Monday, April 30, 2012

Family Meeting

It started out as a normal car ride home from church this past Sunday afternoon.
We let the kids know that when we got home, we'd be having a family meeting.  This is not a new thing for us...but what followed was not at all predicted or expected. There was no pause...the questions came a rapid fire pace!

"Are we moving?" - No
"Is someone dead or dieing?" - NO
"Are we getting a new pet?" - No
"Is someone moving in?" - No, our rooms are all occupied.
"Are we adopting? - No, not unless God does some amazing and completely GOD things!
"Is someone moving near us?" - No
That was when I looked at Matt and said "This isn't gonna be nearly as bad as I thought if this is the list they've dreamed up - in less than 30 seconds!  That's when they said "it must be really bad"

Our big news, at 9am this morning we had the cable tv disconnected, and we will not be tuning back in any time soon. The motivating factor - money.  We'll save almost $100 a month...don't even get me started about Mediacom.  The kids took the news with style.  We talked about our family schedule the next 3 or 4 months.  We talked about some Wilson house projects we'd like to get done.  We talked about what else we can do with that time. We talked about reading, and game nights, and movie nights, and family devotions that we take turns leading. And then we went on with our day.  The earth kept spinning. That was yesterday. Today when they get home there will be no TV (we don't have the antenna hooked up yet). And tonight when the only show I actually watch on TV is playing - I WILL NOT POUT!  Be a lead from the front kind of lady...put on my big girl panties...yada yada yada. But this morning  there was a little pouting...on the inside!

But without fail, in God's true coolness way, He gave me this verse in our time together - Turn my eyes from worthless things,and give me life through your word.  Psalms 119:37.

Thanks God.  Thanks for reminding me to not hold to tight to the stuff that doesn't matter at all. The only thing that really matters is you God. Ok - I'll be a big girl, but mostly I'll be your girl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eye Contact

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.  Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Acts 3:1-6

Eye contact. It's tricky. 

When you are at work and the boss is on a rampage, you look to your computer screen and type intently.  When you are at church and someone is needed to pray, suddenly you feel the need to study the weave of the carpet.  When stopped at the light and you see the beggar on the side of the road, its the radio control or the power of your mind to stare the light to change that demands your time. 

But I bet you could look at your newborn baby forever. I bet you could gaze into the eyes of the one you love best for hours with out end.

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. AMEN.  So why is it so hard sometimes to look?

In this small passage Peter and John and the beggar have a lot to teach me. The man in need was not afraid to look at those who might possibly help him.  Even more bold than the look, the man actually spoke to strangers and asked for help. It was all he could do; he had no other option than to depend on the kindness or pitty of strangers. Passers by looked on.  But not Peter and John - they "looked intently".  And with that look they acknowledged the person and the need.  They were not uncomfortable with the awkwardness of the situation. The hurt of another prompted not avoidance, but action.  I wonder, when they looked at him intently, did the beggar look away?  Scripture says they told him to "look at us" - so I would guess that at some point the man in need did in fact avert his eyes from theirs. I have been in need and I have been embarrassed about it - so I get that. Peter and John didn't have what the man was looking for, but they did have what he needed most.  I get that too. There are lots of needs around me, and I am limited. But my God is not!  When God met his need, the beggar was forever changed.  When God met my need - I was changed forever too.

Lord, today help me to look intently at the people you place in my path.  Help me to see past what they seek and see to what they need.  Help me to be gentle, loving and bold for you.  AMEN.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eat Cake For Breakfast!

Spring 2012

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it
Psalms 118:24

So I start my devo's every day with a little help from a "read the Bible in a year" guide.  I'll be honest, I started it in March of 2011 and I am only about 80% done.  BUT - I have spent more time with God and in His word in the last 14 months than I had in the previous 2010, and I am in no rush.  Anyway, today's read was Psalms 118.  

For some, this would be a sullen day of pouting. A day to miss the past, or to long for days gone by.  Today is my 40th Birthday. But how can I do that.  God gave me this really cool verse just for today!  This is the day the Lord has made... He knew this would be my day. Let us rejoice and be glad in it... no problem.  

I will be honest with you, right now 40 feels great and I am thankful for every day I have had so far.  Oh sure, there are a few extra pounds, a few more laugh lines and even a couple more "natural highlights".  I takes me a bit longer to get up off the floor and bruises take a bit longer to heal, but lets be honest now - I have it pretty good. For one thing, I am here. My parents chose life and my God has blessed it.  I have parents who love me dearly.  They were just kids themselves when I came along, but they made the grown up decision to be a family and we grew up together. They gave me love and they were never afraid to let me dream. When I was a child, they took a deep breath and acted like parents and made the hard  parenting choices when needed. Now we are friends and I cherish them.  Later my sister and brothers came along and while our age difference was a big thing at first, I can say as adults we are friends.  Matt and I met in our teens; married and started our family in our twenties; and grew that family and put down some roots in our thirties. Now we watch and help (when needed) as our boys grow in to Godly young men. How many girls can say that they grew up with, married, and are still crazy in love with their best friend? Me. The Barnes', The Antilla's, The Wilsons, The Haneys, The Fosters, and of course all of the wonderful friends that God has planted in my life  - all of these people are part of how God has grown my family in the last 40 years.  So many blessings, there simply is no choice but to rejoice... and oh's my birthday so I am gonna eat cake for breakfast.  Life is too short not to start the day with cake every now and again :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Salad Scripture - Let Us Go

Hebrews 10:22-25     New Living Translation (NLT)

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

As I entered into my time with God today, I was brought to some of the great "salad scripture" in Hebrews.  Just as salad is a healthy choice for me to fuel my physical body, these morsels from God give me the healthy fuel my spirit longs for. This is the truth that you God, spoke into my heart today.

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him.  for our guilty conscience have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Time with God is not optional.  I can trust in Him fully and without fear. Christ paid my debt in full. His blood offering was and is enough to cover even the deepest and ugliest of my sins.  Spending time in God's presence is not spending time in the fringe, on the sidelines, as a casual observer. It's more than a 5 minute devotional, or listening to "christian" music in my day, or that quick prayer before dinner, bed or a big meeting. It's up close, it's personal and it doesn't happen by accident.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.  God isn't fickle and I shouldn't be either.  I can make the mental choice to set aside fear and doubt.  When I am "holding tightly without wavering" I am not dancing with temptation, I am not willfully sitting in my old sin situations. Instead of hearing my voice, I am listening for Gods. I am digging deep into God's truth and not settling for the slick smiles of a life that is less than the best that God intends for me.  Holding tightly without wavering takes work. It's not quick. It's not easy. I don't think God ever promised quick or easy.

Let us think of ways to motivate each other to acts of love and good works. I need to see past the end of my nose. I need to not make my friends faith journey any more difficult.  I need to make sure that I am not engaging in or encouraging activities or behaviors that may be areas of temptation, struggle or weakness for my faith family.  Can I meet a need, comfort a heavy heart, encourage growth, speak love, spread harmony?  It's not all about me - actually it is probably not at all about me. 

Let us not neglect meeting together...but encourage one another.  If I don't invest in my faith family, well that's sin. Period. At least for me. We are called, commanded, expected...pick your invest in one another beyond our shared time in worship.  It's not about doing church together, it's about sharing life.  Who I spend my time with matters.  Most times, the people I am with are the people I become. We were created for relationship with both God and one another.  Life happens. Life is busy. I have lots of excuses. Investing in the faith family takes time and effort and it comes at a cost. 

My take aways for the day :
  1. Am I treating my time with God like it's optional? 
  2. Is there wavering in my hope?
  3. Is there any part of how I am doing life that is tripping up someone else?
  4. Am I seeing past my schedule to make time to invest in my faith family?

Monday, April 16, 2012

His Voice - My Name

This weekend Matt and I attended a convention together.  On the first night we were able to sit together. There was a wonderful band and full orchestra to play music and lead the worship, but even while sitting side by side I could not hear Matt unless I was leaned in close and I looked at his mouth. I would read his lips and listen for sound that matched.  On the second full day we sat in different groups 20 or so feet apart.  I knew where he was, but I couldn't actually see any part of him. I'll be honest - at one point I was reading an interesting and relevant report while 'the group' was discussing something  I felt didn't concern me.  I was only half paying attention. I was distracted. But then I heard his voice - my husband - and I looked up and listened and then smiled.  There were 400 people in that room, but only his voice attracted my immediate attention and he wasn't even speaking to me. It warmed me, it brought me comfort, it settled me and brought my attention back to correct focus.  Then today I read this story about Mary:

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” 16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).   John 20: 11 - 16

This is what stood out to me.  Mary was heartbroken. She was distracted by the stresses and circumstance of her current situation. There were literally angels before her and the Lord behind her and she was so wrapped up in her that she'd completely missed the significance of their presence.  In the midst of her turned upside down world Jesus came face to face with her - and she still didn't recognize him.  But then HE said her name.  And she knew.  Without a thought or a hesitation she knew that He was real, He was alive, and He was there!

How many times have I been there?  Where stress and heartache or worry and strife block my view of an every present Lord.  But Jesus knows my name and in my moment of need He faithfully and gently calls out to me to offer comfort and to satisfy.

Lord today, let me hear your voice as you call my name. Let me get past my circumstance to see you every present in my daily journey to you. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Blessings of Junk Mail

Give thanks to the Lord for HE IS GOOD!   Psalms 118:1

So today was pay the bills day.  You know that day of the week where I sit down and pay Peter and Paul for services rendered this month.  God has blessed my family so much. Matt has a steady and secure job that pays him well for both what he does and what he knows how to do.  We have made the choice to have me stay at home and available to meet the needs of the family whenever they arrive. Yep...I am a domestic diva.  One of the things that I do is pay the bills. It is my tradition to always enter the deposit first (yes I do still have a check log even though I do most of my banking online) and then write out the tithe check.  It's important for me to physically write out that check first - it's an act of obedience and it makes it a "joyful" and a "faith filled" moment.  For me, if I write out the bills first there is just too much temptation to not be obedient in our giving.  And God has given us sooo much, I want to give back to him our first fruits as a praise offering.  I want this part of my life to start with "Thank you God for all you have provided."

So again, today was pay the bills day.  Got out my bill organization box with all of this months stuff, balanced the paper log with the on line record, wrote out a few checks old school, paid a few things that aren't auto drafted and then when I was just about done I remembered to go check the snail mail.  Sure enough there was some stuff in the box, so as I chatted with a friend on the phone I opened it up piece by piece.  There were a couple of "come spend money at our store coupons", a "buy junk from our catalogue" catalogue, a letter from a ministry that we had recently sponsored financially and something I didn't recognize.  In fact, I thought it was junk mail - I almost ripped it in half and just threw it away. Instead, I opened it up and a check fell to the table.  I'd heard of this before -people just getting checks in the mail - not people I know - but you know - face book friends of friends...that sort of thing. 

God is good.  We'd been talking all morning about when I would pay the bills.  We'd been talking about the actions of faith my family is taking with our finances. We'd been talking about kids that need shoes, cars that need work, and being obedient when God tells you to do something. It was good time invested with Him.  He gave me peace; he settled my mind; I was able to true experience the blessing of joyful giving.  That check was in the mail days ago, but it arrived JUST IN TIME! Here's the coolest part - and it is fair for me to mention that it doesn't always happen this way - I was obedient and then in a matter of moments God showered me with additional blessing!

 BUT, I almost missed it!!! Remember, I almost didn't even open that mail - had my hands ready to rip the envelope in half and toss it in the trash! Wake up call!!! How many time have I missed God's extra shower of blessings because I didn't see the value of what I had just received?  How many times have I been in a rush to leave church and missed the kind words a friend had to say that had been inspired by God as a gift just for me?  How many times have I missed life moments with my husband and kids because I was tired, or busy or distracted?  How many times have a squirreled away at home and missed laughter and fellowship and love with my brothers and sisters in Christ?  Blessings come in all shapes and sizes.  Blessings come when we don't expect them.  God's blessings are gonna come - Lord help me not to miss your blessings today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

3:08AM - Really?

Though written by many over a period of a millennium and a half, the miracle of the Bible is its single message of divine redemption. From Genesis to Revelation it tells of our sin, that a holy God cannot condone sin. God's love, however, guarantees forgiveness to all who turn to God in repentance and faith.  This message comes through today as clearly as it did nearly 2000 years ago.  How We Got Our Bible - R. Earle

It's amazing and a little weird sometimes how God just keeps bringing the same idea to me until I can process through it.

One day last week God decided it was time for us to start our day at 3:08am.  See God and I have this deal...if He wakes me up after 3am and I don't fall back asleep within 5 minutes...then He has woke me for a reason and I will do my part to meet with Him so we can spend some time together and figure it out.  Thus, at 3:08am I was quietly walking down the stairs to grab my Bible and my special corner of the couch by the fire place.  We met. Just me and my heavenly daddy.  We spent some time together in John and then in Numbers and then we talked.  Seriously some of the best face time we have had all year.  I was honest, God was gentle and when we were done, man I was ready to run!

A little later that morning, with some fresh coffee in hand, I was able to dive into "31" (an online daily devo that I am doing with some friends) and on this day, the topic was the Bible. I had casually mentioned how I've made it a habit to write in and date passages in my Bible over the years.  Sometimes it's a verse that stood out to me, or maybe a relevant insight from a pastor. After whipping up some waffles for the boys and sorting the laundry I wrote 3 papers on Wesleyan theology, took 2 online tests, finished up a free reading book and basiclly went about my day.  Then about 9pm that night I got a text from a friend that basically said "check your email, you're my phone a friend".  She had a quick question about a random reference that she and her study buddy had come across that day in their daily devo time. I read the scripture, and then read it a second and a third time.  I kept thinking "I know about that, I just read about that, recently, but where?"  I trotted down to the den, grabbed my Bible off the mantle and there it was...It was in the first part of the last chapter that God and I had spent some time in just 16 hours earlier. In the margin was a note, in my handwriting from March of 2003!  And wouldn't you know, it was exactly the information that answered my friends question.  Have I mentioned how cool God is?!

See I thought that the 3:08am wake up call was about face time for me and my heavenly daddy, and it was. But it also gave me the chance to be ready to be used by God for His glory later that day in the life of a sister.  I was able to tell her about God's wake up call, and the reading and the prayer and the notes in the margins. I encouraged her to respond in the moment when God prompts her too, and she promised she would - though she said she was gonna ask God to wait until at least 5am. That's cool - can't wait to hear what God thinks about that :-) 

Guard Rail or Great Wall

Not to long ago my family and I took a drive through the Rocky Mountains. I am quite sure that heaven will have lots of mountains!  In some places the road was narrow. Two lanes each direction with a small wire to divide oncoming traffic.  No emergency lane, just a guard rail set at the edge of the pavement to separate me from the great expanse of nothingness.  A drop off not measured with grassy inches or feet, but with jagged rock cliffs that stretched at times 100 feet or more.  As we drove along this road at speeds nearing 80 miles an hour, with our three precious sons in tow, never once did I think "wow, that guard rail is really spoiling my fun and ruining the view" or "wish that thing wasn't there, it's really limiting my freedom to drive this car."  I understood, without additional explanation, that the rail was there for my protection.  It wasn't meant to fence me in, it was designed to save me in the event of unexpected strife. 

God has put guard rails up too, though sometimes we see them as fences.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength.  Luke 10:27

With all your heart - one's innermost character, feelings, or inclinations

With all your mind - the element or elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons

With all your soul - the moral and emotional nature of human beings

With all your strength - capacity for exertion or endurance

Be encouraged!  My God is about relationships. Does He have standards? Yes.  Does He have rules? You bet!  He loves me enough to have guidelines and guardrails.  Do I trust Him enough to obey?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

8 Simple Words

Psalms 46:10  Be still and know that I am God.

Stop. Be quiet. Turn of the noise. No radio. No TV. No Computer. No Kids. No husband.  No thinking ahead about the next thing.  Clear my mind. Not thinking about the friend that needs a phone call, the bills or the schedule,  the illness, the diagnosis, the fear. RELAX.  Settle in. Get comfortable. Don't plan - just BE.   God, you know that I am not by nature still.  This is the way you made me. I multitask. I manage my time - which is code for I live by a schedule. I live with people. My name is sometimes mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, volunteer, team member, leader, student and/or teacher.  Simply put I just don't have the time to be still.  And thus I disobey you God - but the simpler word is sin.

Be sure. Believe. Accept as ultimate, unchanging TRUTH. Don't doubt. Don't use words like timing, fate, coincidence, luck or karma.  I doubt. I second guess. I don't understand. I plan, sometimes without even thing about let alone talking with you first. Again, sin.

"I " as in GOD.  Not me, not the church, not the government. Not my family or my friends. Not the expectations that others have for me or the expectations that I have for myself. Not my schedule. Not my education or my profession. Not my talent. Not my bank account. Not my hobbies. Not my sports teams. Not even my "ministries."  Well now it's just getting down right personal.  Man God, who do you think you are?  Oh wait...the better question is really "who do I really think you are?"

Creator. Begining and End.. King of Kings. Lord of Lords.  Redeemer. Justifier. Saviour. Friend. 
I'm sorry I stole your glory. I'm sorry I robbed you of your praise.

Eight Simple Words.  Yet when I live this truth instead of just reading it, then these simple words change everything!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Beautiful Things

You make beautiful things...You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things...You make beautiful things out of us.
Making me new, you are making me new.

One of my favorite new songs.  Mostly because that's what I am. Dust. But God makes all things beautiful. God makes all things new. 

So thankful on this Good Friday for the Love that my God has for me.
His love started at the beginning, before there was me...He already knew that I would be. He knew I would sin, He knew I would fall, He knew I would fail.  And He had a plan.  Jesus came. Jesus knew all and yet He still gave all. For me.  He assumed my debt, he carried my burden, he accepted my sin and my separation from the Father because of my sin. He gave me the free gift of eternity with Him and the freedom to choose to accept it. 

When Jesus encountered and concurred the cross , the world was changed forever.  The dept was paid finally and in full. 
When I encountered the Love of God, my world was forever changed. 
I cannot fathom the depth of His love. And I will not be silent. God is worthy of all my praise.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I don't want to be a BIG Girl any more!

I had a chance to chat with one of my closest girl friends this week.
She was relaying to me the trials of parenting a preschooler.  What I could offer her was a meager smile of support, but what she gave me was a Grow With God moment.

This week, my friend and her husband are helping their littlest angel take another big step into the land of Big Girl.  They've already conquered the toddler bed and the potty training.  And bottles were gone ages ago. Getting dressed and brushing teeth are getting easier every day. But this, this was the last strong hold.
This week the family said goodbye to the Binky, the Pacifier, the Nuk.
Mom and Dad knew that it was time. But it is hard. 
Tears have been shed by all.
In a moment of frustration and tears their little girl said "but mommy, I don't want to be a big girl any more!"


How many times have I cried out to my heavenly daddy "but I don't want to be a big girl!"
I must admit that there are still times when I long to reach for the Binky's of my know...those old "childish comforts" and stubborn ways.  When someone hurts my feelings, I want to call my best girl and have her agree with how greatly I've been wronged, not call out to my Father in search of comfort and strength to forgive.  When I don't get my way, I want to stomp my feet and take my toys and go home, not work toward unity intertwined with love.  When life changes without my prior approval want to row out to this little island I call "denial" and just close my eyes, soak in some rays and recall how things 'use to be'. My Binky's have many names, you might know them by titles like anger, envy, selfishness, laziness, unforgiveness, pride, and over indulgence.

I Corinthians 13:11 New Living Translation

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

My childish ways were easier but then again sin often is.
Yep, sin. When you are a child you act like one, because you are a child.   People who are new to faith are still learning.  First we crawl and then we walk. I am not new.  Me and God have been doing life together for awhile now, so when I cling to my childish ways, well for me that's sin.  It's all that stuff that is less than what God wants.  All those choices I make my way with no regard for the character of my creator.  Don't even think about trying to make me feel better by making a pit stop at justification.  It's not venting - it's just gossip.  It's not always vision, sometimes it's pride. Sometimes it's just me being a baby because God decided to do things His way without consulting me at all.

For me, being a Big Girl means - watching my mouth, guarding my heart, being the boss of my thoughts.  It's engaging my mind before I act and praying things through not just a quick run down of my plan with God as things have already began. It's accepting that being a peacemaker isn't easy or fun.  Learning to speak with purpose and be silent on purpose can be tricky. Navigating the complexity of truth with grace takes work and a lot of prayer. And I mess it up. But God is patient and loving and forgiving...and I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


2 Chronicles 1 7:12  New Living Translation

That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Solomon replied to God, “You showed faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! 10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,[e] for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”
11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

So this week we had the worlds larges lotto jackpot ever $360,000,000!  I will admit it.  I actually said to God "I can live on 10% and you can have the rest.  The church building would be finished. The whole church could go to South America next year.  A youth pastor, no problem!  Hire the worship team full time - done!  Redo the parking lot and the main bathrooms - done and done!  Free Upward basketball and cheer for every little darling that wants to play! And oh yeah, never have to go to a paid job again!"  Clearly I am no Solomon. 

Real ministry takes real money. 
But my real transformation takes my real dependence on God and God alone.
Maybe I could win a few hundred million and still be dependant on God - or maybe just maybe that money would get in the way of my full on dependence on Him.  So I am ok with staying one of the "regular none winning lotto folks" as long as I am still winning as a fully redeemed daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.