Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scripture On The Screen

Churches go through trends, it seems. For years now, in my own church and in the churches I’ve visited, I’ve seen a big screen in the front of the room that is used to help put up words to worship songs, main points in a message, and Bible verses.

At first, I liked it. I liked the fact that the church was using media and getting more current.

But lately, when it comes to that screen putting Bible verses up? Well, I don’t think I like it anymore. And I’ll explain why.

Recently I noticed that we don’t dig into God’s Word on our own anymore. You see, it is being done for us.

When we go to church on Sundays, my daughters don’t even bring their Bibles. They tell me they don’t need to because the Bible verses are put up on the screen for them to see. And I even noticed myself recently, failing to open my own Bible because it was easier to just look up and read it in front of me.

I realize that having “Scripture on the Big Screen” probably started in a quest to help those who were new to the church. Those who didn’t own Bibles or who didn’t know how to find certain passages. We wanted to make it easier for them and put it where they could still read it.  But as time has gone on, I’m thinking that this tactic has instead, done so much for us that we don’t bury our own heads in God’s Word anymore.

How will any of us know how to find a passage if we never open the book? How will we know in what context the verse was given if we don’t, ourselves, look it up and read the verses before and after the verse being used? And most importantly, how will we gain the riches of discovery that God’s Word can bring to our hearts if we don’t seek it out for ourselves?

We’ve become passive. It’s easier.

I know some churches are held in gymnasiums or other venues where, like me, you sit in a folding chair. It’s not always convenient or comfortable to open your Bible up on your lap, and also try to take notes if you want to.

But it’s important.

If we want to grow in God’s Word we HAVE to get into it. We have to spend time reading what He says to us. Thinking about it for ourselves. Seeking it for ourselves. 

When it’s all done for us – we fail to even try.   Our Bibles sit unopened and untouched.

I’d much rather have mine be worn from rifling through its pages often for answers and guidance.

Some advances and moves forward in the church are good. But some…..some just take the adventure and quest out of the journey.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

God Is Not Just a Wishing Well

I realized recently how often I ask God for things. How often WE ask God for things.

“Please help me be strong.”

“Please, God, protect me.”

“I ask that you heal me.”

“Lord, please help so and so today in their big job interview.”

“Please solve this problem I have.”

We ask. And ask. And ask.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong in asking God for things. In fact, He tells us we have not, because we ask not. And I believe He wants us to come to Him with our requests. He loves to bless us and show us His glory. He wants to enlarge our faith when we pray bold and audacious prayers.

My concern is – that that seems to be the only time we talk to God. When we have something to ask of Him.

And God is not just a wishing well.

The God I know and love so dearly, wants a relationship with me. He wants me to listen to Him speak too. He wants my thankfulness. He wants my praise. He wants me to spend time with Him. Not just come to Him with all my requests and wishes, daily.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I start praying. This time, I just started thanking God for everything I could think of that He had done for me.  I fell asleep with peacefulness in my heart and a renewed sense of how loving my Heavenly Father is. For it reminded me of just HOW much He does do for me, all the time. Big and small. General and detailed.

I do want to grow my faith. I do want to be strong. I do want so and so to have their prayer requests answered as well. But I also don’t want to limit Jesus. I don’t want to limit Him to simply being a wishing well that I wish upon when I have the need. I want to be loved by Him and I want to love Him. I want to hear His voice and see Him move in my life, not just because I asked Him to, but because I have a close enough relationship with Him to simply see Him at work! I want to recognize His hand when I see it moving.

Our God is far bigger and greater than we could possibly imagine. Limiting who He is is like limiting the sun to a bright yellow drawing on a paper.

It does so much more. It IS so much more.

As is, my God.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We Need To Do Better

Kids need good examples and role models. Not just in today’s world but in ANY world. I think maybe parents were better examples of living up to these qualities in years past than we do today, though.  I think we often fall short of being the kind of leaders and examples as adults that our kids truly need.

We need to show our kids how to apologize. We need to model humility and respect for others. We should be the first ones to show our children how to forgive.  We can show them what true joy feels like and how to cry and feel the burdens of a friend.  We need to be present and engaged in their lives to show them how to show someone they are valued.  How else will our children learn to put down the texting, stick up for a friend who is being bullied, respect their neighbor’s property, or forgive someone who has hurt them deeply? How will our children understand that life can change in a heartbeat and if you can “suffer well,” you WILL get through it stronger, wiser, and better?

We are dropping the ball. We are defending and bailing our children out too much when we should be teaching them to shoulder responsibility. We are letting them slough off discipline in their life whether it’s chores, homework, or personal attention to family.  We are raising entitled people.

I stay fairly up-to-date on the news. Children are murdering children. They are raping children. They are bullying and pushing other children to the point where they kill themselves. Children are sexting. Children are disrespectful and uncontrollable in our schools.  Why – do you think? Why does this generation of children seem to be so out of control?

It starts in the home. It starts with us as parents. It starts with sacrifice, belief, time, and love. We are dropping the ball and we need to do better. We need to BE better. No more yelling at the coach on the field. No more griping or gossiping about others in front of our children. No more false building up of our children if they are not gifted in certain areas. No more rewarding our children for everything they do – try complimenting them and letting that be their reward instead! No more letting our children rule the roost in our homes. No more neglecting our children for our own social status and circles.  There are so many “no more’s…” that could be said!

Our children need us. You are valuable, important, crucial, and relied upon! Show your children how to be honest, moral, and respectful. Teach your children how to be wise, discerning, and humble. Model for them how to be forgiving, compassionate, and kind.  If you don’t – you can’t expect your child’s teacher, church, or club to do it for you. They won’t learn it, they won’t model it, and they certainly won’t BE it.

We need to do better. We have the chance to truly be a leader… for our children. But with that label comes great responsibility. Let’s rise to the challenge and start changing the next generation…one child at a time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sing Like a Bird

One of my favorite things in the summertime is to wake up with an open window and hear the birds outside chirping and singing away. I love it so. It lends a whole cheer and tone to my day from the very beginning.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a “sad” bird song. They always seem to have melody in their voices and a smile in their song. I like that. I think we could learn from that.

When we wake up and start each day, it is a gift. After all – God sustained us through the night and saw fit to let us live another day. That is one reason to wake up smiling and singing.  We also have the chance to live each new day “right.” We have another chance to say the right thing, think the right thing, act in the right circumstance and do it with the right heart and motivation… and love from a heart that is right with God.

Each new day is a fresh start. A new beginning. Another chance to be who we want to be. That is cause to sing is it not?

They say you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. I think that’s true. But I don’t think I’ve seen a bird do that. They seem to wake up with a song in their heart. They are focused on the day and the job with which they are set out to do. Whether that’s building a nest, guarding eggs, bringing food to their young – whatever. They do it with cheer and focus.

If we have the right intentions and motivation, we too, can feel happy each morning that we wake up. We can have a song on our tongue, a smile on our lips, and cheer in our heart. Just like the birds.

Friday, June 21, 2013

When You Disagree With God

Prov. 16:9 In his (her) heart, a man (woman) plans his course; but the Lord determines his steps.

I love this verse. My sister wrote it in a notebook of mine once, years ago and it fast became a favorite of mine. In fact, in the last 10 years, I’ve adopted it as one of my “life” verses.

I have plans for my life. I have dreams, wishes, and intentions of where I want my life to go. I’ve always been a dreamer and I think that’s a good thing because so many people grow cynical in life and forget what dreams are truly about.  The only problem comes when God has different intentions than the intentions I have!

I often ask God to show me where He wants me. I want to be open and willing enough to drop things when He tells me it’s time to move on. I want to be able to change my plans if He asks me to.  Sometimes that’s really hard to do. It’s tough to say “good-bye” to some of our dreams, isn’t it?”  But God reminds me of Eve and Jonah.  Eve did her own thing instead of what God asked her to do and she sinned.  God disciplined her for it. As He did with Jonah. Jonah refused to think (or trust) that God just might know what He was doing and he fled. Look what happened to him! He got thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish until he agreed to obey the Lord.

I believe with all of my heart that God wants to bless me. And I know that when my own pride gets in the way and I disobey the Lord that there will be consequences.  I think it’s okay that I disagree with God or question what His motives are – as long as I obey Him through that doubting. But if I obey, I will see the blessing that He longs to show me.

So I may have plans for my life. I may spend a lot of time on them. Dreaming. Wishing. Orchestrating details and getting them just “so.”  But no matter how much I “plan” for my life to go a certain way – God has the ultimate say. It is He, who will determine the path and steps I take.  I can fight it – but it will do no good. 

We might as well trust the One who created the universe with the minute details of our lives. Big or small – His hands are big enough to take care of them and He won’t lead us down the wrong road. He wants to bless us. All He asks is for us to obey… even if we feel we’re being led in the complete opposite direction of the one we intended to go on.  Trust Him. He won’t let you down.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Right Blend

My husband and I are very different. It’s true sometimes how opposites attract. He loves spontaneity while I like things planned out. He loves to “go-go-go” while I’m more like the slow and methodical turtle in the race. I like to pace myself. Neither is a wrong approach to life.

I was thinking how my children are getting such a varied look at how to approach life. Even though my husband and I may have to make some extra efforts at time to find common ground between each one of our comfort zones in life; our children can instead, hopefully, take the best from each one of us.

My prayer is that my children will learn from my husband how to soak up life as an adventure. I hope that they will learn how to enjoy it, love it, and live it with full abandon. From me, I pray that they will get that they need to learn sometimes life needs to teach you and make you wiser, better, and stronger.  I hope that they will learn to think and pray over decisions and choices before jumping in with both feet.

My prayer is that my children will learn that you don’t get anywhere in life by sitting back and waiting for the “right time.” They can learn from their dad. Yet I hope they will learn from me that at times, you need to step out of the rat race and take some time to recharge, refuel, and replenish your heart, mind, and spirit. It’s important for your health and your mind frame. It focuses you and brings things clarity when they are badly needed.

I can teach my children how to be organized and plan ahead; two tools that are so beneficial in life. Yet my husband can teach my children how to have fun and remember to laugh and let things slide and go at times in order to grab hold to an opportunity that may not come around again.

We each offer something. Something important, valuable, and beneficial to navigating life. With all of my heart, I pray that our children will take the best from each one of us and file them away in their hearts and lives so that they can be balanced and joyful people. I pray that they will learn there is a time to run, and a time to walk. There is a time to risk and a time to be cautious. I hope they will see the foolishness in blindly leaping in and in standing back out of fear.

If you take differences in people and blend them together, sometimes you come up with a beautiful mix of “rightness.” I hope that’s the recipe my husband and I make in our family and if so, may our children become the right blend.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Our Softer Side

I have a pretty sensitive heart. Too sensitive, sometimes. I get my feelings hurt easily if I feel someone has made fun of me or criticized me.  But, since I am so sensitive, I think I can read people pretty well and I have noticed a trend in moms that bothers me.

There are a lot of confident (or so it seems) mothers out there. They take charge of things, volunteer to help, and seem to be pretty vocal about their feelings on varied subjects.  But I’ve noticed that this type of a mom doesn’t seem to be very sensitive to other moms who may be very different from her.  She doesn’t seem to have compassion for a mom who is new or ignorant on how to handle a certain issue.  I guess you could say she runs over others – without really intending to.

I’m not sure if some of us moms get so confident that we just forget what it feels like to be an outsider or “different” from others; if we are just so comfortable in our social circle that we don’t notice to look for others who may be shrinking a little, or if we are truly insecure and so we are bolder, and louder in an attempt to try and cover our own insecurities.  Whatever it is, it does indeed bother me.

I can hold my own pretty well with all walks and types of women. Even if my feelings get hurt, I usually can hide it until I’m in the sanctuary of a safe place.  But I observe a lot by not having a real “bold” personality. 

I just want to caution us as mothers to try and tap into the gentle and sensitive side of our hearts that God put in us. Even as mothers, we can be so quick to ostracize, wound, alienate, or prick another woman’s heart – sometimes we fail to even see it! Maybe it’s just a careless comment about not knowing how to cook, or a thoughtless moment of asking a few friends to get together in the presence of another… it can be so wounding to the mom on the other end of the action.

We can learn so much from each other. Older moms can teach us so much, moms who are “different” from us in personality, ethnicity, or certain ideals – can be a true breath of fresh air if we will only give them a chance to be themselves and learn new things from what they can offer our lives.

We are”womanhood.” A team. We all have something in common – we fight, we feel, we love, we fear.  Let’s try to remember our “softer side” and be extending to those who are different than us.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some Things Just Really Get Under Your Skin

I’m a delayed-reactor. What I mean is, I tend to do fairly well when I get bad or sad news but then after some time has passed, it then seeps through me and I get upset, frustrated, down, etc. (Whatever the situation might call for.) It takes awhile for my feelings to come through.

I see this as a pattern in my life now. I know that even if I cry initially, that I will still take some time to process what has happened and it will permeate through me, body, and soul.

It’s just who I am.

I feel things deeply.

Some things, just can really get under your skin. Even if it takes awhile for them to get through each layer. They can burrow in and plant themselves for awhile.

I may handle criticism or something negative fairly well initially – but then once it finds it’s way through the layers, it can really affect me.

And that sucks.

I don’t usually say “sucks” just for the record. But this time, the word fits. It “sucks.” Because when things get under your skin and really affect you, it’s a very emotional time. Maybe you doubt yourself in a really profound way, or you start getting so steamed about something that you can’t get it off your mind. It’s under your skin – sitting there.

I’ve found that the only way I can get that ‘thing’ underneath to come on back out, is to talk about it. I have to bear my heart to someone. But I have to be careful that I don’t place something that was my burden on someone else’s shoulders because then it becomes their burden – and that’s not fair.

We will never go through this life unscathed. But we can’t always hold others responsible. Remember that prayer in the Bible when God says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?” That’s so true at times. Sometimes someone has no idea that something they said will take root, find a little safe harbor, and grow inside of us. They just don’t realize.

Things WILL get under our skin. For some of those, we can let whatever it is fuel us and motivate us. Other times, we need to simply find someone we trust who can walk with us until we’ve had time to shake it off or get it out of our system. But always, ALWAYS, we should take it before God in prayer.

He knows it ‘sucks.’ And He’s waiting to help us through it. All we have to do is ask Him to help us process it and bring us stronger, wiser, and better off when we get to the other side of the issue or circumstance.

And luckily for us, He’s very good at doing just that

Thursday, June 13, 2013

He Delights In Us

Psalm 35:27  God delights in the well-being of His servant.” 

If you ever doubt that God cares about your well-being; simply read this verse. He does. He cares about the details of our lives and how we are doing.

I was thinking this morning about how I was struggling in a certain area of my life. How it was nearly bringing me to tears. Then, this was the verse I happened to flip to in my little notebook. What a timely reminder that God cared how I was feeling and what I was going through!

Not only did it remind me that God cared about my emotional and physical struggles but it showed me that what He does for me is never dutiful. It is a joy. A DELIGHT.

Just as I delight to give gifts to my children or to surprise them with things in their life that I know will bring great joy and blessing to them….so does my Heavenly Father like to delight in me. He delights in answering my prayers. He delights in bringing victory over a long-prayed-out spiritual battle. He delights in handling the little details of my life – and the big. That’s how much He loves me.

Whether you are struggling with illness, job frustrations, financial strains, relationship stresses, location issues or anything else – please know that God can’t wait to delight you with solving, handling, and blessing you in each one of those areas of your life. For He cares about your well-being. He knows when things are getting to be too much to bear, when you need encouragement, help, support, and love. He knows just when you need to be carried or when you need a push.

So don’t despair. Keep the faith. Keep praying. Feel His love and His knowledge of your life.  Know that in His perfect timing, He will bring resolution. And He’ll do it with delight.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Speaking To the Vapid Space

Do you ever feel like your words fall on deaf ears? I do. I have.

I’ve shared posts on facebook that no one really notices and then someone else shares it and immediately everyone is liking it.

I’ve suggested new trends to people who, generally, scoffed at the idea. Then someone else suggests it, and suddenly the ideas has more concrete value to it.

Am I not reputable enough? Not BIG enough?

Isn’t that the way it goes, sometimes? You feel as if your words were the same as someone else’s but because they are POPULAR, they are heard.

And you are ignored.

Left to speak to the big open, vapid space. And you wonder why you waste the breath. Why you keep trying.

It’s all about love, really. You love. You care. And so you share.

And every once in awhile someone will hear you. Someone will respond. And to them, you will mean everything. Your heart will reach theirs and soothe over a spot that had been cold, lonely, and empty.

I think my God must feel like that at times, as well. He tries so hard to speak to us. He shares things with us – which we ignore. And then someone whom we think is wonderful and delightful, shares the same thing. And we listen. We find value in THEIR words.

God says He loves me. And I don’t listen. Someone else tells me they love me, and suddenly, I’m all ears.

God tells me I’m valuable. Special. He will fight for me. He CHOSE me. I turn my head at times because it’s so hard to believe. Someone else tells me, and I’m quick to believe they must be right – for they dress well, look attractive, and are well-liked.

It’s a little skewed, isn’t it?

Just as God wants to be heard, so do people. They want to know that someone heard theirs words. That they HEARD their heart.

Do you need to be heard today? I’m listening. Tell me your words.  And they won’t fall on deaf ears or a dull heart.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Choosing Not To Argue

I’ve discovered that usually when I’m in an argument with someone, it’s because of my own pride.

A lot of times, I could choose to let an issue go – but I don’t. I instead, choose to engage someone whether it be defending a stance I feel strongly about, or getting indignant about something that I feel is either right or wrong.  Either way – most of the time it comes back to being a pride issue.

Pride is one of the toughest things for me to overcome. There is an instinctive nature we all have in fighting for our territory; our rights. And at times, it is necessary to do just that. But on a daily basis for most of us – it isn’t necessary. And in fact, we do ourselves, our relationships, and our Christian walk a disservice by choosing to pick a battle that stems from pride.

James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

I’m usually left feeling frustrated when I have an argument. I sometimes am frustrated with someone else, but I’m also frustrated with myself for letting my irritation or anger spark and get enraged at someone else. I know that for me, I often can’t hurry fast enough to make things right again – with the other person and then personally; an apology to my Lord.

We all have desires. We have wishes, dreams, and we have morals and values. But sometimes I think we need to be a little more discerning in what battles we allow ourselves to be engaged in and in what battles we earnestly take to the Lord on bended knee in prayer. 

I’m learning to speak to the Lord first before I act on issues that I’m passionate about. Oftentimes, that “wait” time is just what I need most to make room for Him to whisper to my heart and show me what action point and attitude He wants to see come out of me in regards to something. Plus, I have a lot less to regret when I give myself time to think about something and to seek God’s input on it.

Pride is a hard thing to let go of. But when you can pause, swallow and step back – God will make it easier to set our pride aside in the best interest of His name.

*Published on July 2011

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bridging the Gap Between Generations

I believe strongly in the need to bridge generation gaps.  I think a lot of misunderstandings in parent-child and even grandparent-grandchild relationships stems from one party not understanding where the other one is coming from.

As a parent, I try often, to share things from my past, upbringing, and experiences. I try to expose my children to their grandparents and great-grandparents when possible (as they live out of state.) I believe a lot of wisdom can be learned from what others before us have gone through!

But I don’t think the job is just up to us. I think our children need to make efforts to bridge the generation gap as well. They need to listen to our type of music instead of simply their own. They need to watch movies, read books, and listen to us when we share stories or lessons from our lives and past.

It’s not just up to us to do all the “bridgework!”

Sometimes we can cater too much to our children. We allow them to roll their eyes at us or laugh at the clothes we wore. Without understanding. Without realizing that one day it will be them in the “parental shoes.”

I believe respect is vital. Exposure to older generations and experiences; critical. Whether or not our children think it’s “fun.”

It takes two to make a bridge and I think a common misconception has been that bridging generations is solely the responsibility of parents. But it’s not. Our children need to meet us at least half-way. They need to make an effort too – not just us.

Think about that the next time you feel like you are worlds apart from your child. As you learn how to text, work technology, and keep up-to-date on your child’s world…teach them a little bit about the one you grew up in. Help them understand you a little bit better by encouraging them to step into life as you’ve lived it.  Expand their horizons and help them become a better person – with understanding, and with knowing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's Not Glamorous

Self-worth. I seek it. I see most people around me seek it. That desire we all have inside to feel worthwhile and to know what our purpose is in life.

For most of us, we continue to seek that self-worth well into our middle age years.

As a people watcher, I learn a lot. Of course, I also learn a lot from my own mistakes over my lifetime, but I learn a lot from the lives of those who cross my path.  I see patterns and themes in common. Issues that we all struggle with and areas that we all battle to reveal to others.

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more is this “image” thing. It is popping up in a more visual way because of the world wide web. 

We highlight our trips, our ministries and our successes online. We post photos and we tweet tweets. There is this “need” that is being grown more and more in our hearts to be able to be a part of what we deem “great” in the lives of others.

It’s as if we have relegated “purpose” to “success.” And none of us want to be left out.

It doesn’t matter if the trend of the moment is everyone going to Africa and feeding the poor, or buying Tom’s shoes – we all want to be a part, and more than that, we want to be able to TELL others that we were a part.

But I look at the example for my life…the Bible. And I see where the greatest influences were often carried out. It was in the homes of God’s people.

Following God isn’t always glamorous. In fact, a lot of the time, it’s day in and day out obedience.

It’s mundane.

It’s faithful.

It’s developing relationships.

For most of us, God isn’t going to create a legacy in the lives of others by going on a short term missions trips. (Although I think there is great benefit in doing that.) And He’s not usually going to choose to elevate us to a position of notoriety or publicity where half the world knows our name, our cause, and our deeds.

No, God loves to work in the normal. The meek. The forgotten and the humble.

He loves to work in the lives of you and me. By using us to anonymously drop off food for a family in need at our church or spending hours doing homework and going to our teen’s sports games. By being THERE. By being real!

He uses us when others watch our reaction to a political election or a grumbling and cantankerous neighbor. He uses us in our jobs. He uses us in our daily life.

Daily life.  At the gas station, in the store, doing our taxes, walking the dog. Not glamorous – but faithful. Obedient.

We are always being watched. And we always have someone whom we can be investing into. The life of our two year old. Our aging grandparent. The lonely woman at church. There is always someone.

It isn’t glamorous. But it’s real. And I believe God has called us to real. For that is where the majority of the people are.

Right next to you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Nothing is like a good “girl talk” with a friend. Family relationships are good and important, but sometimes talking to someone who is more objective about your life is just what the doctor ordered!

There are all types of women. Quiet, chatty, social, and loners. But everyone needs a friend. God created us to be social. Some just need to be social more often than others.

Life adds a lot of “build up” inside of our hearts and souls. You don’t have to share everything, but unloading on a friend sometimes, may be just what you need. It’s not healthy to keep things bottled up. Although it’s not good to be a gossip, sharing what weighs heavily on your heart is important. For without sharing, you may never hear something that helps you change your perspective, straighten up your attitude, or just feel less alone.

There is something to be said for “girl time.” There is something magical that happens when women get together and bond. It’s good for the soul.

Don’t deprive yourself of it.