Friday, May 28, 2010

What A Wonderful World This Could Be

If you are here from the Proverbs 31 Devotion today, Becoming The Hands and Feet, then welcome! I am so glad you are visiting me today.

I think becoming the hands and feet of Jesus can be one of the hardest things we ever try to do. It sounds easy enough - but is it really?

Let's consider which choice would be the easy choice in the hypothetical situations below:

- a mean girl in high school is bullying your child - do we talk badly about that girl to our children, and demean her importance as a result of her actions, or do we pray with our child and ask for God to intervene, showing my child how He cares about the daily situations in our lives?

- we see a homeless person on the side of the road with a cardboard sign displaying his hand written words "need food" - do we look the other way, assuming he will buy drugs or alcohol with the money we might give them, or give them something knowing that God is glorified through our obedience to Him, regardless of that person's decisions.

- someone we know is disabled and unable to drive - do we take some time to offer to help them run errands, or do we convince ourselves that we are simply too busy for that, and that someone else will probably be there to help them anyway?

- a friend is having financial problems and living on meager earnings - do we offer to bring them meals or help with their bills, or justify that we need to save our money because times are tough for everyone.

- a rude sales clerk treats you as if you were the last person on earth she wanted to help during her work day - do we respond in the same rude way, telling her what she deserves to hear and possibly reporting her to management, or do we smile and respond in kindness, acknowledging her hard work and wishing her a nice evening.

- a co-worker gets the job promotion that you know you deserved - do we scorn them and their success, making sure everyone knows the decision was not fair, or do you congratulate your co-worker, and ask God to guide your paths, opening up the doors that He desires for you to walk through.

So many opportunities - each and every day - present themselves to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Not just big things, but little things too. And with each opportunity, we are faced with a choice. A choice between taking the easy road out, the road that feels good and satisfies our own needs and self centered thoughts, or stepping up to the plate and being willing to act on God's behalf for the people who God put into our path.

As I mentioned in today's Proverbs 31 devotion, being the hands and feet of Jesus may sometimes require sacrifice. The sacrificial offer of her husband's life, that the elderly so freely offered, is still a gift, and a mindset, that honestly, I have a very hard time comprehending. I can only hope to have such a strong faith and selfless disposition one day, that I would not only have such Christ centered thoughts, but that I would be willing to act on them, without a moments hesitation.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

This verse above is one of many which portrays the importance God places on doing His will, and His will includes loving our "neighbors" enough to be His hands and feet. In fact, I find it so amazingly interesting, that in Mark 12:28-31, one of the teachers asked Jesus which of all of His commandments were most important, and Jesus said 1) to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, and 2) to love your neighbor as yourself.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus comes second to loving God with all your heart, soul and mind - which makes it crystal clear to us about how He prioritizes doing His work.

I have always loved this poem, written by Edgar Guest:
The hands and feet of Christ.

I’d rather see a sermon
than hear one any day
I’d rather one should walk with me
than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing
than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing
but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers
are those who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action
is what everybody needs.

Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to bring people into your life, and provide the opportunity for you to be His hands and feet. To be an example to people you know, and maybe even people you do not know, of who Christ really is. Ask God to give you the spiritual vision and the open eyes to see the people whom He puts in your path, and ask that He make it clear to your spirit how you are to be His hands and feet in that situation.

Starting today, do something to further the Kingdom of God. Tell others about Jesus. Share your faith. Share your stories of how Jesus has worked in your life. Help someone in need. Reach out to someone who has not been kind to you. Encourage and pray for those who are suffering. Share the gifts that God has given you, whether tangible or intangible, with the people whom God connects you with.

True Christianity is not just a label we wear, it is a lifestyle we live.

If we all began to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus every day, in our own homes, neighborhoods, communities, states, nations, and even internationally, I can only imagine what a wonderful world this could be.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Miracles Happen When We Least Expect Them

Yesterday I was working on a message that I will be giving to a group of women's ministry leaders at She Speaks. I have shared this message at the conference for the last few years, but this year, I really felt like God called me to change it up.

The message is called "Staying Filled Up So You Don't Burn out", and it is meant to encourage ministry leaders to not get discouraged, frustrated, or burnt out in the process of serving God.

After spending weeks trying to figure out what direction to take this message in, God led me to the book of 1 Kings, and the story of Elijah. I have learned so much about Elijah while writing this topic, but while I was reading the Bible and scouring over the verses for application and inspiration, one verse hopped out at me, and actually made me chuckle a bit.

I was reading 1 Kings 17. This is where Elijah has told Ahab that due to his pagan idol worship, the Lord was going to withhold rain for three years. Then Elijah left as the Lord instructed, and went to Zarephath, where the Lord told him he would meet a widow who would give him a place to stay and food to eat.

So upon arriving to the city, he came across the widow picking up sticks, and asked her for some food. Then this unusual, somewhat funny verse is said. (Which is really not funny I suppose, it just seemed like something we say so often with sarcasm or jest; or maybe I have a strange sense of humor, who knows.)

Anyway, so here we are in the story, where Elijah has just asked the widow for some food, and her response to Elijah is this:

1 Kings 17:12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die." (NIV)

The funny, but not-so-funny, part, is that she says they are going to eat, and die.

Does that sound a bit overly dramatic to anyone besides me? It made me think of the old saying "nobody likes me, everbody hates me; I think I'll eat a worm, and die". She says it so matter-of-factly, like she is just going to grab a quick bite to eat, then lay down and die. As if it were nothing.

As I thought about this verse, it dawned on me that we really do not know her tone of voice as she made this statement to Elijah.

Maybe she said it with great anger, shaking her fist at God, wondering why He had let her husband die and left she and her son without food.

Maybe she said jokingly, knowing that she probably would not really die after her next meal, but life was such a struggle, that she really would not care either way.

Maybe she had been starving for months, with no husband to provide for her, and she honestly felt like this last meal would in deed be the last, and had just accepted her fate .

