Friday, October 31, 2008

Dont Just Vote, Vote For What Is Right In Gods Eyes

I have received dozens of emails and forwarded messages from various people about this election over the past months about why not to vote for Obama and all the facts/rumors to support being against him, but since everyone has different views, I have yet to forward any of them on to anyone. However, this email really spoke to this me morning, and I feel compelled to share it.

I have felt this stirring in my spirit that is mentioned below, and agree that our God is more involved in this election than any other in the past. There is much at stake, and it is not just politics, economy and jobs. It is the faith that this country is founded on. It is whether or not we continue to be a country blessed by God, because in God we trust.

If you truly consider yourself to be a believer and follower of Christ, I want to encourage you to stand up for what is right in Gods eyes, and not who seems right from human eyes. God will prevail in all things, but there is power in our faith. Our prayers can turn this election around. Our faith can help us win the battle. Our votes for the right candidate are simply a vessel to show the world that righteousness still matters.

It’s a long read below, but well worth it.


Dear Friends in Christ,
Are you sensing that there is something different about this presidential election? I was telling someone just recently that it seems like this election is far more serious than those in the recent past. Something in my spirit is very uneasy. In the past I have felt the need to pray for different elections but I have never felt so strongly the urge to pray, and pray fervently, for an election as I do for this one. I truly believe that if the wrong person (Obama) is elected this nation will be changed forever.

We may not be able to undo the things that will be unleashed during an Obama presidency. My concern about an Obama presidency is not based on politics; it is based on righteousness. Look at any of the major moral issues (abortion, homosexuality etc.) and yo u will find Obama on the wrong side of the issue, and Palin an d McCain on the right side of the issue. What makes this so disturbing is that the Obama team has raised far more money than McCain/Palin and the media is unabashedly supporting Obama with every story and headline they write. Currently McCain/Palin is behind in the polls and is having a very difficult time. Some in the media have suggested that the race is over and there is little or nothing McCain can do to change the outcome. Oh how wrong they are!

Let me briefly share a story I recently read in 2 Samuel Chapter 5.

David had just become king of Israel and the Philistines went up to wage war against him. So David inquired of the Lord and said, 'Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?' The LORD said, 'Yes I will surely hand them over to you.' So David went and defeated them. He said, 'As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.' After suffering a great loss in the first battle the Philistines must have thought they now knew David defense strategy and they would be ready for him the next time, because once more the Philistines came up to attack David. So once again David inquired of the LORD, but this time the Lord gave different instructions. He said to David, 'Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsa m trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army. 'David obeyed the Lord and was victorious.

This story holds a very important lesson for us at this time. In most presidential elections a frontal assault, a face-to-face battle, is what is needed. But this is no ordinary election. McCain is trying all the normal tactics but he is not prevailing. It seems no matter what he says or does it is not effective. I am convinced this election CANNOT be won using normal methods. Just as the Lord told David to go around behind the enemy and attack him there, so we must go around the face of this election and wage war where the battle is truly raging in the spiritual realm! The fact that the normal physical methods are not effective this time should tell us that this is a very important spiritual battle and we can only win by using spiritual methods Prayer!

What about the sound of marching in the treetops? What is that? I have read on the Internet several accounts of fellow Christians being stirred up in their spirits to pray. Many have been drawn into times of deep prayer and weeping as they intercede for Palin and McCain. Some have woke up in the middle of the night and sensed a great need to pray, others have told of how when they heard a bout Sarah Palin being chosen as VP that something came over them and they wept and felt a need to pray for her and McCain. Many others are feeling the calling and urging of the Spirit to enter into a time of fervent prayer and fasting for Palin and McCain and our nation. What is this unusually stirring that is occurring? I believe it is the Sound of the Lord marching in the trees, calling his children to act quickly to pray and fast for Palin and McCain.

Think about this, what would the marching have sounded like to David? It may have sounded like the rustling of leaves as when wind blows through them, but this time something was different and out of the ordinary. Maybe it was like the sound of the great wind when the Spirit moved on the day of Pentecost. Also, God's people are referred to as Trees of Righteous in Isaiah 61. So the sound of the Lord marching in the treetops in David's time is a portrait of the Spirit of the Lord moving among and stirring up his children today.

So what are we to do when we sense this stirring of the Spirit? Two things, first we are to take it as the sign that the Lord is moving out in front of us. Anytime the Lord calls us to do something he goes ahead of us to prepare the way and fight for us. When Joshua returned from spying out Jericho the Lord gave him insight to see that the Lord had removed the Jericho's protection so Israel could defeat them. When the Lord calls us into battle he goes ahead of us, removes the enemy's protection, and fights for us to give us the victory. Secondly, the Lord tells us when we sense the stirring of the Spirit we are to act quickly and join Him in the battle (through prayer, fasting, praise and obedience).

This election is by no means lost. For God would not be stirring up his children all across this nation and indeed around the world, to pray, if he did not want to give us the victory in this election. And he wants us to join him in the battle.

God will hear the cries of his children if we will only cry out to him with fervent, earnest, prayers for this election and this nation. If those who are being drawn to prayer by the Spirit will indeed enter into a time of prayer and seeking His face, then God will have mercy on America spare us from having an ungodly leader, I'm sure of it! One more thought, after the last debate, so-called 'conservative' David Brooks gushed about Obama, saying; 'I thought . . .Obama is just the mountain. . . . I'm really glad he used the word 'mountain' to describe Obama. It caused me to remember what Jesus said about unmovable mountains. Jesus said, 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. And it only takes a little faith!

This election can only be won by going around the face of the election and attacking the enemy where he is vulnerable, through prayer, fasting and praise.

If you hear the sound of the Lord marching in the tree tops, if you feel the stirring of the Spirit calling you to pray, then move quickly into a time of prayer, for God is moving ahead of you at that time to give us the victory.

May God give us ears to hear the marching!
(written by Scott Whitley)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Shepherds Staff

I am one of those lucky people who dream in vivid color with full-length story lines and characters. I had such a wonderful dream once that I have never forgotten it. Before collapsing in bed, I didn’t take time to turn my burdens over to the Lord or thank him for my many blessings. I was too tired to spend time with Him and just needed some rest, but thankfully my lack of time did not prevent God from spending time with me.

As I was sleeping that night, I dreamed that I was in an unfamiliar place with a large crowd of people. Suddenly the crowd became very excited and everyone started running towards an auditorium, which resembled an ancient Greek auditorium. Once in the auditorium, all the people began gazing into the blue sky. The clouds began to gently swirl around and around as they lowered to the earth. One of the clouds began forming into a thin line and turned into the distinct shape of a large cross.

The sun was brightly shining through the clouds and all around the cloud-cross there were beautiful colors that penetrated the vastness of the sky. The brilliance of the colors and the light shining through the clouds forced us to shade our eyes. But as we watched, another cloud turned into the shape of a rod and staff, and as if an invisible hand were holding the staff and lifting it up and down as it made its way closer to the auditorium, everyone brimmed with excitement and starting chanting the words, “It’s Jesus! Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!”

The thrill and excitement I felt was overwhelming, actually indescribable. The thought of seeing the face of Jesus, and standing in His presence took my breath away, and the joy and anticipation was so real. Then I was rudely awakened from this heavenly state of mind to the loud beeping sound of my alarm clock. I lay there for a few silent moments in the peace and darkness trying to recapture the joy of that moment but once the tasks of the day ahead starting filling my mind, I arose and began the chaos of my day, and the dream faded from my thoughts.

While driving in the car that morning, I turned up my favorite Christian radio station and began to let it sooth me with songs of praise. After a few songs, it was time for the family focus segment and I half-heartedly paid attention as I mentally reviewed my to-do list. But then I realized that this morning’s devotion was based on Psalm 23. At that moment, as I now listened intently to the lesson, I was reminded of the significance of Psalm 23, and of the glorious dream I had experienced.

After pondering about the dream and the obvious relevant lesson on the radio, I knew God was speaking to me. It was his way of telling me to lay my burdens down, and be faithful in knowing that he will protect me, comfort me, and lead me to a state of contentment and secure rest. There is no need for me to spend time worrying about problems, whether big or small, when I can simply turn them over to him and receive peace, all the time knowing that he will lead me down a path of safety and well being. The dream that God placed into my sleeping mind was a little blessing to help me rekindle the joy that I felt when I first believed.

The shepherd’s staff is a symbol of protection and love. Jesus wants to protect his children and comfort them, as a shepherd would protect and comfort his sheep. The staff in my dream was so beautiful, and had peacefully drifted towards the crowd of people who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jesus. Although the actual face of Jesus never appeared in my dream, the presence of the staff was enough to bring incredible joy to everyone in its presence. All the people knew that the staff was Jesus.

Although Jesus is invisible to the human eye, we can hold tight to the fact that we don’t have to see His face to know His love. Jesus is present and active in our lives… even when we are sleeping.
Psalm 16:11 You have made know to me the path of life; you will fill me joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV)

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song. (NIV)

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (NIV)

The Shepherds StaffSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A God sized weekend

I had such an amazing weekend. Have you ever asked God to show you something or confirm something for you.... and then He actually did? That is what happened to me this weekend, and it was awesome!

I spent the weekend in the beautiful mountains of Dahlonega, Georgia with the womens group from Centerville Baptist in Georgia. The fall air was crisp and the trees were like colorful rainbows along the roads. I even got to stay in a fancy log cabin, and ride in a private jet to get there! (which of course made me feel all special and important!) A huge thanks to my awesome pilots Mike and his son Ross!

The ladies at Centerville were amazing (if you are visiting my blog because you attended the retreat this weekend, then welcome! It was so great to meet you and I hope you come back again soon!).

On Saturday night after the last evening session and right before I had to leave, I shared with these precious women how much the weekend had meant to me. I knew they had invited me as their speaker to encourage them, but I also knew in my heart that Christ had sent me there to be encouraged.

Friday morning, I sat down with a cup of coffee to review my messages for the weekend, and found myself feeling anxious and to be honest, regretting that I had to go out of town. It was cold and raining outside, plus my daughter had told me earlier that morning about a plane crash her friends dad was involved in - and I was getting on a private plane in just a few hours!

It also turned out that Morgan was having her first High School Ladies Ensemble Chorus concert on Friday night, and I was going to miss it. Kaitlyn had a newly scheduled cheerleading competition on Saturday morning and her final tournament ballgame that afternoon, and I was going to miss them. My son, Michael, was playing in a tournament football game, and I was going to miss it. So to top it all off, I was seriously ill from a severe case of mommy-guilt!

So I got on my knees and prayed. I prayed for the retreat, for safe travels, and for all the ladies who would be attending. I prayed for my family to be safe while I was away and for my husband to survive. I prayed for God's wisdom in what I would be sharing, and the strength to share my testimony which is always hard. I prayed that hearts would be prepared to hear Him speak.

And lastly, I asked Him to show me that being away from my family, and being a speaker, was actually making a difference in His kingdom. I apparently had been listening to the wrong voices lately and was doubting what God had called me to do. The mommy guilt was taking over, and the insecurities were pouring in.

Then it happened. Friday night, after sharing my testimony, one lady came up and shared how she had been struggling with similar sins her past, and how my story had helped her heart to heal.

Another lady shared with me how God had called her to share her testimony over the weekend, and how she was scared to, but felt more empowered now.

Many other ladies shared individually with me how certain things I had said were meant directly for them; that verses I shared would help them get through a certain situation; that they now believed that their suffering could be used to Gods glory; and that all things are possible with God; that God is truly in control.

Another woman shared how she did not want to come to the retreat and almost didnt, because she was afraid of opening up to people, but her husband encouraged her to come and to be "transparent"....... my first session was all about being transparent for Christ.

Woman after woman approached me, in confidence, to let me know that my being there made a difference in their life. Now dont think Im getting a big head - far from it. I was humbled beyond belief. I dont even remember all the words I shared, because God took over each time I stepped on stage, and it was all about Him and nothing about me. God moved.

One little plea for confirmation and little plea for mercy and grace.......dozens of tangible answers standing right in front of me, with hugs, tears, smiles and encouragement.

God is so good. If you havent seen Him actively working in your life, ask Him to make His presence known today. Are you serving Him in some way and beginning to wonder if what you are doing really matters? Ask Him to show you that it is - because trust me - it is! Trust God - it is!

God answers prayers. From little ones to big ones. I stand in awe and amazement how personal God is to each one of us. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness.

FOR THE LADIES OF CENTERVILLE: Many of you requested the information I shared about the applications of colors being used in scripture, and below is that information for you. Feel free to print, copy and paste as desired and let me know if you have any questions! I enjoyed meeting all of you so much - I am so thankful for my new Georgia friends!

Symbolizes the Glory of God

One of the more commonly used colors in the Bible; describes the color of the middle of the night (Proverbs 7:9); diseased skin (Job 30:30); healthy hair (Song of Solomon 5:11; Matthew 5:36); corpses' faces (Lamentations 4:8); the sky (Jeremiah 4:28); the darkening of the sun and the moon (Joel 2:10); horses (Zechariah 6:2; Revelation 6:5); and marble (Esther 1:6). The color black symbolizes sin, death, and famine.

It also describes the sky, Heaven, and the Holy Spirit. wall hanging. Often used in tabernacle Ex 25:4, ex 28:15 Used by royalty Esther 8:15

A dark, blackish color referred only to sheep (Genesis 30:32-33, 35, 40).

Crimson linen was used in the temple (II Chronicles 2:7, 14, 3:14); the color must have been indelible or permanent (Jeremiah 4:30), as crimson is used figuratively as sin. (Isaiah 1:18).Often refers to blood atonement and sacrifice.

As gold is the highest, most precious metal, so the divine nature is the highest nature, the only nature having immortality (Exodus 28:36; Psalm 21:3).

Normally describes vegetation; used of pastures (Psalm 23:2); herbage (II Kings 19:26); trees in general (Deuteronomy 12:2; Luke 23:31; Revelation 8:7); the marriage bed (in a figurative sense, Song of Solomon 1:16); a hypocrite compared to a papyrus plant (Job 8:16); and grass (Mark 6:39).Most often associated with the meaning of growth.

The most precious of ancient dyes made from a shellfish found in the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 250,000 mollusks was required to make one ounce of the dye, which partly accounts for its great price. It was highly valued within the nation of Israel. Used in several features of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 27:16) and the temple (II Chronicles 2:14); the color of royal robes (Judges 8:26); the garments of the wealthy (Proverbs 31:22; Luke 16:19); the vesture of a harlot (Revelation 17:4); and the robe placed on Jesus (Mark 15:17, 20). This color symbolizes kingship and royalty.

Describes natural objects such as Jacob's stew (Genesis 25:30); the sacrificial heifer (Numbers 19:2); wine (Proverbs 23:31); newborn Esau (Genesis 25:25); Judah's eyes (Genesis 49:12); the eyes of the drunkard (Proverbs 23:29); and the dragon (Revelation 12:3). The color of blood, it often symbolizes life; it also suggests bloodshed in the carnage of war.

Scarlet cord was tied around the wrist of Zerah (Genesis 38:28-30); used a great deal in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4); the color of cord hung from Rahab's window (Joshua 2:18); a mark of prosperity (II Samuel 1:24; Proverbs 31:21); the color of the robe placed on Jesus (Matthew 27:28); though scarlet and purple were not always distinguished (Mark 15:17); color of the beast ridden by the harlot Babylon (Revelation 17:3) along with some of her garments (Revelation 17:4) and those of her followers (Revelation 18:16). Often refers to blood atonement and sacrifice.

Used to represent the truth. (Psalm 12:6)

The color of animals (Genesis 30:35); manna (Exodus 16:31);
-the robes of the righteous (Revelation 19:8); -forgiven sins (Psalm 5:7, Isaiah 1:8);
- the beloved one (Song of Solomon 5:10); -
-the shining garments of angels (Revelation 15:6) and of the transfigured Christ (Matthew 17:2);
and the great throne of judgment (Revelation 20:11). Portrays purity, righteousness, joy, light, and a white horse symbolizes victory.

Indicates the greenish cast of gold (Psalm 68:13)

A God sized weekendSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 24, 2008

Looking Past Our Limitations

I was enjoying my morning run as the sun was shining, birds were singing sweetly, and the fragrant smell of fresh honeysuckles filled the air. Suddenly I was startled by the loud sound of barking, and noticed the dog sitting near a garage, barking her little doggie lungs out.

Although her bark seemed fierce, she did not run towards me – she was old; her hair was shaggy and faded; she was tired; her legs didn’t work as well as they used to; and she no longer had the physical strength or energy to dart across the yard. However, she chose not to allow her limitations to stop her voice from being heard.

I admired her for her tenacity, and for her passion to fulfill her purpose of protection for her owners. Even though she now had challenges that prevented her from doing all she once did, she still gave it all she had.

As I continued running, I had to ask myself if I exert that same energy for Christ, even when limitations have befallen me. So many times, we allow the circumstances that happen in our lives, and the limitations that may happen to our physical bodies, to keep us from living out loud with our faith. The Webster definition of “living” says “the condition of being alive”, but the biblical definition of “living” is that the Holy Spirit resides within our bodies, but also within our souls.

We are told in Genesis 2, “ ….God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!” Adam's body was formed from the dust, but Adam's spirit was made in the image of God. Every person on earth can live – but only those who have accepted Christ as the true son of God, are truly alive in body, heart and soul.

The decision to become a Christian is the beginning of a new life where many opportunities and challenges await us. Yet once we accept that new life, we are faced with another decision – will we live out our faith on a daily basis – despite our circumstances, challenges, and, yes, even physical limitations?

Scripture teaches us that although we may have limitations in our life or physical bodies, those things do not limit our abilities in Christ and we can find our strength in Him. Isaiah 40:29 says “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak; Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

God is the giver of all life – not just the gift of being alive, but the gift of a living soul. If you have allowed your physical limitations to keep you from living out loud, ask God to show you how you can continue to serve Him, and for the strength to do His will despite your circumstances.

If you have never asked Christ into your heart and life, considering making that amazing choice today. Give God the opportunity to breathe life into your soul, to fill your heart with a love that is overflowing, and a passion to share the hope you have found with others, by living, (or “barking”) out loud for Him.

Looking Past Our LimitationsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 20, 2008

12 Ways To Turn A Bad Day Into A Good Day

If Im having a really bad day.... watch out. Just ask my kids and my husband (wait...on second thought, dont ask him).

If Im not careful, I can take my bad mood, or bad time of the month, out on them! If Im not careful, I can allow the frustrations, anger, hurt or pain of the situations in my life to cause me to lose sight of the fact that I should be thankful for another day that God allowed me to spend on this earth. I can lose sight of all the millions of blessings He has showered down upon me.

If you are like me, sometimes we have to make it our goal to change a bad day into a good day. Nobody can make us have a bad day, except for us. Regardless of what happens around us or to us, we always have the power to choose out attitude.

With the help of Jesus, we can change our bad mood, into a good mood, simply by changing our perspective, and refocusing on doing something positive instead of stomping around in a bad mood all day and inflicting ill will on everyone we come in contact with.

Having a bad day? Here are a few suggestions for turning a bad day into an awesome day.

1. Play with your kids. Really play with them, on the floor, or in the yard, and something that takes time and attention. Turn off the ballgames, the computer, and the phone. Focus on them.

2. Give someone a compliment. Ask God to help you notice special things about a certain friend or stranger so that you can genuinely make their day by lifting their spirits.

3. Sing some praise songs in your car - not with a little lip movement, but full blown singing out loud as if you were standing on stage performing. If people stare and laugh, then so be it - now you have helped them to have a better day too.

4. Read Philippians 4, and while you are at it, think about where Paul was while he was writing it, and the fact that he wrote the word "joy" sixteen times while he was at it.

5. Bake your favorite kind of cookies, cakes or home made candies. Surprise the kids or grandkids when they get home from school - open the door when they get off the bus so the delicious aroma will reach their little noses before they even get inside the house.

6. Eat some of those cookies, cakes and home made candies and dont think about calories. In fact, get some milk too.

7. Go the mall or grocery store and do some people watching. See if you can determine if they are having a good day or bad day, and say a little prayer for them.

8. Do something for someone you love, that is totally unexpected. Clean the house for your wife, buy a pretty negligee for your husband, send someone flowers to a friend with an encouraging note, or get off the phone/computer the minute your kids get home from school.

9. Pray. Having a one on one conversation with the creator of the Universe who also happens to be your daddy can genuinely lift your spirits.

10. Think of someone whom you admire or who has made an impact in your life, and give them a call. Dont tell them about your bad day, just focus on making their day better.

11. Write a letter to a friend you havent seen or talked to in ages. Did I say email? Nope. I said hand written, old fashioned letter, maybe even include a few pictures of the family, your pet, or a special vacation you went on. By the way, let them know how important they are to you.

12. Remember that God loves you, and according to Romans 8:28, all things work for the glory of God for those who love Him. So whatever is the cause of your bad day, is actually a tiny piece of the glorious puzzle that God is putting together in your life to create a breathtaking masterpiece once it is all said and done.

Did you notice that each one of these things that can help you have a better day, also can have a positive affect on someone elses day? Nothing makes us feel better than doing something good for someone else.

Like the old saying goes, tis better to give than to receive - and that includes helping someone have a good day - but as a special benefit, you will end up having a great day too.

12 Ways To Turn A Bad Day Into A Good DaySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cleaning House and Heart

I was tired of tripping over shoes, left over belongings, stray hangers, and dirty clothes!

I finally realized that I had to just give in and clean out my closet! In the house we moved out of nearly 12 years ago, the closets were microscopic and I even had to share one with my husband (gasp!). So when we moved into our current home, I thought my private walk-in closet was huge - but honestly, it seems to have shrunk now!

Lets face it ladies, no matter how big our closets are, they never seem big enough, with the exception of one of my friends who turned an entire bedroom into her walk-in closet - I know, I know, forgive me Lord ..... thou shalt not covet thy friends closet.

But as I stood in my closet, I wondered why I had so many clothes, yet never seemed to have anything to wear! I set out to try and figure out this mystery.

After about three hours of sorting clothes into the piles of either 1)give to a family member or friend who could use it, 2)donate to a charity, 3)sell on Ebay, or 4)keep for the next season, my closet was finally clean! I organized each section by pants, shirts, skirts, dresses, jackets, etc., and then by long sleeve, short sleeve, no sleeve, dark color, light color, and even got rid of a bunch of shoes (for all you obsessive shoe lovers out there, please forgive me). Look how good I did! Go me!

I breathed a sigh of relief and reveled in my success, of which some might call compulsive organization tactics, that is until I turned around and noticed the disaster area that was formerly my nice clean bedroom.

So then I had to clean that area up, which took another hour, but once I was done, it was so worth it! I no longer had to sort through clothes every day that were too big, too small, worn out, out of style, out of my tastes, etc., etc. I could start off each day with a fresh, clean perspective.

Cleaning is something we all like to put off, but something that is always necessary. I love the show Clean House. I watch in amazement at the homes featured, and wonder how anyone could ever let their house get that dirty, cluttered, messy, filthy, and unorganized. I wonder how they can live like that every day, and how embarrassed they must be when other people finally get a glimpse of the real picture, especially knowing that people all over the country are seeing it on TV!

I started thinking about how hearts are kind of like messy houses at times. On the outside, we try to look pretty and fixed up, but on the inside our hearts are full of clutter. Things like unforgiveness, bitterness, self condemnation, sadness, lack of true joy, and worry clutter our hearts, making a huge mess. Even when we spend a lot of time trying to keep clean on our bodies, our houses, or our closets, we often to forget to spend some much needed time cleaning up our hearts.

Everyone knows that when it comes to cleaning house, the more we neglect doing what is needed, the worse things get. And, the longer we put off cleaning things up, the longer it is going to take to get it clean when we finally do decide that we cannot put it off any longer.

In the same way, the longer we allow our hearts to stayed cluttered and messy, before we know it, that clutter becomes bad habits and attitudes that are hard to break.

I did a little fall cleaning on my heart lately too, not just my closet. In a house with two young teen daughters with changing hormones, busy social lives, and lots of girl drama, sometimes I have to remind myself that they need a happy mommy, not a grumpy mommy. They need a patient mom, not an impatient mom. They need a forgiving mom, not a mom who constantly reminds them of their mistakes. They need a mom whose heart shows them how to love others and do things for other people, instead of resenting when people have special needs.

It is more important to have a clean heart than it is to have a clean house, but we are usually much more willing to clean house, than clean heart.

My favorite part of the Clean House show is the last segment, where you see what the house really looks like once all the cleaning, organizing and redecorating is complete. All I can say after every show is WOW! It was a lot of work for the cleaning team, but the results were so worth it. The family can have a fresh start and a fresh perspective about life and their future.

If you get a wild hair to start doing some fall cleaning - you go girl! But while you are standing in the middle of piles of clothes or items that you no longer need, take a moment to pray and ask God if your heart needs a little cleaning too.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.Renew a loyal spirit within me. (NLT)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Counting My Blessings

As the sun rose this morning, and I was lying in bed, I began thinking about all the things I had to do during the day. As I mentally checked off my to-do's, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with thankfulness for all of the blessings that I have.

All too often I get caught up in the busyness of life and the mental toll of daily activities, and forget to thank God for all the wonderful things that He has given me. I tend to forget that my good fortune has nothing to do with my skills, but everything to do with His grace.

So, I want to write down the top 15 things that instantly come to mind when I think of counting my blessings:

1. My good health.
2. The fact that I have 3 healthy children, full of energy, life and happiness.
3. My marriage to my husband of 18 years, a man who still loves me despite my flaws, loves our children, and works hard to be a great provider for our family.
4. My ability to work contract and in ministry, so that I can have more time to spend raising our children and making our house a home.
5. The precious sight of the sweet faces of my three children each morning as I gently nudge them out of dream land.
6. Knowing that my children get to go bed in comfy, warm beds every night with full tummies, in a home where they feel safe and secure.
7. My whole family, including brother, sister, mother, father, nieces, nephews, mother/father and sister in laws, and my sweet stepmother. Each person brings special gifts to my life.
8. Proverbs 31 Ministries....the way God used that ministry to spin me into a 180 degree turn so that I could walk through the journey that He prepared for me.... the way God uses this ministry to encourage me daily.
9. My church, and my church family.
10. My faith, and how I see God work in my life each and every day.
11. My home, the grass in my front yard where my kids can play.
12. The fact that my children all know the Lord, and that even my sweet teenage daughter tries hard to follow in His will, despite the hardships of living in a time where being a Christian is not always the most popular thing to be.
13. My mother, the best friend that she is to me, and the fact that God left her here on earth after her breast cancer 14 years ago so that we could be blessed by her.
14. Financial security.
15. All the friends I have made over the past few years that God brought into my life.
16. The warmth of the hot sunshine.
17. The changing of each season, and the beauty of nature that each season holds.
18. A closet full of clothes.
19. A shower to get clean in every morning.
20. A dependable car, and the money to be able to afford gas to put in that car.
21. The ability to drive.
22. The ability to walk, and live a full life.
23. I better stop... I said 15, but I could go on for hours............

Once we start thinking of all the little things in our lives, our perspective about blessings will change. We may even be astonished at how blessed we are, but we forgot to notice.

Until we see someone struggling with something that we typically take for granted, we tend not to see it as a blessing. For example - until we see someone who cannot walk, we take for granted that we can walk. Until we see someone with no eye sight, we take for granted that we can see. Until we see a person starving on the TV screen, we take for granted that we have more food than we could possibly eat. Until we see a homeless person sleeping on the road, we take for granted that we have a home and a warm bed. Until we see someone lose a child to a tragedy, we take for granted how precious our children are.

It is so critical to our spiritual walk that we actually take time to count our daily blessings with which God showers upon us. Not doing this separates us from Christ, because we experience His goodness, but refuse to give Him thanks, which poisons our hearts to begin thinking that our good fortune is of our doing, not His.

Being blessed is simply seeing the manifestation of Gods power happening in our own personal lives and on our behalf. God is faithful to us, let us not neglect to be faithful to Him through our thanks and praise.

Want to start a new habit today? Count your blessings. Seriously, I mean really count them. Start making a written list, and keep on writing until you simply cannot think of another item that could possibly be a blessing in your life. If you were having a bad day before, odds are your spirits will be lifted after doing this little project!

God is so good.

Counting My BlessingsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go Panthers!

No, I dont mean the Carolina Panthers. Although I love my NFL Panthers, they did not have a good day today! Geeesh - how many times can you turn the ball over! Anyway, enough about that.

Im cheering for my Piedmont Panthers! Both of my girls have a passion for cheerleading, and this weekend was the busiest day of the season - homecoming. Why they have homecoming in middle school I will never understand - who comes home to middle school? Middle school is the worst 3 years of a girls life in my opinion, and probably for boys too. But nonetheless, it is a big important day for the kids.

My 7th grade daughter, Kaitlyn, has been doing nothing the past few weeks but eating, sleeping and cheering, and a bit of school work of course. They not only had to prepare for homecoming this past few weeks, but they also have a huge competition coming up next Sunday on the 19th. (check back next week to see how they did in competition!)

She had to be at practice at 10am on Saturday, then taken to the stadium at 12pm, of which we stayed there until 6:15pm. Yes I said 6:15pm. OMG. That is a long day of cheerleading. They put on a big performance with all 3 squads at each halftime, and although it is really neat to see that many cheerleaders dance and stunt and cheer together, OMG it is a long day. We were exhausted last night, and every member of our family was in bed asleep by 8:45pm.

But we had fun! I won the most spirited mom contest with my nifty home made apron for the tailgating party, and the girls did a great job on decorating the car!

The only bad news is that Morgan said we had to leave the car like this all week until competition is over...... 7 days from now! Im sure I will draw some attention driving around town all week.

My little man had a game at 3pm on Saturday, so we had to go back and forth for that, but I just cant miss him in his cute uniform! What a sweetie.

Although football is a crazy season of the year for our family, I know these are memories that we will treasure forever. I know that one day we will miss these days, and I hate for them to end. However, when they do end this year, basketball will begin, the holidays will be upon us, school will be in full swing, dances will take place, swim team starts up, and whew, Im tired just thinking about it.

But like Ive said before, it is a great kind of tired.

Go Panthers!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Missing A Blessing

I noticed them in the lobby. Tattered clothes, tousled hair, flimsy flip flops. As we waited for my daughters name to be called by the optometrist, I read a magazine, and my children talked with each other. Kaitlyns name was called, and she and I went to another area to pick out her new glass frames, while Morgan and Michael, waited in their seats.

Morgan came over to tell me she had overheard a conversation among the mom and her small kids who had sitting there in the lobby with us. The little boy was apparently there because his glasses had broken, and were in need of repair. The repair was going to cost $20, apparently more than they had expected.

They quietly began whispering about lunch, and if they paid the $20 repair fee, they would not have enough money for lunch. The mom whispered to the kids that they would just buy a hamburger or a salad from Wendys and they could all split it - there were four of them.

This touched Morgans heart, and she came over to tell me. Immediately God impressed upon my heart that I should pay for this ladys bill. I immediately agreed that I would do that. I felt God nudge me to go offer to pay her bill right that moment, but I told myself that it would be easier if I just paid it at the same time I paid on my bill, after all, we were only going to be a few more minutes.

The selection process took a little longer than expected, and when I finally did get to the front desk to check out, that family was gone. God had divinely ordained that our paths would cross, so that He could use me to bless this family, but I thought my timing was better than was His.

I waited. As a result, I missed the opportunity to bless someone, help a family in need, and a family which needed a blessing, did not receive it. All because I thought my obedience to Gods call could wait.

1 John 5:3 says "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,".

Gods request for me to give this family $20 was a simple request. A request that would not be a big sacrifice for me, that did not really require any extra time or effort. God just asked that I do it in His timing, and I chose to wait a few minutes. This verse above tells us that to obey Gods commands is a symbol of our love for Him, even small, quick little commands to do something simple.

This experience taught me a great lesson - a lesson of urgency.

Luke 9:57-62 in The Message says:

On the road someone asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said.
Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know."

Jesus said to another, "Follow me."

He said, "Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father's funeral."

Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God's kingdom!"

Then another said, "I'm ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home."

Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day."

Next time I feel God prompting me to do something, to step out of my little comfort zone and do something that I may not fully understand or even fully agree with, I pray that I will seize the day.

I dont want to let another opportunity to be used for a blessing pass me by. Im sure God used someone else to bless that family on that day, unfortunately I just missed the blessing of being a part of it.

If God whispers something to you today, seize the day.

Missing A BlessingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tea With Our Sisters From Africa

Today was a fun and interesting day. I had the opportunity to be a part of an Amani African Tea Party at the Proverbs 31 office.

Little did I know, that drinking tea is a favorite past time, a social etiquette requirement, and a constant staple in the cultures of Africa. I'll never look at my good ol' Southern sweet tea quite the same! Although their version of Chai tea is different than what we would drink, including lots of milk and sugar mixed into each cup, it was neat learning about their special tradition.

Renee Swope, my friend and fellow P31 speaker/writer/radio host, is a member of a church who is hosting an African fashion narrative performance, put on by this sweet group of ladies from Kenya, Nairobi, Sudan and Uganda primarily.

Their performance will include bright, cultural costumes, music, and personal testimonies of victory and redemption over their traumatic and difficult pasts. They flew for 30 hours to get to the US, and are only visiting 5 cities in the US during this tour - what a blessing that they came to my home town of Charlotte NC!

Below is a group picture we took in the lobby of the P31 office this morning as soon as they arrived.

Amani is a project which helps women from war torn, desperate countries to learn valuable skills such as sewing, marketing, and special training so that they can achieve success in their personal lives and help provide for their families. The main center is located in Nairobi, Kenya with sister centers in Rwanda and Burundi.

This project not only helps them improve their sewing and marketing skills, but also bookkeeping, skill training, quality control, management and even design. But most importantly, it fosters women to have faith in God and transcend ethnic differences, and reach out to other women who are hurting. It was really cool to get be a part of this.

As a special gift for them to take away with them as a keepsake from their visit, we each brought a unique tea cup and saucer for them to take away. In their country, tea is a staple of life. It is a social necessity, and something they partake in multiple times each day. If I drank as much tea as they do every day, I would never sleep again due to caffeine overload!

They were so excited about their tea cups - here is a picture of them below. Each one had a bible verse in it for them to take home. Their faces lit up so brightly when they learned that they each got to pick a cup and saucer of their choice. It is so neat to think that within an week or so, one of them will be sipping tea from a little cup I purchased here in Matthews, NC!

They sang some songs for us, and then I got a clip of them trying to teach us Americans how to sing one of their traditional songs. We could do the hand motions a lot better than sing the words!

Here are a few more pictures of our special tea. We ate, we drank, we sang, we laughed, and a few tears were shed. What a great day!

What a blessing to meet these special ladies.

Tea With Our Sisters From AfricaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time For A Heart Transplant

God sent me an email today. Once again, as He has done dozens of times over the past eight years, God spoke directly to my need in a P31 devotion.

The devotion was written by my sweet friend, Rachel, and as I read through it, one particular sentence seemed to jump right off the page into my heart. That sentence read "I’ve complained to God in the past for allowing my loved ones to die or fall deep into sin, for allowing valuable things to be stolen from me, for allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished, for allowing physical suffering in my body, or for not allowing what I felt I deserved."

Last night I went to my daughters ballgame to watch her cheer. Although I take great delight in watching my children do something they love, this year has been a struggle.

Lots of changes were taking place in our local cheerleading league last year - past leaders were out, new leaders were in. I learned that new leaders are not always accepted, especially by those who are friends with the old leaders.

Untruths were told, gossip was spread, assumptions were made, and my reputation was damaged. I was guilty by association, guilty by rumor, and guilty by default.

My crime? Volunteering to help coach my daughters cheerleading squad because I had been told that nobody else had volunteered and they didnt have anyone to help.

Although I was thrilled to be able to spend more time with my daughter, the fact remained that people were mad about the changes, and soon women whom I had never met were giving me dirty looks. I experienced feelings of hurt and awkwardness that I hadnt felt since I was a scrawny little girl in middle school trying to fit in.

I felt some of these feelings creeping back in last night, as I sat on the cold bleachers, and a woman whose name I do not know, kept looking at me with hatred. Seriously, I dont even know her. I wanted to go up to her and ask what was the problem, could I do something to change her mind about me, clear up some confusion or talk to her about her feelings. But I wasnt sure how I would be received, so I kept my seat, all the while wishing things were different.

That is where the sentence from todays devotion comes in. When I read the part about "Ive complained to God in the past for..... allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished", it finally hit me. After thinking about it, I realized that I was kind of mad at God for letting that challenging experience happen to me, and that I was still suffering the consequences of my involvement a year later.

I was a little mad at God that I tried to do something positive, and got nothing but negative in return.

I was a little mad at God that I had to endure false misconceptions about me.

I was a little mad at God because I had tried so hard to do a good job as coach, and truly tried to be a good witness to these impressionable girls and make a difference, and my thanks was merely a tarnished reputation, and mean looks.

The rest of that sentence above from the devotion talks about how we sometimes feel mad at God for various other things, and so I began to think about all the other difficult issues that have been a burden on my mind and heart lately, such as painful things that were happening in the lives of my family and friends - things that I didnt understand why God allowed, and didnt think they deserved. In all honesty, I was a little mad about those things too.

I realized this morning that I needed a heart transplant. I needed to have a heart to heart, open and honest chat with God about my feelings. He knew how I was feeling, it has just taken some time for me to process those feelings and admit them to myself and to God. I asked for His forgiveness for not trusting in His sovereignty, and asked for His guidance in making things better.

I want to live my life feeling like a victor, not a victim. Today I am laying down my hurt feelings, and opening up my heart for spiritual surgery, so that I can begin looking for Gods activity in my circumstances instead of focusing on His perceived inactivity.

I know God could have changed my circumstances last year if He had wanted to, and He could change them now, if He wanted to. But I also know that even if He does not change my circumstances the way I would like, that "He can and does change my perspective on those circumstances – enabling me to endure them."

Rachel goes on to say that "God listens when we complain about injustice. He understands when we feel shortchanged or opposed. Read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and you’ll be reminded of just how much Jesus can relate to undeserved opposition!"

I think Ill spend a little bit of time reading through the gospel today. I may not be able to find a passage about cheerleading, but I bet I can find a wonderful story about someone who experienced the same feelings of being on the outside looking in, of being rejected, enduring unfair treatment or assumptions, and desperately wishing they could make things different.

I bet I will see how God worked miraculously in their situations, and I know I will find renewed hope in knowing that He is working in my life too, and that His timing is perfect. I know God can heal all things, all situations, and all hearts. I know that one day I will see how God worked through all the difficult situations in my life, and I will be thrilled that He included me in part of His plan.

Today I choose to keep smiling, even if those whom I am smiling at, are not smiling back. I choose to trust Gods plan, and pray that He will open a door for me to mend relationships and build friendships. Although I have lots of great friends, you can never have too many friends - but one enemy is far too many.

If you are feeling mad at God today, would you consider having a heart to heart chat with Him too?

Maybe your reputation was damaged at work due to the actions or gossip by a co-worker; maybe you were hurt by a friend who betrayed you; maybe your involvement in a community position caused relationships to suffer; maybe a spouse was unfaithful; maybe your child has wandered away from Christ; maybe you feel like a little helpless fish in a huge sea of big important fish and you just cant seem to break down those barriers -

GOD KNOWS HOW YOU FEEL. He is your comforter. He is your friend, your supporter, your encourager, and the only one whose approval you should seek. If we remember these truths during times of hurt feelings and difficult circumstances, then we can begin to live as that victor that God wants us to be.

Share some smiles today with people who are not a member of your fan club. Lets see how far a few smiles can take us!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

Time For A Heart TransplantSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Morals Dont Change

I was writing a devotion today that God had placed on my heart, about living by Gods rules, and not our set of rules. While doing that, I came across a website with some startling statistics. Although I fully recognize that our culture today seems to be headed straight for destruction as tolerance, acceptance and promotion for sinful behaviors increases, and even though we hear that immorality, crime, divorce, and domestic violence are at an all time high, I was still shocked.

Read for yourself some of these stats and facts (referenced from Morals Of A Higher Law):

* Only 22% of all Americans believe moral truths are absolute, meaning that those moral truths or principles do not change according to the circumstances (based upon a poll conducted by the Barna Group, August 2005)

*That means an astounding 64% do not believe there are moral absolutes (14% don't know)

*A record 6.9 million adults (1 in 32) were incarcerated, on probation, or or parole according to a recent Justice Department Study.

*Government, schools, and even some Churches are morally bankrupt (not just financially)

*Public schools teach evolution and humanism; Evolution teaches children that they have evolved from lower life forms, consequently not created in the image of God with a divine purpose.

Humanism teaches them that they are their own God, consequently not accountable to God their creator, either today, on judgment day, or ever (shall I say, "Oprah" ?)

*Many young people do not believe in God, or that there are moral absolutes

*Only 6% of all teenage Americans believe moral truths are absolute, according to a poll conducted by the Barna Group, August 2005

*The rate of teenage suicides has nearly tripled in the last 25 years-- 500,000 each year, all this anguish because of a disregard for God's Moral Spiritual Law of His Will for our lives.

*The Divorce Rate has quadrupled from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996 and is over 50%, in rejection of God's Moral Spiritual Laws of Love, and of Loyalty

*Americans have murdered over 45 million innocent babies to satisfy their sexual immorality since the ruling in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. This was in direct contempt of God's Moral Spiritual Law of The Sanctity of Life. This was also done even though the 14th Amendment states: "...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law."

*Americans now spend $10 billion a year on adult entertainment--pornography, in blatant defiance of God's Moral Spiritual Law of Sexuality.

*Driving under the influence of alcohol is the leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, all this heartache could have been avoided if we would have lived by God's Moral Spiritual Law of Abstinence.

*HIV infection estimate tops 1 million, 40,000 new HIV infections a year since the 1990s.

Wow. Despite knowing that our world is in complete disarray and that even our country is on a direct route to denying Gods sovereignty over our country, seeing these stats in writing takes my breath away. What is even worse, is that these stats are a few years old, meaning the true picture is really more awful than what is stated above.

So much of the pain and suffering, crime, immorality, divorce, loss of life, could have been avoided if the United States would have lived by God's laws, instead of constantly trying to please everyone, and never stand up for what is right. Why do so few people in politics and the general population recognize that what is right does not change, simply because peoples opinions of what is right changes. That morals do not change, simply because we dont want to feel bad about doing something immoral. An absolute truth means exactly that - absolute - never changing - never waivering - always truth.

This is a time for battle. Christians need to stand up for their faith and start bucking the system. I have to say, I am terrified to think who might win this years presidential election. Although I know that God already knows who our new leaders will be, I also recognize that we will be forced to live under the reign of a human leader until we get to heaven - despite their beliefs, their flaws and their stand on absolute truths. If our leader is not a Christian, we are in for a long and frustrating experience. My only comfort is knowing that Revelation tells us how the story ends.

You and I can make a difference. Every life counts, every heart counts, every act of faith counts, and every act of courage to stand up for what is right - counts.

You and I can make a difference by being willing to stick to the truth when people in your office side with non Christian leaders.

You and I can resonate the importance of Christ when chatting with your neighbors about the best candidate. Honestly I am amazed at the number of Christians in our country who are voting for a president based on anything other than religious beliefs. Love for Jesus is should be the driving force for anyone worthy of our vote.

Dont get me wrong, I am the first to say that I would prefer to steer away from conversations with friends or acquaintances who disagree with my political views, or who do not think that religion should be a factor in the voting process. I certainly do not want to cause any conflict or ruffle any feathers - however - it is that same silence that has led our country into the state that it is in today.

Together, as an army of God in which God has prepared us to be, we can make a difference.

Dont be swayed by the public and the media to believe that Gods Word no longer holds true. Just because society has changed, does not mean that His sovereignty has changed. Just because the fight has gotten harder, does not mean that the fight is not worth the energy and emotion and effort to keep fighting.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is against the enemy. The enemy is working through political leaders, great speakers, national celebrities, neighbors, friends, and maybe family ... he uses anyone who can steer us away from remembering Gods Holy truths and being willing to continue fighting the good fight of faith.

The morals of our country and our culture are crumbling all around us. Take a stand and keep up the fight.

Morals Dont ChangeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend