Friday, October 29, 2010

20 Alternative Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Oh how I love this time of year!

Here in the Carolinas, the weather is like heaven - cool and crisp in the mornings, and warm and gorgeous in the afternoons. But although I love the fall, I have to admit that I do not necessarily love the holiday that is celebrated in October.

Just so you do not think that I am a complete party pooper about Halloween, I have always allowed my kids to go trick or treating. We always have more candy than we know what to do with. And we always carve pumpkins and have lots of fun trick or treating.

I am all for having the friends over for Halloween, cooking chili, and riding around to the neighborhood houses to collect candy and treats.

However, I am probably in the minority regarding the parameters I set about Halloween.

I have always chosen costumes for my children based on fairy tale characters, books, sports, movies, celebrities, etc., as opposed to demons, devils, witches with warts on their noses, bloody masks, and murderous weapons. My kids know full well that if a costume even looks to be in the demonic category - don't even bother asking.

Although this is my personal belief, it doesn't mean that it is the only belief, or even the right perspective. It is simply my perspective.

Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are highly divided. Some people think it is just a fun night to dress up and get candy, while others believe it is an acceptance of the things that represent the demonic world.

Some believers feel they should be free to celebrate it as nothing more than a retail holiday, while other people avoid it altogether.

Some may speak out strongly against Halloween, while others may simply choose to celebrate it by focusing on positive costumes, and Christian alternatives for celebrating.

Some people even use it as an opportunity to reach people for Christ.

The funny thing is that even Christians who have the same faith, can have stark differences in their views about Halloween.

Romans 14 instructs us to respect each others opinions in all areas of life, and without passing judgement. However, we must still each decide for ourselves how we want to celebrate this fall holiday, and follow our own convictions about how we observe it.

For those of us who are not into skulls, snakes, red eyed rats, bloody makeup and headless yard art, I thought I would offer some food for thought (or should I say candy corn pumpkins for thought - my fave!). Smiles.

Here are a few family-friendly ideas for you to consider doing during this years Halloween celebrations.

* Purchase costumes that do not portray something that God would not be supportive of
* Host an Unhalloween celebration - get creative about doing things opposite from the typical halloween celebrations
* Seek out local farms or parks who are offering hay rides and bonfires and spend the evening there instead of trick or treating
* Visit a corn maze
* Have a pumpkin carving party with the winner being the one who has the happiest face; offer a small prize or candy for most joyful pumpkin
* If you don't want to give the kids a carving knife, buy lots of colors of paint, and have them paint on the faces instead
* Check local listings for holiday celebrations at churches
* Throw an orange and black party - ask all guests to wear orange and black, and/or bring a dessert or appetizer that consists primarily of those colors
* Have a scarecrow making party - buy one bale of hay, and ask all guests to bring some old clothes and socks; have ropes and buttons ready to make their scarecrows
* Decorate your home with fall colors and festive leaves and wreaths
* Host a Bible character dress up contest
* Pass out some Christian tracts, or small New Testaments, instead of candy
* Have a family meeting before hand, and brainstorm some fun new ways to celebrate or do something different on Halloween night
* Decide upon some fun, new snacks to make, like popcorn balls, a special baked item, or a Halloween themed cake or treat, and have a family cooking night
* Plan a progressive Halloween party with a group of friends.
* Have a themed party, like a "Noah's Ark" party; have the guests come in animal or character costumes; make a cake that looks like a boat; offer animal crackers and goldfish.
* Carve pumpkins for a nursing home and deliver with lighted candles on Halloween
* Make pumpkin bread as a family, or any pumpkin snacks (check out
Leann Rices She Cooks website for some awesome pumpkin-flavored ideas that she has shared this month!)
* Go to a pumpkin patch; come home on and watch the Charlie Brown "Its The Great Pumpkin" cartoon
* Have a big bonfire outside in the back yard, and roast marshmallows and hot dogs.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, in whatever ways you choose to celebrate!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Overcoming The Superhuman Syndrome

Happy Wednesday! I want to extend a special thanks to everyone who entered to win a copy of my CD "Loving The Woman In The Mirror", which followed Mondays Proverbs 31 Devotion, The Real Meaning of Perfection.

The winner was randomly drawn, and is Shelly S Cantrell! Shelly - please email your address to me and I will get your CD in the mail today!

