Friday, October 30, 2009

Habits: Out With The Old, In With The Faithful

Welcome P31 friends! Thanks for dropping by today.

Have you ever felt like you needed some spiritual healing like what was mentioned in todays devotion? I know I have, in more than ways than one.

In fact, just recently, for several weeks I had been praying desperately for God to speak to me. I had issues to face and problems to deal with, and I just wanted to hear His voice in a subtle way, or in any way actually. I yearned for a a little reassurance that He was still up there, and that He was still seeing little 'ol me down here.

At the end of that trying week, I found myself asking God why He had not shown up yet. (Yes, I actually asked God that, have mercy.) But suddenly, it was as if He opened my spiritual eyes to help me to see that He HAD shown up....He had been speaking to me.... loud and clear....all week long - I had just not been listening.

It all started on a Tuesday, when my morning devotion verse was 2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

The devotion focused on the fact that we are not born with habits of goodness and faithfulness, but we have to deliberately practice and form them within ourselves, through Christ. It mentioned that we are to use these habits, this common stuff of ordinary daily life to glorify God, and live out the principles of faith. Lastly, it talked about being an optimist, instead of a pessimist, by focusing on adding goodness and wisdom to our hearts.

I thought to myself, "Okay God, so I need to form better habits. I get it. I will try to work on doing that."

I rolled out of bed the next day, got a cup of coffee, and pulled out my morning devotion for that day, which highlighted John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

As I prayed and pondered the meaning of this devotion, I came to understand that it focused on the fact that we are made to illuminate the light of God in ordinary ways. It explained that we are to lay down our lives, and our habits, to Him, and not walk in our own ways every day, even if we are used to our own ways.

Hmmm, still need to work on those habits. Okay God.

The next day, I opened up my devotion and read this verse Matthew 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Whoa nelly! Now that is hitting a little too close to home. Me, judge? Never. Absolutely not. Ummmmm, well okay, maybe sometimes. Geeesh, I guess all the time, if Im down right honest.

So after a moment of denial which led to self examination, I began thinking about ways that I may judge people every day. For example, I may think someone needs to discipline their child better, or be more considerate of others, or pay more attention to what their teenager is doing, or strengthen their faith, or practice what they preach, or dress nicer, or eat healthier, or treat me better, or,..... Ill stop there. I could probably go on forever. More mercy please.

I realized that my judging, even in little ways, had become a habit. Whether it was about someone else, or even about myself.

I needed a little spiritual healing from that. I prayed about this, and promised God that I would stop having a measuring rod for other people, and instead hold that rod up to myself.

I even enlisted my children that day to help me recognize when I said something judgemental, and believe me, they were all about joining in with that game. It actually became annoying after a while, but it was eye opening. Sometimes we simply dont realize what comes out of our mouths on a routine basis, until we really start paying attention to ourselves.

The next morning, instead of jumping into my devotion book, I turned on the television for my daily 6:30am dose of Joyce Meyer.

I love my girl Joyce. She always says something that speaks to my heart. I seriously think God gave Joyce a little inside peek at my heart, and tells her what to say every day that is going to speak to me and my situations. Yep, me and Joyce are tight like that. :)

Anyway, Joyces message on this day focused on the battlefield of the mind, and how it is our choice whether or not we allow our thoughts to be negative, or positive. It is our choice whether or not we focus on the lies, fears and doubts that the enemy puts in our hearts and minds. It is our choice whether or not we choose to have a heart full of love and full of Gods thoughts, instead of discouragement, or judgement.

She reiterated how we have to get into the habit of focusing on the thoughts of Christ, and not the thoughts of our own mind, or of the world.

That word habit was starting to get on my nerves!

But in that moment, a little light bulb lit up in my head and I instantly recognized the pattern that had taken place during the week. Everything I read or watched focused on habits, and they all reiiterated our need for spiritual cleaning. Spiritual healing of the heart and mind.

I realized that while I had been caught up in my daily habits, that God had been speaking to me all week long, but I had been blind to His activity, because I was too busy being habitual.

I realized I had taken time to pray to God, but not taken time to listen for His answer.

I realized that I had blown certain circumstances out of proportion in my mind, because I was focusing on all the what ifs......

I realized that as I allowed negative thoughts, judgemental opinions, fears, doubts, insecurities and concerns to cloud my vision, it made it hard for God to get through to my heart.

I realized that I had formed a habit of stinkin thinkin - the devils favorite tool.

That stinkin thinkin had become an obstacle between me and God, because my heart needed some healing.

You know, life really is a battlefield of the mind, like Joyce says. There is always a war raging, led by a mighty and powerful enemy, taking place behind the scenes of our earthly vision. If the enemy can penetrate our minds with despair and negativity, then our lives will surely follow suit.

I have heard it takes 21 days for a habit to form, but that after 21 days, the old habit dissappears and the new habit becomes the norm.

Do you have any habits that need a special healing touch of God? Is your mind controlling your life, or is God controlling your mind? Is it possible that your heart and mind could use a little holy prescription for goodness today?

This change in our habits will soon result in a life that is a shining reflection of a heart and mind transformed for Christ.

