Thursday, December 20, 2012

Praying for "Pixie Dust"


My friend, Margaret Feinberg has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God (releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life!  To learn more, visit watch the Wonderstruck video HEREor visit the website:  www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck

Margaret recently posted a great warning on her site that those who have read Wonderstruck have experienced the following symptoms:

-An inability to stop smiling
-An uncontainable desire to pray
-A loss of interest in judging others
-A quiet, unshakable confidence in God
-A renewed ability to see the wonders of God all around

In fact, as I read a sneak peek of Wonderstruck, there was a  word, (really "two" words) at the beginning that intrigued and pulled me into the pages:  "pixie dust." 

That's right.  Pixie dust.  

Margaret isn't suggesting that you ask God for magic, but she states:  "Praying for pixie dust is a childlike expression of trust and hope -- trusting in both God's wisdom and winsomeness, finding hope in God's mercy and mirth."  She also describes a lovely picture of what Jesus was probably like with children: whispering in their ears, giving bear hugs and twirling them with delight. He declares that "the kingdom of God belongs to those who maintain childlike receptivity.  Those who refuse to receive the kingdom of God like a child will miss it entirely."  How many times have I missed it?  

Read my related November post, "Ageless Childlike Faith" HERE.   

Do you recall the phrase, "I want to feel like a kid again"?  That is what I want - to have more childlike receptivity and to be more responsive to Jesus as those children were with Him. I want to feel like a kid again.  

Oh, how not to be distracted in this life by "efficiency and effectiveness" and lose the simple closeness I can have of being in the presence of  Jesus!  I don't want to travel life alone and miss the wonders of what God can show me! I plan to open my arms wide with great expectation and know that He will never disappoint me.  I will be praying for pixie dust, and not "pray it safe."  

I hope you will join me in reading "Wonderstruck."  Let's pray for -- and expect -- wonder.  He's just waiting to show himself glorious to us.  Let's feel like kids again.  


Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.95 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.  



  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Live "Wonderstruck?" with Margaret Feinberg


My friend, Margaret Feinberg has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God (releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life!  

To learn more, visit watch the Wonderstruck video HERE, or visit the website:  www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck

I have had the privilege of getting a sneak peak of her new book, and it is so good that I immediately ordered a print copy from Amazon, for the killer price of $7.57.  You can also order now and receive access to 6 exclusive gifts worth more than $300. Find out how, HERE.

While you are waiting for your order to process, here's more about Wonderstruck from Margaret herself:

Where did the inspiration for the Wonderstruck book and Bible study come from?

"Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything goes wrong, and when you think it can’t get worse, it somehow finds a way? Most people who have worked in ministry have experienced those seasons—some may be in one right now.

My husband, Leif, and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. In the aftermath, as we processed the pain and loss, I had an unexplainable desire in my heart. I began praying for the wonder of God. In essence, I said, 'God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you as Wonderful. I want to know you as I’ve never known you before and see you in places I’ve never recognized you before.' 

God did not disappoint."

What do you mean by “the wonder of God”?

"Sometimes talking or writing about wonder feels like tying kite strings to clouds. It’s ethereal, and you can never quite get a grip on it. But if you look in the dictionary, the two main definitions of wonder are: “being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe” and “to think or speculate curiously.”

Those definitions come together beautifully in our relationship with God. That’s why I define the wonder of God as those moments of spiritual awakening that create a desire to know God more.

In other words, the wonder of God isn’t about an emotional experience or having some cool story to tell your friends, but the wonder of God makes us want more of God—to go deeper and further than we’ve ever been before."

Why are you calling people to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK?

"If you look in the Gospels, what you’ll discover is that those who encountered Jesus were constantly left in wild amazement. They were awestruck by the teachings of Christ, the healings of Christ, the mind-bending miracles of Christ. Within the Gospel of Luke we see words like “awe” and “wonder” and “marvel” at every turn. If this is the natural response to encountering Christ, how much more should it be for you and I—who are invited to live in relationship with Christ as sons and daughters of our God Most High?  We even created a free PDF that looks at some of these Scriptures. For a free copy, email us at wonderstruck@margaretfeinberg.com and we’ll send you one."



Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Seeing God's Wonder

Photo from: http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/curtis/curtis.html
A wonder of this world that I would absolutely love to see is the Northern Lights.  For me, having the opportunity to see this mysterious and glorious light show would truly be a highlight in my earthly life.  

Unless I travel to the northern part of our hemisphere, I will not get to see this great wonder God has created.  However, I am so thankful for the many other wonders of God that I have experienced in my own backyard! 

Living in the Texas Hill Country, I regularly experience types of nature that are truly beautiful.  White-tailed deer are plentiful here, and waking in the morning to see three or four deer silently having breakfast in your backyard is truly a breathtaking moment designed by God for me to enjoy. 

My friend, Margaret Feinberg [www.margaretfeinberg.com], has a new book and 7-session Bible Study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, releasing Christmas Day.  It is a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life.  Wonderstruck [www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck] will help you:
  • Recognize the presence of God in the midst of your routine
  • Unearth extraordinary moments on ordinary days
  • Develope a renewed passion for God
  • Identifuy what's holding you back in prayer
  • Discover joy in knowing you're wildly loved
Want to learn more?  Sure you do!  Watch the Wonderstruck video here:  https://vimeo.com/53953257


So where have you seen the wonder of God in your life?
Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter Facebook or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right NOW with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.57 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble . 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Approaching our Heavenly Father with Childlike Faith

When I was four years old, I asked my mom how Jesus could come into my heart.  She lovingly took me to her bedroom where we both knelt on the floor by her bed. That day I gave my life to Jesus.

It was in Sunday School that I learned more about the power of Jesus from Mrs.(Vera) Brenner.  A dynamo and a little rough around the edges for some, she nicknamed all the kids at Coloma Bible Church "Beaver." One Sunday, she awarded me a beautiful white Bible, my first ever, as a gift for successfully memorizing Scripture. She was a fixture in that little church near my neighborhood. Growing up in that church was an experience that I will always carry with me.

It was because of Mrs. Brenner that I learned how Jesus would answer prayer. I remember how one day as I was playing in my room, I accidentally cut my finger. Looking back today, it was a very small cut, but as a small girl, I just wanted the bleeding to stop so that I wouldn't need a bandage. Kneeling down in front of my wooden toy box, I asked Jesus if he would please stop the bleeding on my finger.  After my heartfelt prayer, I opened my eyes, stared at my finger and waited for Jesus' to stop the bleeding, which it did, right away!  He really answered my prayer!

This story came to mind today and it was a reminder of the promise of the power of prayer. It doesn't matter if you are a four year old, a mother of a four year old, or one hundred and four years old, our Jesus is waiting for us to approach him with the same child-like faith.  Requests big or small, He desires us to place them in His hands and then watch in amazement and wonder as He steps in with His power.

As you go about your day, remember that nothing we we ask of  God is insignificant!  He is not only our Lord, but he is our Father. And there is nothing more precious than a relationship with a kingdom daughter and a Heavenly Father who loves her unquestionably or unconditionally.

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child
 is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  
And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes Me."
- Matthew 18:3-5 NIV

Friday, October 12, 2012

Eat the Honey Scroll!

At my church, we have a wonderful group of ladies who meet every Wednesday evening.  At this week's gathering, we watched an insightful video by Bible teacher Joyce Meyer called "Cracking the Enemy's Code."  She instructed that we must know the strategies of the devil so that we can, with God's help, be victorious over them. Passivity is one of Satan's most effective weapons, and unfortunately, Christians are becoming too passive in today's evil world. We each have a responsibility given by God to reach out into the world and to be out in the world, active for Him!  Activity overcomes passivity. Joyce says, "When the light has been turned on, darkness must go."

This reminded me of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel.  He was only 30 years old when God appeared to him and told him he was chosen to deliver God's message to the Israelites, Exekiel's own community, who had become rebellious and hard-hearted, falling away from the Lord. Whether or not the Israelites heard and heeded the message didn't matter; it was still what the Lord chose Ezekiel to do.

We have the same mission.  It doesn't matter how old you are, what your vocation is, if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom -- all of us are a part of some type of community because of what we do and where we live.  It is because of this familiarity that God will most likely ask us to go there first -- in our own communities -- to share His Word.

Isn't it scary sometimes to be active and outspoken about Jesus to the people that we know the best?  We tend to worry about what they think. God told Ezekiel not to be afraid of his own people, just as we shouldn't be afraid to share Jesus in our own communities either. (Ezek 3:9)  We have been chosen to share Jesus with other people.  Even though it can be unnerving to do so, share anyway!  Let your community see Jesus living through you every day!

There is an interesting sidebar to this story at the beginning of Chapter 3.  God has Ezekiel eat a scroll with the message he was to give to the Israelites.  Ezekiel reported that it tasted sweet as honey.  God's Word is sweetness in our lives!  Let us allow His word to sink deep in our hearts like God asked Ezekiel to do, because when you have tasted God's Word, it will be easier to share it with others "and Go." (Ezekiel 3:11)

After God told Exekiel to "Go," the Spirit lifted him up and he was blessed.  That is what will happen when we Go and tell others about the Gospel!  Don't worry about whether they hear or not -- our job is to GO.  God will take care of the rest!

"Serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up on a single commend: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  Galatians 5:13-14

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

No Unfinished Sculptures

While reading through a chapter in a book, have you ever stumbled on one nugget of truth that will stand out boldly like Mount Rushmore and you can't get past it until you stop and spend time thinking on it?

That's what happened to me this week as I read through Chapter 3 of the book "Unglued" and I read Lysa's TerKeurst's story about the Unfinished Sculpture that shared the same room with well-known masterpiece of "David" completed by Michelangelo.

The nugget that grabbed my attention was: "He (God) allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done."  I am an unfinished sculpture that needs to be chiseled, especially with all the unglued moments that I have had lately!

I thought about "chisel" a little bit more.  Sculptors used a tool called a chisel to sculpt the stone and fashion it into the figure of what they see inside their mind, just as Michelangelo did with the sculpture of David.  The chisel has a cutting edge at the end of the blade, often made of steel, that is used for cutting or reshaping stone. Chiseling is a slow, thought out process and cannot be hurried.  As in the case of Michelangelo, it took him over two years of immersing himself into the job of sculpting David until he felt he was finished.  This sculpture was not a small project; David stands 17 feet tall!

Through reading this chapter, I recognized that if I want God to chisel me, I have to allow him to design me into what HE sees me to be, not what I think I want myself to be. God's sculpting may not be easy, and it will not be a hurried process.  It may make me uncomfortable and I may question the decisions of where I am being chiseled, but it is the Sculptor alone who can do the job of fashioning me into something wonderful and beautiful!  I rather be God's workmanship and accomplish those things that He has already prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10) instead of constantly struggling to figure it out on my own.

And isn't that where real freedom will take place?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some Things I Should Not Change

You know what? Technology and my iPhone have gotten the better of me and I have given up on them.  Oh Reader, you may be shocked and amazed at my pronouncement, but allow me explain my frustration.

Calendars.

I am a mom, wife, school volunteer, church volunteer, writer, blogger and chauffeur (and not necessarily in those orders on most days!) and therefore I have many things that need and must be kept aligned in order for my life to be lived without disaster.  Or chaos.  Or drama.  At least not in unmanageable quantities.

Lately the whole "syncing calendars between devices" has just about driven me over keyboard (hence, the drama and chaos that I hoped to avoid).  In the old days, all my entries were logged in the Outlook calendar on my PC.  I set my reminders and events so that when I checked email -- poof!  There were my reminders. Then the iPhone entered my world and I discovered the Cozi app. Genius! My Outlook calendar could sync to the online Cozi calendar, which in turn showed up on my iPhone app.  Hooray! I could also add my to-do list, grocery list and meal plan, all in Cozi from my PC or phone. I could even add calendar reminders from Evite to Outlook and sync it all.  Brilliant!

Confession: I hate typing on my IPhone. Texting is useful (love shortcuts) but typing entries quickly on a calendar app was not an easy or enjoyable process for me. Try making your next appointment at the doctor while whipping out your iPhone, loading the app, scrolling to the appointment date, opening it, typing info on three screens with fumbling fingers, all while the receptionist has efficiently entered the information on her PC and is waiting for you to finish (with that "look") so that she can move on to the next person. I manage, but later I would always retype and fix entries on the online calendar when on my PC. I am a perfectionist that way.

This spring I got the iPad 3. Joy of joys! I love my iPad. Instead of my 17" laptop, it is much more cozy to cuddle with an iPad in bed while reading a book through the Kindle app. Or playing Solitaire.

Of course I downloaded the free Cozi app. I could now input items on my iPad instead of the PC, along with the to-do list, grocery list and meal plan (that I had yet to use). Forgotten was the Outlook calendar. Cozi with the iPhone and iPad were my scheduling world.

Drama and chaos ensue. All the birthdays and other yearly events on my PC calendar did not resync to my Cozi calendar at the beginning of this year. Cozi reminders would only text once on my phone. Monster fingers made entries look like a foreign language. Things were forgotten. After a half-hearted attempt to retype all the data on the iCalendar already provided on the iPhone and iPad, I began to feel like a deer in headlights.  Hit. Me. Now.

I must clarify that Cozi is NOT a bad app.  It's actually quite easy to use, convenient, and I am confident that it works precisely how Type A personalities would like it to work.  For non-Type A people (ahem), a calendar can't be made difficult to handle. Multitudes of tasks I can handle and delegate; just don't make it another task to keep it all straight.

Back to today. And the 90s. I am going back to the handy dandy datebook, my friends! Not the fancy Daytimer -- goodness knows that I wouldn't manage those lists and colors and cross referencing. I'm much too phlegmatic for that. THIS is the solution, arriving during Back to School shopping. Right. On.
"Target".

 

So far, it has been a great success.  I am taking one month at a time, and it's all getting in there. Plus it fits nicely in any size purse. Confession: I never used those to-do lists, grocery lists and meal plans anyway.  Post-its are perfect for lists. Who knows -- I may just go crazy and use different color ink pens for my entries.

Some things should not be changed. Just sayin'.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Imperfect Progress

Starting this week, I am excited to be a part of an online bible study with the book, "Unglued", by Lysa TerKeurst and facilitated by online bible study leader, Melissa Taylor. This book has been on my "to read" list for some time, and just when I began to bury myself into it, information on this online study came to my attention. No simple coincidence, right?  Let's just say that I couldn't get my mouse clicking fast enough to get enrolled!

Just in the first chapter I am struck by the similarities of Lisa's account versus my own experiences. As a woman in her "later 40s", I feel helpless with my emotions at times (okay -- countless times!), wondering if this if the beginning of the dreaded period of aging change, or if there is something else wrong with me. Why must I deal with these emotions anyway? Why did God make me like this?  "God gave me emotions so I could experience life, not destroy it." (page 16) Yes, I want to experience life!

Within me is the strong desire to make positive changes, but I also have that not-so-good-at-times trait of perfectionism:  "I am going to do this right, or I just won't do it at all!" There are some perfectionists who drive themselves crazy by working hard to make it perfect, but there is also the type of perfectionist that can become so overwhelmed with the thought of having to do it perfect, that they don't even try it at all for the fear of doing it wrong. Guess which one I am?

Thank goodness there is what Lisa calls, "Imperfect Progress", those "slow steps of progress wrapped in grace." (page 14) I can do slow. I sure do like progress. And I certainly can do imperfect! As a wife and mother who prefers to complete many projects quickly and efficiently, I have come to realize that seeking change for myself will have to be a longer process. Trusting God will be a part of this process -- He has never let me down before. In fact, in my bible reading today I came across Isaiah 40:31 which reminded me of God's faithfulness:  "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."  I am certainly ready to make some imperfect progress.  Will you join me on this journey?

If you want more information about the "Unglued" online bible study, click HERE for more info.  

Friday, September 07, 2012

True Loyalty in Friendship

I just concluded reading John MacArthur's newest book called: "Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You."  (You can read my review of the book here on the blog or go here)  Such a great book!

One of the chapters that I particularly liked (and one that was also a little convicting!) was the story about  Jonathan, son of King Saul and closest friend of David.  Many of us may remember the story told of Jonathan and David's friendship from Sunday School;  however now as an adult, this narrative gave me some new perspective on friendship.

After King Saul had disobeyed God and young David was annointed as the next king, David, already an adept musician, was employed to be Saul's musical "therapist"; playing the harp for him when he was distressed.  Shortly afterward, David steps forward to kill the taunting Goliath and it was after this event that David was asked to live permanently in the palace (no doubt so Saul could keep an eye on him).  He later married Saul's daughter and became a leader in the nation's army as well.  Things were going well, until David's success and popularity with the people threatened Saul so much that he decided to kill David.

During all this drama was Jonathan.  He was no doubt  an eye witness to the killing of Goliath and recognized that God's favor was upon David.  This prince, very much unlike his own father, saw a kindred spirit in David while he lived at the palace.  I Samuel 18:1 describes their deep and unusual friendship:  "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."  They were soul mates, or the first "bro-mance."  When Saul made his death threat against him, David knew that he would have an ally in Jonathan because they had made a covenant of loyalty with each other (I Samuel 18:3)  Jonathan interceded on David's behalf, but Saul was resolved to end David's life.

David became a fugitive, and was on the run for his life.  However, Jonathan still was able to find ways to encourage his friend as he did in I Samuel 23:17:  "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you.  You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.  Even my father Saul knows that."  

What was impressed upon me was not just how this friendship was extraordinary, but that Jonathan had a fierce loyalty to David, even though he knew that he would not inherit the throne from his father Saul.  There was no animosity, no jealousy.  He humbly continued to support and uplift David, even telling him that when David took the throne, he would be there beside him as continual support.  Jonathan truly loved David and had no earthly agenda with David's friendship.  He "did not merely accept his non-kingly role; he embraced it wholeheartedly -- eagerly protecting and promoting the one whom God had appointed to be king instead of him." (MacArthur, Pg. 104)  

Today I believe we treat loyalty and friendship in itself far too loosely, especially when it comes to our own success and accomplishments.  Through TV reality shows, the workplace and other situations, we witness how those who say they are "BFF's" will turn on each other with gossip and antagonism when one has something good happen to them.  Competition and jealousy take over, and the friends will take sides with other people dragged intp the drama in order to push forward their own agenda.  How can that be called friendship?

Paul the Apostle tells us how to be a real friend in Colossians 3:12-14:  "....clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony."  


I want to learn to be a true and loyal friend like Jonathan, don't you?  A faithful, dependable, loving confidant who embraces her specific role that God desires in that relationship.  That role may be as an encourager, promoter, protector, mentor or all of the above.  I do love my friends, but I know that I can continue to improve more and more to be the friend back to them that I know that God can enable me to be.

Why not take time this week to contact a friend that you haven't talked to in a long time with a handwritten note or phone call (no texting or Facebooking allowed!)  Or if the Lord has impressed on your heart someone from your past, look for them through Facebook and reconnect!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

God, Do You Care?


God, are you there?  Because I really messed up this time. 

That was my somewhat hesitant, and very much hysterical, call to God back in late 1996 when I became pregnant. 

I had been confident that my boyfriend, who had asked to marry me, would come through as the hero to rescue me and to set a date.  And he did want to set the date, but not for the wedding . . . .  for the abortion.  The fellow who shared his vision with me of a family with four kids now wanted no responsibilities.   When I refused his request to have an abortion, he left.  I wouldn’t see him again.

Unfortunately, the decision to take my life plan into my own hands would quickly be seen as a serious mistake.   I had just turned 30, had a good management job and was living on my own, but the surety I previously had regarding my long term career goals and future marriage plans had disappeared. 

As a long time follower of Jesus, I wondered if He was would still be there for me, and whether this would be a storm from which He would save me.   From that hesitant, sincere call to God, asking Him to take over this mess I made, my prayers were answered in ways that were entirely unexpected!

God, do you care?  Because I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

He DID care; He forgave me when I asked, and He did not offer any condemnation during this new struggle.  How did I know? 
  • I received a large, unexpected raise at work that would allow me to raise my own child.  
  • It was discovered that I would get a portion of my salary for a paid medical leave while I would be off work for six weeks after having the baby.
  •  Friends rallied around and sponsored a baby shower that helped me get started in a new life with a baby.
The best answer to my prayers was a vision, in which I dreamed about playing with a toddling, blond-haired little boy, who I called “Matthew.”

A few months later, I gave birth to a sweet, cuddly (and loud!) little boy, who I promptly named Matthew, which means “Gift from God.”  From that day, I look at my son as a special gift – one that is here to do great things for God and one who was created for a divine purpose here on earth, regardless of how he entered the world.

From that time, God has still provided many blessings:   I married a wonderful man who is not only the very best husband for me, but is a fantastic father who was specifically chosen by God for my son.  

Does God care?  He does!  As I work through Jennifer Rothschild’s Bible study, “Missing Pieces”, I was once again reminded that even when we are in the wilderness, we can be humbled, learn our true character and find out whether we will learn to obey God’s commands (Deut. 8:2-3). In this case, that was learning the lesson that God has the best plan for my life, not me. God rescued me from myself, and delivered me from additional hardship.  Were there consequences?  Yes.  However, God is faithful, and when I search for Him, He hears me and delivers me.  (Psalm 34:4-7)  

UPDATE:  (9-3-12)
Just today, I get an email out of the blue from the husband of a friend who I have been out of touch for about five years.  He wanted to tell me that she has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and just learned of this diagnosis in April.  Chemotherapy has not helped, and she is currently in a rehabilitation center.  She also has two sons who were adopted, both with special needs.  Of course, I called her immediately.

Remembering this blog post from just one day ago, I now cry -- does God care for her?  Where is He in this circumstance?  Where is His compassion in her pain?

As I learned from "Missing Pieces", I must "take God as He is and trust that He cares because He is in the boat" with my friend right now.  I can only believe that God has brought my friend and I back in touch as part of His plan of compassion for her.  

Want “real hope when life doesn’t make sense? “  Find out more about Jennifer Rothschild’s new Bible study, “Missing Pieces” HERE.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Away from the winding road . . .

My original intentions for this blog, back in 2008, was to share all the usable mothering information I found and experienced about saving money, raising family, homemaking and domestic life.  That intention has changed significantly, and my blog has been given a purposeful "facelift."  While there may be some sporadic posts with useful information on the original topics and the layout may get updated from time to time, the blog will now have much more to do with parenting, marriage, leadership and building community.
  
For the last year, I feel as though I have been on long and winding road, learning more about God, establishing a closer relationship with Him and discovering where He wants to take me next on the journey.

How I got here; a little testimony:
I had been blessed to be involved in MOPS (for more information, see mops.org) since my oldest son was 4 years old in 2000.  Since then, I became involved in MOPS group leadership, leading the original group I joined, then starting a new MOPS group at my home church.  From that step, I was encouraged to apply and was accepted for MOPS field leadership where I had opportunity for mentoring, leading and training other MOPS moms in my local area and parts of Texas. It was awesome! I could still be a part of the ministry I loved, even though I had "outgrown" eligibility in a traditional MOPS group (my youngest started Kindergarten in the fall of 2008)  I knew that I was on the right road, and using my gifts and talents for my real calling!   I happily attended trainings and conventions, plus enjoyed the camaraderie with other Texas leaders.  I loved connecting with other women, and I especially loved preparing and speaking to moms and MOPS leaders.

In the spring of 2010, things changed.  My passion for MOPS (as well as other responsibilities) vanished, and I fell into a dark period of depression.  I pushed through my responsibilities for MOPS, but there was no more  passion for what I was doing.  As a result, I retired from MOPS leadership, since my heart was not in my real calling any longer. At the time I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do, but I had realized that I didn't have the energy or ability to function in that position that way that was expected of me.

Originally, I had gotten involved in MOPS because I wanted to be the best mom I could be and use my skills to help others.  Now I saw myself as just a stay at home mom without any mission other than raising my kids, who were both in school.  I fell deeper in depression, and while I managed to put on a good facade around other people, I made life miserable for my family.

After several weeks of misery, my sweet husband finally confronted me about how bad my mood swings, excessive sleeping and overall rotten disposition had become and how it was damaging our marriage.  He went with me to our family doctor, and with support, I was able to get back on track. (I will speak more about this journey in the future.)

Since that time, it has been almost two years of "recovery."  I have learned more about Jesus, made repairs in my relationship with Him, and clearly discovered the direction He wants me to go!  The result?  The dream that I thought I was fulfilling with MOPS, was only just a portion of the pie!  God didn't take my dream away from me -- He only redirected me.  Helping other women will still be the ministry, but God has pushed me to develop a bigger dream:  going on my own to speak, write and lead, building communities of women who in turn help other women.   

I hope you will visit here often and be a part of the journey I'm taking with Jesus.  I want to share with you, so that you can share with others.  It's exciting, and I am in anticipation of what the road ahead will be like!


Where Does the Time Go?

The one thing that I love about Blogger is that when you blog, it not only becomes your own diary or journal about life and family happenings, but it can become a great encouragement for yourself and what you have learned on the journey!
I came across this blog entry today (click to read) -- and it is hard to believe this was posted 4 years ago!  Now when school starts on August 27th, my youngest will be in 4th grade, and my oldest a sophomore in high school!  Where has the time gone?

Psalm 121 is still an important passage for me as I have had to look continually for God's help during those times when I have had to teach and coach my kids about friendships, social issues, choices, consequences, the media and so many other things that the world uses to entrap them and discourage them.  We have had some difficult times, and there have been many "teaching moments" that I wish would have happened differently, but God is faithful, and He is still at work in our family and all of us are changing for the better!

Being a mom is a lifelong journey, and thankfully we can get help that we need to prepare our children for their independence!  Don't give up, Mom -- know where your Help comes from!  The Maker of heaven and earth will move heaven and earth to be there for you when you need it and ask for it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Book of the Bible You Really Don't Know About

When we refer to the Old Testament in the Bible, we may think about Creation, the Great Flood, battle heroes, smart judges, wise prophets, good and crazy kings, praises in the Psalms, wisdom in Proverbs, and the eventual Captivity of God's people.

What we don't think about is Deuteronomy.

Deuter-what?

You probably know that this book is in the Old Testament, but you wouldn't consider it as one of those "go to" books.  After all, all the exciting history and stuff that is better understood is elsewhere.

But did you know that Deuteronomy has a multitude of encouraging nuggets for all of us?  Yep, right in there with all those laws and commandments given to the Israelites by God through Moses.

As teacher and rabbi,* we know that Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:4; Deut. 8:3).  If Jesus taught his followers from this book, then he will most definitely want us to look more closely at it too.

I took this on as a challenge, delving into the book to see what I could find. It didn't take long for me to find a good lesson.

In chapter 4, Moses is giving Israel a warning from God about idolatry, but in verse 29, there is a treasure:   

"But from there you will search again for the Lord your God.  And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him."  (NLT)

When we need God, He is always "findable!"  He doesn't play hide and seek with us; when we truly look for Him and ask of Him, He is going to be right there for us. (Psalm 146:18)

That's a good promise right there, but it gets better.  Verses 30-31 say this:  

"When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says.  God, your God, is above all a compassionate God.  In the end, he will not abandon you, he won't bring you to ruin, he won't forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them."  (MSG)

"When troubles come."  Oh, and don't we know that to be true?  We have our good times, but troubles can be around the corner:  your child becomes desperately sick, the hubby gets laid off, the house payment is late, the minivan needs major repair, again.  Each of us has had, and will have our share of trouble.

"You will come back to God."  When there are good times, don't we sometimes have a tendency to let things roll and not be close to God as we should?  Don't worry.  He knows.  And he knows that you will come looking for Him when things aren't so good.  He desires for you too.  He also asks you to listen to what He has to say and to follow it so He can help you through the bad times.

"God, your God, is above all a compassionate God."  He is your God!  You don't need permission to approach Him.  He is merciful, kind, sympathetic and understanding.  He is ALL heart!  He's ready to wrap you in a loving hug while you are going through your mess.

"He will not abandon you ... he won't forget"  He is ever faithful and will never reject or turn away from you no matter what the trouble is or what you may have done!   He is yours and you are His.  He will always be attentive and listen to everything that you have to tell Him during your distress.

Don't feel as though when troubles come that you cannot go to your God for help and a hug.  Even if you haven't spent much time with Him during the good times, He is forgiving, loving and always, always there for you.  All He asks is for you to come to Him.  He is "our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. " (Psalm 46:1)

Is there something you are struggling with and can share with Him today?  Don't wait. Go to Him and ask for His help.  And don't forget to ask for the hug.  He gives the best hugs ever!

Has this been helpful to you?  If so, please share this post with your friends, subscribe by email or follow via one (or more!) of the social media outlets for updates.


*Rabbi was a title of dignity given by the Jews to the masters of the law and distinguished teachers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Too Busy? 2 Questions to Ask Yourself (and your Calendar!)

There is a small, unassuming book I discovered at our local library called "The One Minute Organizer, Plain and Simple," by Donna Smallin.  It is a quick read, full of easy, uncomplicated ways to implement better home management. 

There was one statement from the author that was so profound, yet so simple:  


"Next time you hear yourself complaining about not having TIME
to get organized, stop.  All we have is time. 
How we chose to use it is up to us."  


Good, right?  Immediately you know that this statement doesn't apply to just organization, but also to every other area of life.  

How we choose to use our time is important; yet every day, we feel as though the option of choosing how we spend our time is overruled by the other demands keeping us busy instead. 

When people ask me how I am, I will admit my first response has been, "Oh, I'm staying busy!" It's a common reply for many of us.  But I wonder:  Why are we so busy?  Are there really that many real demands on our time?  Or are we choosing to be busy?

Maybe it’s time to evaluate just what is making us oh-so busy.

First, determine what is making demands of your time. Look at what you were doing this past week and how much time each area of your life is taking.  (Use a percentage if this helps you visualize this.)  I assume your calendar is similar to mine and includes activities and things to do for these areas:
·       Job (outside of the home as well as in the home)
·       Kids’ school activities and events
·       Volunteer work
·       Home management (which is pretty much everything else!)

Let’s take a closer look.

Ask yourself:  Are activities and appointments on my calendar the result of something else dictating how I spend my time?  Or am I the one choosing how to manage my family’s schedule? 

Do you see the difference?

We can either: (1) allow outside pressures (or people) to create our schedule, or (2) we can opt to keep the power in our hands when managing time.  Keeping the power in our hands means that our family members are the first to benefit, and not always someone else.  It may mean that we plan appointments farther in advance to get a better time, instead of first available.  We may need to limit the number of activities our children can do outside of school so they will have enough down time at home.  Or we can offer only a specific day of the week when we know we will have the ability to give more time and effort on a project or service.

Here’s an example:  Your 9 year old son has been begging you to take karate lessons, and the closest karate school has just one available opening left – Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.  The other option is 30 minutes away.  Thursday evening is when you know your husband is always home.  What do you do?

You may say, “Of course, I would talk it through with my husband first. He may even decide to take our son to karate.”  Yes, discussing family activities should be shared with your spouse, but in this case, you wouldn’t even need to bring it to your husband’s attention. Why? Because the best answer won’t let something or someone else make your decision. Why allow that to dictate your schedule and possibly your husband’s schedule.  Maybe the other option won’t take away important family time. 

This is just a simple illustration, but the principle is the same:  We make the hard decisions of what goes on our family's schedule, because family comes

first.  In the example above, the other karate school is a much longer drive, but there are more openings.  Now it is you who has power of your schedule by choosing a class on a better day and a better time.  Family priorities are still in line, your son will benefit, your husband still has his night off, and in the end, it will be less stress for you! 

Of course there will always be things that have its ways of creeping in when we least expect it. By using this principle, it should alleviate some stress, because you will have more time to take care of the unexpected. 

And your dentist appointment isn’t until next month anyway.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: "Cleaning House" by Kay Wills Wyma

Click on the book to purchase!
Kay Wills Wyma gives her account of a one-year experiment that developed after seeing an environment of entitlement with her children. She dove into her experiment wholeheartedly (and also with a little bit of trepidation) because she wanted to do what was best for her family.

Entitlement with kids today is a hot topic of many conversations, but Kay's book reveals that she was someone who didn't just talk about it  -- she actually did something about it!   Moms want to make life easier for our kids, but we don't realize that by doing so much for them, we are actually harming them. This one-year experiment was to show her kids what "real life" was really like.

This book is her journey of teaching her two preteens and two teenagers the facts of life: laundry, cooking, cleaning, hospitality, charity work and so much more, choosing a new project to learn each month of the year.  She shares the successes and the things that maybe didn't quite work out as she hoped, all the while giving honest commentary of what she was learning as she went through the process.

While I had already put in to practice some of the things that Kay herself implemented, I did glean many more ideas that I plan to incorporate.  With summer vacation just starting for us, it is a great time to have some "summer school" that will get my boys more prepared for Life!

Affiliate links included in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books (www.bloggingforbooks.com) book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review: "I Love You to God and Back" by Amanda Lamb

“I Love You to God and Back” is a sweet, engaging journal of the author as she shares stories and insights during bedtime prayers with her young daughter, Chloe. The prayers are not only a learning process for the 6 year old, but also for the author, as she also discovers revelations about God and her family.

I would personally recommend reading this book as a daily inspiration, or if you are a busy mom, taking a couple moments and pick a nugget to think upon.

In the back of the book is a short “Prayer Primer for Parents” that gives some steps for praying with your child, which are helpful. Overall, it is an easy to read, honest interpretation from another mom who is resolved to teach her children how God is totally approachable. I recommend it!

This book can be purchased through Amazon.

Affiliate links in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Texting the Old Fashioned Way

We certainly live in a highly elevated techno-savvy world, don't we?  Facebook, Twitter, email, texting, and many other websites and smart phone apps are available for all types of people who want to be included into a community of some sort.  With hectic schedules, either as a career mom or a stay at home mom, we have certainly come to rely on the speed and convenience of technology when it comes to communication with other friends, family and our spouses.  It has become easier to send an E-card for a birthday, to text a time for a lunch or play date, to use Evite for planning and sending invites for a get-together, to forward an email to remind a group of their next meeting, to share reading interests with friends on Goodreads and to shop, order and send someone a gift right from an online store.  

Because women are made for community and relationship, it is not problem for us to jump right on board this social media wagon.  I think that Facebook is fantastic for keeping up with friends and family, Twitter is a unique and effective networking and marketing tool, and texting is can be so quick and helpful (especially with your teenagers!).  I use them all and more.  However, it is crucial to always remember that these are tools, and not replacements for TRUE friendships and community.

Just as we as women love relationship, we also want to be valued and appreciated, don't we?  Today, I want to encourage you to take the time periodically to encourage your friends in an old-fashioned way:  with a handwritten note or greeting card.  There is such a feeling of thoughtfulness and acceptance when you receive a birthday card or some sort of "thinking of you" card via snail mail.  It is a delight to know that someone else thought enough of you to find the card, write the note, address the envelope and buy a postage stamp, just for you. "Old fashioned" can still be more special!

While today's technology has taken over and still will be the main mode of communication, don't forget to take time to affirm your relationships in a significant way.


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  

Proverbs 25:11


Want more suggestions on how to apply this successfully through your women's ministry or other women's group?  Click HERE to send me an email!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

God in the Clouds

If there is enough rain early in the year in Texas, March and April are magical months for wildflowers.  As I write this, Texas Bluebonnets are springing up everywhere through the bright green grasses along highways and in fields everywhere in our Hill Country.

Along with the wildflowers blooming this past week, there have also been many clouds hanging out in our expansive Texas skies.  Numerous clouds and massive clouds, but these are not rain-filled clouds. No, just clouds journeying across the sky:  bright, white, puffy clouds and also grey, expansive, low lying clouds.

This morning I was watching these cloudy skies while reading "The Beloved Disciple" by Beth Moore. While the entire book has been amazing, it was a passage she included from Oswald Chambers' book, "My Utmost for His Highest" that stood out like a bright lit marquee for me today:

"In the Bible, clouds are always associated with God.  Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God.  Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith.  If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith.  'The clouds are the dust of His feet' (Nahum 1:3).  They are a sign that God is there . . . Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something.  His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child -- a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows . . . "

This kind of makes you look at clouds differently, doesn't it?  Not only have there been many clouds overhead this past week, but I have experienced many cloudy skies in my own life lately as well.  Knowing that these clouds are a sign that God is there, that He is teaching me something that will bring me closer to Him, makes me look at the cloudy days differently.  I often make my life more complicated than it is meant to be, but God can make it uncomplicated if we just follow what He teaches us.  It won't be easy at times, but when you spend time looking at the clouds, they can be most beautiful.


"For your mercy is great above the heavens, and your truth reaches to the clouds." 

 Psalm 108:4 (NKJV)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

What is Your Life Story Going to Tell?

Matthew West is one of my favorite Christian artists.  His song, "The Story of Your Life" is the best one to hear when  I wonder:  "Is what I'm doing worth it?  Why am I going through this struggle again?  When will I see victory?  Will anyone notice my contribution to this world?"

It is said that God will not give us more than we can handle.  While that could be true, did you know that your struggles and victories aren't necessarily only about you?  Every crisis, every trouble, every win and every success is not only for us to learn, but also to help or teach someone else through it!  By sharing your story, you can help guide someone else through the same struggle, and you can rejoice with others who have had the same victories!  

In Matthew West's song, he writes this:

This is the joy
and it's the pain
and all the pages in between
your finest hour
your weakest moment
it's where you've been
it's where you are
it's where you're going

Everyone's story will have joy, pain and everything in between.  Unless we are willing to share what work God has done through us to get where we are, we are losing a God-given, wonderful opportunity to help others along the way.

When I was leading the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at my church, I never told my motherhood story until the very last meeting of my third year of leadership, when I was "retiring."  No one had asked about my story, and I didn't share anything regarding my past, only my present.  In my heart, I knew that it would not be right to leave this wonderful group of ladies without sharing an important, although heartbreaking part of my story.  I had to type the story I wanted to recount  so I could read it, because I did not know if I could make it through without crying.  

Afterward, I received many thanks for sharing my story, but there is one comment that I will not forget.  This young mom pulled me aside immediately and told me that her story was nearly the same as mine.  She shared with me what a struggle and heartbreak it had been for her too, and because I offered to share what happened to me, she had the peace knowing that she herself had made the right decisions.

Was it a little painful for me to share my story?  You bet.  Was it worth it?  Immensely.  My story is still continuing, but I plan to use the "God-given" opportunities to share with others who may need encouragement.

Remember -- you are the writer, director and producer of the story of Your Life.  Where do you want to be?  What do you want to do for others?

This is the story of your life
You decide
How the rest is gonna read
This is your chance between the lines
To define the legacy you leave
This is the story of your life
Go tell the story of your life
'Cause it's a story worth telling
It's worth telling


"The Story of Your Life" - lyrics by Matthew West
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Book Review: "Primal" by Mark Batterson

UPDATE (Aug 2015):  You can still find more resources in connection with this book at theprimalmovement.com  

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."  (Proverbs 25:2)

Mark Batterson calls us to a time of Reformation, "born out of the rediscovering of something ancient, something primal.  They (Reformations) are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically reapplied to our lives." 

This was the first book I've read from Mark Batterson, but I was engrossed from the beginning when he asked the question:  "Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?"

Mark takes you, chapter by chapter, back to where Christianity is really from -- these words of Christ spoken two thousand years ago:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."   He explains how Christianity is really primal compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy -- Christianity in it's true raw form -- not the complicated Christianity that exists today.  Your previous thinking may be challenged, because reading this book will expose the authentic way to find and know God once again, they way He is to be known!

You can purchase this book through Amazon.

Want more information?  View this video as Mark explains:


Affiliate links included in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books (www.bloggingforbooks.com) book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: “His Mighty Warrior”by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Since this book is a children's devotional book for boys, who better to review it with me than my nine year old son (known on this blog as "The Youngest")!  He absolutely loved doing this devotional book!

“His Mighty Warrior” begins each devotion with a letter, many times addressed to “My Warrior” and written as from God Himself, and ends with a scripture verse and a prayer.  The letters encourage boys to be someone with great character:  how to be courageous, respect rules, handle conflicts and disappointments, choose words, honor others and so many other subjects that are important to boys as they grow up in this day and age.  There are 50 devotions in all, enough to choose one each week of the year.

Not only is the subject matter relevant to boys and well written, it has a wonderfully padded cover book (excellent for gift giving) with wonderful illustrations, drawn to encourage the imagination of boys.  We have found this book to be a great encouragement and useful resource for discussing many topics and issues.

If you're ready for this adventure, you can purchase the book this book from Amazon.

UPDATE:  There is now a devotional for girls entitled:  His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from the King by the same author.


Affiliate links included in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books www.bloggingforbooks.com) book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.