Monday, January 31, 2011

My Gift from God

***WARNING: This is a complete "Brag-fest" on my son. If you do not wish to hear all about how wonderful he is...stop reading now! (But please visit again soon)***

Eleven years ago today, our son Jay was born at 11:00 a.m. and our whole world changed. God gave us a wonderful gift in a very special boy. Even though we loved each other, my husband and I had never known such unconditional love, as the instant bond we had with this little life. We got a glimpse into how our Heavenly Father feels about us.
Psalm 127:3 - "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward."

As he's grown, each new stage has been both challenging, and rewarding. I wouldn't try to "freeze" him or go backwards for anything in the world.

When his brother came along, he was so protective of him. Like all siblings, they have their battles, but for the most part, they love each other.

He loves his Mom & Dad too (although I'm always the one behind the camera!)

Our family on both sides are very close to the boys - Jay was the first boy grandchild on my husband's side, and the first grandchild on my side. Needless to say, he's been showered with love, gifts & attention ever since he was born.

He's a total sports fanatic! So, of course he wanted a "Superbowl" birthday party. I can't tell you how many places I went trying to find Superbowl balloons with the names of the NFL teams playing in the bowl. I finally did it - I got the balloons, plates, napkins & cake. He had his friends over and they played football. My husband spray painted boundary lines in the yard, and in the middle he painted "2011 Jay Bowl". It was great & the kids had a blast!

Here is the "pretty" Superbowl cake that I ordered

Here is the "ugly" Superbowl cake that I made (because he wanted a chocolate cake & all the pretty ones had to be vanilla so it would look good)

My son Josh informed me that pretty cakes don't taste as good as the ugly ones!

So, after all of this, I will leave you with the lesson for the day:

Just like pretty cakes that are dry on the inside, and ugly cakes that don't look appetizing but taste great - there is a Bible verse to back this up!

1st Sam. 16:7 - "For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

Perfect example - Jay sits at the same desk everyday with the prettiest girl in the fifth grade. After only a few days in school, he could tell that she had a bad attitude and didn't treat him very well. He said "I still think she's pretty, but I don't like her anymore cause she's not very nice". I explained the above Bible verse and told him that "pretty on the outside doesn't always mean pretty on the inside" (just like my Superbowl cake, LOL!)

Thanks for letting me indulge a little and brag on my boy. Happy Birthday Jay! I love you very much.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Clean Closet - Clean Heart

I can't even tell you how many times I've had to clean out the closets in my house! We just don't have room for anymore STUFF!!! I am running out of places to hide things, or tuck them away when guests come over.

My husband gets so frustrated sometimes, because he will put things on the kitchen counter, in the hallway, or dining room, and I will remove them immediately because I can't stand clutter. I've said before, my house is not clean, but it is uncluttered. The problem is, I don't always remember where I hide things.

My dilemma, as I said, is I don't have enough room for everything, and the closets get the brunt of the abuse. I always get so excited when I clean one out and it looks so nice and organized. Every time I tell myself
What a dreamer I am!!! How many of you know it NEVER does?

I find this to be true of the "closets" in my heart as well. Every so often, we need to do a thorough cleaning out of the junk we've let pile up and go unnoticed.
The Bible says in Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, we need to repent right away, but there are always those things that slip through. Wrong attitudes, emotions, even sometimes wrong theology, are why we need to be evaluating our hearts.
Psalm 139:23-24 - "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"
And just like my closets at home, they will be clean for a little while, but they're not likely to stay that way unless you make a commitment to keep it.

As much as I don't like all the junk in my closet, I've learned to live with it. I can NOT, however, live with junk in my heart.

Ask yourself today if you need to do some cleaning - if so, pray like David in Psalm 139 and ask God to reveal any clutter in your heart & mind. Then let the Holy Spirit get you straight again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's a rainy, cold day here where I live. I was sitting at my breakfast table, looking out the window at the trees and the creek that runs through my backyard, thinking about how different this same view will be in just a few months.

I love that I live in an area that has seasons. I don't think I would enjoy living in a place where it stayed the same temperature all year round. It's nice to visit, but I would miss the changes.

I love the winter's cold weather, bundling up in warm clothes, snowball fights, snuggling in my cozy house, and reading a good book. I even love the warm, hearty food that you crave during the winter months. However, I don't really think it's the prettiest of seasons, with the leaves off the trees and the skies mostly cloudy and grey. Even the snow, which is beautiful when it falls, or when undisturbed looks like a fairytale, is soon filled with footprints, and turns into a dirty, soggy mess.

Fall is crisp, fresh air that comes to blow away the summer's heat. The leaves turn the trees into a beautiful backdrop that shows off my Heavenly Father's creativity. But I don't enjoy the mess the leaves make once they turn brown, and fall off the trees. Plus, the privacy that the leaves once offered, are now gone, exposing my house to the road.

Summer is tons of fun. I look forward to having my children home with me. We stay up late at night, sleep in come morning, no agenda, no stress. The kids enjoy the beach, the summer camps, and have many of their friends over regularly. Having said that, I absolutely can NOT take the severe summer heat! I hate when the temperature and the humidity make life miserable to be outside. I pretty much hibernate during most of the summer.

Ah Spring, that wonderful season of new beginnings. The flowers budding, the grass turning green again, and the temperature is not too hot or cold, but just right. There's Easter Egg hunts, and the celebration of the greatest thing that's every happened on earth before or since, the resurrection of Jesus Christ! As wonderful as that is, there is still one HUGE downfall to Spring - allergies!

I guess you can tell that with every season I've mentioned, there's been both good and bad things that come with it. I was thinking it's the same way in our "spiritual seasons". Every new level in my walk with the Lord, every new path He leads me down, has both positive and negative aspects that come with it.

I believe that while the Lord has a vision and plan for our lives, we must remember the enemy wants to destroy it at every turn. So while God may have a season of blessing waiting for me, that doesn't mean I won't face any opposition. Remember, even the Israelites who were to enter the "promised land", still had to fight their enemies to occupy it. The key was that they had already been told they would be victorious. So the way I see it, the promise wasn't just the land, it was also the promised victory.

The lesson is to look at every season through the eyes of faith and see what God is up to. If you're in a hard season, look for some good in it. If you're in a good season, but there is somewhat of a battle, remember God's promise of victory!

1st Thessalonians 5:18 - "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (NLT)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus Doesn't Beg

As I was reading John 16 this morning, I was thinking about prayer. I wanted to share some thoughts with you...

Jesus is talking to His disciples about how he'll be leaving them. He said they would have sorrow for awhile, but it would turn to joy. He was of course referring to His death and resurrection. But the disciples didn't understand what He was talking about...
How many times do we not understand what Jesus is trying to tell us?
However, they didn't just ask Jesus what He was trying to say. Instead, they discussed it among themselves.
How often do we talk to our friends, family, pastors, etc., before and instead of going straight to the Lord for answers?
Then in John 16:19, Jesus asked them a question that showed His ability to discern their thoughts. We know that He didn't just overhear their conversation, because in vs. 30, His disciples said "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we now believe that You came forth from God." Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, was given a "word of knowledge". This same gift from the Holy Spirit, that caused the disciples to believe in Jesus, is available to us today.

But the part that stuck out to me this morning was in the following verses:

John 16:23-24 - "In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Very truly I tell you, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (NIV)

John 16:26-27 - "In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God." (NIV)
Because of the cross, Jesus now has "all AUTHORITY in Heaven and on earth". But then He shared His authority with us when He told us to pray in His name.

Rom. 8:34 says Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us...but don't get the impression that Jesus has beg God to answer our prayers. John 26-27 clearly shows that isn't the case! Jesus blood is our access to the Father - it's as if He's saying "Father, listen to this one, they're one of mine". And because we love His Son, God the Father loves us and is more than willing to answer our prayers.

This encourages me because I'm reminded that God is for me, and He's not having to be persuaded to hear my prayers. I ask in the name of His Son, but I can come boldly to the throne.

So let's be bold in our requests to the Father this week, praying with the authority that He has given us in Jesus name and see what great things God will do. I keep hearing people say that 2011 is the year to believe BIG.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fountain Lady

I would like to thank the women now known as "Fountain Lady" for giving me a good laugh as I watched the video of her mistakenly falling into the fountain at the mall. I'm not being mean, she wasn't hurt, just embarrassed. But then she went and ruined it by making me angry because she appeared on Good Morning America with her lawyer who says she may be suing the mall.

I don't know if you heard the story, but it goes a little something like this...a lady, who is a mall employee by the way (so she was obviously familiar with the mall layout) was texting on her cell phone while walking, not paying attention to where she was going, and fell head over heels into the water fountain. She was obviously embarrassed, so she grabbed her things and quickly got out of there.

The problem came when she found out that someone posted a video from mall security of her falling into the fountain on Youtube. Granted, this was not a good thing to happen, and no one would want millions of people seeing your embarrassing blunder. Not many people would have even known who it was, but now they do, because she went on National television to own up to it.

Why did she go on GMA? So she could complain that...
"no one helped her out of the fountain."
"The mall didn't apologize for her mishap."
"She didn't even have hand rails to hold onto as she climbed out of the fountain" (maybe because they don't expect people to be in the fountain, that's why there aren't any handrails!)
Now she's managed to find a lawyer who is willing to "represent" her in this terrible injustice.

Come on people ??? I am ALWAYS doing embarrassing things. What do I do about it? I share it with all my friends and I laugh at myself. But even if I didn't do that...I certainly wouldn't dream of suing someone for MY mistake!

Why does this bother me so much?

Because I think this is a clear sign of a major problem in our society today. No one is being taught to take responsibility for their own actions anymore.
If we're fat, it's because fast food restaurants serve fattening food (it's not like we are fooled into thinking it's healthy!)
If we're addicted to cigarettes, it's because the evil Tobacco companies put addictive stuff in them (they have a warning on the carton saying they could kill you).
Everywhere I look these days, people are pointing fingers, becoming offended, and yes, even "sue happy" because it's easier to blame someone else for your problems than it is to take responsibility.

My son hates to be wrong! He has a real problem saying he's sorry, so he always wants to pass the blame. When it's absolutely impossible for him to say it wasn't his fault, he does this "divert the attention to someone else's faults" thing.

I explained the major problem with this is that God's Word says that we all fall short of the glory of God - we all mess up, make mistakes, and SIN. God has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. If we never admit we've done something wrong, we aren't confessing, and therefore, we aren't receiving His forgiveness. I told him that his mistakes in no way affect or change how much I love him.

I wish the "Fountain Lady", and everyone else who needs a "do over" would understand that the best thing to do when you make a mistake, is own it, and move on.

She mentioned church in her GMA interview. I pray that she'll go to church and hear a message on repentance & God's grace...and by the way, I forgive her too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Competition (Friendly, or Not) ???

Have you heard the phrase "friendly competition"? It's used when people compete, either in sports, or a contest, etc., to see who will come out the winner. It's not meant to get ugly, or to make the other person feel like a loser.
So what is it meant for?
I think competition in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it can make individuals push themselves to do their best. If there was no winning or losing teams, sports would be very boring. How would anyone know if they were really good at something, unless they have a comparison? My boys played basketball for a Christian league that didn't keep score the first few years, while the kids were young & learning the fundamentals of the game. Inevitably the first thing they would ask after the game was "who won?" Even as little kids, they wanted to keep score.

I was a very athletic, tomboy as a child. I grew up with my brother and all boy cousins. I played on a softball team for years, I enjoyed volleyball, and I was fast, so I won a lot of ribbons for track on Field Day at school. Growing up, I noticed that I only involved myself in activities where I knew from the beginning I would excel. I had to be the best at something, or I didn't want any part of it. Later in life, I realized that this behavior was a unhealthy competitive spirit. My need for approval and fear of rejection compelled me to never take risks outside of what I knew I could win.
Who wants to try something and fail at it? Not me!
Who wants to be made fun of, or ridiculed? No one!
Who wants to shine and receive pats on the back? I DID!

When it comes to your walk with God, competition is NEVER friendly! When we fall for the trap of comparing our lives with others in the Body of Christ, we end up in a "heap of deceit!" That's right, the enemy would have us believe that we are either better than others, or not measuring up, depending on who we are comparing ourselves to. Have you ever felt threatened by other's gifts being noticed over yours? What about receiving credit for things? Do you need to get the accolades to feel worthy? The Bible talks about when you give, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is up to (Matt. 6:3). This is because we want to store up our rewards in Heaven (Matt. 6:19), not here on earth.

Why do
we feel the need to compete with others in the Church? The Bible clearly says that God loves the world (John 3:16) and that He does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34). Still, it can be hard to grasp the fact that just because God loves everyone the same, it doesn't diminish how much He loves YOU! One of my favorite Scriptures is found in Psalm 139 where it talks about how I was made, how I can't run away from God's presence, and how His thoughts toward me are more than the grains of sand. Such wonderful words expressing how valuable we are to God.

As a parent, I should understand somewhat how you can love your children the same, yet they are still individuals. My boys are complete opposites. I interact with them differently, but I love them the same. I don't want them competing for my love or affection, or my attention.

Let's remind ourselves that we are one big "happy" family and stop trying to out do each other. Put behind all the childish ways, overcome all the insecurities and inferiority, rebuke the spirit of rejection, competition, self-promotion, and pride.

Let's get back to being "friendly" without the so-called "friendly competition".

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick...Someone Call A Plumber

My husband and I built our house the year we got married and we've lived here for fourteen years now. As you can imagine, it's starting to need certain repairs. The plumber who originally put our shower in did such a bad job, he actually flooded our master bathroom twice while we were on our honeymoon. My father-in-law was overseeing the workers while we were gone and he told us what happened. So it was no surprise when we started noticing some water issues with the shower upstairs.

Last week, while sitting at the kitchen table, I noticed some spots on the ceiling above the refrigerator. I went to stand underneath the spots and immediately determined that something upstairs was leaking, I just didn't know what. Was it the washing machine? The toilet in the kids bathroom? Or had my worst fears come true and the shower was finally leaking through? Was my whole house going to have to be renovated? (you can tell I get dramatic about these things & automatically go to the worse case scenario).

I called my husband and told him our ceiling was going to cave in because something was leaking (drama queen, right?) He didn't sound happy, but he wasn't nearly as alarmed as I thought he should be...I expected him to rush home IMMEDIATELY!

My hubby has a friend who is a plumber, who lives down the road from us. He came over the next day to look at our leak. I wasn't home when he first arrived. By the time I got to the house, they had already inspected the damage. They came down from upstairs, and walked into my kitchen...I patiently awaited the news. The Plumber and my hubby stood directly under the wet spots on the ceiling, looked at them once again, looked at me - finally my husband said
"he (meaning the Plumber) doesn't think it's a leak...he thinks it's food."
Now the Plumber pipes in and says "it looks like applesauce to me".

Now let's back up...I remember sometime last week, opening my refrigerator and seeing some dry, crusty substance stuck to the side of the door and all up & down the side of the fridge. I had no idea what it was or how it had gotten there, but I did what Mom's do...I cleaned up the mess that everyone else was obviously ignoring.

That brings us back to the present day of the Plumber's assessment of my leak spots. It's all becoming clear. My husband recalls my youngest son dropping some applesauce when he was getting it out of the fridge. Apparently it hit the floor hard enough to bounce up & splatter on my 9 ft. ceiling, as well as spill in the refrigerator door. No one bothered to tell me.

Can you imagine how embarrassed I was to know I needed a Plumber to come and tell me I had food stuck to my ceiling? Do you remember that I said he was a friend of my husbands and he lives down the road? So that means, he's not just some random plumber who we'll never have to see or hear from again. I just know he'll be telling this story to his friends & family for quite some time.

I guess I will too. I now have a permanent reminder of my blunder. The applesauce caused a stain on the ceiling and instead of a plumber, I now need a painter!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Can You Speak Up A Little God?

Have you ever wished that God would speak to you in an audible voice?

The Bible says that God spoke to the Israelites from Mt. Sinai and His voice was so scary they begged Moses to go on their behalf because they didn't want God talking to them that way (Ex.20:18-21).

REALLY? Maybe it's just me, but I would actually appreciate being able to hear Him where there's no mistaking what He says.

I've tried asking for "fleeces" - you know, the Gideon thing where you put God to the test by asking Him to confirm things because you're just not sure you've heard Him right. I've joked saying "God, could you just write it in the sky, that's not too much to ask, is it?"

The thing is, I DO hear from God all the time. For other people... and for myself when it comes to matters of the heart (correction, discipline, how much He loves me, what He'd like to do in and through me, etc.)

But when it comes to practical instruction and guidance in some very specific areas where I need direction, I can't seem to hear His voice! I believe the problem lies in my inability in these situations to separate my desires from His will. I'm asking God for clarity.

So here's the big question - and I'm seriously asking for your thoughts.
When you can't decipher God's will in a matter, and you need to make some you wait and do nothing unless you hear clearly?
Or do you move ahead and pray that God will shut the door if it isn't His will?

By the way, these are NOT life or death decisions I'm talking about here. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I were to do any of these things, I would not be in sin, or have ruined my destiny with God, etc. I know that His will for my life is not that narrow, or that He would say "oh, you stepped off the path of my perfect plans for you, so now you've blown it!" I understand His grace to bring me to the place where He wants me to be, both spiritually speaking, and in the natural as well. I would just really love to get it right in the first place, and not come by that way through hind sight.

I don't know if any of this is making sense, but I appreciate having a place to "vent" as I work through this.

Anyway, I pray God gives us ALL clarity throughout this coming year as we obey His voice, however He chooses to speak. Whether it be through a sermon, a revelation from God's Word, a book, a teaching tape, a Bible Study or class, a friend, a prophet, an audible voice, a dream, a vision, through a Heavenly messenger, or...that ever present, still small voice.

I'm just glad my Heavenly Father does communicate with me!

Friday, January 7, 2011

My 2011 Makeover

So far 2011 has started off as the year of improvements for me. Usually I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but this year, I'm not only making one resolution, I'm doing a complete makeover!

I'm BIG in home improvement right now. We were blessed with new furniture as a Christmas gift this year. That started the ball rolling for me...then I painted my dining room & entry hall. I've re-arranged the boys rooms, cleaned out our attic to get rid of a bunch of junk...I'm in operation "de-clutter mode". The problem is, the more I change things, the more I want to do. I'll have to remember to pace myself.

One of my other resolutions is like most people - I want to lose weight! But not just to be skinny, for me, it's more of an obedience thing. I've started off by taking baby steps so I won't be overwhelmed & quit. I also started exercising.
We got the Kinnect for the XBox 360 for Christmas, so I bought the "Zumba Dance Party". I've been shaking my hips (and everything else shakes too) trying to get in shape. Last night, I wanted my husband to see Zumba. He was laughing at me (in a joking way, not in a mean way). I told him that it wasn't as easy as it looked and for him to try it. Much to my surprise, he took the bait. He started trying to keep up with the lady on the screen, swaying & shaking, and breathing hard...breathing very hard...wait a minute, take a break there fella, don't hurt yourself (haha) He DID admit that it was harder than it looked. I wish I had a camera, I probably could have won some money on Funniest Home Videos. That's not to say that I think I looked good doing it. I'm very grateful for HOME exercise equipment!

I mentioned obedience as my reason for wanting to shed the pounds. That's part of my "extreme make over" this year. A call to obey God's leading through His Spirit in ALL areas of my life. That means exhibiting self control in the areas of eating, finances, teaching the kids about the Lord, spending quality time with Him, and hopefully writing in a journal.

I felt a little "stuck" last year, but I'm believing that God has some new things for me and I'm pressing on toward my destiny. However, I know I need more self control working in my life. God's plans for me are somewhat on hold (not out of punishment), but until I can develop this fruit (self-control). Otherwise, the very things God wants to bless me with, could end up hurting me if I'm not mature enough to handle it.

This is my "2011 Makeover" wish. So, 2011...bring it on! I pray that next year this time, I'll be reporting on the amazing, fruitful year I've had. I also pray that you will allow God to "makeover" any area in your life that needs a special touch. It doesn't have to be "extreme", maybe just a change in your heart, a tweak here & there. Whatever the case may be, I hope that you'll be every changing as we behold more of His glory.
2nd Cor. 3:18 "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking for Security in 2011

I'm back to wish all my family & friends a Happy New Year! I took a break from blogging during the Thanksgiving & Christmas Holiday because life was just too busy. I've missed blogging and keeping up with what everyone else is up too as well. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and wish you a blessed 2011.

My family was invited to do some things to celebrate on New Year's Eve, but I declined. I was very content to stay home with my family and watch the ball drop on t.v. We all made it until midnight except for my oldest son, he wimped out about 10 p.m., but that's okay, he's an early bird, not a late owl like me.

Earlier in the day I spent some time by myself worshiping & praying. I started thinking about 2011 and I must confess I started feeling a sense of dread about the upcoming year. So many things have happened in my life and in the world, both good & bad, that I'm overwhelmed with the feeling of "what's going to happen this year?" I've also heard many prophetic words from well known people in the "Church" who are painting a not so pretty picture of things to come, and yet, I've had personal words from the Lord about great things He wants to do in our lives??? I found myself a little anxious, so I began to pray.

I had a wonderful peace come over me as I heard in my spirit,
"Stay close to Me and you have nothing to fear. Remember, perfect love casts out fear." true! If I know how much God loves me, then I can trust that He has everything under control. I can rest in the palm of His hands! I had such of revelation of God's sovereignty! I have NO idea what's coming up this year, but He knows everything that's going to happen!
It's like going through a mine field with a powerful metal detector, or pushing through a crowd with a HUGE bodyguard...I am safe with Him.

It's funny, I don't expect my life to be without trouble. I'm not unrealistic about the fairytale, happily ever after existence (and no, I'm not a skeptic either). But I do find myself constantly looking for security. Something deep inside of me, and I think this is true of a lot of women, longs for someone bigger & stronger to "take care of things" so we can feel safe. This is usually a quality we looked for when we're looking for a husband. It's the same characteristic we wanted in our father, a feeling of "dad will take care of anything scary or whatever I can't handle". We may not, no, we will not always find that in another person...ultimately, what we're looking for is the security that only God can give. We have to trust Him with our lives.

I was reminded of an old Gaither song "Because He Lives" that I used to sing with Mom as a kid. The words express exactly what I'm talking about
."Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives."
After midnight, my husband & I began to pray about the new year - because I had already given up my sense of dread, and exchanged it for God's peace, I was able to pray with confidence and decree good things for 2011. Things like, more of God's presence, more fruit in our lives, more self control & discipline, blessings over my children, over our finances, over our health, clarity in areas where we need to make decisions, guidance, protection, open doors to minister, and more opportunities for God's miraculous power!

So, even though I don't know what the future holds, or what 2011 will look like this time next year...I have decided to rest in the One who knows everything and who wants the best for me and my family. I pray that you & your family will do the same. Our Heavenly Father truly is a firm foundation...all else is sinking sand.