September 25, 2007


College football is our family's fall tradition, although this year there seems to be nothing "fall-ish" about the weather. So far, we've attended three games in 85°+ heat. I didn't take sunscreen to one of the games. I underestimated the sun's power, and I came home with the worst sunburn I've had in quite a while.

Underestimating the enemy's power is just as damaging. We may think we can withstand his assaults, but we are powerless apart from God's protection.

This past weekend the Lord mercifully placed a few clouds in the sky, which allowed us a brief respite from the full sun and unbearable heat. In those few moments, hidden under the shelter of the clouds, I found relief.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
--Colossians 3:1-4

Following God's will offers shelter and refreshment in this hot, hostile world. Obedience isn't always fun, but it brings joy. Obedience doesn't come naturally, it is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Obedience doesn't guarantee that we won't have tough times, but it does promise protection. The enemy may still hurl his darts at us, but we are covered by the Almighty. We are hidden in Christ.

If that doesn't encourage us to be obedient, nothing will!

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

--Psalm 27:4-5

The Pharisee in Me

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
--Colossians 2:13-15

Even as a child, I liked rules and structure. My parents would agree that most of the time, I stayed within the boundaries they set for us. I was (and am) a people-pleaser, so I didn't often dare to cross the line into disobedience.

As an adult, I still like rules and structure. I like to know what's expected of me so I can stay the course.

Structure is a good thing:
For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
--Colossians 2:5

Structure without mercy is legalism:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
--Colossians 2:16-19

Structure without Christ is futile:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
--Colossians 2:20-23
I shared here that God has told me to give up a couple of television shows. I haven't named them because I don't want to condemn anyone who may watch those shows. I am the only person responsible for the convictions God has placed on my life. Expecting others to follow my convictions makes me nothing more than a Pharisee.

I'm also learning that I'm responsible for only those convictions on my life. When I try to follow someone else's convictions, I am doing so in my own power and not God's. Even if it makes me look "good" and I'm able to stick with it for a while, ultimately I will fail. I'm wasting my time.

Following His will for our lives will lead to victory and protection. We'll pick up there next time.

P.S. - Thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments on my last post. I'm so glad you heard my heart on that issue! It wasn't about linking to or reading non-Christian material...but about my false assumptions.

September 21, 2007


See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
--Colossians 2:8

The Fall television season starts in earnest next week. I usually get pretty excited this time of year, because I'm anxious to see what new entertainment lies ahead. This year, I'm a little nervous. Back in June, I made a commitment to the Lord that I would not watch two television shows. Through the summer, when they were re-runs, it was pretty easy. I'm praying that I can remain faithful and obedient in this, because I don't want fall prey to the "basic principles of this world" -- greed, s*x, violence...just to name a few. Putting that junk in my head desensitizes me to it, and shifts my focus from the Lord.

Still, it's not only the blatant sins of the world that we need to be cautious about. We also need to be on the lookout for those philosophies that sneak up on us when we least expect it, that come from seemingly harmless (maybe even Christian) sources.

Paul's warning cast light on a recent incident, and reminded me that we must always be on guard.

A Christian blogger linked to something that had spoken to her heart. I followed the link, and read it. The writer was facing a struggle most women face, and I agreed wholeheartedly. Afterwards, I looked at the author's profile to learn more. The author seemed incredibly bright, witty and charming. I thought I found a brother/sister in Christ. Reading the profile, I was surprised to find that I had not. I wrongfully assumed that because a Christian blogger linked to this piece, the author is also a Christian.

Hear my heart. I'm not...I repeat, NOT...making a statement about reading pieces written by unbelievers. There was nothing harmful or offensive in this particular link, nothing that pointed away from Jesus.

That's my point.

Just as I was wrong to assume someone is a Christian (and don't we all?), we can believe something is of Christ and immediately go in that direction. We forget that S*tan is crafty enough to disguise the principles of this world to look like God's. Something can look Godly and even sound Godly, and still not be genuine. The author apparently is a member of a religion that the world may consider Christian, but most decidedly is not.

My pastor recently again shared that he is responsible to God for what he teaches the flock, but WE are responsible to not just take his word for it. We must check behind him and make absolute certain that what he says is Biblically accurate. As a Sunday School teacher and as a blogger, I tell you the same thing. Even if we feel we are relying on a trusted source, we must look at The Source to see if it lines up with Scripture.

We risk danger otherwise.

Soon the mice in the field behind me will start heading to my house for shelter. We'll set out traps, lining them with cheese or peanut butter. A mouse will think he's found some food, and eagerly run toward it. SNAP! The trap shuts before he knows what hit him.

I don't want to make that same mistake.

September 18, 2007

Truth vs. Theory

When I finished reading Ezra last week, I asked God where He wanted me to go next. He whispered, "Colossians". I continue to be amazed at His timing. I studied this passage Sunday morning:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
--Colossians 1:15-18

This passage stirred my soul so much that I considered posting only the passage. I couldn't understand why these few verses, which I'd read before, were suddenly so powerful to me. I didn't realize that on Monday, I'd be confronted with opposition to the very message of this passage. But God knew.

CJ is studying the sun, moon, stars & Earth in science. Last night, she came home with a review sheet that set forth several theories of how the moon was formed. None of the theories involved the Truth. R and I sat down with her and opened the Word, to remind her that God created the sun and moon on the fourth day. Thankfully, she believes His Word and questioned why people have these theories. We shared that people who don't believe in God often try to explain Him away, but we have the Truth.

And the Truth is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He created ALL things. ALL things, including you and me, were created BY Him and FOR Him. Our time, our lives, our resources, our gifts...ALL were created for HIM. Not for our gain, our pleasure, our edification. For HIS.

He deserves the first fruits. We deserve the left-overs.

Lord, forgive me for those times I offer you the crumbs of my life, rather than what's rightfully yours. Thank you for the abundance you lavish on me. Your left-overs are so much greater than my even best offerings. Help me to realize that I am not the owner of my life, and to live that out daily.

September 14, 2007

Time Management 101

Time. There never seems to be enough. Too many things to do, too little time to do them. Since school started, all of my attention is focused on helping CJ. My home and my husband have suffered terribly this week. Even getting up earlier doesn't give me enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be done. I'm getting so much out of my deepening relationship with the Lord, but S*tan's got me wondering if my family would be better served if I spent that time doing housework instead of praying & studying the Word.

I've been praying for a revelation...some sort of magical way to get it all done and have time to spare. And my precious Jesus whispered the answer to me

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience
--Colossians 1:9-11 (NIV)

The secret to getting it all done is to ONLY do His will. Before glancing at our calendars and "To Do" lists, we need to consult with our Father. By starting the day with Him, we have the opportunity to ask Him what He wants to accomplish through us. It's a two-part process.

First, we must seek His wisdom and understanding. As Paul says, the "knowledge of His will" comes "through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (v. 9). We can't know His will without understanding Him first. Open His Word. See where His priorities are. Get to know Him. Once we have that spiritual wisdom, we will be able to discern His will. Time spent with Him is crucial if we're going to be successful Kingdom workers. If we are pursuing His will, we will be successful because He's already ordained it! No more beating ourselves up over failures! That thought alone speaks volumes to me.

Once we know His will and set our hearts on obedience, Paul says our lives will be worthy of Him, pleasing Him in every way. Not just in mothering, home keeping, or ministry. So many times, we feel we have to sacrifice one for the other. Yet if we are only pursuing His will, we will please Him in every way. Maybe that means we spend more time on our home today, and concentrate on hubby tomorrow. If we're doing what God wants, it will all balance out.

Does anyone else want to shout Hallelujah?!

Paul goes on to say that pleasing God in every way means we will:

~produce fruit in the works He has given us. There are many good things we can work toward in a day but if we've sacrificed God's agenda to do something else, are we living fruitful lives?

~grow in our relationship with Him. We'll get closer to Him. That will lead to gaining a better understanding of Him, which will give us more insight into His will.

~be strengthened. Are we afraid we're going to have to face a God-sized task without His God-sized power? He will give us whatever we need to get the job done.

~receive endurance and patience. We can endure whatever obstacle and wait however long it takes, because we know that ultimately His will is going to be done. Knowing that He's already guaranteed the outcome will encourage us as we labor...whether we're tackling a mountain of laundry or a list of people to care for. Why would He tell us to do it if He didn't want to see it get done?

Finally, from a practical standpoint, giving our days to Him just makes sense. We can put the burden of decision making and time management on Him. After all, He created time. He can manage it any way He wants.

September 12, 2007


Few things spark curiosity like a whisper. Surrounding conversations come to a halt when someone nearby starts whispering. A whisper commands attention. It is powerful.

A child's eyes light up when someone says "Come here, I have a secret to tell you." The expression on her face as she listens is sheer joy. A whisper is special.

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
--1 Kings 19:11-12

For years, I've expected the Lord to show Himself big, bold and loud in my life. How will He get my attention otherwise?

He whispers.

In the quietness of the morning, He speaks sweet nothings to my heart. I snuggle in close, not wanting to miss a word.

This is what I have planned for you.

Here's where I want you to go.

This is truth.

You can depend on this promise.

He gives me instruction.

I want you to read Ezra.


Yes, Ezra.
He was right.

He orders my days.

Pray for her.
This is important. That's not.

He makes me feel special.

I love you, dear one.

I anxiously await what He's going to saw next. He keeps me coming back for more.

For a little while each day, I intentionally drown out the noises around me and listen to the whispers. For in them, His message comes through loud and clear.

September 10, 2007

Bon Appetit

Five years ago, R and I were blessed with the opportunity to go to Paris to visit an old friend. Before we were able to meet up with him, we had a night in the city on our own. Our friend had arranged for us to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant. The food was amazing, but the dining experience was even more so. We sat at the table for nearly 3 hours. The courses were served slowly and deliberately. The waiter cleaned our crumbs after every course. The atmosphere was to be savored.

At first, we weren't quite sure what to make of it. In fact, the waiter (who spoke very peckish English) kept saying, "Stop panicking. I can see you're panicking." Coming from a culture that prides itself on how quickly things can be done, we were slow to adapt to French dining.

Yet by the time that meal was done, I knew it was one of the most enjoyable of my life. In fact, the entire week of delighting in our meals was...well, delicious.

Our friend later explained that meal times are almost sacred in France. After eating French cuisine, I can understand why. The French love food. They cherish it. They celebrate it. They are passionate about it. They are known for it.

I want to be passionate about one only food...The Bread of Life.

I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
--Job 23:12

How different would life look if we didn't hurry through a meal with Jesus? If we took the time to linger in conversation with Him, hanging on His every Word? What if we ate with abandon and paid no attention to the clock? What if we kept going back for seconds, and thirds?

The foods of this life would no longer satisfy. They wouldn't even come close.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
--John 6:25

September 4, 2007

Hopes & Dreams

The last few months have been full of change. I've been organizing and simplifying, purging and re-purposing. I've implemented a new method of personal Bible study, and re-focused my priorities. In the past couple of weeks, I've joined the 5:00 a.m. club (really, it's 5:30 for me...but that's what works). I feel like chaos is becoming a thing of the past. It's slow, but I can see it coming.

Thanks to Terri, I've been reading "A Woman After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. I'm using it during my prayer time -- reading a chapter & praying over it. Last week, I was profoundly affected when I read

Motivation is key when it comes to nurturing a heart of devotion, and dreaming helps motivate us. As a wake-up call to the seriousness of daily life and to find fresh urgency about your walk with the Lord,describe the woman you want to be spiritually in one year. Let your answer put wings to your dreams.
She goes on to encourage how much we can accomplish in a year with the Lord's help. So, I made my list. I've marked that page in my journal so that I can refer to it regularly & pray over it.

In one year, I want to:

~be more intimate with God
~love Him more
~have Him be more real to me
~know more of His Word
~be ministering more to others, especially my family
~be at peace with the plans He has for my life
~continue to be a member of the 5:30 a.m. club
~have an accountability partner
~honor God & my husband, in my roles as wife & Deacon's wife

I figured if I'm going to dream, I might as well dream big!

Today I began my time with Him praying

Oh God, I praise you because you are so good! You are so much greater than my mind can comprehend. Nothing is larger than you, yet nothing is too small for you to care about! Nothing is too difficult for you, yet you are involved in even the simplest of things. You made the millions of suns and stars, yet you are involved in the intimate details of my life. You are beyond reason, yet you're the explanation for everything.
I flipped to my list and prayed over it again. I specifically remember praying for the accountability partner. That's been heavy on my heart, and I thought of a couple of ladies. I didn't have a peace about those choices, although they would have been wonderful. But wouldn't you know, God answered that prayer! In His own way, which was so much better than what I had asked or imagined! (Eph. 3:20) A friend emailed me today, sharing a very personal struggle with me (one I also struggle with, but had not really discussed with her). She said she felt led to contact me, and she asked if we could pray for each other. I nearly fell to pieces at my desk! God is so good and so faithful. Why am I so surprised when He answers my prayer?

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4

September 1, 2007

A New Look, A New Mission

(*updated to add changes in green below)

Recently I shared that I've been thinking a lot about blogging. Several of my favorite reads are in the midst of blogging breaks. I guess I took one myself this week. I've been asking the Lord to prioritize my days. And blogging hasn't been a priority. That, friends, is a God thing.

My new priorities coincide with the beautiful new look from Susie. It's the perfect time to make some changes.

Several years ago, I wrote devotions and sent them out to friends via email. I actually created the blog because I thought it would be easier than sending out a mass email every week. But I was easily swept away from my purpose, and what started as a ministry soon began to border on obsession. I lost the vision of what God wanted to accomplish through me. He has opened my eyes to see what He wants for my life & my blog. I will continue to write, but I'm getting back to my original purpose & focus. I'll be sharing what I'm learning, through Bible study & life application. Under the "Life Support" sidebar, I'll post the Scripture that's tugging on my heart at the moment. Under the "Breathing In" sidebar, I'll post what Book of the Bible I'm currently studying. And "Fresh Air" will be the list of books I'm studying personally and for Sunday School.

I'm not exactly sure what it's going to look like yet. I just know it will be different.

I have decided that I shouldn't have more blogs in my Bloglines than candles on my birthday cake (well, if I were crazy enough to put candles on my cake!). I'm actually below that number now, with a few to spare. It was hard to delete blogs, because I enjoyed reading them all. But I couldn't keep up. So, I thought about what I want to learn by reading blogs, and realized that I want to place priority on women who feel like old friends, women who inspire me, and women who can guide me to be a better wife, mother & homemaker. It was still difficult to choose, but I did it.

I've been reading "Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed" by Carolyn Mahaney & her three daughters. These ladies compare finding time to do everything with shopping for great deals.

Obviously, we don't want the "bad deals" to keep us from what is truly valuable. We don't want sinful pursuits to deter us from what is God glorifying. But, it's often the things such as a ministry opportunity, a relational pursuit, a money-making venture, a leisure activity, or a hobby that hinders us from making the best choices. It's frequently these good things that distract us from the best things.

I love blogging. It's been cathartic, educational, and relational for me. It's been a good thing, but not always the best thing. As I told another blogger via email this past week, God has used Christian bloggers to use the often-evil internet for good. What a praise! At the same time, I'm afraid that S*tan has used it to steal our time & attention away from what's really important. Heck, he didn't even have to steal mine...I handed it to him freely. Now I'm taking it back.

I want blogging to be a blessing in my life. I pray that THIS blog, when you visit, will be a blessing in yours.

Do You Think Stacey & Clinton Would Approve?

Thanks to Susie, I have a new look. What do you think?