Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Gift To Return

It's a busy week. I don't have time to post or write at all. But as I serve at Fine Arts Day Camp all week long at my church, I am reminding myself of the same message I am telling to the kids. Our gifts must not be buried. Our talents must be used. But all for His glory. All for His name. All for His purposes. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the show and the production, that we can lose our focus. I almost lost mine today. Then I was reminded of a poem I wrote almost exactly one year ago...for the same camp. I am praying this poem He wrote on my heart for me, for the other leaders, directors and teachers, and especially for the kids of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship's Fine Arts Day Camp 2008:

A Gift To Return
By LauraLee Shaw

Your life is precious to our Lord,
“It is very good,” He exclaimed.
Your talent is a gift from Him,
So use it as one unashamed!

Whatever you do with your talent~
Don’t compare, looking around,
You’ll find yourself on sinking ground.

Because the Fact is:

Your talent is needed in this world.
It can make a difference, you know,
For when you use it with His strength,
HE is the star of the show.

Whenever you shine with your talent~
It’s by the power of the Spirit,
He is the One who is able to steer it.

Because the Truth is:

“…you have received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. Then in all things God will be praised through Jesus Christ.
Give Him the glory and the power
for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:9b,11b

Father God, I give You this new day of using my time, my talents and my spiritual gifts for Your glory. May I be small in my own eyes, and show You off HUGE in the eyes of others. I give You all the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

At the Well Monday/Raising Godly Boys--Yikes!

Lori at I'll Take it Lord, all You Have to Give is the hostess of "At the Well" this week.

I have to tell you, the topic of raising Godly boys has thrown me a bit of a loop. Lori threw out some INcredUlous questions on the subject, however, which are the following:

1.What advice would I give to women to raise Godly boys?

2.If you are raising boys, what areas concern you most?

3.If you don't have or haven't raised boys, what is your concern for boys in today's culture?

Okay, so nobody gets to bow out of this one...she's covered all the bases. So go on over to her place and sign the Mr. Linky, then give us your thoughts on the subject. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you know, we're all in this together, and our answers to the questions just might help each other out a bit. If you don't have time to blog about it, just leave your thoughts right here...NEED to hear from you on this one.

So back to why this has thrown me for a loop. A loop-d-loop actually. My firstborn--my baby boy--my Little Sweetness (my name for him in the womb)--is now a thirteen-year-old giant. I'm not kidding you, I was JUST holding him, reading the I'll Love You Forever book to him while rocking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...NOW I've fallen off my rocker because he came up behind it and pushed me out of it by force of his pinky.

I've been through so much with him the last year...learned a lot...been humbled quite a bit (both of us). And he would be completely humiliated if I publicized to the whole world why and how and what. So I won't. All I can say is that I pray a TON. More than I ever have before. The struggles that a teenage boy has to go through majorly blows me away. Their thought life is so complicated, so foreign to me.

My opinions shared today are those based on being the mom of a new teenager. The way you parent your toddler will be different from the way you raise your son who is growing up in his pre-teen to teenage years. If you're not there yet, hold on to your hat, because fast forward is already in motion.

After praying about this post, the best advice I can give you at my stage of parenting is to pray. Pray that he owns his faith--not you. Pray that when you turn your head, he knows where to turn when temptation strikes. Pray that you will have wisdom to know what freedoms to give and not to give. Pray that you will know how far to let him go before you become Mama Buttinsky. Pray that HE will have wisdom in situations where Mama Buttinsky is not around. Pray, pray pray. And when things seem okay, like he is Godly and rooted and "better behaved" than other boys his age, pray some more. Maybe even more at that moment.

Communicate. Don't ridicule. Don't exasperate. Don't humiliate. Communicate. What are his likes? His dislikes? What in the world does he think about this and that and the other? Be amazed and thrilled at the differences in reasoning and logic, listening more than lecturing.

Learn. Learn from what you learn from your communication with him. Learn from others who have gone before you. Learn from God's Word. Learn from good books. Never stop learning. Learning as you listen.

Stop saying "never." The stuff you said you would "never let your son do." Don't be afraid to pray about that, reevaluate that and be open before God about what is best for the way your son is wired. Make sure you have consulted the One who knows your baby boy better than you do. Be open-minded as you pray, communicate, listen and learn.

Let the ponytail down every now and then. Remember, our boys get to a point where they want adventure, they want action...they want to be busy all the time. Keep reminding them that it's good to be still, and it's great to chillax, but don't forget to be a little crazy with them sometimes too. This is my achilles heel in parenting. I would rather teach him how to behave and journal and pray (which are essentials) than to let him teach me how to have an adventure and do something out of my comfort zone. But nothing brings us closer than when I do some stuff his way every now and then. That leads me back to more prayer...and listening and learning...

Anyway, rambling. Quite honestly, I have never had to exercise more faith than I have to at this stage in my son's life. I know more is to come, but right now, I'm consumed with what I have in front of me: and that is a very very tall, fuzzy-upper lipped, deep-voiced (with a touch of croak), testosterone-filled boy. One who loves Jesus, who wants to live for God, who sets an example for other boys...but is struggling with what it means to do all of the above with genuine faith--not the kind his parents pressure him into, but the kind he desires passionately with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

Which leads me back to prayer...

I love Kristen's new Sunday button!!!

And it's free, which is even better! Thank you, Kristen, (from A Heart Stirred Designs) for this beautiful graphic to help me express my love for SONday!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Streams of Sweat

***Posted for Patty Wysong's Fiction Fridays meme. For more great fiction or to post your own fiction piece, click here:

Streams of sweet sweat were pouring down Richard’s forehead. He held that last note so long, I thought I was going to need oxygen myself. It had been a long while since I had seen the congregation so engaged in worship.

“That was some amazing musicianship,” a groomed thirty-something guy announced as he approached Richard and me.

“Thank you,” Richard answered, “And what’s your name?”

“Luke Jones.” He reached out to shake Richard’s hand, and then turned to shake mine. “Insightful message, Pastor.”

What charisma.

“I appreciate that, Luke. Wait, you’re the new executive pastor over at Grace Covenant.”

Richard interrupted anxiously, “Oh, wow, I just purchased your church’s choir CD. That was phenomenal.”

He beamed. “Thanks, that project has been quite successful, which has been both good and bad.”

“Oh, how’s that?” I asked.

“Good--because it’s brought in over $5,000 for missions. And bad-- because our worship pastor decided that it was time to pursue his dream of becoming a recording artist after an agent heard the CD and offered him the moon.”

Richard remarked, “Well, I guess you can’t blame him for that. There aren’t too many of us that would turn down that kind of opportunity. I wouldn’t.”

Now I was the one sweating.

Pastor Luke went on to tell of the great achievements the new artist had accomplished so far. Richard was completely enthralled. The hair on the back of my neck was screaming, so I walked away before my lips had the chance to follow.

Maybe I shouldn’t have. Richard came into my office the following week with wet beads of nervousness on his brow. I guess I was expecting him.

“I’m not sure how this happened,” Richard began to spill out. “One moment I’m talkin’ to Pastor Luke about their sound system, the next we’re discussing a job opening.” He wiped his face with his handkerchief. “I would be directing a choir with four hundred people in it, Jim. They televise in ten states. It’s like my life-long dream has just fallen into my lap. I never meant for this to happen, but now it’s right in front of me. I’m so sorry.”

My heart was torn in two. “Richard,” I uttered, “I would never try to keep you from something that you feel like the Lord is leading you to do. Just know that you will be missed terribly. There’ll be an awfully big hole.”

I did not hear from Richard for over seven months but was thrilled to receive an email from him one day. The chatter in ministry circles was that he was thriving over at Grace, so I couldn’t wait to hear the personal side of things. As I read his message, I pictured him sitting at the keyboard with perspiration gleaming from his hairless head as he typed.

Hi Jim,

I’m sorry I’ve haven’t been in touch, but it’s been a whirlwind. I can’t remember the last time I had some down time. I am meeting’d out, and sometimes I feel like we’re more of a business than a ministry. Don’t get me wrong, these people love the Lord, but it’s just different. Like, they choose my wardrobe for church services. I can’t even dress myself now? And the kids hate their youth groups. We can’t get Jason to go anymore. Susan’s not happy either. I feel like a failure. Please pray for us.
I hope your new worship guy is doing well and that he realizes how good he has it. How is everyone? Is the staff playing the fantasy basketball tournament this year?

Love, Richard

My eyes began to sting, and my stomach hurt for him. A few moments later, Jeremy, our new worship pastor popped his head in my office. “Everything ok?”

“Yes, it’ll be fine, I’m sure,” I tried to convince myself. “Just concerned about an old friend. You okay?”

Jeremy was chompin’ at the bit to share some interesting news with me. “You’ll never guess who just called me.”


“It was Steven Miller, you remember the guy that left Grace Covenant to go start the big music career?”

I squirmed. “Yeeeeeah?”

“Well, apparently, he’s looking for a job, and he didn’t know that you had filled Richard’s spot since he left. He’s desperate for some, quote ‘actual income,’ end of quote. He said that the solo career thing had led to a bunch of dead ends. Sad, huh?”

The hot water began to pour from my pores. “You don’t know the half of it.”

Ecclesiastes 3:22 (New Living Translation)

So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"All Wired Up" for Women, Part 2

So in "All Wired Up for Women, Part 1," I asked some questions about why some little girls like to play dress-up. Is it that they want to feel like a beautiful princess? We discussed, through the posting and the readers' comments, how we as Christian women are beautiful to the King. But that's not always the reason for dress-up, and for some, they would never even consider such a thing as beauty! So why else?

As I went to tuck my girls in the other evening, I found two pairs of my clothes on the floor--clothes that they sorted through and put on, promising to return them to their rightful place. Earlier, they had dressed up like "moms" and pretended to go shopping. It was really funny to watch, and especially convicting to hear their lingo. (Do I really talk that way? Nah, must be someone else's mom).

I remember the feeling of putting on my aunt's shoes or my older sister's clothes (when she wasn't looking.) I remember being at my friends' houses and putting on way too much makeup in the name of "playing." It was so much fun, and I have no idea what made it so fun for sure.

Yet, here I am today, an older woman, a mature (whatever that means) believer in the Lord, and I still find myself trying to wear others' clothes from time to time. If you are an extremely confident person, never comparing yourself to others, feel free to skip this post, but for the rest of us, whoa, boy, does God need to get our attention on this.

Sisters, God doesn't want us to slip into the trap of wanting or trying to be somebody we're not. It's perfectly healthy to emulate Godly role models or mentors, and it's certainly advisable to strive to be more like Jesus, but that's not what I'm referring to. I'm talking about the icky kind of comparison--comparing the way we're wired or created to that of others.

I wish I could sing like her.
Why does she look ten years younger than me when we're the same age?
I'll never be as good of a mommy as her.
There are so many good writers out there. Maybe I should just give up now.
She decorates, she cooks, she cleans, she's perfect. Then there's me.

Get the point? What's floating in the quote bubble outside your brain? Many messages of God's truth could be applied here, but I'll just land on a few. The first is that this type of comparison boils down to envy and pride. Yuck! Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." No wonder she looks ten years younger than me! My bones are rotting more each moment I look at her! ;)

It's great to improve ourselves, to try new things, to do activities outside of our comfort zones, but our motive should always be to do it for the glory of God--NOT out of pride or envy. I absolutely love, Love, LOVE the following verses from Hebrews. I first memorized them from the NIV, so read them there too if you get the chance, but the way The Message translation puts it is like music to my ears:

Hebrews 13:19-21
May God, who puts all things together,
makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together,
provide you with everything you need to please Him,
Make us into what gives Him most pleasure,

by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Wowzer! Oh, yes, I want to be made into what gives HIM the most pleasure, not what will make me feel like a better person or fulfill my petty pride.

Yes, yes, yes, women of God. Let's talk to Him, ask Him what HE has purposed for us, and then let's live the way we're wired to the fullest, all to the glory of our Jesus, forever and always. Amen.

Sisters or Mommies?

Monday, July 21, 2008

At the Well of Titus 2

I'm participating in an incredible new meme on Mondays created by Chelsey at Joyfully Living. It is called "At the Well: In Pursuit of Titus 2." Please click on this beee-auteeful button if you would like to find out more or participate. It is a privilege to be a part of:

Today's discussion question is as follows:
What does being a Titus 2 woman mean to you?

I've prayed about this question as I've pored over the verses. Chelsey is not asking me, "What does Titus 2 mean?" or "What does Titus 2 teach?" She's asking, "What does being a Titus 2 woman mean to me?

Depending on what mood I'm in, I could answer this question in a hundred different ways. It's an incredible question. But here's my brilliant answer for today.
To me, being a Titus 2 woman means
being a woman who waits at the well.

To keep from slandering, to run from addictions, to teach and train younger women and children, to be self-controlled, to be pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to my husband...to be all those things makes me want to find a brown paper bag to breathe in really fast requires my willingness to wait on the Lord at the well. See, when I come to Jesus empty, thirsty, useless, needy and dependent, He will be my source for Godly living. It is His grace and His gift of salvation that makes it so:

Titus 2:11-14, NIV says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

I've played the tapes back time and again in my mind. Whenever I've tried to live righteously without Jesus as the source of it, I've capital-F Failed. Whenever I've depended on Jesus and trusted Him to live righteously through me, I've walked in VICTORY (and by the way, it IS possible to live in victory even when I'm having a bad day, or going through a season of trials...it doesn't mean I'm all smiles. It just means I'm God-strong).

I wish I could say that I am that Titus 2 woman at the well every single moment of every day, but...well, I wanna be. And I want to wanna be more than ever before.

How about you? What does being a Titus 2 woman look like to you? Go sign the Mr. Linky on Chelsey's page and give the question a poke or two on your blog. And we'll be women at the well of Titus 2 together today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fruit is a VERB

Written by LauraLee Shaw. Inspired by the Holy Spirit

John 15:8
”This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

L et the Fruit of the Spirit come alive in you,
O beying the Word of the Lord in
V erb form,
E agerly acting upon that which you have hidden in your heart.

J ust as Christ demonstrated His love for you,
O pting to die for your sins, so
Y ou should choose to lay down your life for others.

P ractice what you preach,
E xude joy in work, as well as play,
A sk God--beg God to
C omplete His work in you
E ach and every hour of every single day.

P ursue peace
A ctively, showing even more than
T elling.
I nvite your
E nemy to break bread with you.
N otice when someone is alone and
C are about the underdog
E specially.

K now that the Lord will
I gnite His Spirit in you as you acknowledge your
N eediness and complete
D ependence upon Him to do the work.
N O WAY can you produce the practice of patience on your own!
E ven when the enemy pursues you, God will
S helter you under the shadow of His wings.
S imply trust and obey.

G o for it!
O bviously you are beginning to see that
O bedience gives way to a fruit-filled life.
D o you have faith like a mustard seed?
N o? You see…
E ven when showing kindness to others causes you pain, you are
S haring in the
S ufferings of Christ.

F or by His stripes your hurt will be healed,
A nd
I t will give way
T o His goodness spilled out as blessings in your life.
H e will pour them out from the
F ullness of His love for you.
U nderstand that He does not give as the world gives.
L ove in His form does not always bring happiness.
N ever did He promise you a trouble-free life or
E xemption from
S uffering.
S o why believe then? “What’s in it for me,” you ask?

G rowth—the spiritual kind.
E nergy—the lasting kind.
N ot only those, but also
T ruth and
L ove—the faithful kind.
E ndurance and
N ever
E nding
S trength--the
S upernatural kind.

S o let His gentleness be
E vident to all by
L iving this
F ruit-filled, Holy Spirit-filled life.


C an I share something else? If you love God with all your heart, then
O bey Him. Don’t just say that you love Him.
N o one will believe you love Him if you don’t show His love to others.
T ake a moment to pray on this living, active Word from Him.
R epent if need be. Then respond by
O ffering your body as a living sacrifice.
L et the Fruit of the Spirit be a verb in you.

Colossians 1:10
”And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”

***Scriptures taken from the NIV Translation
***The fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23

Adapted from the following NIV Scriptures: Luke 11:28, 1 John 3:18, Psalm 119:11, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16, Matthew 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-17, 1 John 5:14, James 2:22, 1 Peter 3:11, Romans 12:20, Psalm 41:1, Romans 8:10-11, Galatians 3:3, Psalm 51:17, Philippians 1:6, 2:13, Psalm 57:1, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 2:13, Philippians 1:11, Matthew 17:20, Romans 8:17-18, Isaiah 53:5, Deuteronomy 28:2, Ephesians 3:18, John 14:27, 16:33, Ephesians 1:19, 3:20, Colossians 1:29, Romans 5:5, Philippians 4:5, John 14:15, 1 John 4:20, Acts 3:19, Romans 12:1

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sock It To Me!

***Posted for Patty Wysong's Fiction Fridays. For more great fiction, click here: http://pattywysong.blogspot.com

As mom and wife, it was uncomfortable. Being in the middle of a conflict, that is--one that I probably had some to do with creating myself. Too late now, though. I'll just have to let the consequences unfold.

“DAD, This is so lame,” our daughter Alyssa said as she stormed into our room. Her mouth proved itself teen-worthy.

My husband responded. “Lame, huh?”

“You have no right to barricade my room, Dad,” she barked, “blocking off my closet and drawers with bright orange tape!”

I held back the giggle that was begging to come out and ducked out of the room as inconspicuously as possible.

“I should’ve done it a long time ago, Alyssa,” Steve argued back. “I’ve told you a hundred times that as long as you’re living in this house, you will keep your room picked up.”

Alyssa huffed as her heavy feet spoke on her behalf all the way back to her room. “It’s not FAIR!” she screamed while tearing down the barrier to her room.

Exasperated, Steve came into the living room where I was working a crossword puzzle. “I’m so tired of this, Elaine.” My side of the loveseat sprung me in the air as he sat down beside me.

“Ok, Dad,” Alyssa walked into the room in submission. “I get the point.”

He stood up and touched her shoulder tenderly, “Alyssa, I warned you that if you didn’t get your room clean by last weekend that you would be punished. I’ve given you grace all week, but now I’ve got to ground you until it’s finished.”

“WHAT?!? But that’s not fair!” Her mascara-stained cheeks were about to see a new jet-black trail of tears.

Alyssa’s younger brother always walked in at the perfect time. “What’s goin’ on?” he spouted off cluelessly.

“None of your business, Caleb!” Alyssa stomped off a second time and slammed her door when she reached her construction zone.

Caleb looked dumbfounded. “What’s wrong with her?”

“The same thing that’s going to be wrong with you in a minute,” Steve warned.

“What'd I do?”

“You promised me two weeks ago that you would pick up all the Play Station discs laying around in the game room,” he scolded. “Some of them have huge scratches now.”

“K, Dad. I’ll do it later.” He turned around and started to strut out of the room.

“No, son,” my husband corrected, “you’ll do it now.”

He made one last attempt. “Mom, tell Dad he’s being lame…”

I stood up and tried to look serious. “No, Caleb. He’s right.”

“What a way to spend a weekend,” he sassed as he made his exit.

Steve spent a good while pouring out his heart to me after that. “It’s like nobody wants to do their work, Lainey. That can’t be God’s best for our family.”

“You’re right, Steve,” I consented.

He turned his face to me and looked me straight in the eye. “Are you in a defensive mood today?”

“Uh,” I hesitated, “I’m ok—shoot!” I tried to belt out positively.

“Well, it’s like that pile of socks in our room. I know you don’t like me to help with the laundry, Hon, but honestly, I don’t think I can stand it anymore….”

He sat down again and shuffled through my almost-completed crossword magazine.

“What? You don’t like having them all in one place to choose from?” I winked at him.

I could tell he felt disgusted with himself for even mentioning it.

“Well, do you mind finishing my puzzle for me, sweetie? I’ve got a sock-ade to tackle!” I looked at him with a loving twinkle in my eye.

He stood up and gleamed, “I’d much rather help a beautiful lady with a horribly boring task, so…sock it to me!”

“How ‘bout you go pick us up some tacos instead?” I pleaded. “Looks like we’re all going to be working into the evening.”

“Deal!” He grabbed his keys and skipped out of the room. “And she still won’t let me help with the laundry,” he muttered under his breath.

As I separated the mound of socks in our bedroom, I admitted to the Lord that I was having a difficult time completing the mundane tasks around me and asked for His help.

My prayer was interrupted by three loud honks outside the window. Alyssa, Caleb and I ran out the door only to see Steve’s car dead in the middle of the street.

“The car is out of gas!” He yelled. “I thought I could make it to a gas station before I ran out.”

Pushing the car back into the driveway, we all had a good laugh. Steve was a good sport, although…

…The kids really socked it to him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A River Runs Through Me

For two straight days last week, I sat amazed at the sights and sounds of Fall River in Estes Park, Colorado. This was the view from my cabin patio, and I was in awe. I wish I could include the roaring sound of the water with this picture, because, well, the whole scene put together is magnificent. Beyond so.

Above all, what struck me was the powerful rush of the water, the constant flow of the stream, and the refreshment it brought to all in its view. Powerful, constant refreshment. Never-ending flow. It is no small wonder, and it caused me to worship the Creator of this beauty.

I looked up the phrase “living water” in my Bible. It’s used several times, but this passage floated to the surface of my heart.

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds,
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!
For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
(When He said, “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit,
who would be given to everyone believing in Him.)

John 7:37-39a

A River Runs Through Me
By LauraLee Shaw

A river runs through me—a living, powerful and life-giving river.
It is the Holy Spirit in me.

This living River fills me, stills me and spills out from me.
It has since the day I became a Christian.
From that day, I have never been the same.

This powerful River has swept over the rocks in my path, even those tossed or thrown there by others.
It has echoed loudly through the valley of my soul and rushed mightily from the mountaintop of my mind.
Like a waterfall, it has thrust me to places I thought I could never survive.
Yet, here I am, not only surviving, but thriving.

This life-giving water has restored me and refreshed so many others in the process.
Slowed only by the dam of my sin, it is ever-present, constantly offering forgiveness as I come and drink it.
It has quenched my thirst, filled my empty crevices and kept me on the narrow path of salvation.

So now, even now, this Holy Spirit runs through me.
As I admit apathy,
surrender self,
put aside pride,
spill my sin,
release regrets,
give way to this living Water,
It flows like a fountain.

It floods through my heart, my soul, my mind, my mouth.
And others will be refreshed as they wade in the puddles
Of this Living Stream flowing through me.

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can do great, powerful and mighty things through you?

Through this refreshment, He can flow through you to soothe another person’s soul. Through this never-ending stream of life, He can love others unconditionally through you. Through this awesome power, He can strengthen you to face your trials without losing faith, hope and contentment along the way. If we believe, ‘rivers of living water will flow’ from our hearts. This is true of the salvation of our souls, and this is true of the life we live as Christians here on earth.

How long has it been since you asked Him to be your source for living? Do you truly believe that power and refreshment comes from Him? What stands in the way of your belief?

Well—it’s a deep subject (pun intended)—but it is something each of us need to dig through as we grow in our relationship with our Savior. I know I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time. Will you join me at the river?

(c) Copyright 2008 LauraLee Shaw

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"All Wired Up," for Women, Part 1

I remember as little girls, my cousin and I used to go through my aunt's closet and get dressed up. With thick, heavy clogs we clomped and clanked on the wooden floors of her upstairs apartment (to which I greatly apologize to those who lived downstairs).

With daughters and nieces of my own now, I find great delight in watching them do the same. It's a precious and innocent thing.

Sometimes I wonder, being the analytical thinker I am: Why did we play dress-up when we were little?

1. Is it that we wanted to feel like a beautiful princess?
2. Did we want to be like our mommies or aunties?
3. Did we hope to be rich and famous one day?
4. Is it that we were ready to be a grown-up and tired of being a kid?
5. Was it an effective way to get attention?

The deeper questions loom in our adulthood:

1. Do we realize we are beautiful to the King?
2. Do we try to be someone we're not?
3. Are we content with the purposes God has given us to live out?
4. Do we forget we're the grown-up and continually work to feel young again?
5. Do we strive to get extra attention from others?

Contrasting questions, but ones we need to regularly ask ourselves as women.

So today, the answers to questions 1 from both points of view. YES, we want to feel like a beautiful princes, and YES, we are beautiful to the King.

Psalm 45:11 says,
"The king is enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord."

Before you think I'm taking this verse out of context, please know that I've done a great deal of research on it. According to many smart people who study these matters (i.e. Wycliffe, C.S. Lewis, etc), the whole chapter of Psalm 45 has a double meaning. One meaning for those before Jesus came to earth and another meaning for those after He came. I agree with them that for us now, verses 2-9 describe Jesus, the King of kings, and verses 10-15 describe the Church, believing Christians.

Because of our righteousness in Christ, we are beautiful princesses to the King. Let's honor HIm with it. Don't believe the lies that come from within you or from others that you are less than what you are. Truly--the Creator is not capable of making a mistake. So pull your best stuff out of your heart's closet, clothe yourself with Christ in you and worship your King today.

Dressin' up Cousins

"...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."
Isaiah 61:3

***One interesting reference for Psalm 45 can be found by clicking here: http://www.easyenglish.info/psalms/psalm045-taw.htm It's great stuff!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blurry-Eyed Morning

My youngest daughter rushed down the stairs to the beat of her fear. She simply could not sleep with the “thunder booming and lightning bolts.” It was almost time for her to get up and get ready for Vacation Bible School anyway, but I hadn’t finished my prayer time yet. It was interrupted by a barrage of questions from her little mind instead.

“Mom, what if lighting struck our whole house? Where would we live?”

“Well, Sweetie, we would go to a hotel or a friend’s house until it was fixed.”

“What if it caught the house on fire?”

“Then we would be very sad, but we would find another house to live in.”

“What if the lightning hit our computer?”

“Well…we’d replace it.”

“NO! But, Mom, that’s where all our money is!”

I couldn’t help but giggle over that one. “Oh no, darlin’, our money’s in the bank.”

“No, it’s not. It’s in the computer. Daddy showed me. I have seven dollars and seventy-three cents left.”

We went round and round, but she stood fully convinced that her allowance is kept in the computer, because “she saw the money in there.” I lifted her petite frame and hugged her close. Her lack of comprehension endeared me to her.

* * * * *

It’s no coincidence that only moments before, I was having a “Who, What, When, Where, Why” session with my Heavenly Father. How creative of Him to answer my questions through the questions of my eight-year-old.

The answer is that I can’t see life through His grid. It’s a simple Truth, but I need constant reminding with my in-the-moment, literal-thinking brain.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the Heavens are higher than the earth,
So My ways are higher than your ways
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New Living Translation)

When I get to the end of what I can see through the faith He’s given me, I can count on Him to scoop me up tenderly, all the while whispering “I’m in control. Trust me.” And I feel quite certain that my lack of comprehension endears me to Him just like my Ally’s did to me.

I look forward to the day when I fully get it. I like to call it my 1 Corinthians 13:12 day:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Until that day, I’ll choose to trust in what He sees, walking by faith and not by my blurry sight.

Who Needs Botox Anyway?

So here's my question: Who needs botox when
the "cherry perfect lips gene" runs in your family?

Can you tell they're all cousins?

It's funny that I never noticed this before our family vacation to my sister's house in Colorado last week. None of us recognized it until now. My sister and I were present for all of each other's births, have seen each other at least once a year since the kids were born...but somehow this was the first time we saw the strong resemblance between them all.

Now that we've seen it...we realize what incredible potential these kids have. So next week, we're entering them into a nationwide modeling contest that pays a pretty good chunk o' change. Please don't judge us. Their college funds won't fill up on their own, you know...

So sweet Austin, Haley Grace, Sabrina, AnaLee, Allison and Braden--you kissing cousins--please...Please...PLEASE don't bite your lips--at least until after the photo shoot. Take 'em out at night and stick 'em in the freezer. Wax them to keep their pristine shine. Realize the gift of this gene you've been given. Your future inheritance depends on it.

Okay, Ally, sneak in one more smooch. It's worth it just to see Braden's cheeks turn as red as his lips.


"Our mouths were filled with laughter."
Psalm 126:2a

Friday, July 11, 2008

Words Stuck In Quicksand

***Posted for Patty Wysong's Fiction Fridays. For more great fiction, click here: http://pattywysong.blogspot.com

The words will not come. The lump at the back of my throat will not let them out.

I know what I need to say. God gave me the perfect words earlier this morning, but now they are stuck in quicksand.

My memories in this church are running rampant, however. They envelop me in my sadness. Right where the Pastor is standing, I was saved, baptized, discipled and married to my Brian.

“Do you, Brian, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife—to have and to hold—in sickness and in health, till death do you part?”

“I do,” he said tenderly gazing into my watery eyes.

It had been a glorious day sixteen years ago. As I stood there in front of my friends, family and church members, I looked out at Mom, who was as emotional as she could be with her childlike state of mind. She sat hunched over, trying to sit straight to show how proud she was of her daughter, the bride.

But now is not such an occasion. That was only a memory now.

Just like this next one…

“Miss Lora,” little four-year-old Jenny had asked as she pulled on my belt, “can I go potty?”

“Again?” I asked her. “Jenny, did you not practice your music?”

Her wide, sea-blue eyes had looked straight into mine, “Yes, Miss Lora, I did.” Her arms flailed out in frustration. “It’s jus’ that we keep singin’ bout washin’ our sins away, an’ all dat water makes me gotta go.”

It had been quite the effort to hold back the laughter while she crossed her legs and did a little ‘potty jig.’ “Of course you can go, sweet Jenny. And I’ll will start a new song when you get back, ok?”

Oh, how I had loved teaching that little choir. At sixteen, the pastor’s wife had given me the chance to lead them. I felt pretty special to direct from the preacher’s podium.

That seems like eons ago. Now I’m forced by circumstances to sit on this hard wooden pew with little Jenny all grown up just rows behind me. Even in this crowd, I feel like I’m behind a thick gray concrete wall, and Pastor Steve’s words bounce and echo from it.

“For we know that all things work together for good (for good) (good), for those who are called (called) according to His purpose.”

“Aaaaaa-men!” Mr. Thomas bellowed out in his deep voice from the back pew.

Yes, and it is for His purposes that in a moment I will walk up to that same spot from which I wed all those years ago. After all, I had walked up those steps, picked up the microphone and belted out many a song and scripture dozens of times before.

Sweet, white-haired Mr. Thomas would touch my shoulder with his trembling hand. “I sure do love it when you sing, Precious. It brings heaven to my heart.”

How I long to bring heaven to these grieving people right now, but my own heart is wringing with sorrow.

“Lora,” Pastor Steve’s voice ruptured into my hollow ear, “you said you would like to say a few words in memory of your mother (mother) (mother)?”

I can’t believe her casket lies in the same place that I had stood so many times before, looking out at her proud, beaming face.

I must speak. I’m walking to the pulpit and speaking the words that I must say, or I’ll regret it forevermore.

The words I must say are ready at the tip of my tongue.

“My greatest memory of Mom is her sitting at the kitchen table reading her Bible with a mug of Folgers in her reach. She would recite long passages from memory to anyone who would listen. She taught me to love the Word. She had every reason to give up after her car wreck. Instead she chose to be dependent upon the Lord in her neediness. She may have been disabled on this earth, but now she dances before the Lord with brand new legs. I look forward to the day I can dance with her…”

After a long silence, the Pastor brought me back to the present by asking, “Did you wish to speak? It’s okay if you can’t…”

My legs have melted into the pew. I open my mouth to speak, but the words I prepared will not come. I put my head down and wave my hand in decline toward the pulpit.

If only I could speak.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aunt Rhodie's Mountain Adventure


And on and on and on my seven-year-old belted out. She brought Aunt Rhodie up and down the stairs into every room of the house. I’ll bet the old aunt got tired.

My twelve-year-old son had had enough. “Would you stop singing that song already?”

“NO, I can’t. You know our piano teacher said that if I sang the song it would help me play it better. I’m practicing! GO TELL AUNT RHODIE…”

My head was spinning with a combination of the loud melody and my son’s nagging.

“NOW--Ally, STOP! I’m trying to do my homework.”


My son tried a different approach. “Hey, Ally, who is Aunt Rhodie anyway?”

She ceased her melody. “How am I s’post to know who she is, Austin. I’m just a little kid.”

It was the perfect time for my nine-year-old daughter to take center stage, her voice projecting proudly. “IIIII know who Aunt Rhodie is…”

“Yeah, sure you do, Annie,” Austin smarted.

“I do,” she said proudly, “SHE’s the one who was comin’ round the mountain!!!!!”

My two daughters chimed in together while marching up and down the stairs on a mountain adventure of their own:


Poor Austin. And poor, tired Aunt Rhodie with all that mountain climbing.

This scene, while a bit exaggerated for proper picture painting, gave me one of the best laughs I’d had in awhile. It also gave me a profoundly simple truth to chew on, which is this:

I sing God’s name, I write God’s name. I speak His name frequently and challenge others to do the same. But do I know WHO He is?

Friends, if someone were to ask you, “Who is the God you sing about anyway,” what would you tell them?

“My mouth will tell of Your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long, thought I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD.”
Psalm 71:15-16 (NIV)

We speak of His acts, His salvation, His righteousness in us and through us and others, but as the verse speaks, we could not possibly know the full measure of any of them.

It’s one thing to tell people who God is and quite another to show them. Ephesians 1:18-20 gives us a perfect example: “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who belive Him. This is the same might power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (NLT)

Does the fact that you know Him give you confident hope? Do you understand the incredible greatness of His power? Ask Him to help you know Him better. Beg Him. Carve some time out for your True Love, the only One who can ‘fill the emptiness, replace the bitterness and empower the weakness that lies within your heart, soul, mind and body.

Take the knowledge of Him with you today, showing Him and telling of Him as you walk, sing, and yes, even do some mountain climbing. Allow Him to flood you with His light, His hope and His power—spreading it to others along the way. Maybe they’ll even start to sing His tune along with you.

• Go Tell Aunt Rhodie author unknown. Copyright unknown.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ECHO, Echo, echo

ECHO, ECho, Echo, echo. There’s an echo in my head again—that echo from the past. It bounces around the wall in my mind and then ricochets off the wall of my heart.

MIND, heart. MIND, heart. MIND, heart.

She doesn’t like me.
I’m overlooked again, Lord. Why do people keep skipping over me?
Maybe I’m just not good enough.
Nothing I have to offer is of any value anymore.
It’s too difficult. I should quit.


Something in my mind reminds me to get my thoughts in line with Him. It is from the louder echo of my heart.
HEART. Mind. HEART. Mind. HEART. Mind.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

“…stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
1 Corinthians 14:20

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27

Thank goodness for the power of His Word, which echoes upon the walls of my heart and mind. It has trumped the power of my flesh, and it has the victory over the thoughts from the devil, thanks be to Jesus.

Which echo looms around in your mind from the past?

You can snuff it out with the sword of His Spirit, which is the Word of God. So bathe in it. Listen to it. Speak it. Read it. Sing it. Dance to it. Draw it. Write it.

Learn to love it and live it.

Rely upon it.

Until His echoes are the only ones you hear.

I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Psalm 119:11

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bubble Break-through

I laid my dvd choices on the counter and noticed that the worker behind it would not look me in the eye.

“How is your day going, Victoria?” I asked. She looked up at me with a surprised expression. “You know, you’re the first customer I can remember ever saying my name, and I’ve worked here for over 10 years.”

Now I was the surprised one. “But your nametag’s right there, and it is such a beautiful name,” I reassured her. “I think people just get distracted when they’re paying for things.”

She said that she thought most people just live in a bubble and don’t want to bother.

Victoria went on to thank me for taking the time just the same, and then she began to share that she hardly ever hears her name spoken out loud anymore since her husband had passed away several years before. She used to love the way he would say her name, she told me with a far away look in her eyes. She doesn’t go to church anymore because she just can’t stand her “love” not being right beside her. But she’s thankful she has the Lord by her side every single day to keep her company.

I get weepy when I think about that conversation with the precious lady at my local video store. Filled with loneliness, she was comforted by someone taking the time to notice her as a person instead of just someone behind the counter.

Whenever these moments in life happen, it causes me to examine my own existence. Hours and hours of my time are spent doing ministry, writing, taking care of my family, enjoying relationships with my friends, but I can’t help but think that maybe Victoria is right: I live in a bubble. Does that mean my time is wasted? Does that mean that I’m not pleasing the Lord with the things I’m doing? All “nos” on these questions. God is in the work of my hands, I’m sure of it! So why does it feel like I’m missing something important?

It’s because I have been. Bottom line: It has nothing to do with my time. It has everything to do with my heart. I’ve begun to ask the Lord to give me care and concern for strangers, for those that are placed in my day. For those that are in the houses next door. For all kinds of human beings that have gone unnoticed in my path. On top of it, I’ve asked Him to give me the energy and the passion to intentionally act on the desire, which is a whole separate ordeal to sort through on another day.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful…Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4: 2, 5-6

Just like Jesus did, I must pray for the strength to build into others God puts in my path. I can’t do it on my own—at least not genuinely or for long. The Holy Spirit has more than enough wind to breakthrough any bubbles I’ve blown up around myself, and I pray He will do so today.

The One who calls me is faithful, and HE will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (my paraphrase)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Walking Blogs

“There was never yet an uninteresting life.
Such a thing is an impossibility.
Inside of the dullest exterior
there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy…”
Mark Twain

Do you know what power there is in your life story?

Powerful power.

When I started my devo ministry to eight drama girls just three or so years ago, I had no idea what God was doing. As the list has grown, I’ve learned an important lesson: It’s not about me. It’s about His story written through me. People love a good story.

So imagine my excitement this afternoon as I’m reading through a passage of Scripture in Acts. I did a little research and noticed a common theme throughout Paul’s ministry. His ministry was built upon telling his story.

He was arrested in Acts 21, and the first thing he asks to do is share his salvation testimony in front of the crowd. He then goes from trial to trial under various leaders and continues to tell Tell TELL his story. He preaches and teaches and shares under arrest all the way to Rome at the end of the book of Acts. He shared in prison, he shared with guards, he wrote letters to share with the believers.

Why? Because there’s powerful power in a person’s story.

I received a response from a reader of one of my devos a few weeks ago that truly ministered to me. My husband’s aunt shared something personal about how it touched her and how it applied to her. She shared her heart so beautifully that I responded back and told her that she needed to start a blog because she expressed herself so well. Her reply back to me has stuck with me ever since. She wrote, “I’m a walking blog.”

“I’m a walking blog.”

Wow, what a thought. Our very lives are unfolding in front of people as we speak and share our life stories with others. Do you know how cool that is? We’re all walking blogs (no I didn’t say ‘blobs’), and the story written all over us is contagious to others—good or not-so-good.

This challenges me to make my words matter. To remember that my actions count. To allow the Lord to live and breathe through me. If I don’t, my blog will most certainly be blubbering babble.

Are you sharing your story? What are people reading from you? Let’s continue to challenge one another and remember to make our dramas, comedies and tragedies count for the cost—His cost—the only one worth anything at all.

Psalm 145:3-7 (The Message)

 God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts. Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking; I compose songs on your wonders. Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness. The fame of your goodness spreads across the country; your righteousness is on everyone's lips.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Worship On My Mind

***Posted for Patty Wysong's Fiction Fridays. For more great fiction, click here: http://pattywysong.blogspot.com

hurry, Hurry, HuRRy, HURRY UP! My thoughts were racing as I lugged my six-year-old across the church parking lot with her wrist in my tightly gripped palm. “Mommy, this shoe isn’t tight enooooough!” she whined while stomping her foot on the pavement for dramatic effect.

“You’ll live! I’ve tied it three times already, now hurry up!” My barking softened to a whine, “Come on, sweetie, I don’t want to be late for worship time.” We funneled through the crowd inside the building, somewhat lopsided from her dragging and me pulling. Oh boy, lots of familiar faces. “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?” Boy, can I fake it when I need to. “Hey there!” Big plastered smile.

The smile quickly turned upside down. “What!?! Her room is full,” I huffed to the check-in lady, What’s-Her-Name. “You’ve GOT to be kidding!” Oh, what’s the point? Great, now my daughter is crying, and I am fuming, but we will not miss the worship time, no sir-ee! I scooped her up in my arms, set my eyes straight ahead as to not make eye contact with anyone and darted into the church service out of sheer determination to get my fix. I yell-whispered a “HUSH IT” into my daughter’s flushed ear, and she dug her head into my shoulder to end her whimpering.

Bummer! It’s already started, I complained inside my mind. Down one aisle, nope, no seat. Down the next….So much for being discreet. Oh, there was a spot in the middle…I wish those people would move in. No such luck. “Sorry, excuse me,” I half-heartedly uttered through my clinched teeth while trying not to step on anyone’s foot or purse or Bible.

There. I released a deep breath, thankful that it was finally time to worship. My little one decided that it was finally time to tighten her shoe. I tightened it, alright! And put a triple knot in it. She looked up at me with those red eyes and started to plead…. No way! After seeing my “don’t you dare” glare, she changed her mind about asking me to attend to the other shoe.

Everyone was clapping and swaying as I dug desperately through my purse to find something with kid appeal. If she will just leave me alone, then—THEN I can finally sing. “Here, sweetie, draw me a picture of worship,” I pleaded as she grabbed the notebook and pen I had found. There. All settled. I began to praise with a grin as big as Texas on my face. “It’s all about You,” I sang. It repeated once.

Wow, those drums are loud...Oh well. “It’s all about You, Jesus,” I belted out…until I noticed my Bible study leader across the aisle. I wondered why she wasn’t singing. That’s strange. I couldn’t help but hope that my mentor would notice me giving my all to the Lord in robust praise. The last chord of the guitar strummed, and I was so bummed! I reluctantly took my seat along with the others. It’s time to sit down already? I just got here.

Oh good, they’re starting another song. Ah, yes, “We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus….” In the middle of this worshipful moment, right NOW! What are they talking about? I restrained myself from tapping the shoulders of the two ladies conversing in front of me. The guy two rows up to the left took a drink of his out of his shiny silver coffee mug. We’re worshipping, people!

As I sat heartbroken in that spot bravely holding back the tears, I looked down at my daughter, fully expecting to be interrupted by her again. And I was.

She sat there melted into the pew with her head and her hands raised toward heaven. On her lap sat her sketch—Jesus hanging on the cross with thorns on His head and nails in His hands---The top read, “My Pikcher of Wership.” It wasn’t a sketch—no—it was a MASTERpiece! Lord, forgive me. My heart has been so selfish!

In was in that unexpected moment that I finally got to worship, and it had nothing to do with the music, nothing to do with the crowd, and it especially had nothing to do with me.

In that true moment of worship, it was finally ALL about Him.

“I will thank the LORD with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.”
Psalm 111:1 (NLT)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where's A Soapbox When You Need One?

Mud-slinging--Mud-slinging—Brittney--More mud-slinging—Ew, now that’s just inappropriate—Obama vs. McCain—mud-slinging disguised as news—high-pitched beep—More inappropriate.

This is what I witnessed as I flipped channels one night. I couldn’t believe how negative, how cruel, how absurd it all was.

Where’s a soapbox when you need one?

“Anyone who leaves his car out of the garage with valuables inside needs a dunce hat. We don’t ALL need to spend money for security just because of a few (profanity along the lines of idiots) in our neighborhood.”

This was an email from our homeowner’s yahoo group about some crime in our neighborhood. Trust me, it got way worse from there.

Where’s a soapbox when you need one?

I could go on and on, and most surely would, if only I could find my soapbox. The problem is that there are too many soapboxes out there already. This has been the matter the Lord has placed on my heart over recent months as I’ve asked Him to clean me up from the inside out.

How does God want me to handle it when I have a complaint? What should my response be to the ‘mud-slinging’ this world--even the Christian one--has to offer me? He’s given me a voice. How does he want me to use it? How did the Lord God of Heaven intend for us to speak out on His behalf?

Here’s the general answer: His intention is for us to come to Him with our complaints first, giving Him the opportunity to show us how to respond or react, or whether we should at all.

“I pour out my complaint before HIM; before HIM I tell my trouble.” Psalm 142:2

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in HIM and HE will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause shine like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for HIM; do not fret when men succeed in their ways…when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:5-7

If we go to our friends, our websites, our self-help books first, we miss out on an awesome opportunity to glean from His wisdom. He may lead us to a friend to help us sort things through. He may even provide us an outlet for our messages or our criticisms, but it will look a lot different after going through His filter than it would have looked if we had just blurted it out in the first place.

The specific answers about how to handle the world’s complaints, as well as our own, come from Him. Sometimes they are attacks on something we believe in, sometimes they are attacks that we believe to be true but not justified, and sometimes the attacks are personal in nature. His answer for us begins with humility.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5

Maybe, just maybe, if we stop looking for a soapbox to stand on, we’ll find ourselves landing on our knees instead. It is there that we will be transformed in our learning and our thinking, knowing just what to speak when we stand back up and plant our feet firmly on HIs solid ground.

***All Scriptures quotes from the NIV.

(c) Copyright 2008 LauraLee Shaw

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Middle Child Theory Lesson

Over and over again.

It’s a pattern.

My middle child starts acting up. I’ve tried to convince myself that the middle child theory is just that—a theory…but she works to prove me wrong. Deeply longing for my attention, she does not always go about the right way to receive it. And as if it were my first “aha” moment, I realize that some alone time would do us some good. This evening was just one of those moments.

All day, getting ready for a long trip and feeling heavily ignored, she vied for my attention, and she managed to get it…the WRONG way. Just as I thought I had a moment of escape to run a a last-minute errand, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Take her with you. The alone time will do you good.”

Noooooooooo, I want to be alone. I felt a stronger urge from Him, and I obeyed (this time).

By the end of our outing, she was cheery, loving, affectionate and compliant. She had one question and gripe after another for me, because she had been waiting to get me alone. Deprived earlier, she was now able to get her fill. I was actually refreshed afterwards too. It felt so good to see a smile on her face planted there from her heart.

I couldn’t help but reflect on our experience this evening during my own aloneness with the Lord. I am His middle child. When I don’t have the perfect amount of alone time with Him, I am miserable—squawking, moaning, whining, ungrateful…unholy. I desperately need my alone time with my Heavenly Daddy. It is absolutely essential for me.

So hopefully, as I head to the mountains…I can experience some extraordinary alone time with Him. And may I be quick to listen when He asks me to give some of that back to my own family.

Guess what…YOU are His middle child too. Be ever mindful of your need to be up close, personal and all by yourself with Him, whether in a beautiful place or in the middle of your living room. He will give you just what you need to keep your heart humming for all to hear. He is your Lifeline to love, to joy, to peace, to patience, to kindness, to goodness, to faithfulness, to gentleness and to self-control.

Together, let’s prove the middle child syndrome wrong, shall we?

Over and over again.

“You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”
Acts 2:28, NIV

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Puttin' Up My Dukes

Okay, so I know peace and putting up your dukes don’t normally go together, but hear me out. I went to a mini-conference sponsored by the Rethink group back in January. It was called Orange Tour 2008. I cannot remember the last time I left a place feeling so motivated.

The weird thing is that one of the messages still sticks with me on a daily basis. Reggie Joyner put it boldly and simply: “Fight for your relationships.” He went on to talk about what that meant, and I’ve been trying to sort through it ever since.

This is Biblical. I tend to think of having peace in relationships as though it were a passive thing. Yes, it is right to turn the other cheek. Yes, it is wise to keep silent when provoked. Yes, I am blessed if I actively pursue peace. Sometimes these are a struggle in and of themselves. But does that mean that I settle for ho-hum, tolerable relationships? Based on Reggie’s comments, and based on Scripture, I think not.

I pondered this passage from Nehemiah 4: 12-15 (NIV)
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us." Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

If I settle for less than God’s best, I leave my relationships exposed to attacks from the enemy. God had given Nehemiah great wisdom, and he passed it on. When the people got tired and didn’t want to fight for the cause anymore, he posted them by their families. That’ll wake up the warriors really quickly, won’t it?

It’s kind of the same deal with me. I settle for what I have because it is too exhausting to fight for the ideal. I don’t get the fire back in me until I'm in danger of attack or worse—attacked already.

But here’s the answer: The battle belongs to the Lord, so it is to Him I must turn to have the ideal in my relationships. It starts on my knees. After I’ve prayed, it's time for me to act on it. I'm not going to settle. I'm going to put up my spiritual dukes, fighting with the resources He has given me, living God-strong in the relationships with which God has entrusted me.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message)
A Fight to the Finish
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

© Copyright 2008 Laura L. Shaw

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