Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where He Leads

I remember wondering exactly what people meant when they would say things like, "the Lord showed me..." or "God told me..." But gradually, over time, I have experienced it for myself. As I sought the Lord and prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear; I have gained some understanding. (Only some...there is always more to learn.)

Today as I share something that God has spoken to my heart; I am inviting you into a bit of my conversation with the Lord. Prayer, to me, is like an on-going dialogue. There is still great reverence as I enter His presence; but just as a child enters their father's presence, it is not all formalities.

As I have come to know God more; I want for Him to guide my steps. I desire to be completely in His will so I talk with Him about many things. Things perhaps that might seem trivial to some.

Just this morning I was going out for a walk/run. As I reached the end of my driveway, I asked, "Which way should I go this morning, Lord?" It has become as natural as breathing to ask simple things like this. Then I pause and wait for a direction to be impressed upon my mind. If neither direction seems to be popping into my mind, I test it a little. "This way Lord, should I take this path to the hill?" and then again, I wait (it only takes a few seconds though...not like I am standing at the bottom of my driveway for 5 minutes in indecision.) If I feel no specific leading, I choose on my own. But there are days when I will feel impressed to take a certain direction. Many of those times, I run into a neighbor that I haven't seen in awhile and I make it a point to stop and speak to those God brings into my path.

I attended the Beth Moore Simulcast this past weekend. The woman is blessed with insight from the Lord and I always walk away from studies she has written, etc. wanting more of God so I was excited to go. Friday night was awesome. God had given her a message about our hearts desires (Psalm 37) and how there are times when He moves past our hearts desires to get to the heart of our desire. Good stuff. How if our hearts desires line up with the Word of God and have stood the test of time but have not yet come to fruition that it either has to do with God's glory or our destiny. Timely encouragement for many; myself included.

Saturday morning I was tired. The air was heavy with humidity and it was all I could do to get out of bed. As Beth moved through her sessions, I began to mentally drift....(Sorry Beth! You were awesome! It was just me!)...thoughts of a birthday party my daughter and I were going to attend, wondering if I had hung up my shirt to dry that I had just washed or if it might end up getting shrunk in the dryer...but as I drifted in and out of focusing on the message, I began to want to get to the heart of something that has been on my mind.

I have been feeling that God has been wanting me to take some time off of blogging. But I haven't wanted I was praying about it. "Lord, do you want for me to slow down with my blogging? Maybe just post on Mondays or maybe just the Titus 2 Tuesdays?" I prayed. All kinds of thoughts about what I would miss if I stopped blogging and reading blogs rushed to my mind. "Surely you don't want for me to completely stop right now...I'm really enjoying these relationships you've led me to develop...I can see how you are using this blog for good...a couple of these bloggers really need encouragement right now; I don't want to leave them hanging..."

Right then, (I kid you not) Beth Moore yells (as she was making a point), "STOP IT!!! Don't slow down; don't do it a little! STOP IT!!" She was defining the meaning of "Be still" in Psalm 46:10 vs. in Psalm 37:7 and showing how the definitions differ slightly in the Hebrew. I sat there stunned for a minute and then silently prayed, "That was for me wasn't it Lord? That is what you've been trying to tell me. To STOP blogging for awhile and to be still before you more?"

Aren't you glad that God isn't sarcastic? If He was you can bet His answer would have been, "You think?!?!?! How much louder could I have said it for you???"

Instead, it was as if I were released from something and peace flooded my soul. This verse came to mind:

"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." Song of Solomon 2:11-13 (emphasis my own)

Since that moment; this Scripture has been affirmed to me three times. My husband mentioned to me on a walk that God had given this Scripture to him. (The first part...not the "darling/beautiful" part ;) I had not mentioned it to him and quite honestly was surprised that he would mention a verse from Song of Solomon!) And two of my blogging friends that I know IRL and on line both used this passage in a post since then. Each time I have read the verse I feel the same peace that this is His path for me right now.

So...I am choosing to follow where He is leading with this - beginning immediately after I hit "Publish." This will be it for awhile; until He leads me back here to write again. I am not sensing that this is meant to be a "forever STOP," but rather a block of time.

I will no doubt miss our conversations and I do anticipate that I will continue reading posts here and there. I just won't be commenting as regularly as I normally do. You are welcome to leave me messages (or e-mail me), prayer requests, etc. here off and on if you choose or want to respond to a comment I leave on a post.

I have asked Bethany at Happyascanbe to host the Titus 2 Tuesdays in my absence. I know she will do an amazing job and if you don't already "know" her, I encourage you to stop by and introduce yourself.

May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and give you peace!

Much "Bloggy" love,


*I will be speaking at the upcoming MOPS International Convention (at a break out session.) If you are going to be there; I'd love to meet up with some of you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - True Hearts

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever) Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

My life has been touched by so many here in the blogging world. I know many of us have said this, but it is simply amazing how connected you can feel to those who you have never met face to face! Today I am honoring several of you who have been a blessing in my life in one way or another throughout this past year.

Thank you so much to Christy over at The Secret Life of an American Wife and Mom for passing on the True Heart and Loyal Friend and Visitor awards to me. She has such a heart for the Lord and for her family I can see why someone passed them on to her! Thank you again girl! I'm blessed to call you my friend!

"those who receive this award are of the sweetest nature. they are kind, friendly, funny, loving, eager to share their love for Jesus with others, and brave in their efforts to reflect Him to this darkened world. they are the kind of folks you're blessed to know, even if it's only in the bloggy-sphere."
These ladies are all fabulous and I hope that if you see an unfamiliar name/blog that you will stop by and get to know them! You'll be glad that you did!

Jeneil at Autism in a Word - Her husband has just deployed to Iraq; if you have a favorite Scripture I would love it if you'd leave it in her comment section and show her some extra "blogger love" today!

Daughter of the King - I love Dawn's zest for God and life - it is contagious!

Farmgirl Paints - Becky is awesome; I love her creativity & her authenticity of faith and life!

Eddins 4 - You all got to "meet" Belinda previously when she guest posted; so you probably already know and love her!

Happyascanbe - One of the sweetest bloggers I've met; so full of hope and love!

Off the Beaten Trek - Rosel is a nurse in a correctional facility. Her faith and Christ's love flows so freely through this beautiful vessel of the Lord.

Jewels In My Crown...Someday - Gretchen's Gladitude posts are one of my Monday highlights.

Once Upon a Miracle - Rachel has such a rich blend of laughter and love in her posts.

Grace Talk With Daveda - God's hand is evident upon this beautiful friend of mine. She is passionate about sharing God's gift of grace!

Life By The Creek - Whenever Pam comments before me somewhere it is amazing that I always feel like just writing, "ditto!" She and I are constantly tracking together!

Pure Wells - Kathryn speaks God's truth with boldness and grace. If you are ready to dive deeper; check her blog out!

Write From the Heart - Lelia is such a gifted writer and communicator! I always leave her posts moved in some way.

Focused on the Center - Shannon is so real about her faith. She invites you to be real as you move closer in your relationship with the Lord.

Serenity Now - A Mommy's Solution to Staying Sane - Amanda has a mixture of home decor, projects, fun children moments, and laughter. If you get a chance, read this post!

The Joy of Denim and Lace - When I think about meditating on Scripture, Joybug comes to mind. She is a woman of the Word.

Even Till the End of Time - This sweet friend (IRL) always reminds me of the sweet power of prayer.

Trading Ashes for Beauty - Jennifer has such beautiful depth to offer. I love her Thankful Thursdays.

Sunshine and Sprinkles - Absolutely and adorably in love God and a Coastie - her blog never looks the same every time you visit! ;)

Stand Firm for Christ - Just getting to know this blogger, but her title says it all!

Take Me The Way I Am - I love Lora's obvious love of the Lord, people, fun, & food!

His Girl - Amber is creative, witty, and she actually gets paid to tell children about Jesus!

Girl in a Glass House - This blog is powerful in so many ways. Not only is each post inspiring and thought provoking; but there is amazing depth to the comment section as well!

O.k., there are more that I could easily list; but I will leave a few for these fabulous ladies to pass the awards on to!!

What have you learned from another wise woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reading Lips

I've spent a lot of time in waiting rooms this week. Many a television was on - some with sound; some without. One in particular stood out to me. It was turned on to a "reality" t.v. show. Have you ever watched a reality t.v. show without sound? With sound it can be bad enough; without sound and reading the closed Try it sometime. There is something about words being written down rather than carelessly spoken that amplifies the negativity and harshness.

It got me thinking about the words that I speak to my family. All throughout the day as I spoke I would "see" the words (in my mind) that I had just spoken as if they were in closed captioning...powerful stuff. It was as if God were revealing to me the messages that I was writing on the hearts of those that I love. Some were powerful in a good way; while others were messages that I would never intentionally write on their hearts.

There are so very many Scriptures on the power of the tongue. (All listed are NIV)

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

"The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment." Proverbs 10:21

"For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." I Peter 3:10

Of those verses that I listed (and there are so very many more!) the first one jumped off the page to me. I am so careful about the foods I prepare for my children. I wash their fruits and vegetables; we eat hormone and additive free as much as we can. But what about the fruit of my words that my children are digesting?

This has been a humbling week for me in many ways. God is at work refining me - it is a continual process - as it is for all of us. His love and grace are ever present and offered freely. I need not strive in my own strength; but rest in His. I am thankful for the process. The words my children are reading on their hearts from my lips are important.

"He must become greater; I must become less. " John 3:30

"My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long." Psalm 35:28

Many Blessings!


(Rachel & Keystone~God has brought you both to mind several times in this thought process of mine!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Real Love Defined

It seems I am taking an "unintentional blogging break" this week! It is a combination of running around town to Dr., dentist, and eye Dr. appointments and my husband trying out a partial "working from home" option...sounded awesome until I realized that meant no computer time for me... ;) So please be patient as we find yet another "new normal."

In the meantime, I've had a chance to be re-reading (in the waiting areas) Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love." In one section of the book he is discussing what God's definition is of "love" and he lists I Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (ESV).

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends... faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Then he asks us to insert our own names in the place of the word "love" within those verses.

"Shanda is patient and kind; Shanda does not envy or boast..."

Go ahead, try it with your own name...

Much like Francis, I realized my "lack of" as I inserted my name. For me it was between the "does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful..." PERFECT reminder for me as we (our family) moves forward into the "new normal" of school, partially working from home, etc.

We cannot, in our "human" state, love perfectly without knowing the true love of Jesus Christ and allowing His love to flow through us to others.

Tonight I am praying for His love to flow through me anew.

"He must become greater; I must become less. " John 3:30 (NIV)

In Christ's Love,


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Cool Kids

My kids just went back to school. It always amazes me how they want to both "fit in" and yet "stand out." They want to be noticed as unique, cool, or special in some way...but still not stand out too much. If you "stand out" in the wrong way at school; you get picked on. Although those days were long ago for me, I find that I occasionally still struggle with the same thing-socially and as a Christian.

We want to stand out for Christ; and yet maybe not so much that we are looked at as an "alien" but as unique, cool, and special. However, even in the Bible we are told that this world is not our home. "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world..." I Peter 2:11a (NIV) I don't think it will be long before those who are living for Christ will look a bit more like the "alien" in this world.

Just today on the phone my husband and I were talking about how it is easier to "let your light shine" a little. (Especially at work.) You know that old kids song, "This Little Light of Mine?" by Bill Harley:

"This Little Light of Mine, "

"I'm Gonna Let it Shine..."

"...Hide it under a bushel?"

"NO! I'm gonna let it shine!"

We were discussing how sometimes it's easier to tip the bushel up a little and let just the light flow out here and there - you know, when you 're talking with other believers in Christ. Then to conveniently let the bushel drop back down a bit when you're speaking with others who might not believe in Jesus. Not that you are cursing or telling crude jokes; but that you are being more of a "subtle" Christian.

It is a fine line to "fit in" and to "stand out" isn't it?

Can you really be yourself when you're trying to do both?

The irony here is that most of the "cool kids" (socially speaking) are those who are just being themselves. They aren't concerned what everyone else is thinking about them all of the time; they are just themselves. That is what makes them cool. There is no one else who can be them no matter how they try. And people sure try, don't they?

The truth is that we can't "fit in" and "stand out" as Christians in this world. We aren't meant to completely "fit" here.

"Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives." I Peter 2:11-12 (The Message)

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. I John 2:15-17 (NIV)

God created each of us as an original masterpiece; "just be'll be great!" And let the light that is within you shine...

On our way to school this morning!

"Just be yourself; you'll be great" taken from Grace Talk With Daveda

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wild Hearts - Part 1

First, I want to thank everyone who commented yesterday. I am constantly blown away by the ways that God works in and through the body of Christ. Thank you for standing alongside; for the virtual hugs, the Scriptures, and the encouragement that was offered. He is renewing me with His love and grace - part of which flowed through many of you in the comment section yesterday.

This past weekend my husband and son went on a "Wild Heart Weekend." A group of men and their boys from our church retreated to a lodge away from the business of everyday life and spent some time being intentional about bonding - with each other and with God.

I don't believe enough can be said about the impact this kind of weekend has on the lives of fathers and sons.

Surrounded by a company of men, my son was inspired to attempt things he had never accomplished and became more confident in things he was already familiar with. He got to see grown men singing praises to their Father around a campfire, sharing burdens and praying with one another, and just goofing off and having fun together.

He came home a little braver, a little stronger, a little more independent, and along with some very large bug bites; an increased knowledge that he was loved and valued by his father.

Here is my son climbing the rock wall:
Making it to the top:
Coming down:

Here he is crossing to do the zip line:
A part of the company of men, my husband was encouraged and inspired in his roles as a man, a father, and a son himself. He was refreshed, energized, and at peace with the wild heart that God has bestowed upon him. There was time on the drive to talk and to listen to the heart of his 7 year old. There were moments to be able to praise, encourage, and speak life into his son. There were opportunities to speak openly with other men about the struggles of this life. There were moments to gaze at the stars and know the presence of His Heavenly Father.

He came home a little braver, a little stronger, a little less dependent on the voices of the world, and along with some very large bug bites; an increased knowledge that he was loved and valued by his Father.
More "retreat" thoughts to come in Part 2.

May you be strengthened through His love & grace today!



Irony. Such a profound word, isn't it?

Tonight I've been struggling with discouragement. And probably, if I am honest with myself, jealousy as well. The crazy thing is that I've just recently written posts on "where is your focus?" and also one on "encouragement."

The second part of the irony is that I realized that I had just posted on those two topics and laughed out loud. In the midst of discouragement; laughter. Although there wasn't any real happiness or joy to be had in my heart in that moment; I laughed.

I'm not normally one to get discouraged or depressed. My mind tends to operate in more of a logical state than an emotional one. So why the discouragement? What is at the root of my emotional state? As I sat and reflected, asking myself that question, many things flooded to mind.

I want to be further along with the curriculum for girls than I am.

I wanted to have lost more weight than I have at this point.

I can't seem to get the entire house clean at the same time and although I know that isn't the most important thing in life; it's kind of driving me crazy!

I sense my husband's building frustration with his work and I can't fix it for him.

The over-riding theme - failure; with a hint of hopelessness.

Will I ever finish this curriculum? And even if I do will it be any good?

Will I ever lose this weight or will I have to concede and buy larger clothes?

Will I ever get my house back in order?

Will my husband get a new job or will this one ever turn around?

As I delved deeper it hit me. These thoughts are not from God. This heaviness of spirit is not of Him. I know truth. I know hope that far outweighs the struggles of this life; why am I dwelling here in this discouraged place? It's not making me feel any better. It's not solving anything. Most likely it is the enemy of my soul trying to distract me from something that God has to show me...

So I began to pray. I prayed for forgiveness for allowing myself to agree with these negative thoughts. I prayed against the enemy of my soul. I prayed specifically for each of those areas laying them anew at the feet of the cross. I began to pour out my fears and my hopes before Him about each area. I prayed for my husband. That God would encourage his heart. That He would allow me to be an encouragement to him and that our house (regardless of it's complete cleanliness) would be as an oasis in a desert to him each day as he came home. That God would make a way - whether it would be a new job or through this job- for him to enjoy his position and I thanked God for providing for our needs. I had a good cry (which I almost never do - except when I am at MOPS...;) ) and I just rested in His presence and His covering for awhile.

Then I realized it was getting late and I hadn't written a post for tomorrow yet. I began to pray that God would give me something to share and He prompted my heart with one last glimpse of irony; He already had.

Finding peace & rest in Him,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesady - Wrapped in Love

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever) Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

Today my thoughts are drawn to a sweet friend, Nikki. She is someone who just exudes joy and faith. I have known her and her family now for a few years. We were pregnant together for a brief time and I have greatly enjoyed watching her family grow. They have three adorable little boys.

Recently, my husband and I were surprised by an announcement that she and her husband made: they are being led to adopt! They are walking this adoption journey in faith, trusting that God has a perfect plan for their family and for this sweet girl who will be becoming a part of their family.

While I have known other families who have gone through adoption to ensure that they would have a daughter added to their mix; I can say with confidence that it is more for Nikki and her husband than just "making sure they have a girl." They are passionate about God's leading their family and they are taking each new step in faith. The love that God has already given them for this unknown daughter is beautiful and it is exciting to be able to be a part of His move in their lives.

It has prompted me to be open and seeking His will for my life (our families lives) even if the direction is different than I may have been expecting.

Thank you, Nikki, for sharing the journey with us and being such a beautiful reflection of God's love for each of His adoptive children!

What have you learned from another wise woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Man Card

It seems now-a-days men have (or perhaps had) a "man card." I've heard references to "the man card" on a few movies/shows along the way - normally, "the losing of a man card" when a man chooses to leave the "manly world" of sports, parties, shows emotion or chooses to go do something that their wife has requested or to take care of their children. The idea that somehow a man has to earn his right into a card carrying fraternity of "real" men and then must follow a set of "manly rules" or their card is revoked.

This post by Billy Coffee got me thinking about "Man Cards." Basically, Billy got "told off" for holding the door for a woman at the mall. She didn't just exchange words with him; she was LOUD. She was intentional about causing a scene so that others might see the display and perhaps it might cause other men NOT to hold doors for women as if it were an insult to the female gender to need someone to hold the door for them.

As you can see, the post got me thinking and down right bothered that the voices of those who are in opposition to all that is good (and often holy) are so much louder and intentionally projected for all to see and hear. That what is meant to be good is becoming so distorted.

If I were a woman of means, I believe I would have went out and bought a slew of gift cards (maybe to Home Depot, a Bass Pro shop, a good local eatery, etc.. Somewhere that most men might enjoy going to) and I would have gone to the mall in search of men who would hold a door for me.

I'd smile and thank them and pass out my modified version of "man cards" to encourage men that although we may not be loud; there is quite a large group of women who still greatly appreciate the behavior of a gentleman. No, we probably don't need for you to hold the door open for us; but we appreciate the respect and kindness that it is meant to be to us.

But since I'm not a woman of means...I guess I'll have to settle with smiling, thanking, and writing.

To the men who may read this post: I pray that God would reveal to your heart that He alone holds your masculinity. No man (or woman for that matter) can remove that gift from your Heavenly Father to you. May you embrace the strength, power, and love that being a Godly man brings. This world (and feminine hearts) need husbands and fathers who will embrace their masculinity as the head of their households through Christ's love and grace.

Take a risk: be intentional about opening the door (be it the door at work, the store, or the car door for your wife.)

To the ladies who may read this post: I pray that we would all (myself included) learn more fully what it means to respect the men in our lives. May we appreciate the masculinity that God has bestowed and build it up rather than tear it down. May we embrace our own feminine hearts and come alongside of our husbands as they take risks as leaders in our households. May our households be strengthened through Christ's love and grace.

Take a risk: The next time a male opens the door for you; smile and thank him. Not because we are too weak or need them to do it for us; but because they have taken the time and made the effort out of respect for you.

An excellent book for both men and women to read on the masculine heart, "Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge.

If we do not take a stand for that which is good (and also for that which is holy); who will?

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." I Corinthians 11:3



Monday, August 10, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday -The Hollowness of Outer Beauty


What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever) Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

I'm late out of the gate this morning! Littlest One was up and down all through the night last night. Hopefully he is not coming down with something.

"Back to School" is in the air! As I was prayerfully considering who to write about today; it seemed fitting to honor one of the wonderful women of faith that my children have the opportunity to learn from at school.

As a bit of a side note; one of the reasons we have continued to send our children to Christian School is the fabulous role models that are ever present before them. Not only the faculty and staff; but our school connects some of the older students to the younger ones to encourage, pray for, and to be an example to. My daughter especially has been deeply impacted by these relationships.

Today I will be honoring the Principal of my children's school, Mrs. Underwood. I love this woman for so very many reasons, but especially because she is passionate about the children coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ and growing in His knowledge and grace through His Word.

She is intentional about forming relationships with the children. Every morning she meets with them all in the gymnasium before school begins and she does fun trivia questions and challenges with them and they pray together before dismissing to their classes.

She is often their chapel speaker (they have chapel once a week.) The "theme verse" for this past year was:

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

Mrs. Underwood spent several chapel times going over the application of that verse in practical ways. One particular day, she focused on "The Hollowness of Outer Beauty." As an illustration, she brought in a Barbie-type doll and several magazine covers. She showed the value that is placed on our outer appearance and how many spend most of their money and time in pursuit of a beautiful outer appearance (with their person and belongings.)

Then, she cut the doll in half.

Yes, you read that correctly. She definitely had my attention - and every child in the room. She called one of the children up to tell everyone what was inside of the doll. "Nothing," the child responded.

She proceeded, in her soft and tender way, to talk to all of us about how the world deceives us. We are bombarded with images and messages that tell us that if we can obtain outer beauty that we will be happy. Be fulfilled. Be complete. And yet those claims are hollow. Those things alone are not enough to bring us contentment and joy.

True fulfillment comes only through relationship with our creator. While outer beauty is not wrong; it is not enough. On it's own, it is empty.

She then proceeded to discuss with the children how we can be filled by God's love for us. That His love shines brightly inside of us and causes us to be beautiful from the inside out. When we know His love and peace, we can offer beauty to all that we come in contact with. Not the hollow beauty that only makes others feel less about themselves; but the kind of beauty that brings peace and love to others.

That was a message I desire for my daughter to take to heart. To learn young so she is not constantly striving to be someone or something that she is not; but that she can embrace the beauty that God has created her to be. And honestly, it was a great reminder to me as well.

I am looking forward to reading your Titus 2 Posts!



*It is important to note that chapel is separated by grade levels so although this message was deeply meaningful to my second grade daughter; it may not be appropriate for a younger child who could not grasp the accompanied meaning.*

What have you learned from another wise woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

What Encourages You?

Dayspring has launched a new website to (In)Courage Christian Women. There are several amazing writers that will be contributing to the site and I am sure it will be a tremendous blessing to many! You can check it out here!

Today they are inviting bloggers to answer the question, "What Encourages You?" You can link up and enter for a chance to win a limited edition t-shirt.
While I am often blessed by the smiles, laughter, and words of others; I was intrigued by the way that the title of their new site plays on the word "encourage." The emphasis is placed really on "what brings you courage?" As I thought through what it is that brings me courage each day in the many roles that I hold, the following things came to mind:

The example of Godly men & women in the Bible. Currently, I find myself drawn to Daniel, Esther, and Abraham. Each of them were faithful and obedient in their walk with God. Each took a stand in the face of danger and/or the unknown. They looked to God for their approval and were willing to die rather than to walk away from what God had called them to do. Their courage stands as an encouragement to me.

Other Christ followers who I know IRL and on the internet. I am blessed to have amazing Christian men and women in my life who speak life and truth to me. Those who allow me to be real and open and who are transparent enough to be real with me as well. Transparency requires humility; but it is so worth it in relationships.

My Husband. One of the prayers that I pray daily for my children is that they will marry someone who will draw out their gifts, support them in developing them, and push them to be all that God intended for them to be. (I pray that my children would do the same for their spouse as well.) My husband encourages and pushes me to be courageous and step out in faith when I am prompted and he does his best to equip me for success.

Our marriage has gone through ups and (some very large) downs. But as we have grown in our relationships with the Lord and one another; it has given us courage to push our "marriage" to being all that God designed it to be. If you are needing encouragement in your marriage; click here. God is a God of restoration. Through Him all things are possible!

So what is it that (In)Courages you?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where Is Your Focus?

I greatly enjoy photography. Although I am not an excellent photographer; occasionally, I am able to capture amazing pictures. One day, (when I no longer have a two year old...) I hope to pursue this hobby more fully. One thing that God recently revealed to me has to do with my focus.

In photography when you are using a higher range/grade lens, you can only focus on one image at a time. Take a look at the photos below that my husband took of me while we are at Ruby Falls. I was closer to him; the falls were behind me.

He had focused in on the falls here hoping to catch me on the side...Now look what happened when he focused on me with the falls in the background:

(Yes, this is me in all of my "camping glory" a.k.a. NO make-up...feel the love here people that I am willing to post a non-make up photo... ;))

As you can see; he was unable to focus in on both the falls and me. Either the Falls or myself lost clarity respectively. Yes, if he were further away from both myself and the falls he could probably have captured both together; but the walkway only went a short distance back AND the photo would have lost the details that only a close up can bring.

What God revealed to my heart was that when I draw close to Him; close enough to rest in the Shadow of the Almighty, I must choose what I will focus on. Am I going to focus on His outstretched hand - as a demanding child only looking for His provision. Or am I going to focus on His face - locking my gaze with His and trusting in His love for me; trusting that He will perfect and provide for all that concerns me?

When we are up close; we must choose our focus. When we are far enough away to see both; we are too far away to experience either fully.

My husband's job is going through a lot of changes right now. Many of us are walking one step at a time right now, waiting for God to shed His light onto our next steps. But let's face it; most of us have difficulty waiting for God's provision. We pray, cast our cares upon him...and then when it seems that God is not providing right away, our focus shifts and we find ourselves staring at His hand wondering if He has forgotten somehow to provide for us.

He recently reminded me to lift my gaze. To keep my focus where it needs to be. To allow Him to perfect that which concerns me because He is at work and He sees the bigger picture of what we (my family & I) need.

In the book of Daniel, we catch a glimpse of a Godly man who has petitioned God daily seemingly without a response. For three weeks Daniel humbles himself and prays daily. Then(Chapter 10) an angel appears to him. The angels tells Daniel, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. From the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before the God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty one days." (10:12-13) The angel goes on to answer Daniel's petition to the Lord and he tells Daniel to be at peace and to be strong.

When we "set our minds to gain understanding and humble ourselves before God," He hears our petitions. He is at work even now answering.

Part of what God was revealing to my own heart, was that when I get so focused on His hand of provision; I am NOT walking in humility. Instead, as a demanding child, I just continually ask the same question without allowing my father to respond. In those moments, I am not "setting my mind to understanding His will;" I'm simply demanding my own.

While this post is not "pretty," revealing my own shortcomings in both a Spiritual and physical sense; I pray that it would draw you to lift your gaze to the beauty of His face and to trust in God's love and provision in your own life.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The "New"

Today I spent some time going through the bin of left over school supplies to see what we could recycle for the upcoming school year. Then we waded through "the list" that the school puts out of required items. Either I had no clue what my parents did for us each year or things have gotten a lot more complicated over time!!

After spending almost an hour sorting and making my combined grade level shopping list, the kids and I set off on the official "school supply shopping trip!" It is always fun for me to see how excited they get about finding a composition notebook with flare, a cool looking (flexible) ruler and Kleenex boxes with unique designs!

They are about to begin fresh once again. As Billy Coffee so eloquently put it, "...summer vacation is the Great Eraser, three months of sunshine and play that put enough distance between me and the previous nine months to suggest the next year might be mine to own."

Thankfully, their school experiences have been mostly positive up to this point. Although there are some lingering apprehensions about who they will play with, who their teacher will be and what they might be like, etc. they basically know what to expect and what will be expected of them. So for now, they are enjoying all of "the new." Simple as it may be.

Shoes were also purchased; and as they were excitedly plodding around in them (breaking them in), this verse came to mind: "... because his compassions fail not.They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." I was reminded that God blesses me(us) with "new" every morning.

I needed that reminder.

That visual that I could excitedly plod around in the newness of God's grace and love toward me. That although I often fall short as a parent, spouse, friend, and in my walk with the Lord; that He invites me to start fresh again filled with His grace and love.

Thank you God. I pray that you will fill me anew with Your presence. I lift up my soul to You.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:8)

Monday, August 3, 2009

We're back "for real" this time!

As I mentioned before, our "Back Home" moment earlier this month turned into more of a "landing, re-fueling, and take off!" My husband had a two week training class that ended up getting re-scheduled. The location of his training also changed so we were provided the opportunity of driving him to his training location (gas paid for by his company), dropping him off, and then continuing south to visit more family and friends. The cost effectiveness of the trip was amazing (fuel paid for, hotel paid for on the road, staying with family and friends, energy & water consumption minimized at home...)

It ended up being an unexpected gift that we prayerfully considered and chose to receive!

I don't believe we have ever been away from home for almost an entire month before (with children.) It definitely has it's ups and downs. The positives include things like being able to connect with people we love and rarely get to see and spend time with, along with fun new experiences and foods. The negatives proved to include a bit of exhaustion, indigestion, and enhanced sibling discord.

All in all; it was wonderful month. But never have our own beds and showers been such a luxury. I am behind in almost all things "home" related; so please bear with me as we unpack and get into an established family routine again.

We will be re-focusing on our "family verses," Philippians 2:3-4

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Do you have a "family verse" or any kind of a "theme Scripture" for your household?

Blessings to each of you as we enter the last month of summer!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trusting God - Guest Post by Belinda Eddins

Belinda Eddins is guest posting for me today - Thank you Belinda! I pray her words will bless you! Check out her blog here!

My first guest Post. WOW!!!!!!

As I sat and thought about what I should write this post over, I thought I wanted it to be meaningful, and special no less. Notice all the I’s in there? God pointed this out to me and said “ write what has been on your heart.”

He speaks to me often, He speaks to you to if you train your self to listen, slow down to listen, get in the Word and listen. That’s is just what I did.

Many of you have read my blog and know my grandmother has been ill. To the point of me taking over her finances, to taking away her car. Rough roads. I have been turning to God first instead of to myself to help and fix things. As I have focused on God I have had some amazing things happen.

Grandma is better, she has accepted the changes VERY well, and the family is coming together for the first time in my life to be supportive and help. We also have had home health worker issues, and I won’t bore you but it could have turned out badly and it went smoothly. HALLELUJAH.

My question is , Do we trust God to take care of us? I am trusting more and more everyday. I have learned to lean on Him and to LET Him do His will for me.

John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, Trust also in me.”

Trusting in our Lord is the best blessing He has ever given me. I hope in your life you can trust in the Lord as well.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - To Whom Much Is Given...

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

When I began praying about who to share today I was surprised by who I felt prompted to talk about. In fact, I hesitated but then again felt strongly impressed that she was the correct person.

Many of you already "know" her. Today I am honoring MckMama.
Hers was one of the first blogs that I found and enjoyed right away here in the blogworld. She is a gifted communicator and excellent photographer; but the thing that I've always appreciated about her is that she takes a stand for the things of the Lord with boldness. She honors her husband, is a mom with seemingly endless ideas and creativity, and in the face of great adversity she is an amazing example of how to trust, lean on, and rest in the Lord. She is not one who pretends everything is all smiles and roses in the midst of difficulty; she is real. She publishes some of those human moments as well. I appreciate that.

Many of you are already praying for her MckMuffin, Stellan. You can read all about him here on her blog; but he is once again having serious issues with his heart. They are waiting to leave for Boston for another heart ablation.

Awhile back MckMama changed her personal profile to include a key phrase. It now reads, "
I used to think I was defined by " and ends with, "Now, although I may choose to still do those things, I will simply be MckMama, a sinner saved by the King's grace, wife to my Prince, mother of Many Small Children."

I am amazed at the influence God has allowed Jennifer to have and I pray God will continue to give her strength, joy, and peace as she stands for Him. I also pray for her sweet babe; that God would have His hand upon him and clearly direct each step of His healthcare.

"...When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." Luke 12:48

"If you make the Most High your dwelling--even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." Psalm 91:9-16

What have you learned from another wise woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Monday, July 27, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 38 - It All Comes Down to Love

I used to just cringe inside when people made statements like, "It all comes down to love..." while there is profound truth in the statement; I felt it was often misused or simply more verbiage thrown out as a cliche without personal substance.

In the past few weeks, I've had more than one person approach me about how to "get through" a separation and/or divorce. Their spouses have left and although they themselves are pursuing reconciliation; it is a difficult road.

I have experienced loss in my life. Even the loss of one who I loved dearly and for all emotional and mental purposes had committed myself to marriage to. I have mentioned previously that I had a serious relationship in college that was both pure and good that I had felt certain that God was directing toward marriage. To my complete surprise, God was impressing on my boyfriends heart a different path. One that did not include me. The most difficult part was that the path he was being led toward was still paralleled with my own. It was a heart-wrenching time in my life. One in which I questioned everything.

For a long time, I was tormented with self doubt. The person who knew me the most, the one I had trusted my deepest heart on a human level with, had rejected me. He sent deeply confusing messages like, "It's not's me." (He used more eloquent words, but it basically boiled down to that.) And he even went so far as to tell me that he loved me and was praying that God would preserve our hearts for one another. I was a mess.

All that to say this...I have not gone through separation and divorce. I cannot pretend to begin to know the complexity of pain, loss, suffering, and disorientation of it all - especially when children are involved; but I do know what it is to feel rejected and alone. To wonder if I had what it might take to ever be loved by another. To wonder if I was even really loved by God. To see what I believed was my future crumble into nothing and look up at a blank canvas after I had begun to catch glimpses of what I believed could have been a masterpiece of art.

Those emotions are real. But they can also be twisted into powerful lies and strongholds of the devil in our lives if we allow them to.

How does one get through the difficult path of separation and divorce? I believe it all comes down to love.

And I don't mean that with one ounce of cliche attached. In my experience, I journeyed through a time of wrestling with God. Bringing my biggest questions and fears before Him and being more real before Him than I ever had been before. Not because I had been trying to hide anything intentionally; I was just raw. My words and the emotion of my heart were unfiltered. He was gracious and kind. He allowed me to get it all out; and then I cried until there were no more tears. I was numb for awhile. I felt nothing; and yet I knew I was being carried.

It was His love that restored my broken heart and soul. His relentless, patient, grace-filled love that showed me truth. His truth. I learned how to seek His face before turning to my empty canvas. I learned to embrace the emptiness of it; the new that He was beginning within me. I was more willing than ever to allow Him to choose the brush strokes and the colors. He did not bring that relationship back to me although I prayed fervently that He might. Gradually, over time, I learned how to place my entire heart in His care. The broken pieces. The shattered parts. The parts yet untouched. And I asked Him to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Redemption is part of the very nature of God. We cannot control other people and the choices that they make, but we can trust the heart of God toward us. When we draw near to Him he will draw near to us (James 4:8). He will show to us the paths of life (Psalm 16:11) and He will place beautiful rays of light in our path in the form of other Christians whose salt and light will bless and assist us along the way.

God is able to restore marriages. I have witnessed it. I've watched restoration take many different paths; but true restoration ALWAYS begins individually. It begins between you & your Savior. There may be sin to confess, there may be bitterness to release, there may be questions that you've never asked of Him that you need to (just be sure to listen for His answers.) Maybe you have never caught a glimpse of God's heart toward you - ask Him to show it to you.

There is no simple three step answer that I know to give. I believe it is a day by day process of healing, restoration, grace, and forgiveness; But it all centers around the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is being intentional about accepting the love that our Creator designed to fulfill us - His love.

I invite those of you who have walked the path of separation or divorce to offer your insight or tips in the comment section - whether it would be a specific verse, practical tips, books that blessed you or a word of hope for others.

God's Word is powerful. I hope the following verses will bless you today:

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:8)

"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters." (Psalm 18:16)

"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:19)

"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3)

"Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5)

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" (Hebrews 12:28-29)

"[God's] compassions never fail. They are new every morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Psalm 91:1-2)

"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night." (Psalm 92:1-2)

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11)

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights." (Psalm 18:32-33)

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." (2 Timothy 4:17)

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

May He wrap each of you in His Everlasting Arms,


And The Winner Is.....

The winner of my Blogiversary Give Away is:


Warren, please e-mail me your choice between "Crazy Love" or "Love & Respect" along with the address you would like them mailed to.

You will also be receiving a copy of "Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On" by Stormie Omartian!!

Congratulations to Warren! I wish I could give these books to each of you who entered!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just Enough Light For The Step I'm On

Wow! I loved all of your thoughts on this photo! This is what I had written about this photo shortly after I took it:

A year ago life seemed easier some how. Maybe even a bit predictable. Much has happened since last July and now things are anything but predictable in many facets of life. The kids are growing and entering new stages, my husband's job may be having more major changes ahead; it seems everywhere I turn I am faced with some kind of change.

What struck me about this photo is that there is enough light, bright light even, for the next few steps; but the path following has not yet been illuminated.

That is a lot like life for me right now. God has provided a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, but He alone holds the future. The glow of the illuminations provided dims as the path moves on.

I can choose to focus on the light that has been provided and embrace every inch of it's luminous warmth, or I can steady my gaze on the shadows of the unknown and exhaust myself trying to figure out what is yet to come.

I know what choice is best; which focus will bring peace and fullness. And yet I seem to have to surrender those shadowlands back to my Father often. What is the draw to those shadowed places rather than to the illuminated path? Than to the face of my father?
Draw me closer Lord. Help me to be so filled with Your love and truth that I can see the beauty of the whole picture; the beauty of Your plan. Guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus I pray, Amen.

Psalm 16:11 "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."

Phillipians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."


A couple of years ago, someone gave me the book, "Just Enough Light For the Step I'm On" by Stormie Omartian. I will be giving a copy of this book away to the winner of my "Blogaversary Give Away" in addition to the book that they choose. There is still time to enter! I will be posting the winner on my blog on Monday's post!

Many Blessings!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - They Will Know Us By Our Love

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

Life has continued to be full of surprises for us lately. As it turned out; we were only home for just over 4 days - one of which we hosted a "Backyard Blast!" put on our by our church (a mixture of old time Bible clubs and VBS.) We unpacked, did laundry, mowed/weedwacked/weeded, had fun with the Backyard Blast, uploaded pictures, more laundry, we re-packed and hit the road...I'll explain the why in another post. Please just know that I'm not ignoring you all; there just hasn't been much time for writing or reading.

One of the huge benefits of this second road trip is that the kids and I have gotten to spend time with my best friend from college and her family for a few days!

I've introduced you to Lydia before in a previous Titus 2 Post. I am so blessed to have had her (and her family) in my life for over a decade now. Last night we went for a walk/run before bed. (While her WONDERFUL husband watched the kids!) It was supposed to be a run, but we got to talking and I am not in shape enough to talk and run for any length of time so it ended up being a bit more of a walk! :)

She mentioned to me that the Lord had impressed her to be praying John 13:34-35 over her family - both her immediate and extended family.

34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

So often in family relationships one person will get irritated with another. Grudges are held, words are exchanged (or no words at all are spoken), one loans something or money to another family member and then feels that they have been slighted or taken advantage of, someone tells a family member something in confidence and it gets repeated, etc.

Those we know and love the most can often irritate us the most can't they?

I had always considered this Scripture with personal application. I had never considered it that an entire family unit together could be a testimony by the love shown between cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

I loved how Lydia is praying specifically that the love between family members would increase and that it would be a testimony of Christ's love to others. What an incredible thing it would be if more of us prayed for our own families in this way...

What have you learned from another wise woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Blessings to you!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

One Year Blogiversary & Give Away!

One year ago today I wrote my very first blog post. It seems so much longer ago than that in some ways and yet shorter in some ways as well. Isn’t that how most anniversaries seem though?

Thank you to each of you who have made this blogging adventure full and meaningful this past year! I have enjoyed laughing, crying, learning and growing with you all. I look forward to continuing that this year!

One photo that I took on vacation really stood out to me. I will tell you more about why AND reveal an extra bonus to the giveaway later this week! Here it is:

On to the Giveaway...
The winner will choose their prize! You can select,

"Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God" BY Francis Chan


"Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires and the Respect He Desperately Needs." by Emerson Eggerichs

What do you need to do to win?

Leave a comment below letting me know at least one of the following:

what post here at A Teachable Heart has meant the most to you & why,

share some way that God touched your heart by reading, etc.

or I'd enjoy hearing your reactions to the above photo. Does it stir up any feeling or emotion within you?

Once again, THANK YOU! Thank you for reading, for being open to what God may be speaking to your own heart about as I share what He is teaching mine, for commenting, and for encouraging myself and other commenters along the way.

I pray God will fill you with His peace and joy today!