Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No, Slow, Grow or Go?

Lately, while my tall, hairy son sits beside me in the car, (only in the driver's seat now), I am reminded how many times I've heard from others older and wiser than me how fast time flies. It takes experiencing it personally to grasp the truth of that. My son, a sophomore. My oldest daughter, a junior higher. My baby girl in double digits...I'm blown away, and it makes me teary-eyed, yet excited for what lies ahead.

I'm now recalling when my devo ministry began...with only six of my precious ministry teammates in drama, growing now to many I don't even know personally. Then Selah the blog was started to expand it further still. Since then, my readers walked with me through screaming toddler tantrums, revelations of being a better wife and homemaker, taking care of aging family members, numerous deaths in the family, tales of schooling my kids at home, major ministry decisions and the fleshing out of my spiritual life, growing from legalism to faith-filled freedom. From my perspective, the spiritual years have flown by too.

At the beginning of the summer, I made the commitment to take time off from writing devotionals--for my ministry edevo recipients--as well as for this blog and my website. I've used that extra time, even though there was little extra, to pray, to evaluate what I need to be doing ministry-wise, etc. My prayer team has been praying alongside me as well. I've consulted others and taken time to hear from the Lord before I made my decision.

I've decided to discontinue all 3 of these ministries, which of course puts a permanent pause on Selah. Though some have advised me that it's not wise to let go of any email distribution list or blog that is growing numerically, the Lord's work has shifted for me at this season of life. I don't want to continue something just because it gives me a larger audience, especially if I can't make it as excellent as it needs to be. The Holy Spirit has been leading me more toward article-writing and speaking. So I'm going to obey, write articles for websites and magazines and speak when it doesn't collide with the family schedule.

When I was a kids' worship leader, I used to lead the younger kids in a cool little song called No, Slow, Grow and Go (Troy & Genie Nilsson) in an effort to teach them about some of the ways God answers our prayers. Right now, I believe the Lord has me in a slow and grow season. These words keep repeating in my head: "Don't worry about numbers. Just write when you can write and speak when you can speak, and I'll do the rest." Over and over and over I've heard this echo, even in messages I've heard. So that's what I'm gonna do. After all, I pray to "walk by faith, not by sight."

Just as God has been changing and growing me, I'm sure He is doing the same in your life. The Lord will guide you into His Truth through whatever person, whatever means, whatever venue He sees that you need. If you have interest in reading what the Lord lays on my heart, please consider subscribing to my web blog: I post on there 2-4 times a week, depending on time. I also post short messages once or twice a day on my Twitter page, as well as my professional Facebook page. Also, if you need a speaker for your moms', women's or ministry team group, please don't hesitate to contact me. All of that info is at

And because I can't help meddlin' a little, allow me to ask you one question. Do you need to evaluate where God has you in life--in family, in ministry, in recreation? Has something He originally called you to become something you need to ask, "Lord, no, slow, grow or go? What do you want me to do?" If so, don't hesitate to wait on Him to lead you right where you need to be. Let's agree together not to go even a half step ahead of him or lag even a tiny bit behind Him. Let's shoot for walking all the way in the Spirit.

Love you all, and I hope to hear from you anytime, whether by email, blog, Facebook or Twitter. Thank you so much for supporting me and praying me through all these years. It has been a sanctifying journey, and one I hope you'll continue with me at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Break"ing News! Selah

Hi friends,

I’ve got some “break”ing news for you, but first lemme give you a teeny tiny bit of background:

When my son was thirteen, we gave him a cell phone, mainly for our convenience, but he wasn’t hurting over it for sure. He was very responsible with it for the most part, and he managed to keep the unlimited texting and phone calls in balance with other life responsibilities. Something happened around a year later, however, as he grew used to the freedom. He went through some changes, more friends got texting privileges (not to mention Facebook accounts), the ministry and social calendar picked up, basketball season started, the homework got heavier, and the “unlimited” became an issue for him. Maybe this is the case with your sons and daughters. If so, read on...

Brian and I took his texting minutes back to a limited number a month, a number which we felt was reasonable. We began to take his cell phone at night and keep it in our rooms. We also began to monitor the texts to some degree, all with his knowledge. At first, it was difficult to scale back, and he kicked and screamed some. But now, he knows he has a certain number, and it has helped him to realize that life changes, our schedule changes, and when it does, we have to be willing to adjust. It’s turned out to be a beautiful life lesson. That’s God. He allows us to make corrections, even if we get a step or two ahead of Him. Love that merciful heart of His.

Those lessons have not only been for our son, they’ve been there lately for Brian and me as well. WE’ve stepped into a new season of of taxying, hosting parties and Bible Studies, heavier discipleship necessary with life and relationship issues, larger circles of friends as our kids become older and more social, less time together as a couple at night since the kids go to bed later...all the while personally continuing to grow as a son and daughter of the Most High, who loves us far too much to let us get ahead of Him.

Because of this heavier season of life, and after a great deal of prayer, my Father has led me to take a break from my devotional writing on Selah. It may be just the summer, it may be will be until the Lord gives me permission and clear vision of His calling for ministry. He is continuing to lead me to write Christian living articles and speak as I have the extra time, so I will pour what little time and resources I have left from being a wife and mama into improving and sharing in those areas. If you have the desire to keep up with what the Lord is doing and teaching us in our lives, you can follow my blog...I will also post on Facebook and Twitter once or twice a day, or more if time allows. My writer and speaker page on Facebook is here.

The Lord has allowed me the blessing of some publishing opportunities this month. One is in Dallas Christian Family. If you are local, you can pick one up for free in a whole lotta places, or you can go online and read it here (pg. 8): Dallas Christian Family May Issue.

And in His incredible wisdom and timing, He chose to allow my “Out of Order” article to be published in Just Between Us magazine for the summer edition (on shelves this month). Gotta love the Lord for leading me to do what He wants me to do through publishing this article at this time.

Another remarkable choice of timing is that my mother’s tribute story, "Lessons Learned from Glory,” will be published in a book that is scheduled to be released in late May or early June...May was my mama’s birthday, and it is also the month of Mother’s Day. What a loving time and way for the Lord to give me this news in a month that is difficult for me. He is a gracious Father. I’ll post that info on my blog when it comes out. If you wish to subscribe to my blog, you can do so here.

So, yea, “break”ing news...I’ve prayed about this for a few months, and like my son with the texting, I kicked and screamed some. But I learned when He asked me to step down from kids’ ministry leadership, that, when I obey, His fruit of peace follows. When I trust him with my time and priorities, His fruit of love and self-control are expressed in and through me. He’s also taught me that He’d rather me do a few things extremely well than to try to do a bunch of things halfway and stressed in the process.

And He’ll continue to love on me and teach me as I break away from anything that hinders me from having an undivided heart. :) Selah.

How about you, my friend? Is it time to reevaluate your time, your talents, your resources, your relationships? Ask Him...He will answer and give you all that you need to obey. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus...than to trust and obey.”


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pondering A Plan That Will Stick

Picture it with me. You’re laying in bed, or driving in the car…cooking or cleaning, exercising, whatever you do when you stew…and you can’t stop thinking about that circumstance, conflict or decision.

You think about it in hundreds of different ways. What if I did this? No, that wouldn’t be good, because then “that” would happen. Okay, so what if I asked her to talk to so-and-so…but then I’m involving someone else, and she might think bad of me. But if I do this, something will fall through at home or work. I know, I’ll tell him one thing in hopes that it might lead to the other thing.

And we just. keep. going. Plotting, stirring, stewing…on and on…coaxing with God one minute, then working to solve the equations ourselves the next minute. Maybe it’s because we’re weary of waiting, maybe it’s a habit, maybe we believe that God helps those who help themselves, and He gave us marbles, so we best use them or lose them.

Whatever the case, the Lord was ready and waiting for my attention this morning so that He could deliver a message to me from His Word. I immediately wrote it on a sticky note and slapped it on my forehead. ;0

“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.” Proverbs 21:30
Yea, um. That’s pretty clear with the three “nos” in there. I learned several things in the moments my heart was open:
  • *We can’t outwit God. Yes, it’s fine for us to think through a situation, but it’s not fine for us to take matters into our own hands. He sees the whole thing. He sees ahead. He knows what needs doing. We can whole-heartedly, undoubtedly, unmistakably rely on Him to guide our decisions as we trust Him with the faith He’s given us. He’ll continue to teach us about surrendered, Spirit-filled living, and we’ll think differently as a result.

  • *We can’t always depend on others to counsel us. Often the second place we turn after stewing is to friends or family. While the Lord will sometimes use those relationships to guide us, sometimes He doesn’t, especially when we don’t consult Him first. Another reason to wait and rely upon Him. As we do so, He will lead us to phone a friend, or even better, He’ll lead them to phone us. (love it when that happens). ;)

  • *How do we know when our thoughts or the counsel of others is in line with the Lord’s? When it falls in line with His Truth. If we are manipulating a person or situation to get our way, it’s not from Him (1 Cor. 13:5). If we are losing sleep or being driven to drink/eat, etc, or having physical symptoms of any kind from worry, it’s not from Him. (Luke 12:25). If what another person tells us leads us to think ourselves better than another or more entitled and deserving than ever before, it’s not from Him. (Philip. 2:3)

  • *Even if we do it the “easy” way, the wrong way, the self-serving way, etc, His plan will still come to fruition. Because He loves us, and because of His grace, He will make His plan, the best plan, succeed in the end. We may have consequences from our folly, but He will still forgive us. We may have to wait longer for the good fruit that comes from fully believing, obeying and depending on Him, but He won’t let the opportunity pass without teaching us something spectacular (if we are open and listening). 
Who'da thunk this passage had so much to teach us? That's His Word. That's our God. He's the kind of Father who loves us enough to instruct us for our own best. He is tall, He is tender, and He is every slice of life, even the sticky ones. 
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
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests & challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open & shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature & well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4, The Msg.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A "Tax Day" Devotional

Are You Taxed Out?

Definiton: Tax, n. A burdensome or excessive demand; a strain.


Is this you, my friend? If you were to write a tax letter to the Lord instead of the IRS, would it be similar to this?

April 15th, 2010

Dear Lord,

I’m tired. I’m drained. I’m burdened. All the things I don’t want to be as a Christian.
I am, though.

What an awkward day for me to realize this, but…I’m overtaxed.

Could you…wait, I know You

Would You please give me a tax break? Just long enough for me to come up for air? I don’t mean to beg, but please?

I do love You, Lord. I do. I have only good intentions, but I’m weary, Lord.

Hangin’ by a hair,
Your child


I know You already know this, but the thought of no new taxes would really bring peace of mind to me right now.

April 15th, 2010

Dear child,

Yes. My tax breaks are always available for you. Listen to what I’ve written.*

“The Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;  

He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 

and you will find rest for your souls.”

“Do you not know? 

The LORD is the everlasting God…He will not grow tired or weary, 
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. 

They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, 

they will walk and not be faint.”

So…yea. This was written for you, my precious child. For this tax day, and every other moment too.

Holding you tight,
Your Daddy

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” **

*Deuteronomy 30:14, 31:8, Matthew 11:28-29, Isaiah 40:28-31
** John 16:33

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, 
who daily bears our burdens. Selah"
Psalm 68:19

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Unfulfilled Expectations at the Internet Cafe

I'm serving at the Internet Cafe today. I hope you'll come by and chat with me:

Thanks for your continued encouragement!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Are you a good witness?

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16
"You are..." You ARE. Believer in Christ, His light is what you are. Because Jesus has conquered the dark grave of sin and death, and because the Holy Spirit has been given to you, lives inside of you, works through you, you are the light of Christ.

You don't have to pray to have enough light for today or tomorrow. You don't have to pray to do "light" things. You don't have to worry about the darkness taking you over. As you abide in Him, you walk in the light and it beams for all to see. 

You don't get credit. You don't get a medal. You often won't receive any praise or applause at all when its His light shining through you. Because when others see His light in your attitude, your actions, they will see Him and praise HIM. 

I know many of you reading know Whose you are...but do you know who you are in Him? Do you know that you are a new creation and that in Him you live and move and have your being? Do you realize that Jesus Christ is your life and that your life is now hidden in God?  (2 Co 5:17, Acts 17:28, Col. 3:3) 

The more I cease praying about being a better Christian and witnessing more, asking instead that the Lord live through me...the more He shines. I can't explain it, but it is so.

I love the way John White puts it:
"Has it never dawned upon you that the essence of witnessing is just plain honesty? You are salt - whether you feel like it or not. You are not told to act like salt but to be what you are. You are a light. God has done a work in your life. Don't try to shine. Let the light that God put there shine out. It demands no more than honesty. It demands honesty before unbelievers. In fact such honesty is ninety per cent of witnessing. Witnessing is not putting on a Christian front as to convince prospective customers. Witnessing is just being honest, that is, being true to what God has made you in your speech and everyday behaviour." John White

What verses have shown you who you are in Him?

How is your life different when you cease self-striving 
and let Him live through you?

What does it look like to live "honestly before unbelievers"?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unsinking Focus

Christians, what is our purpose here on earth? To glorify God. To hope in Him. To share Him. To worship Him. No matter our circumstances.

Yesterday, I had a couple of hours when I forgot this truth. My first day back in the swing of things from a glorious vacation, I was facing some uncomfortable moments of anxiety. One was relational, the other was in the headline news. Yuck. My stomach started to hurt, I felt drained and tired. My thoughts went awry with introspection and analysis. Then anger...

I didn’t even pray for several hours. Instead, I allowed my mind and heart to stay right there. And I was miserable.

As I drove to pick my kids up from school, the Lord, in His gracious mercy, brought a well-known story from Matthew 14 to my mind:

Jesus was walking on water, and it FREAKED the disciples out. I have to say, I’m with the disciples here...that would be over the top crazy. They wanted proof that it was the Jesus they knew.

“Lord, if it’s You,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

‘Come,’ He (Jesus) said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid...”

Yup. Good ole Peter. Had Jesus right there in front of Him, and He noticed the WIND? Crooked finger circles around and stops right on myself. I was Peter yesterday. I had spent time in His presence earlier that morning, and I saw Him in all His glory. But the wind of worry came and took my eyes off of Him only hours later. And I kept my focus there until my attitude began to sink...

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘Why did you doubt?’”

I can picture Peter, his eyes having zoomed back in on the Savior, stuttering...”I-I-I-I don’t know actually. I have no idea why I doubted You, of all people. What was I thinking? Thank You for saving me from sinking.”

Can any of you relate to this? Maybe it’s a problem child or a rocky marriage or the news of public healthcare...uncertainty for the future, a loss of income, conflict with a family member or friend. Maybe your circumstances are so overwhelming that you feel you are sinking under them. Perhaps it’s a bunch of tiny annoyances combined with hormones and stress, stacking up to steal your joy. And even though you have experienced His provision, His peace and His presence in the past over and over and over again, here comes that new wind from a different direction, and you start to sink.

Take a moment to think about the wind of worries in your life. Many of us don’t like to call worry what it actually online dictionary defines it as “to be worried, concerned, anxious, troubled, or uneasy.” In other words, all the feelings we experience when we take our eyes off of Jesus. Truth is, we are all subject to it.

He understands that we will and even why we lose our focus, but He challenges us to do the opposite.
“Why do you doubt? It is I!”
So my friends, my prayer for all of us today is that no matter what or who has blocked our view of the One who does miracles, who provides for every single need, who holds all things matter the care or worry...that we will take the Messiah’s hand and turn our eyes upon Him. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for HE who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23.

He is sovereign. He is faithful, and I will never EVER sink when my heart’s focus is fixed on Him.

Sing with me:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! So turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

~Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Promise of Potential at the Internet Cafe

I'm at the Internet Cafe today! Please come by and leave your thoughts by clicking here...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Lying Truth

A few years ago, I had gone to my dr. for a checkup on my thyroid. I was so excited to get on the scale (for once), because all that working out and healthy eating was surely going to reap for me the joy of good numbers. You can imagine the huge load of disappointment as I saw that my load had not lightened at all—there was actually a gain. I ranted emotionally to my doctor about how hard I had been working and how healthy I had been eating as she looked at me with pure skepticism.

She didn’t believe me!

A few days later, I found the humility to mention this scenario to my close, no-nonsense friend, who also happens to be a nurse. She always has a way of getting me to look at myself honestly without hurting my feelings. (It’s a gift!) She suggested that I try an online fitness diary to track what I was eating and what activity I was doing. That way, I would have something to take to the Dr. and show her so that we could get to the bottom of it. I mulled it over for a few weeks, then decided to try it. After just a few days of tracking, I realized that I had not been doing as well on my calorie intake OR burning as I had previously thought.

Was I mistaken before, or had I just convinced myself that I was doing it all right?

OUCH! The truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it? It hurts, but it can help as well. The Lord took this one scenario and reminded me to apply it spiritually.

Psalm 119:29a (NLT) says:  
“Keep me from lying to myself.”  

What wisdom this Psalm writer was given to pray for this! Many lies told outwardly start with believing them in the first place, don’t they? It may be to cope, or to hold on to pride, or to stay comfortable with our routine. Regardless, the Lord wants us to examine this regularly. Every time I do, He shows me the little extra calories of falsehood I’ve put into my mouth, and I’m so thankful He loves me enough to do so.

Here’s the challenge:

Let’s take some time today and ask if we have been honest with ourselves about where we are with the Lord. Do we think we are closer to the Savior than we actually are? Do we think we are living by the Word, when in fact, we've hardly been meditating upon it? Are we open to examine suggestions from others and align it with God’s Truth?

Or in the opposite case, have you allowed someone who loves you to make you believe untruths about yourself? Do you repeat over and over that you're nothing, when in fact, in Jesus you are a capital "S" Something?

When we allow lies to become truth to us, then we begin to tell lies to others, and maybe even to God. When the lying truth becomes comfortable to us, life itself can begin to weigh us down… Check out in Psalm 119 how many times truth is mentioned. A LOT! Notice as you read your Bible, how often the subject comes up as well. A TON!!!! Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life, right? The TRUE truth matters, so let’s read it, think it and live by it as His Spirit has the ability to do through us. Let’s weigh ourselves in the light of His truth today.
Jeremiah 17:10, NLT
"But I, the LORD, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve." 
Father God, All-Knowing, All-Seeing Mighty One, I am in awe of Your awesomeness. The fact that You know how pitiful I am, yet You love me anyway. I can fool others. I can even fool myself. But I can never ever never fool You. Thank You. Thank You for loving me in spite of myself. Thank You for knowing just how to handle this fleshly daughter. Thank You for setting me free from so many things. Lord, please help me to live and walk in Your Truth, to know how much You desire it from me. Strengthen me, I pray, in the name of Jesus, my Redeemer, Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Upon Reflection...For Women to Ponder

It was a transforming day at the gym that day, but it didn’t start out pretty.

Ugh. Why do they have to have mirrors in here? There’s no way I can make it through this. Little Miss Skinny Winny is right in front of me in her ‘lil piece of material disguised as FIT to wear in public! Now I get to stare at BOTH of us in the mirror. YUCK! You’re too out of shape, Laura. It’s disgusting.

Yes, I actually have these thoughts sometimes…and one day in my FLEX aerobics class, they were running rampant through my head. And continuing…I used to be “one of them,” you know. Well, with the exception of the skimpy clothing. But now? Now I am a red-faced, hyperventilating, under-confident, thrumpy, almost-forty something someone.

Obviously my body wasn’t the only thing struggling with a much-needed workout. My spirit was too. Praise the Lord He spoke straight through the booming music and into my heart by the time class ended. He reminded me that, with Him, all things are possible. That nothing is too hard for Him. That He wanted me to persevere and love these people while I’m at it. That He’s more concerned with the state of my heart than the image in the mirror.

My attitude had been placed into submission with my Savior, and it was a good thing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been prepared for what I walked into next. As I entered the ladies’ locker room, I walked straight into an older teenager with a perfect body in her teeny tiny bikini. She smiled at me big and said, “Hi.” I looked straight into her eyes, faked a smile and said “Hi” back. I made my way to my locker and grabbed my things, because I certainly was not changing my clothes in there now.

As I was about to leave, teeny weeny bikini girl’s (let’s call her “TWB Girl” for short.) friend came out of a draped dressing area in absolute distress. “I can’t do this!” she said to TWB Girl.

“You look great, Jody!” TWB Girl said back, “You do, I promise.”

Then the unthinkable. TWB Girl involves ME.

“Ma’am (ugh), tell her how great she looks.”

What I wanted to say is, “What are you two young things doing running around in skimpy bikinis? You need to cover up now, you hear!?! Got a t-shirt in that locker?”

The mommy/discipler in me took over instead. I forced myself not to look down at her body, but straight into her eyes. I thought, okay, if you tell her not to worry about it, she’ll think she looks bad. If I tell her she looks good in it, I’m feeding the wrong part of her.

“Sweetheart, you are so beautiful. Don’t cry, okay? God has made you such a beautiful young lady.” My heart broke in two as I watched Jody go over to the sink, look in the mirror and rinse her tears. I wanted to continue our conversation, clarify a few things about "true beauty," but I felt led to stop. As the two of them left, saying their polite goodbyes, I sat down on the bench and prayed, crying silently in my soul for this girl, for today’s generation, and for the woman in our aerobics class fussing in the mirror over her body just an hour earlier.

Oh wait, that was me!

Are you ever “that me” or “that her” in the mirror?

It may not be your appearance, or your weight, or your age. For some of you, it’s your talent, your spiritual giftedness, your domestic abilities or the lack thereof. Maybe it’s your personality, your spirituality, or some other stark reality.

Why do we do this? Talk down to ourselves, compare ourselves, wish ourselves away?

Blame it on the media, the devil, “the flesh,” the end times, whatever—but what matters most is what God has to say about us. He tells us to think on “what is true,” (Philippians 4:8a) and to “take captive every thought,” making it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5b). He is very clear that He is more concerned with what He sees in our hearts than what we look like. (1 Samuel 16:7b)

Here’s Truth:

* You are beautiful to the King. (Psalm 45:11)

* You are His perfect creation. (Psalm 139:13)

* You are radiant when you look to Him. (Psalm 34:5)

* You can live life to the full if you believe what God says. (John 10:10)

* You are dead to the old flesh, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)

* You are not to compare yourself to others. (Galatians 6:4)

Ladies, I could go on and on. This is not about whether or not you should lose weight or improve on yourself, or about strongholds or habits you may or may not need to change. I truly believe that if you don’t understand God’s perspective of you and how to think rightly on it, then it will be impossible to change anything about yourself you need to change anyway.

Look to Him today. Seek His face. Dig into His Truth. Pray for change in your thinking about who He made you to be. And I’ll meet you there.

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Now the Lord is the Spirit,

and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,

are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory,

which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walkin' in Circles

Walking down a shady neighborhood trail not long ago, I breathed in the air of a refreshing seventy degrees. Starting slowly, I took some time to praise the Lord and enjoy the peace and alone time. I quickened my pace, and anxious thoughts began to jog alongside me. God, please help my Ally on her tests today. Don’t let her fail again. She studied so hard. I’ve got so much to do. I shouldn’t be walking. I’m going to get behind on everything else. Why am I always a step behind on everything?

My worries completely took over my steps, and I’m sure my heart rate went off the charts. Ministry at church. My son’s issues. Not meeting people’s expectations. Emails and phone calls to return. Decisions my husband and I needed to make. Kids and families my heart is grieving for. Not enough hours in the day…

Then, one thought hijacked the others: I remembered something that had recently hurt my feelings. I didn’t think my legs could go any faster, but they did. I bit back at this person in my mind. I defended myself. I informed this person through telepathic communication that her actions were immature and hurtful.

Huffing in mind, spirit and body, all of a sudden, I noticed that I’d passed my starting place and was walking around the same trail again, by a long ways. The thought of going around a second time was quite an exhausting one, so I stopped for a moment, leaned the weight of my body via arms on my knees and caught my breath.

Do you really wanna walk down this path again?
This was the thought that stopped my elevated “worry pulse,” and I’m positive it was from the Lord. He had my full attention, seeing as He had given me a real-life scenario to think it through (not to mention, plenty of time).

It took the rest of the trail (a second time) home to allow the Lord to do some counseling with me. He gave me incredible insight into just how far He had brought me down the path of anxiety. He reminded me that I struggle with it so much less than I ever have before. He recounted instances of situations past where He has worked out each and every problem, hurt, fear or disappointment for His glory. He testified of all the ways He has worked in me to grow me up spiritually.

By the time I got home, my hurts and “But hows” had taken a hike, and the Lord had carried my numb legs through the door. I was where I needed to be: in the hold of His strong and capable arms. That’s when my prayers and praises started me down a new trail—the one they should have veered on about an hour earlier. I had gone full circle, and now it was time for His Truth to speak.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right,
and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—
everything you heard from me and saw me doing.
Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)

What trails keep you running around in circles? Are there any issues in your life that you need the Lord to “stop you in your tracks” over today? Take a few moments to remember His faithfulness on the treaded trails of your yesterdays. Do any of those give you hope for your footsteps today?
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You.”
Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Lord, we praise You, for You are true and honorable, most worthy of praise. I pray that You would work Your Spirit in and through us, helping us to put your Word into practice on our faith walks. Guard our hearts and our minds with Your perfect peace, I pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Giveaway of "Thin Places: A Memoir"

"The greatest success stories are written by people who, against seemingly overwhelming and often insurmountable odds, have accepted their trials and turned them into opportunities for personal growth and stepping stones on their pathway to success. With God's help you can do the same. Trust him and choose friends who will empower you to do so."

Dick Innes

I saw this quote the other day and thought of Mary DeMuth. She has spent her writing career showing how God has turned her trials into triumph. Because I deeply believe in her latest project, Thin Places: A Memoir, I'd like to give one away.

If you are interested, click here to read my review of her book on my new personal blog, and be sure to leave a comment over there. You might share how God has rescued you from a difficult past or circumstance, or you can take a moment to encourage Mary or another commenter.

If you've read the advance copy of her book, feel free to leave the link to your review as well. Anyone who leaves a comment here by March 1st is eligible to win this giveaway.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Be His, A Valentine's Day Devotional


I’ll never forget receiving the candy hearts on Valentine’s Day when I was in middle school. You know, the ones that taste like Pepto-Bismol? My friends and I would tear open our itty bitty envelopes (if we got any) to see which hearts someone put inside with the generic card. Reading into every phrase, we fantasized of that special someone spending tireless efforts to make sure he delivered the perfect message and emotion to each of us. It was dreamy.

It didn’t take me too many years to realize that the boys’ mamas probably just threw them in an envelope for them, OR worst case scenario, picked out the girl SHE wanted for him to like via pepto-heart-a-grams. So much for dreamy.

The reality of the analogy the Lord laid on my heart was not so dreamy either. He has written His message on my heart. It is forever inscribed and perfectly perfect, which is a beautiful truth. But when others look at my heart, so often I have covered up His words with my own unintentional messages.

Sometimes my heart begs, “Be mine,” when it really should cry out, “Be His.” Often it shouts out, “Love me,” when God begs me to “Love them” or “Love Him” instead. The mixed messages my heart delivers to others can leave them with mixed feelings about the heart of God.

Luke 6:45b says, “…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” It’s saying that the ‘stuff’ we stuff into our minds gets stored in the treasury of our hearts, and eventually it begins to flow out of the heart via tunnel of the mouth. Then it is spread to others, and “round and round it goes, where it stops…?”

When I complain frequently, I have probably listened to a bunch of complaints. As I throw out a zinger in the name of humor, I realize I've maybe seen a few too many sit-coms. During those moments of pouring out flattery to others, could it be that I have enjoyed the empty, false praise that I have indeed received myself? What ‘line’ do others see displayed on the tablet of your life?

All the static this world has to offer us can cloud the message he has carved on our hearts:

Hebrews 8:10b
“I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Do you see His Valentine’s message for us?


Make HIM our True Love. Let’s not mix His message with overflow from the world’s waste. Instead, let’s spread His Word, the Word that He has written front and center in bold letters on our hearts—the Word that we have fallen in love with so that we could keep from sin and love others God’s way.

Sometimes we only need to be reminded, friends. I know I do. The way we spend our time matters. The people we allow to rub off on us are important. The shows we watch and the websites we visit and the novels we read—it has an affect on us. Pray about it, allow the Lord to lead and guide you into the perfect balance of freedom and works. It is then, and only then that our hearts—the new ones He gave us when we became a Christian—will show the world that we are His.
Psalm 86:11
“Teach me YOUR way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your Truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

All the Way to Cambodia, Part 5

I could hardly believe my eyes. THIS is in Cambodia? And THIS is where we would hold our retreat? As we walked into the huge, high ceiling, marble floored lobby of the Koh Kong Resort, I joked with the rest of the team. “Okay, this picture is NOT going in the supporters follow-up letter. They won’t believe we were on a missions trip.” I walked, wide-eyed, to the huge bay of windows at the back of the lobby which overlooked the Gulf of Thailand. Its beauty took my breath away. It was one of the most extravagant hotels I had ever seen, and I had to go all the way to Cambodia to see it. The irony.
Then we received our room keys, which led us right back out the front door and across the street. To the “economy” rooms. That was more what I had expected. Though the space itself was more than suitable, the smell of mildew filled the hallways and rooms. It was strange to think that the rooms in that beautiful hotel across the street were probably extremely luxurious and these were, well, not so much. Not a complaint. Merely observation. I actually felt better in my spirit about being in the more humble accommodations anyway. (Oddly enough, one of the World Relief leaders pointed out that this was a perfect picture of Cambodia...the rich living large next to the poor...she also observed that those mainly enjoying the casino inside the marvelous hotel were poor as well. Left something tangible in my mind to remember).

It was time to get to work. We went back over to the “marble museum” hotel to set up the meeting rooms. As we spent our hours unpacking and sorting for the conference, we were excited to think about the families coming to enjoy such a nice environment for the next three days, hoping it would be a treat for them.

Our team was out in the parking lot when the World Relief bus arrived. The families, especially the children (SO many children), were glad to be at their destination after the long, bumpy drive. We found out later that the air conditioning had gone out in the bus, and it was so hot that a few people had vomited along the way. What a horrible start to their break, but we were determined to make them comfortable now that they were in our care.

As we showed the families to their rooms, also in the economy section, they were incredibly grateful and complimentary. It was obvious that it was a special privilege for many of them to be in a hotel. That humbled me as I remembered my earlier thoughts.

Throughout dinner and then as we began the conference that evening, I studied the families since it was difficult to hold on a conversation. They seemed close knit, eager to serve one another and us as well. The kids were curious but would not come close. They, I’m convinced, were studying me as much as I was them. I felt small, but in a good way. “Dependent on God” small.

In the days to follow, our team would provide refreshment, teaching and encouragement to 120 men, women, youth and children, but as it was, I would end up being refreshed, taught and encouraged even more by each of them. They would cause me to worship when they sang out wholeheartedly to the praise songs in their own Khmer language. They would teach me how to pray—personally, passionately, powerfully—out loud and all in unison. They would inspire me with their stories of sacrifice and service on the mission field each and every day.

Yes, I dare say, I was the one who was changed. I’ll walk you through some of the pictures at the conference, and you’ll better understand why.

Our godly and fearless team leaders, Tony and Amy

While Engchy translated, Pastor JoAnn taught on the love of the Father from 1 John 3:1-3, the theme for our retreat.

World Relief team members led worship after training breakouts with Matt and Wayne

Evening worship was on the floor with pillows and blankets, an intimate time cherished by all

Small groups met to discuss the teaching after each large group session

Matt and Emily led the teens in some team building games

The kids loved craft time with the creative and organized Lynn

The kids scooted closer and closer to see the pictures at story time.

We did some afternoon breakouts that were for fun and relaxation: mani/pedi being one of them

Our youngest team member, Victor, led the kids (some big kids as well) in a lego breakout session

Okay, some big girls too...

Lynn led a jewelry making session for kids, teens and adults. This was a VERY popular breakout

The kids couldn't wait until game time with Mr. Tony and Victor

Eli the Eagle was glad to come out and play after that long trip. And the kids welcomed him whole-heartedly

We had a blast and definitely got our exercise as we praised to "Father Abraham/The Lord's Army," "Making Melodies," "Great, Big Love," "Your Love Is Deep," and more...

I'm pretty sure their favorite song was "Making Melodies."

On the 2nd to last day of the conference, we held a baptism service on the beach for Victor. Two other teens joined in and made it one of the most moving and touching highlights of the week.

Victor and his father Lewis embrace after his baptism. I cannot think of a more beautiful example for the Father's Love. Not a dry eye on the beach.

The tears kept coming as we watched beautiful Heng crawl out into the water, get baptized and allow Mark to carry her back onto the beach. This precious teen may not have the use of her legs, but she has an active and powerful heart for God.

Joke & Marganne baptize Mary, who prayed to receive Christ on the beach only moments before...

Sidara won over all of our hearts with her sense of humor and engaging stories. I will never forget her.

Our two hostesses from World Relief, who thought of everything way before we did and worked tirelessly to make us and the staff comfortable. Their hearts are as beautiful as their beaming faces, even more so.

Everyone took turns getting their pics taken in front of the magnificent sunset.

On the last day, Eli came out to meet the kids. After all, he would be living with them in Cambodia from now on...Don't tell anyone, but I think he was the most popular person there.

Before the conference ended, the kids went into their parents' teaching session to give them a surprise. As they shouted out their Bible verse with motions and sang "Your Love is Deep" with all they had, their parents beamed from ear to ear. Treasured memories.

By the end of the conference, we had earned the kids' trust and respect, and they would hug and interact with us like family. No matter where I was in the building or on the property, I could hear them calling "Teacha, teacha," then smile and wave. Melted my heart. If I could say one thing about these children it would be that they are the most polite and well-mannered kids I have ever seen or taught. They show incredible respect for adults and are very patient. I love the way they are grateful for the smallest of things. Absolutely precious.

The Bible says we are not to show favoritism, so I waited until all the kids had left to snap this photo of Moses and me. Not a day has slipped by when I have not thought of or prayed for him. I have no idea why the Lord chose Moses to snatch my heart, but I'm determined not to waste it. I pray that Moses grows up to be one of the spiritual leaders in Cambodia or wherever he finds himself living.

Before it was time to go, we got a group picture of all of us together. It's an amazing thought to imagine being together again in Heaven one day.

Our team, unified in the beginning and even more tightly so in the end, praised the Lord for His accomplishing more than we could've ever asked or imagined. Not only in the hearts and minds of World Relief's finest, but also in each of our own lives. The Love of the Father has no limits, and He demonstrated that faithfully and powerfully over and over again...all the way in Cambodia.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!
1 John 1:3

IF you missed part one, two, three or four, click here: