Monday, November 30, 2009

The Blind Side

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
Isaiah 58:6-7

We’ve been talking about what God requires of us, us – meaning fellow believers in Christ. In my last post I shared what God had required of my friend, Jen Gash, of Sweet Sleep. For her, it is a life devoted to providing beds for orphans in some of the darkest places in the world. Now, don’t click off this page just yet because you have no desire to travel to “dark places”! Hang on just a second……

You see, we can find in God’s Word SPECIFIC ways of how He desires us to follow Him and live a life set apart from the world so that He alone can be glorified. Most of us can rattle off a list of things like, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Love the Lord with all your heart,” and “Take up your cross and follow me.” In these three quotes alone, God is telling us how to live an abundant life on this earth. OK – still, don’t click off just yet. We are getting to the good part!

For example, ALL believers are required to “love” our neighbor (found in Leviticus & several time in the New Testament). Now surely you know that “neighbor” doesn’t mean the person literally living right next door to you. Jesus is talking about mankind in general. So, how do we do that? The Bible doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor by baking a pie for a widow on their birthday.” Or “Love your neighbor by keeping your kids off their lawn because you know they are really picky about how it looks!” Or “Love your neighbor by building beds for orphans in dark places.” You see, the AWESOME thing about God’s Word is that yes – He is totally specific as to how we are to live. BUT – He wants to be even more specific and tell you step by step, “Ginger, this is how I want YOU, and You alone, to love your neighbor….” If we really desire to be all that God created and planned for us to be – we must do our part in looking into His Word, finding these specific callings He has for believers and then say, “OK, Lord, How do you want me to live this out?”

Above in Isaiah, we see yet another calling – another requirement for us in Christ. He lists 9 ways that He has chosen for us to show Him and a lost world that we are indeed followers of Chirst.

1) loose the chains of injustice
2) untie the cords of the yoke,
3) set the oppressed free
4) break every yoke
5) free the enslaved
6) feed the hungry
7) shelter the homeless
8) clothe the naked
9) acknowledge kinships (taking care of family)

Have you ever prayed and asked God how He wanted you to live out any of these?  Jen has.  He wants her to live a life, as I said earlier, devoted to the care for orphans.  Now, He probablly doesn't have that for you.  But what has He called YOU to do?

I watched the movie, The Blind Side, this weekend. It’s an amazing story of how a family in Memphis, TN lived out this very scripture. It’s a story of how God asked their family to do something very specific for Him. Of course Hollywood doesn’t get into all the “God stories”, but you understand that their beliefs play an important role as to why a very wealthy white family with two kids - choose to take in a homeless African American teenage boy.

As we were leaving the movie, the couple behind me started talking about the film. The lady said this, “I like the story line. But it’s hard for me to believe that somebody would do that for somebody else.”

Have believers become so much like the world, that when scripture is lived out, it is so far from the norm - that other’s find it hard to believe?

Freeing the enslaved, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked……etc, as a believer – this should be a way of life for us! This should not be because it’s the Holiday’s and we feel guilty about how much we have and sorry for those who don’t! It should not be odd to live this way on a daily basis! But, it is.

So, will you be an oddball with me? Let’s talk more in a few days:)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Unexpected E-mail; What God Requires

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them,and do not hide from relatives who need your help."
Isaiah 58:6-7

I recieved an e-mail from a dear friend today.  Her name is Jen Gash and she is the President and Founder of Sweet Sleep (an organization that builds beds for oprhans around the world). I had planned on using Is. 58 to continue my posting over the next week or so - talking about "What Does God Require from us?".  These were not the words I inteded to pen.  But God has said it best through Jen.  She is living out what God requires.
The way that Jen and I even met is a TOTAL God story to be shared in another post.  But for now, read her words below. Allow yourself to be in Jen's shoes.  And - if you dare, allow yourself to be an orphan in Gulu. 

"For nearly 22 years northern Uganda has been in a war-- a war which I have never known about until a few years ago. I had vaguely heard of "invisible children" or child soldiers or night commuters. Really all I knew was that a crazy evil man attacked villages at night, killing as many as possible and
kidnapping children to be in his rebel army. I knew that each day, at dusk, children would walk long distances to sleep in safe shelters so the rebels could not get to them at night. This was all I knew.

Earlier this year God changed all of that. God made it clear-in many ways---He was calling Sweet Sleep to work in Uganda....
Recently this war entered into a time of peace. I've been trying to learn about the plight of the children in this area. This rebel army, the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) would attack villages during the night. As they
attacked, LRA soldiers would kill as many adults as they could and they would force the children of these villages to kill their parents or be killed themselves. From there the children were kidnapped into the LRA army and forced to become child soldiers. These children have lived through tremendous atrocities.

In July, while our first team of 22 was providing beds to two orphanages six hours away from Gulu outside the capital city of Kampala, I took a day to travel to Gulu to see what Sweet Sleep had provided and to understand what more we could do. What I saw and learned that day has changed my life, and the ministry of Sweet Sleep

There are far too many things to share about that day. However, I do want to tell you one story: In Gulu I spent the day with 5 teenagers who had either been child soldiers or who had lost their parents, they took me from camp to camp showing me huts and some of the beds Sweet Sleep had provided. I had never been in a hut before and focused on taking in everything I could.

Actually, it was a little crazy to think I was in a hut in the middle of nowhere in east Africa. At one point in the afternoon we ducked through the doorway into another small hut. I looked around and saw it was just as all
the others: a hard dirt floor, curved walls made from mud and little rays of light coming in at the top where the wall met the simple straw roof. I stood there and looked at the contents of this hut: one little bed with a pink
blanket and one toothbrush somebody had woven in and out through the straw of the thatch ceiling. That was all. I asked a question I'd not yet asked, "Who lives here?" The answer that followed rocked my little world.  The teens told me that a 14-year old girl and her five younger brothers and
sisters lived there.

I heard their answer, but I didn't understand it. So, I asked, "Where are her parents and why have we only given them one bed?" The answer that came was dumbfounding to me. I learned that in the Gulu region there are still one million displaced people-people who have lost their homes and everything they owned---because of the war. I learned that three-quarters of those people are children living in child-headed households. Yes, read that again.

That's about 750,000 children with no parents or grandparents or even orphanage to protect or care for them.

This information struck something deep inside me. Spending the day watching and studying those 5 teenagers struck something even deeper. I kept asking myself what in the world our ministry could do there. I knew we couldn't give them back what had been taken away from them---we couldn't give them back their parents. I knew we couldn't take away what had been forced upon them---those children had watched as their families and villages had been brutalized.

What could we do? God and I wrestled with this for weeks and weeks and weeks. One of our driving verses at Sweet Sleep is the one God showed me on my first flight home from Moldova: Proverbs 3:24 which says, "they will lie down and not be afraid; they will lie down and their sleep will be sweet." Here, in Gulu, this verse just did not make sense to these children.

In the months that followed, God showed me another verse, also in Proverbs, that says, "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."

The answer, I realized, is that I had seen and had learned and was responsible to share their story with all of you so that you, too, would know and be able to respond. The answer for Sweet Sleep was that we respond just as we have always: we work together with everyone we can in order to find resources that will bring beds and hope to as many children as possible. This is the good news. It's such good news that hope
is coming to these children in the form of a bed which communicates to a child things about God's promises so that peace can slowly begin to come to their hearts.

So, we are moving on to bring true sweet sleep to these tired and traumatized little ones. We face a challenge before us that is greater than ever. It is our ministry's responsibility and challenge to connect the message of God's hope, His love, grace, forgiveness, protection, provision and redemption, to the beds which we will provide. And, to equip those children with scripture that they can begin to learn and memorize which will enable them to push out the fear that grips them at night----the time the rebels come. If they can lie in their new beds and know they are loved and protected and then claim a verse reminding them of this knowledge, they can begin to have little victories over the fear that grips them. And, peace and hope and love can slowly come to their little hearts. This is why I desperately need your help.

The decision to spend 3 weeks in Gulu over Christmas was made very recently and last week I was in Haiti working on future ministry opportunities there. Now that I'm back I'm faced with a harsh calendar that tells me I only have a few weeks to raise the money we need for these children to have beds. My hope is you can help me find people who want to do something great this Christmas. We are providing 450 beds and need 320 more. A bed in Gulu consists of a straw mat, a mattress, sheets, blanket and a mosquito net, for a cost of $88. Of that, $8 is for a treated mosquito net to help prevent children from being bitten by a life-threatening mosquito infected with this disease......"

Sweet Sleep

This is what God requires of Jen.  To minister to the orphans in Gulu.  The above verse says, "Only Jen Gash is to free the oppressed......"  Oh wait, nope.  Don't see a specific name there.  Huh? You guess that it means that you and I are supposed to be involved in feeding, clothing, sheltering..... the poor - the oppressed?  Looks like it to me.  So, what are you doing about all that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I DO the very thing I DO NOT want to do!!!

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Romans 7:15-17 (New International Version)

 I’ve walked most of my Christian life feeling like I’ve kinda got this Christian thing nailed down. I accepted Christ at age 9. I was a good teenage kid – very involved in my youth group. Went to a Christian college, married a pastor’s son. As an adult, I’ve gone to church regularly, led a women’s ministry and often teach Bible Studies. I stay away from “big” sins, I’m a good wife and good mom – I do devotions with my kids….

AND, I have recently realized that all of this that I’ve mentioned about myself has made me a member of an exclusive club. It’s a club called “Comfy Christianity”. I’m in a club that has tag lines and slogans such as “I’ll pray for you.” “I’m here if you need me.” And, “Bless your heart.”

Which in reality likely means:

1) As soon as you walk away from me, I’m going to forget your prayer request because first of all I’m just busy and secondly, I’ve got a ton of my own.

2) Please don’t need me – my plate is too full as it is.

3) And, too bad you are having a hard time right now.  I hate to tell you this but, life is just great for me right now.

If you listened closely, you would recall that all these comments I just made have one thing in common. It ALL comes back to “me”.

Now, when I make those kinds of comments, “I’ll pray for you” and so on --- my brain is not going: Don’t pray for anyone else only think of yourself!!!!  I don’t set out to have selfish intentions, but that is what they are. I think of what Paul says in Romans 7...I DO the very thing that I DO NOT want to do!

If I were not a Christian, I would still be a “good” person. IF Christ was not in my life – I would still not be a murder. I would not be robbing banks. I would still stay away from those “big” sins. I would be a decent wife and a good mom.  In short, I would look like the rest of the world.

Aside from my car not being in my driveway on Sunday’s and Wednesday nights – can my neighbor see any other change in me? 

You would have thought that after YEARS of Bible Study, I would have figured this out by now.  I really feel like a total dummy.  I've stayed at home since the birth of our daughter in 1999 - so no "witnessing" in the work place for me.  My friends all go to church.  And, it's a little difficult to share the Gospel with the world when you are always holed up in Bible Study.

Hummmm --- sure sounds like God Requires More....  Chew on Roman 7:15-17.  I'll be posting what is "required" soon.  Give you a hint - take a look at Micah 6:8:)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

House Rules: Avoid Trouble

"It is to a man's honor to avoid trouble." Proverbs 20:3

From a previous post, some of you have asked me about our other house rules, so I'm going to be sharing those with you. This verse is rule number 3: Avoid trouble/be a peacemaker

Oh man - we've had some "trouble" at our house! My oldest, who is 9, just got over her two weeks grounding. We've never grounded before so we wanted to make sure we did this first one right!! Two weeks - where basically the only thing she was allowed to do was eat, sleep and go to school --- plus added chores.

The thing is --- she did not avoid trouble, she choose to roll around in it! The history is this:

A little boy that has a crush on her (who has his own cell phone - which is VERY common at that age around here, but not for my 9 yr old --- story for another post) calls our house very frequently. He has already asked her to go to the movies, with his dad as chaperon. This is ACTUALLY the second boy that has called our house this year, 3rd grade, who has asked my daughter to the movies. She knows that 1) we don't have boyfriends at this age 2) we definitely don't go on "dates" at this age. To me, everything is settled - no boyfriend, no dates.

Let's fast forward a few days. Here's what happened next:

We were to meet some friends at a bounce/jumpy place for the kids to play. Saturday morning, the phone rings and it's this little boy for my daughter. The TV is loud and she's holding her ear - so she walks off into another room. She gets off the phone and starts the count down until we go to the jumpy place. When we arrive, she is super eager to get out of the car --- even wanting me to drop her off. I KNOW you can guess where this is headed!

Yep, I'm walking into the jumpy place and this stranger, a man, comes up to me and says, "Well, it looks like our little monkeys scheduled a play date." I think he is off his rocker and has me confused with someone else. I kinda grin an hurriedly walk on, but he keeps talking. Then, I realize that this man is the dad of the little boy that calls my house all the time. Savannah agreed not to go to the movies with this little boy (to avoid "trouble") - but she arranged a "date" at the jumpy place. If a cartoon artist had been watching this scene unfold - he would have had a blast drawing my reaction because I am CONFIDENT steam was coming out of my ears!

Savannah was terrified. She could not stop crying and I was trying to discern if it was true remorse OR the guilt of being caught! During her "woe as me - I'm not worthy to play here" attitude - the little boy's dad had scrammed (assuring me his son had a cell phone and could reach him if needed) and I was left with my three and an extra kid I'd never meet before. My words to Savannah were, "I'm glad that you don't feel like playing, because you shouldn't! But you drug (little boy) into this and you are not going to be mean to him now. You had better play long and hard today because this is the LAST time you are going to play anything for a LOOOONG time!!!"

Whew - the joys of parenting. And, I'm leaving out about 1,000 other things that went wrong that day in the parenting world! So, we will just leave it at that:)

Savannah DID NOT avoid trouble. She knew the rules. She knows right and wrong - and when we do right, we are honored in God's eyes. When we do wrong we are punished.

My thoughts for you today --- pray for your kids to AVOID TROUBLE and pray that IF they DO NOT avoid trouble --- that they get caught in their sin. I told a group of teenage girls last summer in a Bible Study I was teaching that I knew their parents and I knew that some of their parents where praying that they get caught in their sin. For the first time all night - every girl in the room paid attention.

But it's true - we can't put our heads in the sand. We need to be aware of sin and temptations in our OWN lives, as parents. We need to avoid trouble. We need to set boundaries for ourselves and our children in order to avoid trouble. Listen, I don't want to go off on a tangent here, but letting little kids go on "dates" is NOT cute. No wonder they have sex at 12, they are going on dates at 9! Most things in life are a progression. If you date at 9 you progress towards sex much quicker (I wish I could put my hands on the stats to prove it - they are somewhere around this house!). In so many ways, as parents, we are setting our kids up for trouble. And, we are not setting boundaries so that trouble can be avoided.

Remember Proverbs 20:3 - what can you do to 1) set up boundaries for yourself so that you can avoid trouble and 2) set up boundaries for your children ----- so maybe they won't be grounded for two weeks.

More House Rules next time.........

Monday, March 9, 2009

Intentional Relationships

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Some of you might know that I recently went to Alaska to lead a Ladies Retreat. What an AWESOME experience! I was so honored to attend and God did amazing things. The ladies were wonderful:)

On my way there from Tennessee – I was able to have a layover in Seattle and spend some time with a precious friend. She was our youth pastor’s wife and they moved to Nashville back in 2003 to be on our church staff. And, about 6 months ago moved to Seattle to be church planters.
But, the day our church hired Greg as our Youth Pastor and we accepted him into our congregation - I did not immediately become best friends with Shelly, his wife. I met her. We were pleasant and said hello. Probably hugged, because I’m just a hugger that way. But we weren’t BFF’s! That took time. It took me calling her. She asking me to lunch. Me watching her children and vice versa. It was an intentional process. And now – with her moving; I can’t drop a note in her mailbox on my way to Target anymore --- she lived right by the best Target in town! But with our distance – we are still just as close as ever because we are determined to be intentional about our friendship.

Why can we be intentional about developing relationships with earthly friends? Yet, we have a Father in heaven, who sits on a throne – willing to give us the desires of our hearts (Ps. 37:4) and often we hardly give Him a second glance.

Our God is a God that can be known. He is a God that can be found. He is a God that wants to be close to us. That’s why He is called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” But He draws close to us as we draw close to Him (James 4:8).

God wants us to want Him. And after we have made Him our Savior - why do so many "Christians" just stop there? They may attend church occassionally --- or to me, I think worse yet --- attend every week, but their personal relatioship with Christ never deepens. The reality is - God WANTS us to want Him, but we don't. We don't WANT Him, plain and simple. We are not willing to be intentional in our relationship.

This deep and intimate relationship with God that we often "say" we desire and can’t live without – doesn’t just happen. It must be sought after, prayed for, nurtured, and treasured. And we must continually seek after, pray for, nurture and treasure it.

So, are you "saying" it OR are you "doing" it? Do you sit in church, week after week and think - "I wish I knew Christ more." OR are you seeking Him? Do you know where you Bible is? Have you prayed today?

Since I got back from Alaska, I must say Guilty As Charged!! I got in at 1AM on a Monday and jumped right back into life. I had a week of more speaking, meetings, school, church and sports activites awaiting me. It's taken a few days to get back into the swing of really studying His Word.

It's not easy. I'm a Bible teacher for heaven's sake and it's not easy for me --- so no finger pointing on this end! I'm just wanting you to think about your motives - your thoughts and actions. It's one thing to say, "I need to loose weight." It's another to change your diet and exercise.

