Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Earthly Knowledge and Godly Wisdom

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." Psalm 111:10

Yes - I've taken yet another LONG blogging break. And - AGAIN, much to my personal dismay. Since I've helped in starting Speaking Thru Me Ministries, I have managed to go through two, yes two laptops. My ministry partner was so gracious to help me out in getting my last one (just a few months ago) and somehow I've managed to do something to it that only I could do!!! So - I've been computer less AGAIN. Please pray that that will change ASAP! I need to write!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK - very quickly before hubby needs this computer to get back to work!

Sometimes for my alone time with God - if I'm in between Bible Study's, I will turn to the book of Psalms. I usually look at the date or time and then turn to a passage in Psalms that relates. For example, the girls started school on August, 11. So, I decided to turn to Psalms 11 and 111. That morning the above verse really spoke to me.

You see, here I was sending off my girls (Cassidy for the first time! She just started Kindergarten.) to gain all of this earthly knowledge and wisdom so that they can "make it in this world". With Cassidy's anxiety and depression I was VERY nervous wondering, "Will she be able to learn??" And, with Savannah - I was also rather stressed because I have always heard how hard 3rd grade can be. She can put a lot of pressure on herself for a kid - she wants to be the best at EVERYTHING and I could see us having many meltdowns over multiplication and cursive writing (new skills for a third grader!).

But God's Word, as ALWAYS, is so faithful. What a wonderful reminder I needed that morning that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, ALL who follow his precepts have GOOD UNDERSTANDING."

Yes - earthly knowledge is important and I'm not some nut that's going to pull my kids of out school because they are learning "earthly concepts", but boy! What a great way to look at things --- we could have all the knowledge in this world, but what does that matter? Yes, I want my kids to do their best in school - but is that all that's important? How are your kids, as young as they may be, understanding Goldy precepts? Are you teaching them Godly precepts? Is earthly knowledge, A's & B's, more important in your family than learning the ways of God?

I remember when Savannah was a baby having the make myself say, "Look at the trees God made." It seemed so weird to be honest! It was like Satan didn't even want me to get the words out! I mean, here I am with a newborn talking out loud about God and His creation!! However, I praise Him that over time it did get easier.

If this is a new concept to you, I encourage you to just start small. It will be weird, no doubt about it. But as you continue to share the things of God with your child(ren), you will see not just them - but you too - grow in understanding if His precepts!

Here's the first day of school. How do you like those pearls???

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From Hillbilly to Heiress

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

Psalms 16:5-6

It's so good to get back to writing! I've missed it these last few days. For those who don't know - I went to the Beth Moore Conference in San Antonio, TX last week. I am over loaded with information and could write for days, but I promise - I will not! However, I'm sure I will be referencing the conference in my posts for days to come:)

Before leaving for my trip I was pretty bummed. My ministry partner, Leigh had nearly broken both ankles on Monday and she was to drive to my house on Thursday and us fly out to San Antonio on Friday. But, that's a little hard to do when both of your feet are in boots! (you will have to go to her blog and see the pics she has of her feet - YIKES!) You see -- we just knew that God was going to tell us great and mighty things about ourselves and ministry as we worshiped and prayed together during the course of the weekend. Now, she wasn't coming.

So - thankfully, I had two other ladies on our ministry teams going to the same conference. I had talked to them by phone, e-mail, heard their messages on tape, etc.... but NEVER officially met them. Also, right before leaving - I recognized a name on a list of ladies attending a special event offered during the course of the conference. Ends up - it was a Mom I know from Nashville. So long story short here (this isn't my main message for today) ---- God worked out all the details. I left Nashville not really knowing a soul and came back with a slew of new friends!!

OK - now for the main thing ---- the point is, I was determined that I was going to hear from God this weekend. I mean I wanted the Alamo Dome to part wide open and have rays of sun light shining down on me with angels singing and my face glowing like Moses in the Old Testament!

Beth's message was right on. I took pages, upon pages of notes. And I can't wait to share what I've learned with all my "peeps" (Beth, Amanda, Melissa - I said that just for you - ha!). Seriously, I've already called several girlfriends back home and we have gone over note by note what was shared at the conference. It was GREAT stuff and Beth was very anointed and profound in her speaking.

But, for me - the Alamo Dome didn't open. The rays on sun didn't fall on me. And I was definitely not glowing. As a matter of fact - I was caught blocks away from the hotel when a rain storm hit and have never been so soaked in my life --- we are talking wringing your clothes out bone chilling soaked.

Nope. Instead, I heard the Lord say these words to me. "You are a Hillbilly Heiress." WHAT! Does the Lord even use the word Hillbilly in His vocabulary?! That is nuts --- I have no doubts that you are agreeing with me at this point. As strange as I thought it was - it kept coming back to me.

You see, Beth's theme was that "we" are an "Heiress of God." She had 8 points and they all started with "I am an Heir of God ........." and then another point would be stated. She laid the foundation for this on Friday night and then hit the ground running on Saturday with two sessions. Very early into the first session on Saturday, she talked about our past and how God's inheritance trumps anything else that we've inherited. This got me thinking .......

My family has no literal inheritance. I lived in a trailer park in Tennessee when I was young. I remember taking a bath in a tin tub in the front yard at my grandparents house --- they also had an out house! I remember at Russ' first Thanksgiving with my family, my relatives just busted out the instruments (including a canjo -- that is a literal can of food that has been turned into a musical instrument) and started sangin'. No,that is not a typo - they seriously talk that country. So --- they do not sing - they sang. At that time they were in a gospel "sangin' group". Russ also learned other vocabulary words he had never heard in his life that weekend!!! I come from a line of Lilly Mae's and Clementine's. Until this weekend I was aware of all of this about my family, but never realized one thing. Yes, it is true - I am a Hillbilly.

You see - in my talking with God during the weekend (in addition to begging Him to part the skies for me to receive "my Word") --- I asked Him for a title. A title for my blog or for my book that would be cute, catchy and draw ladies in so that they could learn about Him. He was so faithful this weekend. He didn't speak to me the way I wanted Him too, but He spoke to me in the way I needed Him to. Soft and gently - very casually during the course of my day.

When I got back and was sharing everything with Leigh about the conference, she said to me .... "You know, I've learned that conferences are great. But I don't need to go to a big conference to hear from God." AMEN! And I think that precious Beth Moore would agree with that. YES - God moved at her conference. AND, I'm confident that for someone there --- the Alamo Dome did part and the rays came down and the whole nine yards! But, not for me. And that's OK. God desires a personal relationship where we can talk daily - just not one powerful time. And a relationship where He can be a little funny and say words like Hillbilly!!

So, with ALL OF THIS long post being said ---- it looks like I'm on my way as being known as the Hillbilly Heiress from Tennessee. Sharing how God can take anyone and forgive their sins, give them worth and make them an Heir.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In The World But Not Of The World

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
I John 2:15

So, as a parent --- how in the world do you guide your kids in living in this world, but not loving the world??? They are surround by various media's making suggestions to them on how to dress, think and feel.

Now - I am NO EXPERT! For heaven's sake, my oldest is only 8! But, I really feel that this is where every family has to hash out with God what kind of boundaries to set for their children. The Bible gives us clear directions regarding right and wrong. However, how do we handle "gray" areas? Like TV for example. Is the "TV" sin? No, it's just an object. Is owning a TV sin? Is watching TV sin? It depends on how the TV is used. Are sinful things shown on TV? YES!!!!! So, for my family. We do not allow a TV in our kids rooms. Yes, would could use the parental controls and all that stuff which is great - but we just aren't even going to go that route. We watch TV shows as a family.

One show we watched for the first time last season was American Idol. My oldest, Savannah REALLY got into it! She loved the horrible singers and would latch on quickly to several favorites. We had a great time watching this together.