Or maybe she said it with her head hung low, in great despair, full of hopelessness and sadness, seeing no way out of her situation, and no light at the end of tunnel. Not wanting to die, but not seeing any other solution.

We have no idea how this woman was really feeling - but what we DO know, is that God had not forgotten her.

1 Kings 17:13-15 says,
"Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land. "

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah

Even though her circumstances seemed grim and hopeless, and she was filled despair, and maybe not even asking God for a miracle - He still gave her one. He already had a plan in place to meet her needs, and she was totally unaware of it.

God had ordained ahead of time that Elijah meet this widow in the city. He had already picked out the exact day. And as she was mindlessly picking up sticks for a fire, a routine task that she carried out every day, God put His plan into place, and provided for all of her needs in a milli-second. In fact, He also planned to save her sons life as well, as a result of her provision for Elijah (vs 22). He had such a great plan - who knew?!

Even though we are not told that the widow had been seeking God's intervention and pleading for Him to bless her, the Lord saw her, loved her, and provided for her physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Then in verse 24, we read "Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth."

As a result of Gods intervention in her life, and how He met her physical needs in such unexpected and miraculous ways, her faith was renewed. Her spirit was lifted. Her hope in humanity, and in God, was restored.

I really feel like God placed this post on my heart for a special reason - someone out there in bloggy-cyber land needs to hear this message.

Someone, and maybe it is you, needs to know that God has already planned how to meet our current needs, and our needs of the future, and that right about the time when all seems hopeless, He will make His presence known in miraculous ways. He has not forgotten us or abandoned us, but is hard at work putting His plans into place.

If the Lord can keep a flour jar and an oil jug filled up to the rim for weeks, maybe months, at a time - surely He can keep our hearts filled up with enough of Him to get us through our most trying situations.

At the exact time that He has ordained, His miracles will occur, and it may be when we least expect it. Afterwards, we will be able to say nothing less than, "wow, look what God did for me. His Word is truth."

Smiles. :)

Miracles Happen When We Least Expect ThemSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Do I Do That, Lord?

Romans 7:15 says "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." (NLT)

This seems to be my life theme verse lately. I have every intention of acting "right" in my daily interactions, thoughts and behaviors, and then before I know it, I've messed up again.

I have every intention of not being impatient with my children, but then I am. I have every intention of not getting irritated at little things, but then I do. I have every intention of not coveting someone else's item or success, but then those feelings bubble up. I have every intention of not arguing with my husband, or saying things that do not build him up, but then I do exactly that. I have every intention of not complaining about stuff, and then what do I do? Yep, I complain.

Why do I do that?

At times I just feel like a hopeless case; a glaring example of a girl who wants to always portray the character of Christ and make my outward life match my inward faith, but who routinely seems to fall short of God's glory.

I sure am glad that we are told in Romans 3:23 that we will ALL fall short of the glory of God, because we are all sinners. Even though this adventure of living out our faith can sometimes be a challenge, and maybe even seem impossible, I take comfort in knowing that we are all in this journey together. This journey of life that sometimes feels like a battle for righteousness that we are losing big time.

You may be familiar with the song by D.C. Talk called "In The Light" . The song begins this way:

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses
I've got one for every selfish thing I do

The disease of self runs through my blood
It's a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

I find it interesting how this song refers to our shortcomings as the "disease of self", and relates it to being a cancer of the soul. Just as we cannot cure real cancer on our own, we cannot cure the disease of self on our own either - it takes a mighty God to do a thorough healing.

I've always heard that people do not trip over boulders, instead they trip over pebbles. That is so true with respect to this whole mind and heart issue.

We usually stumble in our faith walk over all the little, monotonous, repetitive, routine, annoying, daily challenges that we tackle, interactions that we have with people, and situations that we face - not the huge boulders that are rarely thrown into our path.

But when we stumble, God is there to help us regain our footing, time and time again.

When I fall short of His glory, which is more often than I like to admit, God usually immediately speaks to my spirit - not with condemnation, but with conviction. He immediately causes us me to desire to ask for His forgiveness, and to apologize for my actions, even if I was not solely to blame.

You see, I have prayed countless times for God to allow me to see into the window of my own soul, so that I can see what areas are in great need of His healing. Now trust me, friend, that is a dangerous prayer to pray, because if we ask, we will receive. Because of God's answer to that prayer, it seems like the moment that I do or say something that I know is not pleasing to God, regrets fill my heart. I feel like the song, despising my own behavior, being frustrated with my own lack of self control, and irritated that I tripped over those same pebbles yet again.

But the benefit of that prayer is that I believe it is God's desire to not only help me become acutely aware of my own shortcomings, but to fill me with a compelling, desperate longing to look to Him for help to overcome them.

Another verse in this DC Talk song goes like this:
What's going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I'm still a man in need of a Savior

I never doubt for a split, microscopic, nano-second that I am in desperate need of a Savior. Oh sister, how well I know that. However there are those times when I catch myself walking apart from that Savior, and falling short of His glory, all the while making excuses why it was not really my fault.

We are all guilty of becoming focused on "self" and allowing that misguided focus to be fatal to our attempts to be the woman God called us to be. Each one of our attempts to "be good", become an open door for Satan to penetrate our mind with the disease of self, and once again, we may find ourselves looking up for forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.

Lastly, the chorus of that DC Talk song goes like this:

I wanna be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light

I want that to be my prayer every day. To be in the light. To shine.

If we focus on our shortcomings, and beat ourselves up over our infinite failed attempts to be who we know God wants us to be, we will end up feeling condemned and hopeless. However, if we embrace the understanding that sin will occur, that we will mess up time and time again, but that God is there to help us pick up the pieces and start anew, allowing God to teach us through our mistakes, we will end up feeling renewed and restored.

Condemned and hopeless, vs renewed and restored. I know which one I choose.

If we desire to live in the Light, the Light will shine upon us, even when we fall. And in that Light, we can shine... shortcomings and all.

Why Do I Do That, Lord?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, May 21, 2010

Destroying The Sea Monster In Your Life

Psalm 89:9-10
You rule the oceans.You subdue their storm-tossed waves.You crushed the great sea monster. You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

When I first read this verse above, I thought "how weird!" Since when are there sea monsters of biblical proportions lurking about in the oceans? I have probably read this verse at some point in my life, but for some reason the whole sea monster concept grabbed my attention this time.

So with my curiosity peaked, I did a little research about this unfamiliar verse and supposed sea monster. This is just my untheologically trained opinion of course, so you can just take it for its worth.

I began my study by looking up this same verse in the NIV Bible, which was translated this way, "You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain."

So this mysterious sea monster actually has a name - Rahab (not to be confused with the prostitute in the book of Joshua).

I discovered that in Hebrew, the name Rahab portrayed a mythical sea monster, that represented chaos, and was referred to as the demonic angel of the sea. Rahab is not really a sea creature at all, but instead, it is merely the portrayal of a being that possesses ungodly and evil qualities.

This sea monster is also referred to in Job, which indicates that it is an alternative for the word "Tiamat," which is the Babylonian name of the dragon of darkness and chaos.

The Wikipedia website explains Rahab this way:

Rahab is or was the angel of insolence and pride, responsible for shaking the waters and producing big waves; he is also responsible for the roaring of the sea. According to some sources, he was the guardian angel of Egypt, a position often designated to other angels such as Belial, Mastema, Samael, and Uzza.Rahab represents Chaos in ancient texts such as the Bible.

Another bible study website I visited had this to say:

In the Canaanite world, Rahab was a mythical coiling sea-monster, slain by Baal in the primordial chaos. Biblically, Rahab is used as a symbol of Egypt. Metaphorically, the nation is a monster in the chaos of the sea of nations. While Rahab the sea monster occurs six times in the Hebrew Old Testament, it doesn’t always come through clearly in the KJV, as the word is sometimes translated instead of being preserved as a name. The name Rahab means storm or arrogance and so when the KJV translates the word it uses English words like pride or the proud, though the KJV margin sometimes does make reference to the original.

The association of Rahab with the sea/waters confirms the fact that it belongs to the sphere of evil. The sea is often a symbol of the forces of oppression and death and Rahab seems to embody all of these qualities.

As I pondered all of this information, I began to notice how many negative things and sins that this one sea monster stood for: chaos, darkness, insolence, pride, storms, and arrogance. Things that lead to oppression and death.

These are all qualities that God sees as monster problems in a Christian's life; problems that affect the soul; problems that affect the faith walk; problems that can pull us away from Him, cause us to fret and worry, and eventually lead us into a state of feeling as if we are in a raging sea of life with huge waves crashing down upon us.

Stress and chaos are so prevalent in today's society that they have actually become an epidemic. People are looking in every direction for stress relief, including self-help books, counselors, vacations, prescriptions, and even drugs and alcohol. People are drowning in the seas of a nation whose cultures lives and thrives on chaos.

For some, stress is a symbol of success - an outward example of how busy they are, thus exemplifying their importance. Pride and arrogance can result.

For others, stress is simply a by-product of situations occurring beyond their control. Chaos, darkness and hopelessness can result.

Either way, the end result is not a pretty picture for anyone - either way, the end result can seem like oppression, and maybe even spiritual or physical death.

So why we do look everywhere for stress relief, except the Bible? Why do we spend time searching for something or someone who can save us from these sea monsters in our sea of life - when God is only a prayer away?

The answer is simple - because we may not believe that God is powerful enough to handle all of our problems. We lose faith in the journey, because our life's journey has begun to feel like a little boat, caught in a raging storm, and being tossed around in the waves like a leaf in the wind. We neglect to reach up for Gods help, and end up being pulled deeper into the abyss by these invisible monsters.

But in Psalm 89:9-10 God's triumph over Rahab is made crystal clear. The Psalmist praises God saying, "You rule the raging of the sea and still the surging of its waves. You have crushed Rahab of the deep with a deadly wound."

Regardless of how mighty and powerful the monsters in our life may seem, God is bigger. He has the weapons needed to slay the monsters. He has already won the battle. He will be triumphant.

God can effortlessly still the brutal waves in a raging sea of life. But we have to put our life in His hands, before He can still the waters.

The Lord had total victory over Rahab, the powers of evil, the mythical sea monster that personified sins of the soul, that lurked about ready to devour anything that crossed its path, and He can have the same victory over our sea monsters too.

Monsters in our life can be anything that pulls us away from Him, that causes us to feel prideful or arrogant; that causes us to live in darkness instead of His light; or that makes our life seem stressful, chaotic or out of control.

No monster is too powerful for the All Powerful....

Repeat after me: HALLELUJAH!

I truly believe that God piqued my interest in this verse to remind me that He is bigger than all of our problems - even the ones that seem to be sucking the life right out of our every breath. These monsters that seem pretty mild when they first rear their ugly head in our hearts, but result in a life apart from God.

Ask God to reveal to you what monsters are lurking in your life, then turn those monsters over to Him. Let Him take over the battle for you, and then take a deep breath, and rest in knowing that HE WILL have victory.

No matter how bad the storm may seem right now, God can always still the waters.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Destroying The Sea Monster In Your LifeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Faith Over Feelings

I had a serious disappointment recently. Ever since last September, I have been working with a literary agent in the hopes of getting my newest book proposal published.

We spent months getting the proposal ready to present, from the descriptions, to the chapter titles, to the content, to the overall format, to the exact number of words to be written. With each conversation we had about it, my excitement grew. I was thrilled that God had even allowed an agent to be interested in me, and confident that He would bring my dream to pass.

In early January, my final proposal was submitted by the agent to multiple big time Christian publishing companies......and then we waited. January crept by. February dragged on. March slowly passed. April slipped away. Still no news.

Then one day, a major publisher expressed interest in the proposal and requested additional information. I was elated! At last, maybe things were falling into place. But then, they passed on the proposal. No bites for the book, whatsoever.

So in the words of my agent, "this proposal is a dead deal". His words sunk into my heart like a jagged knife ripping apart my dream into tiny little shreds. I was so disappointed that I didn't even know how to process my feelings. I had worked tirelessly on this project, and waited months to hear some good news, and now, total rejection. Another big fat publishing NO.

Then I began to get irritated. I felt a bit resentful. I just didn't FEEL like it was fair.

Why didn't God answer my prayers about this? He had placed this dream in my heart, given me the experiences to write about and the words to glorify Him, and He had even given me an agent, for goodness sakes! I see other people getting their books published, so why not me Lord? It's not fair! I have something great so say in this book! Hhmmmphhhh. Double hhmmpppphhhh.

My publisher suggested that I begin considering new ideas and topics to write about, and to put together a new proposal, thus, starting all over, from square one.

Hhmmmpphhhh, again. I don't event FEEL like doing that. What's the use? Why try again? If God didn't answer my prayer after all this time, why bother to keep going at it? I have been working towards getting a book published for four years now, and frankly, I'm tired of waiting! (note my post yesterday about how I do not like to wait; this is merely another example of my need to work on my patience.)

But in all seriousness, my feelings were taking over my brain. All I could think about was how I FELT, not about trusting that God's ways were best. I focused on how this disappointment made me FEEL, instead of what God may be doing that I cannot see yet. I still found myself saying, "BUT GOD!..."

I chose feelings, although inadvertently, over faith.

In my continued reading of the Book of Psalms, in God's perfect timing of course, I came across Psalm 25. As I allowed those verses to wash over my spirit, they eased my pain of rejection a little bit. They helped me to put my FEELINGS aside, and let my FAITH take over again.

Psalm 25:1-5
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

- In this period of great disappointment, when things had not gone as I had hoped or planned, I felt discouraged, unworthy, untalented, unwanted, unneeded, rejected. I felt like this book deal would have validated me as a speaker and a writer. And then, I began to wonder why God wasn't blessing me in this way. I had prayed and prayed over this proposal just as I am supposed to do. I prayed for God's direction and for His hand to be in this, but here I was again, facing yet more rejection. More disappointment. Then my feelings led me to wonder if maybe I was doing something wrong, and God was punishing me.....maybe I didn't really deserve this blessing? My FEELINGS were going crazy. Out of hand actually. So I closed my eyes, and proceeded to tell God all about these said feelings (as if He didn't already know), lifting up my soul to Him.

2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

- Through this verse, God reminded me to trust HIM. Not an agent. Not the world. Not a publisher. Not my own assessment of abilities. Not my timeframe. Not my ideas. But Him. I began to consider who were my enemies - and how that portion of the verse applied to me. God gave me the thought, that my enemies were not tangible people, but intangible feelings - such as self-doubt, insecurities, frustration, discouragement and hopelessness. Feelings that would prevent me moving forward with my dreams, just as the devil would like. I needed God to help me triumph over those mental enemies that wanted to keep me paralyzed.

3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

- Regardless of whether or not my book ever gets published, or if I ever write another word in this blog, I will not be put to shame, because God is my God. If He so chooses not to give life to my book in the way I had hoped and prayed for, I believe that my Lord will keep his promise for future blessings, ending in the gift of heaven, which nobody can take away from me, or prevent me from receiving.

4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me,

- Now these verses stopped me in my tracks. Why have I been beating my head against a wall with this whole publishing process? Why have I been consumed with anxiety and worry about whether or not it will happen or not? If God desires that I walk down that path, then it will happen. Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe never. But God reminded me that I needed to stop thinking about how I felt regarding this setback, and look to God to shine a light on the path that I should be walking down instead. His plans are always better than ours, that is why He is the teacher, and we are the students. So my spirit lifted as I allowed my faith to override my feelings, and remember that God will guide me in truth, as He teaches me how to walk through this journey, with winding roads and unexpected setbacks.

5b for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

- My hope must be in Him, not myself or other people or things that I want. If I put my hope in my own desires or abilities, I do nothing but set myself up for failure. Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him, oh yes, we can do anything. The reality is that God isn't making my dreams come true right now, with respect to this whole publishing thing. He has not opened up doors or answered my prayers the way I want. In fact, He is not allowing this to be an easy task at all.

But I will still love Him no matter what. I will still love Him, even if no publisher ever looks my way again. Our only hope for happiness and joy and fulfillment can come from Him alone, not from anything this world has to offer. Getting a book deal might seem like it would make me happy, but it would come with all sorts of new challenges too. Hope has to come from God, not from book deals, people, husbands, children, church, financial success, or a care free life.

So, today I am going to turn my "hhmmmppphhh" into a sigh of relief, knowing that God is still sitting on the throne. And I think I might start working on that new book proposal, praying that God guides my thoughts and the words that I write, and that he leads me down the path that HE has planned for me. And I pray, that I will be happy with whatever path He chooses.

Friends, in all honesty, trying to get a book published is such an insignificant, and actually petty, issue when compared to the real disappointments in life.

Bigger disappointments that not only rip up our dreams, but seem to rip the rugs right out from under us.... like careers that abruptly ended; dream homes that were foreclosed upon; marriages that fell apart; daddies that walked away from their families; spouses addicted to porn; relationships that ended; plans that got changed; people that crumbled under the weight of addictions and depression; losses of loved ones; and so on.

The list of major issues that are a reality in life are infinite. Overpowering. Burdensome. Painful. Difficult. Heartbreaking. Exhausting. Suffocating.

That is why life is considered a journey, and not a vacation. Disappointments and heartache will occur, in big and little things....BUT GOD.....

BUT GOD - knows the best path for us to take.
BUT GOD - knows what is best for our present, and for our future.
BUT GOD - knows that our difficult circumstances can draw us closer to Him.
BUT GOD - knows that we can get through hard times if we trust Him
BUT GOD - knows that if we depend on Him, we will not have to carry the burden alone.
BUT GOD - knows that if He put a desire in our heart, He will bring it to fruition, but in His way, His timing, and in the way that will most glorify Him.
BUT GOD - knows that if we trust Him, we will begin to see Him working in the even the worst of situations, and eventually, realize that He really did know what He was doing all along.

Today as you consider all the things you are facing - things that do not seem fair - thinks that you do not deserve - things that have pulled the rug out from under you - ask God to help you let your faith rule your heart, instead of your feelings.

Our feelings and emotions are powerful, and can sometimes blind us to the fact that God is at work, that He loves us dearly, and that He does have a plan for us, even when we are not feeling loved, or taken care of, or guided at all.

Maybe you feel like a dream you had for your life is "a dead deal", but God can give life to anything, and He can create new life when the old dreams of life seem to have ended. In all things, He can be glorified, and trusted to guide our paths. He is the giver of life, in every sense of the word.

Psalm 21:13a says "Rise up, O Lord, in all your power!" Let that be our prayer for today and every day. Not only that He will rise up in our life, displaying the power of His might and the authority He holds over us, but that we will be comforted in His love, and actually FEEL the immensity of real faith in our hearts.

Faith Over FeelingsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Recipe For A Great Day

Psalm 5:1-3
O Lord, hear me as I pray;pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

For some reason over the past couple weeks, God has woken me up several times in the early morning.

In fact, one morning last week, I woke up before daylight and sleep escaped me. No matter how hard I tried to keep my eyes shut and catch a few last zzzzz's, it just was not happening for me. I felt my Bible calling my name.

So before sunrise, I found myself wrapped up in my robe, sitting on my deck chair, with just enough light to make out the words in the Bible. The morning birds were chirping, the dew was moist on the ground, a few cricket sounds lingered, some dogs barked in the distance, and the smell of a crisp new day filled the air. Before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I had nearly let the kids oversleep for school!

But I could tell a difference in myself that morning. I was refreshed. I felt renewed. I felt lighter. I felt happy. I felt good.

Not because of anything I had done, but because of what God had done in my heart. He had called me into conversation, spoken to my spirit, lifted my burdens, and helped me to have a more positive perspective about things that had been worrying me.

In the verses above from Psalm 5, the last sentence in verse 3 really stuck out to me. David tells us that each morning, he would bring his requests to God. He did not say that at the end of the day, he talked with God. He did not say that occasionally he would find some free time to pray while he was riding his camel from one city to the next. Nope, he said "each morning", as in, EVERY morning.

I have read the verse many times, in Mark 1:35 that says, "Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray." I have always believed that if Jesus felt it was important to embrace the silence and solitude of the early morning to pray, that it should also be a priority to me, however, I rarely do that. But upon reading this verse in Psalm 5, the reality of this seemed to really hit hard.

Now this particular morning that I had gotten up early and spent time with God outside, was certainly not the first time God had woken me up early, nudging me to talk with Him, but the difference this time, was that I actually acted on that nudging.

You know, even when I have the best intentions of reading my daily reading, or carving a segment of my day out to spend in prayer, my day often gets in the way. My tasks get me off track and other things in life fight for my attention. More times than not, my prayer and bible study time seem to get pushed farther and farther down the list. I tell myself that I can talk to God at any time, but my to-dos require more immediate attention. Right?

Wrong?! But you know, that is a really sad, but accurate, statement of how most of us operate. Life is busy! I know God understands that, but in order to deal with that busyness in an Godly way, we need God - thus the importance of giving God our first moments of the day, before the rat race starts all over again.

So in Psalm 5, we are encouraged to get up early, and pray. BUT THEN..... David said "he waited expectantly" to hear from God.

Girl, getting up early is one thing, but waiting expectantly?! That is much easier said than done. You see, I do not like to wait. In fact, I hate waiting. I hate waiting in line at the store to pay. I hate waiting for my food in a restaurant. I hate waiting for a check to come in the mail. I hate waiting for my teenage daughters to get ready every morning (in their oh-so-sweet time).

I hate waiting to purchase something until I can afford it, because frankly, I want it right now! I guess I am a "I want-it-right-now and I-want-it-my-way kind of girl". (I know, not my best trait). Smiles. But lets face it, nobody likes to wait, especially when it comes to hearing from God, getting our requests granted, our problems solved, our circumstances changed, or our prayers answered.

In fact, I can better relate to the writer of Psalm 102, who is described as "an afflicted man", where he says (vs 1-2) "Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly." I would really like it if God would not only answer my prayers, but do it quickly! I guess me and the afflicted man have something in common.

But I really want to have more in common with David, in regards to my willingness and desire to arise before the sun, pour out my requests to God, and wait expectantly for His voice, His answers, and His intervention in my life.

One last important thing that I want to point out about David today is in Psalm 8, in that before David got those answers he wanted, while he was enduring the wait, he praised God.

Psalm 8:3-5 says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."

David looked at the night sky and the work of Gods hands, and was in awe. He thought about how unworthy he was of Gods love, and was in awe. He remembered how much God cared about him, and he was in awe.

Then Psalm 9:10 says "Those who know your name trust in you,for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you." Once again, just like in the Psalms we talked about yesterday, David acknowledges that his God will never leave Him.

I want to be in awe today. Not drowning in worry, focused on problems, void of peace, and frustrated at Gods seemingly apparent lack of urgency. Not anxiously waiting for God to act, but expectantly waiting for His perfect timing. Simply, in awe, no matter what He chooses to do, or when He chooses to do it.

Our challenge today is to be more like David, than that of an afflicted man (or woman). Ask God to start waking you up a little earlier in the days to come, and when He does, get up! Pour out your requests to Him, and then wait - but wait with great expectation that He will answer, not with anxiety about the ifs/whens/or hows. And praise Him for who He is and all He has done.

Awake.... Arise.... Pray.... Wait... Praise.

Five little steps that give us the simple recipe to insure a great day, every day.

Once we learn to whip up this recipe each morning, the result will not only be a great day in the Lord, but nothing less than pure blessing.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Set Apart & Loved Anyway

I have been studying the book of Psalms recently, and have found it to be so enlightening. So many of the verses are beautifully and eloquently written, and the writers can portray great truths and comforts in merely a couple sentences.

Most often though, we see random verses from all of the Psalms, frequently pulled out by people, pastors, websites, and books, which refer to life, emotions, strength, and how much God loves us. But when read all together, in sequence, that is when you really see the significance of them as they apply to our walk with Christ.

So over the next few days, I want to camp out in Psalms for a little while.

Today lets focus on Psalm 4, which begins by David saying this in verse 1:

"Answer me when I call to you,O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer." (NLT)

At first glance of this verse, I thought to myself, "how can David be calling himself innocent? Is he not a sinner, like the rest of us? Does he see himself as without fault?" Or maybe, David just has a superior opinion of himself because he knows he is Gods chosen one.

As I stared at the word "innocent", I initially thought this verse could not apply to me, because if there is one thing I am NOT - its innocent. Innocent means "free from moral wrong; without sin; pure" - nope, that is certainly not an adjective that God (or anyone for that matter) would use to describe me.

When considering that word, my mind began to drift to the sea of mistakes I had made in my life, to all the sins I had committed either intentionally or unintentionally, to the sins of the day, from attitudes, to words, to thoughts and actions. I began to focus on all the things that I wish I could change about myself, and all the the sins that I wish I could delete from memory.

But as I read over this verse again, and continued reading this passage, I began to see that David was not really thinking he was innocent. Instead, he was acknowledging that God made him innocent. David recognized that although he was a great sinner, that God adored him anyway, and as a result of this forgiveness of sin, GOD made him pure, and innocent.

For a different perspective, lets look how the NIV Bible phrases Psalm 4:1:
"Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer."

And lastly, The Message Bible says it this way:
"When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, you gave me room; Now I'm in trouble again: grace me! hear me!"

These versions portray that in addition to being innocent as a result of forgiveness, that God has made us righteous, which means "morally upright; without guilt or sin"; and that God is on our side.

One verse, two short sentences tell us of Gods forgiveness; His purification of our souls; His acceptance of us even though we are broken and flawed; His desire to be for us, and on our side. We are told of Gods immense, unconditional, unending love for us, even though we are far from innocent.

David understood this type of love, and as a result, his thoughts were guided by God, and not by his enemies. Even though he could have focused on many negative things he felt about himself, instead, he chose to focus on His identity in God eyes.

Psalm 4:3 says "You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him." (NLT)

Davids confidence came from Gods perspective, not his own opinion of himself. He was confident that God knew him, and he knew God, and as a result, he had a strong enough relationship with God to know that he was set apart, he was special, that God heard his prayers and would respond to him, and even that he was innocent, as a result of being washed clean through Gods mercy and forgiveness.

The Message Bible says Psalm 4:3 this way, "Look at this: look who got picked by God! He listens the split second I call to him."

I love the way that verse is worded there. David is like "look how special I am! God picked me and loves me! He loves me even though I am so unworthy! And because He loves me, He will hear me."

You and I have been picked too. By a God who sees all. By a God who loves us anyway.

Psalm 4:8 says "In peace I will lie down and sleep,for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."

Davids life was not peaceful, he had enemies on every side, threats on his life, meager living standards, losses, hurts, failures, blood on his hands - but he knew that since God saw him as righteous and godly, that since he was set apart, chosen by a holy God because of his great love for Him , that He could have peace. That he could rest, despite his circumstances, because God was watching over him.

Maybe today you are going something really difficult. Maybe you feel like those circumstances in your life are your fault, or that you contributed to those problems you are now facing, and as a result, you are unlovable by God. Maybe trying to see yourself as innocent, righteous, or picked by God, is the farthest thing from you mind, and a concept that your heart cannot grasp.

If so, then take a moment to pray over these few verses in Psalms today, asking God to reassure you of His love in some special way; to remind you through people, circumstances, or scripture, of how He has made you clean and sees you as godly and righteous, despite your mistakes; to help you see who you are in Him, and not who you see in the mirror or who others say you are.

I pray God speaks to your heart today, and reminds you that He has hand picked you, chosen you, selected you as the cream of the crop, and that He will never leave those He loves, who continue to love Him in return.

Peace may seem like a mere memory, or a feeling that you wonder if you can ever feel again, but peace and rest is available in God, and if we trust Him, he will keep us safe until we are out of harms way.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Every Day Should Be Mothers Day

I trust that for those of you who are mothers, you had a wonderful mothers day. I know I did. It started out with getting up early to get ready for church, and finding my three kids upstairs in a dark bedroom, whispering and talking. Upon asking them what they were doing, I was quickly informed that I could not enter the room.

Shortly after, I was lavished with hugs, sweet presents and cards from them and from my husband. (He is, and always has been, the ultimate gift giver-thanks honey!). Then we had a great morning at church, a wonderful lunch with my mom and in-laws, and ended the day with a fun evening with my mom and the rest of my family at her house. It was truly a day full of family and love.

Yesterday morning, I told each of my daughters individually how blessed I was to have them as a daughter. I also took a moment to tell my son how blessed I was to have him as my son. They really are such sweet, precious kids (but of course, Im not biased at all - hee hee.)

But in all seriousness, I am so proud of them, and so proud to be their mom. I look into their faces and see some of myself, some of my husband, and some of the special and unique qualities that make them who they are. I think about all the times when they were just little tiny things, snuggling in my lap and worshipping my every move. I think about all the times now that even though they are too big for my lap, that we can still snuggle and share sweet moments (I dont know about the worshipping of my every move anymore though; but hey, we cant have everything we want. Smiles.)

They truly are the biggest blessings in my life. What I did to deserve them, I honestly do not know. Thank you Jesus.

My prayer yesterday was that I would remember what an honor it is to be a mom, every day, not just on mothers day. That I remember to tell my children constantly how thrilled I am to have them as my children and how proud I am of them, and not just on a random day picked out by retailers to sell more greeting cards.

That I would remember to look into their sweet faces each day, and focus on what a blessing they are - even when mouths are back talking, eyes are rolling, siblings are fighting, and shoes and clutter are scattered all over the place as if a full blown tornado had ripped through our house.

I am the first to admit, that it is so easy to get caught up in doing life for our kids, that we forget to do life with our kids; to get caught up in doing things for them, that we forget to make time do things with them; to get caught up in working to provide for our kids material needs and neglect to spend time with them nurturing their spiritual and emotional needs.

Mothers day is a wonderful day, and I imagine that most moms look forward to it every year. It is a day dedicated to focusing on family, being grateful for having moms and being moms and remembering moms.

But I really believe that God did not intend for mothers day to only be once per year, but instead, to be 365 days per year. To wake up every morning, and focus on being the mom that God called us to be.

Even though children can be trying at times, regardless of whether they are toddlers, teenagers or grown adults, nothing holds a candle to the treasures that they are, and there is simply no higher calling than that of being a mom.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is a stark reminder that there is a lot more to this motherhood thing than diaper changing, bottle fixing, laundry washing, snotty nose cleaning, manners lessons, time out corners, ceasing back-talk, messy bedrooms, boyfriends, shopping, and driving instructions.

Motherhood is not merely about what we do or how much we do, but the way in which we do it.

Parents are called to nurture our children, care for all of their needs, and prepare them to become independent and functioning adults. But even more important, we are called to impart to them a spiritual legacy.

Sometimes it seems easier to invest enormous amounts of time nurturing our children, than it does to teach them to love and respect the Lord and His Word. But as parents, we are our childrens primary role model for faith, and if we do not take seriously the calling of building up the spiritual lives of our children, then we take the risk of giving someone else the opportunity to mold their spiritual future, and that "someone else" may not share the same faith and beliefs that we do.

As I immersed myself in all the festivities of today, there was a moment when my mind drifted. I began to contemplate how many hours per week I spend helping my kids with homework, taking them to various practices every day of the week, driving them back and forth to school, fixing dinners, and watching TV. In actuality, I spend a great deal of time with them each day doing various activities. But when I compared that to the amount of time I spend investing in their spiritual growth, and their relationship with Christ, my investment of time seemed to pale in comparison.

Even though we do go to church three times per week, make sure our kids are involved in church activities, and share many talks about right from wrong, all of which play a crucial role in molding their minds for Christ, it is up to my husband and I to really help them get to know God, by seeing how we know Him, and by witnessing what He means in our every day lives.

As moms, we have to say yes to Gods call and try to hold up our end of this motherhood deal to the best of our ability. The truth is, our children will not be interested in really getting to know our Jesus, until they see the difference that Jesus makes in our lives.

I realized today, that mothers day is really not about me at all. It is not even about moms as a whole, instead, it is about the high calling of motherhood.

Mothers day is really about celebrating the honor of answering the call to serve God by teaching our families to love and honor Him.

It is about what we can give that matters now and eternally, not simply what gifts we may receive one special day per year.

Being a mom is not a job, although sometimes it may seem like one. Instead, it is a calling. A calling that changes and increases with every year that passes. A calling that God respects, admires and blesses. A calling that surpasses all others in importance. A calling that is building the next generation, from the crib to the college.

I hope you will join me in continuing to celebrate mothers day, every day, by focusing on being with our children, and building that spiritual legacy. Its not an easy calling, and sometimes may even seem like a thankfless calling, but it is a calling nonetheless, and God blesses those who answer His call.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Proverbs 21:3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

If you have any great family time devotional ideas, family bible studies, or other resources or personal success stories for raising children who love the Lord, I would love to hear your feedback!

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Letting Go Of The Steering Wheel of Life

It seems like yesterday, when I was 15 years old, trying to learn how to drive. I remember vividly sitting in a little Black Toyota Celica with a stick shift, and getting frustrated to tears because I could not figure out how to keep the car from rolling backwards on a hill, while trying to go forward. That whole gas pedal/clutch/brake combination was almost more than my teenage-lack-of-patience could take.

However, it wasnt long that I mastered that mean ol' clutch, and soon discovered a newfound confidence, as I became more experienced and sure of my driving abilities. In fact, after only a few months of driving, just like any teen, I was positive I could drive as good as any adult. (have mercy!)

Now, I am on the other side of the car, while my daughter Morgan, who recently turned 16, is learning to drive (but lucky for her, she does not have to learn with a stick shift!). But I quickly realized that this is yet another one of those life experiences in which I need to ask God for an abundance of love, patience, understanding, mercy and grace, so that I can extend those gifts to my sweet daughter when she is behind the wheel.

So yesterday, as Morgan was driving us around town, my nerves were a little rattled, for obvious reasons. Although for the most part, she is doing great, there are still some driving rules and responsibilities that she is still learning - for example, that one cannot make a right hand turn going 40 miles per hour, especially in an SUV which could easily tip over; that one should not ride so close to the car in front of us that we can see what color shirt the driver is wearing; that one should not get within three feet of a biker causing him to panic; and that one should always stay within the posted speed limits, even if everyone else chooses not to.

Although she lacks extensive experience in driving, she often thinks she knows best, and as a result, may have a delayed response in doing as I asked, or possibly even make her own decision about how to handle a situation. And trust me - that does not go over well.

But anywhooo... on this particular day, after a few frustrating moments of her not listening to my driving orders, I simply said to her, "Listen to me. When I ask you to do something, just do it. Do not question it. Do not debate it. And do not tell me what your plan is. I know what is best, so please listen."

As my words hung in the air, I felt like God poked my heart. How many times has my Father told me to listen to Him, and I did not? How many times have I felt my Father calling me to do something, but I questioned His will? How many times have I tried to convince God why I did not like His plan? How many times have I known that I understood what God was calling me to do, but I decided that my plan would be easier or better?

Why do I think I am more experienced in running my life, than God?

Hmmmmm. It really gave me something to think about, and I allowed my mind to ponder the words that my Father has just spoken to my heart. In fact, my silence probably caught Morgan off guard, as she wondered why her driving instructor was no longer instructing. A strange occurrence indeed. :)

I have come to realize that an important thing to remember, about knowing God's will, is that we need to stop focusing on the mysteries of Gods will that we may NOT know, and focus on the will of God that we DO know.

Maybe we DO NOT know exactly what Gods will is for our entire life. Maybe we DO NOT know what His will is regarding certain decisions we are facing. Maybe we DO NOT have any idea what His will is, with respect to how He desires to use us to serve Him.

But we DO know His will for our lives, in general. His Word tells us in James 4:7 to "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Gods will for each of us, is to submit to the ways He tells us to think, walk and live in our every day lives.

Gods will is not a secret, even though many people believe that it is some supernatural mystery that we will never understand. Instead, we really have been given everything we need to know about Gods will, through His words in the Bible.

For example, Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:1-4:

"To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

Peter is saying above, that as a result of increasing our knowledge of who Christ is, and understanding that His power is within us, that we are equipped to follow His will in our life. But then Peter goes on to tell us exactly what that will is for each for us, in verses 5-7:

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

In simple terms, Gods will for all of us, is to try to be like Him. To be good, faithful, knowledgable of Gods omnipotence, self controlled, persistent, and kind to others. When we do the will that we DO know, and make it a priority in our lives, then it will be easier to hear His voice, and understand His will about the big decisions in life - those things we DO NOT know yet.

When we obey in the little things, God prepares us for the big things.

Even though I would prefer not to admit it, I am still very much like a young teenage driver at times, when it comes to who is controlling the steering wheel in my life. I do not always understand or agree with Gods plans, or the things that He tells me to do. Sometimes I may even think that I have a better plan, or walk in the wrong direction, knowing deep in my heart, that His plan is really best.

Sometimes we all tend to forget our dependence on God, and accidentally drive down the wrong road. We ignore His guidance and instructions, because we think we are experienced and knowledgable about running our own life.

What a smile it brings to my heart, to know that no matter how many times I may neglect to heed Gods instruction, that He will never stop instructing. My Father will sit behind the wheel, as long as I am willing to let go, and let God. And when I am sitting in His will, I am more than happy to sit in the passenger seat.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Mothers Day Gift of a Lifetime

Do you have a hard time figuring out what hints to give the hubby about a mothers day present you might like? Have you ever wished that you could receive something that was really important, in life and eternally, and not just something from the store?

How about another child for mothers day? Haha. Just kidding. Sort of. You could extend your love to a little child on the other side of the world and be their prayer mom. Can you imagine what an awesome feeling it would be, to be able to pick out a sweet little face on mothers day, that you could get to know in the months to come?

Read yesterdays post and prayfully consider whether sponsoring a child might be the gift you would like to receive this mothers day. A gift you can enjoy all year long, and for years to come if you choose to continue that relationship. A gift that the whole can enjoy, and be blessed by.

Click on the Compassion International link on my left sidebar, and ask God to show you which little child you He wants you to sponsor. And then tell your husband and family about it! I bet they will be excited to know of something that you really want this year!

Let them give you a gift, that allows you to pour out your love and compassion, and make a huge impact in the life of a child in poverty.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

One Little Face, Waiting For You

Last Sunday I hosted a Compassion Sunday at my church, where I introduced our congregation to Compassion International. I had two tables set up which were packed full of sweet, beautiful faces who desperately needed someone to sponsor them. Precious, little faces who live in the depths of poverty, in concrete huts, with no running water or power, and very little to eat, wearing clothes that obviously do not fit them properly.

Little faces, with big dreams and big hearts, but without people like you and me to sponsor them and help release them from poverty in Jesus's name, their futures will remain glim. We can play a role in breaking that cycle of desperation in their family.

So I wanted to take this opportunity to invite you to cup your hands around one of those little faces, and bring a smile to their face that they may have never been able to muster up before. All you have to do is be willing to donate $38 per month to Compassion International.

Hmmmmm, what else could we do with $38? Well, for a family of five, you might could eat at Chick Fil A one time. I could buy a new sundress from Target. I could buy a few books to read by the pool this summer. I could give it to my kids for a night out with their friends.

Or - I could help save a life with it. I could choose to open the door for one little face to hear the gosple for the very first time.

All these other things above seem like such trivial and meaningless ways to waste $38 - all of which I have done countless times. But at least once per month, our $38 goes to Joe Ortez. A seven year old little boy in Ecuador.

I love to get letters from Joe, especially he knows how to write now, as he tells me about his dog, his mom who had been sick, his baby brother, and the chores he does around the house. He loves to hear about our life, and my kids have written him letters and pictures that I know he treasures. I know he treasures them, because upon my visit to Ecuador a few years ago, each of the sponsored children we visited had their sponsors letters hidden away in a special place in their homes, and they would proudly pull them out to show us.

They were not just letters, but promises - of a special relationship with someone from the other side of the world, of a person who cares for them and prays for them, of a future, and of a hope.

These kids deserve a positive future as much as we do, as God promised in Jeremiah 29:11. Would you be willing to pick out one little face to sponsor? It is easy to do online, or I could select a packet for you and mail it directly to you.

If you feel God speaking to your heart about this, about making a lifelong impact, and possibly an eternal impact in the life one little face, please click on the Compassion link on the left on my sidebar.

After only one day at church, and our church members seeing the difference that sponsorship can make, through videos and testimonies, nearly 20 of those sweet, little faces now have a new family in North Carolina - praise God! But so many more need someone to be willing to embrace them, and their needs, and choose to sponsor them.

It is so worth it, in so many ways. Trust me, you will soon realize how the $38 per month that we are giving up - that we so often take for granted and use haphazardly anyway - is worth every penny, as you begin to love this little face whose life you are changing.

If you decide to sponsor a child - please leave a comment and let me rejoice with you! Or send me an email with any questions that you have. Blessings friends!

*Note: If you would be interested in talking to me about hosting a Compassion Sunday in your church, please send me an email so we can chat about that, at I would love to talk with you about it and answer any questions you may have, and maybe even discuss how I could come be a part of your Compassion Sunday! Just something to think about. :)

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