Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Children's Children

"But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts." Psalm 103:17-18

I will admit it. When verses in the Bible talk about descendants, and children's children, it boggles my mind. I mean, right now, in the here and now, I am a mom to young children. The mere thought of them growing, getting married, and having children is just mind boggling. It almost doesn't register... Yet here I am, and I'm sure it doesn't seem like all that long ago that I was the one finishing third grade while my parents looked on. And before that it was their turn, and so on. Yet lately, when I read verses like these, I feel a strong stirring in my heart, a stirring that tells me that the things I do today, can and will affect those who come after me. To actually see this in action though is confirmation, and when I think on it, I do see this verse come to fruition.

I have to go back to my great-grandparents, whom I only met a few times in my life because they lived several states away. They were God-loving people, and I recall those times when I was really young, and we'd started attending church, and we'd talk about family who was saved, and my great-grandparents were always at the top of that list. They loved Jesus, and they loved their family, and I know that they prayed for their entire family each and every day, right down to the great-grandchildren. In fact, my great-grandmother was just a few months shy of being a great-great grandmother, and I have no doubt that there was a prayer said by that woman for the tiny life that was growing inside of me before she went to meet Jesus herself. Yet as I think about the extended family, I can see those prayers in action, even today. As many members of the family have gone on to become pastors and elders and ministers in one fashion or another. My great-grandparents spent time with God interceding for their children's children, and by golly if those prayers still don't have an effect today, as one by one family is coming to know God personally and walk with Him each and every day.

This shows me that my own prayers do not fall on deaf ears. That as I pray for my children, those prayers will withstand the test of time and God will be with them, no matter where they are in their love walk. That's a great encouragement, and to be honest, looking at the examples from the past, it's also almost an incentive to keep it up. God will reward the faithful, and those rewards may very well lie with my children, or their children. So I think I'll just keep on praying.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Delivered Through A Child

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them." Psalm 34:7

Yesterday I was doing some blog visiting, and came across the blog Books and Bairns, and a post that just stirred my heart so much. Then I read other things on her blog, and wow, my eyes filled with tears yet again. And I found my heart yearning for what this woman has with her children, and I know, I just know that we are on the right path for that, and I know that God has us on a similar path, and that warms my heart to its fullest.

The post that she wrote that struck me first was titled "Bee Still", and tears filled my eyes as I heard in my mind the voice of the little boy praying for his mom's deliverance. I felt the faith in that car that the whole family had, and my heart just leaped for this boy, and my thought was "Yes! someday that will be my son!" There are just so many reasons for rejoicing in this scenario that was so beautifully painted for us. The whole family can rejoice, knowing that God provided everything. He provided the bee situation to remind the whole family that He is always there for His children, and He will always deliver in times of distress. If you haven't clicked on that link yet, what are you waiting for? I promise you will be blessed.

Then yesterday, Mary Grace blessed me again with a post about loving her children, and being the mom that she didn't always want to be. It made me chuckle, and it also made me tear up a little bit too, as I think about all the criticism she must face each and every day when she is out and about with her brood. And she is reminded daily, as she looks into the faces of her five precious children that she is, in fact, the mom that God wants her to be, and that's what is so incredibly important, and also so incredibly fulfilling. I know I've said it several times as of late, but it's something that I really feel God drilling into me, is that my mission field, my role in life, and my goal is to be the best mom that I can be, and if I start being mom by focusing on God, and spending time with Him, I will receive all the tools I need to be that mom each and every day. If I start with this:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

Then all the rest of the love I need for my children at all times will just fall into place.

I am so thankful this morning for women like Mary Grace who put these words out there to inspire and boost faith, because that certainly is what she has done for me this week. Be sure to stop by Books and Bairns and check out what she has to say, because she will bless your socks off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Warfare Wednesday

"The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot." Proverbs 10:7

This week as we continue to remember President Obama in our prayers, we are going to spend some time praying for the upcoming process to confirm a Supreme Court Justice. Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated by the president to succeed Justice David Souter, who is retiring this year. Let us pray for God's peace and wisdom throughout the process, and pray for unity among the committee who will guide the nomination process. May God's Will prevail in this process, and may the country as a whole not become more divided over this nomination.

I think we also need to pray for the situation with North Korea this morning. As I read about the fact that on Monday North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb underground... I just can't fathom how the nations nearby must be feeling. And then on Tuesday North Koreans tested more missiles above ground. I think it's high time for Christians all over to unite in prayer and intercession for the tyranny in North Korea to come to an end. May the Peace of God pass through the nation of North Korea like wildfire, and may the dictatorship come to an end. May the presence of God become known to each and every person in that country, and may God's Will prevail above all. Let us also pray for Godly wisdom for President Obama and all the other world leaders who now turn their attention to North Korea and how to deal with the military action. We need to pray for peace along the South Korea and North Korea border, as well as the border North Korea shares with China. May the peace of God grab hold of North Korea, and then spread to the other troubled areas in that part of the world.

And as long as we're focusing on the world this morning, let's also pray for humanitarian efforts in general around the world. I know that many of the organizations that feed the poor are struggling in the rough economy right now. May God stir the hearts of the people to be willing to give to these organizations. And may these organizations not see a decrease in the amount of food they are able to deliver. May God bless the contributions of those who give, and may the world's poor see more abundance than they've ever seen before. May God bless them, and may they know that He is watching over them and loves them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

He Just Didn't

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17

In our never-ending quest to become more Christ-like, it's this very thing that seems to be the hardest for everyone. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but the very thing that most of us are guilty of doing is condemning one another without thought. Everyone is a critic these days, and it seems that most people completely take this idea to heart and think it is their business to judge those around them. I can easily say this because I know I do this too, and it's probably one of the most difficult behaviors to stop.

But I am trying. And apparently, the people around during Jesus' time also had this very problem.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Matthew 7:1

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47

Think about it. Think about as you're out enjoying your weekend, let's say you and your family are going to the zoo for the day. As you're walking around, you see all kinds of people... you see the mom with eight kids in tow, and all the kids are all over, and instead of having compassion for this woman who is caring for 8 kids- who you don't even know if they're all her children- you look and you think to yourself that if she's going to have that many children, she should learn to control them better. Or you see the man just outside the entrance door smoking, and you simply think that he should do better and quit, yet you have no idea how much that addiction has a hold on him and how many times he's tried quitting... his brother died from lung cancer, yet he just cannot stop the bad habit, and on the inside he's full of pain and hurt and so desperately wishes for deliverance. And our thought as we walk by is about how much we prefer to breathe clean air. Or you see those kids whose hair obviously hasn't been brushed, wearing mis-matched clothes, and you think that their mother could certainly manage to do that much before taking the kids someplace. What you don't know is that those kids are actually with their aunt, who saved them this particular morning by picking them up and taking them to do something fun instead of watching their alcoholic mom sleep the day away.

We just don't know what's going on on the other side of those eyes. And when I stop and catch myself, as I walk around someplace and see all these people, I can't help but think about what it was like for Jesus as he walked around. I know, with absolute certainty, that He didn't walk around looking at people with scorn, criticising everything about them. He just didn't. Instead, He let compassion reign supreme. He looked with his heart, and he saw the pain and the hurt and the troubles, and instead of thinking superior thoughts, you know he prayed for them.You just know that instead of judging he blessed.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1

There is no condemnation at all. Now think about applying that to your church family. Think about how much more unified the church would be as a whole if we started acting more like Jesus and looked on one another with love, instead of looking and thinking that we're the ones who have it all together, and they could do better. I think we should look on the inside, and see where we could improve ourselves. Now, we're not to condemn ourselves either, but we can take a look and see where we could do better. I suspect we all have those places where we could do better. God loves each and every one of us, not just those who seem important. And God loves us all so much, each and every one of us is His Favorite. Now that's just cool, and I think if we can apply that to our church family... think about it. From childhood we are encouraged to choose favorites, what's your favorite color, favorite book, favorite TV show, favorite friend. What if we walked into church and looked and saw all our fellow believers, and instead of seeking out our usual friends or usual "favorite people" we looked and saw each and every individual as God's favorites?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh Happy Weekend!

"I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" Psalm 55:6

We are going to be at rest for the next few days, and we're so looking forward to it. I wanted to leave everyone with wishes and blessings for a wonderful weekend, and I wanted to leave a song. This has been my internal soundtrack the last few days, because I do feel it... I feel like I'm on the precipice of...well, something. It will be a great thing when God's timing is realized. In the meantime, I will be full of joy and praise.

Happy weekend all. Be blessed, and I'll be back Tuesday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Blessing Challenge

"[Divisions in the Church] I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." 1 Corinthians 1:10

This verse fits perfectly this morning. Last night, as I laid in bed, not quite falling asleep, I was thinking about King David. Specifically, last night was the first night this year that I was able to open up a few windows overnight. And as I laid there, this wonderful breeze would blow from time to time, and as it passed through the room it brought the most wonderful scent with it- the scent of blossoms in full bloom, and of fresh air. I just took a few minutes to thank God for it. For the breeze and for the fabulous aroma. That led me to thinking about the Psalms, and then I was thinking about all the Psalms written that are just bursting with joy, and it just occurred to me that I sort of knew what David was thinking when he wrote so many of them.

When we are surrounded with God's glorious creation, how can we not want to praise him? David spent much time in the wilderness, and I can just see how as he laid in the open air at night, how he would just thank God for the beauty around him. Then I started to think about Pollyanna. Funny how a children's story can just be so effectual for so long, because Pollyanna was obsessed with always finding reasons to be glad. I started thinking about how maybe my overall perspective on life would be for the better if I could apply a bit of David and a bit of Pollyanna, and mush them together. If every time I had a spare moment, I spent a minute thanking God for this or that, and thinking about everything around me as a blessing, wouldn't, over time, my mindset and my attitude change for the better?

Today's verse applies because I wonder how much more unified the church would be if we all could adopt the blessing mindset. If we looked at each other as the blessings we all truly are, there would be no more criticism or hidden thoughts. If we took the opportunities to focus on what is good, what is great, and all the blessings that God has truly blessed us with, it seems to me that the enemy would have far less opportunity to try and squeeze in.