A heart that dwells on His love for us, not our own short comings, or those of others.

A heart that is full of the love of God, instead of criticism.

A heart that sees the good in things, instead of the bad.

Are you ready to say out with the old, in with the new? Out with stinking-thinkin, in with Godly thinkin? Not just for a time, but permanently?

Are you ready for a 21 day challenge that will leave you spiritually healed?

I am willing to try - what about you?

Habits: Out With The Old, In With The FaithfulSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Got any babysitting stories?

This weekend I will be doing a radio interview on Encouragement Cafe ( you can check out your local listings or listen online at

This is a wonderful show, hosted every Saturday at 2pm by my friend and fellow P31 sister Luann Prater . Every week they have different topics and different guest speakers, and my topic this Saturday will be babysitting - yes, I said babysitting! This station and radio show is all about equipping and helping moms and women deal with the every day struggles in life, including finding sitters for their precious little ones!

So first, I want to encourage you to tune in this Saturday at 2pm EST or listen online - but secondly, I would love to hear some childcare stories or tips that you have experienced or tried, that might be beneficial for other moms to hear discussed.

One thing I always remember from when my children were younger, were those experiences that were not so good. For example - that time I came home one day after a long day of work only to find huge letter X's drawn on the walls, all the way up the stairwell and on into the playroom walls; or when I got a phone call that my infant son had rolled off the couch and wouldnt stop crying, only to find out later that he had cracked his collar bone; or when my entire kitchen was destroyed when the babysitter thought she would take a shot at making up on her own cake recipe from scratch, using every ingredient she could find in the kitchen. I'll stop there for now!

I am sure you have your own interesting stories, suggestions, mishaps, and great babysitting tips that would benefit other moms. Would you be willing to share a few? Maybe they not only will bring insight to readers of this blog, but I can possibly use them on the air this weekend too to help moms around the country.

Here are a few questions to get your thoughts rolling:
* what do you think about when choosing a babysitter?
* what do you need to tell the babysitter about the children and vice versa?
* did you experience any funny (or sad/scary) stories?
* how do you show respect for the babysitter?

So babysitters/moms/grandmoms/aunts/nannies - put on your thinking caps! I would love to hear from you! From all the comments left on the blog this week and next week after the show, I will draw one name to win a book entitled a "Hold You, Mommy: Moments with God for Moms On The Go", by Hilliard and Autry. What mom couldnt use that?!

I am looking forward to chatting with you this week. :)

Got any babysitting stories?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treasured Verses for a Treasure Box

Hi friends! I stand in awe of Gods awesomeness (is that a word?!) in how He used yesterdays devotion to touch so many hearts. I received countless emails and blog posts, and so many of you are dealing with such painful and difficult situations right now, or you know of someone who is struggling to persevere through a very difficult time. I have lifted each one of you in prayer.

Since so many people requested more information about the verses that were in my little treasure box, I have listed those for you below. Feel free to copy and paste them and use them as you wish. Also, be sure to seek Gods guidance in discovering new verses for yourself that will help bring you strength to face your situation, or the person for whom you will be making the box for. You could use the concordance of your Bible, or look up keywords on, to research specific verses about any particular situation.

As you read these verses below, you will recognize that they are not exact quotes from Gods Word, but have been written in a conversational way that explains the promise found in the scriptural verse, rather than quoting the verse word for word.

You can do your verse slips this way, or type the verse exactly as it is written - whichever way you feel will help you feel closest to God. Each time you see a (xxx), that is where you should insert your name, or the name of the person whom you are making this treasure box for.

I pray you feel Gods hugs very soon!

(your name here), I carry your burdens every day. Psalm 68:19
You can know and depend on the love that I have for you, (xxx). 1 John 4:16
You can trust in My faithfulness, (xxx), because My Word is true. Psalm 33:4
If you enter in My rest, (xxx), you will find rest from all your striving. Hebrews 4:9-10
My Spirit will help you in your weakness, (xxx). Romans 8:26
You can rest in My love, (xxx), for I have power to save you. Zephaniah 3:17
I will meet your every need, (xxx), through My eternal riches in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:19
I will be the voice behind you, (xxx), guiding you in the way you should go. Isaiah 30:21
(xxx), I will give you power to know the vastness of My immeasurable love. Ephesians 3:17-19
Trust in Me with all your heart, (xxx), and I will guide you. Proverbs 3:5-6
Come close to Me, (xxx), and I will come close to you. James 4:8
I prepared a kingdom inheritance for you, (xxx), when I created the world. Matthew 25:34
I am with you, (xxx), and I will help you because I am your God. Isaiah 41:10
My promise of life is for you and for your family, (xxx). Acts 2:39
Reach out and you will touch Me, for I am not far from you, (xxx). Acts 17:27 Commit all that you do to Me, (xxx) and your plans will be successful. Proverbs 16:3You can trust in Me, (xxx), for I am your strength and your song. Isaiah 12:2I will never abandon you, (xxx). Hebrews 13:5
If you wait for Me, (xxx), I will work on your behalf. Isaiah 64:4
An eternal crown awaits you at the finish line, (xxx). 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
I am near to you whenever you cry out, (xxx). Deuteronomy 4:7
I will keep watch over you and guard you forever, (xxx). Psalm 12:7
My love will never fail you, (xxx). 1 Corinthians 13:8
Call on me, Tracie, when you are in trouble and I will rescue you. Psalm 91:15
There is no place you can go to escape My presence, (xxx). Psalm 13:7-10
When problems arise, (xxx), call to Me and I will answer you. Psalm 86:7
The good things I have planned for you, (xxx), are too many to count. Psalm 40:5
For you, (xxx), are honoroed in My eyes. I, your God, am your strength. Isaiah 49:5
I will protect and carry you, (xxx), all the days of your life. Isaiah 46:4
Though the mountains vanish, My unending love will never lear you, (xxx). Isaiah 54:10
Ask Me for wisdom, (xxx), and I will generously give it to you. James 1:5