Don't loose heart. If your Bible's gotten a little dusty - just make today the day you dust it off. No matter how long it's been --- if we call to Him, He will answer. I know that I could use some insight on some "great and mighty things". How about you?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Church Needs The Orphan

"Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "I will protect them from those who malign them." Psalm 12:5

I'm not sure what the Lord is trying to tell me..... Well, I know what He is trying to tell me. He's telling me to get off my "bum" and help the needy!!!! But, for years I've been praying, "To what degree are You calling me and my family to 'help'?" And that's all I've done - just prayed and sat here on my "bum" waiting for Him to put a Neon Sign over my head with specific instructions.

I've been convicted over the years that God's Word SPECIFICALLY states that it is the responsibility of Christians (the church) to help the oppressed and the orphan. My heart has ached for underprivileged children since I was a teenager. I make jokes about how I will NEVER be able to take a mission trip for fear of not be able to minister to anyone because all I will do is 1) cry and 2) try to cram as many kids as I can into my duffel bag to take home with me!!

I have a precious quote from a "blogger" friend of mine named Lorie. I feel that we share the same heart in Spirit --- but she has adopted several children from overseas. Please read her words about the orphan and the church as she talk about her sweet daughter, Grace.

"I look at those pitiful pictures of an emaciated baby who was abandoned.... I can hardly believe it's my Grace. So many people see those old pictures and say, Oh how lucky she is to have you all as a family. The opposite is really the truth. We needed Grace- perhaps more than she needed us.

That's the strange thing about orphans that I don't think most Christians, or churches, understand. Yes, the orphan needs the church-- no doubt. But, the church needs the orphan. With our high-tech worship services and our multi-million dollar worship centers, the church needs to remember where they came from... we were all orphaned once.

The church needs the orphan... perhaps more than the orphan needs the church. Think about it...."

WOW - what a wonderful thought that she has challenged us (me!) with:) So, the question is: what are we doing? Are you sitting on your "bum" like I have been?

My ministry Speaking Thru Me, has recently partnered with Compassion International and I'm finally stepping out into action and sponsoring a child. Her name is Rachael, she lives in an Aids infected area in Kenya. She's only four years old --- and a smile that would light up a room.

Part of me says --- but this is only 1! Am I making a difference over 1? Matthew 25:40 says, “Whatever you have done unto one of the least of these, my brothers, you have done it to Me.”

My friend Lorie would answer, "So, does saving one child really matter in the big picture? After all, there are 145 million orphans worldwide. Saving one doesn’t even put a dent in that statistic. But, my God is not a God of statistics. He is personal and He is close to the poor and the orphaned. So close in fact, that He actually becomes the poor when we minister to them. Look again at Matthew 25:40. “Whatever you have done unto one….” Yes, one does matter."

I have listed various opportunities for you to pray about how God would lead you to save, just one.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Are You A Joy?

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden." Hebrews 13:7

We have very few rules at our house. As a matter of fact - I only have 5 written on the side of our refrigerator door. Instead of a long list of: don't hit, don't run, don't color on the walls, don't sit on the dog, don't lick your dad's glasses (yes - I have had to literally say the last two "do not's" to my son!) don't..... whatever the case may be, I've tried to focus on the heart issues.

One of those issues and rule number 4 is Be Respectful. Under Be Respectful I have the above verse listed (for each short rule I have one related verse).

Well, this verse has been written and said MANY times in the last few weeks at our house. My oldest daughter is really struggling with immediate obedience and respecting authority. I guess a pet-peeve of mine is someone rolling their eyes. Even if I see another child do that it takes everything in me to not shout, "Excuse me?".

But, I'm learning that I need to make this verse into a prayer and not just something that I make Savannah write 20 times for poor behavior so that it will sink into her brain! I want this to sink into her heart. AND --- why do I always tend to think - "Oh, this verse is for the kids." Isn't it for me, too? Am I a joy? YIKES! A lot of times --- no, I'm not.

I've always had the fear that one of my children would be the dreaded child of his/her class. You know - the one where if that particular child is absent the teacher does a little happy dance. Maybe you were that child once --- maybe you have one now and you know it! Even worse, maybe you don't know it!! Maybe you are a teacher who did the happy dance this week. Or, maybe you are a Mom with a list of rules for your kids that you don't always follow yourself.

So, let's do a heart check together. Are you (not your kids) - you, are you a joy? When you go to work are others glad to see you? Do you give your supervisor lip on occasion or possibly roll your eyes? Are you quick to obey those in authority over you? Are you quick to obey God?

Yes - this verse is a great verse for our kids. But first, let's pray this for ourselves so that our kids can see us live this our first hand.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Have You Gotten Your Hands Dirty?

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16

On our pantry door in the kitchen we have two large dry erase calendars. For the month of January - as odd as this sounds, I was too busy to even stop and fill it out!! Which - was not good, I was a mess all month! So, last week I made it a point to stop and fill out the calendar for Feb., March and even part of April.

The Lord has blessed me with many speaking opportunities between now and April (in addition to teaching opportunities at my own church) and my older daughter noticed my schedule. She asked me, "Mom, are you a missionary?" I said, "Why do you ask that?" She replied, "Well, I saw your calendar and you sure are going a lot of places to tell people about Jesus." I thought for a moment and said, "I never thought about it that way, but I guess I am." Which led us to a discussion of how you don't have to live in Africa to be a missionary or be a witness for Christ.

But to be honest with you --- it's really easy for me to travel, stand in front of tons of people I don't know and proclaim Christ. I love it --- and I really prefer it! You see, when the rubber hits the road - I am ashamed of the gospel.

What??? You might be thinking! How can you be ashamed, especially when you are teaching it??? Well, the answer to that is this: I don't like to get my hands dirty. It's easy for me to teach to 100's of people from a distance, BUT to develop a relationship with someone who is not a Christian or who is not living a lifestyle for Christ or who has a background of drugs or who has difficult family circumstances ---- to have get to know the good, the bad and the ugly that comes along with relationships - I don't want to get my hands dirty. I can write you a check - but I don't want to know you.

Sound harsh? It is - and it's not pretty, but if I told you anything different it would just be a lie!

Thank the LORD, he brought this attitude of the heart to my attention. And - as I have been praying for opportunities to minister, to get my hands dirty, He has been faithful to provide. They have all been baby steps for me (kinda like I mentioned in my Perfectionist post). Here is a quick examples:

At Christmas time - one of our staff asked my if our new "Newly Married" Sunday School Class that my husband and I teach would be willing to help a family in need. Well - who doesn't want to help a family in need at Christmas! So I said, of course;) I intended to go back to the class, take up money, get a few gifts and call it quits. After all - isn't that what we all do at Christmas? Do the majority of people REALLY get to know the family they are ministering too?

Our staff had other plans --- before even collecting the first dime, Russ and I were to go over and visit the family. So - we squeezed it in our schedule some how all the while I was still looking at this as something to scratch off my "to do" list.

We met a Great Aunt and Great Uncle who were raising four children. The kids ranged in ages from 5 - 12 years old. The oldest - a boy, immediately became Russ' best friend. The girls drug me all over the house showing me things. These kids were starving for some extra attention. Their Great Aunt and Uncle love them and are doing the best they can --- but they have a hard life. By the time we left - I was moved to tears and couldn't believe that I had been so reluctant to visit. We invited them to church and they came! Not only did they come - but Russ and I have acquired 4 new kids to sit with at church. We've picked them up from class, we've gone to their ball games --- we look forward to seeing them each week.

Sometimes when I'm sitting with them in church - I try to hold back the tears, but I can't (I'm sure the kids think I'm crazy). I just want to "fix" them! All their hurts, all their confusion, all their finances --- I just want it fixed. I can't "fix" them, but I can offer them salvation through Christ.

I am just the missionary called to not be ashamed of the gospel. And to share His love with every hug, with every high five and in every conversation. Ultimately, this family is His. And, I will praise Him and thank Him for this very spacial opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and get my hands dirty.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Purse Winner

Congrats to Stacey Preston! She is the winner of the Purse Give Away:)

You can check out her personal blog at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For The Life Of Your Little Ones

******** Don’t forget! You can still sign up for my PURSE GIVEAWAY
on Monday, Feb. 2. Comment, e-mail or facebook me about my blog or ministry and have your name entered!*******

“Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones.” Lamentations 2:19

Well, I did it! I took my “baby steps” on perfectionism and I DID NOT purchase Jamison an “I’m the Birthday Boy” shirt for his party on Monday night. I did not even put him in a polo, button down or anything that was really even nice for that matter! I let him wear one of his favorite sweat suits. YES – a sweat suit! Surprisingly, the world did not stop spinning.

You know ---- I spend a lot of time stressing about my kids. And, most of the time over silly things. Think like - how Jamison will look for his birthday party. And, sometimes over medium silly things like - is Savannah really prepared for her Science test? And, occasionally serious things like – is Cassidy ready to make her decision to follow Christ?

But, until recently – I spent more time stressing and less time praying. I LOVE the verse above – how beautiful is that??!! I have it posted right here in front of my computer on my desk. It serves as a reminder for me to stop stressing and start praying. You would think that common “Christian” sense would make you know to pray for your kids – specifically and often. But, I must say guilty as charged on that one sometimes! I have to especially work at the specific part. I told my Ladies Ministry Team at church recently that I am the queen of blanket prayers. Do you know what that means? Saying things like, “Father, forgive me for all my sins.” Or “Lord, be with my children today.” Just saying simple things --- and not putting forth the effort to get down to the nitty gritty.

This is an area that I have been trying to work on for some time now. I have in NO WAY arrived, but I can tell a change not only in the relationship with my children – but also in my relationship with Christ.

Two things that I pray specifically for is that: 1) our children will have a LOVE for the Lord and His Word and 2) our children will be obedient to God’s call in their life and serve Him in ministry. Now – you can be a nurse and still serve Him in ministry. What a calling! You don’t have to be a missionary in Africa to be in ministry. BUT – I want my children to understand that whatever job God has called them to – it is a ministry. Something that God uniquely designed only for them to do for His glory.

I also say a prayer for me as a parent that I will see how He is molding my children and also be obedient to encourage them in their calling. For example, Jamison loves his Bible. He hugs it, holds it and even asks to sleep with it! Well, at first I thought about how the pages might rip if he sleeps with it. Or if he leaves it laying out the dog could chew the corners! This was his baby dedication Bible and I don't really want it torn to shreds!!! But then, God had me to look at this situation in terms of "eternity". If I restrict Jamison from using his Bible and say that's only for Sunday --- what am I teaching him? Is it that big of a deal if a Bible is tattered and worn?? No! I think God knows that that kind of Bible is really the best kind. One that is used. One with the pages taped together. One with scribbles on the pages from a toddler who wants to read and write in their Bible like they see their Mommy and Daddy do. I've decided that that kind of Bible --- it is a keeper far better than one in perfect condition.

Inside I laugh at how I can see Savannah as a missionary to China, Cassidy adopting 10 kids and Jamison being a preacher (and I have the photo to show for!). Only time will tell where God leads them, but I can’t wait to share with them how I poured out my heart, like water before the presence of the Lord; lifting my hands to Him for the choices they will make.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Well gang! It's been a long time, huh? Thanks for you "faithfuls" who have patiently awaited my return:) But, during this time away - I have learned something about myself that I want to talk about today.

I spoke at a church back before Christmas about Perfectionism. I had never given it much thought - but, because my house is NOT spotless, I'm terribly unorganized and given the fact that I am confident that I WILL be late for my own funeral --- I never thought that I was a perfectionist.

It was during this time of study that I learned a new term: Selective Perfectionism. That means that we pretty much pick and choose, we select, the areas where we are a perfectionist. We may not live at the gym and drink Soy milk, but our house is obsessively spotless. We might spend an outrageous amount on dressing ourselves and our children but we can never found our car keys (no matter how many cute baskets we purchase to hold them in!).

I also discovered that perfectionist are always thinking how nothing is as good as it could have been. We think back on what wasn’t good enough and tend to see only how things are wrong and forget what is right. It’s very tempting for a perfectionist to lay in bed at night and think about what they didn’t get done --- instead of what they did accomplish.

Not very far into my message that I was preparing to share with others --- I realized that perfectionism had a hold on my own life. My areas of weakness are the appearance of my family and myself and this blog! Hang on, and let me explain.

It is my belief that my girls should ALWAYS have a hair bow. At 7AM on Christmas morning I'm sticking a hair bow in the girls hair before one picture can be taken! My kids should also ALWAYS match while on vacation. When I speak - I always have a suit jacket with matching accessories (thanks for the grace Knoxville when I couldn't find my earrings!!). Birthday parties are ALWAYS to be extravagant adventures for children and the very reason that Party City loves me!!!

I've read that “Perfectionist take great pains and give them to others.” That perfectly describes me in the above scenarios:( Would Christmas really never be the same if I didn't cram in a hair bow? Do other vacationers in Disney really stop to look at my well dressed kids? Of course not!! And, guess what -- the ladies in Knoxville didn't pass out because I couldn't find my earrings.