So, when tickets for the concert went on sale ---- I thought what a fun family trip! Well, the closest concert was about 3 hours away from here and luckily - it was on a weekend. I got some details worked out and purchased our tickets.

We didn't tell the girls until Friday and the concert was on Saturday. Friday morning we told Cassidy. Then, Russ went all out and made a scavenger hunt for Savannah with a little help from Cassidy. When Savannah came home from school it started with a trip to the mail box, then all around the house and yard and ended up finding her "surprise" in a treasure box. It was all very cute!

So - after lots of screaming and a little packing we were off to a concert. By doing that - does that mean that we love the world? Well, let me say this......

On Monday, it was Savannah's turn to take something to school to tell about "her". She didn't bring anything about American Idol --- you know what she packed? Her prayer journal. She did this all on her own, without any suggestions from me.

Yes, it's possible to raise children to live in the world, but LOVE the things of God.

Enjoy our concert pics!
Savannah holding up her last clue

Savannah, Cassidy and Savannah's BF, Makenzie, at the concert


Brooke White

Christy Cook, Cassidy's favorite -- singing one of Cassidy's favorites - "God Bless the USA"

Cassidy's personality doesn't show much excitement (God gave her portion to her sister!), but would wave to the "Idols" once in a while


David A.

Savannah seeing her personal favorite, David Cook, for the first time (my response was similar ------ it's OK - Russ is aware!)

David Cook!!!! We were about 20 rows from the stage and dead center:)

More David Cook

And more David Cook

And one happy family:)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Oppressed, The Orphan and The Widow

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."
Deuteronomy 10:18

When I was only 14 years old I went on a Mission Trip to New Orleans, LA. That one trip forever changed my life. I worked in a project area with kids who were afraid to go home. They talked freely about the gun fire and various family members who had been killed. During that week I met a 12 year old who was pregnant and I also held a "crack baby" in my arms. This baby was nearly 2 years old, but was still very much like an infant. I made two special friends, Jamal who was about 3 and then Devon who was 8. I have some great pictures of that trip. And still have some of the letters that Devon wrote to me after leaving. On our last day - so many of the kids we met were begging us to take them home. When I say begging - I'm talking about crying, screaming at the top of their lungs holding on to your leg kind of begging. Some of the kids kept trying to get on our bus and hide down in the seats or in the luggage area under the bus. I cried from New Orleans, LA all the way home to Cleveland, TN. To this day, I still tear up thinking about all I experienced.

After that experience, I've taken many mission trips and continued working with kids in project areas up until I was pregnant with my first child. My heart has always been tender to children, especially those who are born in poverty areas and without much hope. Believe me - Russ does not want me to take any more Mission Trips for fear of us needing to purchase a second mini-van to hold all the kids I would likely bring home!!

During the last few years, I have been connected with many people who have adopted. Their stories vary, but almost always come back to these statements: 1) We are all orphans, by His grace, Christ adopted us into His family. I felt His calling to extend that grace by adopting a child. 2) Christ says that we are to defend and feed the fatherless - He has called my family to live that out.

My heart is breaking today for two special friends. Both have other children, but were feeling called to adopt. Near the ending point - both adoptions have fallen through. One from Russia. The other twins from Liberia. You can read about Lori's story regarding her twins at her blog

I can not image the devastation. Just recently, I've wanted to work with Compassion International and "adopt a child" where you pay X amount a month to help feed them and get them items they need. It was so hard to look at all those children and pick one. But one stood out above all others. As I continued to pray - I went back a few days later excited to her adopt her. Her picture was gone. Had someone else adopted her? Had something terrible happened to her??? I couldn't believe it! That was my child --- who in the world took her and what happened??? As I've continued to review the sight - I'm again, overwhelmed by the great need of these children, but "my child" is not standing out this time. And every time I look, I say a prayer for little Doreen from Uganda and continue to sort over which child to pick now. But with so many children - does one really matter? Do you think that "one" matters to Christ? Yes, "one" does matter. And, I can't wait to help make a difference in the life of just "one".

I can no way compare my situation with what has happened to these other families. But in Lorie's story - she mentions how she truly felt God leading her to these twins. It was no mistake. So why did the adoption not work out? Little details like that will not be answered on this earth. All Lorie knows now is that she will forever be praying for two little twins in Liberia and she will continue the search for the child God wants to bring to their home.

We are not all called to literally adopt children into our families, just as we are not all called to have widow/widower move into our homes (like a parent or in law). But, as a Christian we are to do our part. I'm amazed at how many references in scripture talk about how "we" are to take care of the orphan and the widow. Ps. 10:14, Ps. 68:5, Ps. 146:9, Is. 1:17, Jer. 22:3 -- just as some examples.

My father in law passed away last November. Every time we got out to eat with my mother in law, my husband pays for her meal. It's not a huge thing, but it's one way that my family can "care for the widow".

So what are you doing about the scripture listed above to be a "defender"? Have you asked God what should be your role in caring for the oppressed, the orphan and the widow? If you ask - I have no doubts that he will tell you. Then, let me know. I can't wait to hear from you!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Think BIG

Well gang, my ministry partner Leigh had an awesome post this week. Some of you read her stuff as well, but to many this will be new. I was going to put it in my own words, but why fix something that's not broke (or is it broken?). Anyway, you know what I mean! We have exciting times ahead of us at Speaking Thru Me Ministries. I'll be talking more about that as well. But for now, read this and enjoy hearing from Leigh:)

What is God asking you to do right now? I don't mean if God has ever asked you to do something, I mean right now He is asking something of you - Are you listening? God always wants to engage us in things that He is involved in. Are you willing to respond and think big?

The line of questioning above reminds me of the time Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5000. On this occasion Jesus and his guys had been ministering all day and were ready to retreat. They asked Jesus to make the crowd go away. Jesus replied with an odd statement and probably very frustrating to the the disciples, "You give them something to eat." Jesus was not solving the problem, but giving the disciples even more to do. He was engaging them - big time!

Coming from Charlotte, NC we had every conference under the sun not only come to the city, but most of the conferences came to my big church. It was not uncommon at all for me to go to each and every event - I LOVED it. I would always come home with so much excitement and energy. But it was one of those things that unless you are there it was too difficult to explain. No matter how dramatic I got with Clay he just didn't feel it the way I did at that time. Bummer!

It was not long after moving to Southern Illinois that I began to thirst and starve for that kind of ministering again. And then the Lord asked something of me. I was at a Mark Schultz concert down in Marion and as I stood up to look around the Lord whispered in my heart, "Bring it here - men and women alike." Over time He revealed not just a music concert, but speakers and worship for both the man and woman at the same time. Not a marriage conference at all, but a worship/ministering conference for both of all ages. Something for the area of Southern Illinois that doesn't make us drive to St. Louis, Indy, Chicago, or Louisville. The impulse girl that I am said, "Sure thing Lord, I would love to do that." Then the fear began to set in.

As the disciples began to pass out all they had, 5 loaves and 2 fishes, I am sure the fear began to set in. "What happens when we get to the sixth person? What happens when I can not feed a baby? What happens when i run out? What if more people come up?" I think there was fear there as well even though they had seen Jesus work all the miracles not only that day, but throughout His ministry.

In verse 16 of Luke 9 Jesus gave thanks and then gave the food to the disciples to let them be engaged in the miracle happening. Jesus could have multiplied the food immediately, but instead He gave the food to them to see and feel with their own eyes and hands all He was doing. It was if He was saying, "Come on guys, take part, be engaged, think bigger, and trust Me." After feeding everyone I believe it to be no coincidence that there was 12 baskets leftover for each of the disciple. When we give of everything, even a heart lacking in faith, He still faithfully provides filling us in unimaginable ways!

