Friday, April 5, 2013


The sun is out again today.  It’s been going in and out of the clouds all morning, but every time it breaks through, my heart feels encouraged. 

Rainy day, yesterday.  I mean, ALL DAY LONG.  Normally, I like the rain – I love the sounds and smells the rain conjures up.  And I like to eat, so rain brings help to our farmers as well as a promise of a beautiful Spring.  Yesterday, however, I wasn’t feeling the love for the rain so much. I had errands to run, and am getting ready for a craft show next weekend, so I have 7 days to create as much as I possibly can.  Gloomy, cloudy, blah days do not help.  I felt listless, unproductive and a little frustrated. 

What a difference a day makes!  Sometimes I just have to resolve that one day may not be my most stellar day, and to try again tomorrow. I’m not going to dwell on what I didn’t get done yesterday; I will make a new game plan today and do my best today.  Our walk with Christ is like that.  Sometimes we don’t have the best day – we feel frustrated because of missed opportunities or wasted chances.  Perhaps we acted in an ungodly way and feel the guilt and shame of our choices.  In Lamentations 3:22-23, the prophet Jeremiah writes: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” 

I have often wondered – what would consume us? The wrath of God? The fire of Hell?  But reading it today in the light of the ray of sun and a different interpretation, I realized that God keeps us from being consumed by what can and will cripple us mentally and spiritually, as well. Guilty, frustration, shame, discouragement, helplessness – these things (among others) will consume our minds, our thoughts and our time. We can focus so much on the failures of yesterday that we fail to make the most of today.  But God doesn’t want that for us.  Just like the sun rose this morning and gave me a new hope, a fresh perspective and an eagerness to see what can be accomplished today, God’s love and compassions are new and refreshed every morning, ready to shine their light into our lives. 

You don’t have to be consumed today with whatever threatens to bring you down!  Choose to let the joy, love, compassion and faithfulness of the Lord deliver you from the doldrums.  Let his sun (and Son!) shine down on you today! 

Love you all!  J

Monday, March 4, 2013

Freely you have received, freely give

“Freely you have received, freely give.”  Matthew 10:8

The Lord laid this scripture on my heart the other day and as always I am compelled to share it!

I have been encouraging you all and challenging you all to embrace the notion of leading an extraordinary life. It seems almost like some vague buzzword – extraordinary – until you define what extraordinary means to YOU.  And I don’t mean living a life that the world, necessarily, would call extraordinary, I mean living a life that GOD would call extraordinary.  What I believe we all can live our lives in an extraordinary way to the glory of God.

Now, there are many, many ways to be beyond ordinary – one that really hits me from this scripture is not only using what God has given us, but taking it a step further – giving it away. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 we read the most beautiful passage.  It has often been quoted in relation to our financial giving, but I believe it truly means much more:

                “Remember this; Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written; ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever.’  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

We see there that God gives us everything we need and some extra. Why? So that we can abound or be generous on every occasion/in every good work. Now let’s tie back in Matthew 10:8.  So often, to repeat, we have heard the last part of the verse quoted as we are being encouraged to give financially – but listen to the verse in context.  Jesus is actually sending out the twelve disciples:

                “Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:6-8)

The point?  The disciples were given gifts and abilities that could be used to their own benefit, but they were better used when given away, when used to bring glory to God and help others. We have been given gifts too! Whatever your gift (or giftings), God wants you to give it away.  Trust me; he has given you plenty, so that you can do for others. Are you a good cook?  Make a meal for someone who is having a hard time, or is ill. Do you have some free time during the week? Why not find a way to be of service to someone else? Do you have the gift of encouragement? Send out a card to someone who could use a reminder that they are loved!  I bet you can think of something that you LOVE to do – why not use that to benefit someone? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – God honors what comes from your heart.

When we hear about God loving giving people – it doesn’t always mean money.  If you take a minute, you will see that God has abundantly given you gifts that you can share with others! Your time, your attention, your smile, your service, your talents – all these and more can be used to glorify God and show someone the love of Jesus!  Freely we have been given, freely give!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What lies within us

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

What a wonderful quote, and so true! Do you know that is also Biblically sound?  In 1 John 4:4, the Bible reminds us that “….the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”(NIV)  When you are a child of God, “what lies within us” or “the one who is in us” is the Holy Spirit!  We have a form of God Almighty that resides in us – what power! Sometimes it seems that external circumstances, decisions and actions determine our path.  And to some extent, external circumstances will influence our situations – but they are not more powerful than God! He has given you the power to rise above anything that life throws at you.  He has given you the power to overcome any deficiency or past mistake. Through Jesus, we are already victorious! 

I have the privilege of leading two study groups on a 6 week study of how God intends for us to have extraordinary lives.In one group we have decided to explore what being “extraordinary” really means to each of us.  What does it mean to you?  What would your life look like if you were to think of yourself as extraordinary?  Did you know that God has already given you the tools to live out this vision?  Has God put a dream in your heart? Then he will help you carry it out! 

I am reading of the Israelites, of how God has promised them this land flowing with milk and honey, and had delivered them there – right to the front door. But do you remember that the initial group of Israelites didn’t see the Promised Land? Spies were sent to check out the territory to devise a game plan – of the 12 sent, only 2 believed they could take the land, the remaining 10 only saw the challenges and decided it was too hard to accomplish.  Really?  God told the Israelites this was their land to inhabit – but they chose not to try.  How often are we like that in our lives?? 

Let’s not miss out on having the best life for God that we can possibly live (one that he has already equipped us for, let’s not forget), because we can only see the challenges that we must overcome!  Don’t let distractions and hurdles discourage you from claiming what God has for you in this life. You are already extraordinary - resolve in your own mind to claim that truth!

Now go live it out! 
Have a wonderful day! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


“It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...


Friends, do you want the most of what God has planned for you? Do you want to feel the FULL expression of God’s love?  Then you have to step out in faith and forgive. This song by Matthew West came to mind last night after praying for a choir member who is going to see his dying, aged father this weekend for the first time in over 30 years. He is going to forgive his father, and seeking forgiveness himself.  This song would not leave my mind all night, so I figured God put it heavily on my heart and mind because he needed me to share it with you all, and also make sure my own plate is clean.

“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'



Some of you may feel offended or irritated that I would suggest that to feel the full measure of God’s love that you would need to forgive others. You might be thinking right now of a person who you should forgive but don’t want to. You know of someone that justifiably deserves your anger for all of the wrong committed against you, right?  I don’t know what you’re going through. That’s true – I don’t. But God does.

“Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible


You see, God does understand.  He sees your life. He sees you’re hurt. He knows the pain that has been brought on you by others.  But he says to lay your cares on Him, to let Him avenge your wrongs – he is faithful to do those things for you, because he loves you. He also knows that when you don’t forgive someone, the person it really hurts is YOU. The anger, the emotion, the pain – it keeps you in bondage. When you don’t give that person over to God to deal with, you remain a captive to the hurt you feel. The circumstance has power of you, not the other way around.  And, in case this hasn’t crossed your mind lately, when was the last time you hurt God? 

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you


Was it yesterday that you sinned against God? Have you even made it this far into the day before you’ve done something that could separate you eternally from the presence of Jesus? Do you really understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness toward you? In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  God can (and will) forgive us daily.  If you’ve truly felt the full measure of God’s forgiveness – why not extend that to someone else?

“Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me

You know, no one said forgiveness is easy. And you may not forgive others because you don’t fully realize what it feels to be forgiven. You may not accept the gift that forgiveness is. But God is here to help you – to help you accept your own forgiveness, and to help you forgive another. Try it today – and experience freedom from the bondage of hurt!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The "Thank you, God!" Challenge....

“THANK YOU, GOD!!” Challenge!!   

I love it when a child prays – they thank God for EVERYTHING, right?  They will go down an extensive list of things for which they are thankful : thank you, God, for the sun; thank you, God, for the flower;  thank you, God, for my crayons, etc. Don’t you love it? (Except when you are starving, and the only thing standing in the way of you and dinner is a prayer…..)  

We should be more like children!  They have a beautiful, simple faith and are so pure and energetic in their love for God! Children have the ability to be grateful for even the most mundane things, and are not ashamed to say so! In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” 

So my challenge today??  Be more childish! J   Spend your day thanking God for everything that matters to you.  The tree, the sunshine, your beat up car, your husband that is being a little grumpy, the food on your plate, fresh air – you get the picture.  He gives us so much – and we don’t thank him nearly enough!  See how much brighter your day becomes when you spend your time looking for something to reasons to thank and praise God! 

Do you want the ADVANCED challenge??  Try turning something that is troubling you, or something you dislike into a cause for thanks.  Here’s an example – I hate cleaning the bathroom. It totally disgusts me. So when it is time to clean the bathroom, I find myself grumbling and complaining.  Here’s how I try to turn that around on bathroom cleaning day – Thank you, God, that I have indoor plumbing. That my toilet works. That I have the extra money to buy a surplus of cleaning supplies that are easy to use and smell good.  That I have the dogs I love (who are unfortunately leaving hair for me to clean up). That I have a husband whom I love (even when he sometimes hits the rim of the toilet instead of the bowl…). And mostly – THANK YOU GOD FOR SWIFFER AND FEBREZE PRODUCTS!! (I seriously do thank God for them, I love those products – they almost make cleaning house fun??)  See what I mean? In ALL things, we can give thanks.  (And yes, I will get deep. When we suffer from sickness or loss, we can still thank God – He encourages us to lean on him as he gently heals and comforts us.) 

So back to being childish for the day!!  Will you accept the challenge?  If so, can you tell us how it went for you today???   

Have a blessed day, friends!
Thank you, God for providing for us......

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hurting? Help is here.

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher



Can I be real, friends? And by real, I mean honest. I am encouraging us all to live our lives in an extraordinary way – but life isn’t always easy, is it? Just because we are Christ followers, that doesn’t mean our lives are always going to be rosy or that we will be cruising down easy street or that everyone is going to like us all the time. In fact, life can be brutally, excruciatingly painful. Unbelievingly disappointing. Crushing. I’m talking about circumstances that hit us so hard we can hardly breathe – cancer, abuse, mental illness, being a victim of violence or being violated, loss, death.


Have you been there? Are you there now? Struggling to hang on? Desperate? Broken? Wondering what the last straw will be until you unravel? Ready to scream/cry/ crawl into bed for days?


Do you blame God?  Question His timing? Wonder how can what is happening to you possibly be in His will? Do you wonder where God is?


He’s right next to you.


Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Sisters, I don’t know why bad things happen to God’s people. I don’t know how it all works out in His master plan. What I do know is that God loves you deeply. That he sees every tear, hears every cry of anguish, listens to every fearful prayer, is keeping you company every sleepless night. He’ll give you the strength to say “I will try again tomorrow.” He may not take away your pain, but he will help you deal with it, help you cope and eventually restore you. In these times, don’t run away from God – draw closer to him. He will save you.


I’ve shared a song that is on Christian radio right now, it’s called “Need you now”. I’ve just been so struck by the pain in this girl’s voice – I’ve felt the way she feels. I’m sure you have too. When you listen, be aware that God draws near to ALL of us that are broken. If you need him, all you have to do is ask for his help, and he will graciously give it to you.  You don’t even need to shout – he’s right by your side.


I pray comfort and strength for all of you, friends!  I pray you feel God’s love all around you.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

No take backs

“…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

 I love this verse. If you are anything like me, then you haven’t always led the most Christ-centered life. There was a time that I lived my life on my own terms. I still had some form of Christianity, I mean, I still believed in God and Jesus and the whole nine yards, but I didn’t live in obedience with the will of God. I guess I “lost my religion” for a while.

 When I came back to the Lord and decided to really devote my life to him, not just talk about it, I was filled with remorse over who I was and how I had behaved. It’s hard to accept grace and forgiveness sometimes. I wondered: “Would God ever use me in an important way?” “Have I squandered away my talents?” “Is it possible for me to ever affect someone for God in a me...aningful way?” “Does God still have big plans for me, after all I have done?”

 In short, the answer is YES.

 God led me to this verse over a year ago, and it’s been an important component of my spiritual armor. You see, if God has called you – you will ALWAYS be called. If God has given you a gifting, you will ALWAYS have that gifting. (Irrevocable means unable to be changed, reversed or altered.) Now, understand this – you may ignore the call on your life and you may choose not to use your gifts – those are YOUR choices. But God doesn’t change his mind and take them back. He doesn’t necessarily bless you with more gifts or responsibility if you don’t use what you’ve already been given, but he doesn’t take them back.

 Why do I bring this up? So many of us feel as if we are trapped by our circumstances, our past or our actions. We feel like God can’t or won’t use us, or that he has given up on us – like he is capable of being surprised by our actions. God knew what we were going to do in our lives before we were even born – and called us anyway.

 If you feel like you aren’t capable of having an extraordinary, meaningful or impactful life because you have made mistakes and disappointed God, guess what? You’re in great company. Abraham, David, Moses, Peter and Rahab (to name just a few) all made a few mistakes along the way, and God still worked through them. Just like He’ll work through you, if you let him.
God thinks you're awesome! Try to start getting used to that idea, and I'll see you next time.