You see, there is obviously nothing wrong with wanting my girls to wear a hair bow. However, there is something wrong when “it” – your particular area of perfectionism ---- when you feel that “it” defines your worth. When the way my kids look suddenly defines the way that I find value as a person ---- then, we have a problem!

I've also learned that perfectionism can cause you to have a type of paralysis. For example – if I can’t do the perfect dinner party, why have anyone over at all. If the house will get wreck in 10 minutes – why pick up a thing. If my medication says, causes weight gain then why exercise? We can develop the attitude of, “If it can’t be perfect – then I just won’t do it.” This is where I have been with my blog.

I LOVE to write. I LOVE to share what God is doing in the small things in my life --- but I was getting so stressed out because I didn't feel that it could be "perfect" - so I just stopped. I didn't like my old design - it wasn't "me", then I wouldn't have time to really say what I wanted to say.... and the excuses would just keep coming.

Do you see yourself in any of the areas above? Are you over-doing it in some (like me with the kids) and under-doing in others (like me with my blog)?

The above scripture says that we can not earn our salvation. God knows that we are not perfect, so He offers it to us as a gift. So, let's stop trying to pretend like we are perfect! We do not have to earn our worth in Christ.

Let's take some baby steps together. My Son's birthday party is Monday night and it is killing me NOT to get him a new birthday shirt. The truth is - the little rascal has hardly grown since last year and if it is that important to me that he have on a shirt declaring it's his birthday --- then he can wear the old one!! See, silly to most - but baby steps for me! And, how about with my blog. Instead of feeling pressure to write a novel every day of the week --- how about being more realistic with just one or two posts a week.

Let me know how it's going for your! And, of course --- since I've spilled the beans on my personal life - I have ALL of you to keep me accountable.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Inheritance

In August of 2008, I attended a Beth Moore Living Proof Live conference. These are my notes from what I heard during that time. These 8 points are very important to understanding who we are in Christ. As a believer, Your Father is a King, and YES – you are an heir. Even if you are a Hillbilly one!

1) I am an heir of God – My life is not left to chance.
God works through natural events as well as the supernatural; fate has no control.
Esther 4:14, “If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father's house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this."

2) I am an heir of God – I am inheriting a kingdom.
We will “live” in eternity. We will “live” in a literal place – a kingdom.
Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’”

3) I am an heir of God – He is my portion and I am His.
God’s treasured possession is people. Your God considers you wealth and value beyond silver and gold. His own people are His inheritance.
Deuteronomy 4:20 “But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of His inheritance, as you now are.”

4) I am an heir of God – The down payment has been made.
God’s inheritance trumps anything else that you’ve inherited. Don’t just use your past as an excuse. You can do all things through Christ ---- You can be set free.

5) I am an heir of God – My boundary lines form a pleasing place.
Think about your life as land with boundaries. Your Faith should be the capitol city. Surrounding your faith are things like: intimacy with God, life experiences, your past and your giftings.
Ephesians 4:27 “and do not give the devil a foothold.” Where is the enemy standing on your land?

6) I am an heir of God – The will has been activated.
In order for a will to be activated, someone has to die.
Galatians 4:1- 7; Hebrews 9:15 -17

7) I am an heir of God – I can be secure.
Our security should be found in Christ --- not in the affirmation of others. If we need a “pat on the back” from someone, then we have put that person in Christ’s place.
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

This is one of my favorite “Beth Moore” lines of all time – “If you are constantly saying, ‘Woe is me – I just live a the church.’ Well then, go home. Don’t look for martyrdom in your stress!”

8) I am an heir of God – I have a beautiful inheritance.
II Timothy 4: 7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” When you are in a “fight” or a “race” - you don’t finish with a powdered face and your lipstick on! No – you are sweaty, dirty and most likely bruised or even bleeding. But our fight is beautiful to our Lord. Isaiah 61:3 says that He will “…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor.” 61:7 “Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance’; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.”

Are You An Heiress

How to Become an Heir of Christ

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

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, and 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."

From Hillbilly To Heiress

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

For those who don't know - I went to the Beth Moore Conference in San Antonio, TX and I am over loaded with information and could write for days, but I promise - I will not!

Before leaving for my trip I was pretty bummed. My ministry partner, Leigh Gray, had nearly broken both ankles just a few days before she was to drive to my house so that we could fly out together and head to Texas. But, that's a little hard to do when both of your feet are in boots! 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". 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 of 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 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 – this time. 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, ---- 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 (even if they’ve used an out house and taken a bath in a tin tube in the front yard!).