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Friday, December 28, 2012

~ Christmas Reminds Me ~

 
  
1)  Christmas reminds me that Love saw and Love came. 
 
 
2)  Christmas reminds me that Love is not a 'force in the sky',
but a real actual Person that wants us to know Him.


3)  Christmas reminds me that Love doesn't ask us to look inside ourselves for the Answer,
but rather look inside the manger.


4) Christmas reminds me that when powerful things happen,
it's not necessarily comfortable or glorious for those involved.


5)  Christmas reminds me that Mary was an ordinary girl who let God do extraordinary things through her. The impossible became possible.


6)  Christmas reminds me that Love comes humbly -- even in the form of a child.


7)  Christmas reminds me that God loves surprises!  (What a surprise the shepherds had!)


8)  Christmas reminds me that angels are real.


9)  Christmas reminds me that God controls the 'bright setting' on the stars.
 (that must be one huge remote control! haha!)


10)  Christmas reminds me wise men don't need to wish upon a star --
they seek the One it's pointing to.


11)  Christmas reminds me that big things do come in small packages. ;)


12)  Christmas reminds me that God is crazy about families --
and crazy enough to put Himself smack in the middle of one! ;)


13)  Christmas reminds me that all 'cast members'
willingly
 participated in the Original Christmas Story.


14)  Christmas reminds me that God's timing is perfect ...
even if it doesn't look like it on the surface.
(like the timing of Mary going into labor).


15)  Christmas reminds me that You come in our darkest of nights.


16)  Christmas reminds me that practical gift giving is perfectly acceptable.
(The wise men's gifts were used to live off of.)


17)  Christmas reminds me that God loves music
and His holiday soundtrack included angels and animals. 
(I'd love to see that available on itunes! ;)


18)  Christmas reminds me that we, too, can sleep (and live)
 in Heavenly Peace, here on earth.


19)  Christmas reminds me that God will even use politics/leaders
to set the scene for His plan.


20) Christmas reminds me that God has been known to visit the work place.
(The shepherds were in the middle of their night shift :)


21)  Christmas reminds me that some may 'travel afar'.


22)  Christmas reminds me that Mary did not have to worry about cooking, cleaning or decorating for her first Christmas party. (Should I follow her lead? ;)


23)  Christmas reminds me that when you ask God, it's okay to ask BIG!
(No kid limits themselves when whispering their requests to Santa! ;)


24)  Christmas reminds me that out of pain (in this case, Mary's labor pain)
can come Great Life.


25) Christmas reminds me that our Daddy loves to spoil His kids, too!



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dear Santa,

A visit to see Santa is no small thing for a child.  Some have their list memorized like they are going to give a speech at the Oscars.  They know what they want and they don't put a cap or limit on their requests. 

I remember hearing about one child who asked for their parent to come home from serving overseas.  And, why not ask?  There's no sign in front of Santa that says,

"Please keep all requests within reason and possibility.  Thank you." 

There are no adults standing by to make sure each child isn't too outlandish with their requests.  Certainly no adult would ever tell a child that something is impossible with Santa -- who would discourage the faith of a child?  So, the children make their lists and in faith ask BIG -- believing they will receive what they ask for!

Us big kids can do the same. 

Our Father loves when we come and 'sit on his lap' -- when we get close and look with wonder at Him.  He loves when we have child-like questions about who He is and want to know more about such a Jolly Happy One.  His heart is thrilled. His Laugh is pure.  His Delight is sincere.  He LOVES it!  And, He wants to hear from us.  He wants to hear it all. 

And how He loves when we bring our requests!  He loves when we begin rattling off our lists!  He's thrilled to hear each one.  He loves the fact that we are letting Him in on our lives and taking Him up on His offer to find all we need in Him.  He loves that we trust Him enough to whisper our secret lists into His attentive ear. 

And, just like Santa, there are no signs posted in front of God to limit what to ask or how big to make it.  I have never read anything in the Bible where God told the person their request was too big for Him. (Though, He did challenge some about their faith!) 

So come!  Make your lists or just spit it out on the spot.  But, come with wonder and faith -- unafraid to ASK!  SEEK! and KNOCK!  We may be surprised at what is given, what we find, and the gifts we open!
 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

There is nothing quite as peaceful as a sleeping baby.  I could watch one for hours.  (Actually, with having children of my own, I probably have watched them sleep for hours!) 

What is most amazing to me about it is the fact that though they are the most vulnerable human beings on the planet, they are the ones that often get the best sleep on earth!  When their physical needs are met, many of them have no problem drifting off into a deep slumber -- anywhere and anytime -- even in a noisy restaurant, a room full of screaming children, a home that echoes with phones ringing, TV blasting and dogs barking.  No matter their circumstances, they are able to rest. 

What a beautiful picture for us as adults who probably haven't seen such rest in decades.  And, I don't mean a physical rest.  I mean a 'heart rest' -- without the aid of wine, drugs or food.  A peaceful heart.  So peaceful that, like a baby, no matter where you are -- a stressful work place, a lonely empty home, a place far from home, or anywhere else and in any situation -- you are resting, you are at Peace.

You may say "Nice thought, but impossible, Valerie!"

For some of us, being peaceful would be like a Christmas miracle.  There is just way too much to worry about, way too much violence in the world, way too many reasons to be on edge and live in fear.  You may reason that if you are resting, you're letting down your guard.  You may reason that you have a family to protect now -- the idea of being peaceful was gone the minute your precious child entered the world.

As a parent, I still fight with these feelings.  But, I'm learning that when I choose to worry and stress, I am doing no one any favors.  If anything, I am bringing anxiety into my home and, ironically, doing damage to the place that I most want to protect. 

But, when I REST -- when I choose to rest in God and agree with Him that He is the stronger Parent/Person in any situation, then suddenly the pressure comes off me and onto Him.  I become like the infant who is able to rest, not because it is strong enough to protect itself, but because it has placed all its trust in its parent's hands.

 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trust Shift

Many of us have been there. 

After eating a certain food we end up violently sick.  Then from that time forward, whenever we smell or even see that food, we begin to feel sick.  We choose to avoid it forever based on that single experience.  Even if we know that it was probably an isolated incident, and we would probably be fine if we ate it again, we still want nothing to do with it, regardless.

I'm sad to even think how many people have this feeling toward God -- and I'm not excluding myself.  People have been burned.  Burned by people that they should have been able to trust.  Burned by multiple people, even multiple scenarios.  They walk away from them with a taste in their mouth that they will never forget. And, then, when God or His People are mentioned any time after that point, their stomach turns, they back away slowly, and then run.  Who can blame them?

So where do you go from there when you still desire a genuine relationship with God and His People?

I have found that one of the first steps is having a trust shift.  You realize that if you are going to move forward, you must come to grips with the fact that people are just that -- people.  They are not perfect.  They will mess up.  They will disappoint us.  They will flat out fail us.  God has never asked us to trust man. He asks us to love them and trust HIM. 

When this trust shift happens, we may still be apprehensive and need to ask God to help us with our fear, but we can be confident that we are safe.  We can be assured that even when trials come and life happens, and flesh fails us, and we are even struck down --  we are not destroyed by them because we are no longer trusting in man, but now trusting in the One who promises to never disappoint us. 




 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Space to Cry, Room for Anger

I've experienced both sides of the spectrum.

1)  Focusing on the problem without the Solution in mind or even realizing there was a Solution.  I spent years in this place.  Judging myself.  Frustrated with circumstances I couldn't control.  Condemning myself and looking in instead of up.  Trying to solve things myself.  Then, sad and fearful as I realized that I may never find peace and hope.  It was a dark abyss.

But, then I did find Peace and Hope!

God's Love broke through.  I was stunned, amazed and blown away.  I had no idea how real and close God was (is).  It changed me forever.

But, somewhere along the way I started to think that if I now have Peace and Hope, I should not think about the negative....  like, at all.  There were now too many reasons to smile, give thanks and stop complaining.  The effect of this, though, was that I started ignoring the things in my heart that God was genuinely interested in dealing with in me.  He would point to things and say, "Let's deal with this sad part of you."  And, I'd push the thought away (not knowing it was Him) and say to myself, "Valerie, don't dwell on the past.  Keep your eyes on Him."  2) I ignored the problem and wasn't honest with myself or God as a result.


Here's where I have landed.


God gives us space to cry and a chest to beat on in our anger.  He knows we are human.  He doesn't ask us to be so spiritual that we stop being real about real thoughts, real emotions, real problems, real pain.  He WANTS us to be real.  He doesn't want us to pick up the rug in our hearts and sweep things under. 

But, as we are real about things, He wants us always to keep the Solution in mind.  He asks us to be honest with things, not solve them ourselves.  He doesn't pull out old heart wounds and then ask us to heal them.  He points things out so we are then aware of what we can hand over to Him for Him to heal.  Just like a repair man comes into a home.  He points out the problems -- not to ask the residents to fix them themselves, but so that they are aware of the things that need fixing and can then give the repair man permission to come in and fix it for them.


 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Addressed To You

If you have ever been a recipient of a gift that was intended for other people besides yourself, you understand.  Companies send out Christmas cards and Holidays wishes to their clients, every year.  Sympathy cards and flowers are delivered to grieving families for funerals.  They are sincere gifts, for sure, but it's understood that the gift is to be shared and therefore, it may feel less personal to those receiving it. 

Love gave the world a Christmas Gift 2,000 years ago.  A gift given for ALL.  If you're like so many others, you see may see it like the office Christmas card.... "What a beautiful thing to do for us" you might say.  You see it as a sincere act of love, but not take it very personally. 

And, here is where God wants to make Himself clear. 

Yes, He gave for all.   But, He gave with each of us individually in mind.  He knows us by name.  He created our inmost being.  And, His gift is PERSONAL.  Personal to Him and given for us to open PERSONALLY

If you look close enough, you will see your name written on the Package. 

 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Then, come in.


A Homeless man stood outside a soup kitchen.  He was very hungry and he could smell the aroma of the delicious Food every time the door opened.  But, the man was more proud than he was hungry.  So, he chose not to enter and partake of the Food.

Two days passed and the man still lingered outside the Shelter.  His stomach ached with hunger and his body was weak.  Yet, still he resisted every invitation to come in and enjoy the free Food that was made.

Finally, on the third day, a woman stepped out the door and looked at the man.

"Sir.  Are you hungry?"  the woman inquired.

The man lifted his head from his knees and said, "Yes."

"Then, come in."  the woman said plainly.

"I can't."  the man responded.  "I am too ashamed."

"Too ashamed to eat?" the woman asked.  "What is better, that you die in your hunger or let your pride die as you eat?  If you are hungry, come in."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Winning Ticket

Every year thousands and thousands of people play the Lottery.  With fingers crossed, they purchase their ticket -- a ticket that in very real and practical terms could change their lives (and those they may share it with) forever.  For many, it's more than a game, it's hope for a better life that they hold in their hands.

What many aren't aware of is that there is another Winning Ticket.  And, this Ticket has our actual names written on it.  A Ticket that has already been purchased for us.  A Ticket not made of paper, but one that has been woven with Love and Hope -- one that literally could only be purchased with Blood.

Every day, our Heavenly Father holds out our Winning Tickets in His Hands. 

"Who will take me up on this amazing offer?!"  He cries out.  "Who will receive their Winning Ticket?  Who will take the leap of faith and believe that I Am who I say I Am and that I Am a Generous and Merciful God?  Who will come?  I have made you ALL Winners!"


But, BE ADVISED. 
These Tickets are only being given out on earth. 
We must accept the offer while we are still in this body. 
 

Let me encourage you to get your Winning Ticket today.  For, you do not know when your life will be over and your Winning Ticket will no longer be offered.

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

;0)

Do yourself a favor today.

Rather than letting your day be filled with thoughts of negativity and worry, challenge yourself to think on things that are...
 
TRUE
NOBLE
RIGHT
PURE
LOVELY
ADMIRABLE
EXCELLENT
and
PRAISE WORTHY
 
 
People who fill their minds and hearts with these things mixed with gratitude and thankfulness are usually the ones we look at and say.... "What are you so happy about?"
 
 
There are so many reasons to smile today. 
:0)
 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Paying It Forward

I love the concept: Paying It Forward.

The idea that when you are given something, whether it be material possessions, service or money, instead of trying to pay that person back, you look to the next person and say to yourself, "How can I give to them as I have been given?" You're paying back by giving forward.

In the Kingdom of God, though, there is no such thing -- though we may try to apply the same concept with Him. He has given us so much. He has paid our debt. He has come and done something that no one in all of history has ever done before. It's easy to say to ourselves "It's only right, then, that I look at what I have and say -- how can I 'pay it forward' for you God?"

On the surface, it sounds like a wonderful gesture. But, at the heart of it, we must understand that WE CAN NOT PAY HIM BACK. Nope. We can not pay back by paying forward.

Does that mean, then, that we don't give? No. It means that if you are in a genuine relationship with Him, you WILL give out to others simply because He lives in you and shines through you. It means that when you give, it's because you are doing what you 'see your Father doing'. We love because He first loved us. He loves through us, pours through us.

We don't live, then, with a 'pay back' mentality. We live with a Love Relationship mentality.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Did you hear the scoop about...

Neighborhood gossip can be easy to fall prey to. One neighbor whispering about another neighbor who's already been whispering about them.

If you're new in town, it can be easy to 'catch the scoop' on everyone and begin forming opinions about people that you haven't even met in person yourself. What an unfair situation for everyone involved. Entire friendships/relationships could be sabotaged even before they have a chance to get started.

What is even more unfortunate is when this happens with God. He wants to be made known in our hearts. He wants desperately for us to understand the Truth of who He really is. He wants to be our friend. But, sometimes, misrepresentation of Him clouds our understanding of who He is. We may hear from others that He is a cruel and manipulative God. We may hear that He is more interested in 'using us' than He is in simply loving us and having a genuine relationship with us. We may hear that He is disappointed with us and we 'better start getting our act together' before we even think about coming to Him.

Lies. All lies.

But, if we don't go to the Source and find out for ourselves, we have nothing else to go by in our opinion of Him. The relationship is sabotaged even before it has a chance to get started. Be fair and give Him a fair chance to show you who He really is. You might be surprised at how much you have misunderstood.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Go Eagles! Go Giants!

Okay. I admit it. There are times when I am watching a sports game that, because of my ignorance and uncertainty, I can't seem to pick a team to cheer for. I usually wait and watch and ask others who they are supporting. Sometimes, I pick a team half way through. But, sometimes I never choose at all and just cheer for whoever is winning, (or occasionally for whoever is losing if I have a heart for the underdog). Bottom line: I never commit or become personally invested as a spectator.

But I can't do that when I'm actually participating in a game.  I'm either on one team or the other.  I can't say with my mouth that I'm on one team if I'm invested and active on the other one.   I can't wear two uniforms.  I can only represent one team.

It is the same way in the Kingdom of God.  There are no spectators.  We are all on one Team or the other.  We are either representing or not.  We are either in the Light or not.  We can not play on two teams at one time.

So -- what uniform will you pick / have you picked?   Choose today whom you will serve.

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The King's Bread

The King had food to give. 
But, the rich did not take it. They were self-satisfied. 
It was the poor that could not believe their good fortune.
 
 
 
The needy never say no to help.  I remember distributing sandwiches once to the homeless -- those that literally had one set of clothes and a box to call home.  They knew they were in need.  So, when offered help, they called themselves fortunate and took the offer without hesitation.  They knew they'd be a fool to let it pass them by.
 
I saw myself in their eyes -- not in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense.  I am a woman in need.  I'd be lying if I said otherwise.  And, the minute I admit that truth is the minute that I am able to receive the King's Bread.
 
 
 
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Find Sofa Chats On Facebook!

Find Me On Facebook!

Yep! Sofa Chats can now be found on Facebook.  Simply search for "Sofa Chats"

"Like" if you'd like!  It will be a place of daily encouragement and my "Living Room" is open to your comments and interaction.  Swing on by!  -- Valerie B.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Swwwiiinnnggg!

"Follow Through!" 

I can still hear my softball coach.  She knew that a good batter doesn't just go after the ball half heartedly.  If you're gonna swing, SWING.  Be all or nothing.  Let the ones that are out-of-reach go by.  But, if you're gonna take a crack at it, then darn it -- swing that bat!  Swing it like you mean it!  And, follow through with the whole swing!

I don't play softball anymore, but I am still remembering that advice in the game of life. 

Don't put a ring on my finger and promise to love me forever, only to decide at the 7th inning stretch that you've got the 7 year itch. 

Don't decide that you want to have a baby without considering all the sacrifices.  Neglected children are often the result of people that only 'half swing' in raising them.

Are you discovering your gifts and the call on your life?  Remember -- Home-runs only happen when players follow through.


Go the distance.  Swing that bat. 
The only thing that you can lose is your regret.


 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Uprooting

There was a flower that grew in the middle of a wide open pasture.  It enjoyed the field immensely.  It basked on the sunny days but enjoyed the Spring rain on it as well.  No matter the season, it was a content and joyful flower.

But, one day, the strangest thing happened.  A large bird came down from the sky and without reason or warning, swooped down and snatched the flower right up from its home and carried it away.

How confused and devastated the flower was! At first, it was a startled and scared, but then it became increasingly angry.  Where was this bird taking him??  The flight seemed to last forever.

Without warning again, the bird let go of the flower and let it spiral downward into a small yard.

"Lovely"  the flower thought.  "Now what?  How will I ever get home?  How will I even survive after being so abruptly uprooted!  The flower became very sad as it lay there contemplating its impending doom.  Its petals and its hope began to wilt in the hot noon sun. 

But, then...splash!  Suddenly, the flower was drenched from top to bottom.  A large garden hose, controlled by a large husky man, hovered over it.  The man had seen the flower while watering his lawn.  He took pity and saw that the flower still had life in it.

With a grunt, the man bent down and picked the flower up gently.  After placing it in a small pot, he set it on his window sill where the sun came in brightest.  For a short time, the flower felt comfortable and at rest.  But, soon, the flower grew too big for the small temporary pot it was put in.  The man saw it was time for the plant to move. 

So, the man lifted the pot, shook the flower into his hand and carried it outside.

"You need a more spacious place to bloom, little flower." the man said in a deep voice.  "But, I can not provide such space here." 

And, with that the flower was put into a bigger pot, placed on the back of a truck with other flowers just like it, and hauled away. 

The flower was once again very confused but it had grown to trust the man who cared for it.  The flower knew the man would not have uprooted him without good reason.

The truck carried the flower many miles until finally it came to a stop at a large hospital.  The workers on the truck pulled all the flowers from the truck and began to carry them to the hospital courtyard.  One by one, they were planted in a beautiful and spacious space.  The flower was happy that it was not alone in his new home.  It knew it had been taken to a safe place for it to grow and bloom fully.

The next day, the nurses from the hospital began to wheel patients into the hospital courtyard.  The flower noticed that none of the patients had hair. 

One of the nurses pointed to the beautiful flower garden and said, "These flowers were planted here just for you and the other patients, Lilly."

Lilly smiled and looked right at the flower that had been through so much trauma and confusion of its own.  With a tear in her eye, Lilly said, "Thank you.  Thank you little flower for being here.  You have no idea how much this means."

 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

D.I.Y.


D.I.Y.  (Do It Yourself.)  A growing trend thanks to places like Home Depot and Lowe's.  Why have a professional do something that you can do on your own?  Fix up your own house.  Spruce up your own lawn. 

Thanks to home kits we can dye our hair at home, give ourselves pedicures, manicures and facials.  And, thank you software specialists.  You give us the professional tools we need to do our own taxes like a pro.  We can pat ourselves on the back and say, "We did it all by ourselves."


But, there are some things we just can't D.I.Y.  

I've yet to see a home kit for a root canal.  I can't say I've ever seen equipment on the market that allows you to do a bone marrow transplant or open heart surgery on your own.  Those things are not meant for us to do ourselves.  We need a professional.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, some of us take the same D.I.Y. approach.  Why trust The Professional when we can just do it ourselves?  We want to say we did it on our own.  If I'm good enough and maintain a decent 'good works' resume, He'll keep me on Heaven's Enrollment List.  Or, maybe we have trusted Him for our Salvation, but the rest in life we want to do on our own.  Our marriages.  The raising of our children.  Provision for our family.  Our future...

Some say, "God helps those that help themselves."  But, I say, "God helps those that ask Him."  God is not going to force Himself on us by any means.  If we want to D.I.Y., He will let us.  But, Oh the Joy that is found when we put down our D.I.Y. kits and say to Him, "Daddy, I think I need a Professional."


 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Milk Delivery


I remember hearing a story like this years ago...

There was a man who was driving home one night and as he approached a certain house along the road, a thought came to his mind.  "Go buy a gallon of milk for the people that live in that home."  The man chuckled to himself as he played out the scenario in his head.  How ridiculous he would feel holding a gallon of milk and knocking on a stranger's door.  They would certainly think he was a lunatic, decline his offer and abruptly close the door in his face.  The man continued driving and went home.

The next day, the man was driving home on the same road again when the exact same thought came to his mind as he approached the same house.  But, this time, the feeling was stronger -- like a warm compress on his heart.  But, the man ignored it.  "How ridiculous," the man said, excusing the idea from his mind.  He continued driving and went home.

Two days later, for various reasons, he found himself traveling down this same dirt road.  He looked over to the house he had been thinking about all week.  The porch light was on.  And, of course, the feeling in his heart to buy them a gallon of milk was still there.  "Why won't this ridiculous idea leave my head!" the man said to himself.  "God, if this is You and you want me to buy them a gallon of milk, I will willingly do so.  But, I want you to know that I still feel like a fool."

So, the man picked up a gallon of milk, walked up to the house and knocked on the door.

A little girl answered. 

"Hello," the man said.  "Is your mommy or daddy here?" 

Just then, a woman holding an infant walked to the door and stood behind her daughter.  "Can I help you," the woman said.

Looking down at his shoes for a moment and then at the bag in his hand, the man looked back at the woman and asked awkwardly, "You wouldn't happen to need some milk, ma'am, would you?"

The woman's eyes opened widely and filled with tears.  "Yes, we would!  My husband lost his job and we have been struggling to pay the bills and feed our children.  This milk gives us Hope that God is hearing our prayers.  Thank you so much.  This means more than you know!"

The man was stunned at this unexpected response.  As he walked away, he realized that this, indeed, was not just a silly idea in his head. 

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Incomplete Measure

An incomplete measure is a musical term that describes a measure in music that does not have all the necessary beats in it.  See, in music, every beat in a given measure must be accounted for in order for it to be considered a valid measure.  If it is supposed to have 4 beats and it only has one, it is then labeled an incomplete measure. 

It's a great way to describe how we can feel sometimes.  We may say to ourselves, "I feel like something is missing, like I'm a single beat in a measure that should hold 4." 

The good news, in music, is that the definition does not end there.  It goes on to say that the answer is on the other side of the song.  All missing beats are found in the last measure. The incomplete measure is completed by another measure that provides the exact amount of beats it's missing.

Feeling like an incomplete measure can remind us that we are not an island and that the Missing Beats in the Melody of our lives are found within the Song.

 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Special Eyes


When I was in first grade, I broke my arm at a school skating party.  Just call me 'Grace'!  (I had a knack for hurting myself.)  I didn't go to the hospital right away, though, because we couldn't tell by looking at it that it was broken.  It was an injury on the inside that needed 'special eyes', an x-ray, to see what the naked eye could not. 

And, so it is with a broken heart.  It's a hurt on the inside that no one else can see.  Especially if a person has well-developed coping mechanisms, a broken heart can be even harder to detect.  They smile their way through their day.  They run to the bathroom to cry and wait to 'melt' when they are by themselves.  Even to their closest friends and family, it is hard for them to show on the outside the trauma that has taken place on the inside. 

But, "Special Eyes" see it all.  Though man only looks at the outward appearance, God looks straight into the depths of us.  Nothing is hidden from His Sight.  And funny enough, He knows us more than we even know ourselves.  So, when it's all just too deep for words and we don't even know how to pray, we can be speechless with Him and He still completely gets it.  No explanation needed.


 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Your 2 Hour Movie

At night, I give my husband full control of the TV remote.  I've learned over the years that even the best movies can't keep my eyes from closing when I sit down for the evening.  Though I have full intentions to follow the plot and not miss the action, it is a nightly routine for my husband to nudge me when it's over and say, "Come on, honey, the movie's done."  And, as if it was something new, I'll usually respond, "I can't believe I missed it!"

If we're not careful, the same can happen in life. 

•Fathers with demanding careers or hobbies and mothers distracted by their own careers, housework, or other things, fully intend to tune in and watch their babies grow.  But, without realizing it, they blink and look at their full grown children saying, "How did you grow so fast?"  And, they struggle to remember the plot of their children's story. 

•Young adults that will 'someday pursue their dreams', wake up at 40 years old saying to themselves, "What have I done with my life?  Did I snooze my way through the past 22 years?"

•Those who 'go through the motions' with God.  They 'do their duty', but somewhere along the line their heart has disconnected and they feel empty inside.  They are asleep in the Light. 
I can only encourage you as my husband encourages me. Wake Up!  Don't miss the movie of your life...your children, your calling, your Life with God.  Faster than a two hour movie, so our lives begin and end here on earth.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

No Regrets

A couple years ago, we bought a beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever.
It was love at first sight!  My husband, myself and the kids were tickled pink to adopt this new addition into our family.  We paid the price and he was all ours. 

Little did we know what was ahead.
Soon after we bought him, he fell very ill to pneumonia.  The first vet to see his X-rays gave us 'the talk'.  She was not very confident in his healing and prepared our hearts for the worst.  When we took him in to see the hospital specialist, they began intense treatment with him.  Months and months passed.  And, slowly but surely, progress was being made. 

Our boy made it.  He was out of the woods. 

But then the multiple ear infections started.
 
Then the eye infection. 
  • Then the complications and infection with his neutering
  • Then the strange cyst that developed on his leg. 
  • Then the poisonous reaction to his flea & tick formula-- that landed him right back at the over-night hospital and resulted in a nasty skin rash that turned into bloody blotches all over his body.
  • Then the strange seizures that would occur periodically.

This dog has been nothing but issues!  He's been a mess!  But, ya know what?  We never saw him as a headache.  We were on his side and fought for him and with him to overcome each hurdle.  Were we only to love him if he was problem free?  No. We knew when we adopted him that it was for better or worst.  And, in spite of all his complications, He has been the most amazing companion to us and has brought much joy and laughter to our home.  Do we regret adopting him?  No, not one bit!


********


God has adopted us. He has called us His own.

But, many of us feel like the 'problem dog' with Him. We know we're a mess. We've got issues piled upon issues.

But, don't you think God knew that when He signed the adoption papers? Do you think He adopted us blindly? No! In fact, it was because of His Great Compassion that He saw us, came to us, picked us up and boldly and proudly proclaimed to everyone around, "I'll take THIS one!!" He wanted us -- issues and all! And He was prepared to stick it out with us.

Does He ever regret it?
Nope, NOT ONE BIT!

 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tell Me Whatcha Need, whatcha really really need


In high school and college I used to waitress.  My job, of course, was to listen to each person's request and get them what they needed. 

On occasion, I would have a customer that would come in and say, "You know what I want.  I'll take that."  To which I would say, "I do?  Well, remind me then."  We would laugh and I'd wait for him to verbally confirm his need.  It was an important step in the process of getting him fed.  I knew better to assume anything or put words in his mouth. 

Most of us understand that we can't expect our waiters to guess our orders.  And, as we have need throughout our meal, we know that, though the server will eventually come by to check on us, it's completely acceptable to raise our hand and call our need to attention.  Our waiters are there to willingly serve, but they aren't mind-readers.  If they don't hear what we need, how can they help us?

The same is true for our heart needs.  How can we expect to find the help we are looking for if we never verbalize our needs?  How will anyone know what we are thinking if we close ourselves up in a corner?

We can't expect others to read our minds; our spouses to pick up on, what we think are, 'obvious' signs; or be frustrated with God that He's not responding-- even though we have yet to reach out and ask Him to help. 

Make your request known.

Be kind to yourself and fair to others -- don't expect them to guess your order. 
And, cry out to God.  He will surely respond to you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Four Sons

A father had 4 sons.

He loved each son equally and gave each of them what they needed.  Equal mercy.  Equal grace.

The sons, however, did not have an equal relationship with their father.  Two of the sons spent a portion of each day talking to their father.  Over time, they grew to understand their father and, as a result, they increased in wisdom as well.  The other two sons did not take time for their father at all. 

One day, a quarrel broke out in the nearby city.  Many were angry and upset.  The two sons who loved their father went into the city to see what all the commotion was.  To their dismay, they saw their other two brothers leading an angry mob. 

Pulling their brothers aside, the wise brothers questioned their siblings.

"What are you doing?" they asked.

"We have seen great sin and we have come to set these people straight!" the foolish brothers said.

The wise brothers looked at each other in disbelief and said,  "Do you not know, dear brothers, that you represent our household?"

"Of course, we know.  In fact, we come in our father's name!" the men answered.

The wise brothers, shocked and grieved, urged their other brothers to go to their father's house at once and ask their father directly if this was his desire for them.

But, the foolish brothers refused, saying, "Do you think we do not know what our father thinks and wishes?  There is no need for us to go and ask."

But, before they could even finish their sentence, they looked up and saw their father approaching.

"Father!" the foolish brothers exclaimed. "We are here to do your will!"

The father, looking at his foolish sons, shook his head and said, "If you had known my heart, you would know to proclaim my Great Mercy."


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Half The Bed

Years ago, I attended a conference in a huge stadium.  Thousands of women were there to be inspired and encouraged.  It was neat to be among so many ordinary gals just like myself.

There were several speakers and so much was said that day -- much more than I could even absorb in one sitting.  But, of everything that was spoken, there is one thing that I still remember even today.

One of the speakers was introduced and she began to tell her story about how she was once in such a low place that she didn't even have the motivation to make her bed or the courage to leave her house.  She was in more than just a funk.  She was in need of a rescuing.  I can remember sitting there and being so encouraged as she told her journey out of fear and depression.  It was truly remarkable and something to applaud and thank heaven for.  But, it was not something that happened over night.

In her desperation, she had asked God what she needed to do.  One would think it would need to be a big spiritual move.  But, no, quite the contrary.  God told her to simply make her bed.  But, not her whole bed --just half.  And, so that is where she began.  She got up each day and made just half her bed.  After some time of doing that, she moved into making the entire bed.  And, when she continued to faithful do that, she moved on to another small step until finally she was making not just half her bed, but now cleaning her whole house again -- and in the process, finding her healing and her emotional health.  She continued to take baby steps with God and where did it lead her?  Straight to her destiny of encouraging thousands of others just like her.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beating the Statistics

I was told an interesting statistic from a 10 year old boy who takes karate lessons. 

He said that his instructor lined up the boys in his class and said, "Did you know that only 1 out of 5 students in karate make it to black belt?  Now, who's going to beat the statistics?"

With a determined look in his eye, the boy then looked at me and said, "I'm gonna be the 1 out of 5!"

*********
I've seen this kind of statistic before.  For every 5 students that take piano lessons, maybe only 3 continue after level one.  They quit before they have even really started.

The statistic is probably seen across the board:  Dieting and exercising. Completing a project. (How many unfinished quilts are out there?) A book half written.  For whatever reason, individuals give up.  They don't endure to the end.  With reasonable excuses, they abandon their goal.  They lose interest.  They are distracted, lazy, or just plain discouraged.  They drop it and walk away.

If we are not careful, our walk of Faith is susceptible to abandonment as well.  We might start out well.  Like running a marathon, we begin with much excitement and --  might I say -- faith in ourselves.  We say things like "I'll never give up!  I'll never stop following Jesus!  Look at me?  Do I look like someone who's going to abandon their faith??" 

But, the journey is long.  The road is winding.  The hills can get steep and the forest is as dark as night.  In it, we can begin to question.  We can start to wonder if all this is even worth it?  We start to reason that it might be better to turn back than push forward and keep our commitment -- following Him to the very end.  In a word, we simply want to quit.

The good news in all of this is that there is more than one party that has made a Commitment.  It is not just us that signed the Agreement.  With blood from his own Hands, our Friend has signed a Covenant with us that promises He will NEVER give up on us.  He will NEVER quit.  And, if He sees us fading in the desert heat, He will pick us up from the scorching sand and carry us to the finish line Himself.  HE makes us winners.  HE keeps us going.  And, as we keep our eyes on Him and realize our complete reliance on His Grace, HE'S the One that helps us beat the statistics!

 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Now That Sucks

I have a bagless vacuum cleaner that gets more of a workout than an Olympic athlete.  Between kids, our dog, and everyday life, it is relied on daily. 

Every once and awhile, though, I notice it doesn't accomplish its purpose very well.  I spend time vacuuming an entire room and realize that it missed half of what needed to be picked up from the floor. Ugh! 

In my investigation, I realize the problem was that I simply failed to take care of it well enough for it to do its job.  I had forgotten to empty it of its dirt and junk.  Of course it's not going to give me the results it was made to give!


I fail sometimes to do the same thing for myself.  Dirt and junk in the form of burdens pack the inside of me.  Things I sucked up and took into my system even years ago still swirl around my heart and occupy space.  Anxiety clogs my filters.  Other people's dirt have somehow become my own.  And, because of all that crap, I find myself not at my fullest potential, lacking in Joy, mulling through the past dirt and not thriving and enjoying life. 

There's only one thing to do.  Empty out.

Unlike my vacuum, these burdens were never mine to pick up and hold onto.  I was not designed by my Creator to hold onto them.  But, He knew that I would anyway.  So, He tells me...  CAST.  Cast my cares.  THROW OFF all that hinders.  SHAKE OFF the things that are not His Truth.  BE FREE of yesterday's burdens.

And, wow.  Just like my vacuum.  When I dump the junk, I run as I should!

 

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's In YOUR Wallet?

We keep in our wallets what's most important to us.  Our money.  Our credit cards.  Pictures of our precious loved ones and pets.  Though a wallet may be small, it represents alot.  It represents what is personal and what takes priority in our lives.  It represents -- our self.

What if our hearts had a wallet? 
What if we were able to pull out a representation of who we are on the inside? 

What would we find?  Would we find pictures of ourselves -- representing our self-focus?  Would our Identification Cards be a picture of the things we own or the things we have accomplished -- because we find our identity in our possessions or things we have done?  Would our ID's address be earth's or Heaven's?  And, would we realize that our debt on those credit cards we carry around with us have been completely paid for -- that all is Forgiven -- we are no longer in debt!


What's in YOUR wallet?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cultivate

Its health and success are based on it....its environment.  You may have the perfect seed.  But, it will go nowhere if not given a safe place to grow.

Same goes with our marriages.  Couples who create safe environments for each other to communicate and be themselves are more likely to have a successful marriage.  How much harder it is when what they call 'home' is filled with criticism, walls, and unspoken bitterness.  How can their love grow in such soil?

Children.  They are filled to the brim with potential, talents and gifts yet to be unwrapped.  But, children, more than even us adults, are ultra sensitive to whether their environment is safe or not.  If security is lacking, they will focus more on surviving than letting their petals open and their beauty unfold.

My question for you today is...  are you cultivating your garden?  If you are married, what environment are allowing to fill your home?  If you have children, are you helping them feel safe?  Are you giving them a secure place to blossom? 

You have a choice in this.

It's something that I've recently discovered for myself.  Words, tone, and volume change the environment in my home.  I didn't realize how much power I have as a wife and mom to set the environment in my house and in my marriage.  I have a choice whether I set a positive or a negative vibe.  But, I also realized that the only way for me to set a genuine tone of love and acceptance and safety in my home is to first ask God to be the Center and the Peace of my life.  If I have no peace, how can I give it?  If I am not centered in His Love, how can I share it?  If I feel judged, how can I possibly share forgiveness and mercy? 

We love because He first loved us.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

My car manual promises it.  If I'm ever in an accident, my air bags are going to activate.  A comforting statement.  But, it's not like I'm going to go test them out on my own.  In faith, I believe that it will do what it says it will do when I need them most.  That when life happens, I won't find out at that point that the manual lied to me. 

God's Word is full of promises... "I'll never leave you nor forsake you";  "I've loved you with an everlasting Love"; "I lift up my eyes to the hills -- where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip -- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord watches over you -- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm -- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

That's a whole lot of good stuff.  A whole lot of comforting statements.  But, just like my car manual, what's most important to me is that it's not just a bunch of feel-good sentiments.  That where the rubber meets the road, my spiritual airbags are going to meet me where I'm at.  I need to know that everything I know to be true about God is going to come into play in real life.  That even if everything explodes around me, even if all else is unstable, I can look and find Him still standing there over me -- His promises still as solid as ever.  I need to know that He is who He says He is -- who His 'Manual' describes Him to be. 

The thing is, though, it's not a question on His end.  God Does Not Lie.  Period.  So, if life happens (and it does!) God will stick to His guns.  He's not a fair-weather friend that gets nervous when trials come.  He does not change like shifting shadows.  His moods don't swing like ours do.  His opinion of us never changes. 

So, even more than I trust my airbags, I can trust God.  In faith, I travel through life knowing that where the rubber meets the road, His promises are not just words on a page, but they are alive, true and real


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Testing, Testing...me, me, me

Being a parent is such a demanding job.  There's no place to clock out.  There's no bell that rings that dismisses you.  There's no leaving your job site to go home.  Rewarding?  Absolutely.  Trade it for the world?  No way!  Easy to find balance?  Not for me. 

I wanted to list here all the things that I personally want to remember as I journey through parenthood.  It's not that I don't know, I just lose sight of them.  Writing things down helps make them concrete for me.  (Which is probably why I like to blog.  I'm telling myself more than I'm telling anyone else! ;)


1)  Since I've become a parent, has everything else in my life stopped? 

2)  Have I talked to my husband today? (I mean more than just about bill paying and school work.)

3)  Have I done something today that I, personally, enjoy doing -- even if it does not involve the kids?

4)  When's the last time I bought something for myself?

5) When's the last time I sat down?  No, not to complete something on my to-do list -- just sit.

6) When's the last time I shared my heart with a friend?

7)  When's the last time I spent time with God?

8)  Am I teaching my children to be helpers? (which will eventually lighten my load!)

9)  Am I trying to be the hero?  Am I willing to let others help?

10) Have I enjoyed my children today?  Have I enjoyed my husband?  Am I seizing moments to take it all in and thank God for it all?


Monday, June 4, 2012

Medicine Drops

My daughter had Pink Eye once.  Though, it was an uncomfortable thing for her, the Pink Eye itself was not what she was most concerned about. 

 It was the medicine. 

We bought her antibiotic drops that we knew would be quick to attack the source and bring her to quick healing.  But, though we knew it was good for her, and she knew it was good for her, she was frightened by it.

"Please, don't let it hurt." she pleaded.

"Honey, it won't.  But, what I need you to do is step into the light." I said, reassuring her as I lead her into the dining room where the light was brightest.

I put my hand under her chin and lifted her head.  Tears began to fall down her cheeks. 

"I'm scared!" she said, as she pulled away from me and covered her eyes with her hands.

It took 15 minutes for her to finally relax enough to let me get the drops in, but only a moment for the medicine to drop in and begin the healing process.




The process of getting her to the  place where she was ready to receive medicine was a a stunning picture of myself.  From my own mouth I have said her very words to God.  "I'm scared.  Please don't let it hurt."  Though His medicine was what I needed, the idea of receiving it was more frightening and agonizing than my heart pain itself.

But, oh the love of a Parent.  Our Dad's 'medicine drops' are for our healing, our health.  His intention is never to hurt us, only to love and heal us.  And, how patient He is with us in our process of coming to Him.  He doesn't push us.  He never scolds us for not coming.  Just as I helped my daughter, He leads us into His Light and lifts our heads.  He understands our suspicion.  But, He also knows the Truth that will set us free and He never gives up on us.  No matter how much we resist Him, He's not a parent that will just walk out the door the minute we say no.  He waits for us.  He builds a trust with us until finally we are able to say to Him, "Daddy, I'm ready for your medicine drops now."






Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thought of the Day VII


If M&M's, Jelly Beans, and Crayons
can work out their racial differences,
so can we.


I only hate you
because I don't like myself.

Hold the onions. Mayo on the side. Lightly toasted -- but remove all the seeds.
2 squirts of mustard or I'll send it back.
And, please no toothpick or I'll sue you if I hurt myself on it.
Otherwise, I'm completely easy to please.


After 4 years of therapy,
I'm finally able to admit it.
I'm human.


I used to be HAPPY AS A CLAM.
Now, I'm just clammed up.




Some dogs get hurt and never whine.
But, they're still hurt.




Strong silent type?
or just stubborn and closed up?



 
A person's weight does not define them.
But, it is wise for a person to define a good weight for themself.




Marriage. Carriage.
in that order



 
I'm Not A Liar!
I just don't believe in disclosing the facts.



I'm not interested in whether it's right.
I'm interested in just always being right.


RSVP.
Or your seat will not be saved.


 
Waiting on God
is like waiting for a pie to bake.
Timing is everything.


When you die, the inheritance you leave
is more than just your possessions.



Take time to
stop and smell the roses...
and thank the One that made them grow.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Thought of the Day VI


Finding Love is one thing.  Letting Love in is another.




Your vulnerability
gave me permission to cry.
thank you.



When we cry, God catches our tears
and uses them to make a RAINBOW.



You can't play hide and seek with God.
He always knows where you are.



It's okay to Laugh!! ;0)
try it.



If you don't stop gossiping,
I'm going to start talking about you!



I don't mean to brag,
but my DADDY is the CEO
of everything.


Earth is our Womb. Heaven is our Home.




Wish upon a star
Or, even better... just ask the One who made that star.



a TREE is only as healthy as the water it drinks




Kites can only fly
when they position themselves with the Wind.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thought of the Day V

Be kind to yourself.
Life is hard enough.

Be real.
Your kids can see right through you anyway.


Simon Says: Play Nice!

I can't control people,
but I can control what I say about them.



Fire-Starters beware!
You may one day burn your own house down.
 
 
 
To us it's just another night of news on television,
but to them it's their reality, their life,
and often times their prayer request.



Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow.
Isn't this what you've been looking forward to?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thought of the Day IV

Truth is, I really am perfect.
Everyone else just makes me look bad.



Feel free to judge others
 as soon as you have it all together.



I'm a reasonable person!
I just choose to act irresponsibly.



We're like peanut butter and jelly.
I'm not like you. And, you're not like me.
But, together we are
 pretty stinkin' awesome!



I know exactly where I'm going, GEESH!!!
(now, if you could just show me which way is west?)



When it sounds like I'm joking, I'm serious.
When I'm serious, I'm just joking.
Why do you have such a hard time understanding me?



I am absolutely certain of one thing.
I'm clueless.



You know you need to work on your marital communication
when your dog knows more about you than your spouse.



Tis the season for giving!
But, keep your negativity to yourself.



Be careful who you share information with.
It is a small world, after all.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Thought of the Day III

Your housework will always be there.  Your children won't.


If you're looking for life-long volunteering,
become a parent.


Don't make it hard for people to find nice things to say at your funeral.


Don't wait for people to love you.  Dare to go first.


For some reason, the more I pray for you the less I hate you.



If God had a Facebook page
would you accept his Friend Request?



There's no evangelism in heaven.


Wake up!!
 There's a LIFE to live!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thought of the Day II

Push me,
 and I'll never move. 
Inspire me,
 and you'll never stop me.


Anger is a fire that must be addressed
or it will burn you from the inside out.



Running after money
only makes you
exhausted and never satisfied.



Overly obsessing over your body is as sensible as
overly obsessing over a flower that will perish tomorrow.



Keeping your cool in a heated conversation
is a gift to yourself -- and the other party.



Not taking care of yourself
 is a disservice to the ones that love you.


Not dealing with your issues
 is like having rotten produce in your house
and refusing to empty the trash.


You're never alone in what you're going through.
You're special, but not exclusive to any trial.


Thank you's are always remembered.  Whether they were given -- or not.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thought of the Day

Loving your spouse means loving them for who they are now,
not what you wish they'd become or what they used to be.



Trusting God is like putting all your chips on one number and knowing you're a guaranteed winner.


Words are like boomerangs. When you send them out, they'll be sure to come back at you.



The more you know, the more you realize how much you really don't know at all.



Joy   My drug of choice.



Pray or WorryPrayer gives back.  Worry takes.



Love Forgives -- even if it can't forget.



Happy people are peculiar.



There's two ways over a mountain --
by foot, or with wings.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Tastes Like Chocolate

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my husband used to talk to my belly.  Then, he'd pull out his guitar and sing to my belly.  Then, he would get real close and whisper to my belly.  We would smile and laugh about it, but what he was doing was something so very precious.  He was beginning a life-long relationship with his child.  And, he was using something that was unique to him -- his voice. 

When she was born and the doctors laid her down, my husband walked over to her and called her by name.  Immediately, she responded and turned her head in his direction.  She was finally able to meet the person behind the voice she had been hearing her whole life.  She knew it in an instant.

Our Daddy's Voice is unique.  It's a 'sound' like no other.  And, the more we hear it, the more we learn what it sounds like.  He speaks to us as we read His Word.  He sings over us as we walk through our day.  He gently whispers and nudges us -- and we'll hear it if we are listening closely.  The more we position ourselves to listen to it and for it, the more familiar we become with it.  I remember when I was a child, I could be in a crowded, noisy department store.  But, if I heard my mother calling for me, I could pick it out immediately and respond to it.  A child knows its parent's voice.

My youngest daughter asked me once, "Mommy how do you know it's God's Voice."

To simplify it the best way I could, I told her this... 

"If I were to blindfold you and have you taste a piece of chocolate, even if you didn't see the chocolate, would you know it was chocolate?"

"Yes." she said.

"It's like that with God."  I said.  "If you 'taste' Him enough, you always know when it's Him."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Factory Workers

A team of factory workers were invited to do a great and exciting job.  There was only one problem.  Though each one was skilled in his own area, no one seemed to know where to begin with this great and exciting job.  They arrived each day ready to work, but spent most of their time asking each other what exactly they should be doing to move their project forward.  This created much frustration among the workers.  Frustration with themselves.  Frustration with the task.  And, especially, frustration with each other.  Though, none of them wanted to give up, they began to grumble and question why they were even asked to come to the factory in the first place.

One day, the Owner and Visionary of the factory came for a visit.  Seeing that the workers were not working and sitting idly at their stations, He called them all together to address them. 

"What are you doing fellow workers?  Why are you not working together to complete our great and exciting job?" the Owner asked.

The workers looked at him and then looked at each other.

"We do not know what we are supposed to do, Sir." they said.  "We each are skilled in our own areas, but we do not know where to begin to accomplish this great and exciting job."

The Owner shook His head and sighed. 

Then with loving eyes, He looked at the workers and pulled out a piece of paper from His pocket. 

"I have here in my hand a copy of the invitation that was sent to each of you.  From what I can see, you all have only read the first part of my invitation.  Let me read for you the rest of it...

"When you arrive each day at the factory,
 report immediately to the center hall.
In the center of the center hall
you will find a red telephone.
This is a direct line to my office.
When you pick it up,
I will already be waiting on the other end.
My voice will come through over the speaker system.
You will then see a large screen descend from the ceiling. 
As you look up, you will find that I have already laid out
the plans for your day. 
Read them carefully and go and do as I say.
This is how I will unfold my Vision
for our great and exciting job."

 
"My fellow co-workers," the Owner said, as He looked into the eyes of each worker, "Vision is not found horizontally amongst yourselves, but rather vertically when you Seek and Look Up."