Speaking Thru Me Ministries has just been granted 501(c) tax exempt status. That means that we are able to take donations and give the donor a tax benefit. Yeah!! But having said that we have little to nothing in the pot to speak of. If you remember correctly our speakers take no kind of speaking fee. I would say we have even less than 5 loaves and 2 fish. Nevertheless God has given me this story today to encourage me that He will provide in abundance.

September 2009 I have rented the Marion Civic Center for a conference for men and women. I have already booked Curtis Jones, Beth Moore's son in law, to speak. I am working on the worship leader and a few more speakers. Priscilla Shirer has already gracefully declined. So i continue to reach my hand in the basket to pull out more and more loaves and fishes. Every time I begin to panic - will anyone show up - how will i ever pay for all this - what if my speakers cancel at the last minute - how is this different than anything else - I reach my hand once again in the basket and He provides...scripture, cards from friends, emails from family, holy nudges!!

So, what is it for you today? What is He calling for in your life to be engaged and think bigger? Can you hear Him today? Have you taken the time to sit before Him today? Listen to the voice of the Savior! Keep digging for more loaves and fish!! It is there!!! He is there!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do you pick and choose your sin?

Hey gang! I have something really quick today as a follow up from my last post. We are wrapping up summer around here (school starts in about two weeks!) so, you might want to sign up to receive e-mails on my blog updates instead of just checking the site here and there. I might be a little scattered on writing between now and school:) But, I promise I will try to write at least once a week.

OK - I was getting my nails done the other day and I had a new gal this time. She was very chatty and told me all kinds of details about herself. She was young, only 19 and talked a lot about her friends and starting college. She went on to tell me how a group of friends were going down to Atlanta before school started to hit some clubs and party for the weekend. She proudly told me that she wasn't into that. And, she didn't want to risk getting caught with a fake ID. She said that she had accomplished to much to get hauled off to jail for something silly like that. Then, her next sentence was this. "So instead, I'm just going to go with my boyfriend on a weekend trip." Now, this was the first time I had ever spoken to this young girl. No, I don't know if she considers herself a Christian or not. And, yes - some of you will think I'm judging her - but just hang in there and hear me out:)

So - we have, for the sake of our example, a young girl who doesn't drink under age - because that is wrong. But, she is willing to spend the weekend with her boyfriend. Now, come on guys. Do you really think that two 19 years olds of the opposite sex are going to stay in a hotel room for the weekend and nothing is going to happen? If so, I will just tell you straight up that you are nuts!

Now, to get away from someone else's example and turn this on myself (YIKES!). Do I pick and choose my sin? Wow, what a question! Think about it. Do I rank sin and think to myself -- I will never murder that's terrible! But, an occasional lie or exaggeration of the truth is OK. I won't gossip with this person over here because I know they think it's bad, BUT - I know this person doesn't mind so it's OK when I talk to them. You know that I could go on and on with things that we consider petty, but God still calls them sin.

If you have some time, I've listed below some scripture references about sin. If you have a certain area in your life where you are feeling defeated - talk to God about that today. Satan wants us to feel defeated in our sin. He wants us to think that the occasional sin is OK. No, Christians are not perfect and as long as we are alive - we will sin. BUT, does your sin break your heart? Does the sin of our nation break your heart? Have you grown so accustomed to certain sins, probably "petty" sins, that you don't even feel guilty anymore? Or if you see a sin in someone else - you don't grieve for them. You just consider it their personal choice. If we want to live a radical life for Christ, when we sin - it MUST break our hearts. Pray today for true conviction of sin. Not just for your life personally, but also for our nation.

Sin steals joy (Psalm 51:12)

Sin removes confidence (I John 3:19-21)

Sin quenches God's Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19)

Sin brings physical damage (Psalm 38:1-11; 31:10)

Sin breaks God's heart (Ephesians 4:30)

Sin opens the door to other sins (Isaiah 30:1)

Sin breaks fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Sin desires to control my life (John 8:34; Romans 6:16)

Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Become a Christian

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Roman 3:23

Hey guys! I've been on a quick vacation so sorry for the delay in blogging this week. BEWARE - today's blog is of a more serious nature. No silly kid stories today, but I feel that someone in Blog World needs to read this right now!

Several years ago I took a discipleship class about learning to share your faith. So, of course - during the course of the class we were to go out and share our faith and put to practice what we were learning. The first question we were encouraged to ask the people we met was this, "What do you think that a person must do to go to heaven?" Many times people would say - "I just need to be a good person." They would continue by letting me know that they thought they were "good". The people I talked to would claim to be "good" parents, friends, neighbors. They would tell me a lot of what they didn't do, such as steal, do drugs and so on.

But the verse above reminds me of my contrast with God. In regards to salvation, this verse is making us aware of how we are ALL SINNERS - we were not born "good", and we do not become "good".

You know, if a doctor suddenly announced to us in an exciting voice that he had a cure for the Paraguayan Flu, would we really care about it? In order for his discovery to impress us so deeply that we would seek a vaccination, the doctor would first need to prove to us the terrible dangers facing us of the unknown virus. People will not seek a cure until they know they are ill. Our illness is sin, and our cure is salvation. Jesus said in Matthew 9:12, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

So I've mentioned how we can not get to heaven by being "good", but did you know that you don't go to hell just because you are bad? Do I have your attention now??? People go to hell because they reject Christ, and they go to heaven because they accept the free gift of eternal life.

Read this scripture, John 3:16-21 and then we will talk about it. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Look again at the part I've put in BOLD. The Bible does not say that he was condemned because he got drunk, or because he committed adultery, gambled, or even murdered. He was condemned because he did not believe in Christ. Listen, Jesus' blood on the cross atoned for all those sins. And Christ CAN and HAS and WILL forgive them. However, hear me on this ---- far worse than gambling, adultery, or murder - is rejecting Christ. Matthew 12:31-32 "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."

Someone reading this needs to hear right now that Christ died for you. As crazy as that sounds in our selfish world - it is true. I will never forgot when "Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson was out and my heart broke one night watching TV. I was watching a show called "Politically Incorrect with Bill Marh". You can tell that Bill Marh has some head knowledge of the Bible and he was debating with those on his show that night about the accuracy of the film. Bill had seen the movie. He had read the scriptures that related to the movie. BUT, he said this - "I see the passion Mel Gibson has for this film and I'm moved by how he truly believes what he created on film is the true Gospel. But, I can not image that someone, who doesn't even know me - would ever die for me, a sinner. That is incomprehensible." My eyes just filled with tears and I prayed for Bill Marh that very moment. He was so close to believing, but could just not understand the truth of God's love. John 4:10 "This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

So, now what? Did you know that Satan believes in God. It is not enough for us to believe that God exists. Since we are a "Christian Nation", most Americans believe themselves to be "Christians" because they live in America! I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Are you needing to do that today? Confess with your mouth your sins and ask God to forgive you? I've had the need to write about salvation on my heart for some time - and I couldn't put it off any longer. If you have more questions OR make this decision - please contact me. If you aren't even sure what to pray - I have a prayer below that you can pray. I would love to know if you prayed this prayer and send you some resources to encourage you in your walk with God. I hope to hear from you soon:)

"Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I have been a sinner from birth and there is no good thing in me. But God today, right now - I am believing Your Word, the Bible. I want to confess my sins to You and ask You to forgive me. I know that You died on the cross for me. And, I want to accept the free gift that You want to give me, which is the gift of eternal life. God I want to know more of You while on this earth. And, I want to spend eternity with You in heaven. Amen."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Guess what Jamison did now!

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost."
Luke 19:10

Well, my last two posts have been about the girls. I guess the Lord didn't want me to leave Jamsion out so I have a story to share from yesterday.

First, I need to tell you a little about Jamison. He is 3 and if there is such a thing as being 200% boy - than he is it! If I had not raised two other children before him I would totally be questioning my parenting skills. He makes me look 200% irresponsible! He is adventurous and as quick as lightening thus the reason for two ER visits and in a completely unrelated case a call to 911 where police were involved!!! At this time I need to remind you he is only 3 and look at what all he's already done:( YIKES!! As I type this he is trying to convince me that it is OK to sword fight with his Dad's screwdrivers!

But, I can't leave you with that impression. He is also one of the most affectionate of my children. He holds my hand all over the house. Literally, one day it took me nearly one hour to put groceries up because I did it one handed. If he is not holding my hand, he is holding my shirt tale or my leg. He showers me with kisses - and his preference is smack on the lips! He has fallen asleep at my feet on our hard wood kitchen floor while I did the dishes. If we are in a room together and I leave that room without him --- he comes running fussing to me, "Mommy, you lost me!" He is my blue eyed shadow, and most of the time - I wouldn't have it any other way.

So yesterday, AT SWIM LESSONS - he slides into the water off the pool steps over his head. There are only 4 kids in the class, but the instructor is at the opposite end of the pool helping another child. I did not even see him fall in - I just happened to look that way. He was under and not even making any splashes. His eyes were open and his mouth was open. He would slightly float up, but not even high enough to take another breath. I ran into the pool clothes and all. When I pulled him out he coughed some and was crying, "Mommy, I go under." Of course my heart was racing and I was near tears - when I pulled him up I had no idea what to expect. I was thrilled that he was going to be OK, but very shocked that he wasn't spitting out more water than what he did. The poor instructor was a nervous wreck the rest of class. It was truly an accident and she was not to blame. The class was very much under control and well organized. It was just unfortunately, one of those things and I am so glad I stayed for swim lessons. With him not making any splashes and the instructor at the other end of the pool at the time --- this could have turned out very badly.

So, I came home and held my sweet little boy the rest of the night --- thanking God over and over that he was OK. Jamison told me at least 100 times last night that he loved me. Even one time he said, "You saved me Mom" and came over to give me a big hug. It was during this time that God showed me how much "we" are like Jamison.

You see, as sinners - we are drowning. Sometimes we are so deep in sin, we feel so far down that we could not even make a splash for help if we tried. We wonder who, if anyone, would even see us to help us or care to help us get out. But someone does see you. The One whose eye is on the sparrow, is also on you. God desires to pull you up from the deep ---- from the place where you are in so over your head that without His help, you will never get out. If you call to Him, He will jump into the "pool", reach out and pull you up, hold you in His hand and then you can say -- "I love You. Thank You for saving me."

Monday, July 14, 2008

My God will fight for YOU

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."'
Exodus 14:13

Oh my! It is so true that kids will say anything - and that seems especially true for my children! But one story stands out far above the rest and that's what I'm going to share with you today.

Several years ago, I had taken Savannah to a new Doctor's Office. This office had a huge chalk board on the wall to entertain the children and immediately after we arrived my little artist was quickly at work. The office was full and I was confident that my little Michelangelo had caught every one's eyes with her fascinating works of art.

During one particular drawing I could see the concentration on her face. She was drawing her stick figures with great precision. One was small and placed far away from the other two larger stick figures. Then, with serious determination, she began drawing straight lines over the two larger stick figures. She did this over and over until both stick figures had horizontal lines all across them. She finished her creation by drawing a line across the top and bottom of her horizontal lines --- making a box. (Is anyone following me here????)

Intrigued by what she had done and knowing that she had a purpose or a story behind what she had drawn - I asked Savannah to tell me about her picture. In a room FULL of people, in her very LOUD toddler voice she said, "Mommy, remember that one time the police came and took you and Daddy to jail and I was left all alone? Well, I drew that time."

Now, do you follow the picture?? One small stick figure (her) away from the larger two (me and her dad), the box with lines (a jail cell)!!!!

So, with all eyes on us - I replied back, "Oh honey, did you draw a dream that you had?" Immediately she responded with a very strong "NO Mom! I drew that time you and dad went to jail and left me all alone!" The more I tried to insist that she had no idea what she was talking about - the more adamant she became that she had indeed drawn a true life portrait! And, the more exchanges that we had - the more I could tell the entire waiting room was on her side! I mean come on! Even I have to admit that was one wild imagination for a toddler. Had the tables been reversed, I probably would have been one of the first in the waiting room to have a raised eyebrow.

The point of this wild and true tale is this: (oh wait - TRUE being the drawing in the Doctor's Office, not TRUE as in the going to jail part! just wanted to make sure we were clear - haha) the more I tried to stand up for myself, defend my parenting, prove that I really was a good person - the worse I made the situation. The more I looked guilty.

If you are a Christian, is their an area in your life where YOU are doing the fighting? You are arguing with those around you to prove that you are right "in Christ". Maybe you are trying to defend your reputation, maybe it is your parenting choices. It could be any decision you've made where you and God have worked out all the details - but your family and friends aren't on board with His plan. Maybe it's Homeschooling. Maybe it's moving your family across the world to be missionaries. Maybe it's about having more children (and most people feel you already have plenty!). I'm just tossing out things that I've witnessed recently --- and I realize most of these I'm mentioning deal with "younger" families because that's where I am right now, but I'm sure you catch my drift. No matter your age - right now, you can think of an issue.

Whatever the situation - you may be feeling personally attacked. Like your judgement is being questioned. BUT, Have you ever thought about how maybe this isn't your fight? Believe me - I like to "duke it out" with the best of them, and it's been a hard life lesson for me! Guys listen - we might not be going into a literal physical battle like our pals in the Old Testament, but God still fights AND wins His battles. Be encouraged by this list of scriptures:

Deuteronomy 1:30 "The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes."

Deuteronomy 3:22 "Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you."

2 Chronicles 20:17 "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

Jeremiah 1:19 "They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

If we believe that God has called us and set us a part in a certain area of our life, do you honestly think He wants to leave the fighting up to us? Now I hope you know that I am not asking you to not stand up for what is right or that we should not take a stand against sin..... Of course we should! I am talking about a heart issue. Something where you are not letting go and letting God take 100% control of the situation. Something where you are yelling ..... "I am right! God told me to do this! You are crazy for thinking I'm crazy!! And above all, I've never been in jail and left my child all alone --- I promise!"

If this is an area of concern for you - pray these verses today. Pray for the people involved. Ask God to show them His heart in this are while also asking Him to continue to change your heart's attitude regarding those who are opposing you. Keep a journal of your prayer concerns ..... be still, do not be afraid, watch the Lord fight for you and anticipate His deliverance. Let me know how He moves.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tears at the Hair Salon

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Luke 12:7

Cassidy's New Hair Style

Even though the girls are just 6 & 8 years old, for years and years - they have gone with me to the Hair Salon. As much work as I have done to my hair, ha - I can be at the salon for up to three hours. So, we literally make a day of it. While I'm getting color and such, the girls get a wash, cut and style. They love it and surprisingly behave for that long of a time!

Well, it was Salon Day and I started early in the morning asking the girls what they wanted to have done. Savannah, 8, wanted some bangs this time. Not my favorite thing - they are so hard to work with - but I agreed. Cassidy, 6, really shocked me. "I think I want my hair short." Well, short to her was at her shoulders. Her hair at this time was mid-back, very long. It's not like Cassidy to want to be different. She often copies her sister and doesn't always make such brave statements. So, I applauded her for stepping out of her comfort zone and I agreed with her as well. I could live with should length.

So - I go first at the Salon and get my color and foil and the Hairdresser places me under the dryer. I've reviewed with him Cassidy's wishes stating - SHOULDER length. So from across the room I see Cassidy hop up in the chair. She is smiling ear to ear and thrilled to be getting her hair cut (she enjoys Salon Day the most between the girls I think!). Then, everything after that is like a slow motion movie to me.