It appears that the topic of "perfectionism" struck a chord with a lot of women. So many of us struggle with not only trying to be perfect, or wishing we were perfect, but secretly condemning ourselves for not being perfect.

I noticed a pattern in many of the comments this week, that personifies the fact that this desire to achieve an unrealistic status of perfectionism really is a world wide problem. The commonalities I saw in the comments included struggles with:

* appearance, self image and weight
* comparing ourselves to other women
* feeling inadequate as a mom
* desiring for our children to be perfect, respectful kids that measure up
* thinking we have to get everything perfect the first time
* being the perfect housekeeper and wife
* re-discovering identity and self worth as an empty-nester
* maintaining a quiet and gentle spirit, and having patience

As I pondered the list above, I thought about what we would look like if we actually met all those expectations. Hypothetically, we would be a woman who:

* has the perfect body, perfect hair, and never struggles with a few extra pounds
* never bothers with comparing herself to others because she has high self esteem
* is always amazed at her Godly, never-failing, wonderful parenting abilities
* has children who never fall or fail in any way
* masters every task at the first attempt
* has a house that is perfectly decorated, neat and tidy at all times
* fully embraces every season of life, including change, with joy and excitement
* never loses her temper, and carries a sweet and gently disposition at all times


I am not even sure if June Cleaver would measure up to these standards!

A list such as this, with such an impressive, exhaustive rundown of wonderful qualities can only describe one thing - a superhuman. Therefore, as we hold ourselves accountable to meet all these standards of perfection, that we have set for ourselves or that we feel the world has placed upon us, we are striving to meet a level of perfection that is entirely unattainable.

Even if we were to pick just a few of these qualities to strive for, we would still fall head over heels into the game of trying to achieve a superhuman status,setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment; positioning ourselves to be superhuman more than we can possibly be - and the result is a battle with the disease of the superhuman syndrome.

A deadly syndrome which can drain the life right out of our self-esteem and our spirit. A syndrome that if left untreated, can negatively affect not only our view of ourselves, but our overall lives, and the people we hold dear.

As I looked over this superhuman list of expectations, I felt God whispering to my heart, saying "See? Striving for perfectionism is just plain silly, and unrealistic. Only I am perfect."

Then God immediately brought to mind a book I once read called i am not but i know I AM, by Louie Giglio. I strolled into my office and searched among all the books on my bookshelves until my eyes fell on the brown and burgundy cover.

I began skimming through the crisp pages, taking special note of the paragraphs I had underlined and the special truths I had highlighted.

Then I came across a page with the corner turned down, and paused to read it.

"In a heartbeat, Moses knew Gods name - and something more. He finally knew his. For if Gods name is I AM, Moses' name must be I am not.

- I am not the center of everything.
- I am not in control.
- I am not the solution.
- I am not all-powerful.
- I am not calling the shots.
- I am not the owner of anything.
- I am not the Lord.


We are not. Never will be. Cannot be.

But God Is, and always will Be.

He makes us whole and perfect and washed white as snow, because of who He is, not because of who we are. He is everything - we cannot be.

Sadly, our quest for being perfect in all the different facets of life is simply succumbing to the enemys lie that the superhuman syndrome is a good thing. When in fact, it is yet another tool in the devils toolbox to keep us from praising God for all that He is, and for who He made us uniquely to be.

I want to share one last quote from the Louie's book with you, which spoke straight to my heart:

You know the weight of trying to make yourself out to be bigger than you are - of trying to figure out how to run your life on your own, of always trying to determine the outcome, control the relationship, close the deal, run the show, hold it all together, know the future, protect your interest, build your kingdom - the weight of playing the role of God in your life and the lives of those around you.

Through the power of Christ, we can let go of this weight - and oh sister, it is a heavy weight to carry. Put that weight down today, and pick up the blessing of knowing you are worthy without it.

Take heart, we can overcome the super human syndrome, as we discover our identity in Him. We can embrace the person He created us to be - and in time, just maybe, even learn to love and adore that person as much as He does.

Dear Jesus, I lift up my sisters in Christ to you today, and I pray to you on my behalf as well. I pray for your compassion and peace to enter each persons heart, and that you will somehow reassure all of us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made, despite what we see in the mirror, or what we feel inside the privacy of our own hearts.

Help us to all be acutely aware that we are not equipped to carry the weight of trying to be perfect - of trying to be more than we are capable of. Help us release that heavy burden to You, and feel free to be who you created us to be, despite our flaws, our failures, and our insecurities. Pierce our hearts with the vivid realization that in Your eyes, we are beautiful, in fact, treasures, which is how You refer to us in the Bible.

Lord release us from the bondage that we keep ourselves in, as we try to be perfect in so many ways, all the while knowing that we will never meet the worlds or our own expectations. Shower us with your love in our individual lives, and give us a passion to perfect our faith, and not ourselves. In Your most precious and holy name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(If you are interested in purchasing the book i am not but i know I AM, click here. )

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Staying in Step

Welcome Proverbs 31 subscribers and daily readers! Im so glad you stopped by today! Check out the bottom of this post for a special giveaway!

Todays devotion, The Real Meaning of Perfection, talks about a universal problem - our quest to never let anyone down, including ourselves, or God.

The problem is that every single day we stumble in our efforts to deal with daily issues with poise and grace. We succumb to emotions and default back to our human nature.

If we are not careful, those small, continued daily failures can take a toll on our heart and our self esteem. Then the enemy will continue to feed us with lies that we dont measure up, and eventually, we may begin to fall for them, and end up being completely out of step.

If you have ever done any type of choreographed activity in your life, such as dance, cheerleading, marching band, or even synchronized swimming - or if you have simply watched some choreographed sports - you know the importance of being in step.

It only takes one person to change the appearance and overall performance of the entire team. Two feet going the opposite way of everyones else, or two arms flailing around in the opposite direction from all the others, can be a huge distraction, and make the the entire team look like they are out of step.

Being in step is important.

In a similar way, Christ calls us to be in step with Him. He does not call to stay in perfect step with others, such as in a choreographed team, or expect us to be perfect.

He simply tells us the routine, and desires that we do our best to mirror His footsteps.

God gives us a few tips for staying in step in Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:2-3 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (NLT)

These verses provide insight into four ways to keep in step:

1. Humility and selflessness
2. Gentleness and strength under control
3. Patience and endurance
4. Agape Love

Only four steps - but they are BIG STEPS! Steps that we have to face every day, and which can quickly trip us up if we dont stay grounded in Christ (especially on stressful mornings like the one I described in todays devotion!)

It was also interesting the way The Message Bible translated these verses:

Ephesians 4:2-3 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. (MSG)

As Christians, we are called to travel together, in the same direction, and to stay unified in heart and mind through the Savior. But as you can see, God is not saying that we have to be perfect, or that we are to stay in perfect step with each other as a choreographed team would, but that we are called to live life in step with Him.

Being out of step with Christ can make us feel as if we are hopelessly uncoordinated, and completely out of sync! But as the verses above remind us, our goal is not to expect perfection out of ourselves, but to simply pay attention to how Christ calls us to live, to try to stay in step with Him, and to know that when we do fall out of step, He is there to pick us up again.

Have you been a little down on yourself lately because it seems that no matter how hard you try to live a life in step with Christ, you continue to stumble?

Have you become frustrated with your apparent inability to portray these four attitudes in your every day life as you face struggles and frustrations and stressors?

Have you ever wondered if Christ really does love you, considering how many times a day or week that you fall out of sync with Him?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then tuck this verse below from 1 Timothy into your heart today.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (NIV)

**Now for the giveaway:

In light of our quest for perfection, I am giving away a free copy of my CD "Loving The Woman in the Mirror". If you would like to enter to win, just leave a comment about an area of your life where you struggle to be perfect. Then get signed up for my free emails and quarterly newsletters (on the right hand side bar) and you're all set!

I will do a random drawing on Wednesday and notify the winner here on my blog. Good luck!.

Staying in StepSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 22, 2010

And I Thought I Knew Myself.....

Okay, so I was sitting with Kaitlyn on the couch last night, talking about what I could write about today on my blog. We chatted for a moment, then she said "why dont you write about things that annoy you?"

We laughed at the thought, however, when she started comically listing off stuff that she knew annoyed me, we laughed even more. It was actually hilarious how well she knew me, even though I am her mom!

So I thought I would give you a laugh today too, at my expense. Just a little peek into the real me - straight from the mouths of babes.

Things that annoy me:

1. when the wind blows my hair and does strange things to it
2. when the kids leave every light on upstairs
3. when people chew ice or smack their gum
4. when the kids type on the computer too hard
5. sibling rivalry
6. mean girls at school
7. when people step over their belongings that are laying on the floor, instead of picking them up
8. people that do not respond to emails
9. vampire movies; and movies that do not have happy, fuzzy endings
10. when my husband asks me one hundred questions in a row about general randomness
11. when I go to a restaurant and order a salad, and they do not have any low fat dressing
12. freezing cold weather
13. when someone tells me to calm down, when I am so not un-calm
14. people who lie
15. rude people

Just to even the score, and not feel too badly about myself, I asked her to name off some things that she knew I loved, and here were her answers. Again, she was right on target!

Things I love:

1. candy corn pumpkins & Twix bars
2. spending time together as a family; and taking a million pictures of everyone
3. getting a great deal or bargain on something
4. Starbucks
5. shopping (especially T J Maxx!)
6. Zone protein bars that I have everywhere just in case I want one
7. Christmas; our annual girls outing to the Southern Christmas Show
8. Doris Day and old black and white movies (especially Its A Wonderful Life)
9. favorite movies: Elf, Christmas With The Cranks, Ever After, Overboard
10. playing tennis
11. elephants
12. my special foam contour pillow that nobody else is allowed to sleep on
13. posting blogs about strange, random things
14. the beach; vacations; warm weather
15. seasonal scented candles (especially vanilla, pumpkin spice, and pine needles)

This unplanned conversation turned out to be a fun, spontaneous activity for me and my daughter. Actually, it was a little eye-opening how well she did know me! I guess kids really do pay attention to their parents after all. Kind of scary, huh?!

If you are brave enough, find some time this weekend to ask your kids for a list of the main things that they know annoys you, and the main things that they know you love.

If you are lucky, it just might lead to some laughter, family fun and togetherness of your own - and we can never have too much of that.

And I Thought I Knew Myself.....SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seeing God In Action

Over the weekend, I got to see God in action, working in an ugly situation that was completely unexpected. It has been such a comfort this week to know that God is on top of our problem (literally!) and working on our behalf.

Matthew 6:8b says ...."for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." I have always loved that verse, and believed it to be true, however, this week, God has given me whole new appreciation for this powerful truth.

It all started when I was doing my daily Bible reading last Thursday, and came across Matthew 5:11, which says "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers."

I have read this verse above plenty of times in the past, but I still made a note of it in my Bible journal. It seemed to hop off the page for some reason, so I jotted it down as something important to remember.

The very next day, I found out that a girl at my daughters school, who is known for her bullying tactics, had made my daughter her latest victim. For no apparent reason, she spread some malicious rumors about her, which were all complete and unfounded lies, but very hurtful nonetheless.

As we were dealing with the shock, hurt and anger that followed, God brought Matthew 6:8b back to my mind. A verse that He had led me to on Thursday, for a situation that He knew was going to occur on Friday.

God knew what I needed, before I even knew I needed it.

I shared the verse with my daughter, encouraging her that God will prevail and that we needed to pray through this. We talked about the fact that sometimes people are targeted because of their faith, and for other reasons, but in all circumstances, if we pray, God would prevail.

Then God decided to show off a little more. Smiles.

The following Sunday morning, we went to church, only to discover that the title of the sermon was: "Where is God when I face betrayal?"

Coincidence? Absolutely not. God-incidence? Absolutely!

As we listened intently to the sermon, it was if my wonderful pastor was echoing the emotions that had been bubbling up all weekend in my daughters heart, and in mine.

Through the verses in Psalm 109, our hearts were moved as we listened to Davids journey of feeling betrayed, lied about, and falsely accused.

Through that message we were reminded that this type of problem is not new to God, it was not a surprise to Him, and we were reminded that we are not alone.

We listened to a recap of Davids feelings of frustration, and even anger. We saw the exasperation and hurt in the words that David spoke, as he poured his heart out to God.

We read about Davids desire to see God inflict justice to those who had hurt him, and how he pleaded for God to remedy the situation and enforce His holy righteousness.

You see, David wanted God to fix the situation. Make it all better. See vengeance happen. And quickly. And I could relate.

As the sermon came to a close, we were reminded that vengeance is the Lords job, not ours. And most importantly, in the face of problems, we are to praise Him - not necessarily for the problem, but for who He is, and for what He will do.

We are called to put aside our feelings, and focus on our faith. We are called to praise Him for the privilege of watching Him work miracles in our difficult situations, while trusting in His timing and His ways.

The main question left on our hearts and minds after this situation happened at school, and after having God speak to us through His Word and through our pastor, was what the next step should be .... what to do... how to act.... who to tell... if we should tell at all... if we should ignore it... if reporting it would even matter.... and if there would be negative consequences for reporting it.

As a mom, Ill be honest and tell you that my heart wanted to retaliate with the natural nature of a mama bear trying to protect her cubs from a violent predator.

However, as my pastor gently put it, God desires that we retaliate with our supernatural nature instead - which means living a life in Christ, and therefore being empowered to do the right thing.

The supernatural, and unnatural, nature to do the right thing that is driven by what Gods Word tells us to do, not what our emotions are driving us to do. The supernatural nature that allows us to diffuse anger, and seek refuge in Him instead.

Matthew 5:44 says "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,".

Honestly? Ugggggggg. I am just sure that is not my favorite verse. Heavy sigh. But last time I checked, God did not say we had to like His instructions for life, just that we were to follow them.

So I am praying. Praying for these so-called enemies. Praying for the heart of the bully who is obviously a broken soul. Praying for the people that this bully is hurting out of her brokenness.

Praying that God will allow me to operate out of my supernatural nature instead of my natural emotions. Praying for the power to forgive.

What a blessing to see God in action this week. I admit I would have preferred that God just prevented this situation altogether, but since He allowed it, I am praising Him for:

* tucking verses into my heart so I would be spiritually prepared
* whispering to my daughters heart
* whispering to my heart
* orchestrating the timing of a perfectly appropriate and much needed sermon
* reminding me of Davids feelings and Gods instructions for our actions
* helping me take measured, supernaturally-controlled steps to deal with this
* allowing our family to see Him working in the midst of the problems
* creating an opportunity for my family to discuss how God speaks to us
* blessing us with the awareness that He is with us and intervening in our lives

Dont you just love it when you see God in action? :)

Got any "God in action" stories to share from your life?

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Five Things I Fear and Why I Shouldn't

Everyone feels afraid at some point in their lives - whether it is a small, anxious feeling that will not go away, or an overwhelming paralyzing phobia. We each choose how we deal with these fears, how we face them, and whether or not we let them control our lives, but regardless, we all have fears and we all worry.

The Bible specifically talks about two types of fear. One - fear of God. Two - fear of earthly things. I wonder which type of fear is most prevalent in peoples hearts?

The first type, fearing God, is beneficial to our lives. It causes us to have a beautiful reverence for God, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and behaviors. It is a reverent fear that causes to have respect for His Word and His soveriegnty over the world.

The second type, fearing random stuff in an earthly life, is a stumbling block in our lives and in our faith. This is the type of fear that needs to be overcome and that prevents us from fully trusting God. This is the type of fear that is hardest to overcome.

I am going to let down my guard here, and tell you my five biggest fears, which are in no particular order. These are simply the first five things that came to mind, but Im sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with some more.

My Top Five Fears:

1. Spiders
2. My childrens health and safety
3. Heights
4. Conflict
5. Marriage failure

As I was looking at this list above, I realized something very interesting that I had never thought of before...... I have no power to control any of these things.

God is God. Only He has the power to control all things, big and little. Only He has the power to make things happen, make things not happen, and predict the future.

Question: Why do we waste time on fear? Why do we allow certain fears to take up residence in our heart? Why do some fears become overwhelming and gut-wrenching? Why do we worry instead of trusting God? Why cant we just overcome fears, and be more like Christ?

Answer: Because God is God, and we are not. He has the power. We have none.

Let me break down my top five fears individually to prove my point about why it is so beneficial to relase our fears our God, and stop fretting, and fearing:

1. Spiders - I have always had an overwhelming, numbing, leg-weakening fear of spiders. In my minds eye, even the tiniest spider is, in essence, a tarantula. I am afraid that every grandaddy long legs I see is going to leap five feet and get on me (I know, they dont jump; just saying). But eight legs are eight legs no matter how big, small, short, or long they are. Creepy. Creepy.

Reality: God is God. God made spiders. Nothing I do will cause them to be extinct. They are not going to go away. The likelihood of ever seeing a tarantula up close and personal where I live is rare. Most spiders will not hurt me, and I will run from all of them, so the likelihood of getting fatally bitten is one in a million. Thus - an unnecessary fear.

2. My childrens health and safety - ever since my three children were born, I have worried that something would happen to them. When they were little, it was such an overwhelming fear that I would actually have visions of bad things happening. Now that they are older, the fears are even more compounded, and what-if's and worry can drive me crazy if I let it.

Reality: God is God. He loves my children more than I do. He holds their futures in His hands and knows the number of hairs on each of their heads. He has plans to prosper them, and give them a future and a hope. I have learned over the years to worry less, and pray more, and to trust that God is surrounding them with a hedge of protection everywhere they go, but even then, I cannot control the future. Thus - an unnecessary fear.

3. Heights - I have no problem flying in an air plane, but put me in a situation where the possibility of falling is even a remote possibility, I feel weak in the knees (think rollercoasters, high balconies, high rise elevators)...or, maybe I should just say my imagined possibility of falling. For example, while visiting the St. Louis arch a few years ago, I practically crawled on my stomach when I got to the top because I was sure the wind was going to blow the entire structure to the ground. Sad, but true.

Reality: God is God. If it is His will for me to plunge thousands of feet to my doom, then so be it - however, that is highly unlikely, especially since I typically do not go anywhere that presents that possibility. I believe that God loves me and that His protection surrounds me, but only He knows the number of days we have on earth. Thus - an unnecessary fear.

4. Conflict - I needed to call a teacher recently about a problem one of my children was having in class. I fretted for two days about calling her. I rehearsed what I would say over and over before I called, in an effort to avoid saying anything that might turn the conversation into a confrontation. In fact, anytime I have ever had an unresolved issue with another person, I worry myself sick over having to face it and confront it. Get the picture - I dont like conflict!

Reality: God is God. Conflict is a part of life. But through prayer, God can give me the strength to face any problem. He can help open my eyes to see the situation from His point of view, how to deal with the problem, and how to see the other persons point of view. I can pray for Him to guide my actions, thoughts, and words when dealing with this person, and ask Him to intervene in the situation - before, during, and after. He already knows how the sitation will turn out and He hears my prayers. Thus- an unnecessary fear.

5. Marriage failure - I think the fact that my parents got divorced when I was 15, created a hidden fear in my heart that one day that would be my fate too. In my first number of years in our marriage, I was sure that every conflict, every disagreement, and every letdown, was one more step down the path to divorce.

Reality: God is God. God ordained marriage, and it is His will for every marriage to survive. I have seen God work miracles in my marriage over the years, and my husband and I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage. Marriage is hard, and everyone deals with trials and struggles in a relationship. But God is still God, and He is stronger than any problem we can face. If we trust Him, devote our marriage to Him, trust Him, and make prayer and faith a priority, He will intervene. The reality also is that not all marriages survive, but all marraiges are in Gods hands, and He loves us individually no matter what. Thus - an unncessary fear.

What I have come to realize, over time, is that although these fears may be warranted, they are unnecessary in the scope of our lack of power in the universe.

Also, these fears are soooooooooooo normal. They are common. They are frequent. And they are only a minute sampling of the fears that people face and struggle with every day, from little daily problems to huge life altering situations.

Unfortunately, we do not have the natural ability to fight off feelings of fear and worry, but we do have the ability to fight it off WITH GOD. We do have the power to tap into Gods power, through prayer and building a relationship with Him.

Once we learn to put our full trust in Him, in all situations big and small, only then can we learn not to be afraid of the things that hold our hearts captive.

Psalm 5:11 "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." (NIV)

When we embrace that God is God, and that our fears are unnecessary because of His power and His sovereignty, then we can begin to trust Him, take refuge in Him, believe in His protection, and sing for joy.

If you ask me, those things sound a lot more wonderful than spending life hanging on to, and fretting over, all of my fears.

No matter what fear you are holding in heart, remember, that God is God.

What are you fearing today? What are your top five fears? Ask yourself if those fears are based on reality, on your desired ability to control them, or if they are unnecessary? Consider whether you have released those fears to God, and if you are trusting Him with your whole heart in all things.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Its Never Too Early To Start Thinking Christmas!

Did you know Christmas is only nine weeks away? It comes around so fast! If you are anything like me, I always vow to start buying my Christmas gifts in October, but then life happens, and Im scrambling around trying to get everything done during the month of December!

If that describes you, then you are in luck! Proverbs 31 Ministries is having a huge first time ever book sale this week! Books and CD's are a wonderful idea for Christmas gifts, especially for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative.

All this week, October 18-24, you will receive a P31 discount on all resources. That's almost 1/3rd off our normal prices, and this also applies to all new releases. You can even get a discount on pre-ordering Lysa Terkheursts Made To Crave book, that is scheduled for release in December.

Visit our P31 Shop Page to check out all the awesome resources available, including Bibles.

When you check out, your final price will reflect the 31% off of your total before any taxes and shipping. And, if you want to save even more money, be sure to select US Postal Service as your shipping option when you complete your purchase.

Happy Shopping!

Its Never Too Early To Start Thinking Christmas!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Sure Cure For Friend-Less-Ness

I had the most wonderful weekend. A blessed weekend packed full of friends, conversation, fun and laughter. Although that might not sound like anything out of the ordinary to you, it was a special blessing for me.

You see, several years ago, I went to a womens conference and heard the speaker say the strangest thing.

I do not remember where I attended this conference, the name of it, or what the conference was even about. I honestly cannot even remember the name of the speaker who shared this strange statement......but I do remember her statement and her challenge vividly.

It was not an overly profound statement, and in fact, many women may have forgotten her statement before the conference even ended, but it struck a chord in my heart.

Her statement was this: "Ladies, pray for friends".

She simply encouraged us, and challenged us, to pray for God to bring friends into our lives.

Why? Because women need friends.

The funny thing is that prior to going to this conference, I was dealing with a small case of 'friend-less-ness'.

My college friends had all gone in different directions and we hardly ever saw each other anymore.

I had left all of my friends from work behind, when I made the choice to resign from my job and focus on ministry and being a stay at home mom.

I had lots of sweet acquaintances from church and work and from within my community, but none that I could really call my BFF's. And deep in my heart, I longed for more.

It seemed like everyone I knew already had a BFF and so instead of stepping outside of my little comfort zone of inhibitions and just picking up the phone, I would assume that they really didnt need me for a friend anyway. I know that sounds totally lame - but maybe, just maybe, some of you can relate.

So this was my state of mind when I went to this conference. Although I was not consciously focusing on feelings of 'friend-less-ness' when I walked through the front doors, God knew what I needed to hear that day and had a special, and unexpected message for me.

I have to admit, that upon hearing this speaker tell us to pray and ask God to bring friends into our lives, I quietly thought "how pathetic". Pathetic that someone would be so desperate as to have to pray for close friends.

After all, should we not just automatically have a bunch of close friends, like the women you see in the movies, that do everything together, laugh together and share secrets together? Women who can let their guard down, tell jokes, be selfish but forgiven, and be able to relax around each other? Women who are your BFF's, despite all your flaws?

That would be nice, but the truth is, good friends are hard to come by at any age, but even harder as we get older.

Truly good friends - the type of friends that warm your heart - do not just drop into our lives accidentally, but instead, they are an answer to prayer. A blessing that God created us to crave. A treasure that we discover as we not only find a friend, but learn to be a good friend as well.

So God spoke to my heart that day through this nameless, faceless speaker, and I pushed aside my insecurities, and began to pray for friends. I asked God to fill my life with good friends, and to satisfy my craving for friendship.

Fast forward one year - I began to see special people becoming involved in my life. I began to realize that slowly but surely, God was orchestrating encounters and situations in my life which allowed me to get to know new people. I began to see some of my current relationships blossoming into closer friendships.

I began to see God at work - blessing me with sweet friends from all walks of life.

Such a simple little prayer, but a marvelous result of an abundance of little blessings, one by one.

Today, I feel truly blessed to have more BFF's than I could have ever imagined, some closer than others, but I thank God for each and every one of them.

God hears even the smallest, yet deepest longings of our hearts, and when we release those feelings to Him, then He can really get to work.

If you are feeling even the tiniest twinge of unspoken "friend-less-ness" today, then I want to reassure you that you are not alone!

Every womans heart longs for deep friendships and close relationships with people they can share life with.

So if you find yourself with that friendship craving today - then I want to encourage you to pray for friends! Pray for them each and every day, and then prepare to keep your spiritual eyes open so that you can see when God is working on answering that prayer.

Most importantly, develop a consistent mindset that no friend encounter is a coincidence - but instead, a God-incidence, which can eventually turn into a sweet cure for even the worst case of "friend-less-ness:

God made the world with a heart full of love,
Then He looked down from Heaven above,

And saw that we all need a helping hand,
Someone to share with, who'll understand.

He made special people to see us through
The glad times and the sad times, too;

A person on whom we can always depend,
Someone we can call a friend.

God made friends so we'll carry a part
Of His perfect love in all our hearts.

Author Anonymmous


Here are a couple pictures from our girls-weekend/tennis-playing getaway this past weekend. We stayed four days at Hilton Head, SC and camped out on the Van Der Meer courts for hours and hours. Fun, friendship and fellowship (and tennis!) - who could ask for more? Smiles.

A Sure Cure For Friend-Less-NessSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do you have the marks of a beast?

Now that I have your attention, let me explain. The title of the post was "do you have the marks of A beast", not THE beast. If I were to talk about the marks of the beast (666) that could take all day and probably make my mind turn to mush.

The type of beast I am talking about is a bit different. In fact, a good kind of beast.

You see, "beast" is a term my children commonly use when they are referring to someone or something that is great. Teenage lingo at its finest.

Yesterday we were enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon, after a busy, busy weekend. However, after a few hours of this leisure, my son Michael had apparently had enough leisure time, and deep boredom set in.

In our life of constant movement and activity, it is hard for the kids to just sit and do nothing and be content! So Michael meandered out to the garage to get a change of scenery and try to find something to do, and after being gone for a few minutes, came back inside with his football helmet.

He sat down beside me and started pointing out all of the scars and marks on his helmet. Scars and marks which had resulted from awesome tackles, tangles with other players, helmets crashing together, and piles of football players on top of each other.

Then he said, "These are my marks, mom. I got these marks because I am a beast (interpretation: great football player). Nobody can take credit for these marks because they are all mine. Even if somebody else uses my helmet one day, they are still my marks. Im proud of these marks!"

I just thought that was so cute. His 'marks' were a symbol of his hard work, his dedication to the sport, and his love of the game. His 'marks' were a symbol of who he was and what he had accomplished, and he was proud of them. Even though some of those 'marks' had brought bumps, bruises, or pain, he was proud of them. They were his helmet scars. And he was a beast.

His comment got me to thinking, about my marks. About my scars. About the pain and suffering that accompanied some of those marks and scars. But also about the accomplishments and joy that I have received from those marks and heart scars too.

The only difference is, that I am not necessarily proud of my "marks".

I would gladly give up those marks to someone else. I would gladly not take credit for them. I would gladly like to pretend they were not there, or that the situation that caused a certain "mark" never really happened.

However, as I consider how God has healed my heart from the damage those "marks" originally caused, a smile comes to my face.

When I think of the magnitude of Gods mercy and grace, and how much He loves me - despite me - my heart is filled with joy, because in all honesty, sometimes I wonder how God can see past all my "marks", and still love me.

My only regret now, is that I allowed my "marks" to keep me from understanding the depth of His love for way too long; that I allowed those "marks" to be a barrier between me and God for many years. Thank goodness, and thank Jesus, for the day that I finally realized the truth - that He loved me, and my "marks".

My sons simple comment about his football helmet, prompted me to remember that marks really can be beautiful. Marks really can be something to be proud of.

Most importantly, those marks are ours alone. Those marks make up who we are. Those marks are reminders of not only where we have been, but what we have become. Those marks are a symbol of our love for our life, how much God loves us, and our willingness to persevere.

And hopefully, those "marks" can be a vivid reminder of not only pain, suffering, sin or poor choices, but of forgiveness, healing, redemption, grace, mercy and power.

They are a reminder that God either caused or allowed those marks to occur, but that He can use every type of mark in every individual person, to draw us closer to Him, and to bring glory to Him if we are willing to allow Him to use those marks to His glory.

Think about what "marks" you are carrying around in your heart today.

If you have never asked God to forgive you for your "marks", to help you see the value and purpose in your "marks", or to heal you from your "marks", then spend some time talking to God about those "marks" today. Ask Him to open your heart and enable you to embrace the purpose He has for those "marks" in your life. Ask Him to help you see the beauty that He sees in you.

Embrace the healing and love that Jesus holds for you, despite your marks - and think about those marks in a new light today..........

Just maybe, what you think are "marks", could actually be Gods fingerprints on your life.

In fact, with all those beautiful marks, you can call yourself a beast too (interpretation: beautiful child of God).

Do you have the marks of a beast?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend