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My latest book, "Snapshots" is back up, please feel free to download and read (see right side bar to access your e-copy)! However, other Documents are still temporarily off-line as we continue recovery after the major hacking of our secondary site. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, in-article free download documents will be back up soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

A family crisis amidst this holiday season is calling me away from my keyboard until next week.  We are all OK now but some time to draw close is needed. 

God did give me a word to share and I posted on our KOG sight.  You can click on the KOG link in text to be taken (in a new window) to that article.


From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.  I look forward to sharing again next week!

With love and many blessings,

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Little Things

Have you ever gone to church on Sunday and nodded through most of the sermon because the pastor is speaking of your own heart from the week past?  That was me this Sunday... actually, it seems like me a lot of Sundays at our new church.  Is it God confirming His Word in my heart?  I think so.

But here, I must rewind and share a rare thing first....
... a picture of me!  Normally I am behind the view finder of our camera!  This was taken Saturday evening, as my girls and I readied to go to a Christmas play.  One Bethlehem Night.  Tickets were given at the last minute and we were blessed to attend.

The production, at a local large church, was amazing.  The message cut right to the heart:  God knows what he is doing, His plans are bigger than ours, and when we trust Him with all, he will take care of us... even if it means have a little baby in a dirty smelly manger.

The girls and I were deeply moved.

Enter Sunday.  Pastor is preaching on the messages of some of our most well known Christmas songs.  This week, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Pastor systematically pointed out how God chose the small, the poor and the helpless to do a great and wonderful thing in His name.  I was stirred when he relayed how Jesus didn't just come to save, he also came to identify with our weaknesses.  He has walked among us.  He was persecuted, rejected, scorned, betrayed, beaten, abandoned and finally crucified.... just to name a few.  He has been there.  He knows where we are.

And just as important as the relational aspect of our Savior is, there is also the fact that He calls us.  He often uses the smallest, quietest, least suspecting people to do the most wonderful things.  You say you are just a housewife?  You are just a parent?  You are just a nobody living on such-and-such street in no-whereville?  That isn't so.  YOU are a child of God and that is something in itself.

I know I often think of myself as a nobody... and perhaps we are a bunch of nobodies in a great space.  But we are somebody to Jesus and God wants to use us, where we are, with what we have, to bring a wonderful message.

Brothers, think of what you were when  you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong  
 - 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Watching the play Saturday night, tears caught in my throat, as Mary and Joseph submitted to not understanding yet fully trusting God.  Oh to submit each time I want to fight for answers.  Oh to be used, even when I can't understand how useful I could possibly be! 

Praises be to God for using a young girl, a stable, and a tiny baby in an obscure little town called Bethlehem to change the face of the world forever!
I share my prayers with you.  That we can welcome together the seemingly small things God calls us to do.  That we know we are something special in God's eyes, he knows our hearts, he has experienced all (and more) we can imagine, and he wants to use us where we are to do many great things in many small ways! 

Many blessings this Christmas season!





Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm waiting...

 ... for snow...
 If I could shake the clouds and make it snowstorm....
 I would.
 These pictures, honestly, are from November.

We got piles of it.  The kids even made a snow kiss... like a Hershey kiss but out of snow and almost 3 feet tall.
 The 'kiss' transformed into many other things; bath tub, tunnel, igloo... before it melted

So depressing.

Christmas time is here.  The snow needs to come back.  If I could shake the clouds and make it snowstorm, I would.  But I already said that... didn't I?

The snow isn't the only thing missing its timing. I can't even Christmas shop lately or do my Christmas baking without disruption in my plans. 


Why can't we just make things be the way we want?  Our time, our way, our plans?  So many things could be just perfect... couldn't they?



For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   
- Jeremiah 29:11


Perhaps, if we consider God's timing, his good and perfect timing, we can know that His timing fulfills His plans... and His plans are always better than ours.  We may not see it or feel it at the time.  But it's true.

All of the symbolism in the disruption of my ideas this season are beginning to speak louder than the upset.  I can do it my way and have trouble... or I can do it His way and find peace.  I can get depressed at the lack of white in the surrounding landscape or I can rest assured that white will come when it is time.  HIS time.

I'm reminded, too, we shouldn't try to make things happen... we should let them.  All will work out better that way!  Like the snow alluding the season, we can't force it.  But when it comes, we can let it and seek the beauty and perfection in God's timing for it.

By the way....
... it's snowing right now.

And it is beautiful.

Old snow would have been muddy and brown right now.

But the new snow is sparkly and white.  I'm looking forward to walking slowly through the fluffy flakes and capturing a few simple gifts to wrap gently and give warmly Christmas morn. His timing is perfect.

Bless you this Christmas Season, may you be thoughtfully in His timing and wrapped warmly within His plans.






Wednesday, December 14, 2011

He Is Calling

I must first admit, if you follow our KOG website, you may have read about this topic yesterday.  But where I seek to, through the Holy Spirit's lead, write to the mind there.... here I seek to write to the heart.


I have been studying with YWAM's School of Biblical Studies online (e-SBS) for the last 7 months.  The book of Mark has been our focus for the past 5 weeks.   For me, my studies take place early.  Up at 5am, dressed, coffee in hand.  I am not a morning person.  Seriously.  It is sad!  But God gifts me with the energy I need and the focus required to dive into His Word.


One goal in SBS is to identify the theme of the books as you study them.  On a particular morning I was combing through the verses in Chapter 10.  The assignment:  give paragraph headings that reflect the theme of the book.  Only 6 more chapters to go and I somehow felt like I was missing something.  I prayed for understanding.  I sought open doors.  I knew Mark was about what Jesus did, his servanthood, but where is the scripture that reveals this most profoundly in his nature?  I know how he heals, I know he speaks, I know he teaches.... but I just felt something deeper was waiting to be discovered.

Enter Mark 10:49


Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here."  And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you."


I don't like to repeat articles and messages, having written about this on KOG this week, but this one just stops my heart.  This one just calls to me to share and shout and live.  I felt like the head of the matter on KOG had to be delivered through the heart here... and this is why...



When we consider Mark and the theme of what Jesus did, this passage encompasses it all.  It isn't just the temporal servitude... it is the external call to the inner workings of man that he came to display.  This passage is the heart of that message. 

Jesus STOOD

He stood among humankind, on earth, for a time so he could call us to him.

My heart swelled, I nearly cried.  I had to hold myself from jumping up at the table, everyone still asleep, and shouting , "HE IS CALLING US ALL RIGHT NOW!!!"

The descriptive narration in this story reflected the message so beautifully.

  • Jesus STOOD STILL
  • Take heart... he is calling YOU
  • The man sprang up
  • Jesus said, "Your faith has made you well."
  • and finally, the man followed him on the way.

Oh how we can learn from this full story in Mark 10:46-52.  How God calls us... how he asks us what we need and we reveal to him our desires... but he already knows... he just wants to SEE our faith.


The blind man ignored the hushers who discouraged him from seeking Jesus.  The man didn't listen to those who tried to stop his pleas, he knew it was more important to cry out to Jesus and Jesus rewarded that faith.

He STOOD, He called and he healed.

The man responded immediately going to Jesus.  What if we sprang up when He called.  How much of our hearts could he heal if we called out to Him amidst discouragements?  What if we didn't care what others said or thought?  What if showing our Faith to Christ became our greatest focus in-and-out of every day instead of putting on a show for those around us?

Many in my family are unbelievers and cynics.  My response to Christ, my calls to Him, His grace for me, my faith... it comes with a price.  People I love, people I was once close to, are now far away.  But I know, if Jesus STOOD for me, I can stand for Him.  My faith may not always be rewarded here... but it isn't here I seek my reward.  He heals my heart, he covers my loss, and when heaven comes I look forward to seeing HIM standing there waiting for me because I answered His call and sprang to Him.

Be blessed this holiday season.  Spring to Him, Thank God that a baby came to one day be a man that STOOD and called for all to come... to SEE faith and hope restored.












Monday, December 12, 2011

Grace as a Gift

I get sentimental this time of year.  I am pretty sure I am  not alone!  Each year, though, God shows me a new aspect to the season... a perspective that grows my love of Him and expands my understanding of His Kingdom.

This year the Word is Gift of Grace.  Grace would probably define 2011 as a whole for me. The aspect of Grace as a Gift is fitting.

Grace seems obvious.  Our need to have our sins covered.  Our perpetual position of lost and broken requires the grace only God gives.  But on Sunday the preacher said something that humbled me in the scope of God's amazing grace as a gift.

On Jesus' birthday we received a gift.  Jesus, as the mighty King, Son of God, brought strength and power  because of our weakness.  It wasn't just sin that got us lost... it was our weakness in many things that kept us there. 

We think we are stronger than we are.  America is especially prone to the I can do it myself attitude and we as Americans fall too quickly into suit.

But no one can do it themselves.  Well, we can try, thinking we have it under control.  But things done outside of His guidance and His will eventually end up in the scrap pile out back!  We are too weak to fully lift our own plans and they, therefore, fall apart. 

"We are utterly helpless to change spiritual problems without Christ"

Challenges really are spiritual.  When we submit to His strength to manage all, the problem may still exist, but His strength coursing through us is always enough to manage what lies ahead.

"Christmas Brings Strength"

Praise God for that!  Through our acceptance of His Grace, His Strength pours out.

It is mind bogglingly awesome.... at our disposal (not just for emergencies but for all time time!)... and voice activated.

This gift of power, through grace, is given freely and it is connected to HIS PURPOSE for us.

We search Him, we look to the manger, to that strength in the form of a baby... that hope in promise fulfilled... and we drop to knee like the shepherds and magi of long ago.  We drop to knee and worship.  We drop to knee and pray.

“All hell is vanquished when the believer bows his knee in importunate supplication. ...Be sure that you are with God, and then you may be sure that God is with you.” Charles Spurgeon

I, like most Christians, knew Jesus gives us power to conquer all of life's challenges.  But it is so much more humbling when we stop to consider that power, for our weakness, as a more personal appeal of God to the lost of this world. 

When sin overtakes us, the strength of Jesus through the Holy Spirit within us can overtake sin.  It isn't just the forgiveness and grace... it is also the strength that grace bestows.

As I begin a new week, Pastor's message fresh in my heart, I am thankful for God's guidance by way of His subjects serving in His name.  I consider the first-thing-in-the-morning call we received today, a search for help in a troubled family we are ministering to.  We can draw on that gift of strength and rejoice that we can overcome.... and we can speak this truth to others that they may be able to overcome because through God's grace, true strength was born on Christmas day.  The gift that keeps on giving!


The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
   Exalted be God my Savior! 
-Psalm 18:46


May you be blessed by the gift of strength, given through grace, that HE, a babe in a manger, may be your rock... your everlasting... your mighty savior!








This week I begin linking up with Michelle DeRusha.  It blessed my heart to see women on the web regurgitating Sunday's message and seeking to actively apply it... I was inspired to join in.  After all, what good is a sermon if we don't seek to live it, share it, and allow God to work through it in us every day!  You can join me too!

 

Photo Credits go to Stock.xchng,  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1121740




Friday, December 9, 2011

A Parable in Modern Form



The day had just begun, everyone was still asleep except my youngest son who sat on the other end of the couch, legs curled under him, gazing up at the brightly lit tree.  At 11, he does not look or act like other kids his age.  Def in his youngest ears, suspicions of mild Cerebral Palsy and a severe case of Dyslexia, he doesn’t think like other kids either. 

But don’t be fooled.  It isn’t these, shall we say, bumps in the road that make him different… it is his heart.

He interrupts the silence to ask, “Do you think Santa worships Jesus?”  Yes, he still believes and yes, Santa visits our house every Christmas!

I was startled from the pages of the book sitting in front of me.  How could he ask that?  Haven’t we had a statue of Santa at Jesus’ manger displayed every Christmas season to remind everyone Who it is really all about?  Or is it the general commercialism of the season that has stolen the King’s Throne… have I added to that?

I know the stories of St. Nicholas, what a good and kind heart he had for children and his reverence towards God.  How he helped influence the Bible we read today and his passion for people and the realness of his charity to mankind.  That is why we honor the traditions of his visit down our chimney.  Like a modern parable for children to understand what selfless giving looks like.

As my children age and come to ask, “Is he real?”  I find myself repeating what my mother told me many years ago… he is  real, in our hearts.  I want to sing it to the Virginias of the world that, yes, he really did exist and his obedience to God's message through him was so strong that it makes him almost real today... a legacy lasting nearly 17 centuries.  He is a servant of our Savior, a bearer of gifts like the Gift God so graciously and generously sent down at Christmas.

So as I sat, looking into the innocent face of my youngest son, the one with the missionary’s heart who never stops praying, never stops hoping and always tries to think like Jesus… I began to ask myself;


What if we looked at Santa differently.  Not just some jolly elf but rather a missionary of God appointed and ordained to the task at hand. 


What if we saw Santa as hat in hand at the cradle of Jesus, bestowing honor and glory where it is truly due?


What if we left cookies and milk as a measure of hospitality, a way to teach our children how to take care of others the way Jesus calls us to?


What if the magic many believe was simply the symbol of God’s ordaining power to man to carry out his greatest calls.  The super-natural strength when God is before us… when He is in control.

He called a little child, whom he placed among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes a humble place—becoming like this child—is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.  
Matthew 18:2-5


If to see the Kingdom is to see as a child, doesn’t Santa embody that aspect… this parable in modern form? I'm not saying we worship him, only God deserves our worship.  But what if we allow that wonder by helping it bring the kingdom closer... what if we show our children not to bow to Santa but to see Santa bow before the king because all mankind should bow like that too?

Yes son, Santa worships Jesus.  Jesus is why Santa does his job.

Let us, at Christmas, reclaim CHRISTmas.  Even as Santa readies his sleigh.

Many blessings this CHRISTmas season!





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Be Still and Rejoice


Tis the season to be... busy?  That is what it feels like.  Why can't we just enjoy the season?  Instead we often find ourselves lacking the jolly part and increasing on distressed.

Just before this Christmas season began this year, God put a message on my heart,

"Be still and know I am God."

He reminded me that, as the Christmas season kicks off [and progresses], it is not about maxing credit cards, or piles of packages.  It isn't how much we cram in the time the season contains.  Oh, it is all good and fine... we just want to experience so much in the short time these holidays offer... but when we forget to weigh each element out with the same care we consider all year long (time, importance, spiritual necessity) we can find ourselves in burn-out mode and looking more forward to the quietness post-season than the peace we should seek and find in season.


As Christmas season goes full-swing, I pray you will join me in remembering to pause, seek, and see the Lord for whom we celebrate.  To be still and know HE is God.  Measure each task, each moment, each purchase, and each program attendance against His design... claim the peace of the season and celebrate the Joy of He who came to save us all... the greatest gift known to mankind... not in a snazzy package, but a simple baby in a modest manger.
 

Blessings to you this Christmas season!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Always Home

 He walked in and the smile on his face reflected the warmth of the home.  "Now it feels like home... this is what I have been missing."  My heart ached as I thought, me too, Son.

It is Christmas time.  Zach, our oldest, is often gone over Thanksgiving break.  We decorate together when he returns and, this year, I had the tree up, lit and ready for ornaments.  The fire crackled and the living room was warm in more ways then one.

We have lived here for almost a year now.  But it has never felt like home.  After all, it isn't our home.  But ever evolving, ever learning... God showed me something new during Thanksgiving this year; home isn't walls, it isn't even people... home is where our hearts reside when the Kingdom is near.


Was it this realization that made the house warm or just the lights on the tree and peices of our old home scattered about?  Honestly, I think it was both.

Zach leaves this summer.  Where, we don't know yet.  But it won't be close.  He will begin to learn about home  and its true meaning on a campus far away.  Will he have time to miss us?  I think so, especially as the holidays roll near.  We may not still be here, God could call us just about anywhere in this country.  But I pray that, whether my young son walks through our door or someone else's... he can remember that with the Kingdom near, he is always home.

May you be home no matter where you are this holiday season.

Blessings dear friends,






Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When Waiting Has Arrived

We have waited 17 years for this day... feeling it may never come (can time really pass that fast?)  I think he must realize the significance too because he lingers a little longer, stands a little closer, and even gives me a warm hug when all is done. 

He knows my mother's heart cries at simple things, and this is no exception.  Honestly, I think his heart is touched too.

We have a tradition in our family.  One we have had since kids began to pile up and "But I want to put the star on this year" might be heard. 

We decorate the tree together, each has their own ornaments gifted from grandparents (and parents!).  Some made, some saved... but all make it on the tree with love and patience I find remarkable year-after-year.

Then that moment...
The angel is placed on her regal bow, ready to do God's bidding and watch over our house through the season.  Each year one child gets a turn.  With four children rotating, a 'year' is forever!  We did the math when he was 12, Zach's turn would come his senior year of high school... his last Christmas home as a 'child', his last Christmas to have the blessing of holding a peace of heaven in his hands and saying, "I did that" under the roof of mom and dad.

Everyone else is excited to watch the final touch be added to the tree.  My eyes are a little less dry this Christmas.  He waited so long... I waited feeling like it would never come... and it is here.

How does that happen?  Like a blink and we are there.  Is waiting really waiting after all? 

I know it isn't an encouraging word today... scripture to make the day a bit lighter... but perhaps a bit of testimony, a realization of one mom; that age-old-idea that our children grow up too fast and I really wouldn't mind waiting a little longer!  But I am grateful God guides their hearts.  That the joy of each passing season can remain.  And when times are rough, and they have been rough in spots over the years, there is always hope.  Sometimes hope simply grows in the waiting.

Well, maybe I do have a scripture to share...

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
- Romans 15:13


May your waiting be filled with peace and hope as this Christmas season begins.

Many blessings to all of you,