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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

JanYOUary 2014


The month of January holds significance to many because it marks the start of a new beginning. The name January originated from the Roman god Janus which means gateway or door; beginnings and endings. January is meant to signify the "door" to a new beginning and the closing of the past 365 days. Our culture uses this month to start a new routine and set new goals for ourselves, leaving unfinished ones behind.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it." Just the other day my 5 year-old daughter became mad after I verbally disciplined her for not following directions at a restaurant. As I sat in the booth across from her I watched her rose colored lips frown, her arms hastily fold and a grumble leak from her mouth. I leaned close and calmly said, "Did you know YOU chose how you feel? YOU made the choice not to listen and YOU are choosing to be mad. YOUR choices determine how YOU feel." She looked up at me with her beautiful blue-gray eyes and that frown softened and her arms slowly unfolded into her lap. Without realizing it she took a moment to guard her heart, making a more life giving choice. I thought about that moment. Because I chose to guard MY heart and chose words and reactions carefully towards my daughter, I sparked a light inside of her to guard her heart. With just guarding my heart I have the capability of allowing life to touch others. 

 This month is talking to me, but not in the self-centered, all about me kind of way. The YOU in JanYOUary is empowering me to guard one of the most vitally important organs, responsible for circulating oxygen and essentially giving life throughout my body.  For me JanYOUary is the open door to examine MY heart, MY mind, MY reactions, MY thoughts, MY approaches so that only the abundance of life will flow from me. Happy New Year and I pray January will mark the beginning of new life inside of YOU. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forgive Yourself



For me the fact that Jesus forgives is a no-brainer, so I often wonder why a person would not give God a chance. After all, He forgives us of our sins, sets us free from our past and gives us hope for our future. Today It dawned on me. Maybe it's because as humans we have a hard time forgiving ourselves. I think people assume God won't accept them because of who they are or what they've done; because they have a hard time accepting their own mistakes.

We all need forgiveness. I think it's easier to forgive another person for a wrong doing than it is to forgive ourselves sometimes. The problem is we look at ourselves with no spiritual filter. We often spend our time dwelling on the negative, the what ifs or the shoulda coulda wouldas that when we look at ourselves in the mirror we are doing so with our eyes shut. 
God sees us differently. He sees our future. He sees who we can become at any age or stage.  He sees us with spiritual eyes, wide open. 

It's time to open our spiritual eyes and stop allowing the rear view mirror of our life to be bigger than the windshield. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it tells us "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Your past may be part of your journey but it shouldn't define where you are going and who you will become. No matter how lost you think you are, forgiveness is not that far away. To truly experience the pure sweetness of Jesus' love and forgiveness you have to forgive your own heart.  Allow the freedom of no longer being bound to your mistakes transform you and give you fresh perspective. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Makes You Beautiful


My daughter loves the group, One Direction and loves to sing,"What Makes You Beautiful." Just like any good parent would do...I have a silly fun jam session with my 5 year-old, dancing and singing to the catchy song. If you haven't heard the song, google it. It's quite a fun song :) So, as the chorus played, God left an impression on my mind that stayed with me a few days. I think God wants us to realize that the way we view ourselves is not the same as how He sees us. Here are 5 lyrics that stood out to me that I believe God wants to embed in our hearts and minds.

1. You're insecure, Don't know what for

2. Being the way that you are is enough

3. You light up my world like nobody else

4. If only you saw what I can see

5. Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know you're beautiful

Matthew 14-15 says "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.…" We don't need to be insecure. God has made us the light of the world. A beautiful light set apart that shines and can't be hidden. God wants us to realize that if we could only let go of our insecurities we would see ourselves the way He sees us, which is beautiful. After all, we are made in His image. Who knew a boy band could shed such wisdom? :)


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unconditional Conditions



"Unconditional Conditions," seems like an oxymoron. When I think about the word unconditional I logically think it means without conditions. How can conditions be unconditional? Unconditional is defined as unreserved, unrestricted, total, absolute or complete. A condition is a state, a form, situation or a circumstance. For example your present condition may be you're unemployed, facing an illness, a divorce or in a challenging situation. Whatever you're going through is your condition or your present state of being. Many seasons in our lives God will take us through a condition, a situation or circumstance to bring us to a point of unconditional, total, absolute or a complete state of being. This creates "unconditional conditions."

In the bible the book of Hosea tells a contraversial story about a man and a woman's relationship to reflect his unconditional love for us. The book begins with God instructing Hosea, a highly favored man of God to take Gomer, a woman of harlotry as his wife. All I can say is WHOA! This is like the bible version of "Pretty Woman." Can you imagine living your whole life serving God to be told your spouse is a prostitute and adulterer. I can only imagine Hosea felt doubt, fear, sadness, insecurity and even jealousy. 

The two become one and Hosea and Gomer have a child.  God commanded Hosea to name his first son, Jezreel and told them there would be bloodshed upon the valley of Jezreel. Yikes, not something I'd  want to give birth to. What Hosea and Gomer failed to recognize was Jezreel in the Hewbriac tradition means "God Scatters," as a farmer would scatter seeds. Before a farmer is able to scatter seeds he has to till the ground to prepare the soil. This is a dirty and physically laboring process, just like some of the situations we may find ourselves in. However, just like the process of preparing the soil for a harvest, the farmer must tear some things up and look at his bare farmland before he can scatter his seeds and watch the fruits of his labor manifest. Gomer becomes pregnant with baby boy number two and God commands Hosea to name him Lo-Ruhamah, which means "no mercy." There are times in our lives where we feel that no mercy has been shown to us. That life is so hard and our present situation is unbearable and we feel rejected by God. All we see is the pain, the struggle and the dirt of our present condition. Even Jesus himself on the cross in His last hours cried out to God and asked Him, "Why have you forsaken me?" Why do you show me no mercy? (Matthew 27) God responded that He will never leave us or forsake us because our conditions are unconditional.

Immediately after Gomer WEANED Lo-Ruhamah, she bore another son named Lo-Ammi, which means, "not my people." Another Yikes. You finally get past feeling barren to only move onto rejection. From the naked eye the situation looks grim, but with spiritual eyes it's unconditional.  If you noticed I bolded the word wean. Moms wean their infants from the breast to drinking from a bottle to solid foods. It's a SLOW and GRADUAL transition . So, why would God have Gomer and Hosea give birth to hardship, no mercy and rejection? In the Hebrew language the word WEAN translates to the word Gamal, which means, "bestow on, deal bountifully, do good, reward, ripen." So even in the midst of chaos and feelings of rejection and hardship, God is transitioning you SLOWLY into a state of reward. He is ripening you. When something is ripened, it is done, it is complete, it is unconditional. 

In chapter three, Gomer runs off with other men and God instructs Hosea to forgive her and run after her. When Hosea finds her she had been sold into slavery and he had to buy her back.  Hosea's name in Hebrew means Salvation. What I find most fascinating and exciting about this entire story is that Gomer's name means complete. So even in her dirty state of being, her un-Godly state of harlotry and sins she was seen as complete in the eyes of God who still loved her enough to bring her back to salvation (Hosea) and redeem her and give her back her self-worth. 

Just like Hosea taking Gomer back, God will redeem you and bring you to a place of growth and completeness. No matter where you are right now at this particular point in your life, God says do not fear. It is an unconditional condition. When it's all said and done, you are My child and you are complete and you are whole.









 
 
 
 
 



 




  
   

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rain

I was reminded today of a poem I wrote a few years ago about God's forgiveness. This jolt in my memory came from a facebook post from author Lysa Terkeurst.  It said, " His Truth won't leave you even when your gut honest cries don't sound so Christian." After I read this I chuckled. The small laughter came not because it was funny but because I could see myself in that sentence. None of us are perfect and if you're at all like me, you may find yourself in a few "not so stellar Christian moments," from time to time. But God's love is so amazing; He still washes away those moments and replaces them with His warmth and love. He uses those washed away moments as an opportunity to reveal something great in us.
Rain
 I’m taking a journey through the eyes of God
As He observes the chaos on His earth
I feel the pain
As He watches in disappointment,
His children harming another.
I begin to feel water rush
As each single tear falls from His tired eyes
The rain pours down from the windows of Heaven
And washes away our iniquity.
I feel His tears begin to recede,
Like a tide pulling from the shores of existence.
I begin to feel a warm presence of love
Radiate from His forgiving heart,
Drying the remaining puddles of our sins.
I feel at peace as I see His promise of tomorrow
Shining its colors in His luminous sky.

Monday, April 15, 2013

MYOB

Monday April 22nd is "Earth Day." This annual celebration originated in 1970 with intentions to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment through demonstrations and events. Currently, over 192 countries world-wide celebrate being "green" on this day.  This one day is a great reminder for the remaining 364 days to MYOB (mind your own business). I'm sure you are wondering how the childhood phrase "mind your own business" applies to Earth Day.  I believe being "green" is a Godly principle and He made it our business to maintain it. In Genesis God created the Earth and called it "very good." He created man and woman, He blessed them and commanded them to manage their new home called Earth."And God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen 1:28)  If you read a little further in Genesis 2:15 it says, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."  

From the beginning of mankind God gave us the Earth to live in, work in and maintain. Just like any "very good" business its managers have the control to work and maintain it in order to carry out the operational responsibilities of the business.  We have that same power and responsibility for our green Earth. Contrary to Kermit the Frog's song, "It's Not Easy Being Green," it's actually quite simple. Here are some ways to MYOB :) If you're new to being "green" start with one or two :)



*Have recycle bin in your home 
*Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose
*Avoid purchasing plastic. (buy glass, wood, or stainless steel)
*Ask for paper instead of plastic at the grocery store
*Use reusable snack packs instead of plastic zip lock bags (great $ saver)
*Shop at consignment stores for kids toys & donate your kids toys
*Stop buying bottled water; get a water bottle (great $ saver) 
*Unplug electrical appliances when not in use  (great $ saver)
*Avoid things that require batteries 
*Avoid synthetic fibers
*One night a week start a "no electronics night." (great for family time)
*Go outside and enjoy nature!! 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrect Yourself

Easter Sunday is one of my favorite days to be at church. Today was the first time since becoming a Christian that I missed attending Easter service because both myself and my daughter woke-up with fevers. Thanks to technology we did not miss the service. We streamed it online and it was awesome! Easter service at my church has always been joyous, happy, fun and filled with the hope of life. So, while I was not there in person,  I am able to embrace all that Easter has to offer, beyond chocolate eggs, which by the way are both mine and my daughter's favorite candy, or attending a fantastic church service. The miracle of the resurrection and the promise of new life that Easter represents gives me hope. It reminds me on a large scale that my life and yours have been saved because Jesus paved the way before us. When I take a more focused look into my life I am reminded that while some things that have been crucified are to remain buried, there are some God-given things that were designed for resurrection: dreams, plans, ideas, healing, relationships, connections, conversations, love, marriages, new life...

Matthew 28
Jesus rose from the dead and because He lives in you, so can whatever is dead inside of you, resurrect.  In Matthew, scripture tells us that an earthquake occurred and Jesus rose from the dead.  He went ahead of the Marys into Galilee to await for them and the disciples.  Jesus has already gone before us and is waiting. He is waiting for you to rise, shake things up a bit like that earthquake and resurrect yourself. You are destined for great things.
 Happy Easter!



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mighty Oak Marriage: Part Two


In my last post I reflected on Valentines day and one of the most romanticized scriptures in the bible, Ephesians 5:31. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." While you will have lots of "warm fuzzy " moments in your marriage, becoming " one flesh," is hard. I gave two ways to grow your marriage into the mighty oak it was destined to be: 1. Honor your spouse with your lips and 2. No secrets. The next two are a little more challenging, but well worth the effort. 

3. Increase Your Tolerance For Pain
Yes, you read that correctly. No one said your spouse will never hurt your feelings, make you mad, cry or even challenge you to forgive them. No one is perfect. Not you, nor your spouse. Chances are at some point your spouse has or will really tick you off.  The Word of God tells us conflict is actually good. The Message bible translation of 2 Corinthians 1:6 says,  "When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it." Mighty Oak marriages endure. They persevere because their roots are planted secure in good soil. In our society too many marriages end in divorce because it is easier to walk away then it is to endure. In most cases when couples choose to endure they reap a reward that is far greater than walking away. When you stood before God and repeated your vows to one another, you promised to love through the good times and the bad times....Learn to increase your tolerance for pain. 

4. Don't Stop Being Married Because You're Hurt
I find it crazy when I hear friends tell me they had a fight with their spouse and haven't spoken in 2 days. This boggles my mind. When you're married the two are still supposed to operate as a one unit. You can't stop your daily routines, responsibilities and interactions because you're going through a struggle. A mighty Oak can't split its trunk and grow separate, but grows upright and strong despite a branch or two breaking. Express yourself to your spouse and listen to their expression of hurt or anger, but don't stop being married. If you have children, they are taking notice too. 


I decided to add one more...
5. Pray Together
Pray for each other and with one another. It's hard to hurt someone  when you set aside selfishness and pray for the other.

I hope you find these concepts helpful. I know I want a marriage that is strong, mighty and rooted in the soil of God so that in all seasons it will endure. The love you share with your spouse should be a reflection of God's love for us. 





Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mighty Oak Marriage: Part One

Combined with treats exchanged between our family and the large goodie bag my daughter brought home from school, our house is still over-flowing with hearts, candy and all things red and pink from Valentines Day.  With all the "love in the air," I couldn't help but think about one of the most romanticized scriptures in the bible, Ephesians 5:31. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." The idea that two souls come together to become one seems dreamy and picturesque. Many people think that once you marry your life becomes like a fairy tale.  Sorry to break the news to you, but a fairy tale it is not. A beautiful reflection of what God is, yes. We often forget that God's perfect picture of love involves sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears.

With that said, let's think of marriage like a nut planted in the soil. And yes, some days you may feel like a nut or you may think your spouse is a nut. You may even experience "nutty" times in your marriage.  But even through changing weather, with the right elements that small nut grows into a mighty oak tree.  So here are 4 concepts I think are key to growing your marriage into a solid and mighty oak. I will give the first two today and will finish with part two on the next post. 

 1. Honor Your Spouse With Your Lips
 While using your lips to give kisses freely to your husband is wonderful and encouraged  
I'm actually referring to a different type of lip service. Your words have the ability to speak life or death into the soul of your marriage (Proverbs 18:21). So let me explain. There is nothing worse than being in the break room at work or at a party and hear a woman talk about her husband like he is scum. It is wise to keep your dirty laundry in the laundry room of YOUR own house. Speaking ill about your spouse brings him dishonor and also reflects your state of being. If you read a little further in Ephesians 5:33 you will see where this is true. "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."  Wives are called to honor their husbands. So the next time you need to vent, zip the lip on dishonor and speak of your husbands qualities that bring life into your marriage.( this is also true for husbands towards,their wives) Reserve the problem solving for you, hubby & God. 

2. No Secrets 
Communication is vital to a marriage. My hubby and I do a lot of talking and have vowed to keep a "no secret" rule in our house. It doesn't matter what it is. Secrets have the ability to destroy a marriage by causing division. When a house is divided it will not stand (Mark 3:25). The same way we don't allow our own secrets to divide us, we also don't let other people's secrets come between us. If anyone comes to me in confidence and says, "I have to tell you something, but don't tell your husband," my reply is the same. "I don't keep secrets from my husband so if I can't tell him, then don't tell me." We also have taught this to our daughter. We are a packaged deal. To take this a step further, if you are thinking of doing something you feel uncomfortable telling your spouse, then it is probably not a good or God idea. Two will never become one when there is division between them. 

I hope you have found part one of this post insightful. Stay tuned for the last two keys to a mighty oak marriage! 




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prune Yourself



I recently purchased a beautiful ivy plant for my front porch. Its home is a simple terra cotta pot outside my front door. My plan is to keep it contained and pruned. I learned my lesson on ivy many years ago when I was managing a preschool that had lots of the lush green stuff surrounding the building in the back yard.  Because it had never been pruned, the lovely vines had become overgrown and took over the landscape. At one point I noticed those persevering leaves grew right through the crevices of the back door and began showing itself inside. It was out of control! Like most plants proper pruning is necessary to help keep a plant from becoming overgrown, to stimulate new growth and promote flowering and the bearing of fruit. Just like that ivy plant,  we may have certain things we have allowed into our lives that have, "taken over," become out of control or have snuck up into the crevices of our homes without us even realizing it. If this is the case it may be time to prune or cut a few things back or even out of our lives. Anytime God calls us to prune back he is preparing us for new growth. John 15:1 says "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." While cutting something or someone from our lives seems painful it is the Gardner's job to prune us. It is our job to be like the vine and allow the Gardner to prune, shape and guide us into His masterful purpose so that we will be even more fruitful than before.  What has become so overgrown in your life that it has stunted Godly growth in you? What things need to be pruned or even cut out?  With God's help, I'm making my list right now :)