Through the years I have increasingly realized the value of having a teachable heart. Esther 2:15 beautifully summarizes the blessings of that to me: "When the time came for Esther to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her." Because Esther was willing to receive and heed council, she not only won favor, but became a queen who God used to save His people.
Our family of five got all ready to go to church this past Sunday. I sent the kids out to the van and promptly heard, "Mom, the door won't open!" To which I quickly replied, "Try to unlock it!" (Silently praying that my children would be blessed with common sense...) Then the next response came, "Mom, she's right, the door won't open and it is unlocked..." Which caused me to investigate further finding that evidently while in search of a lost toy the previous evening one of my adorable children left the interior lights on ALL NIGHT. The battery was stone dead.
My husband joined in on all the fun and we realized that our fabulous van with all of the bells and whistles also has a safety mechanism that will not allow you to transfer gears without battery power...we were parked all the way inside of the garage. Thankfully, my husband is both handsome and handy, so he set to work to remove the battery from his truck to charge the van. By the time all was charged and re-installed, it was much too late to go to church. Although I did have some fun taking some impromptu photos of the kids!
The week progressed with a fun 2nd birthday party for our littlest one, stomach bug for my oldest, long hours for my hard working husband, a MOPS fundraiser and a field trip. Although it hasn't been a terribly busy week (compared to our norm), I have been feeling like someone left my lights on and my battery is dead all week...not because I was not "fed" by someone else during my normal church or Bible Study times, but because somewhere between a hard working husband and sick kids I have neglected my own personal time with the Lord. Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming my husband or children for my lack of time with the Lord, I am just realizing that regardless of what comes our way that we need (I need) to stay connected to the vine in order for the Lord to fill me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NKJ) I am more than ready to reconnect and let Him recharge my battery!
You were born an original. Don't die a copy. ~ John Mason
Learn to... be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel
I attended a conference earlier this summer where an overwhelming sense of "I'll never be what these people are!" began to take residence in my mind. Not that I didn't agree with the messages or heart of the conference; just that overwhelming sense of inadequacy. I found myself trying to be what I thought others might want for me to be or try to learn their "voice" instead of my own.
I have taken hold of that sense of inadequacy and asked the Lord to transform it into a healthy humbling, but not to allow it to hold me back from fulfilling the call that He has placed in my heart. It is a gradual process for me. One that I am still growing in. These are some of the Scriptures that He has given me to hold onto when I find my voice attempting to be one only of harmony and not that of the lead I know that He is calling me to personally:
Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
I Corinthians 12:18 "But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body every one of them, just as he wanted them to be."
Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
True peace and joy are found when we walk in the purposes that God has for our lives. If you are not yet certain what God has called you to, pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal it to your heart. Once it is revealed to you, hold onto it - write it down- and ask God to give you Scriptures to encourage your heart when you are questioning.
It is also sometimes difficult for me to follow carefully the steps that He is laying out before me. He has to remind me often not to strive, but to simply follow. We do not have to fight frantically to be what He has designed us to be, we just need to allow ourselves to gradually become as we know the Lord more intimately. We, as Christians, are all called to be like Christ, but not cookie cutter replications of each other. Allow yourself to authentically be who God has created you to be.
"What's more important - your goal, or others' opinions of your goal?" Chinese Fortune
The other day the kids and I went to Cici's pizza (a sanity meal while the husband was traveling) and we got settled at our table and prayed. It was a relatively short prayer, thanking God for our food and asking for His protection and blessing upon our day. I had noticed an older gentleman watching us, but didn't think a lot about it. Shortly after we began our meal he came over, leaned down and said, "It was nice to see you praying in public...you know, it makes people talk..." I had thanked him for his comments but didn't have a lot of time to process them until later on. In the moment I had thought, "It's just what we always do."
Later, when I had time to reflect a bit more about this gentleman going out of his way to talk to us, I realized that it has been awhile since I saw people pray in public. I honestly cannot remember the last time that I have seen an entire table or family pray together out loud at a restaurant and it began to really bother me. We are so blessed in our country to have religious freedoms, and yet so many times we take that for granted and get embarrassed or "worried about what someone might think of us" or possibly that we might "offend" someone.
God brought to mind some Scriptures that I wanted to share:
Luke 9:26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (also Matthew 10:13 & Mark 8:38)
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; (NASB)
God has called us to deny ourselves - our pride and flesh and to follow Him (Luke 23-26) What is it that is showing others that we have chosen to be "set apart" for HIM? If someone was randomly watching your public life is there any indication that you are living for Christ? I am not just asking you, the reader, to answer this question honestly within yourself, but I am reflecting on this personally as well.
There was another time when someone had come up to me after praying over a meal in public. I was in Miami, passing through, on my way back from a missions trip and some of our team met a friend at Burger King. We prayed over our meal and this woman sitting at another table was STARRING at me. I wasn't sure what to think and actually mentioned it to the guys I was with because I was getting a little uncomfortable with the intensity with which she was staring. She finally got up and came over to me. She (total stranger) burst into tears and poured out her life - her daughter had just been sentenced to jail time and she, herself, had hit rock bottom and had just prayed that IF there was a God that He would show himself to her. And there we were...eating at Burger King...and she saw us pray. We, of course, prayed with this woman, over her and her life. The friend who we had been meeting there gave her some contact information for a local church. You never know who might need to see you pray. Let's do the opposite of denying. Lets take that small stand that we are a believer in Christ. You know, it makes people talk...
Alright, this is a little out the ordinary for me, but for those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile now, you will understand why this video caught my attention! To read my original post on this topic, click here.
You have got to see this - it will answer all of your perfect egg peeling questions! (Although I'm not sure if I want to eat your eggs if you do this!!)
The gentle tap still applies with this method, however may I also suggest that it is the "breath of God" that propels us forward? :) Just as we physically need to breathe to sustain life, we also need to be breathing in and allowing the fullness of God to both fill us and flow back out of us into the lives of others. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38 May we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and allow God to use us in the lives of others.
My mom would have been 56 years old today. Although it has been almost 16 years since she went to be with the Lord, her birthday still holds such a tenderness to me. I learned a lot through her battle with cancer:
1. Difficult times separate the "fair weather friends" from those who are willing to venture into the valley alongside of you and eventually gently take hold of your hand and help you to begin your ascent back out. 2. There can be amazing healing and growth in the midst of pain and suffering. 3. All of the insignificant distractions of daily life melt away leaving you the ability to clearly focus on the vital things in life.
I miss my mom's unconditional love, knowing that regardless of what the situation was that she would fight with everything in her on my behalf, I miss her peanut butter fudge, and her over all contribution in my life.
However, this post is not intended to sadden you, but help you to focus a bit more clearly on living life to it's fullest today. To enjoy the simple moments. To capture them and not let them slip away unnoticed. Here are a few of my simply wonderful moments that I am embracing today.
My Littlest One, still fresh from God, brings such laughter and light into my life. Here are a few of the things that I love about him: ...he accepts the simple act of my laying on the floor as an invitation to play ...he can say, "more please" perfectly when there is chocolate involved ...his obsession with hats - he has the cutest hair in the world and yet it is always covered. Often wearing several different hats in a day ...the adorably cute way he says, "thank you"
My Older Son, has such a gentle strength about him. Here are a few things I love about him: ...tenderness to embrace openly the things of the Lord ...cannot bear to see others suffering - eagerly walks beside them through difficulty - No doubt he will be an amazing husband ...such an innocence in silliness! Who knew making up new North, South, East, West rhymes could be so much fun? ...the "fuzzy nuzzles" he gives me every night at bedtime
My Daughter and oldest child, lives with such vibrance and passion. Here are a few things I love about her: ...when watching her, I am reminded that true beauty is best seen in laughter ...that others cannot help but acknowledge her presence when she enters a room ...how she leads without even trying ...how much she loves the friendship and laughter of her brother and the hugs of her baby brother
Embrace your sweet moments today...
(Note - the phrase "fresh from God" is borrowed from John Blaze over at his blog, "The Dirty Shame." He often uses it when referencing his own children.)
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" - Eleanor Roosevelt
Growing up I don't remember either of my parents traveling often. My dad was a hunter, so every fall he would take a hunting trip with his buddies. My mom did a great job of making the best of it. I have fun memories of staying up late, making popcorn balls, fudge, and homemade hot cocoa.
My marriage and family has been quite different. Travel is something that both my husband and I end up doing quite regularly and it has been even before our kids were born. Said husband was traveling last week and it made me think about some of the things that we have learned over the years that have both helped us as a couple and as a family. Thank goodness we now have cell phones and internet connectivity almost anywhere! So here they are, my top 10 tips:
1. Be realistic about phone calls. Timing can be difficult when separated, thus cutting real communication short. *Make it a point to leave each other messages throughout the day when things come to mind or you just want to tell them that you love them, are proud of them, praying for them or that the toilet is clogged in such a way that you don't know how to unclog it! :) 2. Set aside a time to reconnect after the travelsListen to one another's adventures from the time spent apart 3. Commit to praying for your spouse daily while they are gone. I LOVE this about my husband. He prays out loud over the kids and I each time before one of us leaves - it gives me such a sense of peace to know that he is praying for us. We try to give each other a couple of specific requests that usually involve our activities while we are apart and then we try to come up with one or two things on our own to increase the other as an individual - physically, mentally, emotionally or Spiritually. 4. Realize it is NOT a vacation! (Unless, of course, it is!) After we had kids, I began to feel resentful each time my husband left. I knew he was eating out and sleeping all night (even if in a hotel bed.) I could get myself really worked up about how easy he had things. However, there are a lot of stresses about traveling and although there may be perks here and there, the stresses tend to outweigh the perks. Don't allow your mind to park on resentments. 5. Tell your children about travel plans in advance. When they have time to process and talk about it, the transition is easier. 6. Give your children a role to fill while you are gone. The "man" of the house while daddy is away; "mommy's helper" with your younger brother or sister; "Daddy's eyes" to watch out for brother at ball games, etc. If they feel like they have an important role to fill it will help you to be able to refocus them if they have sad moments. If sad at bedtime, distract them by planning a "stuffed animal sleep over" in one of their rooms and then alternate rooms. 7. Reward your children when they are helping out! My daughter is such a HUGE help for me when my husband travels. I have been known to draw her a bubble bath with candles and music (in MY tub) when she has really been contributing more than normal with my younger two. She cannot do enough for me after special moments like those which makes it WELL worth the effort! 8. We have a family point system. Each point is worth a dollar. We call them "(last name) Points." They can only earn them when we see them going out of their way to help another family member. 9. Plan to eat out at least once! You need to allow yourself a "back up" plan for dinner one night to save the sanity! 10. Build Anticipation for a spouse's return. One or two nights before my husband returns I tell the kids "how many more 'sleeps' it will be until daddy gets home" We try to work together to make the house look nice and I let them stay up late for his arrival if it isn't too late.
I'd love to hear some of your best tips!! Many Blessings!
I read this article in Christianity Today titled "On The Grand Canyon Bus" by Phillip Yancey and I wanted to share part of it:
"We find it difficult to maintain a commitment to both this world and the next, to this life and the next.
A friend of mine uses the analogy of a busload of tourists en route to the Grand Canyon. On the long journey across the wheat fields of Kansas and through the glorious mountains of Colorado, the travelers inexplicably keep the shades down. Intent on the ultimate destination, they never even bother to look outside.
As a result, they spend their time arguing over such matters as who has the best seat and who's taking too much time in the bathroom.
The church can resemble such a bus, says my friend. We should remember that the Bible has far more to say about how to live during the journey than about the ultimate destination." (to read the complete article, click here)
God desires for us to live fully in this lifetime - to learn to know Him on this earth. To be the ones who pull up the shades, open the window and to invite others to breathe deeply the freshness that God has for His children each day. My dad used to say that some are "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good" and others are "too earthly minded to be of heavenly good." He encouraged us to find the balance between the two extremes.
Lamentations 3:22-24 "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of the God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge."
Matthew 25:14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. "
Praying that we will all embrace the talents that God has bestowed upon us and encourage each other to enjoy the view as we press on...
I apologize to any of you who have noticed that my normal blogging "schedule" is a bit skewed this week! With Monday being a Holiday and the kids home it has thrown me off a bit. It was my intention to have posted yesterday and to "call it good" until Friday's post, but I am compelled to post again.
Music speaks deeply to me. I have come across a music video on You Tube that penetrated my heart where I am at right now and I had to share it with you.
My life has literally intersected with someone who (if I am honest with myself) I would normally avoid. I don't consider myself a judgmental person on the whole. I am who I am only by the grace of God and even having experienced the grace of God I have not always made perfect choices. Tatoos, piercings, unconventional dressing, etc. does not normally cause me hesitation when getting to know someone. But I have actually spoken to some of you about my contact with this person because it has been consuming my thoughts and disturbing me on several levels. To say that this person has chosen an "alternative lifestyle" would be an understatement. And yet, I am here at this place where I am face to face with this individual and I need to be until I complete a task and then there may still be residual contact that could be ongoing. At first, I just wanted to hold my breath and plow through this situation. I literally asked someone to watch my son so I would not have to have him exposed when I met with this person to go over some items.
However, as time has gone on, I am realizing more and more that this persons choices have most likely been made out of woundings that they have received/experienced throughout their life. I honestly still cannot comfortably look at this person "as a whole," but when I focus on their face when I am speaking to them I am finding that there is a person in there that I actually enjoy. I have been asking God to allow me to see this person through "Rose Colored Glasses." Wayne Watson's old song that speaks of how when God looks upon us he does not see the ugliness of our sin, but that his gaze passes through the blood of Christ.
I have been convicted about my quickness to judge instead of love as Christ would love. I have begun to pray for this individual. That God would redeem them, heal them, restore them, and make them whole in a way that they have never imagined. It seems such a huge task with my human eyes, but nothing is impossible with God. Please take a moment and watch this video. Please be praying for me as God is at work in my life and also in this individuals life. And those of you who attend church with me...be prepared! You may just meet this person one day!
Romans 3:23-24 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (emphasis mine) Luke 1:37 "Nothing is impossible with God."
When he [Jesus] saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:13-19)
I have recently been feeling distance with someone who was almost a friend but more of an acquaintance (is there a term for that?) You know, someone that you consistently say hello to or smile at when you see them and there is the potential that you could become fast friends given the time and opportunity but you really don't know them yet? Anyway, I was getting the feeling that I must have done something wrong along the way. Missed a smile, wave, or said something that had in some way offended her because the smiling and waving had all but ceased. I began to pray about it asking God to reveal to me what I might have done to cause this change. It wasn't something that was deeply troubling to me, but noted.
As I was sorting through some old paperwork I found a list of thank you cards that I needed to write. I had made the list quite some time ago shortly after the birth of my son and evidently had written the list and then completely forgotten to write the notes. On that list was the name of this individual. She had made an effort by doing something for me during those crazy sleep deprived days and it had meant a lot to me. It began to register that because I hadn't ever written the thank you card and we don't speak often that she probably had no idea that her contribution to my life had made a difference. I debated whether or not I should go ahead now and write the note. I felt silly because so much time had passed and I wasn't sure how to say, "remember that time way back when..." But I remembered this story of the ten lepers and how only one had come back to say thank you so I went ahead and did it. I decided that regardless if the note would mean anything to her or not that I should at least communicate my gratitude. Is it really ever to late to thank someone for contributions that they have made in your life? Possibly in death, but while we still have breath I believe that we should praise the Lord and express gratitude generously.
Can you imagine standing there with Jesus when he asked where the other nine lepers that he had just healed had gone? Only one in the ten had stopped and taken the time to come back and thank the Lord. I'm sure that each of us if asked would say that we would have immediately gone back and said thank you. After all it was an amazing healing! But think of the life these men had lost during this time of their illness. They had not been allowed to see family or friends. They had been isolated and could not wait to get back to their lives. They may have praised Jesus's name to others, but did not actually stop to thank the Lord himself. I would hate to have been remembered as "one of the nine." Although I am certain that there are times when the Lord has blessed me and I have gone on my merry way enjoying the blessing but have forgotten to stop and verbalize the thank you to Him.
I have just mailed the card. Maybe it will bring back the smiles and friendly exchanges and perhaps it won't. Either way, I have been reminded to go out of my way to have a thankful heart and to occasionally praise God in a loud voice, to throw myself at Jesus's feet and thank Him.
I am excited to introduce my very first "guest blogger" to all of you. Jimmy Parker is a talented speaker, trainer and coach. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Marine Corps pilot, and former nationally-ranked gymnast, Jimmy truly practices what he teaches and is universally characterized by his friends, associates, and clients as one of the most influential and effective people they have met. I am honored to call Jimmy and his wife true friends. His message today is a follow up to his talk at our MOPS group a few weeks ago on "Finding Your NYCH." A system for finding and following the plan God has for you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Shanda,
I was urged to write a follow-up note to the moms who were at the NYCH talk last month and figured your blog was the best place I knew of to put it.
You may remember that your NYCH refers to the 4 components of who you are that can help you discover, develop, and deliver the plan God has for you. It stands for your Natural Gifts (what you’re good at doing), Yearnings (what you love doing), Conscience (what’s right for you to do), and Human Needs (what others need you to do). Your NYCH defines how you were uniquely and wonderfully made, it addresses why you’ve been put on the planet in this time, and it’s where you will find your deepest joy and your highest contribution. And in case you’re wondering, yes—everybody has one. You didn’t come out of a factory, looking and behaving and wanting the same as everyone else. You were hand crafted by He who loves like no other, engineered with passion and precision to perform a mighty work in Christ. You are capable of living and loving and serving in ways that are truly supernatural. You are amazing.
Yet, most of us don’t feel very amazing. We often live and love and serve in areas outside our NYCH, often without realizing it. For some, this is discouraging—as though He’s keeping a secret we really need to know. For others, it feels harder than it should—as if we’re punching the gas & brake at the same time. Some have even chosen to believe the lie that we’re really not special, that we’re “condemned” to the life we know and see today. If you feel at all like this, I have great news! Jesus knows you and loves you far better than you do. And He wants your life to be full (John 10:10), so much that he emptied His so you could have it. But there’s a catch.
There’s no free NYCH.
Sorry, it has a price tag. The price is different for everyone, but I recently heard that God was having a HUGE sale on NYCHs this week and yours is half off. Interested?
Sometimes I wish we could just lay down $200 and take our NYCH home right now, or recite a special magic prayer and have it fall in our laps. But God in his wisdom chose to require a little more effort on our part. (I’m assuming he knows what he’s doing.) He seems to think that spending a little time and energy on His reasons for building you will go a long way toward having a life so full that it overflows, supplying the needs of people and filling them up in a holy act of worship and thankfulness (2 Corinthians 9:12). He wants us to know the unique contribution we can make, then to perform it dutifully.
But the NYCH store doesn’t seem to accept our normal forms of payment: MasterCard, cash, or (a few thousand years ago) my best crops or unblemished animals. Discovering, developing, and delivering your NYCH requires you to spend something far more valuable than your money: your time and energy. You earn your NYCH by spending time and energy searching earnestly for it, pondering and analyzing, asking yourself hard questions then holding yourself accountable for finding the answers. You can see that a person who deliberately plans an hour of such activity each week will discover their NYCH much faster than the person who casually thinks about it infrequently.
Time is the Currency of Life
So, I propose a challenge: let’s see how much we can save at this huge sale God’s throwing. Seriously! How much of your LIFE would you save if you found the perfect NYCH by Christmas? Let’s plan to do some serious NYCH shopping. What kind of plans will you need to make? In other words,
· When will you go NYCH shopping? How much time will you spend there? Will you go more than once? What are you willing to give up to make time for it? Will you invite a friend to come along?
· Once you’re there, what will you look for? Will you browse many things lightly, or really inspect a few things closely? Will you look for the thing that others think is cool, or will you look for what fits you best? What if the thing you wanted most is out of stock? What if it takes longer to find than you think it should?
· What if you get lost along the way? What if traffic sucks? What will it take to make you turn around and go home? What “good” or “shiny” thing will win your attention and pull you off track?
· What are the consequences of not following through? What do you stand to gain if you stick with it?
God asks for a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5). He wants us to take a stand against lifelessness wherever it exists and to consider carefully where you sow your time and your energy. Even right now in your current situation. There is no doubt that mothering a preschooler is one of the most demanding seasons of life: you have perhaps the least amount of discretionary time and energy right now than you may ever have. Examine how you spend them anyway. A living sacrifice for you might mean giving up some of the good things you’ve already chosen that are keeping you from giving Him your best. It might mean challenging a few preconceived notions, relaxing the death grip you may have on your expectations, or replacing some of the negative things you say to yourself with something better. You might even have to give up your need to feel in control. In the NYCH store, this is the stuff written on the price tags.
The Road Ahead
For those of you considering this challenge, this is a good time to remind you about your opponent—the one who seeks destruction and death. He is very smart. He knows our weaknesses and seeks to exploit them at every turn. But his approach is usually so subtle that we often don’t take notice. He knows that as soon as we acknowledge his schemes and take a stand in Christ, the game is over. So he lurks, promoting brokenness and lifelessness but disguising it as something good, something valuable, something shiny. He’s learned this is the most effective way. And we’ve taught him! He doesn’t get a foothold in our life unless we give it to him.
Allow me to expose his plan. He wants to keep us entertained, busy, distracted or otherwise caught up in the ways of this world (Romans 12:2) just enough to not pay the price. To not do the real work of search & discovery. To not get close to God. He wants us to confuse activity with accomplishment over the next 6 months so that, despite the best of intentions, we're no closer our Creator or why he created us than we are today. Another subtle victory for evil. Christians, take a stand against these schemes! (Ephesians 6:11)
You may be surprised to find that dramatic results don’t always come from dramatic change. Good thing, too, since you don’t have more room in your life for drastic change. Your life is a whirlwind right now! As a life coach I’m simply trying to get you to devote just a little more time & energy to yourself. For this is what real growth looks like: many tiny steps. Those rare few who turned their life around on a dime seem to get all the credit and hoopla. But for most of us normal people, it's these tiny, consistent decisions that make the difference: challenging a negative paradigm, thinking deeply about the things of God for 20 minutes, making slight changes in our spending habits (our time, money, and energy) in ways that glorify Him more and more. This is the sacrifice that pleases the Lord, frustrates the enemy, unlocks our highest and best, and enables the miracle of His sanctifying work in us. Make a commitment today to completing one or more of these activities to help discover your NYCH—wouldn't that be an awesome Christmas present?!?
· Review the list of Natural Gifts on page 6 of the NYCH handout and consider which ones might be yours
· Set aside time to complete the activities/discussion questions in the handout
· Check out the additional resources on page 14 of the handout
· Start journaling weekly about your NYCH using the POLL method: write about your Progress, Obstacles, and Lessons Learned that week
· Identify someone to partner with and keep you accountable
To obtain a copy of the handout or learn more about your NYCH, contact me at Jimmy@Christian-Life-Coach.com or (866) 824-8110.
My oldest son began playing t-ball two years ago. I remember that first season of knowing that he had a real knack for the sport but getting SO frustrated that all he seemed to do was gather dirt in his glove and then gloriously, and completely unaware that there was a game going on around him, throw it up in the air. Thank goodness he has an amazing coach who also "coached" us as parents that when the kids were on the field, that only he and those who were base coaches would do the correction and instruction. We were allowed only to toss out positive words of encouragement. Wow was that difficult! I so wanted to scream, "Pay attention to the ball!" or "Stop kicking the dirt!" I admit, the occasional, "Baseball Ready!" escaped my lips. I knew my son would know my voice and snap to it if I said something and what truly positive thing can you say to a 5 year old kicking and throwing the dust of the earth into the faces of his teammates?
Then there was the issue of the coveted "game ball." At the end of each game, the coach would present one player with the ball used during the game (or a very dirty used one if that particular ball was not able to be located in the moment) with the coach's signature and a written comment about how they had played the game. You could see the eager anticipation of the kids as they gathered in a circle and peered hopefully at the coach's face. The ball signified that you had what it took. You were good at this. You had something to offer the team. My son was the last player to receive the game ball that first season. It was sort of a "mercy game ball" if you will - the concept that every child is a winner. But although we could see that, our son was thrilled! He had what it took! The next season, he came alive and although there were still irresistible moments of dirt kicking and throwing, he got the game ball mid season. It began to dawn on him that the earlier in the season you get the ball, the better you are doing. The following season, he received TWO game balls which was quite a feat being that there were more players than games.
So this year as he moved up to "real" baseball - machine pitch baseball; my husband and I have been encouraging him. It is much more difficult to hit a moving ball than one that is sitting right in front of you. They actually make you sit down if you strike out and what a bummer that is! But he has tasted success and he is determined to be a baseball player. The players have also been progressively learning how to encourage one another. What began as, "Let's go Ironbirds, let's go" (over and over and OVER again...)has gradually progressed into, "Hey Kevin, great play!" and "Wow Max! Awesome hit!" It is awesome to hear how excited they get over each others successes!
Tonight, our son got the game ball! Not at the end of the season, but still toward the beginning of the season and he knows what that means! He really does have what it takes. He is able to be good at this and he does have something to offer his teammates. He has also learned how to give encouragement to his teammates and to be truly excited for them when they have earned the game ball. We can learn so much from children!
Why is it that we think positive things about others but rarely go out of our way to tell them? When we see others who possess talent why do we sometimes resent that they do instead of being excited with them? Especially when they are on OUR TEAM? We had another gifted speaker at MOPS this past Friday and she talked a bit about this concept of how we compete with one another and try to be self sufficient instead of encouraging and supporting one another and drawing from the body of Christ working together. God didn't intend for us to live life on our own. He created and gifted each of us uniquely and perfectly to allow the body to work as a whole. It might be time for you to speak life into the sister or brother who represents the hands or feet of your body. Maybe the eyes are a little dry or irritated and could use some cool refreshment. How about the person who represents the pinky toe and offers balance unable to be achieved without what they contribute? Let's agree together to speak the positive words that come to mind the next time something pops into our heads. We need to encourage one another to live fully the purposes that God is calling them to. Let's not just impersonally chant, "Let's go...," But rather encourage each other in specific ways. Hebrews 10:24 (The Message) 22-25So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some dobut spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Worship is my favorite part of most church services. The Holy Spirit brings healing to my heart in many ways through music and I love to sing praises about and to my God. I tend to be mostly a logical person (as opposed to an emotional person) except when music is involved. Years ago when my dad was getting married (after my mom's death to my wonderful step mother Beth) My sister and I were going to sing a song together during the ceremony. We must have practiced and sang the song together 10 times and not once did I have a problem singing it. Until the ceremony. I got so choked up at the meaning of the song in the moment that I literally could not sing. My poor sister who was supposed to be singing the "harmony" portion had to sing almost the entire song by herself. Thankfully, she is the better singer of the two of us and was able to pull it off!
I often relate to David and am encouraged by the Psalms. (Which many of our praise and worship songs come from.) After David sinned with Bathsheeba and then tried to plot his way out of being found out-ultimately resulting in her husband Uriah's death, the prophet Nathan came and told David a story. (2 Samuel 12:1-12) It was a story about how a wealthy man had guests arrive at his home and he decided to throw them a feast. But instead of using one of his own lambs as the main course, he had his servants take away another man's only lamb, that he had raised as his child, for the meal. David was enraged and said that the wealthy man deserved to die and that he must pay four times over for what he had done. Nathan then reveals to David that He (David) is as the wealthy man in the story. He had wives he could have slept with instead of taking Bathsheeba and ultimately killing her husband. There is power and truth that we need in the next verse: 2 Samuel 2:13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die." When we are repentant and confess our sins to the Lord, He takes our sins away-as far as the east is from the west. Psalms 103:10-12 says, "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
When we have done wrong, it is often easy to stay in our pit of condemnation. When others have wronged us, it is easier to place them in condemnation instead of forgiving. But God clearly shows us that once sin is recognized and there is repentence, sin is removed from the sinner. The Schofield Reference Bible says this of Psalms 103:12 about the Hebrew translation of the word "remove."
1] Removed our transgression from us
Three Hebrew words are trans. forgive, forgiven: kaphar, to cover; nasa, to lift away; salach, to send away (cf). Lev 16:21,22 the fundamental O.T. idea of forgiveness being not the remission of penalty, but the separation of the sinner from his sin. Ps 103:12 expresses this.
The part that I really appreciate about that definition is that it is not the "remission of penalty" but the separation of the sinner from the sin. There may still be consequences to actions we have taken. I have never understood how people can laugh and say, "Oh, he is just 'sowing his wild oats' before settling down." You will reap what you sow. There may still be fields that you will have to tend and plow under and re-sow, even after you have come to repentence, if you have sown thoughtlessly, but praise God you are forgiven and can begin again OUT of the pit of death, condemnation and despair. In Psalm 103:4 David is praising God, "who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion." I guarantee when you know that you are forgiven of something that you become crowned with a new love and compassion for others who may have stumbled into the same pit that you did.
Healing and forgiveness hinge on repentence. Perhaps someone has wronged you and never asked for forgiveness - from God or from you. What then? Is healing and forgiveness possible for you? Yes! You may not have a complete restoration of a relationship, but you can release your pain to the Lord and trust that justice is HIS to repay and the Lord will heal, restore, and release you from the bitterness within.
I want to close with a small portion of Casting Crown's song "East to West." We need to allow Jesus to show us how far "east is from the west" and take the Spiritual battle position of standing in belief of what God has done for us. Jesus, can You show me just how far the East is from the West? Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been Come rising up in me again In the arms of Your mercy I find rest Cause You know just how far the East is from the West From one scarred hand to the other
I know You've washed me white Turned my darkness into light I need Your peace to get me through To get me through this night I can't live by what I feel But by the truth Your word reveals And I'm not holding onto You But You're holding onto me You're holding onto me
I would love to hear some of your stories of forgiveness or Scriptures that God has given you in the midst of forgiving someone else.
When I was a teenager, I remember a song called the title of my post today. A missionary had played it before he began a message about total surrender to Christ and how we have a tendency to place a few "stipulations" to our surrendering to God's will over our own. I found a great video on You Tube where the song is played to photos of missionaries in Africa (however I do not know this particular missionary family.) "Please Don't Send Me to Africa"
At the onset of my collegiate days, I enrolled as a "Missions Major." However, I was quickly informed that it was better for a female to major in something that builds a "skill" to offer in case I did not marry. (Somewhat indicative of the college I attended...) That left two options: nursing or teaching. I opted for teaching. However, during my college years, God opened my eyes to see that there is just as great of a mission field right here in the U.S.A. as abroad. I also realized that my heart tends to be less evangelic than helping Christians gain a deeper walk with the Lord. Thus, the never actually going to Africa.
I have posted recently about my wonderful step mother, Beth. Check out my post, "The Widow's Might", if you are just joining me on my blog to learn more. She is now in New Guinea and beginning the work that the Lord has placed in her heart. Would you join me in praying for this powerful ministry that is about to begin with the Madak people? These people have NEVER heard about Jesus Christ. They have not heard the message of salvation. The missionaries in the field there in Kavieng have been working to translate the Bible into the Madak language for several years now. They have built relationships with these people. "For such a time as this..."
In Beth's latest e-mail to me she requested that we would pray specifically for protection and health for the missionaries and their families. One, Chris, has a large boil on his leg that is preventing him from being able to walk the paths in the village. Sharon has just recently learned that her father is struggling with cancer. Karl is working to complete more lessons. And Beth is recovering from strep throat. Please also pray for Maribeth and their three children. They are still determining the best location to do the teaching - they need wisdom and favor with the Madak people to be in the right place at the right time.
In the "Believing God" Bible Study that I am currently doing, Beth Moore stated that "you can believe that the enemy is sitting on the territory that the Lord is about to give you." He most definitely is encamped with the Madak people and has been for generations upon generations. But that means nothing when it is the territory that the Lord is giving to His people. The missionaries in Kavieng need brothers and sisters in Christ to draw their swords and raise their shields beside them in these trenches of Spiritual battle.
I would love to be able to send them some prayers written out that you are praying for them or Scriptures that would be encouraging or equipping. I know it would bless them so very much. You can either click the "comment" section below this post or send me an e-mail with your prayers and encouragements and I will pass them on. Thank you! Many Blessings!
God has been blessing me with a Thanksgiving in October! Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year-especially early fall. I love the cool crisp mornings and evenings. I love wearing jeans with a long sleeve shirt and my sandals (may not be completely stylish, but it's the most "me" of my wardrobe) Having hiking boots on with a sweatshirt wrapped around my waist is probably the other most "me" fall wardrobe. I just breathe deeply enjoying the crisp freshness in the air and the wonderful blue sky.
With all of this talk about the economy and hard times, I am reminded just how blessed we truly are here in America. In a way, I am thankful that our country is having to do a little soul searching and having to cut through the chaf to figure out what really matters to us. If we can only afford a few things, what is truly most important to us and why?
No one likes to struggle. But, in a strange sort of way, for me struggle and getting down to what really matters in life is like slipping into my favorite jeans. It is a place that I am quite familiar with. I know I'm going to have to get a little dusty cleaning up things that I have probably taken for granted and now must utilize and appreciate again for the function that they perform and I can do that in my favorite jeans without a lot of care. We draw more from our own "wells" or oil resources instead of just "buying" our way onto a more comfortable path. Suddenly keeping up with the Jones's doesn't matter. We couldn't before, but now somehow we are released because it's no longer an option to try.
My kids and I pray each morning in our van on the way to school. I have been working with them on how to begin by praising God or being thankful for answered prayers or things BEFORE we just pour out our list of wants and needs to Him. It has blessed me to hear the things that they are thankful for: having a house so we don't have to live outside, that mommy was tired last night so we got to have Chick-Fil-A for dinner, that my baby brother hugs me when I cry, that I got to the next level on Lego Star Wars and killed Darth Vader, you know...stuff that matters in their innocent worlds. Oh that we could appreciate the little things as they do!
Today as I finish this post, I am at peace. Thankful that God is at work in my life-that I am allowing Him to be, and reminded of all of the simple, and wonderful ways that we are blessed in this life. Take some time today to reflect on what you have already been given and might be taking for granted.
Lives near Washington D.C. with her wonderful husband of 15 years and their three precious children. She is the Co-Founder of Bloom! (a ministry for 4th/5th Grade Girls,)and she enjoys speaking at ladies events. Shanda is a Proverbs 31 Ministries "She Speaks" Graduate and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org