Treasured Verses for a Treasure BoxSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gods Word Is Alive

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8a (NIV)

(several people this morning have requested a list of the verses that were in my treasure box - check back tomorrow and I will have these listed out for you to copy and paste so you can begin building your own special treasure box.)

If you are linking over to my blog today from the Proverbs 31 daily devotion, thank you for dropping by! And happy Monday to all of my weekly blogger friends. Above is a picture of my treasured bible verse box that I made reference to in the devotion. (Thanks again LeAnn!)

The day that I sat in Gods lap, as the devotion explains, God impressed several things upon my heart. 1) I was not alone or forgotten; 2) He cared about my hurts; and 3) He could really speak to me in a way that I could feel and understand.

As a Christian, all three of these things would probably be considered the most basic of the truths that we believe, however, sometimes, if you are anything like me, we just need a little holy reminder of those truths to calm our spirits. A blatant, in-your-face type of holy reminder.

A reminder that God is not taking a break when we feel hurt or confused, or when unfortunate situations seep into our lives, but that He is still there, and will share His love and His voice if we draw near to Him.

Getting near to God is not as hard as it seems. If we see Him as an unreachable, invisible, and untouchable, then, yes, it may seem impossible to ever find Him. However, if we see Him as real, alive, and within our reach through prayer and devotion, we will soon discover that He is not near as far away as He once seemed.

Drawing near to God, results in Him drawing near to us as well.

In the 4th chapter of James, the biblegateway commentary tells us that James is acting as a "spiritual director" for the church. It tells us how "the church goes beyond superficialities and guides the church into holiness in its internal relationships. True spiritual direction not only challenges; it comforts". It goes on to explain that James is "faithful to confront sinful motives and evil practices, and he is equally clear about the promise of God's grace."

Grace - that is one key thing I pull out of this chapter of instruction for sinners. Grace. We all need it in times of sin, pain, sufferings, hardships, and challenges. Iin fact, a definition of theological grace that I came across said "the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them."

Is that not exactly what we all need and want? Of course! We desire to have the spirit of God working so actively within us that we feel re-energized, refreshed, motivated, strengthened, and loved beyond belief. It is those exact feelings of supernatural power within us and a peace that surpasses understanding, that empower us to pull ourselves out of a pit, and into the light of Christ instead. That internal spiritual power is what draws us into Gods presence.

The place to find that grace, comfort, and fresh spiritual energy to press on, is through Gods Word, and all the promises that flood into our hearts when we read it. What a disservice we are doing to our faith and ourselves when we discount the truth that Gods Word is alive.

Shortly after me and God had us some snuggle time, I slowly began to see things improving in this relationship. I began to see God working in the heart of this person, a person who has a wonderful heart to begin with, but who had been trying to do life without holding His hand as a result of being pulled in every direction due to the pressures of life. I have seen glimpses of Gods plan in this relationship, and my heart is bursting at the seams to watch Him at work.

Even though I may not understand why things happen, I still try to focus on having full trust in Gods ways, and not allow doubt in His sovereignty to seep into my mind. I thank Him every day for continuing to work in my heart, and the hearts of those I love, and I truly believe that He is doing a mighty work.

Trusting in God for answers to come, for wisdom to manage issues, for strength to persevere, and for peace and forgiveness to come, can be hard. More than hard. Painfully hard. And most of the time, no fun. But it is that exact trust that will not only get us through the battle, but also that will lift us up when we see Gods restoration and love begin to flow. Maybe the answer to our prayers will not look exactly like we had prayed for, but nonetheless, it will be the best answer for us.

If you would like to sit in Gods lap today, consider doing the activity mentioned in the devotion. Make your own bible verse box, and insert your name into all the verses. Or, if you know someone who is struggling with a difficult time in their life right now, make a bible verse treasure box for them. It is a gift that will not only lift their hearts, but lift their spirits as well, and most likely, will also result in a much needed smile.

Gods Word Is AliveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Journey of Hope

I pray that God has spoken to your heart this week about hope, and that maybe through His supernatural intervention and healing, you are feeling a little more hopeful today about the trials you may be facing.

If there is one thing we know about problems, it is that they will always exist. Even when we overcome one problem or find victory over a certain circumstance, another problem is surely to follow. That is why hope is such a crucial part of faith. It is something we need to pray for and practice, even on the best of days. Hope is a journey that we have to continue on with every day.

To end out our journey this week, although the journey has just begun, I want to leave you with a few verses to include in your quiet time over the coming days.

I am headed out to Connecticut today for a huge womens conference, and I would covet your prayers for God to be glorified, and hearts to be changed. Have a wonderful weekend friends!

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Exodus 33:14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

A Journey of HopeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Victory Over the Giant

1 Samuel 17:32 "Master," said David, "don't give up hope. I'm ready to go and fight this Philistine."

In 1 Samuel 17, we learn about David and Goliath. A well known story, with a well known ending, but lets take a moment to dig a little deeper into what the real giant was for the army that stood helpless against the Philistines.

1 Samuel 17:1-7 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Asekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronzes helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron pint weight six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

It was not necessarily the giant Philistine that made the Israelites feel hopeless about their victory, it was their attitude towards the giant. To the Israelites, it looked like there was no way to beat the giant. Not only did they have this huge valley between themselves and the enemy, but the enemy was absolutely enormous. Can you imagine what he must have looked like; based on the description we are given in the Bible? I would have definitely cowered in fear at the sight of this monstrosity of a person!

But still, knowing the facts, the Israelites longed for victory. The problem was that they couldn’t envision victory, while their eyes were focused on the problem.

The problem named Goliath.

The fear that Goliath created in them, caused their attitude to be one of defeat before the battle ever actually took place.

1 Samuel 17:8-11 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us. Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other. One hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. "

There was no joy in the hearts of the Israelites after hearing what Goliath had to say. Their defeat not only seemed imminent, but someone would have to die, and then they would be servants. I would imagine their fear not only stemmed from the potential of immediate loss of life, but also from imagining how horrible and tortuous daily life would be as a servant of the Philistines. Their fears were overwhelming, the situation seemed hopeless, and so they stayed helplessly in the shadows of that fear.

Their attitude was not one focused on God. They didn’t think to call out to God for help. They didn’t think to ask for, and expect, a miracle. Their eyes were focused on the giant, not on the God that had always been there for them.

In many ways, we are the same way. We find ourselves in a difficult position, faced with hardship and misfortune regardless of which way we turn, and instead of looking to the One that could make a difference, we look at the problem and all the reasons why we cannot fight that battle. We search within our own knowledge base for answers. We look to friends for advice. We seek out family members for support. We look to co-workers for sympathy. We look to lawyers for justice.

But - we don’t look to God - until we have exhausted every other avenue.

Victory is not merely defeating the enemy, or issue in our life. Victory is actually learning to live a life of joy, even when the Philistines are still looming off in the distance.

Victory is the ability to sustain a feeling of happiness in your heart, no matter how much life is raging around you. A feeling of competence and strength, even if your capabilities seem to pale in comparison to your giant.

Victory is seeing the good in the bad, and overcoming a problem, but most importantly, victory is being able to achieve joy in Christ, whether or not earthly victory is gained or the problem is resolved.

1 Samuel 17:22- David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel. David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes from disgrace? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

One thing that stands out to me about this passage, is that David “ran to the battle lines”. David did not look at the battle line from a distance; measure the distance that he would have to run; contemplate specific rock throwing moves; consider where he might be able to hide; weigh all the positives against the negatives; or try to determine all the what-if scenarios and come up with solutions ahead of time.

No - David just trusted God, believed in His purpose, and stepped forward in confidence. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that His God was bigger than any giant, and therefore He felt equipped, emotionally and physically to fight the giant.

So many times, our giants keep us cowering in the shadows, just like all those Israelites did who saw the giant as something that could not be defeated.

Even if the giant is something that we are capable of overcoming, we still often remain in fear because we neglect to see the possibility of victory as we are focused on the possibility of defeat. We look around for help, instead of looking up for help, and as a result, our eyes cannot focus on victory.

We want to be able to see realistic answers for our problems, instead of being willing to allow God us to show us the supernatural ways that He can work. We want to see to believe, instead of believe, and then see His miracles.

Many times, even when we know that God is in control and that He will be with us as we face the battle, we still hesitate to move forward. Our fears become stronger than our faith. We typically do not want to get that close to our giant, much less run towards it! But victory can only happen when we move forward, fully trusting that God is leading the way.

Whatever your giant is today, God is bigger. God is more powerful. God already knows the outcome. God has equipped you to fight it. It is our job to believe in Him enough to be able to envision the victory.

Is your attitude one that believes those truths?

Are you willing to run towards the battle line, fully trusting God, or at a minimum, start taking some baby steps towards the victory that God has waiting for you?

Hope against hope, meaning maintaining hope in God when the harshness of reality makes things seem hopeless, will bring us close enough to God to feel His presence, through the peace that comes when we least expect it.

Victory Over the GiantSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Possibility of Peace

Mark 10:27 says “Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Living a life full of joy and void of pain may seem impossible to you today, as you consider all the difficult situations in your life, the hardships you have endured, the pain you have experienced, the struggles you are currently facing, or the looming hopelessness of the future - but, my friend, true joy and peace are within your reach, if you are reaching out to the right place for help. Peace is a matter of the heart.

One very important truth to remember is this - God could change your circumstances at any time, if He chose to do so, but consider this - is it possible, that maybe God is more interested in changing YOU through your circumstances, than changing your circumstances?

There are countless stories in The Bible of people who faced great adversity, and stress, but who persevered in Christ, and came out for the better. One of those people was Hannah, in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter one. Elkanah had two wives - one was Hannah, and the other was Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not, because she had been unable to get pregnant.

1 Samuel 1:6-7 says “And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.”

Hannah was tormented year after year not only because of her own personal shame of being barren, but because of the great persecution that was bestowed upon her by her husband’s other wife. The day came when she had had all she could take - ever been there? I know I have.

Hannah went to the place of worship as was the custom, just as she had done year after year, but this year, something was different. Hannah was at the end of her rope. She tried to be faithful, she had prayed for a child, but still to no avail, so she now found herself in a place of complete despair. She said as noted in1 Samuel 1:11, that “ she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me.”

She was desperate to know that God saw her, and that He saw the pain she was in. She was at wits end, and as a result, she dropped to her knees, and poured her entire heart out to God.

Yes, Hannah had prayed about this problem before, probably hundreds of times, for years, but God had still not answered her prayers yet. However, on this particular day she was desperate for God’s intervention. She was so absolutely desperate and heart- broken, that she not only prayed, but she praying loudly, enthusiastically, desperately, and excitedly, so much so, that onlookers thought that she was drunk with wine.

When Eli questioned her behavior, she answered by saying, "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." God then spoke through Eli, and he said to Hannah, (vs 17) "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."

Hannah had great faith, even though she endured the adversity and torment from her co-wife for years. Can you imagine the type of stress that she had to endure, to keep her mouth shut and not complain about her husband’s other wife, the one who had bore him children; the one she had to live with; the one she had to succumb to every day of her life as she pleaded every second for God to remove her pain.

Hannah’s faith was the answer to her stress. Her faith, despite her stressful and heartbreaking situation, resulted in God working on her behalf.

1 Samuel 1:19-20 says Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

A key point from this verse that is crucial to our own faith walk is “that the Lord remembered her.”

He remembered the faithful woman who had continued to love Him and worship Him, despite her circumstances. He remembered the faithful woman who had sought His help, faithfully, with perseverance, and called to Him for help, without giving up or losing hope. He remembered the woman who knew that her only hope for a solution to her problem was the One who had created her.

Remember God during your difficult times, and He will remember you. Sometimes God shows u up the biggest, when we are the most desperate for Him. As our desperationf or Him grows, we will begin to see Him at work. And when the time is right, His peace and promises will become a reality in your life as well.

Peace may seem impossible, in light of the difficulties of life, but with Christ, all things are possible.

The Possibility of PeaceSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jesus Knows How You Feel

If you are visiting me as a follow up to yesterdays P31 devotion and blog post, then welcome back! I want to take this opportunity to let all of you know how much I appreciated and was so uplifted and encouraged by all the countless comments and emails from around the country, Canada, and as far away as Malaysai and the Philippines!

I am in awe at how God makes the world seem so much smaller, as we all walk in faith together serving such an amazing God. Thank you all for sharing your valuable advice & suggestions to help my sister, offers to pray for her, priceless bible verses, and countless personal stories of hope journeys and miraculous healings. Every story, comment and email lifted my spirits in an unbelievable way. Nothing is more encouraging than to be reminded that everyone has troubles, some worse than others, but that the same God is there to hold each of our hands, and that our hope rests in Him alone. I can hardly take it all in without getting all mushy, and I pray God blesses each of you in a special way this week. Smiles and hugs.

Now lets take another step in our journey of hope together. Yesterdays post focused on praising God during the storm, and loving Him even when life is hard. Today I want to focus on the only thing that will allow us to do that - attitude.

You know, Jesus had every reason to have a bad attitude.

In the few years that Jesus was walking the earth, He experienced more than His fair share of hardships and heartaches, to put it lightly.

He experienced every emotion imaginable including celebrations, threats, joy, intense grief, overwhelming sorrow, looming disappointments, life interruptions, ridiculous demands, daily pressures, rejection, temptation, hurt, embarrassment, betrayal and loneliness.

So when we go through really hard times, facing those huge giants that seem to be sucking the life right of our heart, it is so comforting to remember that Jesus knows how we feel.

Maybe you have come back to my blog today because you are experiencing one or many of those emotions above. Maybe you are still feeling hopeless, and desperately seeking any word from God to help you get through the situation you are facing. Maybe you feel like nobody can understand what you are going through, and no one can relate to what you are feeling. But friend, I want to remind you today, that Jesus knows how you feel.

In Max Lucados book, In The Eye Of The Storm, which is one of my most very favorite books ever, Max writes this:

When Matthew writes that Jesus had compassion on the people, he is not saying that Jesus felt casual pity for them. No, the term is far more graphic. Matthew is saying that Jesus felt their hurt in his gut:

- He felt the limp of the crippled.
- He felt the hurt of the diseased.
- He felt the loneliness of the leper.
- He felt the embarrassment of the sinful.

And once He felt their hurts, He couldnt help but heal their hurts. He was moved in the stomach by their needs. He was so touched by their needs that He forgot His own needs. He was so moved by the people’s hurts that He put His hurts on the back burner.

This paragraph above from Lucados book makes it crystal clear the immensity of compassion that Jesus has for us, but also, the immensity of His understanding.

He not only can understand how we are feeling because He walked the earth as God in human flesh, but also because His love for us causes Him to actually feel our hurts. He doesnt merely catch our every tear and desire to comfort us, He actually shares our pain, physically and emotionally.

But regardless of the disappointments and pain that Jesus suffered, in His body, and on our behalf, what we can hopefully take away from this understanding is the incredible realization that despite all of His sufferings, He never wavered in His attitude.

Jesus never got mad in sin and refused to forgive someone. Jesus never betrayed someone because they had betrayed Him. Jesus never turned away from someone in need. Jesus never gossiped about anyone behind their back. Jesus never lacked compassion. Jesus was never selfish. Jesus was never prideful. Jesus was never rebellious. Jesus was never unrighteous in his thoughts or actions. Jesus was never hurtful to others. Jesus never forgot who His Father was, even when He felt forgotten, and forsaken for a brief moment.

Jesus never looked for the bad in people or circumstances, He always looked for the good. He always turned experiences, into eternal encounters. Jesus always tried to focus on what people could learn from mistakes, not condemn because they made mistakes. Jesus never questioned Gods intentions, or purposes, even when He suffered great heartbreak and physical pain.

His attitude was not founded on the shifting sand of His earthly circumstances, His earthly surroundings or His human feelings. It was grounded on the Rock of Salvation, the Father that was bigger than anything He could encounter. The One whom He knew would always be able to come to His rescue, as was within His will.

Regardless of how people treated Jesus, the challenges He faced, the persecution He endured and the pain He suffered, Jesus’s attitude remained one of love, compassion, and optimism. He was able to look past the present, to see the future benefits. He believed to the depths of His soul what we learn about in Romans 8:28, that says everything serves a higher purpose, to glorify God, for those who are loved and called by God.

I think it is important to also keep in mind that Jesus was not a shallow optimist - He could see the good, the bad and the ugly. In fact, He lived in a shadow of a cross looming in the distance. But His faith and His attitude never wavered.

Oh, to have an eternal optimist outlook on life, an attitude of hope, and a perspective of love, like Jesus did. I can only imagine how happy our life would be if we could stay so grounded in our faith that we would never waver in our own attitudes - that we would never succumb to pessisim and anxiety - that we would never doubt eternal purpose in a heartbreaking situation.

We obviously cannot achieve this perfection of heart or mind. Just by virtue of living in a broken world, we will always be tempted to succumb to negativity and a loss of hope. But praise Jesus, we have been promised His grace when we do - the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.

Grace to learn from our mistakes. Grace to face the battles when they come. Grace to fail and be forgiven. The grace to offer hope even when we feel hopeless and forgotten.

Its okay to feel hopeless, in fact it is perfectly normal,and maybe reality tells you that your situation even warrants it. But Gods grace is sufficient.

As we strive to believe that God knows how we feel and desires for us to have peace and abundant joy in our hearts, despite what is going on in our lives, only then can we begin to catch a glimpse of the hope that He has readily available if we seek it from Him. A level of hope that is not attainable from worldy people or things. A hope that is unseen, that is against all odds, because we believe in His sovereignty.

Its kind of funny if you think about it, to consider that our attitude/outlook in general, could be the determining factor in our level of hope. Our faith obviously drives our hope, but our attitude will drive our faith.

Friends, seek out Gods grace today to find hope. Remember that Jesus not only knows and understands how you feel, but that His grace will rain down upon you, if you lift up your hands and welcome the rain.

2 Corinthians 12:9 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.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Praising In The Storm

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

If you are visiting me today from the Proverbs 31 devotion, Cartwheels in Heaven, welcome! I hope you will come back and visit throughout this week as we continue this discussion of finding hope in Christ, and encourage each other with our own personal stories and comments about this mystery called hope.

If you are like me, and as I mentioned in todays devotion, there are probably situations in your life that seem hopeless. Whether what you are hoping for is small or huge, the feeling of hopelessness can be very disheartening, discouraging, and frustrating.

As I studied the Bible recently on the subject of hope, I came across John 14:18, which says "No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you." His words were few in this verse, but the impact was profound.

In these few words, Jesus reminds us that regardless of how difficult the storms seem to be in our life, and regardless of how alone we may feel, that God has not abandoned us, and promises that He never will.

During great storms in our life, when the waves seem to be crashing in from every direction and the pull of the current is so strong that we are afraid we will drown, it is so important to remember some of the most basic promises that God provides. Through His Word we are reassured of those basic promises over and over - that He hears our prayers; He is always near; He also hears our cries, and He catches every tear that falls.

Another verse that helps restore peace and hope in my heart is, Isaiah 41:13 which says, "For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God.And I say to you,‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.'" Again, another reassurance that even though we feel alone and forgotten, God has not abandoned us, and He never will. God is there to hold our hand, even when nobody else is.

Where else could we receive such amazing comfort and reassurance, than God?

Where else could we find someone who would catch every tear, besides God?

Where else could we find someone who will be there for us 24/7, at our beckoning call, to hold our hand and walk us through every storm, besides God?

Who else can know with the utmost confidence will never abandon us, but God? Who else can really hold us up when we are too weak to carry on ourselves? Nobody, but God.

But even knowing these truths, and believing them with my full heart, sometimes I still struggle to keep hope, and maybe you do too.

I believe that the key to maintaining hope is to not focus on the situation with my human mind, but with my spiritual heart, and to seek out solace in Gods Word.

When I feel my hope dwindling about a storm in my life, there are many verses that bring comfort, but one in particular always helps me keep my head above water, and that is Romans 8:28, which says "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."

You see, not only have I read countless passages in the Bible where this truth is portrayed, but I have also seen this verse proven true in situations in my own life. I have seen God take broken pieces of my life, and turn them into a beautiful novel that only He could have written.

So when the outlook seems dismal about a particular situation, I try to remember those miracles that God has already done. As I focus on the reality of His truth of how He used a storm in my life to His glory in the past, it helps me to hold tight to the promise that God can use current difficult situations to His glory as well.

Romans 8:28 always reminds me that no matter how powerful the storm is, my God is bigger, and most importantly, that He always has a plan.

It reminds me that God is still in control, even when things seem out of control, and that He has a purpose and a reason for everything. It reminds me that even though I may not understand why something is happening, why God is allowing it, or what glory could ever be derived from it, that His Word is 100% true.

Our faith can be the strongest, when we feel the weakest, if we hold on to Romans 8:28 as our life-raft during the storm.

If you are facing something hopeless today, my encouragement to you is to keep praying; keep believing in Gods sovereignty; keep seeking the purpose in His plan; and keep meditating on Romans 8:28. As you focus on Gods activity during the storm, instead of the storm itself, your hope will rise, and eventually, in Gods timing, peace will come.

Sometimes I have to smile at how God gets my attention. It seems that every time I am driving in my car with a heavy heart and the threat of tears pressing against my eyelids, the song from Casting Crowns called I Will Praise You In This Storm, begins to play on the radio. I think it is Gods sweet and gentle way of reminding me to continue praying, continue trusting Him, and continue hoping. I am reminded that my help can only come from Him.

Every time that I hear this song, I seize the moment and tell God once again, that no matter what happens, I will still love Him.

Will you?

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Truth About Transparency

"I slept with a midget stripper."

Have I got your attention? LOL

This was the show description that I saw flash across my television screen quickly today as I aimlessly flipped through the channels with the remote. Are you wondering what type of cable daytime program would have this type of subject? Two words - Jerry Springer. Yes, that explains it, I know. And the worst part is, that on some days, the sub-titles for the show content are even worse.

I would rather have my arm twisted off than be caught watching Jerry Springer. Please believe me when I say that I DO NOT watch this show. I was merely channel surfing, and saw the show sub-title as I flipped past it.

But you know what? Every time I flip past that show (quickly, I might add), my heart sinks a little. I think of the broken and beaten down people (sometimes literally) that agree to appear as guests on that show. I think of the betrayal and heartbreak that the show guests always seem to have endured. I think of the embarrassment that they surely are suffering from during the show, much less the emotional torment they probably deal with afterwards as they try to pick up the pieces of the damaged goods of their life.

I will never understand for the life of me why anyone would voluntarily agree to be on this show, and air out all of their dirtiest laundry and heartbreak, in front of the whole world.

As my mind tried to wrap itself around some feasible reason of why people would subject themselves to this torture and embarrassment, I thought about how God tells us to be transparent with our lives, so that we can glorify Him with our experiences.

I thought about how sad it is that the thousands of people who appear as guests on this show, day after day, year after year, are so desperately seeking truth, peace and happiness, but looking for it in all the wrong places. I considered how these people are often desperately seeking revenge as well, and how their passion for justice brings them to the lowest of all lows, on public display for all to see.

The Bible tells us that if we are willing to serve God with our whole hearts, that we have to be willing to lay aside pride and shame, and embrace mercy and grace instead. And I remember Romans 8:28, where we are assured that all things can be used to Gods glory if we are willing to step out of our comfort zone.

But does God mean to get on national television and tell the whole world our secrets? Is that the type of transparency God is talking about? Does it make God happy for people to announce their sin, or the sins of others, to the world and allow other people ample time and opportunity to judge, scorn, and ridicule? Do you think God is pleased when the people who committed sins against others are publicly humiliated?

Of course not. This emotional and mental torment is far, far from anything that God would intend for anyone. He loves me and you, and the people on the Jerry Springer show, and it must make Him sad to see this type of thing going on, as if the audience members held some power and authority to judge and scorn; and as if the accused are worthy of no opportunity for grace and mercy.

When God mentions being willing to share openly and honestly with others, He means it for good. Pure goodness. Loving goodness. Learning goodness. Living goodness.

Lets get real, and admit that the thought of being truly transparent for Christ might cause us to fear that we may risk temporarily feeling much like a Jerry Springer guest. The truth is that we may be ridiculed. We may be embarrassed. We may be ashamed. We may have people judge us. We may have words thrown at us (but not chairs), and we may feel broken.

But the difference between transparency for Christ, and false transparency, is that after it is all said and done, holy transparency will cause you to feel redeemed. You WILL feel restored. You WILL feel freed. You WILL feel empowered. You WILL feel peace.

There is no peace in anyones hearts when these JS shows are over and done with. And as for Jerry Springers heart, I pray God is able to reach him one day, so that he will recognize the long term damage he is encouraging in the lives of people who so obviously need a Savior to call upon, not a stage to fall upon.

Removing the veils from our faces so that we can be a light for Christ sometimes means we must open ourselves up to the possibility of embarrassment, but all for the sake of Christ; to lay down our lives for Him as a testament to what He has done in our life; and to lead other people to Christ through our transparency, which makes us even more beautiful than ever before.

If you have been scared to share your past experiences, secrets or sins with anyone because you are scared of feeling like a guest on the Jerry Springer show, I want to encourage you to seriously pray about what it is that God might have you do. You see, God gives us our experiences, good and bad, embarrassing and enlightening, to glorify Him - but if we are not willing to share those experiences with others, then the suffering, and learning, was all for nought.

We are all called to a life of transparency, but only when we are ready, willing and waiting to share our gratitude for the grace that we have been given with someone who needs it just as much as us.

How grateful are you today for the grace you have been given?

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Baggy eyes, but a cheery heart

Wow, what a tiring weekend! Sometimes I wake up on Monday mornings and wonder where the weekend went, and today was one of those days! This morning Kaitlyn came into my bedroom not long after I woke up, and her sweet morning greeting words were, "nice eyes mom".

No, she was not complimenting on my blue eyes, but on the sags and bags under them! I was so tired, and have to admit it was not a pretty sight!

But it was a great weekend, filled with all the things that consume our everyday life in this wonderful fun season of 24/7 parenting. We also had some company over the weekend as my husband was involved with a member/guest golf tournament so that was a great time with friends. Saturday was full of cheerleading practices, homecoming, and two football games to attend, and Sunday was a jam packed day watching a cheerleading competition.

So I thought I would expose my proud mama ego today and share my daughters competition routines with you. Even though they made a few errors, both squads one first place! It was so nice to see the months and endless hours of practice pay off.

Below are videos of their routine, and you can check out some more pictures of the event at my Facebook page if you want to visit me there.

So many things to be thankful for, especially the simple pleasures of watching your children do something they love. Makes my heart smile and full of "cheer". Smiles.

What you are thankful for today?



Baggy eyes, but a cheery heartSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 2, 2009

Be sure to watch Oprah today!

Several months ago I had a precious opportunity to be a part of an Oprah show taping in Charlotte, NC, which was a follow up to one of her prior shows where Oprah featured Lysa Terkeurst (President of Proverbs 31) and her family, and all the other incredible families who adopted children from Liberia several years ago.

If you dont know the story - the brief synopsis is that many years ago during a local church event featuring a Liberian boys choir, Lysa felt God speaking to her heart that she should adopt two of those boys. After months of prayer, she did just that, and led the way for many other families to adopt over 40 children from that orphanage as well.

All of these families are from Waxhaw, NC, and were on the Oprah show six years ago, and wow, how time has flown!

On this special day of taping, it was such an honor to be in the midst of all these families who followed God's call on their life, and adopted children from another country, fully trusting God and putting all of the fears, dreams and unknowns completely in Gods hands.

It was so awesome to interact with the kids whose lives were forever changed because of the obedience of their parents to God's will, and they were all such sweet and wonderful kids, given a life they could have never dreamed of having if God had not moved mountains.

Be sure to tune in on Friday October 2nd and watch the show! It is a story that will lift your spirits for the whole weekend!

But most of all, please pray that God will be glorified as this story is broadcast nationally to millions of viewers, and that the editors of the show will actually air the parts of the taping that explain how amazing and big our God is.

Thought you might enjoy seeing a few "behind the scenes" pictures!

Me, Charlene Kidd and Luann Prater, were able to be there that day for the taping, just to run errands for the crew, help out where needed and be little P31 gophers and prayer warriors. We had such a good time together!

Jesus doesnt transform hearts only in the church, because life transformation can happen in any place. It happens to a woman at a well. It happens in the street. It happens in the brothel. It happens in the drughouse. It happens on the street corner where the gangs hang out. It happens in prison. It happens with a thief on a cross.

It happens on television. And hopefully, today, it will happen on the Oprah Show.

We would all covet your prayers today. For Lysa and her family, and all the families involved. For Oprah. For Oprahs film crew. For everyone who will see this show, and possibly hear the Word of God for the first time. For all the ears who hear how God works in such amazing ways, to impact lives on earth and for eternity, and for hearts to be softened to see His true power and sovereignty.

Be sure to watch Oprah today!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend