Don’t accept it as a Fact…

30 May

For the last 15+ years I have looked exactly the same.  Yes, my hairstyle has evolved numerous times but I am talking about my body shape and weight.  I’ve looked like this for so long, that I just accepted it as “the way I am”  I did not try any type of dieting program or weight loss prevention type things.  I just determined in my mind, that this is the way I am, this “season of life”, so why fight it.  Can you relate?  Has something been in your life for so long that you have just accepted it as a fact, the way things are?  It may not be weight.  It could be a habit.  It could be a mindset.  It may be that thing in your past that you have dragged with you FOREVER!  So what can you do about it?  If you were like me, you just accepted it as true and didn’t look for another way.

That’s where I was.  I just accepted me like that.  Please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me.  I am not seeking a platform to beat myself up.  I’m not giving you a platform for beating yourself up.  My challenge is this:  Don’t accept what is as fact.  It does not HAVE to be. Walk with me and I’ll explain further what I mean…

A friend of mine was also dissatisfied with her “look” as well.  She researched different programs and weight loss platforms and discovered something that worked for her.  Then, her being the GREAT friend that she is, didn’t say to me, “Why don’t you try it? You need to lose weight!” or anything like that.  Instead, she said, “If you want to try it to, I’ll help you.  I’ll share with you what I learned and I’ll encourage you when you experience challenges.”

You see, she offered to walk with me on this journey.

She didn’t just give me the answer and then walk away. She chose to walk alongside me – over both the rough terrain and smooth paths.

And let me tell you, my friend, there has been BOTH!!

The result?  I have lost over 30 lbs and am now wearing the same size clothes I wore 20 years ago.  Yep, I’m excited and I can tell you my husband is even MORE excited!

Now I don’t want you to miss the point of this story.  It is NOT about losing the weight.  It is NOT about the weight loss program that worked for me.  It IS about the fact that my friend chose to invest herself in me and my “acceptance” of a problem that was not good for me to continue to carry on my life’s journey.  My friend knew I was unhappy, even though I had never voiced it.  She knew that I had accepted it as a fact. She chose to offer me her friendship, her support and her personal challenges, in order for me to shore up the courage to take the first step.  She believed in me – in our friendship and in the results that two together can overcome much.

It comes down to choice.  What was I choosing to accept as a fact?  She chose to offer a hand in my journey.  I chose to accept.  The result is my previous reality is no longer my current reality. Things can change. Things can get better.  Who, in your life, can you reach out to today? Don’t accept their thoughts or feelings as a fact…  The fact is, you can make a difference today.  Get out there and be a friend to someone today.

The results will amaze you!

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Become the Complete Package of Comfort and Beauty

26 May

As I stood in my kitchen drinking a cup of coffee this morning, I looked around my living areas and felt pleasure in what we had created. 

You see, we moved into this home in 2009. When we were packing to move here, I conducted a MAJOR house cleaning. I wanted a fresh start – a new look, if you would. Therefore, when we moved into our new home, I had given over half of our “stuff” away. The result? We had to move very little “stuff” into our new home. As a matter of fact, several rooms looked sparse in the beginning. However, over the years, as I have visited antique stores and various stores, I purchased new treasures.

As I looked over those treasures, I marveled over the completed look.  I felt amazed how we had created a total package of comfort and beauty. I stood there and reflected on how I had came by my “treasures”. I did not purchase them from the same place nor at the same time nor did I have a plan when I began. As I found things that “fit” the direction I wanted my home to go, I purchased them. Piece by piece, my home came together. Now, 3 years later, it is beautiful. It is comfortable. When friends and family visit, they enjoy our home as much as we do.  I find satisfaction in what we had created.

As good as my coffee was this morning, the thought that came next was even more delightful.  Our lives can be like this too!  We can take inventory of what we need to clean, or remove, from our lives. What habits, traditions, thoughts and/or feelings do we need to remove from our lives? What, once removed, would give us that fresh start – a new look?

Once we have identified those things that need to be removed, give it away.  Don’t put it somewhere where you can pull it back out later. GET RID OF IT and then DON’T TAKE IT BACK!  Then identify the direction you want your fresh start, your new look, to go.  Most importantly, acknowledge that it will take time.  While you are “building” it, don’t settle for junk or imitation “stuff”.  Wait for the things that match your vision exactly.

Over time you will be able to stand back and savor your “home” of comfort and beauty. Yes, it will be comfortable.  Yes, it will be beautiful. Best of all?  When others are around you, they will find enjoyment in your beauty and comfort too.

A fresh start.  A good cup of coffee.  To become a home of beauty and comfort.  What else could you want?

Don’t let anything stop you!  Experience 

It’s Still Gonna Happen!

28 Apr

Ok, I’ll admit, I did not ALWAYS pay attention in my World History class when in high school.  I know, that’s hard to believe.  Well last week I was listening to our pastor speak on the country of Israel.  Now for those of you who paid attention in class, this will be a refresher but for those, like me, that might have been sleeping and/or passing notes, I learned that for approximately 40 years after the death of Christ, the Roman soldiers came into the city of Jerusalem and destroyed it. The Jews had to leave their homeland and they were scattered throughout the world. They had to live in other countries and in some of those countries they were persecuted and treated very badly.  As a result, the country of Israel did not exist until 1948!

As I sat there and took that in, I thought of the faith that our forefathers had to have in order to believe this proclamation was indeed true. Why? Because for many, many years Israel ceased to exist.  Imagine that.  Let’s take 1920 as an example.  Imagine yourself reading your bible in 1920.  You are reading how God proclaimed Israel to be His promise land and that it is very important to Christian history. As you read all of the exciting historical events and as you meditate on the prophetic Scriptures, you would have pondered this facts:

There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3Isaiah 43:6Ezekiel 34:11-1336:2437:1-14).

The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of “peace” with Israel (Isaiah 28:18Daniel 9:27).

The Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27Matthew 24:152 Thessalonians 2:3-4;Revelation 11:1).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:2712:111Zechariah 11:16Matthew 24:1521Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).

Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8Ezekiel 11:17Romans 11:26).

Remember, you are sitting there – in 1920, reading all of these things, all the while KNOWING that Israel was not a country anymore. For over a millennial, the land resulted in Jewish dispersal.  For an additional 50 years, it served Zionist endeavors in the sphere of agriculture, economic development and educational activity.  So, how can you believe these words?  When the words before you spoke of an event to occur in an area of land that was no more!?!?!?  How can you trust that the Word of God was not incorrect?

Can you imagine how much faith it took to believe?  To remain faithful?  To trust?

As I pondered these things, I had to ask myself:

What is in my future, that no longer exists today, that I DO need to trust in?

What do I need to remain faithful in believing?

What future event do I need to trust God for?

You see it was no harder in 1920 to trust in God then it is today.  We too might not see the “country” that no longer exists but our Father has made a promise to us.  We have seen that God kept His promise concerning the nation Israel. God promised that this nation would never be destroyed! Even though nation after nation tried to destroy it, they all failed!!

What has God promised you if you are a believer in Christ?  Will you ever perish (John 3:16)?

Will you ever be destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9)?

Will you ever be cast out (John 6:37)?

Will you ever be lost (John 6:39)?

Will Christ ever leave you (Hebrews 13:5)?

Will you ever be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)?

Will God keep all of these promises? ____ Why (Titus 1:2)? _______________________________________________

Why not bow your, head and thank God for his wonderful salvation and for the way He keeps you safe from destruction! God keeps the believer SAFE FOREVER!

It’s gonna happen – Just Trust Him!

It’s too Easy to be Broken

16 Apr

A man was facing a radical life changing event.  The scarier part was the life changing direction was that is wasn’t even in his hands. He had no control over his future.  His life – his career – his tomorrow was in the hands of another.  He had never faced a situation like this before.  He did not know what to do.  Earlier in his life he had faced situations that weren’t as drastic as this but as he faced them alone, he did not get the results that he wanted.  Now facing this, he had every reason to be in fear.  To doubt himself and the outcome.  Would his life change today? Would he again hear results that his ears, his heart and his mind did not, could not, accept as true?

Unbeknownst to him, I took my concerns for him to a select group of confidential friends.  I shared his fears, my fears, the concerns, the future that he faced.  They poured prayer over this situation with me. For days they continued to pray.  For days they stormed the gates of heaven asking God to intervene on behalf of this young man.   They asked for grace.  They pleased for mercy.  All for a man they did not know.  His burdens became their burdens.  They truly revealed themselves to me as warriors in the battle of this young man.

At 1:30pm he went to learn of his future.  At first, he could not find information at the location that he was initially informed to attend. For over 45 minutes he sought for the person that could give him the information that he sought.  Finally in a totally different building, on the 5th floor, he found a young lady that shared with him that at 8am that morning, the results that he really, really wanted but didn’t believe that he would receive, was indeed the results he received.

His first words upon hearing this news was, “You’ve got to be kidding me!?!”  He could not believe that he heard her correctly.  He wanted those results yet he never believed he would receive those results. “Why are you so surprised?” I asked him while watching tears fill his eyes.   “I didn’t think this would happen!”  I shared with him about the people I asked to pray for him.  I expanded on how they were faithful in asking for God’s favor.  As he reflected on what had just happened, on what he just heard, he sat in wonderment – in amazement.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”  When he went alone before, he did not get the results he wanted.  This time, he went as a triple-braided cord.  Himself – his prayer partners & God.  He was not broken.  He was not attacked.  He was not defeated.  He got the results he wanted.

How about you?  Are you bundling yourself with others?  Are you sharing your needs and concerns so that others can gather themselves around you?  IF NOT, what is preventing you?  Stop trying to do it alone.  It will never get you the results you want.  Try it a new way.  Because

Junk to One is Treasure to Another

15 Apr

I live in a small town that is known to antique hunters as “the place to go” to find really great deals.  Our Main Street is lined with numerous antique stores, an antique mall and multiple what-not stores.  My mother has a blast when she comes out to visit!  I have always enjoyed “finding” a deal.  Therefore, I recently rented a space in the local antique mall and have had a blast filling it to the brim with “treasures” for others to enjoy.  Each week I scour yard sales, thrift stores and the internet looking for deals.  I have been amazed time and time again how something that was rusted, very ready for the trash can be lovingly taken – restored – redeemed and be made beautiful again.  The other day I purchased a table for 25 cents.  The paint was chipped.  It was dirty, gross and just looked nasty. After taking some time with it, cleaning it up, working with the grain, sanding over the rough spots, I applied a fresh coat of sealer to it.  Look at the difference! Once the table was completed and made beautiful again, the table sold for $89!!  Can you believe it?  Being part of this transformation process made me truly appreciate how God shares with us that He too will make us beautiful.  Ecc 3:11 promises us, “He has made all things beautiful in His time.”  Yes! That means me.  Yes!  That means you too!  What in your life do you feel is rusty, ready for the trash, chipped and/or dirty.  My friend, you are promised to be made beautiful!  Give it to Him today.  He is faithful to sand over the rough spots, coat you in His spirit and make you worth much, much more than $89!

He loves you and so do I!!

Moving on a path – them BAM!!

14 Apr

Imagine yourself walking down a sidewalk.  The sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  The birds are singing.  It’s a beautiful day.  You see something on the sidewalk up in the distance.  It is slowly moving from one side to the other.  As you get closer, you notice a child walking towards you. Whatever is on the sidewalk, moving slowly, is between you and the child.  As you approach, you see that it is a large snail. Completely stretched out, moving gracefully, with his “shell house” moving right along with him.  All of a sudden the child that was walking toward you laughs out loud and kicks the snail as hard as he could into the grass!

Imagine yourself in the place of the snail… Life is grand.  After weeks and weeks of rain, the sun is finally out!  The sidewalk is warm and toasty.  It feels so good that you have stretched yourself out completely.  You’ve “put yourself out there”.  You are happy.  You are content.  You are moving towards a goal.  You are excited about the path before you.  Then all of a sudden, your happy day begins turning and rolling, over and over.  What was up, is now down.  What was right, is now left. Nothing is where it should be.  What happened?  You weren’t bothering anyone.  You were just doing your thing.  Content. Happy.

Life is sometimes like that.  You don’t see the thing that is getting ready to derail you from your content and happy path.  It may hurt.  Things may be upside down for a little bit.  So what do you do?  How do you respond?  Let the snail be our guide…  He knows the abilities that the creator has given him.  He has a way to protect himself.  He knows how to upright himself.  To reset his course and be true to the Creator who made him.

So when we are knocked off course, lets be like the snail.  Let’s be true to our Creator too.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  See?  We don’t have to fear.  We don’t have to be dismayed.  We just need to accept the help and strength that is being offered.  There is a right hand waiting to make things “right with us” (righteous).  Come on my friend, reach up.

Just go…

1 Apr

I was cleaning out my office today and found an entry from a study that I wrote years ago. I would like to share it with you:

The passage for this particular study was Matthew 26:17-25.  Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to prepare for the passover and they were instructed to see “a certain man”.  The question I posed was:  How were they to know which man?  Did they stop and ask Jesus what man, did they ask for more details or a better description? Did they wait to respond until they had all of the details?  No. They just went. They trusted that once they got there, it would become clear to them.  Has there been times in your life that you “just went with Christ?”

There will be many times when Jesus will ask us to just go with Him.  We may not be certain of the path or even the reasoning behind it but we can be assured of one thing:  God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.  How do I know?  Because time and time again, He’s proven Himself trustworthy.  Here’s an example:

Towards the end of my husbands seminary training, he was called by a church to be a youth pastor.  After being there only a short time, we discovered there were a group of people that wanted to take the church in a different direction that our convictions agreed with.  Yes, we were concerned but we prayed and left it to God.  Within two months the senior pastor, who shared our beliefs, announced that he was called to a different church and tendered his resignation.

So here is my husband, still in seminary, wet behind the ears, standing up for his beliefs within the church.  After a meeting with the leaders, they announced that Don would preach while they sought out their direction and new pastor.  What did we do?  We continued to pray.  We trusted God to handle the needs of the church and our future.  The second week that Don preached there was a pastor search committee from a neat little church that aligned with our beliefs in the audience, listening to their next pastor.

So we prayed and we trusted God to handle this situation.  What did He do?  He allowed my husband to partner with a church that shared his beliefs.  There are two things that I learned during that:

1.  Don’t compromise on God’s Word – He’ll protect you when you protect it!

2. When situations come up (and they will!) God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.

So, I shared with you yesterday that I had a rough week.  I shared that my ladies are walking with me.  Then today I find these words written many years ago.  The cool thing, the truth I found then is the same truth I need to realize today.  It is the same truth that you need to realize today too.

Until tomorrow, we will continue to walk in Grace.

Blessed be my friend!

Walking with Grace

31 Mar

When a crisis or situation would catapult itself into my life, I would always work through it, utilizing every skill in my spiritual toolbox.  Once the crisis had past and/or victory had been won, I would then share with my friends and family how God and I had conquered that challenge. I never consider sharing with someone the battle that I was in.  This is a pattern developed over many years.  The end result; yes, victories were won but I never connected with someone on more than a surface level.

Don’t get me wrong, I listened, cried and rejoiced over my friends problems.  I was the first to pray, to be there, to support but it was a one way street.  I didn’t let my guard down.  I wasn’t truly real with them.  They thought I was because I would share the victory (after it was achieved) or what God was doing in my life (non-crisis).  Yet when the chips were down, it was me and God verses whatever life altering problem before us.

Recognizing this as something that must be overcome, when asked to join a group of ladies twice a month, I accepted.  During our last three meetings we have been sharing our testimony.  When it came time to give my testimony, I told the uncut version.  In the past I would give the cleaned up and pretty version – yes bad things had happened.  Yes, I was hurt but God won – yeah!!  Can you relate?  This time, however I gave me – the realness – the truth.  I didn’t try to clean it up.  I didn’t make excuses.  I just told it like it was – uncut.

Want to know the cool thing?  They loved me anyway.  I was not judged.  I was not left alone.  That experience set a foundation that blew my mind.  Yesterday was one of those meetings.  After the meeting was officially over, the leader asked if I wanted to share with them what happened this week.  I did.  Let me tell you, my friend, it has been one of those weeks.  Normally the events of this week would be one of those “challenges” that I wouldn’t share until God had won.  Not this time.  I shared.  I cried and so did the ladies.  They prayed over me, my situation.  Love washed over me with every tear that fell.  It was one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced in “church”

Grace is described as “unmerited, or undeserved, favor coming from God.  I could have continued to “protect” myself by keeping my problems to myself.  I have gone on many, many years like this.  Yet, I know that God is calling me to be different, to respond differently.  Therefore, I opened up and found Grace.  Today, I walk with Grace.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will walk with Grace.  The best part?  I have a group of ladies that is walking with me.  Together.  In Grace.

Until tomorrow, blessed one – walk in Grace.  

Thanks for My Handfill

28 Mar

I was in that in-between stage.  My youngest child was 12.  My oldest was 21.  What am I in-between, you ask?  I did ‘t have anyone “little” to hold and snuggle with.  My arms were empty!

Therefore I started my search.  I hounded (excuse the pun) the animal shelters.  At last, in July of 2010 I found him. He was a 7 pound min-pin.  He had been left abandoned in an apartment.  They didn’t know his name.  They didn’t know how long he had been stranded there – no food, no water.  When I arrived at the shelter – he didn’t even have his papers ready – just the tag number 608!  I went immediately to the front desk and placed a hold on him.  Their rules stated he had 3 days before he could be adopted in case his owners came back for him.  I couldn’t even meet with him – we had to communicate through the bars of his pin but what personality!  Every day I called the shelter to confirm that he was still there – he was. Finally I was able to go to the shelter and meet my boy.  I arrived at 8:30, as soon as they opened, and was escorted to the puppy play area.  I was sitting on a bench waiting for him.  The gate opened, the staff member came walking him on a leash.  She shut the door, bent down and released the leash from his collar.  He immediately took off running.  He ran towards me and jumped on my lap!  He licked my face and jumped down, ran around and came back and did it all over again!  I was in love.  I’d like to think he was too.  An hour later, with the new name of Zeus Meeks, he became my baby.  Zeus loves to cuddle.  He sleeps under the covers close to my legs.  If I move, he moves.  The only one he loves more than me is my husband.  You can hold him for hours – he loves his belly rubbed.  Yes, he has filled the gap in my in-between stage.

This morning I was laying in bed.  Zeus was laying on my right side – he had turned over so I could scratch his belly.  My husband was on my left- I was rubbing his shoulders/back with my left hand.  At that moment, it hit me how blessed I am.  I was sandwiched between two “boys” who loved me.  They sought comfort and love from me.  I stopped and gave thanks.  I was, and am, so thankful for these blessings in my hands.

As I continue to reflect on what was in my hand, I realized that although they were what was in my hand at that moment, there are many, many more things entrusted to my hands, in which I need to be thankful.

I have a beautiful family – 5 kids and 2 soon to be children-in-laws.  An awesome house on 3 acres of scenic land – our sanctuary. My health. Many friends.  A great church family.  You.  See?  So many, many things! Then I had to ask myself, am I truly thanking God for the many things entrusted to my hands?  I realized that I need to express my thankfulness again.  Want to join me?

“Oh,  How blessed I am!  I look around at everything that you have entrusted me with and I am thankful – truly thankful.  Train me and equip me to be better at caring for each of the things that you have given me.  I recongize that when you gave me these things, you found me to be faithful with them.  Please continue to do so.  If I become unthankful or unfaithful with these things, please gently remind me again to be thankful for the things that fill my hands.  Amen.

A Message Into The Darkness

27 Mar

“Hey, it’s me.  If you are out there, come home.  Please!  God, what did you think?  That we would just let you walk out of our lives?  I am so furious at you right now!  Then I think about how scared you must be.  Hiding in some dark place all alone.  But you are not alone!  Okay?  You are not alone!  We are in that dark place with you!  We are waving flashlights and calling your name.  So if you can see us, come home.  But if you can’t, then…you stay alive!  Because we are coming!

As I watched Criminal Minds last week the words of Penelope as she called out to Prentiss, resonated with me.  I can think back to the times in my life when I too removed myself from love and protection – to a place where I felt in control – where I felt, if I went, no one could be hurt.  Listening to these words I wondered at a time when similar words were spoken into my darkness.

Now, I am no longer in that place of darkness.  Yet I wonder who should I be speaking those words to?  Who around me is hiding in the darkness, feeling all alone?  Who needs to see me waving a flashlight and calling out their name?

Can you think of someone?

If so, are you ready, willing and able to go into their darkness and bring them safely back home?

1 Peter 4:9-10 encourages us to, “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”  Notice the verbiage there is to share with one in “need”. That one hiding in the darkness is in need.  We all have been gifted with different spiritual gifts – to be used differently but we ALL have been given the gift of love.  Let’s use that love, channel that love and reach into the darkness. We are unaware of who we may be helping when we reach out.

Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Please hear my next statement for what it is.  When I was in that place of darkness as a 17 year old young lady, a Christian family reached out to me and gave me a home to live in.  They didn’t “preach” at me.  They didn’t put me down for the past choices I made.  They gave me a place to stay.  Food to eat.  And hope.  Hope that I could be better.  My past did not have to dictate my future.

They didn’t know that 13 years later I would be a pastors wife.  They didn’t know that I would become a children and youth pastor. They didn’t know that my love for people would become a platform where I help people know and understand Christ more fully.

I’m certainly not an angel but that family entertained me into the presence of God.  He saved me from the darkness.  Now it’s my turn to shine my light and call out to others…

Want to join me??