Thursday, December 31, 2009

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality…

…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:12-18

Setting goals. It’s just not something that has ever come naturally to me. I have to do it every year for my annual review and I have to say, it is painful for me! I know a lot of people spend time at the end of every year reflecting and setting goals for the new year. Last week, I spent time reflecting and was riveted by the awesome power of God’s hand in my life and the lives of my family. So I thought, perhaps this was the year I’d start setting some goals for myself. New decade, new perspective, why not?

I asked myself a few questions to get me thinking. How am I living gracefully? What do I need to change? What do I need more/less of? These questions got my mind racing in numerous directions. So I started listing some of the things that were floating around in my mind. Spend more time in the Word; make more time for my family; practice patience and good will; spend less time in rebellion; be kinder; choose words more wisely; don’t let anger rise up uncontrolled; be a better example. Wow, the list is pretty long and kind of all over the map.

As I sat there feeling a little overwhelmed by my huge list and what to do with it to make goals that were measurable and hopefully, achievable, I decided to put it aside and dive into my Bible reading plan for the day. I was a little behind, so I had a few days worth to cover. Of course, that is exactly what God wanted me to do because in the middle of those readings was this section of Scripture. As I read it, the words just leapt off the page into my heart. They were alive!
As they echoed around in my head, it was so clear! While MY list looks scattered and overwhelming, God’s list isn’t.

Those few key words of instruction summed up what I was fumbling around with trying to write it myself. Interestingly, my Bible gives that section of Romans a one-word title: LOVE.

I pondered that title for a while. Love covers it all. Of course it does! Because God is love, what more do we need? It is our charge to live life in that love and nothing else. For me, I will print off those verses and put them in a few prominent places so that I am reminded daily that I have a choice. To love or not to love. It covers everything on my list and then some. My prayer is that love wins out this year, and always.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

“For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them…

...but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." Proverbs 1:32-33

Expectations. So much is contained in that little word. I often find myself struggling for words when I hear of unimaginable suffering and pain. We never expect to lose a child. We don’t expect to lose a spouse at a very young age. We expect life to go along without too many bumps in the road and when we do encounter those bumps, we expect to have the stamina and resources to cope and “get through it” without many scars. Many expect a good life if they “do good things and are a good person.” But, life, of course, doesn’t work that way. Things happen every day that are tragic and painful and throw us down to our knees.

Where do we find answers to life’s toughest questions? How do we offer comfort to those who are suffering so greatly? In God’s Word. My reading plan has me in the book of Proverbs. Life without wisdom is life on a winding road that has little purpose and very little hope. That wisdom can only be found in God. God is loving, merciful and forgiving. However, we are also warned that refusing to walk in the way of obedience will result in pain and suffering without the hope that is offered freely in a relationship with Him. In other words, we reap what we sow.

So many people in our daily lives are lost and without hope. They may have suffered greatly or they may be in the midst of a trial like no other. I find myself praying often to be “the light” to them. “Lord, let something come of this encounter that will point them to you.” I often wonder if I’ll have the “words” to help someone who is lost find any peace. God flowing through me is the only way that is possible. As believers, our peace and hope need to shine through in those times when we don’t have the words. Sometimes, just being there helps. Sometimes, it’s jumping in and filling a need – whatever that may be – that shows the light. And then, it’s God’ work to do. I’m learning that I need to get out of the way and let Him work through me, not the other way around. Only He can break down the walls of unbelief.

The Bible doesn’t promise us a life without suffering. In fact, it is stated that we will suffer. The world is a broken place where evil is present and there is much unbelief. There are those making choices every day that impact our lives and the lives of others, and many times that impact is suffering. However, the Bible does promise us that God is with those who believe in Him and that the pains of this life are temporary. That through it all, He is with us and loves us and will bring resolution in eternity. On this side of life, we will never have all the answers and will never know what His plan ultimately is. But, faith and hope offer a peace that is not of this world. And, since this world is broken and frail, and not our final destination, I’m choosing to be okay with that. I am holding out for the long term. And, I pray that I may be used to help bring as many people with me as possible.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…

…in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.

In reflecting on 2009, I’m literally blown away at what an incredible year this has been. The twists and turns of life have carved out a path that I never would have predicted or likely chosen, but have been rich with blessing, growth and have pointed my gaze towards the Creator of all.

Who would think that a year filled with job loss, financial uncertainty, a cancer scare, work stress way beyond anything considered “normal” factored into the normal strains of everyday life would be a year that could be thought of as a Heavenly blessing. But, that’s exactly how I see it and am humbly grateful for the year our family has experienced.

God has been more than faithful to my family. For many years, but especially so in 2009. His love and faithfulness have literally transformed my life. I became a Christian several years ago, but the journey of 2009 has lit a fire within my heart that is burning like no other.

When I sit back and reflect on this past year, I can’t help but be amazed by the visible hand of God on every aspect. It started in late 2008, when the economy began falling apart. My husband was a casualty – his sales job was eliminated. Sure enough, God provided. Temporary work, unemployment, an unexpected bonus, a tax refund – one thing after another to shout loudly to us that HE was in control of it and WE were not to worry or be anxious about anything. Once I truly committed to praying before allowing myself to worry, the worry subsided and I felt a peace I’ve never felt before. And my husband recognized the opportunity to pursue the path that God had chosen for him all along. His gift has now become his life work. It’s growing abundantly and we will see fruits of success soon, I’m sure. God has moved mountains for this and we are overwhelmed.

Same thing with a potential health issue. HE laid it out that I would experience my first worship concert on the very day I found out I needed a biopsy. Instead of worrying and fretting, I heard exactly what I needed to hear that night and experienced a level of connection to Him that I had never felt before. I laid it on Him that night and didn’t look back. I had what I needed to get through whatever lay ahead.

For the past two-plus years, I have been involved with a project at work that has been nearly all-consuming. It has taken me away from family, friends, even other important projects at work. But under uncomfortable pressure to lead into uncharted territory, my team and I were able to focus, work very hard and offset the pressure to carry us to an unprecedented victory and hopefully, a bright future. It also opened me up to constant prayer. I wouldn’t make a move or decision without careful prayer now.

It’s pretty amazing how He works, isn’t it? Through all of this, He also spoke into my heart about writing and this blog has been my humble response to His prompting. Some wonderful friends have credited it as a gift. I say, it’s all God. It’s hard to explain, but when I sit down to write these entries, the words just come. It’s almost as if a floodgate is opened and my fingers just start flying along the keyboard. My eyes are just there to keep up and see what’s next.

As 2010 approaches, I have dubbed it as a year for growth and connections. God has generously introduced people into my life this year who have a purpose and a heart for Him. We share a passion to follow whatever path He leads us on. I pray to grow in the ability to communicate and to use that ability to help others connect in a relationship with God – because it is truly the most amazing relationship you can ever have.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23

My Bible study group just finished “The Newcomer’s Guide to the Bible.” It was a great journey and helped me to understand a lot more about the amazing gift that is God’s Word. One thing that I either never knew, or didn’t realize was there is 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. 400 years! That’s a really long time for complete silence. It’s hard to imagine what people must have thought. Did God die, was He angry, or did He just stop caring? Generations passed with nothing but silence.

And then it was time. He could have shaken the foundations of the earth to announce His arrival. But, no. Instead it came in the form of the sweet, soft cry on a newborn. Incredible. Can you just imagine what that must have been like for Mary? As a mom, I know the overwhelming surge of emotion that came with giving birth. But, can you even fathom knowing that you are carrying the Son of God? What a feeling that must have been for her.

And to know that the cry of her newborn baby was the announcement to the world that the silence was broken! Think about that for while. I have been thinking about this all day and I still can’t seem to think anything but pure amazement. And the news was spread when the angel of the Lord said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) He was here. Our gift of salvation in the form of a tiny baby.

It makes me think about the gifts and blessings in life that I know I take for granted. Breath, our senses, the beauty and wonder that surround us every day. There are so many subtle, but incredible things that are so easily overlooked, we may not even think about them being gifts from God. God doesn’t have to loudly announce anything. Small, soft whispers are more than sufficient for the Creator of the Universe.

The soft cry of a baby. In a manger. In a stable filled with animals. Where no one could make room. The Savior of the earth. The One who created the stars, yet chose to come and live among us with one purpose. To save us.

It’s only a few days until Christmas and everyone is busy – shopping, wrapping, mailing, gathering, etc. All fine and wonderful things, for certain. But, I’m also hoping that in our family, we will take time to pause and reflect and relish the greatest gift of all, which came in the form of a very small, quiet package. I don’t want to overlook anything He has in store. I pray I can stay quiet long enough to hear the message.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:31

Many, many moons ago, I was privileged to spend weekends on the sidelines as a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, my lifelong favorite football team. It was a crazy whim of an idea while in grad school in South Florida, since the games weren’t always on tv. I say this part because I have always fought with the issues that most girls grow up with – not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not “whatever” enough. Honestly, I thought I had no shot whatsoever. But, God’s plan was different. Somehow, I made the cut every weekend and finally, made the team! It was one of my most prized accomplishments and a time of life that was incredible and a true gift.

Fast-forward 15 years. I am now a married mom of two. Life is a bit different, to say the least! However, recently I was able to attend an alumni weekend for former Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. This was the first time I’ve been back, so needless to say, I was a bit nervous. And, frankly, those crazy self-image battles tried their hardest to rear their ugly heads again. Diets, exercise, hair, makeup, oh my!

And then, I went to the reunion. What I found was even better than I could have hoped for. Precious friends with even more beautiful hearts than you could imagine. No one really, truly cared about the packaging, it’s what’s on the inside that truly matters. It was like no time had passed – laughter, tears, stories, memories – what a lovely friend of mine calls “doing life together.” Perfect words.

Upon my return, I was working on a Bible reading plan and sure enough, this passage and some wonderful companion Scriptures were there to relish! As I pondered these passages, some wonderful truths were revealed:

Wisdom is a by-product of graceful living that needs age and life experience to flourish and grow. I know I was not a wise young person. I made many mistakes and choices that were not what God would choose for me had I let Him. But through the years, wisdom has started to settle into those cracks and crevices created by those fancies of my youth.

They eyes are a mirror of the soul. Our bodies will age and break down, but the light in our eyes will shine on and on as long as we are in line with our God. My prayer is that my eyes always reflect His light into the world around me and He uses me for His glory.

God sees us as perfect – because He made us the way we are for His purpose. That is a perspective that is lovely and tricky at the same time. To see myself as God sees me is hard to do on many days. Satan knows what buttons to push and is always working them to try and get me to fall. I’m trying my best to see the benefits of all the changes the years are making in me. Laugh lines mean I’ve experienced much happiness over the years. The scars of childbearing remind me every day that I was blessed with two amazing children and am entrusted to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. The list goes on and on.

Yes, I’m aging. Are there things I’d love to see NOT happening? Of course. But, if given the choice to go back to those days with a better figure and smoother skin, I’d have to pass. Life is much sweeter these days because of what’s growing and maturing on the inside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” Psalm 96:9

Have you ever been in a worship experience that moved you so much you trembled? It’s pretty incredible, isn’t it? I can’t say that every time I worship, it’s that way, but there have been some very memorable moments in my life in recent times and this verse has just resonated so much in my heart.

I was sitting here today reading through my daily Bible reading plan. Psalm 96 was part of it. As I read through, these words jumped off the page at me. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” Wow. What power in those words.

In true form, God had put this on my heart the past couple days. I’m learning to recognize when God really touches a worship experience and I’m so grateful to say I’ve had the honor of participating in a few lately. When it transcends the room, the people, and even the words – it’s like we’re getting a taste of what Heaven will be like when we’re all worshiping the Throne! If this is only a glimpse of the true picture, and I’m sure it is, can you imagine how incomprehensible Heaven will be?

As I relish Christmas this year, I’m praising God with a new heart. I’ve been a Christian for only a little more than 6 years, but even this year, something is different. God has been right in the middle of everything this year, and it’s been amazing to witness. I know my heart has been opened up so much more this year than ever. And, I can directly tie that back to those incredible worship experiences. Thank you Jesus!

I recently had the opportunity to hear a message from Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion movement. The message was about Christmas and how in Jesus, we have already received the greatest gift we could ever ask. Oh, how right that is! His talk included in interaction with a child where he unwrapped a gift and discussed presents. He finished by opening a gift hidden in the box – his Bible. His point was that Jesus is the greatest gift ever and we have the opportunity to be part of the greatest story ever told. That is what Christmas is all about. Don’t tell them, but Louie’s idea inspired me to give my children their own personal Bibles under the tree this year. They have Bibles, but these will be personalized for them and are written for kids their ages. I know they love Jesus – and I hope receiving a Bible will allow us to begin new traditions together in The Word.

And all of this leads me straight back to worship. Because when I think about that incredible gift,
I can help but lift up a song of praise to Jesus.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works...

...out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11.

Divine appointments. There’s really no other way to describe it is there? When you can’t explain why you were able to meet that person at that time; or you were assigned to work with that person on this project; or you follow a hunch and go somewhere you hadn’t planned and meet someone who changes you forever. You were supposed to be there. That’s what I call a divine appointment.

Don’t you just marvel at those?! I know I do. God uses people and situations in such amazing ways that you just have to stand there with your mouth open and go “wow!” I have been blessed so many, many times when those appointments show up. Being open to them and realizing what they are have not been easy. My nature is to figure it out for myself and I find myself in that battle all the time. So openness and submission to God’s will do not come easy. And yet, what throws me the most is that when I do open up to it, the results are mind-blowing.

Over the past few days, I’ve had this concept pretty heavy on my heart. Lately, some incredible connections have been made and I’m watching and waiting to see what God has in store with them. Example: I had just finished reading the book, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. As I closed the cover, I closed my eyes and prayed. I asked God to open my heart to whatever He has in store and whatever that may be, I prayed that all the glory would go to Him. Within HOURS I “just-so-happened” to be put into contact with several unbelievable women of faith. And, within MINUTES of that meeting, were on fire with ideas and subjects that were on our hearts. We must have talked for an hour and left knowing that God has something in mind for us together. I’ve sat in awe over that situation and it’s challenged me to look for those other divine appointments in life that I may have missed along the way.

In our family alone, we can easily point to numerous occasions where we were at just the right place at just the right time and the results were only possible with God. We are seeing it in my husband’s business every day. In just over six months, there is a solid foundation on which to build a great future. We are humbled and grateful that He would use us for such good work.

As I’ve spent time thinking and praying over these God-driven connections, I’ve found myself in tears, in awe and face down in humble gratitude because He is simply amazing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

“In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33: 21

My alignment has been a little off lately. Not physically, but spiritually. I’ve noticed it because I’ve found myself caught up in busyness and to-dos and things of this world. My prayer time has been relegated to a few minutes here and there throughout the day when something or someone reminds me of something I “wanted to pray for” and didn’t. I’ll quickly offer up a prayer and move along. And, sadly, even though I took much of the week of Thanksgiving off work with the good intentions of focusing on spending more time alone with God, I didn’t. Company, shopping lists, errands, activities and that worldly view of having to get-it-all-done and be-all-things-to-all-people around me overwhelmed the small voice that was telling me to slow down and step away from the madness.

As soon as I start down this road, I begin to feel “off.” It’s my alignment. Like my car, I need to keep up with maintaining what keeps me running more efficiently and focused. And that is defined for me as time alone, time in The Word and time in worship. If any one of those gets off kilter, I’m out of balance. And lately, two of the three are out of sync and I’ve struggled.

It’s been in my heart and on my mind. Last night and again this morning, God used it to settle my spirit and help me see where I need to be looking. At Him. Focused on Him. Driving home last night, I was listening to an amazing worship song and just loving the moment. I gazed out and saw the biggest, brightest full moon I’ve seen in a while. It was like a cosmic flashlight was pointed in my direction. As I looked at the moon, with the music playing, everything else fell away. It was perfect. Again this morning, as I was standing out in 17-degree weather with 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground with our new puppy, the silence was incredible. Air that cold takes my breath away, but there I was breathing in the moment and the silence, happy that I was back “in tune.”

As Christmas season heads into high gear, I vow to keep it the sacred time it is meant to be. And I’m kick-starting my focus starting now. I’m heading out for a long weekend to attend a reunion. I am so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and celebrate with a group of women that I shared a very special part of life with. But, more importantly, I’m excited for the built in luxury of quiet time – on the planes, nighttime and early morning. My Bible and I are getting together again. Of course, He’s been there all along. I’ve been the one out of alignment. My heart is rejoicing because I’m back on track. God is so great.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage…

…so that now as always Christ will be exalted…” Philippians 1:20.

Last night, I began reading the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. I’ve heard a lot about this book, and how it will challenge your thinking and help you if you’re struggling with how to move beyond being a “lukewarm Christian.” It is a difficult realization to come to, but really, how many of us are living fully for Christ? I say this as someone who struggles every day with that reality. Too many times I am overcome by the daily lists and challenges and fall on my tendency to try and handle it myself. Then, when I’m out of gas at the end of the day, I’m sitting there, trying to focus on the maker of the universe. I know I have it backwards, and I’m praying for the hammer to hit me over the head and help me clear the clutter to change my focus.

I didn’t even make it out of the preface of the book before something reached into my very core and took hold:

Chan writes, "I hope reading this book will convince you of something: that by
surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He will bring you
the most pleasure in this life and the next. I hope it affirms your
desire for “more God”—even if you are surrounded by people who
feel they have “enough God.”

Wow, when I read that I had to restrain myself from shouting (my hubby was asleep). I DO feel that way and that is one of the things I struggle with. I do feel sometimes surrounded by people who believe they have enough God. And I find myself longing for more. I prayed over those words as I drifted off to sleep last night. Those words burned into me – I saw them over and over in my sleep during the night. When I woke this morning, I knew something had stuck and I’m really excited.

And then this morning, as we sat in church listening to a message that was centered on living our lives with the grace that is so freely given to us in Jesus, I thought wow, this is precisely what God wants me to hear as I begin this book. Hearing that we are commanded to shine His light through our lives, living with no fear or regret and filled with compassion. Yes, Lord, that IS what I want my life to be for you.

Our pastor highlighted this verse in Philippians, and it just jumped out of my Bible at me. How many times do I suppress what I really believe because of the surroundings? How often am I fearful of being bold in my faith because of who I am with? I pray for forgiveness and strength to live my life in a way that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage – every moment, every day. In a way that is filled with Crazy Love for Jesus!

Friday, October 30, 2009

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” 1Peter 5:6

The job of every believer is to help spread God’s fame and tell His story to the world. It’s a big job, no doubt, but if each of us commits to do his or her part, it makes it all the more achievable. I’ve always believed that God has given me an ability to communicate via the written word. Now, don’t get me wrong, I took that gift as an ability that would be helpful in the everyday stuff of life. You know, work memos, reports, a poem or two here and there, etc. I never, ever thought He had a bigger plan for it. Oh, boy was I wrong!

Six months ago, I was able to spend a weekend in a place that opened up a very direct connection to God. I sat in wonder at His creation, all alone with Him. Just being. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure about a lot of things, mostly about His direction and purpose for my life. As I prayed and meditated in that profound place, God revealed that He intended for me to help write His story. No doubt about it, direct, clear and intentional. THAT is why He gave me whatever gifts I have. In response, I started this blog. I really didn’t know what to expect, other than I prayed that God would provide me with enough words and maybe a little wisdom to begin to populate it with something worth reading.

In these short six months, I have been overwhelmed by the response to it. Just when I think no one’s reading it, I get an email, or a comment or text that profoundly moves me. Many times, I am moved to the point of tears. People DO read it, and God is using these pages and words to move hearts, encourage steps in faith and trust in His plan. And for that, I am humbled, honored and extremely grateful.

As I move through life, I am constantly challenged and find myself praying and seeking His guidance more and more. What a wonderful place to be. It’s when we learn that process and submit to His will, not ours, that we are set on a course that is beautifully designed to bring Him glory. And, I am slowly discovering, in that process, I am blessed with the opportunity to do something that I love deeply and brings me great pleasure. Of course! God didn’t just haphazardly throw us together – the gifts and talents that each of us possess are specifically placed in us to knit together the greatest story of all. HIS story!

If this blog has been an encouragement or challenged you, please tell me. I genuinely care what you think about the topics and thoughts contained. I’m certainly no expert, and I am definitely not looking for recognition, but your feedback will help make the next six months (and beyond) better. We are all working together. I’m just playing a very small part in a much bigger, much more important story.

I’m humbled before God and you, thank you for the opportunity to somehow, ever-so-simply touch your life. My prayer is that in our own way, we will bring forth new chapters in His story. Blessings!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“…This is what the LORD says to you:'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” 2 Chron 20:15

Four times in 72 hours I was presented with this verse. Sometimes it takes me a time or two to “get it.” That was almost two weeks ago. Interestingly, I knew there was something in it that God wanted me to understand and apply, but until the past few days, life was rolling along and I wasn’t challenged to do so.

The fourth time I encountered the story in 2 Chronicles was the most profound. It was then that the meaning in this passage was very clearly delivered in a message delivered by Joyce Meyer. Joyce’s programming was one of the first I stumbled upon as I began transitioning from watching 'whatever was on TV' to actually seeking something that would be more meaningful. I love the clarity and frankness with which she delivers the Truth. So many times, I have been forced to look at areas of my life and my personality which are not comfortable, but hold me back from the life that God wants for me. So, when I heard Joyce was bringing one of her conferences to Denver, I did everything possible to make sure I could catch at least one session.

The theme of her message that day was how important it is for us to be stable, dependable and reliable. Dependable and reliable are usually pretty achievable for me. Stability, well, I need a lot of work in this department. My tendency is to be more roller coaster than smooth ride. So as Joyce delivered her message, and I jotted down notes feverishly, I started to see the relevance to my life as it began jumping off the page at me. God needs me to stay stable and trusting in all things. As I sat there processing the words, I started thinking about all those times when I tend to overreact, or worry excessively. Those are obviously not times when I am leaning on God as I ought to be. I don’t know why it is such a struggle. Every time I consciously decide to trust and wait, stay steady and let God be God, I am amazed at what happens. He is always faithful.

And, how come it is so much easier to be the messenger of this advice? With my family, friends and children, I am always on message – trust God, He is in control of this. So why don’t I catch a dose of my own medicine more often? I wish I knew.

Small steps, I’m reminding myself these days. Joyce’s message (which was, upon reflection, reiterated in the other three times this passage was presented) was that God is telling us to keep going forward and do what He is telling us to do. The battle isn’t up to me to figure out, or fight. It’s God’s. And when I can trust that, worry falls away and overreacting isn’t among the options. We heard a bit more from that passage in the message:
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever." (2 Chron. 20:21)

That has to rank up there in my favorites. And in that passage, the people are not just saying those words, they are worshipping with all their hearts. And it is impossible to focus on “me” and “my stuff” when worshipping like that. Looking upward keeps the priority on God.

So, my first real opportunity to apply this revelation in my life came in what is any parent’s nightmare. A potentially serious illness affecting their child. And, this wasn’t just one child. You see, both of my kids were diagnosed with H1N1 the other day. Talk about knocking the wind out of your sails! As soon as they had come down with symptoms, I was praying. And when I couldn’t do much more to help than hold them, I was praying. And when we were in the waiting room, I was praying. And when the doctor poked her head back in the room to tell me the tests were positive, I surprised myself with a calm, slow exhale and feeling that God is in control of this. Stay calm, steady and press on with whatever is needed and let God deal with it.

So that’s what we did – and we prayed, and our friends prayed and people we hardly know prayed – it was amazing. And staying steady in the midst of the storm, surpsisingly, was me. The best new is, this morning, both children seem to be on the road to recovery, praise God.

Any mother will tell you when it comes to her kids, there is nothing she wouldn’t do to try and protect them – it’s the fiercest feeling I personally have ever had. So, instead of facing that potential health battle alone, by enlisting (and trusting) the Warrior of Warriors, this fight became one where my job was to stay steady, worship and trust. I will testify – that is a much better job than trying to take it all on alone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Chris Tomlin - Glory In The Highest Preview from Worship Together on Vimeo.

This is a slight twist from what I have been writing on this blog. But, I truly believe this is something that is so powerful it can only be from God Himself. If you’ve read any of my earlier postings, you already know that worship music has changed my life. And, while we’re not supposed to play favorites, I cannot help but declare that the music of Chris Tomlin, his band, the people he writes with, etc., etc. are at the very top of my list. It was some of the first music I discovered on this walk of faith and it has carried me and my family during trials, triumphs and tears – both happy and sad.

My son and I had the privilege of meeting Chris back in February when we won tickets to a concert in Denver. It was during that time, I had a cancer scare. While it all turned out fine and I’m grateful for my continued health, it was wake-up call to me of sorts. It was the quiet voice of God in those uncertain moments that took my faith to a new level. And, as crazy as it may sound, it all happened at that Chris Tomlin concert. I left that show and have not been the same since. I have a zeal for God that I never thought was possible in me. It’s wonderful, to say the least.

So, when I heard this summer that Chris and his band were working on a Christmas project, I’ll admit, I did a happy dance! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I cannot wait to sing the songs – I get in trouble at home when I start playing them before Thanksgiving! And to hear that my favorite artist was putting together a Christmas worship music project, was just beyond cool. I counted down the days till October 6, the day it went on sale. I couldn’t get back to my desk fast enough to listen to it!

And boy, did Mr. Tomlin and the gang deliver. No, they didn’t just deliver, they hit it out of the park! This is a Christmas CD for the ages. If you watch the link above, you get a small glimpse of the experience. It is simply AMAZING. The music on this CD will lift you higher than you could ever imagine. Its like angels are right there with you! I swear I am going to get in an accident because I cannot listen to this music without closing my eyes and lifting my hands. Driving over the past week or so has become a challenge because we keep playing the CD over and over! My kids are just as excited. We’ve all already memorized the new stuff and just sing our little hearts out in the car together!

Both of my children has a copy of it and asks to play it in their room at bedtime – is there anything better than falling asleep to “Joy to the World?”

This Christmas season will be one to remember. No matter what is happening in the every day – the challenges, struggles or the wins and blessings – we have found a wonderful way to keep our focus on the best present of all – Jesus! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalms 82:4

Wow. A couple weeks ago, my kids and I attended a concert at our church. It was the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda, Africa. If you’re not familiar with Watoto, it is a project built to help the millions of children affected by the AIDS epidemic. All the kids in the choir are AIDS orphans and each has a story that will break your heart.

What is truly remarkable is that this is not a sad story. I say this because Watoto is also a story of hope and healing. In between amazing singing and choreography, every child had a chance to share his or her story with the audience. And every story ended with a resounding shout of praise to Jesus, who saves us. Each child has found hope, healing and a vision of the future through power of the Cross.

As the kids and I watched, danced and worshipped, we were all incredibly moved by this super talented and wonderfully spiritual group. The kids each found some way to relate to at least one or more of the Watoto kids as they told their story. The fact that most of the kids were very close in age to Trevor and Abby really impacted them. I think they began to process, even if just a little, how very different their lives are from the Watoto kids.

At one point, the performance included a video that depicted life in Uganda – what the kids were rescued from. It was not a pretty sight at all. In fact, we all had tears in our eyes and sweet Trevor was visibly shaken by it. But, it gave us the opportunity to talk about how God has moved in the lives of the kids on stage, and those who created the Watoto project – and that’s the story. That God moves in our hearts to rescue those who cannot help themselves.

When the show ended, the kids hung out around the auditorium and talked with audience members. I had tears when my kids went up and gave hugs to many of the Watoto kids. They wanted them to know how much they enjoyed the show, and that they cared about them.

We purchased a CD of a live performance and have been listening to it ever since – it is a beautiful performance. The whole experience has given us a lot of opportunities to talk about helping others and living life as Jesus wants us to live. It has also reminded all of us how incredibly blessed we are in the life we have and no challenge we may face could compare to what these beautiful children have not only faced, but have boldly overcome.

My hat is off to the organizers of Watoto and everyone involved with this amazing movement. My prayer is that more people will respond to the call and do whatever part they can to help rescue the those who are needy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

…Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, this verse has become a very powerful driver in our house. First, for my daughter, and then for my husband. It’s been a pretty astonishing thing to sit in the wings and watch, too.

My daughter is six years old. She’s been given an unbelievable physical gift in the form of the ability to perform gymnastics. At less than three years old, her aunt, a former gymnast herself and now a coach, told us that Abby had something special. So, as soon as she could, she was at the gym. In the past year, she has tested up and is now part of the first level of competitive gymnastics. She’s a full year younger than her peers, but stands shoulder-to-shoulder with most of them in ability. Last weekend, she competed in her first-ever meet. To say that she is driven is almost an understatement. She’s focused, competitive and realizes that she has a natural gift that is from God above.

I think the part that amazes me the most is that at such a young age, she recognized the gift that God gave her and is using that gift to the best of her ability. She talks and sings about Jesus constantly, asks for “Jesus songs” in the car and loves to lead our family in dinner prayers. God has a keeper with this one! I think if there is a verse that aptly describes Abby, it’s this one!

The second instance was with my husband. As we’re living out turning his gift and passion for baseball into a livelihood that is intended to honor God first, and provide for our family second, this verse has come into special prominence for Steve.

One of the high school kids who come to Steve for instruction proudly showed off a tattoo of this verse. It got him thinking. It got us talking. We looked it up in my Bible and talked about how appropriate those words were for his life. I think this one’s going to stick.

It wasn’t until pretty recently that I started hearing people tell about “their verse” or “their favorite Scripture.” We met some folks in Christian radio and in the course of getting their autographs for Abby, each signed their name and their Scripture. We went home and looked each up and talked about the relevance to each of those people’s lives.

Now that each one of us has discovered the verse that is perfectly suited to us, I think it’s time to memorialize it so we are each reminded of God’s power in our lives every day.

I’m so grateful that God has given me children who have, at a pretty young age, realized what they are passionate about and know that it is God who graced them with those talents. As a parent, there isn’t a better realization. He has entrusted Steve and I with their care and instruction so that they can become the people our Heavenly Father intends for them to be.

I’m also very grateful that He has used those around us to demonstrate so clearly to Steve and me how much He loves us and how well-equipped we are for the life he has laid out so that we may honor Him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen. 9:13

I never really knew the significance of a rainbow. I just always knew how much I liked seeing them and there was something special about them. Was I in for a big surprise when I learned what God said a rainbow represented. It’s kind of like the light bulb going on. Wow, of course, that’s why we are SO drawn to them and we’re always looking for them after a storm.

Our family has seen some trying times lately. We believe God has laid out a path for my husband’s career. He is passionate and enthusiastic about this direction. More importantly, amazing examples of “God-moments” have been present throughout the journey that led to this direction. I have witnessed true miracles and have literally stood with my mouth dropped in complete awe over many of the incidents of the past year or so. There is not a doubt in my mind that He has this path set for Steve.

With that knowledge, our job is to remain committed to the direction, yield to God’s leading and step out in faith knowing that in God’s time, it will work to His glory. In my broken humanness, however, that is not always easy to do.

One day last week, I was driving to work and allowing myself to fret over the situation. Things haven’t been easy, we’ve cut out a lot, even some necessities frankly. But, we have tried to remain faithful and not let doubts creep in. So on this particular morning, we had had a “big discussion” over finances the day before and it was settling into me where I fear the most. What if world. What if we can’t pay for this, what if we don’t have it for that. The what if’s will kill you if you let them.

So, I’m driving along, fretting and not really paying much attention to everything around me. Something grabbed my attention, however. The song on the radio. It was “Let the Waters Rise” by Mikeschair. The words of the song say –
“Don't know where to begin
Its like my world's caving in
And I try but I can't control my fear
Where do I go from here?

sometimes its so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to
God, I trust You"

And, just as I was caught up in those words, I looked out at the mountains ahead. Through a bank of clouds, the smallest sliver of a break appeared and through it sprouted a beautiful, perfect rainbow. I felt God’s presence. I felt peace. I felt security. I felt assured that He is in control and we don’t have to be. I felt protected and loved. I felt the promise He made all those years ago with Noah. A covenant is sacred. God entered into that with us and He always keeps his promises. I can count on that.

I finished my drive with a renewed sense of hope, knowing that He is with us every single step of the way. It’s up to us to hold on, yield and let God be God. And I’m totally okay with that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

My dog really likes getting a bath. I say that in jest, of course. In fact, at this moment he’s flailing around because he just got one. You see, he likes to roam on our property and when he finds “droppings,” he rolls in it and then thinks its okay to come in all stinky and messy. No matter how many times I scold him when he comes to the door that way, he doesn’t seem to get the message. He just can’t stay out of the messes.

I was thinking about how frustrated I get with him every time he does this (at least once a week) and it got me really thinking. What about the messes I get myself into over and over again? How often do I make a bad decision, display an unsupportive attitude, say a negative comment – then see the error of my ways and pray for a changed heart, rely on myself to make that change, only to slip up and repeat the pattern. Growing up, self-reliance was something that I really felt I needed to achieve. It was probably a protection mechanism so that I didn’t have to depend on anyone for fear of them letting me down. Yet, as good as I got at it, oftentimes it prevents me from really trusting and fully committing my actions to the Lord. It also makes me wonder how sad it must make God when He sees me make the same mistakes over and over, and how I’m sure He wants to see me turn those areas of my life over to Him to change and use for His purpose. When I fail to release my grip and “have to” control something, I am the one who suffers.

And then there are those areas where I have surrendered to Him. It’s a beautiful portrait of faith and love. When I pause and recognize His hand on my life, I see things I could never in my wildest dreams imagine. I see doors open and relationships prosper that never seemed possible.
So, my prayer today is that I can release all control to Him so that I can stay out of the messes. It may not be visible and stink like my dog, but the mess is still seen by Him who wants all of me. The best news is, of course, that there is grace sufficient enough to clean up any mess I may get into!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

For everything there is a season...

...a time for every activity under heaven.A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2.

I’m taking a little time to reflect. You see, I live in Colorado and every year there is a big to-do about the changing leaves and the fall color up in the “high country.” It is breath-takingly beautiful to witness. Ever since I became a mom, I have taken the kids up each fall to take pictures. Some of my favorite snapshots of them are from those trips. It is a mix of the striking blue sky above, majestic mountains backdrop and the sparkle of gold, yellow and green leaves on the trees around them. It is so stunning, it simply leaves me without words.

Yesterday we took this year’s trek. We drove a route that is well known for its splendor and magnificent color. As we searched traveled, I was balancing driving and looking for that perfect spot for pictures with taking in the beauty around us. We stopped several times, took some great photos and had some (mostly) enjoyable quality family time. (I say mostly because I was traveling with a 9 and 6-year-old who tend to try to annoy one another any chance they can!)

Fall is a transitional time, both for the earth and for us personally. So last night, after we were back and settled into our typical weekend routine, I tried to pause and think about what that means. The verse from Ecclesiastes popped in my head, so I spent some time reading through it again.

Interestingly, what we as humans appreciate so much about fall is really a signal of an ending. The colorful changing leaves mean that they are dying off and settling into a winter mode. Where I live, this means snow, much colder temperatures and bare trees along with brown fields and grass. Where I live in Colorado we don’t get as much snow as you might think, so most of the winter is pretty barren looking.

When I read through that passage, the meaning was so relevant. Change is inevitable in life. It’s how I respond and what I find to appreciate in the changes that enriches my life and helps me to grow stronger and deeper in my faith. Instead of responding with anxiousness and uncertainty, I need to trust, talk to Jesus about my fear and turn it over to Him.

If you asked me 20 years ago if I would ever live in Colorado, I would have laughed at you and thought you were crazy. But being open to change has been a blessing for me in life. When I got married, I knew going into it that we were going to live outside my self-imposed comfort zone and part of that meant moving from Florida to Colorado. Now, nearly 15 years later, I have an appreciation for so many different things I never would have experienced had I stayed put where I was.

In reflecting back, I can see the relevance of the passage. I find that both beautiful and ironic knowing where that the writer of Ecclesiastes was in his life at the time.

For me, at least, looking back on experiences, changes and challenges provides more clarity and understanding than when I am in the middle of it. Perhaps appreciating the changing of the seasons will help me to develop a more forward-thinking appreciation of the changes that are inevitable in life here on Earth. I know that will only be accomplished with a deep connection to our Heavenly Father, the One who makes it all for His glory.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

…Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is...

… and who is still to come.” Rev. 4:8

Prayer and attitude have been on my heart this week, quite a bit. A friend had some thoughts on how to approach prayer. Not my sometimes-typical laundry list of needs and wants, but an approach that includes a sense of reverence and wonder. I guess I have moments when I experience that level, but admittedly hadn’t spent a lot of time on it.
One of the passages my prayer-warrior friend suggested was Revelation 4. I’m going to confess here that Revelation is a tough book for me. It is the book of the Bible that I find most intimidating. So, seeing that on the list was scary to me. I jostled that around in my head for a couple of days before I determined that I needed to get over it and study it. There was something powerful in it and I needed to understand it. Imagine yourself in the presence of God, my friend suggested. Oh boy, that’s a big statement. Where do I even start? I’ve always loved “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. I could relate to that inability to know how I’d react.

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

So, as I pondered reading the Scripture, I wondered where my heart would land. Nervously, I opened to Revelation 4 and read. As I was reading the passage noted above, my radio was playing in the background. AT THAT moment “Revelation Song” came on! Whoa. The line in the song directly from Revelation 4:8 was playing just as I was reading it. A true God-incident, I believe. I stopped reading, listened to more of the song and then went back to the Scripture. And something clicked. What am I afraid of? This book and the entire Book is a gift from our Maker.

After reading through that passage, and a couple others recommended, I started to get it. I need a different approach to prayer life. An attitude of reverence was a natural response when I read through these passages.

God so beautifully gave us His word for us to use as our guide. I realize that in my prayer life, I’m not connecting the dots, per se. I was separating “prayer” as that conversation about the things on my heart and the situations, concerns and conditions that are on my prayer list. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I haven’t been taking that next step, into the next level. The more appreciative, humble approach that starts and ends with reading the Scripture and meditation that my friend recommends, demonstrates how significant God is and how insignificant I am. And yet, even with that, He loves me and wants that intimate relationship. I think I’m about to have a breakthrough and really begin growing in that relationship.

He places people, instances and relevance in our lives for His glory and purpose. I’m so grateful that He’s moving in my life. I thank my prayer-mentors for their guidance and encouragement. And I praise God for knitting them into my little life so that He will be glorified.

Friday, September 11, 2009

“Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

My study group just finished reading the book, “Prayer, Does it Make a Difference?” by Philip Yancy. When we decided to study it, I was apprehensive. I’m still a pretty green Christian and know I have such a long way to go before I’d believe I have a strong and solid prayer life. I have periodic bouts of strong devotion, dedicated time and a feeling of closeness. Wow, those times are wonderful and I think “this is it! I’m in the groove now!” And then, something rattles my schedule, or dedication and I’m off the wagon again. So knowing all this, I was a little fearful to begin an in-depth study of prayer!

How wrongly placed my fear was. As He has shown me over and over, God never puts me into a situation or places a challenge in front of me that is worthy of any fear. This study took us through many twists and turns of the prayer lives of numerous people with a thread throughout that was so easy to connect with. While many of us focused on different aspects in our study time, the overall message was clear. God wants a relationship with us and prayer is His gift of ongoing, intimate, active conversation with Him. I really believe prayer is more for our benefit than His.

All of us shared our struggles with finding the time, uncertainty over what to pray for and how to address some really tough questions raised in the book. But we all took away that prayer is necessary and beneficial to the pray-er because it brings a sense of peace and shifts focus away from us to our God, the God of all – where it ought to be! Yancy talks about having a “view from above” that helps keeps life in perspective with God and His plan. When we try to see things from God’s bigger perspective, it puts things in line a little clearer. His analogy involved peering down from atop a fourteener in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. There’s nothing like a view from 14,000 feet to help put us in perspective.

The one revelation of this study that is really sticking with me is what I call the undercurrent – that inner conversation we all have ongoing constantly. Focusing that conversation God-ward instead of just to myself has been something that I’ve been doing for a while without even realizing it. It’s become very natural to continually have an inner conversation with God over the everyday stuff of life – the challenges, struggles and more importantly, the blessings. “Thank you” comes into play so often because He has so richly blessed my life.

I have a long way to go, I know that for sure. But, after this study, I know that I am not alone in the struggle and God loves me regardless. He is there whenever and wherever I approach Him.

I will end with one excerpt from the book. It is a beautiful testament to the Maker of all and how much He loves us.

Love God with all your heart, Jesus said. Listen to your life: to its passion, its dreams and disappointments, its tedium as well as its drama. It came to you as a gift and each day, too, unravels as a gift. God wants an invitation to share in its every detail.
- Philip Yancy, Prayer

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

…let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him… Hebrews 10:22, NLT

Most days when I drive to the office, I have THE most amazing view. The Rocky Mountains are just to the west of us and I drive straight at them on my way to work. Wow, it’s take-your-breath-away spectacular. Normally, that catapults me right into an overwhelming sense of the presence of God. How can it not?! I love it because I’m usually blaring a Chris Tomlin anthem on the stereo and I just feel completely in awe and all the dots connect. The view, coupled with some of the best imaginable worship music is downright awesome! Isn’t it interesting how there are just those times when you are so aware of God’s presence?

Here’s an example of that view – this literally stopped me in my tracks one day. So much so that I purposely got us early the next morning (a Saturday) and drove back because I had to try and capture it. I call scenes like these “God moments.”

But then, there are days like today. When driving that normally stunning route is just plain ordinary. When the mountains are covered with clouds and their beauty is hidden from view. It forces me to look “closer to the ground.” Today, I did just that, which is not what I would typically do. But, in that moment, I had a choice – I could either lament over not seeing the mountains, or I could look lower and relish the countless other God-given views that were also in my sight. Like the wild flowers growing in a clump on the side of the road. Or the birds and butterflies that were hovering around. Or the other drivers making their morning trek to the office or school, or somewhere else. Even the unusual coolness of this August morning gave reason to be thankful and in awe.

It also made me take a little time and look inward. Am I allowing His presence to be a part of everything, not just the take-your-breath-away moments? Honestly, no. Many times I stumble. I think I can handle it or I simply get going too fast and forget to take that deep breath and center on Him before responding, deciding or acting. That’s when I realized that I need more of the second part of this verse – a sincere heart that fully trusts Him. Oh, how I pray that He will work with me on that!

Today, with the clouds blocking the view, I was forced to look both closer to the ground and inward. There were some areas that were clear and relevant to me where I know I need less of me and more of Him. I’m grateful for His presence, even when the view isn’t crystal clear.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods...

...In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95: 3-5.

I love to sit in the window seat when I fly. It’s funny, too, because I have a real fear of heights. But, there is something incredibly breathtaking about peering out over the vast horizon from 35,000 feet that instills more awe than fear in me. I never feel as small as I do when I’m on an airplane. I live in Colorado and travel often to northern California for work. This is only important to mention because of the terrain that is covered in that flight. We spend the majority of the flight over the mountains and vast areas of largely unpopulated areas.

I also feel very connected to God when I fly for some reason. I think it may have something to do with the utter helplessness of being in a vessel that for all practical reasons, should not be “up there” and yet, somehow, through that combination of engineering and aerodynamics and many other technical things, is flying across the sky. I also get that strong connection because of the amazing view from the window.

I was making that trek from Denver to northern California the other day. I was peering out over the expanse of the Rocky Mountains and thought this must be a small glimpse of God’s eye view. He looks down on this incredible planet that He created and sees it all from the highest of highs to the depths within our souls.
That’s got to be quite a view. When I look out and see nothing but

rocky terrain with no trace of human existence, it makes me very aware of how small and insignificant I am.

And yet, even as small and insignificant as I can whip myself into thinking I am, God cares and has a plan and a purpose for me and every other person on this planet. My surrender to Him is the key and the release. That’s a pretty big thought in itself.

For me anyway, seeing that view from 35,000 feet helps keep me focused on how great He is and how grateful I am that even though I am miniscule by comparison, He loves me. And, unlike that airplane unfathomably suspended in the air with no safety net, I have hands of the maker of the mountains, sea, land and all the universe tenderly holding me always. And it feels wonderful.

Friday, August 7, 2009

…For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it. Habakkuk 1:5, NLT

I have to be honest, when I used to hear people say that God spoke to them just when they needed it most, either through the Spirit, or an interaction, or an encounter with Scripture, I had a tendency to balk a little in disbelief. I had always “considered” myself a Christian, but boy, I was so wrong.

I’m still so early in my transformation and so excited to see what else is in store along the way. But one area that has become impossible to ignore is that God is always communicating! Such is the case with this verse. I struggle a lot with the internal question: “is this really where God wants me, and is this the path He wants me on?” When I think about it logically, reasonably, the answer is yes, of course. I can look back on events and instances and trace His hand all along the way. There are so many areas of life that are impossible to fathom unless I realize that God was directly involved them.

But, then there’s the doubt, the daily little struggles and challenges that we all face. From waking up late, to traffic, to obstacles small or large, those are the moments when I see myself slip every so often. When a challenge is happening in life that seems so unimportant with my “Kingdom-eyes,” I have a difficult time trying to understand how it is relevant or working God’s purpose in me.

And then, somehow, some way, I am prompted to stop and see, really see what is truly transpiring. The situation or instance can seem so non-God-focused, and yet, He is still present in everything. Because that’s when the precisely right word of encouragement comes or some barrier is removed and the situation takes a dramatic shift. Those moments are when it is up to me to take that step out of the moment and revel in the glory of His presence in everything, every day!

Slowly, very slowly, too slowly for my impatient heart, I am starting to take in those moments and recognize where God is moving and shaping and trust that yes, I am on exactly the path He wants me on. The obedience to trust is my role. Because, just like the verse I received today says, if He revealed to me what He is really doing, I’m certain I couldn’t or wouldn’t believe it – He is too magnificent for me to comprehend.

Lord, thank you for moving and working in my life and the lives of all. You know our hearts and have prepared a way that we could never imagine. Please change my heart in me to be more receptive to Your way and give me a trusting spirit when the doubts and challenges of this world seem to be shifting my focus. Amen.

Friday, July 31, 2009

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 NIV

This verse popped into my email this morning as part of one of the numerous daily devotionals I receive. They are a great way to start my work day with the right perspective. I’ve been perplexed and pondering a lot lately. There are many things on my mental list. There is a lot that I could worry myself over, if I let it slip into that spiral…

However, God won’t let that happen. Seems like just at that moment where my feet are on the ledge of diving into a pit, someone, something or some wonderful reminder comes along and snaps me back into perspective. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and actually meditate on that for a while, instead of thinking about all those things we worry about!

Two things happened this week that have driven this point home for me that I thought were worthy of sharing. First, I have a friend who is one of the most devout Christians I know. If there is anyone I look to for example on earth, it is this friend. Through unbelievable trials and twists in the path, my pal has always managed to find a silver lining of blessing and keep a heavenly perspective. Every once in a while, I get little encouragements from my friend. This week, I got one and the exact moment I needed it (thank you Lord!). Among other things, it was a lovely reminder to take time every single day, slip away and relish in the awesome presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to say for a message like that.

The second thing that happened was in conversation with a family member I had never met in person. She is my husband’s cousin and lives in another state. We all had the chance to visit this week when she made the trip to Colorado. Through the beauty of technology, we have become “friends” via Facebook. She very sweetly told me how this blog was an encouragement and a great testimony. Wow, that blew me away. Someone is actually reading this! I am humbled and grateful that God gives me these words. They are not mine, they are His to use as a blessing how He sees fit. I am just the vessel.

So, when this verse was staring me in the face, it was an easy connection to make. Whether it is with words, actions, resources or some other way, every day we all have an opportunity to be a blessing to others. Sometimes we don’t even know who or how we’re blessing someone – and that’s okay. God is knitting it all together as part of His plan, and we should look every day for ways to bless others so that He can work through us. That in itself is an unbelievable blessing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped…” Mark 4:35

…Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown? He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:36-39.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on boats in my lifetime. My brother has one and every time we visit them, we try to get out for a day on the boat. It’s always great, but I find myself nervous with the “what if’s” of being out on the water in a craft that isn’t all that big. We’d never had an issue when we’re out with him. He’s a very skilled boater and certainly knows his way around the waters of Southwest Florida.

We spent a day on the boat with him earlier this week. Me with my two kids and he with his three boys. Everything was great and we were all having a really good time. Fishing, swimming, seeing dolphin and even a manatee! We decided to make one last little run up into a deep channel where the tarpon usually are biting. He wanted to see if anyone had any on their lines. So away we went.

When we made the turn to head back to the marina, there it was. A typical Florida afternoon storm. Sitting right in between us and our destination. Now, the boat doesn’t have an under deck, so we were stuck. We thought we could get through it, so we made a decision to try. Within minutes, the rain was pounding us, it felt like little pins hitting our skin. I had the two little ones (ages 5 and 6) on the front seat with me. Needless to say, we were getting the brunt of the storm.

Strangely, this story came to mind almost immediately. And, almost as fast, I felt calm. Calm enough to know that Jesus was in the boat with us. As we huddled under the towel in a feeble attempt to protect ourselves from the rain, we talked about Jesus and that the best thing we could do was to pray and ask Him for protection. My daughter was all over it. She took charge of her younger cousin and the two of them prayed the whole time we were in the storm. She later told me that they were fine and not scared because they were praying. I prayed silently and felt a sense of peace knowing that we were going to be okay.

We were able to safely make it in without any incident, but this episode has stayed fresh in my mind and heart this week. It seemed like every song I heard today had a reference to the ocean, storms and Jesus, of course. Okay, so I think there’s a lesson in this for me! (Sometimes I have to be hit pretty hard over the head to get it.)

It may not be a storm in the sense of rain, thunder and lightning, but the storms of life are real reminders that I need to continue to trust, pray and have faith that Jesus is there with me, every step of the way. If it took being out on the furious sea to drive home the point, then I’m glad I stayed on that boat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“Blessings crown the head of the righteous…” Proverbs 10:6.

I’m spending some time this morning counting my blessings. It’s not something I do enough of, but today is one of those days where I am focused intently on it. My kids and I are about to head back home to Colorado after two weeks in Florida on vacation. Two weeks of vacation is a blessing in itself! But the biggest blessing has been the ability to spend a ton of time focused intently on my children.

This past year has required a lot of my time be spent on challenges and issues at work. A lot more than usual, normal or whatever word I could pick to describe it. It has also required me to spend a lot of time away from home, traveling for meetings, events, etc. As a working mom with two elementary school-aged children, this is not an easy task. But that’s where we get back to counting our blessings. Even in the trickiest of “work-related” situations, I have been blessed with an amazing support system. My mother-in-law is my daycare – who could be better than Grammy!? And, my husband has been home a lot more in the past 8 months, so Daddy’s there, too. And, while my paying job may have its challenges, I have THE best earthly boss a woman could ever ask for. So, all-in-all, God has been so good in placing these incredible people around me, and giving me the opportunity to help provide for our family. And, all the traveling this year gave me more than enough airline miles to redeem for our vacation trip.

Which gets me back to the vacation. Two weeks of beaches, aquariums, boating, pool time, hanging out, seeing relatives we haven’t seen in years, watching movies, relaxing – sheer bliss in the midst of crazy times. Sure, not all of it was “off,” I put in a fair amount of work due to uncontrollable circumstances – but it’s easy to squeeze in a conference call from the deck of a beach-front condo when I know that tomorrow I’ll still be able to build sandcastles with the kids!

I’m grateful that these past two weeks have given me the chance to reconnect with the kids – not that we were disconnected, but I think I fell in love with them all over again. They are dynamic, amazing, sometimes fearless, adventurous little people with their whole lives ahead of them. Most important, they showed me over and over again in the past couple weeks that they are very aware of God’s greatness and that they know he is a part of everything they, and we, do. From perfect sun-filled days to raging Florida summer thunderstorms, He was here with us and is present in all our days – and they know it.

And last-but-not-least, I am blessed and grateful that they still think their mom is pretty fun to hang out with for a couple of weeks of vacation. God is so absolutely amazing!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

– not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:8-9

Grace. What a beautiful word. It conveys so much in such a simple manner. When I stop and think about how it is by grave that we are saved, and I mean really stop and think about it, it literally brings me to my knees. Where else can it take us? When I think about how unworthy, unable and unqualified I am for a life beyond this earth, it can become almost overwhelming. Those little darts of doubt that Satan uses to try and pick us apart, driving a wedge into our thinking, can start to take root if I’m not careful.

But then, the larger, more powerful voice is heard. The one that reminds me that I am not here to become worthy, able or qualified. I am here to bring glory to the one who made me. To make His name famous. That’s the voice I want to hear every day, listen to every time there is even an inkling of doubt and cry to every time I need the strength to get through that “one more thing.”

This verse is one that I know I’ve read more than once, it’s underlined in my Bible. But, a couple of days ago, my daughter and I were graced with the opportunity to attend an event for a Christian radio station in Tampa, FL. That appearance featured a lovely singer named Francesca Battistelli and was put on by The Joy FM. Abby and I got up on the first morning of our vacation, trucked an hour in rush hour traffic to find the little restaurant that was hosting the event. What a great morning. Abby was thrilled and treated like a little princess. The fact that we had come from so far away and came to the remote really seemed to move the radio team. Funny because we were so moved by their hospitality, welcoming attitudes and friendship! We received t-shirts and each of the team signed it and wrote their favorite Bible verse on it. This verse from Ephesians was the one noted by Carmen Brown, one of the morning cruise team members. I thumbed through my Bible today to re-read it – and realized I had focused on it before when I saw the highlighting. But today, I am seeing it with a fresh perspective.

The way that God takes events, interactions and opportunities and weaves them into the tapestry that only He can create is marvelous and awe-inspiring. That one seemingly little event, a breakfast and performance on the radio, was probably thought of as a routine, everyday occurrence by many involved. However, we took it as a gift from above. And a reminder that our salvation is also His gift – His gift of grace and mercy that I am so thankful to have accepted.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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

I love the vividness of this verse! It has taken me far too long to learn put my trust in the Lord and not in my ability to affect a situation or overcome an obstacle. I’m naturally wired to be a problem-solver, and when I rely on myself to resolve something, I am usually left with a sense of regret. And, I can directly point to specific instances in life where I put it out there to God and He took care of it. Sure enough, something occurred, a favor was granted or a decision came easily and assuredly. It’s funny, because every time, I find myself amazed and in awe of Him! And yet, I still slip into the old ways of trying to “make a change” on my own.
When I trust in him, he shows me the way. Even when I don’t even see it. This has been true for me and now, it’s exceptionally clear for my husband. Several months ago, he was laid off from his sales job. After his severance ran out, God provided with a bonus from my company. And then, he provided an income tax return. Soon, we knew we’d be fine for at least six more months. What a blessing! And, in this time, the Lord started opening up doors for Steve (my husband). A former professional baseball player, Steve is incredibly gifted at coaching and teaching the game. With people practically materializing in front of him telling him he should make a career of coaching, it was becoming very obvious that God had a plan. Then, we were given the opportunity to have a very heartfelt conversation about the situation. I’ve always known in my heart that this is what God wants for him. So, we talked about his path and the Lord lighting the way for him, like the verse. In the span of under 48 hours, he saw it, too. It was really a miracle.
Now, a couple months later, he’s growing his business – he now has almost 20 clients when he started with about 4. He’s got great people around him, supporting, encouraging and sharing wisdom. He’s looking down the road at other related opportunities that will grow the business even more, and more importantly, impact the lives of young ball players in a very positive manner. It’s simply amazing.
We have both learned a lot through this about trusting the Lord and looking for the light on the path. He’s faithful and true – and has shown us the next step, time and time again, in His perfect timing.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Psalm 33:1

My son, Trevor, me and Chris Tomlin

Music has always been a huge part of life for me and my family. It seems like we always have music playing and we’re singing. I’ve been a music nut for as long as I can remember. But the past six months or so have been truly transformational in the music department! For the past few years, the music at our church has been slowly filtering into our everyday listening. First, we added KLOVE to our presets, and then The Message became a staple on my satellite radio top 5. And, the music of artists such as Chris Tomlin, Third Day, Tree63, the Newsboys and Mercy Me found its way into my cd collection and onto my iPod.

I’ve written about how this past January, I was blessed to win two tickets to see a Chris Tomlin concert in Denver. We were also lucky enough to meet him and other band members, along with Israel Houghton, who was touring with him. They were all so amazingly gracious and humble. I’ve been able to meet many “famous” people over the years in one capacity or another. Gracious and humble are not usually the words that come to mind when describing those encounters. But Chris, Israel and others were different. As great as it was to meet them and see that they were truly special, it was the amazing worship of that night that really opened up my eyes. I’ve never felt that way before. Sure, numerous times during church services, I am moved to tears – almost every week, actually. But that night took it to a much higher level. I didn’t want that feeling to end ever! That had to be a taste of what it will be like in Heaven one day when we’re all praising Him around the throne!

So, from then on, the joyful noise in my life has almost exclusively become worship and praise music. I can’t think of better ways to start and end my days – I have noticed my temperament has softened and I am less stressed. Even with things in life that are pretty trying, the music and praise that has become a staple of every day keeps my focus in check. And the best part is the impact it is having on my children. They both love to sing and we’re always singing when we’re together, especially in the car. To hear my son sing like Chris Tomlin or my daughter tackle a Francesca Battistelli song brings the biggest smile to my lips. I am joyful, thankful and humbled by how God uses such gifted people to spread His message. And I am so thankful that He opened up our hearts to receive that message.

I just put the kids to bed before writing this. Each one has their own special cd of their favorite Christian music. And, for months now, they each ask for it to play as they’re falling asleep. A I left Trevor’s room, he was listening to this: “Sing, sing, sing. And make music with the heavens, we will sing, sing, sing. Grateful that you hear us, when we shout your praise, lift high the name of Jesus.” What a wonderful way to head into slumber and what a great way to wrap up the gift of another day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do not put your mortal men, who cannot save…But happy are those . . . whose hope is in the LORD their God. Psalms 146: 3, 5 NLT

Those who know me pretty well know what a big fan of Jimmy Buffett I am. Music, books, an unbelievably successful brand and an all-around lifestyle – laid back and beach-ready. All pretty great stuff and I’ve been a Parrothead for over 20 years. I was in Phoenix at one of my company’s corporate offices. I also happened to have a ticket to Jimmy Buffett’s concert while I was there. The day of the show, as a co-worker and I were leaving a restaurant, we literally ran right into Jimmy! I was pretty shocked, to say the least. Embarrassingly, I stumbled, didn’t say a lot but did manage to ask him if he had a moment for a picture. He has a pretty solid reputation for being humble and gracious, so I really didn’t think it was asking a lot. However, to my surprise, he refused. I was completely deflated. I went on that day, went to the concert that night and had a great time, but something kept nagging at me – I kept coming back to the thought that I need to be careful about placing too much faith in anyone but God.

Then, in His perfectly accurate timing, God delivered the hammer of a reminder in the form of a daily devotional. The day after this encounter, this verse from the Psalms arrived in my inbox! And there it was, the Biblical reference point to drive home what the Holy Spirit was working on in me. I prayed and prayed – please Lord, work on my heart in this area because I know I have a tendency to put too much faith in everyday people. Help keep my focus on you because only you will never leave me nor will you ever deflate my perception of you.

I still love Jimmy, his music and his brand – I just know that he’s merely another flawed human being just like me. He needs the same grace and mercy that I do on a daily basis. So, rather than carry anger or resent the act, I pray that my God will look out for him and continue blessing him so that people can continue to find a little bit of earthly happiness in Margaritaville.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Man, talk about a power verse! I know that a lot of people relate and cling to this particular part of Scripture. It is one of the first versus I memorized because it captures so very much in such a simple, declarative statement.

This was the verse that came to me when Steve, my husband, and I were having a pretty heavy discussion about his future and job prospects. That’s a subject for a whole other entry, but just know that this verse was the one I shared with him after that talk. It was the first verse we’ve ever really discussed in depth.

Now, fast forward a month. I’ve shared the story of my literal walk on the beach with God. As I sat on the “Heaven on Earth” bench on the beach pondering what it is that He has planned for me, the words of this verse took over my mind – “for I know the plans I have for you…” Whoa! That truly made me sit with my mouth hung open. And yes, I heard the emphasis on the I. He was telling me, Patti, don’t worry – I am in control and you are exactly where I want you to be.

And then, there’s the rest of the verse, which just takes it even further. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Seriously, what could be better than that? Nothing, I firmly believe. I don’t have to be concerned, I just have to listen and follow Him and he will guide my steps.

It’s interesting that it was a powerful verse for both Steve and I, and really, for different reasons. I’ve known for a while deep in my heart that God has a path chosen for Steve. I believe it took this verse, and some pretty amazing instances, to open his eyes to see it as well. (Again, the subject of another entry, soon!) And, I think for me, I’ve felt this longing to know Him on a much deeper level, to really experience His power in our lives. This verse has started to do just that for me. So many amazing things have been lining up on the path lately – and they’ve all pointed me to these beautiful, hope-filled, comforting words.

He is simply amazing and I am humbly grateful!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And God Said… Genesis 1:3

Three pretty powerful words, really. Recently I bought myself the NIV Women’s Devotional Bible. I’ve had several different Bibles over the years, but I really wanted one that would be more portable, my sole motivation. Boy, was I in for a treat with this one! Portable and pretty, yes. But really powerful! Something about this translation, combined with the daily readings, really brings the Word to life for me. I have been more inspired and connected since beginning this version than ever before.

I was working on a daily reading and it featured Genesis 1. Those three words, “And God said...” really struck me. I was seeing them and understanding them in a whole different way. Yes, He made everything – pretty amazing and hard to grasp in itself. But beyond that, He also said yes. Yes to coming to Earth in human form and yes to unbelievable pain, suffering and punishment, just so that our sins could be forgiven and we might have freedom from sin – not to mention a key to the door to Heaven. Wow, I don’t know about you, but that is an extremely gracious and generous gift in my book!!

Most people who know me pretty well know that I dabble a little in poetry. I have been blessed with very kind family and friends who encourage it, mostly because it becomes a somewhat creative Christmas card every year. I hope people find it a little entertaining – at least they tell me they do!

Well, when I pondered those three words, “And God said…” I found myself frantically writing down what is either a poem, or possibly lyrics. Now, I am no musician for sure. But, I hope that possibly one day, someone with that gift might be interested in some of my “poetry” to work into worship songs. There are a few folks on our worship team at church who write music. Maybe one of these days I’ll be brave enough to strike up a conversation and share eventually. Or maybe my favorite Christian artist, Chris Tomlin, will see some of it here and want to write his next big hit! (Hey, I can dream, right?) In the meantime, I’ll continue jotting the ideas down in my journal.

But since I brought it up, I’ll give you just a taste of “And God Said”

And God said

He made the earth
He made the sky
He made all things
that walk and fly

And He made you and I

He made the way
He bore it all
He paid the price
He took the fall

And he loves you and I

And God said
For you I will
And through my life
You can be still
Reach out and take
The gift at hand
And forever more
Together we will stand

There’s more, but you get the idea!
I hope you enjoy – until next time,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 NIV

For the past few years, I’ve been on an amazing journey to discover the grace and mercy of Jesus! It has been fantastic. The past couple of months, however, have hit turbo speed! It all started with a cancer scare, and today I stand amazed and in awe of Him. In January, I found out I needed a biopsy and was potentially facing a cancer diagnosis. Only a few days before, I found out I won tickets to see Chris Tomlin in concert in Denver! I had REALLY wanted to go, but finances are pretty tight these days and I just couldn’t swing it. God had a plan! I was so grateful! Chris is my favorite Christian artist and his music has inspired my journey.

During the show, Chris and Israel Houghton said everyone there had “stuff” on their hearts. They encouraged the audience to leave it there, give it to God and let Him take care of whatever “it” is. Right at that moment, I prayed and asked God to take whatever it was that I was facing and use it for good. It was like a wave came over me. I had to fight back the tears. At the end of the show, Chris Tomlin talked about writing the song “I Will Rise” and then played it. Wow! Wow! Wow! It’s was truly amazing to experience God’s power through worship. That song, and the whole night, ignited a fire in me that rocked me to the core.

That music carried me through the biopsy procedure. From that point on, life has changed. I have a new peace about me and that can only be a gift from God Himself! And now, I just returned from a splendid weekend with my sister at the beach. During that trip, I spent so much time in the presence of God. The beach is where I feel closest to Him and where I truly connect on every level. During a walk early one morning, I was praying and worshiping and just being receptive to everything around me. All of a sudden I heard it – “help me write my story.” WOW! If that’s not clear direction, I don’t know what is!

So, I’ve started this blog to serve Him and be a place to begin to capture the thoughts that have been in my mind for quite some time. I pray that this can become a voice for God so that others may discover the grace and peace of a life centered on Him.