Saying Goodbye

Acts 20:17-38 The Message
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus for the leaders of the congregation. When they arrived, he said, "You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn't skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus. "But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. "And so this is good-bye. You're not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have gone among for so long proclaiming the news of God's inaugurated kingdom. I've done my best for you, given you my all, held back nothing of God's will for you. "Now it's up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God's people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. "I know that as soon as I'm gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.

"Now I'm turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends. "I've never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I've done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, 'You're far happier giving than getting.'" Then Paul went down on his knees, all of them kneeling with him, and prayed. And then a river of tears. Much clinging to Paul, not wanting to let him go. They knew they would never see him again—he had told them quite plainly. The pain cut deep. Then, bravely, they walked him down to the ship."

There is never an easy way to say good-bye. It hurts the one leaving and it hurts the ones left behind. However it is a part of life and something that we must experience time and time again with people that we love and know. When my husband and I were first married we were stationed in Puerto Rico with the military. He went ahead of me by about a month. I remember standing at the airport watching him go and feeling like my heart was going to break in my chest. We have had to say good-bye a thousand more times since then and really it never gets any easier. A few weeks later as it was my turn to get on the plane, my family and my friends came to see me off. My father was heartbroken. I remember the tears that fell that day and as much as I loved them and didn't want to hurt them I was equally excited and ready to join my new husband. It was a time of chaos in my emotions. I was setting off on a new adventure but I was leaving everything I ever knew behind.

It seems every stage there are good-byes. When it was time to come back to the states after our two years there the same thing happens. We had built a life there. We had friends that we were leaving behind. I felt the same emotional chaos. One side ready to go home and be with my family and the other part saddened by saying good-bye to the life we had. We have moved state to state a few times over the years since we have said good-bye to family and friends numerous times. It never gets easier.

When we moved here to NC from FL 5 years ago, in my mind I knew that I may never see my grandparents again. I knew that it was a great possibility. I have talked of Pappy recently and in the course of the next year he did go home to be with the Lord. But I had time to prepare, there was nothing left unsaid. I had talked to him mere hours before he died. I was able to grieve. On the long trip back to FL my husband kept my spirits up and he listened to hours of stories. I remember being in his hospital room alone and saying to him, "I release you, I am okay, I know that you have taken care of me for years. I love you, and I always have. If this is your time and you are ready to go, I just want you to know that I will be alright." The next day he was gone.

After the death of Saul and Jonathan the word in 2 Samuel 2:1, "In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD.", in the course of time. It is said that time can heal all wounds. I don't know that to be true but I know that time gives us the ability to work through the course of emotions and then we can call upon the Lord to heal us. We all know the Ecclesiastes 3 reference to time. There is a time for everything. Time does seem to take away the sting but it doesn't take away the memories. Five years later I still remember my Pappy's face, I still remember the smell of his Listerine, I can still see him in his PJ's with a highlighter marking the TV Guide. There are some things we never have to say good-bye to.

So as we say good-bye to 2007, as we look forward to the future with great anticipation, as we love the necks of the ones we love, as we gather for the holidays. Let us not take one moment for granted. Let us love naively, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. 2007 far exceeded my expectations, I don't even want to limit God for 2008. I thank God for all of you. I pray that your life will continue to bring growth and a closeness with the Lord.

Lord, I love you. I thank you for the teaching on good-byes. I know that you are preparing me for something and as I read this lesson this morning I was wondering what your plans are. You have never had me say good-bye to something without replacing it with something even more grand and for today I choose to accept whatever is on the horizon. Father God you are precious to me, to my children, to my family. Lord, you are all knowing, all purposeful, alway righteous. I thank you for your provision and your blessing. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.


Do You Hear What I Hear?

Jeremiah 6:10 "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it."

In the NIV Bible the word "listen" appears 413 times. Whether it's God talking in the Old Testament about the Israelites not listening or in the New Testament Peter rebuking the Jews. One thing I know to be true about the Word of God is that He will repeat himself until we get it. If it is something that He truly wants to get across he will repeat it over and over...possibly 413 times.

I have said it before that we need to be careful to what we are listening to and I don't want to negate that. What I am saying here is that when God puts someone in your life that needs to pour their heart out learn how to listen. I have been taking this counseling course through my church because I know that is one of my weak areas. That's what you do, learn your weaknesses and then learn how to do it better. Well one of the things our instructor was talking about last night was listening and validating.

Validating does not mean that you have to agree or disagree, it simply says, I hear what you are saying. I am awful with this. As I learn every Wednesday night as I sit through this class. I am one to hear (not listen) what I want to hear and then run with the ball. Sort of like a quarterback, I have the ball and I am going to run with it or pass it off but there has to be movement for me to feel that I have done my part. But sometimes, well probably most times, the best thing we can do for people is to listen to them and validate their feelings. What I have learned to be true in this class is as we do that they will open up more and we will find out that the ball that we are carrying isn't really the issue at all. People will offer up the least intimate thing about themselves first, if I am running with that, then I don't stick around long enough to hear their hearts or to love them with the arms of Christ when they get to the real issues.

When I think about the times that my children or my husband and come to me to tell me something of their heart, how many times have I assumed what they were going to say and then rebutted them with my opinion. This is a major fault in my own life, I always want to triage the situation, put a band-aid on it and move on. Most of the time, all they want me to do is listen to them and by doing that I allow them to come to their own conclusions and to encourage themselves. I am quick to finish peoples sentences and most times that people are talking all I am thinking about is what I am going to say next, not truly hearing what they are trying to convey to me.

We live in a busy world, the phone is ringing, we are running the roads to get to this and that, we have dinner cooking, and are trying to get our chores done. As cape wearers we are the queens of multitasking. If I am on the phone talking with someone I am usually folding clothes, or walking around straightening up the house. But are we really paying attention to the little voices around us. I made plans last night to meet a friend before class, we are both busy moms with busy lives and we set aside some time to get together so that we could talk. Well we didn't pick a good place because we were interrupted by everyone walking by. I didn't make space for this woman to talk, I didn't get the chance to really get into the heart of the matter because everyone that walked by wanted to talk, or I wanted to talk to them. Multitasking...visiting 30 people instead of the one that I set the time aside for. She didn't get validated in the way that she should have. She needed me to listen and I didn't do it.

How I despise it when I am talking to someone and they are looking past me almost like they are looking for someone more important to talk to. I don't feel validated, I feel like I am just a burden to them. I am sure that's how this young woman felt last night. I should have taken her somewhere quiet, I should have shut the door and really listened to her heart. We live and learn and that was the lesson that God was trying to teach me last night. I will make amends with her and ask her forgiveness and then give her my whole attention.

Acts 3:23 "Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people."

In this passage Luke quotes Moses about the Word of God. But there is a principle there that applies to everyone. If someone doesn't listen to me I am not going to go running to them when I have something to say. I will cut them from my list of people to share with. On the same token, if I don't listen when they come to me, they will find someone that will. With my kids that is a grave concern. With my husband that is a grave concern. With the people God has put in my life, that is a grave concern. If I have laid down my life, my preference, my will, then I need to truly make space in my life to listen to those who have something to say. I am always quick to say, "You learn more by listening than by talking". Oh Lord thank you for teaching me my own lesson.

So if my ears aren't sharp to hear the voices that are audible in my life. My husband, children, parents, friends, how much less sharp are they going to be when God speaks to me? I don't know about you, but that is a slap in the face to me. A huge reality check. Whammo! I am a topic talker, simple and to the point. Okay, blunt. That's me. I don't beat around the bush I say what I have to say and then I am done. Some people are detail talkers. My son and my husband are prime examples of that. They will take me around the world three times to tell me what they bought at Walmart. In my ears it sounds like the adults talking on Charlie Brown. I find it excruciating. I want to know what they bought and they want me to share in the entire experience with them. They want to share it with me. They love me and they want me to be apart of it. I can't dishonor them by not listening to what they are telling me. At that point there is nothing more important, the dishes can wait, the computer can wait, the phone can ring off the hook.

