Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Power Of One

In the year 2000, I was introduced to Proverbs 31 Ministries for the first time.

Lysa Terkeurst came to speak at a ladies event at my church, and hearing her testimony opened a door in my heart that I thought was shut and locked forever. During a moving worship experience, where Gods grace and mercy poured into my heart, I began to see God for who He really was, and began to understand that He truly loved me and had a special plan for my life.

One person, Lysa, changed one persons life, mine.

God leaped into my heart that one special day, and since then, my life has taken a 180 degree turn. Although it was a long process of several years, God opened one door at a time for me to change my direction in life.

For the past eight years, Proverbs 31 Ministries has kept me going. Every morning I wait in anticipation to read the online email devotion, which reaches over 250,000 people every day. Each month I cant wait to receive my P31 Woman Magazine. I love to hear the radio scripts which air on over 1000 radio stations nation wide. I treasure every email I receive from readers and subscribers who have been touched by one or all of these methods.

We receive hundreds of new salvation response forms each year - AMEN! And listen to this - today we received a form from someone in Pakistan, who has been secretly learning Gods Word and asked for prayer for the whole world and also for their country. Wow. Im speechless.

Another situation that leaves me speechless is an email we received from a woman who was ready to take her life - just one woman, who thought nobody cared, but Proverbs 31 stepped in and her life was saved. To read this whole story, read todays devotion.

Its not about Proverbs 31. Its not about devotions, magazines, radio or anything else. But it is about hearts transformed, lives changed, and new Christians experiencing the gift of salvation for the first time. Proverbs is simply a vessel for God to do His work, and He has blessed Proverbs with the ability to make a difference internationally for His glory.

To keep up this amazing work for Christ, Proverbs needs people, like me, and possibly like you, who are willing to support our efforts in reaching hearts for Christ all over the globe. Just like any ministry or business, partners are needed to keep the work flowing, the Lord glowing, and the hearts growing!

So if Proverbs 31 has touched your heart and your life in any way, would you consider being a monthly partner? You are just one person, but your support matters! If all of our email devotion subcribers would just donate $1 per month, the results would be amazing!

The majority of the ministry avenues that are offered to people around the world are offered at no costs, but reality is, that ministries need funds to continue building Gods kingdom and sharing the gospel. Asking for money is something that nobody enjoys doing, but Proverbs is serious about Jesus, and serious about ministry, and funding is something that cant be overlooked if we want to continue making a difference for Christ.

If you would be willing to consider partnering with Proverbs in any way, please visit our support page here for more information about how you can make a difference: Support P31

Click here to visit the Proverbs 31 homepage. homepage

In His name and for His glory,


The Power Of OneSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where will you stand?

I love tennis. I took it up about a year and a half ago, and it has been such a blessing. Not only do I love playing, but it helps me keep in shape along with my other exercise routines, and I have made so many great friends.

Once a week we have "clinic", where our whole team gets together and learns new techniques and practices playing. Our tennis pro is always full of tips and advice, but this week he said something that stuck in my brain.

He was explaining how important court position is, and that where we are on the court could determine whether or not we keep the ball in play. Then he said, " you cant control what is going on in the court, but you can always control where you stand." Hmmmm.

I began thinking about how that statement applied to our life. We cant control what happens in the world, but we can control where we stand on those issues.

We have no power over the sex, drugs and violence that comes on TV.

We have no power over what movies are coming out in the theatres, or the fact that the ratings are far too lenient, and most PG-13 movies are really not suitable for anyone under 18. Lets not even discuss the rated R movies.

We have no power to control other peoples behaviors, religious beliefs, democrats, republicans, laws, gas prices, politics in the workplace, backstabbing, unethical practices, grocery prices, job losses, insurance companies, foul language in our schools, homosexuality, smoking, drug use, drunk drivers, or peer pressure against our children.

Proverbs 20:5 says, "Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within" (The Message)

It is true, we have no power to control our surroundings and the falls of this world, but we have the power of God behind us to stand up for what is right, even if it means going against the current.

Our enemy gives us lots of opportunities to follow his ways, instead of Gods ways each day. From little white lies which will protect our best interest, to major sin that we keep hidden in our hearts, opportunities abound. Our only hope is to be prepared to stand tall and firm, despite what the opposition may bring.

Life is kind of like a tennis court. We each have our side. We try to stay on the right side, but sometimes the balls that get thrown at us are either difficult to handle, cause us to stumble, force us to make challenging decisions, or throw us off course. But if we choose the right court position, that is, to stay on Gods side and choose Him as our partner, we are much more likely to exercise the power we have within us, deep in the wells of our hearts, to do what it is right in Gods eyes...... knowing in our hearts that what is right in Gods eyes, is not always accepted by those around us. That is why we are called to take up our cross and follow Him.
Remember that we do not do what is right to make God love us more, but we do what is right so that other people can see God in us. People are always watching where we stand, and how our court position affects how we live our lives. Christians can be a loud player for Christ, wihtout ever saying a word, depending on what court position they choose. Where will you stand today?

(Below is a picture of me (2nd from left) and a few of my sweet tennis buddies!)

Where will you stand?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Rock

I think my mother is the most special person in the world. Of course she is not perfect, but I can truly say that she would do anything, for anyone, at any time, at any costs. I wish I could say that about myself, but I know it wouldnt be true. I recognize that the level of selflessness that she possesses is a special gift from God. It takes years to achieve a heart that sweet and such an innate desire to always be there to meet the needs of others, even at your own expense. I just hope that one day I can live up to the example that she has set for me.

But despite knowing all that, she always tells me "you are my rock!". We never cease to have a lot going on in our family, it sometimes seems we jump from one upsetting situation to the next, and that there is never a day that is completely worry-free. She and I are very close, so when she needs to talk, she calls me, and looks to me for encouragement, support and conversation - thus, the term "the rock".

The truth is that I am so far from being a rock, it would be stretching it to even call myself a pebble. I have mastered the art of trying to stay cool, calm and collected in all situations. I have learned to hold my tears back until I get away from the painful situation, so that my tears dont cause others to feel bad or create any uncomfortable situations. I guess you could say that I have learned to always try to keep up the persona of the rock, even when inside, I feel like I want to crumble. So in summary, I am not a good rock at all!

I have been so crazy busy the past few months, that they seem like a big blur. Between preparing for speaking engagements; the chaos of family life with kids in elementary, middle and high school; football season and all the games and practices that come with it; the worsening of my sisters chronic illness; my mothers surgery; my step mothers lung cancer and her recovery; and so on, and so on, and so on, I found myself stressed, worried, fretting, and burdened.

So anyway, get the picture! No rock here! Just crumbles! As I sat on my bed in my hotel room at the retreat on Sunday morning preparing to give my message during our devotion time, I found myself trying to hold back the tears, and I just got on my knees and prayed. I felt so burdened, I just didnt think I could stand up in front of an audience and speak. I prayed for a lot of things that morning, but most of all, I prayed for God to be my rock.

Deuteronomy 32:4 says, "The Rock! His work is perfect,For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He."

I knew if I wanted to get through the weekend, I needed to quit trying to be the rock for everyone else, and start leaning on the The Rock that could truly hold me up. And guess what - as soon as I prayed that prayer, I felt Gods presence and suddenly had a sense of peace come over me. I felt reassured that no matter what was going in my life, that I could lean on God for support, encouragement and conversation. I was reminded that He is there, He is solid, even when Im crumbling.

I am confident that I would rather lean on The Rock, than try to be the rock. I just need to keep reminding myself of that every time I feel like Im going to crack!

My RockSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

His Perspective

It seems to be another rainy week. Yes, it has been pouring down rain for the past two days, but Im not talking about that kind of rain. I am referring to the rain that the enemy pours into our lives whenever God has something great planned.

I have been so busy this month, I cant believe it is mid September already! I was out of town last weekend at a speaking engagement and had been preparing for that all month. I had a great day on Sunday as we took the kids out on the pontoon boat and played in the sun and went tubing. The weather was beautiful.

But then Monday morning hit, and the bottom dropped out of the clouds. My mother had to be at the hospital at 7am to meet with her surgeons, so my brother took her and stayed for a while. I had to spend the morning scurrying around trying to get all the last minute details and purchases done for an out of town womens retreat in the North Carolina mountains which I have been planning all year, with the help my ministry team, and it happens this weekend.

While I was at the Dollar Tree Store, intently focused on shopping for various items for the retreat, someone stole my blackberry phone - right out of my purse! Ooooh that made me so mad! I just cannot understand for the life of me, how some people think they are entitled just to take whatever they see that they want. Whatever happened to honesty and integrity? Ggggrrrrrr. Anyway, for the rest of the day I steamed over this theft, and mourned the loss of my lifeline, I mean phone. Then the kids got home from school and we did homework, snacks and got ready to go to practices.

Tuesday morning I arrived at the hospital at 8:30am. My sister was supposed to go with me but she was not feeling well and did not feel that she could handle all the walking and strength it would take to spend at the hospital, so my heart sunk for her.

My mom was taken down to surgery around 9am, to have an aneurysm removed (which turned out to be the size of a small orange!).

I had committed to teach two corporate training sessions at Wachovia Bank corporate offices on Tuesday, and was unable to cancel. Therefore, I had to leave around 10:30am to get to the bank, and teach these two sessions. You wont believe this - but the two sessions I had to lead were called "Relax The Body, Calm The Mind"! It was about relaxation techniques, how important it is to stay relaxed, and the toll that stress takes on our bodies if we dont get it under control. Is that irony or what? Nope, I think it was Gods little way of helping to keep my nerves in check. I had to at least appear non-stressed, to teach a stress management class!

I got back to the hospital shortly after the surgery ended. The surgery went well, but she was having a lot of trouble breathing, so didnt get out of recovery until 8:00pm! She had a rough night, with lots of pain, primarily because the finger pump that she could press to force morphine into her IV's, had dead batteries so she didnt get any pain medicine all night! Ggggggrrrrrr again.

Yesterday, my poor husband had to pick up my son at 2pm, my daughter at 3:30pm unexpectedly because her practice was cancelled due to the rain, take them home, get them ready, then take Morgan and Michael to both practices, leaving my poor Kaitlyn home alone, which she didnt like, and therefore proceeded to call and cry and make me feel like a neglectful mom! Kudos to my hubby though. He is such a good man and always picks up and does whatever needs to be done in my absence. Go Michael!

So here I am, sitting in the hospital room, 27 hours and counting. But Im typing away, getting caught up on some emails and taking care of some final details for the womens retreat, keeping my mom company and tending to her needs. I am feeling a little less stressed today.

I have noticed a pattern though. Whenever there is something planned where God will have an opportunity to touch peoples heart and transform their lives forever, Satan starts working overtime. Ive seen it happen so many times, that I can always tell when the attacks begin.

I believe that the key to being able to stay joyful and positive in the midst of so many discouraging, scary or frustrating things - is knowing that it is just Satan doing his job, and believing that God is still doing His. It all depends on our perspective, and which side we are going to turn to. Will we turn to bitterness or anger, or we will turn to optimism and looking to see where God is acting in the midst of the turmoil?

I thought about this: My phone got stolen, but after paying the deductible, I got a brand new phone with no scratches or dents which worked even better than the one I had! My mom had her surgery, but she is doing much better than I had anticipated, and may get to home earlier than expected. I have been blessed by being able to care for her, especially when she does so much for all of us. All the things for the retreat this weekend are falling into place, with even some last minute ladies signing up to spend a weekend with God!

So despite Satans failed attempts to discourage me this week, I am excited to see why he has been so hard at work! God must have big plans in mind!

If you are going through some tough times right now, or difficult circumstances, consider these questions: has God called you to do something special recently? ...... Are you planning on going somewhere or doing something that will bring glory to God?..... Do you have an opportunity coming up that you will be able to share Christ with someone?......

If you answered yes to any of these, or if you just know that God has been working on your heart and trying to bring you closer to Him, then you have probably become a target of the enemy. Anytime that our hearts are being prepared for His service, Satan gets a little worried.

Our arch enemy knows that if he can steal our joy, optimism, and sunny perspective about life, that he wins the battle. For who is going to run around sharing Gods love, serving His kingdom, or being kind to others when they feel grumpy, disgruntled and mad at the world? Who is going to encourage others to trust Gods sovereignty when they are not trusting Him themselves? The battle is for our hearts, but we have the power to choose the winner.

Colossians 3:1 [ He Is Your Life ] So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. (The Message Bible)

If you are experiencing a lot of difficulties right now, it may be because God has something amazing for you up his sleeve, and the devil doesnt want you to discover that blessing!

So chin up! Even if it is raining all around you, the sun is still shining from the heavens. It all boils down to how we look at it.

His PerspectiveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, September 15, 2008

Step Up

I had a wonderful weekend. I traveled to a small town up north called Markleysburg, Pennsylvania and was blessed beyond belief! I was even told that my Southern accent wasnt all that bad - what a compliment! Smiles.

I was speaking at a women's conference there, that my sweet friend Gretchen had organized. Earlier in the year, she had a vision, a God sized vision, about this conference and she was so excited to see her vision actually become a reality. She hoped to bring in women from all walks of life and all different churches, so that they could be fed and nurtured with Gods Word.

At first she was a little disappointed in the turnout, only 50 ladies had signed up - but by the time the conference began on Saturday morning, 100 ladies showed up! We had an amazing time in praise and worship with a great praise band, and God was so obviously there with us. We knew God could do it!!

After I had given all three of my speaking sessions (the weekend was focused on the Reinventing Your Rainbow theme), I saw lots of tears and I saw God moving. Not because of anything I had done, but because He had prepared hearts to see, hear, taste and smell Him and the exact words from His Word that they needed to hear.

He had worked miracles in peoples hearts and helped them to realize that He loves them unconditionally and they are forgiven for their sins, no matter how bad their sins are. They encouraged one another and laughed and cried together. It was so great!

The most exciting part was the women that came up to speak to me after the seminar, and shared with me how God been calling them to a special task, each one which was completely different than anyone elses, and that for the first time, they felt like maybe God could use them. One lady felt she had been called to write a book; another was called to take over the greeters program at their church; another was called to be healed from her eating disorder so she could minister to others; another's heart was healed from the pain of a past abortion as she accepted Gods forgiveness. And the list goes on.

For the first time, they felt encouraged to actually allow themselves to believe that God could use them, and that the painful experiences they had lived through could actually be used to Gods glory. I was amazed at the faith and the strength of all of these women, and I know they are going to make an impact in the kingdom of God. God was working hard on Saturday! Wow.

As I wiped my own tears, I found myself asking God why He gives me this privilege. What had a I ever done to deserve to be a part of seeing Him work in peoples hearts? Why did I deserve to be blessed by women, total strangers, but sisters at heart? Me, just a shameful, broken, and imperfect sinner, is able to be used by God. It still astounds me.

Have you ever felt like God couldnt use you because of your brokenness? Have you ever felt like God could never do anything big through you and your life because of sins in your past, current patterns of sin, relationship problems, money issues, lack of skill, wavering faith, doubt and insecurities?

If you have, I want to encourage you to pray this verse all day (and I mean all day!):
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose.

Now, take a moment to read the same verse from The Message Bible:
Romans 8:26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Did you catch that last part? Every detail in our lives can be used for something good - the only thing that will keep that from happening, is if we choose not to respond to Gods call. If we choose not to put aside our own feelings, and to allow our fears and insecurities keep us from taking a leap of faith, then God cant use those things in your life as He had planned.

And yes - God does have a plan for you! Remember Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

We may not be able to see the whole staircase, but we can always see the first step. All things can be used to His glory, if we trust Him enough to take the initiative to take a risk.

Ready to go for a walk?

Step UpSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Most Special Thing

If you are visiting my blog today by virtue of linking over from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today devotion, then welcome! I hope you will continue to check back with me and share your comments and thoughts.

Last Sunday we were driving home from church, and my 9 year old son showed me the picture he had drawn in Sunday School. When I looked at it, I couldnt quite figure out what it was. Being the 100% little boy that he is, I at first thought it was an ordinary picture of a villain who had been slain, and a person with fire around them because they were near the little smiling sunshine.

But when I asked him to tell me about it, my heart swelled. See his picture below:

He went on to explain that his Sunday School teacher had told them to all draw something special that God had done for them. After he explained his picture, it made perfect sense.

The person laying horizontally at the bottom of the page, with x's on their eyes and their tongue sticking out, is a person who died (he said this is how everyone looks on cartoons whey they die). The angel above the person was that persons soul, who had turned into an angel, and was floating into heaven, because Jesus had died on the cross for his sins so that he could have eternal life. Wow.

Now if my teacher had asked me to think of something special Jesus had done for me, I probably would have pondered all kinds of things, such as my health, house, husband, healthy children, financial security, and any other blessings that I felt that God has bestowed upon me.

But in the mind of a child, the answer was quick and simple. Salvation, resurrection, and eternal life. How quickly we tend to forget that of all the great things that Jesus does in our lives, and all the blessings we have been given, pale in comparison to the most important thing He has done for us, which is offer His life for ours.

I want to challenge you today, friend. My P31 devotion today is about rejection - an ugly word that breaks hearts in two, sometimes beyond repair. I would imagine that every person reading this blog today has experienced rejection in their lifetime, from parents, friends, family and/or spouses, maybe all of the above. But I hope that you can smile today, when you remember that we do have hope - and just as my son so sweetly illustrated on his artwork, that hope is simple.

Salvation, resurrection, eternal life.

Our hope comes from knowing that no matter what happens earth, we have a loving Father who approves of us and loves us, despite our flaws, mistakes, insecurities or sins. He died for us - so that we can sprout wings one day and fly into the sunshine to be with Him.

If you are hurting today, let the sunshine shine on your face today, and ask God to fill your heart with an overwhelming feeling of peace and love that you could not obtain from anyone else. God loves you - and dont you doubt it for a moment!

His love is the most special thing we have ever received from Him, and nothing we do, and nothing anyone else says or does, can separate us from that gift. It is yours to keep forever.

Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior, the only one who truly accepts you and loves you unconditionally? If you are unsure, and you want to learn more about getting to know your heavenly Father, click here: Do You Know Him?

The Most Special ThingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Light

Well, as the little girl in Poltergeist once said...... "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack".

For those of you who have been wondering why I have been MIA lately, I have to say that I am not exactly sure! What I do know, is that I have not felt God laying anything on my heart lately to write about. What I also know, is that God did not stop speaking to me, I just apparently was not listening.

On a normal day, although I am far from perfect and have many flaws about myself that I need to work on, I try to listen for Gods voice and I try to see Him at work. On some days, I receive so many ideas for devotions, blog articles, and writing concepts, that I can hardly keep up with them all! Sometimes I write on any piece of paper I can get my hands on so that I wont forget what God has told me! But lately, my slate has been empty.

I started praying about this over the weekend, and seeking Gods wisdom and closeness again, and I came to the conclusion that several things were probably the culprit for the current distance that I was feeling from God:

1) I had not been spending daily quiet time with God or much time in focused prayer for that matter, because of school starting back, the kids sports activities, crazy schedules, tennis, work, mounds of laundry, exercise, breaking up sibling rivalry, school drama, homework, ballgames, and so on.
2) my heart had been burdened because of health issues with my mom and my sister and I didnt realize what an emotional and spiritual toll it had been having on me
3) my household seemed to be filled with conflict lately, which had kept my spirit in a constant state of frustration and disappointment

This past Sunday, as my heart was heavy, I sat in the church pew, praying for God to give me a Word, any Word. I just asked Him to throw me a bone of some sort to help me draw closer to Him again; to see what the problem really was and how do I fix it?

As I listened intently and expectantly to hear what God was going to say to me, my answer came in the first question posed by my pastor: Are you a child of the light?

My first thought of course, was yes, I am a Christian, and therefore a child of the light. But if Im being honest with myself, am I really WALKING in the light? Am I BEING the light to those in my home and in my path? Am I LIVING in the light?

In that moment, God impressed upon my heart that although He shines His light upon me, I was not focusing on the walking, being, and living the light for Him. I had gotten sucked into the disease of busyness; had fallen into a habit of not giving my concerns fully to God or trusting His sovereignty and instead succumbing to worry; allowed resentment to build as I wished others would be considerate of my feelings; harbored frustration from feelings of being unappreciated; and had not been focusing on pursuing the fruits of the spirit in my own heart. These are all things which I normally try to succeed at, but I had fallen short due to my change in focus.

I realized I had temporarily taken my eyes off of Christ, and instead put my eyes on my problems, my feelings, my hurt, and my disappointments.

Walking in the light means that the direction of our life should reflect that of Christ. Being kind to those who are not kind to us. Being forgiving of those who wont even admit that they have hurt us. Seeking to please God, rather than be appreciated or acknowledged here on earth. Not being a "sin inspector" for others, but focusing on the areas that God needs to work on in me.

All of these things are only possible through the strength of Christ, and not in my own doing. But I can take comfort in knowing that God knows my heart. He knows I am a sinner, but He still loves me. He knows that my desire is to live a life that is pleasing to Him, even though I fail miserably. He knows that I trust Him, even when my human emotions cause me worry and concern.

Although at times, the darkness seeks to take over our hearts, the Light is more powerful. Darkness can only reign if we allow it to, but if we turn on the light in our hearts, then it will outshine the attempts of the enemy to lead us astray. As we focus on the Light, the darkness grows dim.

I turned on my little light again yesterday. I started a new bible study which I am excited about it; I forgave someone who said things that immensely hurt my feelings; I resolved to try to be more kind, patient and less critical; I made a commitment to keep my focused on Christ and not to seek approval or worthiness in the eyes of others. And most importantly, I am going to try to let my little light shine where ever I go. The key word here is TRY - but I can walk forward knowing that God is leading the way.

Ephesians 5:14 "for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Is your light on?

The LightSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend