Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enough About Me! (What do you think of me?)

I'm just kiddin. Thought I'd steal that line from the old movie "Beaches" to introduce an interview I just did with FaithReaders. Those questions were H-A-R-D, and Lynda certainly knows how to make a person think!

Anyway, here's the link if you're interested. I'd love to know what you think.

Now. Enough about me. What do you think of HIM?

"My mouth will tell of Your righteousness
of Your salvation all day long, 
though I know not its measure. 
I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, 
O Sovereign Lord; 
I will proclaim Your righteousness, 
Yours alone. 
Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, 
and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds."
Psalm 71:15-17, NIV (emphasis mine)

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blessed Aroma

Wanna encourage someone who blesses you with their blog on a regular basis? If so, you might want to check this out and SOON. I'm about to head over myself and do the same. What a delicious idea to encourage other bloggers for Jesus Christ!  Click on the button below to nominate and to find out more details (which I've included below as well).

Internet Cafe Devotions introduces Blessed Aroma ~ 2008!

As a Christian Women Devotional site, we passionately want to encourage and inspire women all over the world. We know that an ounce of encouragement goes a long way and that is why we are introducing Blessed Aroma ~ 2008. It's a way to showcase some of your favorite blogs who have encouraged you with their written words and examples of faith in 2008. This is a chance to showcase some of the most encouraging and inspiring blogs, and an opportunity to introduce our readers to some new and exciting ladies.

This is not a contest. There are no prizes. We firmly believe that there is no competition in ministry and we are to support and encourage each other as the body of Christ.

Our vision for this is to simply add a page to the Cafe with a fresh list of wonderful blogs that others can enjoy. We will obtain this list through nominations by you, the readers, and not simply based on our own opinion. No one will know who was nominated or how many people nominated each blog but the top ten of those who receive the most nominations in a category will be included on our website. In random order, of course.

We will accept nominees through Jan. 30th, 2009 and shortly after the top 10 blogs in each category will be announced when our new web design is revealed.

You can vote once in each of the following categories:

Cup Overfloweth Blog
This is a woman who is following hard after Him. Her words, her heart and her passion for her Savior is evident with every click of the mouse. She inspires you to have a closer relationship with Him.

Cup of the Day Blog
This blogger is the "cup" you couldn't do without. You find yourself daily drawn in to sit a spell. You leave inspired and encouraged.

Most Joyful Among Us Blog
This gal always sees her coffee cup "half full" and the joy just pours out of her site. Her joyful attitude is what keeps you coming back for more.

Beautiful Cup Blog
This blog is unique and artistic. It's the blog that you are drawn to because of it's beauty and design. Maybe she is into interiors or photography. Maybe she creates one of a kind art. Maybe she is a blog designer with an eye for detail.

Gathered Together Blog
This is a group blog category. This blog is a team of writers who inspire you with their words of encouragement.

Pouring Proverbs 31 Blog
This blog exemplifies the principles of a Proverbs 31 woman and it comes through on her blog.

Caffeinated Blog
This is a high energy blog! Perhaps she is a mom to a dozen or a woman who is wearing many hats. Her energy and enthusiasm shine through on her blog.

Learn A-Latte Blog
This is a lady who loves to see others learn. She might teach her kids at home or maybe she teaches you about: scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, crafts, photography, or anything of the like. The truth is you learn something almost everytime you visit her blog.

My Cup of Tea Blog
This is a lady who loves her family and friends and is always pouring out thoughts and ways that you can love your family more. She is a woman after God's own heart.

All New Flavor Blog
This blog is less than a year old but already shows such a tremendous capacity to bless. You just can't wait to see where she'll go from here!

The rules are:
Each household may only nominate once.
The nominator must be at least 18 years of age.
You cannot nominate your own blog.
You must provide all information requested for your nomination to count.
You must provide the URL of the blogs you nominate in order for them to count.
You must submit all of your nominations at one time.
Blogs must be written by a Christian author. We reserve the right to refuse to include any blog we feel is not supportive of our biblical, Christian beliefs.

Remember to head on over to the Internet Cafe to nominate your favorite blog in each category.

In the Key of HE,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Eye Wide Open

A few years back, my daughter wrote a tale (with a small amount of assistance) for a school project about an imaginary creature called a Cy-cat. This particular cat had only one eye that was half-opened, got frustrated with the problems in his life and ran away from home. Even his mother with the big huge eye in the back of her head did not see him run away! (Yes, laughed hard as I read her story!) Along the way, the Cy-cat met a wise Cyclop, who had one large eye wide open and spoke the truth to him about why it wasn’t a good idea to run away from his problems. After leaving this creature and deciding to follow his advice, he got lost…then the Eagle of the Lion (a.k.a. Angel of the Lord) soared over him to help him find his way back home, physically and spiritually. All of a sudden, the Cy-cat’s one half-opened eye was opened wide to the truth, and he was able to run home to his family with repentance, thankfulness and joy.

Wow, what a story! And for us, what a picture. Personally speaking, I can’t even count the number of times I have run away from my problems and my stress, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually…And it’s usually when my eyes and my heart are only half-opened to the Lord’s truths. How about you? Please think soberly about this one.

Let’s take a moment to ponder some of the physical things we run to when we have problems or stress. Maybe it’s friends….food….fitness….fashion? TV, chat rooms…..sleep?

What about our emotions? Where do they go? Maybe they roll off our tongues with anger or send us to the pit of our stomachs with guilt or worry…depression….apathy?

While we’re still on the metaphorical run, what is happening to us spiritually? As we jog back and forth, in and out of all these forks in the road in a desperate attempt to find “the way we should go,” what is the result of the vertical relationship between us and our Lord?

Last but not least, what are the things that trigger us to run in the first place? Whether it be stress or problems or persecution—or whether it be our own sin or just plain boredom, we would be wise to follow the advice of the One whose eyes AND arms are always wide open to us. According to Psalm 32:6-10, He doesn’t want us to wait until we feel the need to run. He wants us to ask and receive right now:

“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you…the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him."
Psalm 32:6-10

Let’s apply these truths as we pray to Him, hide ourselves in Him, be controlled through Him, and joyfully sing of Him today. As we continually focus on Him with the “cy-eye” of our hearts wide open, we’ll be aware of His provision for us when the mighty waters arise—and we’ll have nowhere else we’d rather run than into the extended arms of unfailing love—the arms of our Daddy. There’s no place like home.

“Father, You are my hiding place, and I rest in that fact today. Help me to take advantage of every opportunity to pray to You and to seek You first with my eyes wide open to Your truth. Help me to stay hidden with You at home where I belong… In Your Unfailing Love I rest and Your Secure Name I pray, Amen.”

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WHOOPS! Howza 'bout Them Zingers?

***I sent this out to my edevo recipients this week and got an overwhelming response. Apparently, the Lord struck a chord with HIs message. That led me to post it here. If you are interested in having the E-devo sent directly to your inbox, click HERE.
Now! About them Zingers...

Wow, have the zingers been flyin’ like bullets lately. From politics to celebrities to movie scripts, and (come to a screeching halt)—in my own home.
zinger definition from
zinger (ziŋ′ər) noun
SLANG a clever, witty remark or rejoinder
a sharp, caustic, usually critical remark
The thing about zingers is that they almost always start out as funny. They’re so quick that they land smack in the forehead of those listening, causing spontaneous laughter, eyerolls, or even a boomerang zinger right back. But when the smile wrinkles fade, that’s when the words sink in. And often they leave a mark. Whoops. Howza ‘bout them zingers now?

Zingers are nothing new. They’ve been around forever, but they still catch me off guard when they rip around and about my house. Sometimes I’m the one dishin’ em out. Sometimes I catch ‘em mid-air before anyone else hears them. Often they’re zigging and zagging in the name of “just joking” or “just playing” when I’m not even in the room.

This isn’t just the situation in my home, is it? It’s in yours too, many of you have shared with me. It’s in our churches. Our extended families. Our schools. Even in our computers via way of email and status updates (how do they get in there?) We practically need an ear traffic controller just to keep them zingers from crashing during landing. (oh, come on, that was funny).

The Bible gives us the opposite way to live:

1 Peter 3:8-11 (NIV)
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.”

Or in The Message:
“Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what He’s asked.”

These Scriptures sounds perfect to me—like music to my ears. Then reality hits, and it seems almost impossible to tame the wild beast named ‘Tongue’. His speech has become a way of life, you see. So, once again, it all comes down to Holy-Spirit filled living.

Luke 6:45 says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.”

Because the cynical and sarcastic way of speaking permeates our society, it has seeped into our minds and hearts. Then out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths spill out the same garbage. I guarantee you, no matter where you are, (unless you are kept away from all aspects of life today), if you pay attention, you’ll begin to notice “them zingers.” Notice in that sit-com, news show or movie—the next political rally, that water cooler conversation at work, even at the festive social event—you’ll see the arrows flying. We can’t get away from it completely, but we have the Lord and His Word to turn to for help.

Ask the Lord to make you aware of hurtful words and capture them in mid-air if possible. To be a “zinger-extinguisher,” if you will (my husband says I'm a "zinger zapper!") 2nd Corinthians 10:5 tells us how: “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.”

Notice the verse from 1st Peter above is active. It doesn’t say, “Correct everybody and put everyone in their place.” It says to repay with blessing. Turn the conversation to good if at all possible. Ignore it, throwing out a compliment or praise instead. Or if you can’t find something nice to say, maybe the most peaceable thing you could do is change the subject. I’ve had someone do that before in my presence, and it really ministered to me. It corrected me and showed me an example of grace and humility, not to mention courage.

If the situation continues to happen personally speaking, like in your family or with your close friend for example, then it may be time for a side conversation, especially if the person is another Christian. Pray first, then let the Lord speak His words of correction through you.

The evil in this world is a reality, my friends, even the kind that people don’t realize they’re spreading. But the blessing can begin with each one of us, one word at a time, building or tearing down in the process. I say, let it begin with Christ in me.

Dear Lord, Your divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness. You have called us to a life filled with goodness, peace and blessing. WE have access to that power through the Holy Spirit living in us. Forgive us, Lord, for using our words to get a laugh at someone else’s expense or for using them carelessly and thoughtlessly. Help us to use our mouths for building up and for Godly humor, leading us to speak the very words You would use if you were in our shoes. We trust You and choose to follow You, no matter what. In Your name we pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Turning Back...WFW

Happy Word-Filled Wednesday! 

For more Word-Filled Wednesday and for visual inspiration from Scripture, hike on over to:

In the Key of HE,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Joanne over at An Open Book is hosting a meme called "Monday Manna" today. She has chosen Isaiah 6:8 as the Scripture for discussion, thoughts and insights.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 
"Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

Joanne's wisdom on the verse blew me away, and I hope you'll go by and read it and the others too.

For me, this verse is very personal. I can only live out this verse if I can hear God's voice in the first place. Sometimes in the name of ministry or service, I am so busy, that I can't even hear His voice. Distraction is one of the loudest clanging symbols of this believer's life. And where there is distraction, there is very little stillness. And where there is no stillness, there is no understanding. Only wandering and wondering instead.

Another reason it's important that I'm still enough to listen is that many voices beckon for my time and attention. Just because someone asks me to do something ministry-oriented, does not mean I'm necessarily supposed to do it. I've learned this over many years of over-commitment from my younger years. I liken myself back then to the child in the classroom that always raises her hand when the teacher asks for a volunteer for something: "Pick me! Pick me!" But the more often I raise my hand, the teacher begins to call on different people around me to answer the question or come forward to participate.

He wants me to stay in tune with Him so I know which calls are from Him. Sometimes the Lord wants me to allow someone else to raise their hand. He loves it when I am willing and eager, but it doesn't mean He will call on me to do the work.

In recent months, the Lord began to ask this question: "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" (matter of speaking anyway) in a ministry I was involved in for eight years at my church. He asked me to step down for reasons I don't completely understand as of yet. As I began to go deeper with Him about six months ago, asking Him what He wanted for me, I sensed Him leading me to step through the Exit door. And with tears and sadness, I did. I can't wait to see who will answer His call for leadership. I know God is going to do mighty things when the one He sends to do the job answers the call. There is no doubt that He called me to that position for the time I spent there, though. My family served alongside, and it was rich, meaningful, wonderful family service. They've learned the significant value of serving in the local church, and now my kids have learned that the same way God can lead you into a ministry, He can lead you out as well. It's about listening and obeying.

As I've stepped away from that, He's asked me to attend to some calls in my home life. I already homeschool part-time, but I've entered a new season of parenting and family life, and it requires more of me on a daily basis. The Lord has sent me to sit beside the fireplace with my husband and dream with him more. He's sent me to my knees to pray with my teenage son more. He's sent me to the floor in front of the Barbie doll house with my daughters more. He's sent me to scrub the commode and attend the laundry load more. He's sent me back to the gym to attend to some personal neglect (ack!). He's sent me to the pew of the church to worship while the rest of my family serves.

Another church ministry call came recently, and this one is wayyyyyy out of my comfort zone. I'm waiting and listening...making sure it is is His voice calling and that He wants to choose my raised hand out of the crowd (though I don't think there's a long line for this particular call, lol).

"Here am I, Lord. Send me." I'm listening, and I'm willing. No ministry or task You've called me to is insignificant. If You're the One doing the asking, I'll raise my hand. If You're the One leading, I will follow. "Teach me Your ways, Oh Lord, and I will walk in Your Truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name." With tons of voices surrounding me, Father, give me selected hearing, and may Yours be the only voice I obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wholly Holy/At the Internet Cafe

I am a visual worshipper, so a trip to somewhere grandeous is all it takes for me to get perspective of how awesome God is. It is truly amazing after being a Christian for all these years that I can make GOD such a casual name in my vocabulary. As if He were the mailman delivering Good News…..or the maintenance man, making repairs in my life….an entertainer, performing music inside my heart and mind.

I was convicted as I sat, hiked and biked in the beautiful mountains of Colorado last summer that His name had become too ordinary to me. Don’t get me wrong, I uttered His name as "holy" in my prayers and in my worship, but in everyday living, I had not exalted Him to His proper place. I've been grappling with this ever since. Even today, I struggle with finding the balance between reverence and relevance, though I know it is His desire that I am both at the same time. This culture is full of Twittering "omg"s and variants of His name as an interjection to the most common of subjects. Yes, even among Christians. I've done it myself. But ever since the Holy of Holies opened my eyes to His view, I've wholly reconsidered.

Will you please join me for the rest of this devo at the Internet Cafe? So many women are ministered to each day at the Cafe, and your comments, input and testimonies deepen and personalize the impact of the message each day.
Click here
to dive into what the Word has to say on the subject. Thank you so much!

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

There's Gain in the Pain/A Study on Contentment

God’s been doing a work in my life. He’s in the process of re-ordering my priorities. I’ve had to give up, let go, press on, fight through, and beg to survive it all emotionally. But the obedience has been there.

Or has it?

When my son was eight years old, he obeyed so beautifully. The reason I say “beautifully” is because he not only complied the first time we asked him to do something, but he did so cheerfully, willingly and calmly. As his freedoms have increased and the innocence of the younger years has decreased, that’s changed a tad (much to be expected with a teenager). He still obeys, but often he’s irritated about it. Resistant. Reluctant.

It’s the pattern I’ve noticed in my spiritual life. I’ve been on the track to Godliness, growing up in Him for awhile now. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend time in His Word, talking to Him, preaching of Him or serving with Him. He is my constant help. And I obey, but often I’m irritated about it. Like a spiritual teenager, I'm Resistant. Reluctant.

I hold back from complete surrender.

After a few weeks of asking, He finally showed me why. My agitated resistance is caused by an unwillingness to suffer—to experience discomfort. I looked up the word “suffer,” because I thought, Lord, I’ve got it so good. What do I know of suffering? Here’s how the definition read in Merriam Webster online:

transitive verb
1 a: to submit to or be forced to endure b: to feel keenly : labor under
2: undergo , experience
3: to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable
4: to allow especially by reason of indifference
intransitive verb
1: to endure death, pain, or distress
2: to sustain loss or damage
3: to be subject to disability or handicap

Wowzer. To experience true contentment in Christ, I need to be willing to suffer—to put up with, to undergo, to sustain loss or submit. I need to endure the pain of dying to my own wishes.

“Then He (Jesus) said to the crowd,
‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways,
take up your cross daily and follow me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
(Luke 9:23-24, NLT)

Does any of this resonate with you? What does “you must turn from your selfish ways” mean to you? Is there anything you’re clinging to other than Him as your source for life?

The cross was all about true, deep, perfect love...but it was also heavy and painful. Non-resistant. Willing.

So are we really walking in willing obedience?

His Word tells us that Godliness is worth striving for, but we gain so much more when it is accompanied with contentment. Godliness is a beautiful thing when it’s lived out of the overflow of the believer’s heart. But add contentment to the equation, and you’ve gained a whole bunch that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Stuff like peace and joy and true satisfaction. All of this comes from a life that is willing to surrender, my friends, even if pain is involved. Ouch—it hurt just saying that.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have legitimate concerns about something or that we aren’t angered with the unrighteousness of the world we live in. 
But it reminds us that we have no bone to pick with the one true God of the universe.
Here’s what the Lord showed me after doing a short (and incomplete) study on the subject:

Discontentment comes from:
• a bored heart (Ecclesiastes 1:7-9)
• a restless heart (Psalm 131:2)
• a contentious heart (Proverbs 15:18, 22:10; Titus 3:9)
• a comparing heart (2 Corinthians 10:12)
• a self-important heart (Matthew 23:11; Colossians 3:3-4, 12; 1 Peter 5:6)
• an unwilling heart (Isaiah 26:7)
• an ungrateful heart (Philippians 4:11-12)
• an unsatisfied heart (Ecclesiastes 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:8; Luke 3:14)
• an ungodly heart (1 Timothy 6:6, Proverbs 19:23)
• an untrusting heart (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:7-9)

I’m sure there are many more, but this is just where the Holy Spirit took me as I searched the Word. Do any of these describe your heart right now? There is no doubt in my mind that contentment is one of the vulnerable areas the enemy is quick to attack. It is a root of many evils in our world today. It’s what has our nation crying out for “change,” the masses in panic over the stock market, our kids asking for more and their parents searching for significance, success and the fountain of youth.

I’m not content to live with discontentment anymore. You with me? Even if pain is involved in the process, I want to gain the Spirit-filled life the Lord has offered me as I willingly surrender my resistance to Him.

Lord Jesus, You are the perfect shape for the holes in our hearts. You are so willing to be our all as we turn to You to meet our needs. May we call on You, depend on You, have joy in You this day, and every day, as we put our trust in You for contentment. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Post Will Only Take About 60 Seconds of Your Life

Please take about 10 seconds to watch this video:

I saw this and asked myself, 
"What are the ten second time wasters in my life?"

Psalm 119:37a: "Turn my eyes away from worthless things..."

Colossians 3:17a: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus..."

Psalm 104:33: "I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

Psalm 90:12: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Ephesians 5:11-16, The Message
"Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Father God, I love You. I know that Jesus came to give me life, and to the full. Help me to spend my life and time like Jesus did. Help me to go where You lead me, not where I wish to be. May I give You all the praise and the honor and the glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.

***song is Crayons Can Melt On Us For All I Care by Relient K

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Heart Will Rely On Him

I read this in my Edges of His Ways Devotional this morning, and I had to search my heart:
***from Edges of His Ways:Daily Devotional Notes by Amy Carmichael, p.16, January 10th excerpt:

1 Samuel 23:16: "And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened His hand in God."

God make us all his Jonathans. There is a great hunter abroad in the world. Like Saul who sought David every day, he seeks souls every day; never a day's respite, always the hunt is on. Although the words stand forever, "but God delivered him not into his hand," yet sometimes souls tire of being hunted, and like David they are in a wilderness in a wood. Then is Jonathan's chance. But notice what he does; he does not so comfort David that he becomes necessary to him. "He strengthened his hand in God." He leaves his friends strong in God, resting in God, safe in God. He detaches his dear David from himself and he attaches him to his "Very Present Help." Then Jonathan went to his house, and David abode in the wood--with God.

As one with the gift of mercy, I had to search my heart. Do I comfort or advise people so that I become necessary to them, or do I do so encouraging that God become necessary to them?

And even deeper, who do I reach out to when I'm in trouble? Do I grab the phone, or do I hit the floor? Do I rely on the counsel of others, or do I turn to the Word?  And when I reach out to others, what kind of people do I call on? Those who will pray for me and tell me the Truth, or those who will tell me what my flesh wants to hear. First and foremost, the Lord wants to become my "ever present help in times of trouble." Then He will lead us to the people who will give us the Truth He wants us to follow. 

Wowzer, Amy Carmichael always gets my heart and mind thinking and seeking. I could be tempted to take this powerful devotional of hers today too far in either direction at any given time, though. God gives us people in our lives both to help and to lean on...but may we never allow someone to lean on us so so hard and so long that they forget to lean on their Rock, their Redeemer, the ONLY firm foundation. (And visa versa).

Lord, give me an undivided heart during times of trouble. May I come to You first and then follow Your leading and Your timing on help from others. Strengthen me, O Lord. Help me not to be a spiritual weakling, but strong in You, Father--God-strong instead. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reverently Relevant

In keeping with the Lord's conviction to have an undivided heart, He has reminded me to stay focused on the ministry He has called me to...for now that is my family, young people, seekers and new believers. He's also given me a ministry of encouragement that falls into every relationship I have, but I find it easy to keep that one in tact, unlike the other sometimes.
"Get the Word out. Teach all these things. And don't let anyone put you down because you're young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed--keep that dusted off and in use." 1 Timothy 4:11-14, The Message
I've noticed with all the time I spend around the younger and the trendy, that I've been forced to conform a bit. I text. Got me a Facebook. Even got a bunch of "friends" on it. I enjoy ordering my Starbucks with the right name in the right order as fast as I can spit it out. Oftentimes, I shop in the junior section, cuz I like the style for the most part. (when I'm not in my lounge pants at home anyway). Contemporary Christian music rings well in my soul, even a few of the (shudder) rappy sounding ones (gasp). Love the sound of the phrase, "That's all I'm sayin," and "I'm on to you." Unfortunately, "Like" has like, you know, become a regular word in my vocabulary. Being in kids and youth ministry for years, this is all a natural part of who I am, the way I'm wired, the unique person that God made me to be. 

As with anything, though, a line must be drawn. ONLY the Holy Spirit moving in and through us can convict us as to where that line should be. Here's mine:

I can be relevant without losing my reverence. Yup, that's the bottom line.

* I shalt not have eye candy coming out of the top or bottom of my blouse, (unless it's after hours for my husband's eyes only...winka). The thought of someone else's husband glaring at my chest or midriff or my own teenage son struggling not to stare at someone else's young wife or daughter is enough conviction for me. I can show my fun personality without spending a fortune OR trying to draw attention to myself with what I wear. And as a mommy, I vow not to buy my girls clothing with text across the front that says "FLIRT" or "I hate my Brother" or certainly not "HOT" or "DELICIOUS" (or any words at all frankly) glaring from their bottomside. There's a line, and I won't cross it.
1 Timothy 2:9a (NIV): "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety..."
* A huge thumbs down for the words "Oh my God," unless it's used respectfully in prayer or praise. I can't even stand the sight of "OMG" in texting and twittering. I realize the "G" can stand for "goodness" or "gah," but it's not the first thing that comes to one's mind...HIS holy name is ours to keep precious, to hold dear, not to use like the rest of the world does. Some think this is legalistic. I dare say... "NOT!" My Bible tells me which lines are not gray, and this is one of them.
Exodus 20:7 (The Message) "No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; GOD won't put up with the irreverent use of His name."
* I will not stop treasuring the old hymns, while still enjoying worship music of all kinds. No matter the beat or the rhythm, I will especially hold dear the songs that are rich in meaning and hold to correct theology. However, I won't cause division in the Body or turn up my nose to those who prefer a different sound than me, as long as it stays in line with God's Truth.
Psalm 149:1 (The Message): "Hallelujah! Sing to GOD a brand-new song, praise Him in the company of all who love Him."
Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV): "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
*I shall not be on Facebook or email or text or blog more than I am with my God or my friends and family and community, real and in person. I'll remember that a "live" hug does way more for my children than a virtual one will do for anyone. The Lord is watching how I spend His time, and though I can make a difference through the world wide web and the potential it has to offer, there is no doubt in my mind that the largest difference comes from knowing Jesus more...which means spending time with Him. Though I'll text my kids as needed and sometimes just for fun, I won't forget to show them what it means to look them in the eye and say "I love you."
Mark 12:30-32 (NIV): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
*I dare not forget to look in the eye and give a smile to the person serving my iced venti vanilla nonfat latte at the drive-thru. As much as I'm there, I shall make the effort to learn their names and as much about them as possible without making the car behind me honk at my lack of courtesy. And while I'm at it, I may as well remember that my money is the Lord's money, and as He allows me to spend it in pleasure, I will do so making a difference in attitude and action with the people in my path, maybe even paying forward a purchase or two.
Colossians 4:5 (The Message): "Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not to put them down, not cut them out."
*And like, as much as I need to be able to communicate with, you know, my kids and their friends, and many of the youth at church who keep in touch, I won't forget that most of my words are to be used for praise, and I would be well to remember to like, well...listen more than speak. And I'll not get so totally flippant and loose with my words that I show disrespect to God or another person, which is so easy to do, ya know?
James 1:19b: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."
1 Peter 4:11a: "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God."
Here in this city that I live, Lord, I know that You have called me toward seekers, young people and new believers, and relevance is important in order to reach these people around me. But dare I never forget reverence to you in the process. May I be holy and devoted to you without becoming self-righteous or indignant toward others. May I listen more, and speak less. May I "be" just what You want me to be to someone else, without even having to me to completely do away with the need to be understood, and ask for help in understanding others instead. Lead me to offer Your help or Truth to someone without allowing them to trample me or lean on me too hard in the process. Remind me to remind them to lean on You, that You are the Only ONE who can meet their deepest needs. And may I do it all in the awesome glory of Your name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Undivided Time in 2009

It's Word-Filled Wednesday!

My goal this year is to remember that everything I see, say, read, do, touch and write needs to be in line with His Truth. I don't want my heart sliced into pieces like pie, leaving only the leftovers for my Lord. I want each fraction of the seconds in my life to match up with whatever is true, praiseworthy and right. I want to honor Him and have appropriate awe for His glorious name.

I pray that anything that divides me from a pure heart for the Lord will be tossed out, whether it be wasted time or entertainment or worry or ministry or self-promotion or interests or talents or relationships or...  If the Lord can use any of these for His glory, I pray I will pursue them with full force, running fast 'n hard with the strength He provides. As He teaches me, and as I submit, I'll know what to do by the leading of the Holy Spirit in me.

My personal verse for 2009:

Father God, I long to have an undivided heart. Just as Jesus showed single-mindedness in Your will for Him, I want to be solely devoted to You as well. I long to worship You and live for you with no duplicity in my heart or from my lips. And I want to want it every single day. Lord, help me to fear You and love You with all that is within me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

For more Word-Filled Wednesday and for visual inspiration from Scripture, hike on over to:

In the Key of HE,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Regrets & Resolutions

I am so blessed to host "At The Well" this week. The topic is REGRETS and RESOLUTIONS. Won't you join us today with your thoughts, traditions and opinions on the subject?

Here are the discussion questions:

The New Year is a time for us to let go of the past and look forward to newness. Everyone thinks about that differently. Answer any one of these questions, all the below, or just give your thoughts about the New Year.

1. What is your favorite "resolution" in the Bible?

2. Do you do a New Year's resolution? Why or why not? Does your family make a resolution together?

3. Usually a resolution comes as a result of regretting something you didn't do the year before. How do you let go of the regret and move forward?

4. (optional...only if you wish to share) Have you ever made a resolution inthe past that you didn't keep and wish you had?

I'm going to share my thoughts by posting a devo/challenge I sent to my website ministry recipients yesterday. It expresses my heart on the subject. The only other thing I would like to add is that my biggest regrets over the past year are when I have grieved the Holy Spirit with my thoughts, words and actions (or the lack thereof). I'm so thankful for His gift of grace and forgiveness, but I hope as I keep in step with Him, I will grieve Him less this year...

CLAUS-trophibic, updated 2009

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10

The day after Christmas, I was cleaning up stuff. Clutter. Junk. I’m not referring to the gifts we received. Rather, the mound of things in the closets and the cabinets with which I would replace those gifts. I was feeling “Closet-trophobic,” if you will.

I found myself seething over the mess I’d allowed to accumulate around my house. Getting more emotional by the moment, I was doing the opposite of whistling while I worked. The Grinch was in the Shaw home, and she was cleaning house.

Here it is a New Year, and I have a similar spout of impatience over the state of my heart. It is cluttered and crowded—claustrophobic. It hasn’t been maintained well. The junk has piled up and is in desperate need of attention.

While so many are making resolutions, I cannot even go there. It would only be a list of more things to “try to do well.” You know? More routines started that will not be finished, more promises made that will not be kept--All of it adding to the mound of my spiritual chaos.

God is so good to keep His resolution to me in my desperate moments. The reason I share my weaknesses is because I know all of us have them. His promise to us no matter what state we are in is that HE is the One who is always faithful, and HE will do the work in us if we let Him. (1st Thessalonians 5:24)

Each year for the past four years, instead of coming up with a New Year’s resolution, I have found a better solution for me is to adopt a Scripture verse for the coming year--something that God lays on my heart that will help me to grow in some way or another.

In 2005, it was Psalm 119:29 of the NLT: “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” It was a year of heavy introspection and sanctification. Little did I know how much I would need it for the future…

In 2006, the 1st Thessalonians verse from above impacted me in ways I cannot even put into words: “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” Wow, did I need that one during the year that Brian’s dad got sick, his Granddad came to live with us and my mother passed away.

The difficult times in 2006 led me to this verse to adopt for 2007, where the trials would continue: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10, NIV. Somehow in the midst of the long season of suffering and loss our family was going through, God continually reminded me of His promise to make our lives full and complete. We lost Brian’s granddad in our home in April, and Brian’s dad passed away just before Christmas. It was one of the heaviest years our family has ever experienced, and honestly, we’re still recuperating (and learning) from it.

This past year, labeled 2008—I cannot describe in words, and if I could, I would. It was a time of re-learning what the word “normal” means and discovering that there really is no such thing. Each month of the year provided a “new normal” for us. The verse God gave in January was different, in that He gave me three verses to cling to: Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV): “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

So at this present moment, this time to reflect and let down from my spiritual CLAUS-trophobia, what would God have me consider? If I am in keeping with the last four years’ verses, being honest with myself, submitting to the Lord’s faithful promise to do the work in the fullness and newness of Life He provides, what now?

In the Lord’s perfect wisdom, He has led me to a verse for 2009 that is a passionate cry of my heart:

“Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your Truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

I believe this is a year of simplifying, weeding out distractions, and allowing Him to teach me new things about Himself. Honestly, I believe He gave me this verse out of necessity for my emotional, physical and spiritual health. It may take the whole year or even longer, but the decisions and commitments I make will be a direct result of keeping in tune with this prayer.

How about you? Would you be up for the challenge of adopting a verse for this year? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

The key to every kept resolution and promise is the power of His Word unlocked and flowing in your life and mine.

He is so much more interested in our submission to Him than He is to our keeping the rules we make up for ourselves. (see 1 Samuel 15:22) A side note: Our family is in the process of choosing a FAMILY VERSE for the year as well. Each member of the family (10 years old and up) has been searching for a verse that they think would be good for our family to adopt this year. We’re going to put each of them in a hat (after I look over them to make sure they’re legit), and choose randomly which one to adopt for the year. I’m looking forward to this new tradition in our family.

If the closets of your heart are as cluttered and crowded as mine, take a moment to allow the Lord to do some re-organizing. Pray. Ask. Listen. Then submit. He is ready and willing to create in us a “pure heart,” and renew in us a “steadfast spirit,” creating a year that is clutter-free and full of Himself, allowing us to live and move and breathe freely in Him. I’m counting on it.

So what are your thoughts? Share' em. And please know, I don't think there is anything wrong with resolutions at all...I am just speaking from the perspective of LauraLee, wired extremely unique--lee... :)

Dear Lord, thank You for all of Your promises kept, Your resolutions unbroken, Your regrets non-existent. I pray that You would have us beg for more of You this year as we seek to follow You and keep Your Word. More than asking for physical blessings, I pray for Your spiritual blessing on each one of us. It is in Your name that we live and move and pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Still Celebrating and Selah-ing w/ a Little Sleeping too...

I have not had a moment to write. I've had time to read and take in the Lord's Selah moments (just a little though), and I've had time to entertain and celebrate life with my family. I guess I've done some sleeping, but not as much as needed for reasons I won't go into. My weekend is equally as busy.

But I read a post this evening that really struck a chord within me...not necessarily for myself, but for so many suffering right now. Peter Stone, whose blog's mission is to help those suffering with depression, trials, suffering and tribulation, wrote some powerful words today. 

For whatever reason, the Lord has led me to direct my readers to it. Peter is an incredible writer, but has never been as interested in bringing glory to himself as he has to bringing glory to God through his talent and his own trials. If the Lord leads you, head on over to When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong to glean insight into the world of chronic depression or a season of trials. I truly believe you will leave changed from it.

So, I'll be back on Monday, ya'all, with an At the Well meme post on "Regrets and Resolutions."After that, we'll see how often He picks up my pen...your guess is as good as mine...

In the Key of HE,