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!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Visual Look At Spiritual Warfare

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 6:12

Yesterday our youth group did a wonderful music program called "Free in Christ". They did a similar version of the skit/song that you will see a link too. It is POWERFUL! I ran across this video back in the fall - it was right after one of our youth took his own life. Which, made this all the more moving. This is a MUST to see.

Please take time to watch this clip. I tried and tried to put it on my site so you could just watch it from here --- but those of you who know me, well --- you aren't surprised that I couldn't figure out how to do it!

The video is a little slow in the beginning, but hang on! You will be so glad you watched.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We are God's Workmanship Part II

You are who you are for a reason
You are part of an intricate plan
You are a precious and perfect unique design
Called God's special Woman or Man

You look like you look for a reason
Our God made no mistake
He knit you together within the womb
You are just what He wanted to make

The parents you had were the ones He chose
And no matter how you may feel
They were custom designed with God's plan in mind
And they bear the Master's seal

No, that trauma you faced was not easy
And God wept that it hurt you so
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you'd grow

You are who you are for a reason
You've been formed by the Master's rod

You are who you are, beloved
Because there is a God

Friday, May 2, 2008

We are God's Workmanship

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

God’s plans were prepared before we were born! Not only does Eph. 2 tell us that but so does Psalm 139:16 “ Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written before one of them came to be.”

But, we have a choice to make. We must decide to spend our time discovering and aligning ourselves with the purposes of God OR doing what we want to do ---- and then being “good church folk”, asking God to bless it!

There is a precious couple at our church with a powerful testimony and I want to share that with you today.

This couple struggled with infertility for years. I remember being on a Sunday School Class retreat and I was pregnant with my first, which was a struggle for us as well, and she and I had a very long discussion on evening about doctors, and testing and God’s plan and God giving you the desires of your heart ….. it was intense. And I remember feeling her pain and praying often after that for her and her husband.

At the time of this conversation, they had been struggling around 6 years. Well, several more years passed. They had continued their journey of medications and procedures – only to have them fail. Then one day they realized that they had never really given their situation over to God. They had been tying everything on their own --- never once asking God if that was what God wanted for them. They had not been praying over God’s direction for their family. They had taken matters into their own hands, and as I mentioned earlier, wanted God to bless it.

As a couple, they cam to the realization that they NEEDED God and put their desires in God’s hands. After 11 years, (and with out medications) she conceived and discovered that she was pregnant on Christmas Day! But, this is only the beginning of their testimony. This sweet couple was blessed with a son. And, when their son was only 3 years old – it was discovered that their only child, the child they had waited on for 11 years had a malignant brain tumor.

The amazing thing is that this couple never questioned “Why, God?” They had settled that years ago. Once they made the decision to involve God --- to earnestly seek His will for their family and not their own (before their son was ever born!), they knew that IF God blessed them with a child that this sweet baby had been hand picked by God to be placed in their loving care. They understood that God never makes mistakes and He has a reason for everything He creates.

That young couple fully understood 2 things:
1) We are God’s masterpiece, His workmanship
When God created their son, Jackson – God did not create a broken child. Yes, Jackson had a brain tumor. Yes – I have a child with severe anxiety. Yes – my adorable nephew who is 3 years old is deaf, can not speak and just learned to walk. BUT, those things did not occur because God was not paying attention the day He knit them together. Those children are a one of a kind masterpiece – the same as you and I.

2) God created us fully equipped in Christ to handle what His will requires
Jackson’s mother shared that weeks before his diagnosis, she knew something wasn’t right to the point where she was restless. And on the day that the news came she was obviously not prepared to hear something so devastating, but at the same time - with her nursing background and with her God given “motherly intuition” she knew Jackson’s results could be serious. And now, looking back, they see how God was equipping them to handle this storm.

As of today, Jackson is cancer free. However, for 5 years he must have an MRI every three months. His next MRI is May 13th.

Can you imagine living your life in 3 month cycles? For me, instead of counting my blessings like them – I would be counting down the days until the next poor report ( I can be negative that way!).

But, they take life one day at a time. Knowing God has a plan and only God knows their future. As for their future, they recently found out they are expecting again! And you will never believe when?!? She is due in December.

As we seek to hear God’s voice and discover His plan --- we must believe that He has a sovereign plan. And this is not anything that we can accomplish by our own power. This is a divinely created purpose for our life that can only b accomplished through us by His power.