Lord, thank you for your voice. Thank you that you talk to me even when I am too busy to listen. Lord, continue to teach me to slow down. Continue to put your hand on my life and to teach me the hard lessons. Lord, I repent of my will, I repent of thinking that my tasks are more important than the people. Lord, let me have ears to hear and eyes to see. Lord, I have given you my life, but today I chose to give you my ears, my agenda and my patience. Lord, I know that patience is an act of obedience and today I chose again to learn the principle of patience. With my family, my friends and any others that you will put into my life. Thank you Lord. For your mercies are new every morning and today I can walk in new mercy for myself and others. Bless you Father, the Alpha and the Omega, that you love me enough to discipline me. I feel honored to be your daughter, your chosen one, and I am awed at your words for me this morning. Praise you Lord. I give you all power, all glory and all honor forever and ever. In Christs name I pray. Amen.


Good News

Mark 16:14-16 "Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

I am convinced that we only want the bad news. Apparently that must be true or our newspapers wouldn't be bought and there wouldn't such huge ratings for news programs on TV. I myself ignore the news most of the time. As an army wife it is my prerogative. Oh don't get me wrong I look at the headlines when I get online in the morning. CNN and Fox are on my homepage. But just for once I would love for it to say, "Huge revival thousands saved" or "Soldiers feed starving children in Iraq", or anything else that would somehow give us hope that there is still good left in the world.

I live in a small town that has it's own newspaper that is printed 3 days a week. We have it delivered but very rarely do I read it. Yesterday I was looking at Monday's paper and at the top there is a quote. "The western world is becoming increasingly Christophobic, in these latter days, in the same way that the 'gay' community is becoming overtly heterophobic". It caught my attention as I was eating my lunch. I flipped to the article and it was written by a Reverend. He was talking about the new craze of taking Christ out of Christmas and Thanksgiving becoming Turkey Day.

I agree that we as Christians are getting diluted. We are either "Turn or Burn" or we are walking around with one foot in the world and one foot on the Rock. We talk about being Christians, we talk about Christ but are we really living out loud. I know that some people who know me tend to watch their language around me. They know I am a Christian and for that reason they treat me with respect. What they would say around their friends they won't say around me. I appreciate that and it makes me feel honored that those people would do that for me. But there are other people that aren't that way and I have to question myself and whether my testimony is showing. Am I engaging in morally corrupt conversation? Am I teetering on the edge of my Christianity in my freedom? Am I setting the bar for them or am I lowering to their expectations? Am I living Christ out loud or am I diluting my testimony?

There are times that I wish that I could lay my Christianity down and throw some redneck punches. When someone is bad mouthing my husband, yeah that little redneck girl can get stirred up. I can have some pretty bad thoughts in moments like that. However the fruit of the Spirit self-control has to be in place and I am thankful for that. As a disciple of Christ I have to hold my actions accountable to the Word. However I have to giggle when I think of Peter cutting off the ear of Malchus when they came to get Jesus. I am convinced that Peter had a little bit of redneck rebellion in him in that moment.

John 18:9-11 "This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me". Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus). Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"

Peter was willing to fight to save Jesus but look at what Jesus said to him. Jesus knew what his role was he could handle it and Peter in his redneck way was getting in the way of that. So I must take that lesson and apply it to my own life. Jesus will be victorious in the end. I don't have to fight for it, I don't have to strive for it. I can not be my husband's defender to do that would be to take away his role and his purpose. I would be taking away the cup the Father has given him.

So what do I do to become less diluted? How do I live my life out loud in a way that others not only will see Christ in me but want what I have. The joy of the Lord, the peace of Salvation? How do I stand upon the Rock without standing upon the soapbox?

Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Okay I love a pedicure, it is one of the pleasures in my life. I don't have to have them but Lord knows I love them. But here is God's pedicure. I can have beautiful feet by bringing good news, proclaiming peace, bringing good tidings and proclaiming my salvation. Okay that is something I can get into. I can sink my teeth into that. So living out loud means, sharing Christ with everyone we see. Not in a do it or die kind of way but in a God made me this way. He took a sinner, a wrench like me and made me new. It means walking away from gossip. It means changing the channel, it means excusing yourself from a conversation when it turns ugly. It means self-control over our mouths, and over our redneck desires.

The good news is that Christ came for our sins. He died on the cross and separated us from our sins and cast them into the deep of the sea. They no longer exist. I can enter the throne room of Father God. I don't have to walk around carrying guilt and shame for my past because if I do I dilute the process and the anointing that God has placed on my life. I should be sharing the love of Christ and bringing the presence of God with me everywhere I go. Our Youth Pastor spoke on that a few weeks ago and that really struck me. Establish the presence of God everywhere I go. Hmm, who would have thunk? So not only do I have access to the throne room I am to be an ambassador of that here today.

Christ Jesus, is the Redeemer of all who believe. Father God is the creation of all and it is his intention for all of his children to return to him. If all I am is a pew warmer on Sunday morning and not sharing that love with every person that I encounter than I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (See 1 Cor 13:1) How can I make an impact, or create change or establish the presence when that is all people hear?

Enough of the bad news. Enough! Let's start sharing the Good News of Christ every where we go.

Lord, I love you and I thank you for your provision not only for my life Father but for every one of your children that walk this earth. Lord, let my love for you shine in a way that others want to be impacted by you. Lord, let my testimony show. Lord, I choose today to show your love and to establish your presence everywhere I go. There is so much hurting, pain and disease in the world Lord and it is our jobs to go into those places and establish your presence and share your love. Lord thank you for this opportunity to be your voice, to be your arms. Lord, I love the process, I love the ability to do this for you. It is an honor and I am humbled to be called by you to preach the good news of you. Lord, thank you for you. For the great I AM. I lay my will, my life, my desires and lay them at your feet and say Lord, your will be done. I want to drink of the cup you have for me. That is more important to me than anything that this world can offer me. I am not of this world Lord and I thank you for sending me as an ambassador to those that are hurting and those that need you in a real way today. Lord, bless you, all honor and praise go to you. You are the lover of my soul and I love you in an inmeasurable way and just sit in awe of you again this morning. You are Jehovah, my Father, my Savior, my Redeemer. You are my all in all. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.


He Sings Over Me

Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

I am so glad that God just asks us to make a joyful song. This morning as I laid on the couch out of respect for my sleeping husband I began to sing a song that I learned as a small child. I couldn't sleep last night due to the fact that my nose decided to turn into a faucet. As I laid on the couch I remember a time, being about 11 or 12 and I was sleeping in my Pappy's den on the floor. I used to suffer terribly with strep throat and seemed to get it every time I turned around. I remember waking up in the middle of the night that night and asking the Lord to heal me. I remember singing this song that night and waking up in the morning with no soreness in my throat.

It's such a simple song but one that I have turned to in my times of need. I used to sing it to my kids when they were babies. I remember a trip from Florida to NC that I sang the song for ever because there was no radio in the truck and it was the only song that I could think of to sing. I love to worship the Lord. I love to be intimate with him. I love to lay my heart in his hands and watch him perform miracles. I have seen so much and drug him through so much since that night in my Pappy's den, but even as he heard me then he still continues to hear me now.

I lost my Pappy a few years ago. This time of year always seems to bring him to my mind. I have a great picture of he and my grandmother with my husband and I at Thanksgiving the year before he went home to be with the Lord. That man played a huge role in my life. He was my father's step dad. He didn't have to love me. He didn't have to participate in my life. Yet he chose to love me. My mind is full of memories of he and I being buddies. He used to pack me up and take me anywhere he went. I have fond memories of the summer we toured the state of Florida. We loaded into my grandparents little Volkswagen Rabbit, with both of them being over six feet tall there wasn't much room for me in the back seat but that wasn't going to stop me from going. As we would pull out of the driveway he would always sing, "Off we go into the wild blue yonder". We were on the hunt for the best seafood in the state. He loved to find the dive places. The little local seafood restaurants and we would critique the food. It was his passion.

My Pappy called me Pookie. I would get mail from him as I got older and married. He would send birthday cards addressed to Pookie with my last name. My husband and I would joke that he didn't remember my first name. The greatest lesson he ever taught me was to love unconditionally. When I think of God and the unconditional love that he gives it is in reference to the man that didn't have to love me but did so wholeheartedly.

The first time I stepped into a pulpit it was at Pappy's Memorial Service. I felt such a peace. I knew then what God had called me to do. Pappy had always been my first call. When something happened in my life, when I was thinking about college, or jobs, or when my husband decided to start his business. He was the first one to know. What I have learned through my loss of him is how to turn to God first. My Pappy was my savior for the first 30 years of my life. It didn't matter where I was or what I needed he was there. I have had to learn to put God in that place now. Oh there are still times that I pick up the phone 4 years later to call and talk to Pappy about something. My husband is gentle in reminding me that he isn't going to answer on the other end. I am thankful to have had him as long as I did and I am thankful that through him I am able to find God. That all of those years, that God allowed him to play that role in my life to prepare me for today.

My grandfather always had a song in his heart. He often walked around humming a joyful tune. He often sang to me. I know how loved and protected I felt in those times. How much more precious is it to know that Jesus rejoices over me.

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Jesus sings a song over me. He is singing to me. In the stillness of night I sing back to him. As I walk around doing my duties I sing to him. As I drive in the car, as I do laundry. I sing back to him. It seems that at all times there is a hymn or a song in my head. It's almost like the commentator in my life. The song in my heart changes as moments pass, as circumstances happen. The songs give me hope, give me focus and give me a renewed sense of peace. I know that it happens to my eight year old daughter as well. Yesterday she walked around singing, "There's not God like Jehovah". All day. It is precious, if it's precious to me, I know it's precious to Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit that surround her.

Lord, today even given the circumstances I choose to praise you. I choose to call upon your name and to sing to you today Father. I will sing your praises on the good days, and I will sing your praises on the challenging days. You are all sovereign. You are always right, never wrong and always love me. Thank you Lord for the music that you have placed in my heart. Thank you for the ones that taught me to turn to you. For the unconditional love that you showed me through them. The mercy and the grace. Father, I can understand because of the love you poured into them that overflowed onto me. I can have a small glimpse of your immense love for me because of them Father. Thank you for the people you have put in my life. To grow me up, to love me and to wrap their arms around me. Lord, let me love out of the overflow of that. Let there be comfort in my arms for others. Lord, let me be a conduit of your love for your children Father. The ones that know you and the ones that don't. Lord, thank you for your anointing on my life, thank you for my heart to worship. Thank you for letting me see the buds of that in my own children. You are all powerful, amazing and righteous in all things. I give you all the glory, the praise and the honor Lord. Thank you for the overflow, thank you for your Son and thank you for my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

The song I love to sing.


Children of God

Matthew 25:44-45 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"

I live across the street from an emergency child care home. They bring the kids here immediately after removal from their families. These young children usually come in with nothing but sometimes they are lucky enough to come in with few trash bags with their sacred belongings in them. This morning as I was letting my dog out in the rain there was a young boy moving in. My head is flooded with thoughts of what his Thanksgiving weekend must have entailed to have to move into this home on a rainy Monday morning.

So many of us were in the hustle and bustle of cooking, shopping and being with family, here this little boy must have had a horrible weekend followed by a horrible Monday morning. His whole little world is turned upside down today. He is about the age of my middle son, and I can't imagine what would be going through his head. His parents minds, his grandparents or any others that love him. He's not at school this morning, I wonder what his teachers think, if he has any friends wondering where he is this morning.

Child abuse is a dreadful thing. We live in a county with a lot of child abuse. There is a lot of poverty here hidden among the beautiful mountain homes. There are a lot of little hollers and coves filled with people who have lived in these mountains for generations. The have very little and with the holidays approaching I wonder if their stress of money makes them take their frustration out on their children.

Matthew 18:3 "And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

How often we forget that we too are children. Children of God. How often we come to him on a rainy Monday morning with nothing more than a few trash bags of our sacred belongs. Our hurts, our entitlements, our rejection and bitterness running down our face. He wraps us in his arms and says finally you have come. I have waited for you. I have longed to hold you and today is the day that you have laid down all of your strength and have come to rest in my arms.

Just like that little boy across the street. Lord knows what he endured this weekend. But today, he is safe. Today he is in a home that loves children. He is in a place where he can rest and doesn't have to wonder if he will survive. Oh to be sure he is hurting and broken hearted. However, he will eat today, no one will hit him today. Sometimes we just have to keep things in perspective and know that where we are is a lot better than where we came from. It is my duty to pray for those children as then enter that house. I feel that is why God has placed me here in this neighborhood. I don't have to talk to them, I don't have to do anything more than to lend them my faith and to pray for them. It is my prayer that this little boy is safe, that his family can be reconciled and that he can have a future that is full of hope and love. That he doesn't get eaten up with resentment and bitterness but learns to forgive and to love like he was today.

Lord, thank you for your deliverance, thank you for picking us up right where we are and sitting our feet upon You, our Rock and our Salvation. Lord, let us see hurting people around us and let us love them like you would love them. Lord, today I pray for my own children as well. That I remember how precious they are. What a gift you have given to me in them Father. They have taught me to love you and to stay on my knees. Lord, I pray for grace today as I mother these children of ours. That even as I myself am your child that I will reflect that to them. That as I teach them and train them in your ways that it's your voice that they hear and not the voice of a mother that is tired or stressed. Lord, don't let them become my place to bear my burdens. Don't allow them to become my scapegoat. Lord, let me come to your with my frustrations and not take them out on these little babes that you have given me to nurture and to love. Father, I love you, I am hopelessly devoted to you. Thank you for the rain, thank you for the peace and thank you for today. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.


More Than I Can See

Zechariah 2:8 "For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye-"

I was watching the movie "Deck the Halls" the other night with my family. In the movie Danny Devito's character is a man that has never really found his niche in life. He is always chasing the next dream, the next great thing. He is unsettled in his job and feels like he has no purpose in his life. He has a beautiful wife, 2 beautiful daughters but couldn't appreciate them for the fact that he didn't have a feeling of accomplishment. What a way to live your life. To never feel validated, to never feel like you are ever enough.

I know in my own life, I have felt and can continue to feel like I am never enough. I can portray that to my children, my husband, anyone in my life in how I talk to them, how I interact with them. What a shame that we can't love ourselves enough to love our neighbors, our spouses, our children with the love of Christ. I know that I strive to be enough. Whether its in my marriage, in my ministry, in my children. It is nothing that they have done, it's my own perception and my ability to listen to what Satan says about me that can determine my day and my attitude.

God has been walking me through my past and my present to show me my feelings of inadequacies. That I can hear rejection faster that I can hear encouragement. I have said that I know what failure looks like, I have had lots of practice, it's success that scares me because I "feel" that I have never experienced it and wouldn't know what to do with it if it landed in my lap. Ten people can encourage or edify me, but I only hear the one voice that criticizes me or gives me correction. It can deflate me in no time flat. Is it my pride? Is it my own sense of constant rejection? There are many times that I feel disposable. When I look back over my life that is the word that comes to mind. I am sure that wasn't the intention of my parents, my husband, my employers, my pastors, I know it wasn't their words that made me feel that way. It is my own rejection filter that sees it and lets it become a mountain instead of finding forgiveness and moving on. My husband has told me that I am the most easily offended person he knows. That hurts.

I can feel my heart breaking in my chest. This last week has been a challenge for me for no particular reason but all I am hearing is the negative. I am just being honest here. I know that it's not really what is going on around me but it's what I am hearing, it's what I am feeling. That once again I am not good enough.

1 Corinthians 13:5, "It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

That verse is talking about love. It's not rude, boy I have failed at that, it's not self-seeking, my martyr has been having a hay day this week. My expectations and my rejection have been dancing over ever event that has happened this week. It is not easily angered. I have woke up every morning this week angry. I didn't go to bed angry, but I am waking up angry. It keeps no account of wrongs. Yikes! My mentor catches me every time I say the word "again". It is a big word in my life. I keep accounts like an elephant. I can't remember what I had to eat yesterday but I can remember an incident from years past and somehow I never got past it.

I was sitting on my front porch yesterday, trying to find what I call my happy heart. It was Thanksgiving, a day to be full of thanks and I just couldn't find it. I couldn't drum it up, so I sat on the porch with my eyes closed just listening to the breeze blow the leaves. Very clearly I heard the Lord say, "Baby Girl, I am not done with you yet". Oh praise God. That even as I am walking out this new area of my life that He isn't done with me yet.

I have been asking for a new heart, I have been asking to be microwaved in my processing. I am constantly asking God to work on my character. I want to be a women of integrity, I want to be a woman of forgiveness, I want to be a women that loves out of the overflow of God's love for me. Yet I am grumbling about my past, I am grumbling about my grace growers and I am grumbling about the process. Never be ashamed of how God got you there.

Psalm 147:11 "the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."

God delights in me. As I sit on the porch and bring him my broken heart, knowing of His healing powers, His ability to take me and my life and make it a growing process. How even when he looks at me grumbling and crying that He can put His hand on it and somehow the hurts go and I can again be filled with a knowing of His love for me. How dare I mumble, how dare I get offended, how dare I carry unforgiveness for others.

Phillipians 1:6, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Lord, you have me on a path to brokenness. You want me to let go of this Louis Vitton, I know that you do. Lord, I don't have all the answers, only you do. You know my heart, you know my struggles, you catch every one of my tears as they fall. Lord, today I chose to be thankful for the challenges. I thank you for your ability to live in my life. That Father even as I don't feel like I am ever enough your Word tells me that I am. That I am called, anointed, set aside. I am adopted into your family, I am your friend. I am delivered, delighted in, desired. I am healed, justified, liberated. I am a mountain mover, an overcomer, pleasing to You. I am qualified, righteous, and free. Lord, this morning I bring you my heart, I bring you my hurts, I pray that you continue to cleanse my life. Lord, I chose to forgive, by faith. That Lord as I move forward from this place Lord that I wouldn't forget the knowledge that You have given me. That I would walk in your ways. That Jesus, you were rejected, so much more than I could ever image. Today I chose to take off my rejection filter. Lord, I pray that you would continue to show me the roots of bitterness, and sadness in my life. I submit to the Holy Gardner to pull them out every one. You are my Lord, my King, my Savior, my Redeemer, the lover of my soul, and Lord today I chose to walk in the fullness of that. I love you Lord, and today I again will be the daughter of the King and not a pawn in Satan's attempts in my life. Today I choose to walk in the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit. I am full, I am walking out my salvation and I will not take my eyes off of you. I love you Dear Holy Father. Thank you for your love, your life, your ability to make me whole. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.


My Best Friend Jesus

1 Samuel 20:42 "Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.' " Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town."

As a young women growing up I thought I knew what friendship was. It was someone to swing on the swings with, as I got older it was the girls I spent hours on the phone with, sleepovers, hanging out in the hallways with. However, it was not until recently that I looked around and really realized how precious and how dear my friends are. Some are there to make me laugh, some are there to keep me on the straight and narrow and some are there as grace growers. I love all of them as my friends and I count myself blessed to have them.

When we first moved here five years ago, we didn't know anyone. I very guarded in who I wanted to let into my life. Like a lot of women, I didn't trust women and preferred to watch a football game with the guys. I thought that all women we catty and just out for whatever they could get. I didn't trust them with my husband, I didn't want them in my house and I surely wasn't going to let them get to know me on an intimate level. I realize that I am not the perfect woman, that there are times that I make it very difficult for people to be my friends. I hold them to a very high level of expectations that I myself couldn't maintain.

As mentioned before my husband is a reservist and in the last few years we have been put on alert a few times. Praise God that we haven't been separated but I was very concerned because at the time I had very little family here and I wanted a circle of support. That meant going out and finding people to have in my circle. People that I could, dare I say trust, and that would support me and love me if my husband was called to war. I started praying for friends. That God would bring other like minded women into my life. As with anything else God is so extravagant in his love for me and when I look around now I am almost overwhelmed with the level of intimacy that I share with so many of my girlfriends. None more precious than the next but they all play a very important role in my life.

I am a cape wearer most days. I push myself to the limit to accomplish all the things that I deem necessary. I have friends that will call and tell me, Sister Chick, you need to come sit with us. You need to take a break, just come hang out for a few hours. I have friends that will call and check on me, because very rarely do I take the time to call them. I have a certain group of friends that at one time we all attended the same church, we had girls night out and we bonded very intimately over that time. When I was having problems they prayed with me. They loved me through it. Their families invested and continue to invest in my family. They put their hand to the plow and really made an effort to walk me through that valley in my life. I will be forever grateful to them. Two of them have moved on in ministry and have followed different paths. But the awesomeness of it is that when any of the four of us have a crisis we all come back together, we all pray together, and when we can get together we all play together. What an honor to know that God has planted me in such a beautiful place to see the beauty of friendship.

I was never given a sister. I have friends that are my sisters. One friend and I have 20 years under our belt. What started out as a middle school friendship has grown over the years into something beyond my wildest imagination. We know each other inside and out. We ping on each others radars when something is going on. Married with kids we still take them time to talk every so often and with an investment of 20 years we can pick up right where we left off. She is my sister, she knows my parents, she knows my life, she knows me. We have seen some rough patches together. Oh the stories we could tell, but we don't. We love each other unconditionally through it all and give God the glory for saving wenches like us.

There are some others that are sister like to me. That God purposed in my life. They are my friends that keep me sharp. That can look at me and point out my blind spots. I trust them and I keep them around because they have the ability to give me correction without me freaking out on them. I can run a situation by them and they help me to hear the voice of God. The remind me of what the Word says, they help me in my everyday needs. They help me with my children, they love them like their own. I love them and theirs just the same.

All of them have a very special place in my heart. They all have a very real role in my life. I had to learn to trust. I had to let people in, allow them to let me down, and yet not walk away in rejection and offense. They have good days and bad days just like I do. It's buckling down even on those days. Walking beside them even when they are kicking that makes them so dear to my heart. They have done it for me. I will do it for them.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 15:15, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

The best friend that I have is Jesus. He is always there to answer my call. He always has time for me, and I can call on Him anytime to step in for me. Through His Word he teaches me about Himself, and His Father. He never fails my expectations, He never leaves me alone and I am honored that He would call me His friend. He fights my battles for me, He goes before me and prepares my ways. He is always righteous, always just, and never moody. I feel honored by my girlfriends, by the friendship of my husband but this is a Godly friend that has no rival.

Lord, thank you for my friends. Lord, it is my prayer that you would wrap them all in your loving arms today. Lord encourage them, and continue to work your love into their lives. You are my best friend, you are always there for me, even when I don't want to answer. You Lord are amazing, that you would make the sacrifice that you have and then call someone, like me, to be your friend. How humbling, how awe inspiring. All my love and devotion comes from you. I realize that now and I thank you for your hand on my life. That you have allowed me to be yoked up with you. All I deserve is punishment, all I deserve is death. Yet, Lord, you love me, you encourage me, you believe in me when I don't have enough faith in you. Always willing, always listening, always loving. Thank you Dear Jesus, for dancing over me all the days of my life. I give you all Honor, all Glory, all devotion. I am hopelessly in love with you. In the Name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.


I Will Walk By Faith...

2 Corinthians 5:7 "We live by faith, not by sight."

Dear Precious Lord, lay your hand upon my heart today. Lord, I need a stirring up of my faith today. Your mercies are new every morning and this morning Lord I come to you and ask for a double dose of faith. Lord, something inside of me is unsettled this morning and I pray that you would show me what that is for today. Lord, I lift my hands to you and say, You are good, and You Bless me in ways that I can not see. Lord, today I humble myself in your presence and rest in the fact that I don't have to fight to find freedom. That because of the sacrifice you made on the Cross that today I too can walk in Faith of things I can not see. Lord, you know my anxieties and you know where I am this morning. Lord, I thank you for your love, I thank you for your nail scarred hands. I thank you that you call me precious even on the days that I don't "feel" precious. Lord, I crawl into your arms of love and rest in the knowledge of your love for me. I give you today Lord, as a day of living sacrifice to love those around me, to have a heart of joy. Today I choose to believe in you. Today I choose to have faith in the things that you are working behind the scenes. Today I choose again to believe that you are good and your mercies endure forever. I love you Lord, I truly do. In Christ Jesus' name I pray. Amen.


Obedience vs. Sacrifice

1 Samuel 15:22 "But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

Why do we so often think our plan is better than our Creators? I know personally for me that God's timing, I find it to be a challenge on most days. I want to fight the fight, I want to push forward, I want to strive for the next great thing. It isn't that my motives aren't pure. They really are, I want to see salvations, I want to see the harvest, my problem is I want to see them RIGHT NOW!

So often we will "sacrifice ourselves". "Well, the only way it's going to happen is if I do it." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Yes, I wholly agree. However, wouldn't it be easier to walk in the supernatural provision that comes in obedience? Often times we think we have to fight the whole battle, kill every giant, take over the world, because we are unwilling to wait upon the Lord. Yes my dear one, patience is also an act of obedience.

Jeremiah 7:22-24 "For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward."

Did you catch that? Verse 24 says they wouldn't pay attention and were stubborn, they couldn't move forward. Reminds me of days with my own kids. Walking out of the door, its time to leave. I told them an hour ago to get ready, and to brush their teeth. They come walking out of their rooms with no shoes and they still haven't brushed their teeth. They weren't paying attention, and guess what...now we aren't moving forward.

Father God is giving me my own directions. Am I too distracted to hear him? Did I catch every detail or did I just hear what I wanted to hear? Am I willing to make a sacrifice of working extra volunteer hours, or writing a bigger tithe check instead of just saying "Yes Sir." Do I think that if I am nice to my grace grower that is enough to keep me from God's wrath? Do I walk in a Godly fear of the Lord? Or do I just tune him out because I am so busy building an alter at which to lay my pittance of sacrifices? "One minute Lord, let me finish this sacrifice of time so that I can come into your presence". Guess what you never make it. There is always something in that in box isn't there? Here is what I have discovered. In 34 years, no matter what the state of my house when I go to bed, it will still be there waiting for me, in the same exact manner when I get up in the morning. There is nothing more important in my life than the time that I give to God in his presence so that I can be clear on his vision for me today. How can I be obedient if I don't take the time to read his Words, or to hear his voice?

I have heard it said that "God, will tell you what to do. Satan, will tell you how to do it?". How often times we see the vision. God shares with us a glimpse of what is yet to come. Then somewhere in us a voice says "Oh, I know we can......", or "Well if we wait, we will lose out". Then in an blatant disregard of obedience, we move forward without waiting for the battle plan. Inquire of the Lord in everything. If he knows the hairs on our heads, if he can feed the sparrows don't you think He has a game plan for you?

Reading the Old Testament, time and time again we see how God rescued those who obeyed him. There were some mighty battles going on back then, and if there was even an ounce of disobedience God would hand over the Israelites to their enemies. But why? Why would God forsake his own people? Because He wants nothing more than our love and our devotion.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

Even if that means, sitting when you want to move, serving when you are tired, loving the unlovable, embracing your grace growers, setting new boundaries or simply opening your mouth. When we are obedient God will move on our behalf. It doesn't matter if we have been disobedient in the past, as long as we repent and have reconciliation to God. Because when he is ready to move...Watch out!

Isaiah 41:8-16 The Message

"But you, Israel, are my servant.
You're Jacob, my first choice,
descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, 'You're my servant, serving on my side.
I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.'
Don't panic. I'm with you.
There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you.
I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

"Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you
will end up out in the cold—
real losers.
Those who worked against you
will end up empty-handed—
nothing to show for their lives.
When you go out looking for your old adversaries
you won't find them—
Not a trace of your old enemies,
not even a memory.
That's right. Because I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go.
I'm telling you, 'Don't panic.
I'm right here to help you.'

"Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob?
Don't be afraid.
Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?
I'll help you.
I, God, want to reassure you.
The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.
I'm transforming you from worm to harrow,
from insect to iron.
As a sharp-toothed harrow you'll smooth out the mountains,
turn those tough old hills into loamy soil.
You'll open the rough ground to the weather,
to the blasts of sun and wind and rain.
But you'll be confident and exuberant,
expansive in The Holy of Israel!"

Oh Father how we lose sight of your power. How we think that we can do it on our own. Lord, I repent of my will and my pride. Father, I know that you paid for me in full. That even as you have bought me Father that I serve you with a willing heart. That I come to you this day Father and say yet again, I Surrender All. Lord, I align with your timing, I align with your will for my life. I chose today to be selfless, I chose to love everyone until I get called home to you my precious Father and Lord. Lord, I chose as an act of my free will to be obedient to your voice, no matter who uncomfortable that may be for my flesh, because your anointed Jesus suffered more than I can even fathom on the Cross and Lord, as he was obedient unto death, Lord, let me your daughter, your creation, Lord let me have a heart of obedience like that. Lord, that even unto death let me carry our your desires for my life. Lord, I have nothing to fear but you. Everything else is just a bleep on the radar compared to you. Father, I give you everything that I have, and I say Lord have your way in me. All Glory, all Honor, all Praise, belongs to you and you alone Father God. I thank you for the Cross, I thank you for the Nails and Lord today I chose to be obedient. In Jesus' Mighty Powerful Victorious Name. Amen.


Looks can be Decieving

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”- Psalm 119:18

I remember once being in church when I was pregnant with my second son. I had gone to the alter with my mother and as we were walking back this woman came and told me she had a word for me. I remember being taken aback when she said that but I stood there and let her tell me what she had to say. She made reference to me being a single pregnant woman. At the time, I was married, I had another little boy at home. I hadn't gone to the alter for prayer for myself, but for my mother who was struggling in an area in her life. How often we can get it wrong when we look upon the natural.

My friend came by a few weeks ago. She looked good, hair up, makeup on, cute outfit. I complemented her on her appearance. Then she began to show me all the flaws about her sweater that looked good from a distance but needed a needle and had some stains. I wouldn't have noticed the imperfections just looking myself. In my eyes she appeared to have it going on.

In this plight to have a heart like Jesus, I have begun to ask for the Lord to open my eyes. So that I don't take things for granted. So that I can see the heart of the person that I am talking to instead of what my first impression of them may be. It seems for myself, the more I appear to have it together the less I really do. What if others are doing the same thing?

I lived behind a mask for the first 27 years of my life. I pretended that everything was okay, I was hurting on the inside, but on the outside I gave the appearance of being the perfect little wife and mother. I was double minded. One part of me wanted to have the mind of Christ, but the other part of my had the mind of JenniLee and she wasn't doing so well. I fell into some awful sin patterns. I ran from God. I held onto every string trying to keep my facade together until one day the monster got so big that I couldn't restrain it anymore. My house of cards came crumbing down and in the wake of it I almost lost everything. But until it all fell no one had a clue what was going on with me. I hid it all very well. Well that is from everyone except God.

1 Samuel 16:7 "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

As I had convinced everyone for a time that I was okay, God was looking upon my heart and he knew, he knew the truth, he knew the extent of my self preservation and at the time my lack of love for Him. He also knew that one day that I would be revealed and in that lesson that I would learn to be naked and vulnerable.

So as you are out and about today, smile at someone you wouldn't normally smile at. Wrap your arms around someone who is trying to hold it all together. Remind them that God loves them. You don't have to share an opinion, as my mentor used to say, "They don't care what you have to say, they care about what the Word has to say". Love them like Jesus would love them, dirty faces, stinky, but hurting. He always had time to minister to those with needs. Its a good thing, because we all have them. Don't assume that someone is falling apart, don't assume that someone has it all together. Share the love of Christ. Be obedient to his prodding.

My friend and her kids were at KFC this week having lunch. Out of the corner of her eye she saw this man bow his head to bless his food. As she sat there the Lord dropped a word for him into her heart. She played with it for a few minutes but then approached the man. She didn't attempt to make any judgments on this man, she didn't assume what the situation was. She walked up and ministered the love of God for this man. She had a word of affirmation for him. Not of judgment. I don't want you to think that God doesn't give people words, he does, absolutely he does, but be careful what you do with it.

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding".

Lord, today I pray that you open the eyes of my heart, to see your people, your children Lord. I pray that you would show me needs and not just flesh. That Lord as we move into this new area that you would use me to hear their hearts and not see their facades. Lord, thank you for taking off my mask. It was my security for years but now as I walk closer to you I find you to be my security. That in your love I am alright and that my soul is at rest. Lord, thank you for your protection and your unfailing love even as I was walking down the wrong path. Thank you for planting my feet upon a rock and for your sacrifice of your Son to wash away my sins. In your Glorious Son Christ Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Love them like Jesus

1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Good morning my cape wearers. Where is your cape taking you today? What are you facing that is causing you anxiety?

I know for me personally, my calendar has been causing me some anxiety. I know that I look at this planner every morning and wonder how am I going to accomplish all of this today.

So often, we as women like to take our God given responsibilities and make them burdens. Oh I have to take her to dance, the boys have scouts, I have to get fuel, go to Walmart. It almost seems like an endless list of responsibilities and to do lists. But how is our heart while we are doing those things. Are we waiting for Prince Charming to come in and tell us that he is going to do the dishes or are we delegating them out to our children so that we have more free time. The spectrum has a lot of room here. We all have ways that we get our lists done, we all have ways of muddling through.

I think the importance of it is our hearts. God has ordained our days. I believe he knows our loads. I think that there are a lot of times that we run through life, sliding in sideways, because of lack of planning or too many hours are spent whining about what needs to be done instead of just doing it.

So many women look to their husbands to help, and there are some out there that will do that. They like to cook, they like to do dishes. It's not that way here, but I have heard rumors of it among my friends. My husband and I do the things for each other that the other one hates. I hate to get gas, I don't know why, just do. My husband is good to do that for me. I hate the responsibility of paying the bills, you know what, he does that too. He hates the kitchen except to eat. He likes grilling (something about fire), and he is the pancake king around here. But for the most part, I do the housekeeping and he does the earning and distribution of the funds. It works for us. Wouldn't work for everyone but it works for us.

There are days though, when my husband is out of town, or working late, or something comes up that I might have to help him. I might have to run and pay some bills, I may have to balance the checkbook when he is out of town. He might have to provide food for the kids if I have a meeting. It still has to get done whether I want to do it or not. This time with him out of town I have had what I deemed a lot of extra responsibility. Oh I was whining and grumbling. How dare he run off and leave me here to handle this? How dare he call me and ask me to do one more thing? I have a plan, a schedule, I have my own things I need to do. Ah yes, the martyr returned.

God knows, he knows that I have done more than I usually do. He knows that I had to pick up a few more things, but he also knows that I can handle it. Otherwise it wouldn't fall to me. He has trained me for my job. 34 years experience has led me to this moment. Here is the kicker, even while doing it, I am supposed to minister to the needs of others.

What happens when we are running late? Do we take the time to walk casually looking around us for needs or opportunities? Or do we just run around looking needy ourselves even if for nothing more than a watch. Are we showing up late expecting something, someone to look at our burdens and lift them for us, or are we showing up with something to offer. Are we prepared for our day? Bra - check, shoes - check, Full Armor of God....whoops I put that on in the morning while I am doing my makeup and I skipped that today. Do we look like Godly women or do we look like everyone else? Do we look like princess or do we look like servants. If we are walking around looking like pack mules all the time with the kids in tow, half put together, if someone had a need would they approach us or would they think we are too busy?


If we are to be the salt and light in the world, if we are supposed to reflect Jesus, can we do that with bad attitudes about our responsibilities? Can we be negligent in our preparations? Can we wait until the very last minute to walk out the door? Oh we can, but we may miss it.

If we aren't careful, our imaginations of how heavy our burdens are, can leave us vulnerable to the enemy. "You poor neglected thing, how dare they ask you to do one more thing," "What a lazy man you married," "Those kids, all they do is hang on you all the time". We begin to compare our loads to others, wow, that's a scary thing to do. I know women who do so much more than I can imagine, but there are some women who say the same thing about me. There is no comparison. No way to compare one husband to the next, one family to the next.

Hear, O mountains, the LORD's accusation;
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the LORD has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.

"My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.

I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam. ~Micah 6:2-4

Lord, today I hand you my calendar and say have your way. My responsibilities are light compared to carrying a cross. Your word say that if I have faith of a mustard seed that I can move mountains and Lord I believe that with faith I can move this mountain. Lord, I am to be about my Father's business even as I am doing my daily duties. Lord I trust you as the Creator of time that you put enough time in the day, Lord I just pray that you help me know what is of today and what is not. I repent of thinking that my schedule was too busy to take time to love the ones around me. Lord I thank you for the opportunities that cross my path, to meet new people to learn new things. In your Precious Sons Name Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.


Road to Grace

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Oh how I love David. Here he is the most unlikely candidate for the Lord's anointing. He is a young boy with 6 older brothers. He gets to hang out in the fields all day being a Shepherd. He is a young man with duty, that sings out to God through the loneliness in those fields. He has the time to practice with his lyre and his slingshot. Even then the Lord was preparing him for his role. Even then the Lord was working on his heart and building a love so strong that even through David's challenges, even through his adversities, even through his own sin, he is quick to repent, and quick to praise the Lord in all things.

David's story is a story of brokenness. Imagine at his young age a man coming and pouring oil over your head and knowing in your young mind that this means you will be king one day. Imagine getting in the right position to take the kingdom only to have Saul throw spears at you. He made some great friends along the way. But even as he was walking in his destiny, even as he knew what Samuel had told him as a young man, he had to flee and live in caves. He knew of authority and to not smite God's anointed. Even with Saul being in filled with jealousy against David and seeking him to kill him, David, the same young man that was able to kill the giant with his slingshot, never retaliated against God's chosen. Even as people sought after him, and they were the cream of the crop, can you imagine, thieves, liars, those also persecuted by King Saul ran to find David. David walked away from the kingdom alone. He didn't take anyone with him into the woods to create a revolt or a rebellion. He walked out a single man and took nothing with him.

He only had God. In those dark musky caves David cried to God. As he was going from his homeland to the new land God had for him, without even knowing where he was going. Thinking that he had been disqualified, thinking that Samuel must have made a mistake. He called upon the name of God.

God watched this man name David, have the opportunity to kill Saul, if we believe that everything is of God then we have to believe that God gave David that opportunity. But when we read 1 Samuel 24 we can again see David's heart submits to God and not to his own flesh. When someone is out to kill us, typically we would go into fight mode and want to slay the one that is against us. Oh that we learn the lesson from David. That we don't have to be our own defenders. That David's ability to submit to Saul even in that moment, even as he held the corner of Saul's robe, David forgave Saul and they were able to move past it. Saul, even looked at David and called him son. What a precious time this had to be for David. If he had done anything different it wouldn't have ended this way. There wouldn't have been reconciliation in that moment and David would have had to take an ever longer road to his destiny. But David knelt.

Graham Cooke tells us about Grace Growers in his book, Approaching the Heart of Prophesy, he states "To test us in this, God deliberately puts people around us who are meant to be loved by us. Often we will have to be very creative to love them; some of them, by design, are not easy to love. But those unlovable ones, ironically, teach us the most about God's heart."

I know that Saul was a grace grower to David and I know that I have grace growers in my own life. Don't worry I am not going to list them here because I don't want anyone seeing their name *giggle*. But how we chose to interact with those that God has placed in our life to grow our grace determines how long it takes to get to our destiny. Until we can submit, to their persecution, to them as God's chosen ones, they will continue to grow us up no matter how unpleasant it may be. And when you think about it...what if we are grace growers to someone else. I am pretty out there. Sometimes I know that I (not intentionally) intimidate people because I am a people person. I love to talk, I love to touch people. I love to. I really do. But what if there is someone in the crowd that that just crawls all over them. Am I a grace grower in their life? Yes, by all means it is a possibility.

So as we have grace growers, and are grace growers ourselves, let us have mercy on everyone around us. Let us love everyone with the love of Christ. How easy it would be to say "I just don't like her". But then my dear sweet cape wearers, we have spoken against God and the will he has for our life.

Father God, I love you. I really do. I say there is nothing that I wouldn't do for the kingdom of God but yet I do suffer with some of the Grace Growers that you have set in place just for me. Lord, even as I am a Grace Grower in someone elses life Lord, even as you use me in the same capacity, let me love and submit to others. Lord, I repent of my pride, I repent of thinking that the whole world revolves around me. That even in my times of growing, even in the times of stretching Lord, let not my pride keep me from loving those whom you have put into my life. Let me never be too busy, too occupied, too distracted to see them and to take the opportunity to show them your love. Lord, I pray for an increase in this area of my life. That even as I am moving forward that there would be more opportunities to love those whom I would have just walked by before. Lord, I love you and thank you for the inheritance that you have set out before me Lord. I pray that I am able through you to be salt and light in the world. Lord, even as I bear my own cross, let me take time to love those around me. It is in your Son's Mighty, Holy, Precious name, Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Circumference of the Tree

CS Lewis wrote, "Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live."

About the most obedient creature I know would be a dog. This morning as I let my dog outside, she went to her yard to do her business. I looked down the road and there was a man coming up the road walking his dog. I called for Valley, she looked up and the saw the man and the dog and came running to me. She sat at my feet and as I stroked her back with one hand I held her collar with another. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and she growled at the man and the dog. I continued to hold her and pet her as the man let his dog urinate in Valley's yard, I kept whispering to her, "Good girl", "It's okay". She continued to growl and sometimes her barker got the better of her and she would cry out. She kept looking back at me almost to ask permission to go chase that little dog out of her yard. I just was very firm with a "no", kept petting her and kept holding her collar. As the man and his dog walked away I saw her relax just a little bit. But then her tail started wagging and I knew that it was over. I could release her from my grip because now she wasn't in defender mode and she wasn't going to go chase this man down the road, me following in my robe.

I try to be very conscious of when I let her out. She doesn't leave our yard, but there are certain times a day when she can be more greatly tempted than others. I know I can't let her out between 7:10 and 7:30 because there is a bus stop that she can see from our yard. She wouldn't hurt any of them (unless she licked them to death) but I know that's its a strong desire within her to run and see them. So I keep her in the house during those times. The other thing that really gets her wound up is squirrels. They are her enemy, she zones in on them and then no amount of yelling I do, she can't help but to chase them out of her yard or up a tree.

I was sitting there thinking of how God does the same thing with us. How he times our days to let us out when he knows that we won't go outside of our boundaries chasing temptations. He keeps an eye on the road and sees what is coming our way while we are distracted with duty and the things that consume our attention. When trouble comes down the road he is good to get our attention, to call us back to Him as he gently holds us and comforts us. Oh Lord, how tempted we are to bark. How tempted we are to run. How many times we look back at You to ask permission to chase off, or battle the injustices. Yet you hold us tight and whisper in our ear encouraging words and words of comfort.

There are times when God will let us chase off rodents. He will sit and laugh as he watches us chase them. With all of our might, and all of our power. There are times that we will catch them and bring them to lay at his feet. There are times that all we can do is chase them, up a tree, out beyond our boundaries. God encourages us protect our borders and our boundaries. He created them, even the sea has to be obedient of this far and no farther.

Sometimes someone is going to come and urinate on our field. The are going to offend us and anger us. But what have they takes from us? Does our field still remain? Do we still have our blessing? Do we still have a place to put our shoulder to the plow? The rodents have come to steal from us. They have to be chased off. They can't be left to get into our storehouse, or our homes or they would wreak havoc.

"to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor. "~Isaiah 61:2-3

Lord, I thank you for your protection, I thank you that you are my defender, my redeemer and my savior. Lord I thank you for your mercy, your grace, your comfort. I thank you that all I have to do in times of trouble is to call upon the name of Jesus and he comes to me a very present help in time of need. Lord, how you gave us such a gift, a gift of salvation, a gift of immeasurable blessings. The discipline, the guidance and the love that you show us. Lord, I thank you from the bottom of my soul for your sacrifice of love for me. Even if there was no one else here Lord, you did it before the foundation of the earth so that I would have a way to get back to you, to your arms. Lord for that I am humbled and I sit in awe of you this morning. All glory and honor and praise to you Father God, in the mighty name of your Son, Christ Jesus. Amen.


Bless the Veteran's!!!

When I sit here and think of the ones that have gone before us. The ones who have fought the good fight, for America yes, but for our beliefs I am humbled by the amount of people that have lost their lives for the gospel of Jesus. It is by their faith by their perseverance that we can take the gospel and move it forward. That we can come beyond nations, that we can come in unity, as the church that Christ intended us to be.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Lord, I thank you. For those who have gone before and for those engaged now. Lord, I thank you for their families that made the ultimate sacrifice and Lord I thank you for your ability to heal us in all areas. Lord, I thank you for America, Lord, I pray as we move forward that we will see a washing of our nation. That our society would come to know you and to again acknowledge your Divine Hand on our country. Lord, we don't alway get it right, but Lord this nation was birthed out a love of you. A desire to find freedom to worship and Lord. I take this time Lord to thank you for birthing that desire. Lord, I thank you for our military Lord, I thank you for every military man and woman on this planet and thank you for their desire to serve their nation. It will take brave people like them in the end times and I thank you for the work ups that our nations are getting now to move into that final battle where we all know that you are VICTORIOUS. Praise you Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as we move forward. Blessings and honor and power, forever and ever. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

BL...I want to personally thank you for your sacrifice. He is now in a place where "Soldier's live in peace, and angels sing Amazing Grace". Abundant Blessings to you and yours. ~JL


The "S" Word

Banzai: Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh! Do it again!
Banzai: Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh!
Banzai: Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh!
[breaks into laughter]
Shenzi: And it tingles me!

Every time I hear the word submit this is the conversation that goes through my head. I love submission. I love that if I submit to everyone I am asked to that I will have prosperity and that the Lord will bless me. I will be living in the will of God and I will be dancing like Simba in the beginning of the movie The Lion King.

Job 22:21 "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you."

I like that one. That one has a promise. I can submit to God. He is perfect, never lets me down, knows my perfect will, created me, I sit in awe of Him therefore, I can submit.

Ladies you may want to slide your toes back...I might step on some of them this morning (*in my best TD Jakes impression*).

Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

To ONE ANOTHER? You mean more than my God, more than just my authorities, more than just my husband. Oh have no fear there are times I struggle in those areas as well but this whole ONE ANOTHER? Lord, do we just mean believers, or are we talking everyone here? Paul was talking to the Church of Ephesus in this passage. They were to hold each other accountable. Sometimes when we get out on our own without someone to hold us accountable we get go into what I call La La Land. The verses before this are where Paul tells them don't get drunk on wine but in the Spirit. He is talking believers here.

About 2 weeks ago, I was in our town's small Post Office parking lot. As I was walking back to my truck after mailing something this interaction caught my eye. There is a white car, I am thinking it was an Accord, and around the back license plate is one of those black things that says "God is Awesome". This car and another white car, this one was a large very nice BMW with out of state tags are bumper to bumper both of them trying to back out of their spots at the same moment. No one looked to see if anyone was backing out. They just assumed in their "God is Awesome", "I ain't from 'round here" mentalities that they were the only ones wanting to leave the parking lot at that moment. Then in a split second someone laid on their horn. Rooting for the home team I am looking at the "God is Awesome" car to see her reaction. Her reaction...She is the one laying on the horn.

I have a back driveway, I drive a large SUV and although I have a backup sensor, one of the main selling points of this house is that I can pull into the carport, park, then I don't have to back out all I have to do is drive down the back drive which takes me to the main road. I even get a light there if I want to turn left which is a great thing during leaf season up here. When we first moved here the building at the end of my back drive was empty and I could take the back drive like a rollercoaster at Disney. Then about 2 years ago a new company moved in and they have trucks that have to back up to the loading dock and they blocked my way out. Not liking this new arrangement I let them know of my frustration by laying on my horn. Now you know why I don't have any Christian stickers or emblems on my vehicle. They came running out and moved the truck and I went on about my merry little life. Until I told my husband about it. See he is a reasonable man. In my mind he would march down there and give them a piece of my mind. He did go down and speak to them, then he came home and told me that I was in the wrong.

"WHAT?!" "Honey, they have to unload their trucks, you do have another way to get out, you need to have some patience and if it is blocked just back up and turn around." "Dadgum, you mean I have to give up my convenience and my turn light?" "Yes honey, sometimes you do."

I am happy to report that 2 years later, that 95% of the time that I get can get through and the rest of the time I just back up and drive around the other way, forsaking my precious traffic light. My truck is a Diesel and they can hear me coming and there have been many occasions that they have moved their trucks when they heard me coming down the hill.

"Lord, is this what you mean by submitting to one another?"

1 Corinthians 8:9 "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak."

Now I get it. I have to submit to others as I would submit to you. Lord, as if you owned that building, Lord as if you drove the BMW. I don't have to be first, I don't have to be right. I am to shine your light, and to be salt in the earth. I am supposed to die to self. Oh, it's all becoming crystal clear for me now Lord. Lord, that lady with the $150 worth of coupons at the store, with the 8 screaming kids, I am not more precious than her either am I Lord? No, my little one and you might want to learn a thing or two about being a good steward by watching her.

Lord, how many times I have failed at this. How many times I have fought for my own way. Thinking that as a Daughter of the King that everyone should bow as I walk by and get out of my way. How many times I have thought that my schedule was more important, that I had more rights than the one who I chose to offend. Lord, I repent of that this morning. I am sorry that I have disregarding your children in such a blatant way. Lord, we are all precious in your sight. We all have a role, and a purpose in your Destiny for us as your children. All the children of the world Lord. Whether we agree with them or not we are to show your light and your love to them. Demanding our own way doesn't do that. Lord, I thank you for the word submit. I thank you that as every day passes you are teaching me more and more what it means. Lord, I submit to you, and I choose to submit to others as unto you. I love you Lord, let me love your children Lord. Let me see them through your eyes and not my own. Lord, I give you all the glory and the honor and praise. You are the great I AM, and you are worthy of so much more than I could ever give. In your Son's righteous name I pray. Amen


Restore my Soul

Today Lord, I choose to rest in you.

Cape wearers unite. In our efforts to find righteousness and to serve our families, our churches, our employers and let's face it ourselves and our own desires we often look past God's gift of rest. We all look at Psalm 23 as the reading at a funeral. But here is what it says in the first few verses.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. " Psalm 23:1-3

If the Lord is my shepherd than he is guiding me. If I am a little sheep under his care, I go where I he tells me to go, I rest when he tells me to rest. When you are under the watchful eye of your Shepherd then you have the peace to have rest. You don't have to be on watch because He does that for you. You don't have to fret about things trying to harm you because he will protect you.

I don't have to want for anything, because he provides all of my care. ALL, I don't have to go hunt and I don't have to fight with my fellow sheep for it because there is more than enough for all of us. I don't have to worry about bills, I don't have to worry whether there will be enough food, I don't need to worry that we have clothes for the winter. I trust the great Shepherd to provide for me.

Here is the kicker, he makes me lie down in green pastures. Not dried out, nasty winter grass, not in briar's, not on a desert, on green pastures. He makes me. He wants to look out over the flock and see who has anxiety and who has trust in him by seeing who of us can rest in him and who of us have to keep pacing in the beautiful surroundings he has provided for us. I imagine him looking out over the entire flock and looking for the sleeping sheep and saying, yes my little one, bless you for trusting me enough to rest under my watchful care. I love to watch my children sleep, I can tell they are sleeping by their breathing pattern, I have rocked them and held them enough to know what their breathing sounds like when they are asleep. Then I can count today as a good day. They are peaceful, they are resting and they are safe. He does the same thing with us.

He leads us beside still waters. I know that there are times in my life that everything seems like a storm. Having experienced a few hurricanes I can almost imagine the winds coming fiercely from one direction, then the eye of the storm passes over and everything is dead calm, then the back side of the storm goes over with the winds just as fierce in the opposite direction. He wants me to find still waters. Chip Judd teaches, "Small rock, Big Wave...not the rocks fault". If something small comes into my life and it feels like a tidal wave, there is something else playing into it. If I don't walk in offense, if I don't plow others fields, if I stay close to the flock and under the guidance of my Shepard, my wave will equal the size of the rock, or I may not ripple at all. What a blessing that would be.

He restores my soul. He created it, it is only He that can restore it. The only thing I have to do is stop long enough for him to talk to me. If I could quit hunting, quit wandering off, quit trying to get out of his sight, if I would just make time, he would be faithful to meet me and to restore my soul. When I have a restored soul, my flesh seems to line up, I have less aches and pains, less to "grumble" about and I walk in his restoration.

He guides me in paths of righteousness. I have talked to Him, read His word, allowed Him to restore my soul. I know his voice ever so slight if I have talked to him recently. I can feel his hand on my shoulder as I walk through the day because last we talked he had his hand there, whispering in my ear. I can line up with His path to righteousness because, I know Him. Just as I know the difference in my children's breathing, I know the voice of my Father. Because I have let him rock me to sleep, to smooth my ruffled hair, to hold my chin and look me in the face and say "Beautiful girl, I did it just for you so that you could crawl up into the palm of my hand at the end of the day and find rest in me".

Father, I thank you for those times of intimacy. Father, I know that you are faithful to meet me if I sit the frying pan and the phone down long enough to hear you. Father, you love me like no other and your only desire is to hear me say your name, to love you and to bless you. You created us to share your love, with everyone around us, but most importantly with you. Lord, I bless you, I choose to minister to you first. Lord, I thank you for seeking me out, for making me a part of your flock. I rest in your presence and I find trust in that place. Thank you Father, Lord, Creator of the Universe for your sacrifice of your Son to wash me clean. Thank you Lord that you look at me as a flawless sheep, under your guidance. Oh Lord, how I love you. All blessing and glory and praise. In Jesus Name. Amen.