Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Convictions

I have been making a concerted effort to complete a lesson a day (even if Jeremiah doesn't nap) to finish my Liberty University Home Bible Institute program by May. Graduation is finally in sight. I even added it to my Facebook profile to help with personal accountability...because you know THAT helps!

Well, as I am 7 out of 8 lectures through the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, I stopped dead in my tracks in the baking aisle of Wal-Mart today. As I grabbed odds and ends from my list (groceries, wrapping paper, a Sharpie for Christmas cards, etc.) I was letting Jeremiah lead the way and help pick things from the shelves.
That's when it happened!

Jeremiah, age 4 1/2, picked up one the of the large economy sized vats of vegtable oil (not on The List).
Why do they put the big things on the lowest shelves? Every notice that? Stuggling, he turned to the attravtive elderly lady standing next to him and in a voice of a 30 year old he announces, "Ummmm....I have a question for you."

"For me?" she smiles.

"Yes, just for you," he assures her. "Do you believe in Jesus?"

Oh Jeremiah, we don't even know this lady. Lord, what is he going to do if the woman tells him "No." Jesus, what do I do if she tells him, "No"?! Should I intervene and smooth this generationally challenged conversation over? I let him speak.

The lady walks over, Jeremiah stops stuggling with the oil and sets it down right between them in the middle of the aisle. There's not another soul near by. She pats his red hair
(he is used to it) and answers. "Oh yes! I do! That is a very important question. I do believe in Jesus."

Whew!

But Jeremiah isn't done. "Jesus came to earth and that's Christmas," he reports.

"Yes, it is," our new friend agrees. "Have a very merry Christmas, sweet boy" and she pats his red head again and walks away.

Jeremiah returns season's greetings and says, "Merry Christmas!"

I walk around the cart, bend down, pick up the oil, and put it back on the lowest shelf not really sure what to say to my son. Before I can even process what just happened
...did something just happen?...Jermeiah eagerly encourages me, "Com'n Momma! Let's go tell everyone about Jesus!" I smiled and even laughed. Where does he get this from? (I know there will be blog comments to answer that question!:)

As we stroll through the store, I have no idea what is left on The List or even what I did with it, so I ask him, "Jeremiah, what would you have done if the lady would have said, 'No, I don't believe in Jesus'?"

"Simple, Mom," again not even sounding even like a 5 year old, "I would have just invited her to come to my church with me."

And, I pondered these things in my heart.

Remembering my recent lectures, page 644 of my textbook describes how oil is an emblem of the Holy Spirit. The popular Shephard's Prayer reminds us that
"he anoints our heads with oil." Even, Jesus. Luke 4:18 shares that Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel too the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." That is why we have Christmas. I, more than anyone, need to remember that this holiday season.

Let me be honest friends. Had the answer really been, "No," I
hope that I would have known what to say. I pray that I would have had the courage to share. I trust that in the future, I will be Jeremiah's example instead of him being mine.

I leave you with this.

The Holy Spirit DOES empower us for witnessing,
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). And today, I think that even included Wal-Mart.

And, the Holy Spirit WILL FILL our mouths with appropriate things,
"But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that house, that speak ye: for IT IS NOT YE that speak, but the Holy Ghost" (Mark 13:11).

See, I have spent all week making sure that I get "the lessons" done. But maybe not the right ones. It isn't just important to hear The Word, but do it. Take "the oil" off the shelf!
It is right there. Use it. The biggest resource we have is in the humblest place to make it the most accessible.

Remember, God approached you along time ago, in a manger with Christ!

Merry Christmas from Wal-Mart, in the aisle with the Crisco!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That ONE Thanksgiving

As I decorated our house for Thanksgiving, I asked myself, "Why do I love Thanksgiving so much?"

Different thoughts came to mind.

When I was younger, my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot. Sometimes we would eat Thanksgiving dinner in the base mess hall, where I was introduced to shrimp cocktail (still a favorite), ice sculptures, edible cornucopias, and active duty personnel with no families other than ours sitting at his table that day. Then, other years, I would get the distinct honor of setting the Thanksgiving table with my homemade place cards and hand printed menus for each place setting when we would eat with relatives in West Virginia. I'm seeing a "food trend!"

But then, there was that ONE Thanksgiving...

I served corn and green beans from coolers. It was Thanksgiving 1992 that I met my husband. We were both blessed to be Bonner Scholars. Our freshman Thanksgiving we would join other volunteers from West Virginia colleges to offer humanitarian aid to Homestead, Florida after Hurricane Andrew. I wanted to our college's public relations contact and team leader. Yahoo! My future hubby HAD to go because he needed to make up service hours due to a first semester bout of pneumonia. God has a sense of humor, let me tell you...what a matchmaker,
right RUTH?! All 150+ WV students stood on the stage, of a hotel auditorium (where we were staying in between rows of seats), in a circle and drew names for Thanksgiving Buddies. Out of all those people, his paper said, "April" in my handwriting. Then, he switched papers with the guy next to him because the "other" guy wanted my name...I didn't find that out until months later!! My husband spent the next week shaking my ladder while I was nailing and tarring shingles to a Habitat for Humanity roof, befriending me when I couldn't hang out because I had to go to "leader meetings" in the evening, and making me a copper bracelet from scraps at the construction site. Now , I know all that was intentional, right honey?! Best green beans and corn I ever served!

So out comes our Thanksgiving decorations and as I think about the power of that
ONE Thanksgiving and how God joined our hearts together I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Now years later, decorating our home, I open the Rubbermaid container to hear our four year old asking, "Did I make that?"

As we shifted through pilgrims, pumpkins, construction paper and traced hand print turkeys
, I thank YOU, O God for...

Thank YOU for being my Light in darkness!
May Your Light shine from our home and ours hearts.

Thank YOU for being a God of abundance!
May our family's blessing box
overflow with praises of people you have brought into our lives...
those teaching us and those we are teaching...
preschool teachers, Bible Study girls, friends, and newborn family.

Thank YOU for being ever present!
Continue to
take Your Seat in our home
with each decision, conversation, action, and reaction.


Thank YOU for never letting go of me and seeing me through!
Help me remember that even a little hand
can do BIG things
when one of them holds on to You!



Thank YOU for all of those "golden nuggets"
in Your Word

that melted my heart this year.
As we come and go through our day,
may Your Words ring the loudest in our hearts.

Thank YOU for showering me with Your Love.
Love has only one face...Yours.
Love has only one voice... Yours.
Love has only one motive...You.

Thank YOU for abiding in my heart.
For all who enter here, even if we entertain unaware,
may You meet needs and sow seeds.

Thank YOU for not giving us fear.
Help me to take stands for Truth as we live and leave a legacy.

Thank YOU for Your Grace!
I acknowledge that You place things in my path
and arrange each divine appointments for Your Glory.

Thank YOU for Your Vision.
How amazing You are to see through me!
YOU make all things beautiful in time.

Thank YOU for filling our cups to overflowing.
As we "gather together to ask the Lord's blessing"
let our gifts be what we give, not just what we gather.


Lastly, as I look upon my son's contribution,
Thank YOU for Your Son, Jesus, and what He did for me.
I am in awe of YOU. Amen.

This was such a special day, I think we just started a new family tradition and didn't even know it. Join us? As you look around your home where do you see Him? Thank Him.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Power of One, Rahab

Welcome new blog followers! Welcome! Take off your shoes and stay a while!

Recently, I've been led to share about the Power of ONE. At our most recent Bible Study, I asked a general question, "So girls, out of Eve, Rahab, and King Josiah, which ONE is your favorite?!" I expected a mixed inaudible and somewhat chaotic answer. But, boy was I wrong. See, what do I know about teaching teen age girls?! There was this unanimous and thunderous reply in chorus, "RAAAHAAAB!" I'm not sure, but the class next door might have heard through the cinder block wall. Sorry! :/ But, my heart was overjoyed! I really don't have ONE favorite yet, but as we shared from a bag of Twizzlers and talked about Rahab, maybe you'll see why she is their favorite ONE.

By far my two favorite things about fall are colors and scarfs! I love to wear them and plan my outfits around them! Here are a few fav scarf moments:

From the hot pink and famous last fall...












with Jennifer Rothschild










and Kathy Troccoli



to the real red everyday down home end of summer at VBS...











with Annah!

Grey, black, khaki, yellow, and bright blue hang in the closet, too. I seriously look for ways to wear them...
as evident with the bibbed overalls. I feel wrapped up and cozy when I wear them. But as the girls and I learned when I wore my long red scarf to Bible Study a few weeks ago, Rahab's scarf was a statement of faith, not fashion! Let me share what we learned ONE night.

Many cool middle eastern nights might have seen it hanging from the window. Some may not have been surprised given Rahab's "
red light district" profession and reputation. But don't you think when a long scarlet scarf hung outside from Rahab's window for 3 days, then 7 more, while spies escaped and the king's men looked for them and the invading trumpeters marched around the city walls someone might have asked, "What's up with that?!"

The book of Joshua tells the whole story about how spies got help from a prostitute, named Rahab, ONE in a city who believed in all of God's miracles and that He would lead Joshua and the Israelites to take the city of Jericho. When the spies promised to save her (AND her family),
"“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window." I've read different translations from a thread, to a cord, to a rope...never a Twizzler, but perhaps a scarf?

ONE woman's faith, in what she had only heard yet never seen, made her bold enough to believe infront of an entire city. She believed in her rescue, her redemption, and in her Redeemer. I found it interesting that in two New Testament places (Hebrews and James), that Rahab is still refer to as "Rahab, the prostitute."
What's up with that?!

What about this ONE? Rahab, the Brave - she hid the spies under the nose of the King.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Clever - she helped the spies get out of the city undetected.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Loyal - she got word to her family so that all under her roof where spared.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Patient - she sat under that one roof (with her family!!) for 10 whole days.
Kinda makes you think of the holidays, right?!
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Victor - hers was the only house saved in the entire city when the walls of Jericho fell down.

Our class came up with all those descriptions, didn't Paul and James see it?! Yet, she is Rahab, the prostitute. I don't
WANT to be know as:
April, the angry
April, the unjust
April, the unforgiving
or even April, the child of a murder.
What's up with that?!

But friends, that IS what shows the power of Her Redeemer. Our Redeemer can take anything and rescue, restore, and redeem. ANYTHING!! I think Paul and James were praising God and testifying to what great things God did through this ONE, Rahab, by reminding us who she was before she believed. THAT'S what's up with THAT! Amen?! God didn't leave her in Jericho either. I'm sure the marchers saw the red scarf in the window, too. Everyone knew. But God didn't leave her in the ruin, He Redeemed. Look at what she once was and how her belief in God and faith in His Word allowed God to use her, rescue her, and give her a new life.

So, what hangs from you? your neck? or even your home to show your faith? Do we display our faith? Call attention to our faith in the ONE true God? Do we live out our faith from the windows of our lives like Rahab? Even when God closes a door?! Ouch...my toes!

God's Word says, it is better to wear a millstone around our necks and be downed in the sea than cause ONE of our brothers or sisters to stumble in their faith in Jesus. Ouch...my toes! Sometimes it isn't easy being virtually barefoot!

So join me! Encourage the faith of others who are facing battles that seem like there is no victory in sight. Be ONE who displays your true colors..the scarlet that healed you, the scarlet that saved you, the scarlet that cleansed you from your sin and made you whiter than snow. Be vulnerable about the past that He has redeemed you from and the mountains and the valleys let the Holy Spirit drape your efforts as you minister to them.

Let it all hang out! Rahab did! Want ONE? I'm sharing!
Thank you God for Rahab! We know that You love the power of ONE because You used her to be pivotal in bringing us Your ONE and only Son. How sweet is that! Amen!?!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Power of ONE, King Josiah

Are you like me and wear glasses?
Have you ever lost your glasses and couldn't see? Arggg! :/

I don't have "perfect" vision. My glasses broke two Sundays ago and the headache I had at the end of the day from not being able to see was awful!
Can I get an "Amen" from my nearsighted and farsighted brothers and sisters?!

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Farley of Wythe Eye Associates (my amazing sister-in-law and her optometry staff) for coming to my aid. I was blessed with a next day appointment, a thorough exam, playmate and scientific eye ball models for my 4 year old son who accompanied me, and honest fashion advice from family on a new set of frames.
Thanks, Melissa! I love how they look and how I now can see!

So, my prescription had to be changed. No surprise...but would you believe for the better!! As
the doctor said, "Yes, that is ONE of the good things that happens in your 30's...your nearsightedness improves" (that's your ability to see far away for those - like me - who get the two mixed up). Are you kidding me?! I thought Melissa was just being nice...she turns the big 3-0 soon!

WOW, I thought! ONE of the good things that comes with age.... Now, you know me, the wheels started turning and I thought of our most recent middle/high school Bible Study lesson...King Josiah!

Do you know the story?! It is soo good!

As Hilkiah (a.k.a Jeremiah's dad and the high priest in the temple during the reign of King Josiah) followed orders to spruce up the temple (he probably swept for days, took out mounds of trash, dusted and wiped things off, cleared out years of debris), scripture tells us that he hired a few contractors. Things were really in bad shape.

But, that is when IT happened! He found ONE, only ONE, long lost copy of the Word of God. ONE in all of Judah! Some think it was the first five books of the Bible, others think it was just the book of Deuteronomy. I am not sure, all I know is that it was ONE inspired writing! I picture this high priest weeping and clutching the scroll(s) to his chest as tears streak his dusty face,
I would have. How was he priest without a copy of the Word, I wonder!? But as King Josiah asked for the Word to read to him, it is recorded that Josiah ripped his royal robes (which is the equivalent of us slapping ourselves in the forehead)! Bet that cost more than my glasses!

The newly found Word of God said, in effect, that God would judge those who did not follow His commandments.
Slap yourself in the fore-head guilty! King Josiah believed God. This ONE experience with this ONE exposure to the Word of God was like giving King Josiah ONE brand-spankin' new pair of glasses! When the Word was taken to the prophetess Huldah (Jeremiah's aunt, Hilkiah's sister), hearing from God, she said...

"Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD...Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place'" (2 Kings 22:19-20).

God would not allow Josiah to
see the destruction and devastation that would come to the people because of ONE whole-hearted and repentant commitment to led that generation in revival.

King Josiah now held the scrolls, stood at God's house, not his, and read the Word himself, not someone else, to the entire nation. What would that have
looked like?!! Second Kings 23:3 gives us a glimpse,

"The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant."

The consequences of the nations' sin did come, but not under the repentant leadership of King Josiah. ONE Word found. ONE King's ripped robe. ONE pillar passage read. ALL people pledged. Did I mention he was only 26?!
He wasn't even in his 30s yet, Melissa!

What
vision Josiah had for the long distance future of his people! More chapters go on to tell us all that King Josiah did to see to the revival of his land. Look at what it says here, "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses " (2 Kings 23:25). How God perfected his vision at such an early age...enough to change an entire generation for the Lord.

I'm not an optometrist, but I would say King Josiah's prescription was not 20/20, it was better. More like 1/22. James
1:22 says, "Be ye doers of the Word, not just hearers only."

Let's not just fix our old glasses, but use the Word to perfect
our vision...up close and on into the future, spiritual and physical, inside and out. Do we see repentance and revival in ourselves, homes, churches, Bible studies and beyond? Are you satisfied with the world's 20/20 or the Word's 1/22? Do you have people along side you who help focus or blur your vision? Do you long for eyes like Jesus?

Come into His Presence, no appointment necessary.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Power of One

Did I mention that I love our Wednesday night Bible Study? LOVE IT! Our room is decorated with daisies (EVERYWHERE!), lime green and sunshine yellow transform the white cinder block walls, and middle school and high school girls are seeking the Word.


Which ONE of you would not want to be a part of that?! It is simply AWESOME! Who would have EVER thought that this chic would be a youth Bible Study leader?! NOT this ONE!

Our study on Biblical characters and a recent
Chris Tomlin concert got me thinking..."God head three in ONE, Father, Spirit, Son." If you know the words to "How Great is our God" then you are probably already singing it now, am I right?! But, when my buddy Chris, (after sharing a worship experience from section B6, seat 17, do you think he'd mind if I call him "buddy?") was singing it LIVE in Salem, Virgina this time last week, all the names of Jesus were scrolling across the jumbo tron. As my tears followed them, I thought, "How great are You! The ONE Almighty God can be ALL these names to ALL these different people in ALL parts of life!" WOW! Savior, Lord, Shepherd, Rock, Redeemer, and the list went on and on. ONE name that stood out to me was "JUST." Did it mean, "justice?" or "fair?" or just "just." Sometimes, there is just ONE thing I need and it is just GOD. So simple, but yet eternally complete.

Likewise, sometimes there is just ONE thing that GOD desires - the willing, the obedient, the broken, the contrite heart. Do you know it is possible for ONE person to extend the love of
Love itself? Through Jesus, we are able. In that ONE love given, there is grace, mercy, forgiveness, and healing. You know, there is an entire chapter of God's Word that is written on how we do this! Click here, I'll share The Message.

Are we that ONE that God desires? Ephesians Chapter
ONE amplifies this for us. BUT...are we a willing ONE, an obedient ONE, a sacrificing ONE, a broken ONE, a loving ONE? To be honest, in some areas of my life I am. In others...I am working on it. But, I want to be ONE, not divided.

I am sure that my very smart mathmatican friend (don't worry...I am sure know her, she is the ONE who cuts coupons, always finds stuff on sale, and will drive the extra 10 minutes for the buy one, get one free deals...you know her?) could tell us about the power of ONE...a prime number, every other number is divisible by it, and it is right before you hear "BLAST OFF!"

Trust me, I am NOT into reading a math textbook, are you?! The girls in my Bible Study would not approve. Instead, for the next couple of posts, let me share what we have discovered about the power of ONE from REAL, vulnerable, and very human people in the Bible! And, I'd love to share with them (and here)...
What have you witnessed from the power of ONE?!

Take your shoes off and stay a while...I promise it will be a BLAST!

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Balance and Solid Footing, Part 2!

So, last week I was learning about the barefoot running movement. Neat! Would you believe, that this week brought me right to the sidelines 2 stellar athletes. Both barefoot. And thus, I share, Part 2!

The one line from last week's magazine article that quickened my heart rate and even my pace was, "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground." Wanting to be more in step and run my destined race with less pain and injury, I pondered this q
uestion:

Q: Being barefoot, should you run barefoot in the mountains? or in the valleys?


Index card after index card covered her skirt stained with wet tears. My friend was visibly touched that we encircled her and her husband for prayer Sunday. But as she brushed tears away, I was caught up in my own moment. (You know the ones where you are in a crowded room, but suddenly you see something that makes you feel as if you are the only one there noticing it!) I saw those wet drops on her lap be immediately covered up as friends handed her index card after index card - white, yellow, lined, unlined - stationary sealed with a sticker, pieces of paper, and cards in envelopes. Each enscribed with verses from God's Word. Each meant to abide with her. Each would have to be a purposeful read because when facing giants, "cushion" would be required in the coming days.

This was not my first experience with "Index Card Love."

I distinctly remember hearing the flip and shuffle from one index card to another as a mother waited while her elementary aged son was in pediatric neurosurgery to remove a brain tumor. In a family and friend filled waiting room, I heard each flip thinking "and another hour has passed." Each hour she would silently read and mediate on a verse from God's Word never failing. There was no other "cushioing" that day.

What examples of faith you are to me! What athletes as you share your most vulnerable times of your life with me! Your race allowed me to see how you run...how you set your pace...how you navigate the terrain. Praise God! A giant slain! A boy healed! You felt each and every step along the way and did not rely on your own strength at all! Thank you for helping me answer my question this week.

You would think that these women I speak of are my life long friends, but not so. As I arrived along the sideline of each of their races, I barely knew them. Divine appointments brought me into these runners' lives. There was no denying it. As our friendships were merely in a blooming season, we shared the Word, a "cushioning," if you will.

New and old friends, let's answer!


A: Remember the statement, "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground." It is true! Think about it...Why do I want to know if I am feeling a mountain or a valley? Dealing with rockey or rolling? Slippery or smooth? Muddy or mellow? Up or down? He will bring me through! I will not dwell on the terrain below, as He directs my paths ahead. I want more "cushion" from the Word to feel less of the ground below. I want more of the Truth. Terrain may change. It will. But, Truth says, He is ever constant, never changing, and faithful. So, let's be vulnerable enough to feel less ground!


I think these 2 verses go together like a pair of "new balance:" First, Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways (mountains and/or valleys) acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (even make'em straight, if crooked). But, who is "He?" That brings us to the second verse. In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," John 1:1. No matter how high, how low, how wide, how deep, the grinding race gets, nothing can separate us from the Love of God. He, and in Him alone, is the firm foundation.


For less pain and injury we have to do our part. We have to rid ourselves of all the false lies that harm our hearts with fear, anger, guilt, shame, injustice, pride, jealousy, malice, hate, selfishness and any other hurrdle of sin we might face. Each is like a burning blisters in bad shoes, you feel it in each step along the way. This week...I have to admit, I have had a couple of hot spots and raw places. :( Sometimes others saw, but always God!


The runners of the world say, "The more cushion, in your shoe, the less you feel the ground."
That is true.
But, the readers of the Word say, "The more "cushion," in your soul, the less you feel the grind AND the MORE you feel the SOLID ROCK!"
That is Truth.


Loosen laces of lies. Kick off barriers. Set your eyes on the prize. Hurrles will come, we are promised that. Look to the sidelines, share your pain (with God and others of God), and let them "cushion" your steps with the Word. It helps. Run to it. It provides the GREATEST "cushion." Remember, GREATER is He who is in the race with you than he that is "lying" in the way!!!!


That's what I witnessed from 2 girlfriends, and they have the bare feet (and index cards) to prove it! Well done, good and faithful ones!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Balance and Solid Footing

Did you enjoy the whirl wind tour of my laundry room showcasing my weakness?! How many people do you know enjoy blogging about their dirty laundry! HA!

My hubby came home that day and kissed me on the cheek while I was cooking dinner and asked, "Still crying over the laundry?" I have to admit, I was somewhat confused...I am not crying over the laundry, I'm making dinner...pork tenderloin even, what is he talking about?! He smiled coy and said, "Don't think I don't read your blog!" Well, Romeo, what do you think of this, ?! Love you and your support...this blog is with you in mind!

This week, as I waited to pick up our preschooler, I noticed my husband's favorite FREE magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, was in the car. Hmmmm... guess it is my turn to read something of his!

First, let me say, outdoor adventure is another "not one of my strengths!" My husband is quite at home in the woods (for days!), but I on the other hand, enjoy more complex comforts! The picture on the front of the magazine looked just like the recent "Happy Birthday Hubby Hike" I survived to this waterfall, so it caught my attention.

I started fanning through the magazine (back to front, ever do that?). Then, this article drew me in, "Is Barefoot Better?" Wow! Seriously?! An article just for me in an outdoor magazine! I quickly read on! As I read the debate to run barefoot or not, I was fascinated. Some like shoes, others don't. Some think too much shoe causes injuries, others say not enough does. Some think less is better, others want more and then some. So, take a look at these that prefer being barefoot:

The Tarahumara runners wear thin rubber soles and run multiple marathon distances into their late 80s in Mexico's canyons.
Then, there are several versions of these running shoes marketed to barefoot runners who compete in ultra marathons. You mean there is something more intense than just...let's say...a regular marathon?!
And then, there is just plain barefoot running. I love the barefoot part, not the running! :)
I wear a pink New Balance and blog about being barefoot, so needless to say all this got me thinking. I try to live a barefoot life: vulnerable before God, free from the enemy lasing lies, and hopefully leaving a print as I follow my Master's footsteps even if in my pink tennis shoes. I even blog about it. But, do I run barefoot?! Do I live or run?! They are different, right?!

Paul spoke about running a lot in his letters to the early churches. You know, the guy who was inspired to write over HALF of the New Testament! Probably should lend an ear, don't cha think?! Think he was a runner? He compared living for Christ as a race several times. I love all these verses that I share with our cross country girls in Bible Study:
  • Hebrews 12:1 "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
  • Phil. 2:16 "as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing"
  • Gal. 5 :17 "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
  • 1 Cor. 9:26 "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."
Such encouragement! Let not just live, but run! Let us not just endure, but run! Let our hearts not just worship, but raise our arms and run to Him! Let our hands not just serve, but follow through with our feet and run to others! Don't worry about how you are going to do it, JUST DO IT! (That make even me laugh out loud!)

Much of the article's advocate emphasized the importance of how the foot (us) connects with the solid ground (God). Running barefoot (vulnerable infront of God) improves comfort, speed, endurance, strain, and more technical factors than I even understand. "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground," he explained in his argument. Is there some deeper merit to this?!

Check out a friend's recent devotional about her "run" and let's think about this and talk about running blessed and better barefoot soon!

Father God, thank you for different races.
Thank you for giving me my own unique course!
Thank you for your streams of living water to refresh me along the way.
Lately, I have seen how you have quenched the parched!
Thank you for cheering friends who call out our names from sidelines of prayer.
Thank you for the freedom to choose how we run,
but always ready to provide the direction of our paths.
Thank you for the promise of crowns when we cross the finish line.
May I leave only Your Footprint behind me.
Amen!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Laundry: My Weakness!

So,what am I doing bloggin' in the middle of the afternoon? I know...CRAZY!! Well, I have spent the day with these two ladies who have done an amazing amount of work and brought me to tears!
Yes, many who know me know that laundry usually brings me to tears because as I share, "it is just not my strength, girls!" I can get the beds made, pick up the house, take out the trash, dust and vacuum, plan menus, grocery shop, and keep the dishes done (almost everyday), but the laundry always lingers undone! So, after a week with a hubby and his terrible cold, a preschooler with an unexpected accident at 3 am, and a week including a 4 mile family hike complete with waterfall, preschool pumpkin patch field trip, and day trip to West Virginia...the mounds of whites and darks turned into moun-tains!

Today was the day! I was so proud of this accomplishment! I know there are women out there who know how this feels! :) Hooray!!

(Notice that I took a picture of the completed pile, not the numerous piles in the laundry room floor! We all know how THAT feels, too!) So, I am not done with the laundry, but it was somewhere in this basket that the tears came and I just HAD to share!

I came across one wash cloth and thought, "Wow, really rugged around the edges." Then another towel and thought, "Boy, you have seen better days." Yes, I was talking to the laundry! All the while, I was envisioning opening beautifully wrapped boxes with glittery bows Christmas morning filled with lush white linens as I inhaled the fresh Bounce scent...HINT...HINT!

But then, I picked up the dish cloth. I think he was used as a oven mitt in the heat of getting dinner ready one especially busy night. Although freshly brightened with bleach, his navy blue stripes were ignored due to the enormous black (maybe burned) stain in the upper corner. For a moment, I thought, "Need to throw THAT ONE out for sure" and then I just couldn't do it. It just wasn't that bad. Whether it was still a dish cloth or a new dusting rag, it hit me. I felt sure, "It still has a lot of Life in it!" Then, the Holy Spirit washed over me!

Doesn't Jesus use us with stains...marks, even scars?!

He knows that we are all different to begin with, right?
And, He gifts us all in different and various ways through the Holy Spirit!
Plus, we all go through life with different loads, too! Ever thought of that?!
But today, as I folded that little dish cloth just as nicely as the newer ones and stacked it up to be placed in the linen closet...I thought, there will be a time I will use you.


[Sniff, sniff] Yes, I cried over the laundry. I needed a break. I was overwhelmed with "my laundry."

I took the break. How many times have I been guilty of thinking that God can't use me or worse, doesn't want to use me? I have been mistaken to think that I need to do something in order to be used...I just need to get a little bit better, or I just need to organize my time more, or I just need the right motivation, or....

The TRUTH is that God wants to use us. Right now. We need to let Him work in us, not us dictate what the to-do list is for Him. Let Him decide what needs to be washed, removed, freshened, softened. He will show you. One load at a time. He will do the work. He will get the laundry done. Ask.

Paul said it best as he wrote to the church at Corinth, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." God knows that I fret about the laundry. It is just never done. And that is ok because He wants to perfect us, renew us, even change us from glory to glory . Until then, get in there! Get going! Be usable! Be open!

I am. Friends, spiritually and literally, there are more loads to do. But, I am glad that I don't have to do them ALL!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pick-A-Low, Part 2

Knee deep in 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the first day of school yesterday, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I heard this song, "Closer" by Lara Landon on the radio in the kitchen.

Between you and me, I think she has learned the the piccolo .



Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

What is your cross that leads you closer?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pick-A-Low

A crash coarse in high school marching band about sums up my day.

One of the best things that came out of our Young Ladies Summer Bible Study were the relationships. All 15 chapters have been read, chairs and table are back the way we found them, and school's first day is Monday for most. The Bible study is over, but somehow the teaching continues - theirs, not mine.

All day I looked forward to seeing a few girls from our summer Bible Study at the first local high school football game tonight (we won). Hugs, introductions, and school colors filled the night. While most spectators made their way to the concessions as we lead at halftime, I sat on the edge of my seat and tried to see familiar faces take the field in the high school marching band.

During the third selection, as red flags sailed through the instruments, lightly high pitched notes filled the air in a crowded football stadium. Hundreds of people talking, different drums beating, and with a marching band playing, I still heard the notes that no others matched.

Know what it was?

The piccolo.

So. Here is my question for you. How is it that God can make the mighty from the minute? You know it is true. Right?! There was David (beat the giant), there was Esther (Jewish queen), and the Mustard Seed (moves mountains) , then ultimately, Jesus (swaddled infant Savior).

I was reminded of a verse read just earlier today from John 3:30,

"He must become greater; I must become less."

My Barefoot Unabridged Blog Translation reads, "Be piccolo!" (Italian for small).

The piccolo is just half the size of a flute, but has the same fingerings; and echos an entire octave higher than what is written on sheet music. Don't you find it interesting that in the world's largest award-winning orchestras filled with the biggest names in the classical music, the piccolos are chosen for most solos because they are the ones that can be best heard and most clearly distinguished from all the other instruments?

Under the stadium lights, I asked myself, "Do I desire to be small?" Well, ask me the morning after eating Krispy Kremes? The answer will be a resolute, "YES!" But, as I looked away from the bright lights and saw spots, I asked again, "But, do I desire to be small on the inside...where only One sees?" If I understand my midnight Wikipedia piccolo lesson and God's Word, less is the "more."

When we pick-a-low-er place before God, we make room for His might.
When we pick-a-low-er view of ourselves, we make way for His vision.
When we pick-a-low-er position, we make way to welcome His Presence.

Big God, I am sorry for not being small on the inside. What a resounding gong I have made ringing in Your Ears. I ask you to forgive my arrogance, my pride, and my geometrically-challenged ego. Embracing Your Grace, I give you more room. Knowing my lesson is for Your greater Glory. Be merciful, O God, while your Holy Spirit magnifies the truth that You do make the mighty from the minute, if we play the pick-a-low. Amen.


* This blog is dedicated to my friend, a talented 10th grade marching band musician, who loves Jesus, and unknowlingly ministers with her piccolo! Thank you for making Him great while being less. Hugs! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuckered Tank Testimony

Have you ever thought about how it feels to run out of gas? Or maybe been there, done that?!


I mean, there IS an indicator on the dash (our van even has a "miles 'til empty" feature).

You know the last time you filled up (or at least if it has been a while).

Pumps and gauges usually tell you how much gas it takes to fill up your tank (not everyone is the same). And yet sadly, we will run the risk of running out of gas all the time before we will stop and fill up again.

In the car, I have never ran out of gas. But in my life, I have recently felt like I have been running on fumes. See, I think that I have just been running without filling all the way up and not noticing how much of my "fuel" that I have been using. Not careless ventures, but lots of acceleration to different destinations, a little to much "idol"ing if I am being completely honest, and even siphoning to others when they run out, but never really stopping to fill completely back up myself. Only I can do that.

Short stops to gas up just a little at a time...a few gallons here and a few more there...just doesn't let you go very far, am I right? It gives us the illusion that we have what we need, but we haven't put ourselves in the best situation if an obstacle or challenge arise.

We just recently returned from our summer vacation and we were suppose to be home from the beach by early evening with plenty of time to unpack and put away. But, as we approached the split of I-77 and I-81, an open road bottled-necked within seconds and it took over an hour to just go 8 miles! Luckily, my husband had topped off the van a few miles back and kept his eye on the gauge...he was always aware of our "miles 'til empty" and we remained comfortable in our longggggg wait. Our tank of gas got us home, needless to say, it was closer to 10 o'clock when we pulled in. I am still unpacking and putting way.

Unlike my husband, filling up is an area of my life that demands more of my attention. Here is what I am working on:
- Being in the present. Paying attention. Knowing where my gauge stands.
- Stopping when I'm low. Stalling on empty is too painful. Running on fumes isn't good for the engine.
- Pull-in and fill all the way up with high grade.

In a verse about "peace," God says, "I do not give to you as the world gives" John 14:27.
Others fueling us, or our own self affirmations and even caffeine fooling us, are all the wrong worldly octane. Instead, we are to be "filled with the Spirit." Because "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" and time of fumes.

Pulling in,
April

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Riding the Light Rails of Summer

Where have I been all week? Watching God work. I am totally distracted by Him and it is a wonderful feeling. It is like walking on a soft lawn just after it has been mowed...with no shoes! Or like toes being covered in sand as the waves caress them. Or finding a cool puddle of water after a quick thunder storm barefoot!


Amidst that feeling internally...externally Miss To-Do List says, "You have three writing assignments in your heart that have not yet made it to paper. Better hurry." Then, "That manuscript needs to be finished and sent for editing to pursue that speaking opportunity. You told her your goal was 3 days ago!" And not to mention, "Get Monday's Bible Study done, hope it ROCKS!"


And, I want to share how I have been seeing Him work with that! It has been my distinct pleasure to lead a teen Bible Study on Monday nights this summer looking at Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh.

Let me just brag on "my girls" a little...
- They are beautiful. No doubt!
- They are reading the assignments each week. Praise the Lord!
- They are believing Truth. Hallelujah!

The best thing I love about them is that they are authentic. They are eager to know God. I mean, they are giving up every Monday night this summer! They want to pursue Him with their questions and thoughts in journals. Even though they don't always readily share them [Smile & a Wink]. They are spending time with Him while reading His Word. There was even chocolate last week for the first time!

I don't know about your "Wonder Years" but my adolescence had a fair share of complications: braces (plus the headgear), divorced parents, school transfers, a cast & crutches, fashion fumbles (where did all the neon and big hair go?), and I lost count of the crushes. I could go on and on. My point is that these girls might be traveling down similar tracks, but they are focusing on the Light! Years later, are we?! Too many times, we think we know where we are headed, or at least where we want to go, but do we? Jagged situations, beams of obstacles, and rails of limitations join us along the way. However, I see "my girls" steaming full speed ahead as summer sun slips into the fall of school with new direction on a light rail...huge capacity to quickly avert lies for the frequent destination of Truth. My heart is overjoyed to be traveling with them. Really! Honestly! Truly!

When you can travel along that kind of path in middle school, high school, or life's school and can STILL be barefoot (vulnerable and honest) with God and friends, it is a journey of challenge, change, and choice. The Truth is, even if we don't know exactly where we are headed, seeking His Light on our face and in our lives needs one direction...toward Him, no stops!

With just four more chapters to go, we press on to look at Chapter 11 Monday entitled, Lies about Media. Katie Couric, Ann Curry, and Oprah, too, I got news for you! God has a TRUE LIFE story for each one of these girls! Their story is His story and He is in the process of writing it. Filled with LOVE, HOPE, GRACE, JOY, and most of all TRUTH, one day they will share it long after their journal has been stored. Some of us will join them making headlines, being on billboards, or airing through the newest technology...but as they know, the real truth is, God wants to see ALL of our names in LIGHT!

Let's run, jump, and kick up our heels the Son has not set, He is alive! I am excited! They are excited! HE is excited! Rejoice, and again I say, REJOICE!


"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,


so that it may be seen plainly


that what he has done


has been done through God." John 3:21


*A special thank you to my new girlfriend, a rising sophomore from Bible Study, who not only shared her true life summer photos with me above, but inspired me to write one of the three stories on my heart. Girl! I hope you see your beauty in this as well as in God's Word. Hugs!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Debut

After looking up the word "debut" I am going to pick definition #3...

Debut. D-E-B-U-T. Debut. A noun referring to a formal introduction (of a young woman) and entrance into society, as at an annual ball.

Well ya'll (as we say down here in Virginia),
I'm a havin' a BALL!

Announcing the newest published author in cyberspace today......with a devotional about God and a goose that you can gander at right here!


With this most recent journey ironically taking flight in "Grand Rapids," Michigan, it was just 11 days ago that I "hit" it off with a great group of women!

Partnering with Circle of Friends and the dynamic things they are doing in the name of the Lord for women in Ohio and beyond leave me humbled. I met this team of authentic women at Speak Up with Confidence 2010. Their love of God's Word, commitment for growth, and highly favored ministry wrap me in good company.


To my new Circle of Friends, thank you for the opportunity to share
my gifts and providing all the praise and passion in my head and heart a "place to belong" and means to express with others how we can see God in the everyday, in every way, and even when you "hit a goose" so to say!

Humbled, Grateful, and Honored (in that order),
April
, NEW on-line author

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Whale of A Tale!

Many of you know that I have been trying to keep things afloat for a couple of months now (speaking, writing, teaching, mentoring...of yeah, I'm a wife and mother, too). As my "rapidly" new friend Cindy says, I have even had to "say no to the good things to say yes to God's best." God has so richly blessed this season of my life, I even described it as Spring! So yesterday, I declared that today would be "NEW!" I even posted on Facebook for some on-line self accountability that I would establish a new "summer routine," if that is not an oxymoron!

So with the
4th of July at my back, the freedom of being on holiday is over! God has so much in store for me to not take care of myself with late night projects, quick lunches, and bottomless cups of coffee.

Today was met with early morning curled hair
(Praise the Lord- that is a sign of soaring, not just floating! Amen?!), printing a beach lapbook for Jeremiah, a huge mega check-out at the local library of beach (and pirate) books, a grocery store run for surf and turf for grilling tonight...are you starting to see my theme for July?! I like that type of routine so much better than my son waking up before me, "just coffee please!" breakfast, and a lengthy debate concerning my hair...shower or ponytail?!...during a.m. cartoons. Laughing?! I know that is not foreign to all of you!

As the morning routine brought me to my favorite quality time before nap, Jeremiah picks this as his first newly borrowed beach library book...
First, let me explain. My son as only two requests as we plan his first trip to the ocean at the end of the month:
"Momma, I want to see a pirate ship and a WHALE!" Are you kidding me?! What happened to sea shells and sand castles?! I'll even throw in a new bucket and shovel, little one! Gotta love a son who has high personal aspirations, right?! Ship (boat, maybe) I can handle. Whale?...go ask Dad!

Naturally, with that in mind, this displayed book (thank you public librarian!) was tackled as my son climbed the shelves to reach his goal. He fanned the pages on the carpet right between my feet as Momma looked for others on "The List" and met her alphabet challenges head on! Why is that so hard sometimes?! With lunch's grilled cheese still in the corners of his mouth, he was ready for his "whale of a tale" naptime story. I opened the never before read book to meet, in a beautiful font,
with a blue heron soaring at the top of the page.

Yes, I snapped a picture of it! Are you kidding? I felt God speak right to me while reading my son a nap time story! Could it have been any more clear?! Each page, organized by days of the week, reminds us what to rejoice over, be thankful for, and praise God about - just as Creation does. One line at the end of the "Easy Reader" mentioned the orca whales "spaying their praise." So beautiful!

Friends, I don't think it is about
routinely staying afloat. Do you? Where is the excitement in that? Even that can feel stagnant. Joy and life are about intentionally raving God with "sprays of praise." Wouldn't you agree? I am praising God for the "Beach Month" that has begun in our home and in my heart. New day #1 - beach homeschooling lessons, beach library books, beach dinner on our deck, and a grateful momma whose Dad DID show her a whale today!

Father, Creator, Sustainer, I rejoice in this day that you have declared as "new." Forgive me for focusing on floating instead of flourishing. I stand barefoot on the Rock, ready for You to wash over me with waves of Your love, mercy, peace, grace, and faithfulness. I will daily delight my heart in casting praise in all areas of my life only to reel in Truth. Thank you for this small book with a whale of a lesson for me...and at the hands of my son...oh how you know what is possible from that! Amen.