This morning I feel truly blessed. I have a whole new day before me, and I can't wait to see how God is going to let it shape around me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: The Health Care Edition

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." Psalm 139:13,14

This week as we continue our efforts to pray for President Obama, his family, and his staff, I want to focus on praying for his upcoming decisions regarding health care in our country. Something clearly has to be done with the faltering system, and as the president shifts his focus to dealing with health care and social security, lets pray for a flood of Godly wisdom to take over. The wrong kind of health care reform could point this country in the wrong direction, let's pray that God will intervene and fill those making the decisions with his will. May the conversations President Obama has with staff and congress and other lawmakers be filled with grace and understanding. May the best decisions be made, and may they be effective in both the short term and the long term.

This week let's also pray for our new Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, Chief Gil Kerlikowske. That man has a mighty job before him, as he tries to come up with new ways to keep drugs out of the hands of American children. So many people turn to drugs as the quick fix to forget their problems... may God use this man in a mighty way to help turn adults and children away from the appeal of drugs, and turn to God instead.

Let us also pray for continued wisdom for all those dealing with the swine flu. In addition to dealing with containing the deadly flu, the medical community is also dealing with an unusually long regular influenza season. May God give wisdom to doctors and physicians as they treat their patients with the flu. Currently, the World Health Organization says that the swine flu, while still spreading, is not at a stage to declare a pandemic. Let's thank God for this grace period! Praise God that the medical community is being given the time to study this virus more and know how to properly treat it and contain it.

And while we're at it, let's thank God for physicians and for the medical community. I marvel at all the education needed to even think about becoming a physician. Why, even this week, our very own fellow blogger Claire is graduating from med school and will don her physician's coat for the first time. Thank God for the desire to provide good medical care. I have a hard time sometimes just caring for my children when they are ill, it truly takes a special person to want to care for complete strangers. God IS the Great Physician, Yahweh Rapha, the one who heals, and he heals many times through the caring hands of doctors and nurses.

"Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise." Jeremiah 17:14

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gratituesday: Look What God Has Done!

"Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!

3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.

4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name."

5 Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!" Psalm 66:1-5

This morning I thought I'd participate in a weekly blog event that is being hosted over at Heavenly Homemakers. I pretty much never do this type of thing with this blog, but this morning, it's just so, so fitting. Gratituesday is a weekly event to remind us to be grateful for the many blessings God has given us. So many times we just take things for granted, and this morning, as I look at all the tasks I have before me, I am just so grateful!

I am grateful for the fact that right now, Zander is at preschool. It's one of his very last days, and I will have three hours to myself to get a whole lot of work done (as soon as I finish up here, of course). In general, he is a very good boy and lets me get my work done while he keeps himself occupied, but boy, I can sure get a lot done in the few hours while he is at preschool.

I am also grateful this morning for the lack of wind. We've had so many windy days as of late, that I just haven't wanted to be outside much. This morning, it's absolutely gorgeous outside! And I have plans to dig in the dirt later this morning if I can keep myself on task.

Mostly though, this morning, I am so grateful for God's beautiful creation. As I've been driving around over the last week, it's just struck me how beautiful it is this time of year. This year especially, all the flowering trees are in full flower, and then some- truly, they are filled with blossoms, so many more than I think I've seen in years past. It's just wonderful to drive around and inhale all the wonderful fragrances that go with the flowers that God has created. I love this time of year because I can be having the worst day ever, and all I have to do is look outside at the beautiful green grass, the dandelions, the flowering bushes, and I just know that God's there.

And as I hear about all the doom and gloom these days in the world, I can't help but look at the abundance of flowers this year and just feel the promises of God seep right in- the promises that he will always provide and take care of us, even in times of trouble and famine. All the earth bows down, and that fills my heart and soul with so much hope and expectation for the days to come, because God knows what my tomorrow is like before it even gets here. God is great and his deeds are awesome, and I love that and am so grateful for that this Tuesday morning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let The Son Shine Again

This weekend we celebrated our church's 18th anniversary, and we had a great time thanking God and praising God. Really, it was a great party, and last night as I tried to fall asleep, several songs just kept running through my head, like a playlist, and this was one of them.

Yet this morning, I wake up, and first of all, I am a bit tired from the weekend. Secondly, the house has been a literal dumping ground as we pass in and out, and it's a bit trashed, so I'm not looking forward to having to clean things up. I've already gotten short with Zander this morning, *sigh*, and to be honest, it's even an effort to sit here and blog this morning.


But I am determined, and that is going to change things up here. I am determined that as we made a commitment this weekend to live a life of praise, that I am actually going to do so. Because after such an energizing weekend, the devil would just love for me to focus on the fact that I am tired and don't feel like doing much. Instead, I am going to take a few minutes and focus. I am going to thank God for this new day, for this new opportunity to praise Him, and I am going to tackle my housework with gusto and with energy, because God is the ultimate provider and will provide me with every drop of energy I need. And even better, I also have the faith to know that when I have completed all the tasks before me, that God will help me to feel refreshed despite my efforts.

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

I am going to purpose to live a life of praise. And that means all the time, not just when I am in a great mood and full of energy. It's every day, every moment, every second. Every second, I am praising God with all that I do. I praise Him with my actions, with my words, with my thoughts. A life of praise is not a selfish life. It doesn't buy into the sham of "me time" that the world has so greatly instilled upon us, which is the subject of another post for another day. It's important for me to remind myself all the time that I can live a life of praise as the mom and housewife that God has called me to be as well. In fact, if I really think on it, I bet that it's easier for me to live a life of praise than someone who has a job outside of the home. The tasks that I do everyday, I can do while talking to God, I can do them with a song in my heart, and I don't need to keep my mind focused on the tasks at hand for which I am getting paid. I can focus on God while my hands are busy scrubbing the floor. I can thank Him for this past weekend, for all the joy it put into people's lives. Even better, I can pray for all those who need it this morning as they go back to the normal everyday life.

Just what is normal though? I choose that my normal will be a life lived for the purpose of praising God in all that I do.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Do You See Giants? Or Fruit?

"They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan."

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." Numbers 13:26-33

I know we all have experienced this. You're going through a struggle, a trial, or simply coming to something new in your life, and you see the giants. You see the tough spots, you see all the work that needs to be done and you simply become discouraged. In the passage I've shared above, the Israelites went into the promised land and came out with their report of how it is. Yes, it's beautiful and flowing in milk and honey, and the fruit is amazing and abundant... but there are giants, big bad meanies who will eat us for breakfast. And they forgot that God promised to give them this land. The forgot that they have a God who can do anything if they only ask, and surely, God would help them defeat these giants.

Yet Caleb and Joshua saw the fruit. They saw the promises of God fulfilled, and they had the faith that God would take care of the giants for them, and told the people so. But all the people heard was the word giants, and they let the fear take them over. They forgot about the grapes that were the size of a man. Caleb saw a tough situation, but instead of focusing on the bad- the giants, he focused on the fruit- the blessings of God. And God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faith:

"So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." Numbers 14:28-30

So as I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking about my day to day. I have to tell you, I've been struggling a bit lately with where we live. It's crazy, I know, and when we moved where we currently lived, it was with the intent to stay here a good long time, because I hate moving. Yet as of late, I've just felt unsettled. The neighbors are all driving me up the wall- there's nothing worse than a screaming teenager just on the other side of your 8 year old daughter's bedroom wall. At 2:00 in the morning. And then there's the little things. There's the rocks in our landscaping, which are a nightmare. They are all over the place and are constantly needing to be picked up. And my list could go on. At the same time though, we have made a home here, and I have to stop myself and stop focusing on the giants- and instead, I'm trying really hard to focus on the fruit. Let's focus on the blessings and not the bad things. Because as I make these lists of things I don't like with where we are, I'm feeling unsettled and like ripping my hair out, really. Yet God has us here for a reason, and while are here, we are going to bloom where we are planted. Should he tell us to move, of course we'd do it, but not a moment sooner.

So instead of focusing on the giants, I'm trying to focus on the fruit. I'm focusing on the fact that we have the space we have in our home. I'm focusing on the vegetable gardens springing to life instead of focusing on those nasty rocks. And I'm focusing on all the little touches we've been able to add to our home to truly make it ours. I'm focusing on the wonderful southern exposure that fills our home with sunlight on a cold winter's day. And I focus on the beautiful birds that flit around our spacious open backyard. As it warms up here, I'll be able to focus on being able to open up the windows and feel a gentle breeze blowing through- I love lying in bed and feeling the fresh air blow over me gently in the night. I love that we're not on a major thoroughfare in town, so while we do get traffic, it's not near so bad as it could be. And I love that we do have a few good neighbors in the area, and location wise, we're very close to school so Abigail can take her scooter to and from school, and we're also close to a very nice park in town.

Sometimes it's really hard to focus on the fruit, and trust that God will take care of those giants. I really want to be like Caleb and Joshua, who focused on the fruit, on the good and the beauty of God's promises. God's promised to take care of us, and I will focus on that, and trust in that. He will provide for ALL our needs, and richly provides for our enjoyment!

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1 Timothy 6:17

Sometimes, I just need to be reminded to focus on the fruit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fighting Off The Darkness

"You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light." 2 Samuel 22:29

"even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:12

I think that sometimes when I do my postings here, I make it sound easy. I think that as I write and read words of encouragement and verses in the Bible that get me excited, I make it sound as though every minute of every day is just filled to bursting with joy. And that I walk around thinking that life can't get any better than this.

But the fact is, life is not like that. When I write on this blog, and write all these words of encouragement, they are not just words for whoever happens to be reading it, they are also important words for myself. Words designed to encourage my soul.

Because just as we have a very real and wonderful God, we also have a very real and not-so-wonderful enemy. And it seems like the closer we try to get to God, the more the enemy comes at us. I almost never realize it at first either. Take the last few days. I've just been in a bad mood. And that carries over to everything, I'm short with the kids, I'm short with Andy, I spend all day being annoyed about every little thing, I really don't feel like doing housework or taking care of my everyday chores. I've been spending a lot of time the last three days sitting at the computer because I just haven't felt like doing anything else. Last night, it came to a head.

I'll tell you, I planned carefully to have dinner ready early, and then it was like a time warp, and all the sudden we're eating dinner late, so I'm rushing the kids to try and get out the door to church. And then as we're on our way out of town, we pass Andy in his work truck, and if I don't turn around for him, he's not coming to church because he has his work truck. This whole time, I'm thinking how much easier it would be to just stay home, but I turn around, and sit in the van and get annoyed that it's taking Andy so long to change out of his muddy clothes, all the while debating just staying home. Yet we trudged along to church. And on the way we got stuck behind a tractor, a slow car, and then we got caught in construction traffic. Seriously, someone did not want us to go to church, and the whole time I'm thinking about how much easier it would have been to stay home.

But we did eventually get to church, and we heard a message that we really, really needed to hear. Pastor talked about the very mood I've been in the last few days, and explained that it is the enemy, trying to convince me that I'm nothing, that all this God stuff is just a hoax, and that it is darkness, trying to creep in and steal my joy. Oh my. I took in every word that he said last night, and I rebuked that darkness, I told it to go away, because I am a child of God.

I am light! Even though the enemy will try and get at us with his horrible darkness, I need to remember that I have the Light of The World inside of me, and that makes me a beacon of light. I have no reason to fear the darkness, and when I enter a room, the darkness will flee.

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Of course, when I look back in retrospect, when I look at the few days gone by where I've been in a bad mood, I can see it. I can see the darkness trying to push in. At the time I didn't, I blamed it on hormones and just tried to make it through each day as best as I could. This morning I feel like a new person, and I'm looking forward to the day ahead. For this is the day that the Lord has made! And I'm really praying for better discernment as well, so that I can see this darkness when it tries to come again, because I know it will. I pray that it stays far away from my household, and that as it tries to creep its way back in, we will recognize it and banish it once again.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden" Matthew 5:14

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: And God Heard Them

"The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place." 2 Chronicles 30:27

I thought this verse was perfect for Warfare Wednesday, because it says right there that God heard prayers that reached heaven, and I know that every week when we pray for our nation, our president, and the world around us, that God hears each and every one of our prayers. Our prayers are effective, and our diligence is being rewarded by the continued safety of our president and his family.

Given that this past week was mother's day, let's take an extra minute this week to pray for Michelle Obama. She has such an incredible task before her, as she still has two young daughters to raise and mentor, yet she also has all the tasks of the First Lady before her. May God give her supernatural strength to see to all that she needs to, and may she continue to be an amazing model, not only for her daughters, but for all the young women around the globe who are watching her closely. May God continue to protect her and her children, and may she find enjoyment in all of the tasks before her.

Safety must be on my mind this week... let's continue to pray for President Obama's safety as he travels about the country. Today he is giving the commencement address at Arizona State University, may he enjoy this trip to its fullest, and may he speak wise and life-giving words to all the new college graduates.

In global news this week, let's pray for Jacob Zuma, the new president of South Africa. May God bless him mightily with wisdom and Godly initiative. South Africa is feeling the effects of the economic situation, and the country sits at 24% unemployment right now. May God bring peace and prosperity to that region of the world. And hope. South Africa is one of those rare places in Africa where in some parts of the country there is prosperity and modern conveniences, yet just down the road there are shanty towns and extreme poverty. President Zuma, in addition to seeing to the nations poor and impoverished, also has a tough task before him as he watched his countries borders closely. The nation of Zimbabwe, which is right next door, is perched precariously on the edge of a new crisis, and it may come to President Zuma to help prevent a civil war in Zimbabwe. May God make Himself known to President Zuma, and may God bring prosperity to the poorest in the nation of South Africa.

For other Presidential prayer needs this week, be sure to check out the Presidential Prayer Team's website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thankful For My Children

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

Despite the occasional day where it is such a relief to tuck them into bed, I really am thankful for the little beauties that God has entrusted into my care. And it seems, that over the last several months, we've actually gotten closer as we prepare for our homeschooling adventure next year. Zander has begun asking to do his schoolwork on Saturdays and Sundays with me. Abigail has really been much more open with me and sharing things that are going on with her. It's just so cool! The other day, both kids had nightmares, and I had a nightmare, and the next night, I took the time to pray with both kids to have good dreams, and they both slept fantastically.

And last night we tried something completely new with bedtime and they both loved it! We used to read together at bedtime every day, but it was usually Abigail curled up with her own book while Zander and I read a few picture books. Last night, I picked up a long chapter book, and read both of them two chapters. When we were done, they both asked if we could read more tonight and the next night. It was great! It just seems that every day we're coming up with something new to do together, and they both are just surprising me every day with the great little people they're turning into.

There's nothing like the other day when I was shopping with Zander, and he spied a box of mini corn dogs on the shelf. He got all excited, ran and picked them up and then told me that he was really praying that he'd find mini corn dogs. Lol. And then later he told me that he was praying again, telling God thanks for finding the corn dogs. What five year old does that?

It just seems that every once in a while I get these feelings of inadequacy. I get that feeling that maybe I should be doing more... as people talk about going into ministries or volunteering more... man, there's some days it's just such a struggle to get laundry done, and I feel like I suck as a person because I'm not superwoman. But then something with the kids will happen, like reading that book last night, and I'll just be filled with a wonderful sense of peace and contentment. Like I know that THIS is what I am meant to be doing right now. I love that God knows my heart so well. He knows that I need a boost, that I need that confirmation, and then He gives it to me.

I am so thankful for His peace, and especially for the gift that he has given me with my children. And I pray that He continues the work He is doing in them, shaping them into the little people they are meant to be. He's doing a great job.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When Things Go Wrong...

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Today's verse of the day tells us exactly what we're supposed to do when things go wrong. Be kind and compassionate to one another. That's funny... because usually, when things go wrong, and someone does something they shouldn't, or makes a bad choice, we usually do not do those things. For some reason, the church is not kind or compassionate. They decide to send the offender packing, with barely a second glance, and then the talk begins. Let me tell you... living in a small town, sometimes there is nothing better to do than talk, and boy, do people talk.

Disney once did a movie of the week of a man who didn't talk from the time he was a young child, and people simply assumed he was mute. As a result, they never took care about what they said around this man. The whole movie was fun and rather humorous as people would tell him secrets, simply because they thought he would never be able to share them. Of course, at the end, it was revealed that this man could, in fact, speak, and I remember the old bitties gasping and passing out in horror, because they knew what this man had locked inside his head.

It's amazing how ugly a monster gossip is. Look, Romans even compares gossips to murderers!

"They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips" Romans 1:29

"Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 1 Timothy 5:13

Do you think, as Jesus lived his day to day and walked around with his dear friends, that he leaned over to them and said "hey, did you hear about Bill?" I think not. I think instead, Jesus would have put a stop to anyone else trying to share gossip with him. And I think if there was cause for concern, Jesus would have gone to that person directly, asked what was going on, and spend time praying with him.

I think one of the problems with gossip is that it is ingrained in us right from the very beginning. There is no better place to learn the art of gossip and "pass it on" than the classroom at school. Yet sadly, Sunday School class has become just as good at "pass it on". It seems that when a few people get together, and there's not much to discuss or talk about, they decide to just talk about other people instead. I'll tell you what, when we were meeting with our small group every week, we knew afterwards, the weeks we spent time gossiping, because we felt yucky. Truly, when our group would leave, we would feel like we'd spent time doing something we shouldn't have, despite the Bible study and prayer time. Our whole group noticed it, and together, we all agreed that we would not gossip at group anymore, and just like that we stopped, and our group grew closer and deeper almost immediately. Because we weren't talking about other people, we were more focused on each other and ourselves, and our relationships with God. It made such a huge difference! And then, once we'd applied the gossip ban to our group, it was easier to apply the gossip ban elsewhere in our lives. I like to think that if the people from our group took nothing else away from our time together, we all learned how to be better at kindness and compassion, and the art of not gossiping.

Gossip is a tool of the devil, plain and simple. When we choose to talk about someone else in an unkind and unloving way, we are not behaving as a Christian and lover of Christ ought to. We're behaving exactly as the devil wants us to, spreading unlove and malicious rumors and hurting those we know- or simply know of.

"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." Proverbs 16:28

I don't want to gossip. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will keep that malicious gossip far away from me, and from those I love. May He fill our churches with love and kindness and compassion to bursting, because God knows we need that today.

Friday, May 08, 2009

God Answers Prayers!

"Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation." Psalm 35:9

"He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him." 1 Chronicles 5:20

There is something truly remarkable about seeing your prayers answered. Especially when it's something that you've really had on your heart to pray about, and you've spent many a time talking to God and interceding on behalf of someone or something. Last night, via someone else's testimony, I heard firsthand that much of the time that I have spent in prayer has not been in vain, and I serve a magnanimous God who cares about the cries of his people, and answers prayer. It's just so awesome and so cool! It's so incredible to look into someone's eyes, and where previously there was doubt and confusion, there is now pure joy, a sparkle that wasn't there before, but that we knew was in there somewhere, just waiting to come out.

God does answer prayer!

"He listens to the godly man who does his will." John 9:31

And while my soul is rejoicing completely for this testimony that I heard last night, there is also a part of me that knows that because my prayers have been answered, that doesn't mean it's time for me to stop praying. In fact, I suspect my prayers just got increased, but as they do, I also know that because God was listening to my prayers the first time around, that he will still be listening as I spend time praying for a dear friend.

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

I fear that my words this morning just aren't doing justice to the rejoicing that is going on in my soul today. And the song I posted today is such an encouragement, it helps remind me every time I hear it, that God ALWAYS wins. And there has been a great victory indeed for the Kingdom of Heaven, and I literally cannot wait to see what God is going to do, because it's going to be remarkable.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

This Mountain

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:14

"And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Exodus 3:12

"Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain." Exodus 19:17

A few weeks ago, I finished my cover-to-cover Bible reading that I started at the beginning of January. On average, giving that I was reading mostly only at lunchtime, and there were days I missed, it took about 100 days to do so. I've read the Bible through several time before, but this was the fastest I'd ever done so. It was very interesting, because as I read, the things from other books in the Bible were still fresh in my mind, so when I cam across things in the New Testament that referenced things in Exodus or Deuteronomy, I remembered them, and was able to better tie things together. When I finished my reading through, I had to decide what to do next, do I follow a different reading plan? Do I do it again? I decided to do that- start back at the beginning, and something interesting is still happening. As I'm reading the first few books of the Bible, I'm recollecting the things from the New Testament very vividly. I'll tell you, reading the whole Bible in a fast format really is helping to tie things together better, and I definitely recommend it if you have the opportunity.

One such thing that is a constant in both sections of the Bible is the concept of "going up the mountain". It's interesting that sometimes, the Bible is really talking about physically going up a mountain, but then other times, I have to wonder if it's a less-literal interpretation. There is a constant about going up the mountains- every time it's done, there is some form of worship and talking to God, or prayer going on. Most often, the time on the mountain is also solo. Moses went by himself, and Jesus went by himself, but in rare circumstances, those closest to the worshipper was allowed up the mountain as well. Which leads me to believe that many times in the Bible, when the idea of going up the mountain is discussed, they're actually talking about a secret place. It's a parable, a metaphor for quiet one-on-one time with God.

One of the things that struck me yesterday as I read was the two verses I posted above in Exodus. When the first one took place in chapter 3, Moses was on Mt. Horeb, and we see that God specifically says to him that they will worship on "this mountain" once they've been freed. Yet we fast-forward to the actual event in chapter 19, and they are not at Mt. Horeb, they are actually standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Two completely different physical mountains. But God called it "This Mountain". "This Mountain", I think, means a special place, a secret, quiet place where it's just you and God. And you are worshipful and reverent and in awe of The Almighty. And it's a place where you can talk to God, and He will talk to you.

"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray." Luke 9:28

"Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." John 4:20

"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself." John 6:15

"We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain." 2 Peter 1:18

I don't know about you, but This Mountain sure sounds like a wonderful place to be. Not only is it one-on-one time with God, but I also learned something very interesting about mountains in general recently. Did you know that mountains have a snake line? The snake line is an elevation where snakes cannot go past- they will literally die if they go past the snake line on a mountain, so snakes naturally stay below that line. So when we go up the mountain to spend time with our God, we can also rejoice in knowing that the snakes of this world cannot follow us there. When we purpose to spend that time with God, it's just us and God, and we don't need to worry about the devil following us there and trying to deceive us- he cannot go there.

This has me thinking. It has me thinking that in those times where is seems like we are under attack after attack, and it seems the devil is coming at us with full guns, that we should do our best to retreat to the mountain- to the safety and sureness of God. There, wrapped in His Peace, we can re-group and re-think and seek His Face and His Help in dealing with the enemy.

I think I like the idea of going up a mountain.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Continuing With Warfare Wednesday

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

I've been asked more than once over the last few months why it is I decided to do Warfare Wednesday, and why I continue it. I also am asked, not that it's anyone's business really, but I'm asked if I voted for President Obama. The short answer is that no I didn't. But the long answer is that while I voted, and many, many times leading up to the vote, I prayed a lot for God's Will to be done. I spent a lot of time praying that righteousness would prevail, and that no matter the outcome, that God would have an affect on the new President's administration. The person I voted for obviously didn't win the race, but that doesn't make President Obama any less my president. He is the Commander-In-Chief, and I have to believe that God's Will will prevail. The Bible tells us right here in 1 Timothy that we should be praying for our leadership- that through prayer, our lives will continue to be peaceful and Godly. So I continue to pray. And I continue to post Warfare Wednesday. Even if this is only a reminder for myself to pray for President Obama, it's worth it to post it every week, because it does remind me to pray. And I can assure everyone that the devil would certainly love for me to give up Warfare Wednesday and cease my praying, which tells me that my prayers ARE effective.

So this week, we're going to continue praying for President Obama. Specifically, today and tomorrow he is meeting with leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Together they will try to come up with plans for doing away with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. These are going to be some tough meetings, and we need to pray that God's Wisdom will prevail and that these leaders will seek God's Direction carefully in their talks. That is such a troubled area of the globe, I pray that God's peace and grace will fill the regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, that revival will catch and sweep across the region like wildfire.

I am thankful this week that we live in a nation where we can still pray. Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer, and people all over the country will be organizing and praying together for God's Touch upon our nation. May God touch each and every person who participates in this important day.

And finally, this week let's pray for Godly Wisdom for President Obama as he begins the process of finding his first Supreme Court Justice. Last week, Justice David Souter announced his retirement, and given the history of Supreme Court Justice decisions, they usually are pretty rocky. May President Obama seek God's Will when choosing a Justice, and may the process not bring division to an already divisive nation. Now more than ever we need unity and togetherness in this country.

For more prayer needs across the nation, be sure to check out the Presidential Prayer Team's website.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Precious Sight

"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." Proverbs 20:7

A few days ago, I walked into the kitchen to see this sight.

I also caught snips of a very quiet conversation about the fact that they were looking at the Psalms. There they were sitting at the table with Mommy's Bible. I didn't dare interrupt, and very quietly grabbed my camera to take a picture of them, because it was just so sweet to see. When I finally asked them what they were doing, they said "nothing."

Our children... while they have always been amazing little people, are getting more and more incredible each and every day. I can honestly say that I am really, really looking forward to our homeschooling adventure, and all the wonderful conversations and experiences we are going to have. It's really something when I'm walking the kids to the van after church, and Abigail starts telling me how she's going to pray for a teacher at school, or Zander talks about how they made a special craft to give to one of the Pastor's to bless them. Right now, the kids are just in a beautiful place where the accept the Bible completely. There's no wondering whether or not they agree or disagree with theology or doctrine, they simply accept it as fact and truth, and that with God, all things are truly possible.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:15

There is just so much discussion "out there"- so much... focus on what I believe versus what so and so believes versus what someone else believes. And it distracts us. We get so focused on proving ourselves right or trying to figure out just how we can make something fit our belief system, that I think we miss a lot of what the Bible has to say to us. When I see how my children just accept the Bible for what it is- the Word of God, it brings to mind this verse in Mark, and I can see with my very eyes exactly what Jesus was saying.

"He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

I think Jesus meant completely what he was saying here. There's no hidden meaning, no hidden agenda. He wasn't using a parable or symbolism. I think he was truthfully telling us that if we could unlock the faith that is within us, that nothing will be impossible for us. Nothing! With the keys to the kingdom, we can take dominion over the earth, and indeed, move mountains if the need arises. When you tell this to a child, they believe it! They have the faith to believe that God can do anything, while we adults sit and question our faith. Instead of building our faith and believing in the impossible, we credit our disbelief to our lack of faith, and wallow in our self-pity and try to over-analyze and figure out exactly what in our life has scarred us so badly to keep us from having faith.

Oh, to have the mind of a child.

Monday, May 04, 2009

No Favorites

"And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” 1 Peter 1:17

God doesn't play favorites. He doesn't have favorite Christians, or favorite non-Christians even. You know what? We all are his favorites. We are so much His favorites that He sent His favorite son to die for each and every one of us. Every single one of us is God's Favorite. Doesn't that thought just make you smile? YOU are God's favorite.

I used to joke around about how my parents had the direct line to God. When we'd talk to people about praying for them, we'd let them know that we would pass the request on to mom and dad, because they had the "red phone" to God. I still think that holds true, they do have the direct line to God, and I know God listens to them and answers their prayers all the time. But do you know that I have that same red phone? Do you know that you have that same red phone? When I pray, God listens and hears just as much as he hears when a great preacher prays. God loves us all, and he doesn't sit up in heaven when we pray, telling us to hold on because someone more important is praying. He hears us all, he loves us all, each and every one, and he wants us to know that.

Because knowing God's Love is sharing God's Love. When I am filled to bursting with God's Love, I can't help but love all of those around me. Instead of getting annoyed with the neighbor for blowing cigarette smoke in our direction, I think about how their life could be so much better if they would let God in and give up those horrible habits. And I pray for them, I pray that God would deliver them of the vile habit that could claim their life someday. As I think about the idea of God's favorites, I also think that God doesn't love me more than that neighbor. God loves that neighbor too and wants that neighbor to share in the eternity that I have already claimed.

Now, more than ever, is the time to love. God has been spreading this message of love like crazy. In the last few weeks, I've read countless articles and books and blogs about love. I've had dreams about love, and even the messages our Pastor has been sharing have all been about love. It's just time to let go of our prejudices and our grievances, and just let the love explode. Sure, there may be times where you come across someone who is really, really difficult to love- even a little bit. That's when you need to spend more time with God. Ask Him to love that person through you, ask Him to show you how to love that person. I think you'll be surprised at how well that prayer works. The most annoying person can become tolerable, and maybe even, (gasp!) a good friend in Christ.

Jesus died for love. He died because He loved us so much, and He wants each and every one of us with Him for all eternity. Isn't that sacrifice worth a little love on our part?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Believe It!

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23:7

Do you know that God loves you? You are a beautiful person- because God made you that way. God doesn't make anything that isn't beautiful. We are made in His Image, and that means that we are beautiful on both the outside and on the inside. Especially on the inside where God dwells.

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

And as children of God, as His heirs and beloved, we can believe everything that He says about us. Every word in the Bible that talks about being loved is true. God loved us so much...

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

You make God happy. You make God smile, and you please him as His child. Yet sometimes... sometimes the devil comes along and tries to convince us otherwise. He tried to tell us that we're not worthy, that we're not good enough, and too many times, we believe that enemy. We ARE worthy, because HE made it that way. We ARE good enough, because God doesn't create anything that isn't good.

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." Genesis 1:31

God didn't just make everything good- he made it very good! And those days when the enemy comes calling and tries to tell us otherwise, we can rest in the knowledge that we are made in His image and are very good. We are very good in every way- in our spirit, in our body, and in our minds.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

God did not give us that fear that holds us back so many times. Fear is from the devil. We can take courage from His Word and take all those words in and make them a part of our being. Every time we read a verse in the Bible that tells us that we are loved, it builds our spirit up just a little bit more, chipping away at that block of fear that holds us back. And eventually, we'll chip away enough that that fear will be no more, and our spirits will emerge, full of the love of God, ready to share it with anyone and everyone.

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37

God loves us! He loves you! He loves me! He loves us so much that everything He has done since the beginning of creation has been done to create an opportunity to spend eternity with you. It's time to believe! It's time to stop listening to the lies the devil is telling us and realize that we are who we were meant to be, and God loves us just as we are. He loves you, just as you are.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10