. Who am I to share from God's Word? Will they like it? Is it entertaining? Thought provoking? Scripturally sound? Cold barefeet set in before I started preparing Saturday. However on Saturday, He saw fit to provide 3 affirming e-mails about gifts that others see in me and led me to read, "When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My [Christ's] help. This is a subtle sin - so common that it usually slips by unnoticed" by Sarah Young in my devotional, Jesus Calling.

It greatly excites me that God provides different verses for different situations; only He can empower and humble us at the SAME TIME! So, when we need to know that “Yes, we can!” – God empowers us and gives us Phil 4:13. But, when we are too sure of ourselves and are tempted to abuse our gifts and abilities in the name of the Lord…He humbles us with John 15:5. In my attempts to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and go it alone, I am glad He said, “No! You Can’t!” His Word warms my feet!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Tunesday!

Let's start a new blog tradition...Tuesday Tunes! Each Tuesday, I'll post a new link to a song with a few thoughts. Then, you can share you comments about the song, artist, or leave a thought on the blog. Think of it as just a little way to add some of His Word to your day! So, it is Tuesday! Take your shoes off, sit back, and listen to Kari Jobe's tune You are For Me.

Yesterday morning...a Monday...I made a simple, but hot breakfast for our 3 year old, Jeremiah. I know! A Monday and NOT cereal...I was off to a great start, right?! With sleep in his eyes, bed wrinkles in his cheeks, and hugging himself in his pjs, I served him breakfast and he asked, "Where is your spoiled egg, Mom?" I couldn't help but laugh, "Jeremiah, it isn't a spoiled egg, it is a boiled egg. Mine is right here and Mommy would never serve you spoiled eggs!" He relaxed, launched into the breakfast blessing, and thanked God for the "boiled, not spoiled eggs." I smiled and just shook my head...preached to this morning from the pulpit of a preschooler!

Sometimes we define the negative in our own lives before we even talk to God about it. When, in reality, God is always for us. Even when it seems hard, challenging, and even impossible, we have to remember that God is always for us. What does that mean? It can mean that what we might see as negative, isn't always in God's eyes. If God be for us, what (or who) then can be against us, negative, challenging, or even spoiled? Let's remember to seek His definition of what is going on around us before defining it ourselves. Seek Romans 8:31.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Come on in and take your shoes off...

5….4….3…..2…..1…..BLAST OFF! Today I launch my first-ever, brand-new, girlfriend-designed, thank you, Jilian, BLOG! If you are anything like me or are deciding whether or not to subscribe, let me share how MY LAUNCH DAY has gone...complete with clown nose. You have seen the news right?!

LAUNCH DAY 2009
6:30 a.m. I woke up with sniffles, sneezes, and sinus pressure. Great! Flu season!
9:00 a.m. I grazed another car in Hardee’s parking lot where I promised our son we would have a breakfast date before swimming lessons this week. Oh no!
10:15 a.m. I ran my right shoulder into the footrest of the lifeguard stand as I read NO RUNNING printed on the pool deck, but resumed walking ever-so swiftly to get to the potty. Oooocccchhh!
12:30 p.m. I laughed out loud as our son finally yells “I spy Jesus!” in the Vietnamese pedicure salon after he said he didn’t want to play anymore! What a barefoot moment! Jesus WAS there, ceramic, right above the door!

But back to Hardees! After circling the parking lot twice debating what to do, there wasn’t any damage done to the other car…just ours, I much more carefully pulled into the same space. I prayed. God whispered, I don’t know why you are stressing out about this, don’t you think I’ll take care of you? Into Hardees we go. As I told the Hardees employee that I hit her car, she interrupted me and said, “Don’t worry about it honey!” Thank you, God! Sorry, God!

As I got home with a scratched car and new fresh coat of paint on my toes, I ran to get my camera for a barefoot picture on Launch Day! After several attempts inside, I ran out onto our back deck. I thought, this is crazy...it has been Fall for two weeks and I am freezing out here...barefoot... just trying to get a picture! As I rested my newly pedicured toes on the ottoman, the autumn breeze nudged the clouds from where they hovered and the sun broke through and shined on my tiny toes! See the shadow behind it all?! It was like the largest star in our solar system was just shining on me...right where I was...on September 30th...days into Autumn...Launch Day! Snap! My beautiful barefoot picture!


It got me thinking...see why I need a blogSeasons change! A morning like today would have consumed me in a different season. Now, although excellent fodder for the blog, I am reminded of whose Light I am in NO matter what is going on around me. Whether in public needing to ask for forgiveness, in a pool trying to follow the rules, or smack-dab in a pedicure salon pampering myself, I reflect the one true Light of the World! If His shadow supports me, then I should reflect His Light in all I do and be a light for all to see.

What a great summer! So much of this past season has lead me to this point...the point of going public with all my ramblings of faith this Fall. I'm flattered that you have even read this far! I look forward to sharing my seasons with you! Come’n into the new site, take your shoes off, stay a while! My prayer is, Lord, if not a blinding light, let me be a flickering candle to go light Your World.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ministering Music

Official Theme Song for Barefoot Offering Blog! My Offering by 33 Miles
Launching and Lighting the World! Go Light Your Candle by Kathy Troccolli
Tunesday 10/6/09 You Are For Me by Kari Jobe
Tunesday 10/13/09 My Desire by Jeremy Camp
Tunesday 11/3/09 Natalie Grant's song Perfect People
Tunesday 11/17/09 Addison Road's What Do I Know of Holy
A New "Christ"mas Song! How He Loves Us by the David Crowder Band

Defining Definitions

Self-sufficient: to be adequate without My [Christ's] help. ~ Sarah Young's devotional Jesus Calling

Fear
is believing the lies that Satan is trying to tell you. ~ Church marquee

Peace
is accepting to be led. ~Unknown

Patience is accepting God's timing. ~Pembrook UMC marquee

Sorry looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up. ~ Dr. Tim Clinton, President AACC 8/21/09

Myths are what we believe when we don't understand the mysteries. ~ Jennifer Rothschild

Saturating Scripture

"...because He always lives to interceded for them [me & you]. Hebrews 7:25

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:14

"For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness." Psalm 18:28

"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him." Proverbs 29:20

Be Barefoot

Does life have defined, holy spots where you have stood and met, felt, and/or ever experienced God?

A. If yes, then read on my friend, see if you agree.
B. If you don’t know, then keep reading in curious company.
C. If no, read anyway!

One holy spot of my life was in Grand Rapids, Michigan the irony, I know! where in the nerves of public speaking and sharing from God’s Word, God told me to take off my shoes. Then, and only then, was my ordinary testimony given before an extraordinary God!

What can we learn from our barefoot buddy Moses if we do indeed want to meet God face to face in our everyday walk.

  • LIVE. Just do what God has called you to do right now. Don’t fight it. Don’t complain. Moses wasn’t in the land of Midian under good circumstances, was he? But, pay attention to the present. Where does God have me right now?
  • LOOK. What’s going on around me? Where do I see God? What has me in awe of God right now, today?! Recognize how God is currently getting your attention. What is going on in your life that has you wanting to run toward him?
  • LISTEN. When you hear Him calling your name (because He is always seeking us) answer like Moses. “Yes? I am here.” Yes God, it is April. I am right here in my everyday life doing the things that I feel that you have called me to do…the laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, the nurturing, the mothering. I am here. Then, because our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; He will commune and converse with us just like He did with Moses. Trust that further instructions await! Ask Him, “What do you want to say to me, Lord?
  • LOVE. God’s Word says, if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments. So love Him by doing what He tells you to do. Take off your shoes! Cast your crown! Take up your cross! Love Him! Adore Him! Welcome the divine appointment and place in your life. Am I loving? Am I loving my life you have provided, not necessarily the one I want, but been blessed with?
  • LEARN. Moses did. As Moses stood barefoot, burying his face in his hands, God began to talk, tell, and turn Moses’s attention to the call before him. God talked about the mission, not Moses. Moses was the one who turned the conversation around to reflect himself. God knew who He had appeared to. Don’t insult Him. Learn the mission, no matter what it is, accept it, without question and/or hesitation. God might spend months or years detailing your steps, but don’t insult Him and tell Him that He has the wrong person. He won’t. What is your ministry? We all have one. What is your mission? Not all are international and in another language. What is your heart’s mediation? God longs for us. What moves you, nags at you, and comforts you? In learning to question our mission, rather than ourselves, He can provide answers.

Are You Barefoot?

Can you name 3 barefoot people in the Bible? A blog doesn’t feel like a waste of time if it is educational right? And it is learning about you, Lord!

1. Moses – Exodus 3:5
2. Joshua – Joshua 5:15
3. Paul – Acts 7:33

This past summer at Speak Up with Confidence ‘09, I was so moved during the sharing of God’s Word (a King Hezekiah Bible Study coming soon to a blog near you!), that I slid out of my high heel sandals and gave the rest of my speech barefoot! The Holy Spirit moving like that has to be found somewhere in the Bible, right?! It was one of the purest experiences I have ever had. In an attempt to absorb the importance of the moment, this diva comes home to dive in and study Moses being asked to take off his sandals. And now the story in the AIV…April’s Intentional Version from Exodus 3:

On Mount Horeb (the mountain of God), Moses was just doing his job. Shepherding was not glorious. I am sure that Moses reminisced of the grandeur of his previous position in Pharaoh’s palace from earlier years gone by. But now, he spent his days with stinky, woolly sheep trying to care for them at the request of his father-in-law. However, there was one day, where Moses’s ordinary life met the extraordinary power of God and Moses’s life was forever changed.

The angel of God (Jesus in the Old Testament) had entered a bush along Moses’s shepherding route. This was a most unusual sight. The bush was burning, but not consumed. Freak of nature? Moses could have very easily kept on walking saying, “That is really weird and I better not get involved, I am going to keep on walking.” He definitely had a choice to stop at the bush or not. Don’t you think?

Moses, praise God, allowed what was going on around him to grab his attention, but not necessarily consume him. He could have stood afar off and questioned the sight. He could have passed it and then second thought himself for weeks. Can you relate? He was not too distracted with the daily responsibilities of the sheep to be keenly aware of his present surroundings.

When Moses started to focus, absorb, and inquire about what was going on…then, and only then, did God Almighty speak out from His Dwelling Place, temporarily a burning bush, and called Moses by name. What must of that been like!?! I believe that God was pleased that Moses took notice of the miracle God was doing during his ordinary day.

Then Moses answered God, “Yes? I’m here” (MSG). How did Moses know that the voice he heard was that of God? Moses was standing in the very presence of God. Was it undeniable? How could he be sure? The Bible doesn’t mention that Moses had fear or question in that experience. He just listened and conversed. God told him, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet.” Doesn’t that imply that Moses wanted to get closer to the burning bush after he heard God speak through it? Would I have wanted to run to it? Are you sure that it’s God? You? God paced Moses with instruction and explanation. “Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on Holy Ground.” What a beautiful picture that is! The very spot that Moses stood while doing just the ordinary things of life turned into a holy, divine, Godly place. I love that!

Once God made Moses aware that this meeting was holy, divine, miraculous and Moses gave Him his attention and podiatry obedience (we assume Moses quickly untied those sandals) God identified himself. “I am the God of your Father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses could barely take in what was happening. Moses need no further instruction, he voluntarily hid his face. How humble! Moses understood the soberness of the moment and the humility it required.

From there, Moses’s life was forever changed with God placing a call on Moses to set free the captives, lead His people, and worship the one true God. An ordinary day held an extraordinary call. How about ours?

What's Barefoot?

Ever thought what would God’s Facebook would look like? What would God’s blog look like if it were about me, even?! Would it be pink hearts, lavender flowers, and bright rainbows or short tweets like “R U there?” with lots of punctuation marks.

It’s a little daunting to think that I want to blog about God –
The Almighty!
Maker of Heaven and Earth!
Creator, Sustainer! Affirmer!
Omni-Everything!
Alpha!
and Omega, too!

However daunting, I make sure that I always blog barefoot! Barefoot simply means when your ordinary life meets the extraordinary power of God that you recognize His holiness and the need for direct obedience. Not sure if Webster defines it the same way, but a good working definition for the blog.

He is everything to me! A children’s song says, “Give God Something to Bless.” I want Him to bless this blog. I give it to you, Lord! As I chronicle and share my journey of faith, I invite you to join me. Not to attempt to resolve every theological debate, but to interact, e-converse about God apparent in our lives. Malachi 3:16 says when we talk about God, he writes it in a book of remembrance. It pleases Him. Take off your shoes! Search or subscribe. Leave a thought or start a thread. Click for communion or find some food for thought.

Whatever or however He uses this blog…To God be the glory, great things He has done.

I’m Barefoot!

Two Truths and A Lie. Have you ever played that game?! You tell 2 truths and 1 lie for friends to guess which is which. Here are mine:

1. I am a rookie blogger.
2. I’m “April” because I was born in April.
3. I once went barefoot in public on purpose.

If you guessed #2, you are right! My blog and I share the same birth month…September, not April!

This September, also marks the first time I won a door prize. “Give the girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world” scrolled the top of the designer stationary. Well, I thought…I am slaying a number of pretend dragons sword fighting with our 3 year old son, trying to conquer the commandment “submit” in Greek and Hebrew because the Lord knows that after 11 years of marriage, I haven’t “mastered” it in English, and if my stay-at-home mom world isn’t hectic enough, I have decided by choice and without pay to conquer the world wide webs through blogging.

But you know…all shoes set aside (Neatly by the door, please!), instead of conquering the world, I am captivated by the Word! I am a huge Bible study nut. I love to read it, meditate upon it, and share it. The more in-depth…the better and the more chain references…the more Bing-Bing, in my opinion.

Despite being a diva (coined by friend, not author) who dives (into the Word, not the waves), I prefer to do it without shoes, BAREFOOT infact!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

About Barefoot Offering

Post Here.