Cassidy's hair is wet and the Hairdresser pulls it back into nearly a pony tail and then, snip. From across the room I can see the back of her neck and I start to panic. It was like in my mind - I was leaping out from under the dryer (all in slow motion), yelling "NNNNOOOOOOOO!!!!" and sliding across the slick black salon floor on my stomach with my arm stretched out as if to catch her long beautiful locks of hair before they hit the ground. ----- As if I could put it back on??!!

So I start saying to myself. "Don't cry. You can't cry. If you cry, she will cry. Wait, is she crying? Oh no! If she cries - I will cry!!!" It was the worst 5 seconds of my life. I keep looking at her sweet little face in the mirror as he continues to snip and add layers to my 6 year olds hair! Her facial expression has not changed. It's as if her smile is frozen. I start to wonder if she is even blinking!! But, she doesn't cry. I take a deep breath and decided that we will make it through this.

When her "style" was done, she whispered in my ear (not wanting to offend our stylist!), "Mommy, this isn't what I was wanting." I replied, "I know. It's not what Mommy thought you were getting either, but it looks adorable on you and I really like it. You look fabulous!"

As I looked at my little toothless new short hair styled little girl - I thought about all my worries for her. If I can't protect her from the hairdresser and a bad hair cut --- what's going to happen to her in the real world???? When I saw that first snip, I was terrified. As she starts kindergarten this fall, I'm terrified. I can't explain how she is "different", she just is. She has a hard time learning, she can not follow directions hardly at all - doctors and therapist admit they "see something that's not right" but can't diagnose exactly what it is. She often gets words turned around or calls an object by the wrong name. I'm terrified about .... will she fit in? Will the other kids laugh at her when something doesn't come easy to her? Will she pass Kindergarten --- she's already 6!!??

But I need to take all these fears, all these concerns and replace them with:

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

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

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken..... He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:1-2; 62:7-8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

And the scriptures could go on and on. Yes, I am initially fearful about my sweet Cassidy and her future. But, I can not live or dwell in fear. And anytime a fearful thought arises, I must replace that with God's Word. I'm so thankful to know that God is Sovereign in all He does. He has a purpose for her life. He knows the hairs on her head (even though they are all shorter now!).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

You're kidding me! I'm old?

"Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage."
Psalm 84:5

I hope that you had a great 4th of July. I had a very eye opening weekend!

Just earlier this week I was telling Russ how I feel just like the young Moms at our church. The ones who have only be married a short while and have just had their first child --- I still feel just like one of them! I actually think of myself as their "peer".

Well, this weekend I was enjoying the 4th of July sales at the Disney Store and had found some steals for my kids ($2.99 t-shirts!!) As the young girl behind the counter rang up my items, she said the strangest thing to me. Very politely she commented, "Oh, you must be buying for your grand kids." Completely stunned - I started thinking ...... what about me looks grandmotherish today? Is it my new highlights --- they are very blond, maybe they are so blond, she thinks they are white! I know I've been using my moisturizer ..... my wrinkles can't be that deep, can they??!! I couldn't think on my feet - how in the world do you respond to something like this??? So, I said, "No, these are for my children. My oldest is only 8." Then, I thought .... OK Ginger, that was great! Make the young girl feel as terrible as possible. The entire scene was very uncomfortable and a complete nightmare! She tried to quickly recover and reply, "Oh, well, my mom never really bought us stuff - our grandmother always did, so I just thought since you had a lot of stuff it was for your grandchildren." Bless her heart, that was not a good save.

So, I walked away - with reality hitting me in the face. Nope, I'm obviously not peers with the young girls at church after all.

Recently in a Bible Study we were asked to write down the number of years that we had been on a pilgrimage with God. Meaning, at what age did you accept Christ and start your journey with Him. I have very clear memories of my decision at age 9. Actually, my Spiritual Birthday is just a few days away. But, I have never thought about how many years I've been a Christian before. I was surprised to learn that I had been on my pilgrimage with God for 25 years! YIKES! That's a long time --- that's actually how old I feel (or felt before my bubble burst at the Disney Store!) Now some of you might be laughing at me because your Spiritual pilgrimage already doubles mine in years (and here I am kinda complaining of "age"). And, I just want you to know that in so many ways --- I can't wait to be you! What wisdom and stories you have to share about our Lord Jesus Christ:) And now that I'm aware of this concept of being on a pilgrimage --- I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for where this journey leads for the next 80 years!

So, these events really got me thinking ..... how have I grown? what experiences has He used to shape me over these 25 years? how often have I been obedient? how often have I heard His voice on this pilgrimage? how much longer will my journey continue?

I wish that years ago I had understood this concept. It makes so much sense now! I've always wanted to "run with perseverance the race marked out" for me - Heb. 12:1 And, fix my eyes on the prize, our Lord Jesus - Heb. 12:2. And, finish the race well. BUT, all this time - I've been missing the process, the pilgrimage! Where I am now --- I'm not staying! Whatever problem, crisis or even sorrow that I am experiencing today is preparing me to finish the race well.

Psalm 84:5, "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." I want my heart to be set on pilgrimage. I don't want to wallow in what's taking place today. Yes, I need to address today - I can't ignore today, with His strength I can face it - whatever "it" is! BUT, the great news is that I have the promise of today leading me towards the next level in my relationship with Christ. Oh Lord, please help me not to be so focused on "finishing well" that I miss all the details in between that are so important to the process of how I get to the end!!

So, here I am. 34ish with a wonderful husband and three great kids. I still can't deny that I feel only 25:) But I'm looking forward to this journey. When I think about how my love for the Lord has truly grown in recent years - I get goose bumps to think about loving Him even more! Knowing Him even more! Remembering in the hard times - that I'm only passing through and in all things - He will be glorified.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Salvation Story

"The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."

Acts 11:21

OK - I know I have some explaining to do:( I looked at the date of my last post and yelled "YIKES!" Boy, our summer has been the most hectic ever. I need school to start to get a break!!!

I have so much to tell you that it's been hard to know where to start. We have had all kinds of things happen in our family from Cassidy pulling her two front teeth, Jamison being potty trained (well, sort of --- at 3 1/2 years old I'll take whatever I can get!), Savannah going to New York, all kinds of new exciting ministry opportunities ..... But, I had to start with the best thing.

As you know with my writing - I need to share some background first! When I had Savannah and started staying home, I was asked to work in Vacation Bible School. I somehow weaseled my way out of it because we all know that no one is busier than a new Mom with one child! (Now, don't send me any ugly notes --- I'm just kidding! Well, kind of! Ha) But seriously, at that time I felt like my world was upside down! I had to deal with one child all day everyday and I did not want to take on any more ---- especially someone else's kids! Besides, I was ministering in "other ways".

Several years passed, and by the time Cassidy was pre-school age I kinda made an appearance at VBS. I willingly helped two days, but needed "my time" the rest of the week. And believe me, my prideful heart was very proud of my two days where I "suffered for the cause of Christ"!

By the time Jamison arrived, God had really been doing a number in my heart (thank you, Lord!). I realized that I had a gift of teaching not only adults, but children. I think it's my drama background that allows me to be a little silly with them. And - I discovered that I really did like other people's children after all! Hey, it wasn't that bad:) Since these gifts were God given, I needed to be using BOTH of them to be obedient in His calling for my life. I regret now that it took several years for me to figure that out.

So, three years ago I started teaching the Bible Story to the 1st-6th grade during VBS and fell in love with doing that. I enjoy getting actors to create the story if needed, making props, doing neat little activities so that the story really stays with the kids. I've also been asked these past few years to council with children who want to make decisions during that week to try to discern if they are truly ready to accept Christ.

OK - now - fast forward to 2008! I'm working with 4th grade this year (when I'm not teaching my story) and the first day I meet Devon. Devon is a rough and tough little dude - you can tell by the red bandanna wrapped around his Mohawk. He isn't the most disruptive in my class, but does his share. So, I make myself acquainted with Devon and decide that we will be pals this week. Devon is cool with that so we "hang" for the week.

One GREAT thing about out church is how open we are to the community. Every year we have far more visitors to VBS than our own children. We run near 200 during that week and we aren't a large church! I knew that Devon was not a member of Parkway and I encouraged him everyday to be sure to come back.

Well, on day four we have our "Salvation Story". Our Children's Minister does this and very simply and clearly lays out the plan of Salvation. Another thing I LOVE about our church is our sensitivity to make sure that these are individual and true decisions. We have a process of screening kids at the gate, so to speak, asking why they came down front. We then sort according to their need. We also have a wonderful follow up system, including a talk with the parents. Yes, we have some that just come and don't know why. We have some that come because their best friend came. BUT - we also have many real decisions.

From the counseling room, I saw Devon and my heart leaped! I had been praying for him all day. I could see his tone turning more serious through the day --- as the entire day was leading up to the story of Jesus on the cross. I motioned to the "gate keeper" so that I could be the one to speak with Devon. As we talked - he seemed just a little confused and was wanting to know about "Holy Water"! I was thinking, "Gee kid, I'm good old Southern Baptist. I don't even know about Holy Water!" I wanted him to accept and understand so much - be felt a check in my Spirit to be cautious. I continued to talk to him about the plan of salvation and said, "Devon, I want to make sure that you understand exactly what you are doing. I feel like we need to just pray today that Jesus will let you know without a doubt when you are ready to become a Christian." He was fine with that and we prayed.

On Friday, as soon as Devon arrives - he was grinning from ear to ear. "Ms. Ginger - I know I want to become a Christian. I'm ready to obey God and the Bible." So, we took off . I asked him a few questions and could tell by the joy in his eyes, that this time - Jesus was calling him. He prayed and immediately began telling everyone - all day- that he was a Christian. I am as serious as I can be when I say I physically saw a change on this little boys face. My eyes are filled with tears again as I recall his expression.

BUT - the story doesn't stop there. I found out that his mother had been praying for her kids to go to church. She felt something in her heart saying - "You don't need to just send them, you need to go too." So, just a few weeks before VBS at the invitation of a friend - she came to our church and on her first visit accepted Christ. She continued to pray for her kids and could see something taking place in Devon during the week of VBS. She was amazed at God's work in her family - she was not raised in church and knows very little (but is eager to learn) about the Bible. She couldn't get over that God would work so fast!!! Then, today Devon, his Mom and his Grandmother came to church. His Grandmother had barely walked in the doors of our sanctuary and couldn't stand it. She couldn't wait until the service started ---- let alone the end for an invitation! One of our Minister's just "happened" to walk by (which, we all know was not an accident!) - she accepted Christ right there. All three came down front during decision time to make their public profession of faith.

Now the moral of this blog is not to guilt anyone into teaching at VBS. I know I made a joke earlier about being so busy with one kid - BUT the fact for me was that I was not in tune to where God had wanted me. The truth is, I wasn't really even asking for His opinion on the matter. It makes my heart sick, to think about what I missed. I do not want that to happen EVER again. I don't know about you, but I want to be smack in the middle of what God is doing.

I don't want to be a "yes man" at church ---- doing everything that someone asks me. But, I do want to discern and say yes to everything that God asks me. I want His hand to be with me, so that many will believe and turn to the Lord.

When I think about it - that is flat out a scary thing. That means I will have to be different. I will have to live set apart. I will have to do things that are sometimes uncomfortable and step out in faith. I will be refined like silver. But I am learning that "The way up, is down". If something is honestly flat out scary - than I need to be flat down on my face in front of Jesus. Pouring my every fear into His tender ears that are so eager to hear from me.

"Dear Lord, I have so much going on in my life - everyone does. But this verse in Acts, stuck out to me today like a sore thumb and You know that I needed it. God, I've never considered myself an evangelist of sorts --- but, I am called to be one. All of us, every Christian - God when your hand is with us - people will believe. Not just a few, but a great number. In my speaking ministry - how I pray that You alone will be glorified and that a great number will come to know you because of our ministry team. In my personal life - how I pray that my marriage will reflect You. Father, I thank you for Russ and all that he means to me. Not only is he an amazing Christian husband, he is an awesome Dad! I do not deserve the blessings You have given me. Lord, in my marriage and as we raise our children --- I pray that a great number of people will come to know You. God, this is scary to say - but use my children. I see a true missionary heart in Savannah. Send them out to share your Word. Use our family to bring glory to Your Kingdom. Oh God, you don't need me, my husband or even my kids - but I thank You that You, a Holy God, are so willing to extend to us a personal invitation to not only live in eternity with You, but to also on earth - have an abundant life in service to You. Amen"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Anticipating the Voice of God

"I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me."
Habakkuk 2:1

Oh gang! I LOVE this verse. Honestly, I wasn't very familiar with it until last summer when I was able to teach Priscilla Shirer's Bible Study, Discerning the Voice of God. It was one of the verses shared on Day 1 of the study and I have found myself clinging to it a gazillion times since then. AND, I am needing to hear from God in so many ways as of late that I have pulled out this study to just re-do during my personal quiet time.

The study I just completed at home was on prayer. It was wonderful! It's been years since I've done a prayer study and it was just what I needed. I had never really thought about how your prayer life and your time in God's Word relate to each other so much. Obviously, I know that I need to be in His Word and I know I need to pray. And, over the years I have heard people with the most precious prayers and thought --- Boy, I'd LOVE to pray like that.

As I thought about these people - the one thing I've noticed they have in common is their LOVE for God's Word. They don't just glance at it on Sunday - they are breathing it. As I strive to spend time with Him daily - I have noticed a significant change in my prayer life. I use to NEVER want to pray out loud. Now, it is a joy. I use to get sleepy during the long prayers of others (sorry - just being honest!) and now I don't!!!! I am praying along with them for as long as they are! I still have so much work for God to complete in me in this area, but I am so thankful for the progress that He is making in me.

Also - I was once the typical "God, I need..... Can you..... Give me....." In my prayer time asking for so many things. I would just get into an "asking routine" and after I asked, I was done. I didn't even anticipate that He would answer. I knew God answers prayers and thought "Oh well, if it's His will He will give me what I'm asking." BUT - I wasn't concerend IF what I wanted was what He wanted AND I didn't EXPECT to hear from Him. I wasn't eager about His response. I wasn't listening for Him to actually speak to me about something that was possibly very trivial.

Here is a quote from A.W. Tozer. "God will speak to the hearts of those who prepare themselves to hear, and conversely, those who do not so prepare themselves will hear nothing even though the Word of God is falling upon their outer ears every Sunday."

God has so changed my thought process! You can not have God's Word without Prayer OR Prayer without knowing God's Word. That is just they way it works. Yes - we are all at different points in our spiritual walk - but we shouldn't be staying where we are today. We should be growing in our knowledge of Him (the Bible) AND growing in our personal relationship with Him (prayer). AND -here is the kicker!!! (sorry - lots of "and"s today!!!) We should be anticipating that He WILL speak to us. Standing on our guard post - stationing ourselves and keeping watch to see what He will speak.

I know I've kinda harped on "asking" God for things. And, that is not all wrong. God wants us to ask. What are you asking Him for? Do you need guidance with your job situation? Have a difficult child? Need money to get the bills paid? Is your spouse not a believer in Christ? The list could go on and on.

This is my challenge for you today. 1) Spend time in God's Word - make sure what you are asking Him for lines up with the character of God. If you need direction in this area, contact me and I can give you some great scripture references. 2) Pray. I mean get gut honest with God. Tell Him how great He is. Ask Him for forgiveness on how you fall short. Tell Him your need. 3) Anticipate hearing Him. Be looking for Him to move - EXPECT it. It will most likely come in a way that you would never imagine. 4) TELL ME! I can't wait to hear how God is working in your life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Man, Life Sure is BUSY!

"The disciples gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even get a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So, they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place."
Mark 6:30-32

I shared with a group of ladies I was speaking to last Saturday that for me - May has been just as busy as the Christmas Season! We've had awards day, field day, spring music programs and graduations --- along with soccer games, cheerleading tryouts and a trip to the ER!! The trip to the hospital has been one of many for little Jamison - he is fine, just ALL BOY!!!!

So in the midst of all this craziness - I've got to share a story with you. This story didn't happen this month - but it was another "season" where life was just in sane and how my oldest daughter is scarred for life due to her mother's scattered brain!!

I have two girls, my 2nd grade daughter, Savannah who attends an elementary school close to home and a 6 year old daughter, Cassidy who was in a pre-K class at another elementary school.

So two girls, two separate schools, but in the same county. And – every year the schools have a county wide drug free week called Red Ribbon Week. And during the course of this week the kids get to wear something different and fun each day (like silly unmatched socks, sunglasses and so on.).

So – I receive my two notes from each school explaining the week’s dress code. Some days the girls dress the same and some days are different. You guys know where this is headed I’m sure!

Ok – it had been an unusual week and I had been doing a pretty good balancing act until Thursday. That’s when Cassidy (my younger daughter) and then my baby boy came down with a stomach bug at the same time!! So – I’m rushing around on Thursday knowing that it’s going to be a long night. I’m getting as much prepared for Friday as I can. So –I look at the paper telling me what Savannah is to wear on Friday and it’s called “Wacky Tacky Day”. Which means, you are to purposefully not match any of your clothes. The crazier and more mismatched the better.

Well, I yell upstairs to Savannah so she can help me by finding her own clothes -- and she has a blast in her closet finding the coolest mismatched outfit she can find for the next day. Stuff like that is really up her ally. She has a red sock, a blue sock, a green paisley skirt, an orange shirt and has laid out some eccentric hair accessories.

I was right, Thursday night was horrible. I’ve had zero sleep and I’m driving Savannah to school in a daze and as she gets out of the car --- I think, “Uuh – That’s strange. Not many kids dressed up today.” and I’m off!

And it was not until oh – 15 min. before Savannah was to get off the bus that afternoon, while I was disinfecting our kitchen – I really stopped and looked at the Red Ribbon Week schedule posted on my fridge and I could have died!! You guessed it. It was not “Wacky Tacky Day” at Savannah’s school. It was sports apparel day. “Wacky Tacky Day” was at Cassidy’s school, but she was sick so didn’t go to school that day. And, to make things worse for Savannah --- they had an assembly in the gym for the entire school K-5th grade. And she was the line leader for her grade and had to walk in front of everyone around their gymnasium.

It was an honest mistake, but one that was made because I was overwhelmed, rushed, frustrated and didn’t even slow down enough to read the correct sheet of paper posted right on my refrigerator.

Now, I could maybe get away with saying I had sick babies and that could happen to anyone (trying to make myself feel better). But, the truth of the matter is my calendar of craziness the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before my babies were sick on Thursday was the root of the problem. Because I had so many things crammed in to my schedule for the entire week – when the unexpected happened – the bottom fell out!

It takes tremendous faith, discipline and persistence to manage our time and MAKE time to rest from our assigned daily activities. In Mark, we see the disciples doing GOOD things. But, they are so busy they don't even get a chance to eat!! It takes the wisdom of Jesus to come along side them and say - He guys, what you are doing is great. But it's time to come away with Me to a quiet place and rest.

The truth is, our stress level increases with our effort to do more and be more. With an increased drive to “get it all done,” we’re paying a high price. And we actually reduce our ability to accomplish tasks efficiently. It gets increasingly difficult to make decisions and takes longer to complete even simple tasks. We get forgetful and easily distracted, along with becoming just plain worn out!

On your list of "To Do's" for Today - did you make time to rest with Jesus?

Monday, May 19, 2008

God's Calling You To Move Where?????

"For Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them. And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"

Romans 10: 13-15

Here is a picture taken just last night. On the right is my daughter Cassidy and on the left is her sweet friend Shelby Fuller. I look at this picture today with so many emotions. Mostly excitement, joy, thankfulness, but with just a touch of selfishness.

You see, Cassidy's sweet friend, Shelby, has a precious family that is very dear to my heart. Her father, Greg, and mom, Shelly, came to our church over 3 years ago to serve as our Youth Pastor. Shelly was very pregnant at the time with their son Nash (a great friend to my little Jamison!) and I immediately wanted to get to know her more and make her feel welcomed. We clicked very quickly and an amazing friendship developed. We've laughed and cried together ---- and what I LOVE about Shelly is that there is more laughing than crying!! We've "added" to our family over these last several years. Me, just one little man, Jamison. Shelly, well...... they arrived at our church with just Shelby and they have added ----- Nash, Noelle, and Eden (who is just 5 months old).

Shelly has taught me to pray. As I have come to her about various concerns over the years, she has always been faithful to just stop and pray for me at that moment. With kids all over her, I've heard her say, "Kids, Mom's going to pray with Ms. Ginger now - so don't get too loud." That is something very few friends in my life have ever done with me before. I've been so thankful for the accountability group that we have been a part of. Shelly, another friend - Sondra, and I started praying together every week years ago. With the additions of children - it's been harder to get together, but I always know that both of them are just a phone call away and are willing to pray ASAP!

Something else that I have always loved about Shelly's family is just their pure hearts and obedience to God's will for their life. I think of the old gospel song .... "Wherever He Leads, I'll Go" That sums up the Fuller family. In every aspect of their life - in every decision they have made - I can testify that they simply say, "God, wherever You lead we will go."

Yesterday they made the official announcement in church that they would be leaving "us" and moving to Seattle. Yes, Seattle. This is something they have been praying about for months. And Greg will be involved with Church Planting in that area. Did you know that (I think I'm sharing this number right) over 90% of Seattle is unchurched?? That sounds crazy to me since I live in the Bible belt. All I've ever know is that there is supposed to be a church and a bank on every corner!!! And, when Shelly came to me to share the possibility of their move --- I knew they would go. It's just built into their character. As scary as it is - as far away from family as it is - they are more than willing to depend on God for their every need and just step out in pure obedience.

I will ALWAYS, thank my God every time I remember the Fullers. The example they have been for me and my family --- it's just immeasurable. It will only be on the other side of Heaven,m that they can grasp all the lives that have been changed just at our church alone. Oh, how beautiful are the feet that bring the Good News!

Today, I want us to think about two things.

1) Say a prayer today for that person in your life who has been a "Fuller" for you. As a Christian, God brings people into our life to encourage us and to help us grow --- pray for that person today.

2) Maybe you aren't being asked to move to Seattle, but is God asking something BIG from you. It's BIG to you, because it's an area where you have to move completely out of your comfort zone and there seems to be more questions than answers right now! If so, ask God to continue to direct you. Ask Him to confirm and close doors and tell Him .... that you are willing to step out in pure obedience.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Children, Obey Your Parents -- Parents Don't EXASPERATE!

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:1-4

I’ve mentioned before in my blogs how my girls are huge Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus fans. Well, a few weeks ago in the news Miley had a week where she had a run of racey pics --- professional as well as amateur.

I knew that the story was about to come on the news and Savannah, 8, was in the room. I was pondering …. Should I send her out OR Should I let her watch?? I decided on the later and sat down beside her so we could talk about it during and after the newscast.

After watching what had taken place, Savannah said (all of this in one breath by the way – she was very concerned), “Mom! What were here parents thinking??? I mean, where in the world were they during all of this! Oh no! She’s going to turn out just like Brittany Spears!!”

The fact that Miley’s parents were around for some of the photo’s is neither here nor there for the point of this story --- the fact that my 8 year old daughter grasps the need for 1) Parents to set boundaries and 2) Children are to obey them --- that is the point.

Over the years, in reading numerous parenting books – I’ve always read those words …”Children desire boundaries” but this time I wasn’t just reading some words in a book – I was hearing from my own daughter! She was saying I EPXPECT you to set rules and I know I need to obey.

So, we see here in Ephesians one of the 10 Commandments and it says that it is the first one with a promise. Children, obey your parent AND you will enjoy long life on earth. BUT we can’t stop this scripture right there. We need to continue to the next verse. After the command to children – we see some advice for the parents!

Do not exasperate your children, but train them --- teach them the ways of the Lord. Do you really know what exasperate means? It means to infuriate, frustrate, to make angry, wind up, annoy, to drive mad, to worsen. YIKES!

If we are teaching our children God’s Word and living by example the life God has called us too – if we DO NOT exasperate them – it will make it so much easier for them to obey.

Some of you reading my feel that the words in Ephesians sound to good to be true. Maybe you feel that you’ve already missed the boat because now your children are older. Maybe your relationship with your children, for whatever reason, was severed years ago. Well, let me offer you some hope today.

Regardless of circumstances, pray this for your child today:

“I pray that out of His glorious riches that God may strengthen (child’s name) with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in (child’s name) heart through faith. And I pray that, (child’s name) being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Chirst, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that (child’s name) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Our God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or can imagine – it is our prayer today that you create in us, the parents, a pure heart. A heart that desires You and You alone so that we may teach (child’s name) your ways and not exasperate our children. Father, we pray the words found in Isaiah where you say …. I will put My Spirit into your children; My blessing will be like a stream of water flowing over your family. One will say, “I belong to the Lord, “… another will write on his hand, “The Lord’s.”. Dear God, we ask today that first – we will say I Belong To The Lord and then Father, that (child’s name) will be able to say that also. Hear our cry, precious Lord. Amen.”

Friday, May 9, 2008

Speak Lord, Your Servant Is Listening

Glad to see your back! Ok – so this is where we left off yesterday. In case you didn’t get to read II Samuel 3: 1-10 I’ve got it here for you.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 On night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone, out and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got p and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Did you catch how many times God called before Samuel recognized His voice?? 4 times! In verses 4, 6, 8 and then 10. Boy, if anything – you can see that our God is persistent.

Can you think of a time God was calling you and you were not really sure what was going on – but He kept at it? Over a 5 year period, God called me multiple times regarding a certain area of life. That area was SPEAKING! He was persistent for 5 years until I said God – this must really be you speaking to me. I thought that because it was something that I LOVED to do – God wouldn’t use it. It was such a strong desire in me that I thought --- this could not be God’s desire! My thinking was that God calls you to stuff you dread because He wants you to depend on Him to pull you through. It never dawned on me that God would place desires in our hearts that line up with His will and His purpose for us. (duh…. Thus the verse ….. “and He will give you the desires of your heart…. – I’m so hard headed!)

Eli was the one who realized that it was God speaking to Samuel. And, I am so thankful for the “Eli” in my life! Not only did God use His Word, but He also used another believer to encourage me and explain to me what she could see taking place in my life. She was the featured speaker at our Ladies Luncheon one October day and I was asked by the committee to be the brief testimony giver. After the luncheon, she came up to me encouraging me to pursue speaking or teaching and making jokes that I should have been the featured speaker that day!

So, when we think we hear God speaking and then circumstances of events or other people confirm what He is saying, AND what we are hearing LINES UP WITH GOD’S WORD - we need to be on the lookout for God’s direction!

But, there is something else that I don’t want us to over look today. ………..

Have you ever thought God was telling you to do something and so you step out in faith --- then think, something is not right! I’ve made a mistake!! Did I hear God correctly?

I taught a class not to long ago (created by Rick Warren) that helps Christians discern their gifts for ministry (ministry meaning God’s purpose for your life). And, one of the things stressed in this class was: Finding where you are to be used in ministry is mainly discovered by trail and error. And, I can agree with that. I did 10,000 things for my church before I realized that God wanted me to teach! That teaching lead to a speaking ministry. It was crazy! I would prayerfully consider each position and think that I was doing what was “right”. But once I got into it – honestly, I would just stink at it! I did this not only with church activities but in other areas of life as well. I knew that I enjoyed public speaking – which is most people’s nightmare! So, for that reason, I tried selling BeautiControl, Legal Services – you name it I probably tired to sell it (thinking – I can do this, I love to stand in front of people and talk!!)! But the good news is that with every prayer regarding ministry opportunities at my church OR even life situations ---- with every step that I took in what I considered being obedient to God’s call ---- it was all to bring me to this point. To finally surrender the call to serving Him in a full time Speaking Ministry.

It was so relieving to me when I finally realized that I’m not always going to get it right. God might be calling and I misunderstand or just miss hearing Him. BUT, God is persistent. Samuel missed hearing Him 3 times and on the 4th time – got it right. His purpose for me was to teach His Word. Looking back, I’m so thankful that I wandered in the wilderness! He did not give up on me.

Right now, I’m at another point in my life of questioning God’s calling in a specific area. It’s something that is so crazy – that only God could accomplish it! It’s a desire I’ve had for many years, but I’m at that same point ….. “God, is this my desire or yours!”

Are any of you right here with me? Is God stretching your faith? Let’s decide right now to …. Pray with out ceasing, to pray – not my will, but Yours be done, to say to Him – speak Lord, you servant is listening.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

He Calls You By Name

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
Isaiah 45:3

Not long ago I was sitting by myself (surprisingly!) just watching the kids play, when I see out of the corner of my eye - Savannah realizes that I'm not busy and she had that inquisitive look in her eye. She walks over, sits in my lap and asks - "Mom, I know that God can speak all the languages like English, Spanish and French, but what language does He speak the most? Or, which one do you think is His favorite?"

Several times a week I get a question like that - AND, I know she is getting more and more tired of me saying, "Honey, I don't know. You will have to wait until you get to heaven!" So, this time - I thought on my feet (again, surprisingly!) and responded, "Honey, I'm sorry - I don't know. You will just have to ask God when you get to heaven. BUT, my guess would be that He really likes English because that's the way He speaks to you. He speaks to you here (pointing to her heart) and He speaks to you through the Bible."

She jumps to her feet and shouts, "You are telling me! The other day I was being really mean to people and unkind and then in Sunday School I read in my Bible where God says to be kind to everyone. I knew He was talking to me so I had to start being kind again!!" And, off she ran.

Here I was so proud of my wise words, when in reality --- I didn't tell her anything that she didn't already know.

Just think, God calls us by name. He desires to speak to us. If you are listening - he has something that He wants YOU to do --- and you are the only person He is calling, at this time, to take on that particular task. Remember in my previous post -- we are his masterpiece created to complete His works. Will you #1 hear and will you #2 accept? OR, will He need to find another who is listening and who is willing.

It's awesome to me to think that one day in Sunday School - God called Savannah by name. She's only 8! But she heard Him, her tender heart was listening.

It is my prayer today that you recognize God when He is calling your name. Sometimes that is not easy. In the book of I Samuel 3:1-10 we see God calling to Samuel, but it is not until the 4th time that Samuel recognized His voice.

I can speak from experience that our God is persistent.....

Come back tomorrow - read I Samuel 3: 1-10 today, and let's see what God has to say to us!