Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 22 - Fighting for First Place

It is so sad to say that Jesus has to fight for first place in our lives my life. I try to be more like Him, putting the will of God first, but sometimes things of this world get the best of me.

I don't want to be "off" for the kids at school. I want to give them my best.

I don't want to be "off" for my coworkers and friends. I want to give them my best.

I don't want to be "off" for my church. I want to give them my best.

I don't want to be "off" for my children. I want to give them my best.

I don't want to be "off" for my husband. I want to give him my best.

I don't want to be "off" for Jesus. I want to give Him my best.

Unfortunately, there are days when no one gets my best. 

For the most part, I have to say (for me anyway), the reason Jesus must fight for first place is because of the habits I have created.  I have NO schedule at home.  I think if I did, I would allow Him to have the best of me.  I know that is something I need to work on.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 21 - Jesus in the Morning, Jesus in the Evening

Very shortly after I became a Christain and joined Calvary, I was invited to take part in a women's Bible study at a church member's house.  I remember Lisa talking about her prayer time.  She was a mom of 3 (2 teens and a preschooler).  Lisa said that she would get up early to read her Bible and pray.  After Samuel was born, she would get up earlier. It got to the point that not long after she got up to spend time with the Lord (regardless of the time), Samuel would get up to spend time with her.

I think as mom's we find ourselves in that same situation.  As the boys have gotten older, I found myself being able to get up a bit earlier to read and pray.  Oh, I loved this time. The house was quiet. I was fresh from just starting my day.  Now, with 3 little ones, I find myself cherishing what time I am able to sleep in my own bed with no kids.  It has come to the point where I have to find a quiet time throughout the day to spend time with God in prayer and study (Right now, Carter is hiding in the curtains and the 2 big boys are in the yard with their daddy).  We have sleepless nights. We have sleep in the recliner nights. We have kids' beds, our bed, recliner, our bed, recliner nights.  We have nights I don't have a clue as to how or when I got in bed. 

People always say, "Oh, you have little one's."  Like that is an excuse.  We use that, but I don't want to use my children as an excuse. Even though sometimes it just seems like a matter of survival to push everything, including my "God time" to try to get a little rest.

Jesus had those that were searching for him, "Everyone is looking for you," (Mark 1:37). He was needed in more than one place, needed by more than one person. Jesus was tired, overextended, and busy.  Yet, He still found the time to steal away to spend time with His Father.

I picture Him sneaking out the house quietly, tiptoeing into a wooded area.  I see Him kneeling down, being supported by a huge rock. Like Beth Moore, I wonder what Jesus prayed about.  I wonder how God spoke to Him. 

I think today's reading is an excellent example of how we I need to be like Jesus. I don't want to use the excuse that I was so worn out because the kids aren't sleeping good.  The bottom line is Jesus found the time; I need to find the time.  I have before and I can again.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the many examples Your Word gives us on how I can be like Jesus. That is my desire, Lord, to be like Your Son.  Help me to deny myself, my fleshy ways, wants, and needs to spend more time with You. Amen.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 20 - House Calls

I love my friend Brandy.  Not only is she a great friend, but she is a wonderful hair dresser.  And she makes house calls.  It is so nice to call and say, "Hey, can you come over Saturday about 10?" 

However, Brandy may not always be available.  She may be with another customer or with her family. 

But Jesus, He is always there.

Sometimes we like to try to contain Him, to keep Him locked up inside a box or in the walls of the church.  But we can't.

Sometimes we do things knowing that He doesn't approve.  We try to hide them from Him. But He knows.

When my kids do something and just can't believe I know all the details, they ask, "How did you know?"  Jokingly, I say, "I'm like God, I know everything." 

That is further from the truth. 

God is with us always. He knows everything, sees everything, hears everything.  I know my children's behavior and facial expressions. Plus they don't know how to misbehave quietly.

Last Sunday, Jeffrey preached the evening service at church and he talked about life's storms. Some people often wonder where God is during their storms.  He's there.  Sometimes He must allow us to weather the storms with Him remaining silent.  This allows us to become closer to Him. Other times, we certainly feel His presence.

As parents, I think it is important that our children see Jesus in our daily lives, no matter how chaotic our lives may be.  Our kids need to see Him on the good days and the bad days. They need to be involved in the prayer, the praising, the study of His Word.  Sometimes we are guilty of neglecting Jesus when everything is going good and then run right to Him when things are crumbling.  We need to make it habit to be in fellowship with him ALWAYS.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 19 - The Enemy's True Colors

When I read Beth Moore's first question, I was like, "Oh, Gosh!  I don't know.  I don't think I have." 

I think it is the word clear that gets me.

Things are certainly different these days than they were when Jesus walked the earth.  Demonic activity was probably seen more clearly, hence the many references to those with unclean spirits. The way of life was much simplier, not so many distractions.

I'm going to venture out there and say that as time as passed, this activity has become less clear.  Satan has found a way to blow smoke in our eyes so we don't notice things to be of him.  We are so easily distracted these days by TV, sports, money, socialization, and the list goes on. How did Satan get us so distracted from Jesus? He is....


That was the word I came up with from Moore's second question.  To me, Satan is deceptive.  He was in the Garden of Eden. He was when he tempted Jesus.  He is today.  Satan is really good at making us think, "Oh, it isn't that bad."  We no longer see things as black and white, we see these gray areas.  That is Satan. 

I'm going to venture out there again and say somethings that you may or may not agree with, but just hear me out.

I love a good TV show.  I'm addicted to NCIS and Say Yes to the Dress. At one point (before I became a Christian), I loved watching Will and Grace, Big Brother, Survivor and Oprah. But my TV taste has changed.  Why? Frankly, I got tired of being bombarded with ideas that some of the activity and ideas being supported by these shows were ok when the Bible clearly says they aren't.  I was almost numb to what I was seeing and hearing on these shows, but one day it was like my eyes were opened. Satan is in the media.  Am I going to boycott TV? No, I'm just going to be very careful about what I watch and what my kids watch. Just recently there was something they saw on TV they thought was funny. I let them know quickly that it was not ok, that God is against it.  We have to teach our kids and keep open lines of communication.  There will always be things out there that Satan will use to try to cloud their beliefs. Although I am an avid fan of Say Yes to the Dress, I do turn the channel if there are some things on there I don't approve of. I know those people are doing their job, I just don't have to watch it. With some of the things Satan loves on every channel I turn to, it is easy to see how lost people with really no believes can be deceived into thinking some things are ok when really they aren't.

Bottom line?
Satan is deceptive.

He deceived me into not coming forward at that revival in Allen Co.
He deceived me into thinking my friend Amy was wrong to ask for prayer for me in high school.
He deceived me in thinking I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, and good enough. 
He has deceived me in so many ways and laughed as I made a mess of things. 

Jesus, though, HE picked me up and dusted me off each time I fell.  I am thankful that when I begin to slip away, HE pulls me back under His arm.  I thank God that He blows away the cloudiness I am sometimes faced with.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 18 - Shooting Stars

When I asked God to help me with today's passage, I immediately thought of Tiger Woods. 

Americans put Tiger Woods on a pedestal.  We were mesmerized by his seemingly unnatural golf talent. He was idolized.  Then Tiger messed up in his personal life and we no longer had the same feelings for him. Tiger let us down.  How could he do that?  We put so much of our time, energy, feelings, and money into him. 

Isn't that just like us though?   We see someone a certain way and somehow they let us down.  Either they make a mistake, change, or act like they are better than us.  How many people have we let slip from our lives because of this?

Please don't think that I am trying to compare Jesus and Tiger.  There is no comparison. I'm just trying to make a daily connection is all.

Jesus seemed to be put on a pedestal by the Nazarenes for a short time.  Here, this son of Joseph the carpenter was speaking so eloquently.  How in the world could that be. The people were amazed with how He presented the message.  In a moment, they thrust Jesus out of town. Jesus spoke words the people didn't want to hear, like ruining the moment for them. 

Maybe that is like us when the preacher is preaching a good sermon and then he talks about money.  Doesn't our mood immediately change? What other things change our mood during the preaching of God's Word?  Gambling, drinking, cursing, gossiping, cheating God.   We don't want to hear these things. We don't want to be told that what we are doing is wrong. We don't want to be judged.

I have to say though that I have sat in church or left church with these thoughts:
That was what I needed to hear.
I wish -- would have been at church to hear that.
Oh, this is what -- is going through. I hope he/she had an open heart to this.
Thank you God for bringing me down a notch.

I think it is important that when we are in the presence of God (at church, during Bible study, during prayer, or devotional time), that we pray for an open heart and an open mind.  That it would be a learning time for us, a time to reconnect and get back on track, God's track.  If we fail to ask for His Word to touch our lives, we risk slipping into the darkness with Satan.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Come to Jesus

Thank you Leslie for introducing me to this song. May I make a request?  Why don't you  or Leslie sing this one Sunday?

Wordless Wednesday

Day 17 - Proclaiming Provision

As moms, we want what is best for our children.  When they skin their knees, we clean their wounds, place band aids on them, and kiss them to make them better.  When they don't understand, we speak to them on their level, choosing our words carefully to bring understanding to their little minds.  When their feelings are hurt, we cater to them, doing their favorite things, hugging and kissing them to make them feel better.  As moms, we love our children to the point that we would do anything for them. We want them safe, happy, and healthy.

Think about how much you love your children.
Is there anything you wouldn't do for them?

Now, think about this.

God loves you more.

Yes, He loves you more than you love your children.

That simple fact simply amazes me.  I can't wrap my mind around it. 

I've sat beside my kids while they were sleeping in there beds or held them outside in the rain during a "breathing spell" and just thought of the love I have for them, my hopes, dreams, and prayers for them. And then God whipsers to me, "I love you more."  Immediately, I am brought to tears.  It is a simple truth I can't comprehend.

As a mom, I mess up. A lot.  But God never does.  His love and his ways are perfect.  When my children are broken, I do what I think will help them.  When I am broken, God does what he knows will help me.

We do our best to make provisions for our children.  God has made the perfect provisions for us.

We tell our kids, "You ARE going to...."  God tells us, "I am offering you...."  He gives us the choice to accept his gifts.

I thank God daily for Jesus Christ and all that he has to offer.  Whether I am broken by another or by my own doing, clouded by the lies of Satan,  or bound by the chains of unconfessed sin and worry, God offers me a way out.  I just have to ask.

My prayer for today is:
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for sending your Son Jesus for me.  I admit God that I sometimes get myself into a mess. I am sometimes led astray and blinded by Satan. Lord, I thank you for the simple fact that through Jesus, I can be made whole.  I thank you for the time you have given me.  May I be like Esther and remember that you have placed me here for such a time as this.  May I not waste a moment of this time. That I spend it in ways that bring honor and glory to you. Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 16 - Tempting Invitations

I find it fitting that as I am completing my lesson tonight, I am watching one of my favorite shows The Biggest Loser.

The contestants have just been given a temptation challenge. The are placed in a small room with food stacked from top to bottom and are allowed to eat whatever they want.  The team with the highest calories gets to send a team away for the week. 

I marveled as team after team fought the temptation and did not eat.  Out of all the people, only 1 person ate.  Colin said, "Mama, they aren't eating anything."   I explained to him that it was a temptation challenge, they were being tempted to eat when it would be best not too.  It was good that they weren't eating.

I don't know about you, but food is very tempting to me.  That is probably one of the things I struggle with the most.  I absolutely L.O.V.E. to eat.  Chaney's Dairy Barn, Gigi's Cupcakes, Dunkin Donuts, hashbrown casserole, sweet potato casserole, biscuits, bacon, YUMMY.  I think I could eat those things everyday.  I love a good salad bar....Ryan's Steakhouse! 

I got to thinking about when I most often give in to the temptation to eat.  Usually it is when I am home for long periods of time (these snow and sick days we've been having) and throughout the school day (I'll get piece of candy out of the treat jar to get me through a bad class). 

I think sometimes we feel guilty when we are tempted, but we need to remember that temptation is not a sin. It is falling into the temptation, doing something you know God does not approve of, something against His will or command. 

However, we should count it as joy to know that we are not alone in our temptations. 

Jesus was tempted. 

I was appalled at Beth Moore's question "Why do you think God allowed Jesus to be tempted?"  My immediate thought was I don't know, does it really matter. 

Yes, it does.

I guess I first I was appalled because I had not a clue why God would allow it.  I was at a loss, so I did the best thing I could do....I read the commentary in my Bible (after of course I read Luke 4:1-13 because I had first read Matthew 4:1-11).  After I read it, I realized WHY. 

You see, temptation is a test....a test of genuiness, faithfulness, and character.  The temptations of Jesus show us that He was faithful in his mission.  I'm sure after fasting, Jesus was practically starving, so how easy then would it have been to turn a stone to bread?  He could do it, no doubt about it.  Jesus could have reign over all the land right then and there, but why?  He is going to have it in the "end" anyway.  And as for Him throwing himself from the temple, wouldn't that mess up the plan of the cross?  I'm sure after 40 days of fasting, Jesus may have been weak maybe a bit delirious. I know I would be.  And isn't it just like Satan to take a shot at us when we are already down? 

But look at the magical weapon....THE WORD OF GOD.

Jesus fought back using the WORD.  That's is where His strength to fight temptation came from.  What an awesome example for us.

I can recall stories and remember the most important part of some scripture, but as for recalling scripture verbatum, I can't.  It is sad to say that I know John 3:16 and Psalm 118:24. Other than that, I can give you the words of others, but not where exactly it is found. 

So, for me, I want to learn from Jesus. I want to be able to fight off Satan with the Word of God.  I want to be able to resist temptation like my Savior. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

What I'm reading now

The author of this book has led some revivals at our church. He is a really neat man. I'm really excited about reading this fictional book. Truth be known, I bet some of the stories are real. At one part of the story,  I cracked up when the pastor said, "I thought you died," to an elderly lady he really thought had passed away.  This book is supposed to show some humor in things that happen as being part of the church as well as tug at your emotions.

Day 15 - A Father Unlike His Son

My mind is all over the place with today's reading, so I'll try to stay as clear as I can...

As a mom and teacher, I am with kids all day long.  Kids needs to feel validated, that they have done a good job.  Whether a child brings us the strangest drawing they are most proud of or are sitting in tears because he feels stupid, whether a child got an A or scored a goal, we need to give some sort of praise to the child.

Afterall, God told Jesus he was proud of HIM, so why should we be any different.

Even as adults, we need to have our feelings and actions validated.  There are many times when I am upset about something and I talk to my husband about it, to see if I have the right to feel the way I do.  And take last night for instance, my husband preached the evening service at church and wanted to know, "What is alright?" He needed to know if he did a good job.  As humans, we need that. I think maybe that is one reason God opened up the heavens and told Jesus he was pleased, to give him the validation that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing.

And let us never forget that Jesus lived and walked the earth like us.  He didn't live using mystical superpowers. He lived by a life of faith and prayer.  Oh, what a glorious example to live our lives by.  I simply can't imagine being born knowing what was going to happen in my life, how it was going to end up.  How tempting it would be to avoid situations so we wouldn't experience the storms of life! Jesus knew how his live was going to end. How did he deal with that knowledge? Through prayer, a daily faithful walk with His Father.

So, my prayer for us today is this....

Lord Father, I think you for you Son Jesus and the example we should learn from Him.  May we live with a daily faithful walk with You, Lord, a prayerful walk.  Although we will not have the window of heaven opened up to us, may we never lose sight that you are always near. May we live so that You will say You are pleased with us. Amen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 14 - Waist Deep in Glory

I knew about Him.  I didn't know Him.

Up until that point, I had never met Him, although He had been with me all my life.

I was at a revival at a small country church in Allen County. I don't recall the name of the church or the pastor's name.  I was a guest of my friend Holly.  She worked with Jeffrey and she and I became friends and her husband was friends with mine.  Holly sang Amazing Grace.  As she sang, I remember thinking "I want that."  Tears began to flow as the Lord's invitation was given.  My heart wanted to go forward, but my body wouldn't move.  There was a voice laughing at me. "You are so stupid. What are you thinking?  These people don't know you and you don't know them.  They are going to think you're crazy if you go up there."

The fact of the matter was I was face to face to Jesus that evening and Satan pulled me away.

I was unworthy of what Jesus had to offer me that night, I knew it and Satan knew it. 

When Colin was almost 2, we started attending Calvary fairly regularly.  In June of 2004, the church was preparing for their baby dedication.  Although Colin wasn't really considered a baby at that point, I wanted to still participate with him, but wasn't sure if we could. 

I had been trying to get ahold of Bro. Copass at the church office, but he was never in when I called.  Well, the Friday before the dedication service, I was in town running some errands.  I was near the post office and thought that I would drive by the church to talk to the pastor, but this little voice kept telling me it was a waste of time, that he wouldn't be there anyway.  Another little voice (yes, I was hearing voices :) ) encouraged me to go on over; it wasn't that far, and he might be there.  There seemed to be a battle going on, and now looking back, I know it was a battle for my soul.

Bro. Copass was there, and as we chatted about the baby dedication, he asked me the question of questions: Was I saved?  I was ashamed and embarrassed.  Hear I was wanting to dedicate my child to the Lord, to raise him for HIM, and I didn't have a relationship with Jesus myself.  Immediately, the tears began to flow, and Bro. Copass knew my answer.  He lead me through the sinners prayer, and as I prayed, I felt Jesus there with me. I felt him lift the burden of my sins off of me.  He held me as I cried out to Him. 

At that moment, I was in His glory.

I was unworthy.
I was filled with shamed.
I was in my sins.

Yet, He loved me and saved me anyway.

I will never be worthy.
I will still do things that will cause me (and Him) shame.
I will still sin.
I do not deserve the grace He has given me.

Yet, I am forever thankful.

Thankful that He revealed himself to me in that small country church.
Thankful that He didn't give up on me.
Thankful that He won the war of words that Friday.
Thankful that He saved my soul.

The story does not end there however.  That Sunday, we dedicated Colin in front of our family and friends.  During the invitation, I tapped my husband on the shoulder to let me out of the pew so I could make my profession of faith, to let the church know that I had met Jesus and surrendered my life to Him.  As I slid past my husband, God nudged him to follow.  Then and there, my husband surrendered his life to Jesus and was saved.  What a joyous day for our family!  Our lives have not been the same since. 

I have seen the hand of God at work in my life and in the lives of others.  We are not worthy of the work He has done and will do. We are not worthy of His love.  For many, this is a good reason to not seek a relationship with Him.  However, our unworthiness is the reason we need a relationship with Him.  We all need to find ourselves waist deep in his Glory, not just on the day of our salvation, but each day of our lives.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Melanie!  You are the winner of When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidnece.  Please EMAIL me your info so I can get the book to you. 

Day 13 - Wearing Our Transgressions

My words are failing me to do this picture justice.  Beth Moore did an excellent job.  I do look at that symbolism of Jesus coming to be baptized after all the others had confessed their sins first and then were baptized. 

I guess I am picturing bathing my kids after a fun warm day of playing outside.  As the mom of little boys, I know that it is important that if I want them clean enough, they have to be bathed separately with fresh water.  Regardless of which one is first, the tub usually needs a good rinsing to get the dirt residue totally out of the tub.  If I don't run fresh water in a clean tub then the dirt lingers for the next in line.  Then they would be yelling, "Someone has poisoned the waterhole!" 

Think about the "poison" that Jesus encountered when he was baptized after all those people, the poison of their sins.  

I remember when I was saved, when I confessed my sin to Jesus.  When I laid these sins at the cross, I they were so heavy, so many, so dirty.  But HE took them with love.  He chose to wear my transgressions.  He will wear yours too if you let him.

Sometimes we knowingly and willingly walk in to sin, and other times we are there before we even know it.  Regardless, the guilt is the same.  We are ashamed of what we have done and fear that others will find out.  So we hide.  Oh, the burden.  Jesus takes that burden away when we humble ourselves and confess that sin to him.  What a joy that is!  Humbling ourselves and admitting our shortcomings is so hard, but so worth it.

My prayer for today is that we would lay our shame at the foot of the cross, that we can name the sin and ask for guidance to walk a straighter path.  In that same manner, may we sincerely, and truly desire that walk.  Coming to the alter is not for show.  God knows our hearts and if we are not sincere, we are only fooling ourselves.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review - Friendship for Grown-Ups

I had first heard about this book from Nicole at Team Pipkin. You can read her review HERE. I had brought up several times to my husband that I'd like to read it because I've never been real comfortable in my friendships.  So, when we went to visit him in SC in July, he had the book for me.  I started it when we got back (one afternoon at soccer practice) and just finished it today. Yeah, I know :)

When I started reading it, I remember feeling really emotional.  I could totally relate to the things that Lisa Whelchel was saying. 

I remember as a teenager some girlfriends and I would have gossip sessions.  It was so easy to get caught up in those; they always seemed to have all the dirt and because I never really got close to people, I guess I just took it all in.  Later, I remember some of these same girlfriends broke my heart.  They did things to me that I just really didn't understand why. Had I not been a good friend?  Had I not been a fun person to be around?  I felt like it was my fault, but I never did (and still don't) know what happened.  But I guess its like one of the points of the book, if your "friends" are being ugly about others, they are probably going to be ugly to you.

Well, whatever my reasoning, I failed to really dive into relationships.  I guess like Whelchel, I didn't want to be needy, I didn't want to have feelings, I didn't think others were safe.  I'm a pretty independent person; I don't like to ask for help and I don't pour out my feelings to too many people.  I don't want to be hurt...again.

After reading this book, I think I've come to the realization that it is ok to be cautious and to find safe friends.  I have two girlfriends that I would call "soul close."  We are pretty in tune to each other.  We are there for each other.  We love each other. In these two ladies, I think I've found "my Emmitt." (You'll have to read the book).

I think this book will help me to get past the shallowness of many of my relationships, to "really know" my friends, "not just about them." I need to put my pride and fear aside and be admit my need for others. 

One particular statement I loved was this, "She chooses to be with me because she wants to, not because I deserve it, even when I mess up, even when I'm far from perfect." Before reading on I underlined that and wrote out to the side Just like JESUS.
That related so much to what we've been reading the last day or so in our Bible study.  I want to be that friend. And I want a friend like that. 

So, my plan is to work on my grown-up friendships, to be some one's Emmitt.  I want to get away from the superficial surface and really know my friends. 

I think this is a great book for any woman who struggles with friendships, or just insecurities and wants to strengthen the bond with girlfriends and God.  If you read it or have read it, please let me know what you thought.

I think too that I'm going to ask my superintendent if I can a year sabbatical from teaching to pursue friendships.  Hey, if Lisa can do it, why can't I? 

The Plan

Today is another snow day for those of us here in South Central Kentucky.  A snow day I am so thankful for.  I don't know about you, but I think I've had all of January I can take.  The two big boys were sick the entire first week (I worked two days that week). The second week was snowed out (I worked 1 day).  This week was supposed to have been a 4 day week, but I only worked 1 day (Colin was throwing up and Carson had his first dentist appointment).

So, how am I going to spend my day or what is left of it?  Well, since it is 2pm, here is the plan:

Finish all laundry now that the washer is fixed.

Finish reading my friendship book and post my reflection.

Wash bottles and sippies.

Clean the kitchen.

Pick up toys that are on the floor throughout the house.

Or Not.

We will just see.

Oh, don't forget to enter for your chance to win one of my favorite books. Click HERE to find out how.


Day 12 - Picturing Jesus

I absolutely love today's scripture and commentary.  It helped me to really picture who Jesus is.

Sometimes we make him seem like this far off guy that we can't get close to because he is so holy.  But realistically, his holiness creates a person that becomes our best friend if we let him. 

When I started listing the qualities I see in Jesus and what the people of that time saw in him, I realized that those are the qualities we look for in people we want in our lives.  We want to be surrounding by people who are caring, humble, likeable, wise, funny, gentle, and honest.  I'm sure Jesus wasn't degrading or arrogant.  He probably always had the right words to say in any situation and showed his genuine love for people in everything he did.

Jesus is approachable. He wants us to be near him. He wants to have a relationship with him.  It is by our own silliness, for lack of a better word, that we make Jesus seem unattainable. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 11 - What its All About

"Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Luke 2:49

I love the response Jesus gives to Mary and Joseph after they found their Son at the temple. 

Picture the scene:
Mary and Joseph realize that they were wrong in assuming Jesus was with others who had joined them.  Frantically, they retrace their steps hoping to find their Son.  After much anguish, they find Jesus in the temple they had left three days earlier.  Jesus, with his heart in tune to the matter at hand, did not stop to think that he had worried Mary and Joseph. Fed by the adreneline of searching for her child, Mary asks why he has put them through such turmoil.  Young Jesus is astonished at his mother's question.  Shouldn't she know him better than this? 

Jesus felt like Mary and Joseph should have know where he was and what he was His Father's house, about His Father's business.

Shouldn't the same be true of us? Shouldn't those who know us and even a strange we meet for five minutes know "what we are about?"

Jeff and I were talking last night and he said, "We should live our lives so that when we walk away from someone, they would consider coming to church with us if we asked." 

All to often, we meet people (or know them for that matter) and find out they go to church or call themselves Christians.  Our first thought about this is, "Are you kidding me?"  They don't leave an impression on us that would make us want to sit with them on Sunday mornings. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not claiming to be perfect and good in all that I do.  I have my fair share of faults and make plenty of mistakes, but ultimately, I'd like for people to know I am about Jesus.  Don't you? 

How do we do this?  I don't have all the answers, but it starts by having a relationship with him. Yes, an honesty to goodness, life altering moment where you surrender your life to him.  Then learn all you can about him through worship, prayer, bible study, and fellowship with other Christians.  Most of all, LOVE LIKE JESUS.  I have a Valentine's purse, yes a Valentine''s purse, that says, "Love Like Jesus."  And we should, plain and simple.  We don't have to be best friends with everyone, but we can show everyone love.  Afterall, God commands it.

So, my prayer for all of us today, study group ladies and those just reading our posts and following along, my prayer is that those we know and meet for just a short time will know that we are about our Father's business, and that they would want to be about His business because of us.

Book Giveaway!!!!!!

Giveaway is now closed.

As I was at the store with my smallest children today, this book jumped out at me. 

I have my own personal copy and have read it. I love this book.  It shows how God works when we shrug things off as just a coincidence. 

As the book was jumping out at me, it shouted, "Give me away!"  Well, how can I argue with a book that is talking to me in public???

So, if you would like your own personal, unread, brand new copy of When GOD Winks at You, just leave me a comment.  You can tell me hi, why you visit my blog, how you found my blog, what you did today, whatever you want to say.  On Saturday, I will choose a winner and announce that person's name here on my blog.  How will I choose? The old fashioned way. I'll write out each name, put them in a bowl, and have one of the kids pick one out. 

Good luck.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is purely my idea. I purchased the book with my own money. Just for fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 10 - Listening, Answering

As a parent, one of my worst fears is losing a child, having them alone, searching frantically for me while I search for them.  I cannot imagine the horror it must be to go through that.

We can look back at Luke 2:41-47 and be amazed that Mary and Joseph did not know where Jesus was for 3 days.  I'm sorry, but I want to know where my child is every waking minute.  Today for instance, Colin was leaving my classroom and immediately I asked, "Where are you going?"  Carson, bless his heart, announces each time he leaves the room to potty.  Yes, Mama definitely wants to make sure she knows exactly where her kids are.

But Jesus, sweet Jesus, was in the temple...listening, answering.  He was about his Father's business (I know, we haven't gotten that far yet). 

Oh, listening.

I think the older I've gotten the worse I've gotten at listening.  It is one of my many faults. Just ask my husband.  I don't mean to be a bad listener, it isn't that I don't care what people are saying.  My hearing isn't what it used to be and I become very easily distracted.  It is something I am working on. 

But I thank God that Jesus is a good listener.  Oh, how often I have poured my heart out to him!  I can't recall a time that I thought He wasn't listening to me. No matter how big or small the "stuff" was that I laid at the foot of the cross, I always felt him there with me. For that, I am very thankful.

If we ever feel that Jesus isn't listening to us, it may be that we aren't listening to him, that our hearts aren't in tune to what he is trying to tell us.  I have a coworker friend that was upset because God wasn't answering her prayers for a man in her life.  I just had to make the comment that maybe she needed to spend more time with him and maybe eventually he would. I know it was a bold statement, but I couldn't help myself.

If our hearts aren't right with him, is he going to answer us the way we want? Probably not. We have to remember that his answers aren't always going to be the ones that we want. 

Sometimes he will tell us Yes.

Sometimes he will tell us No.

Sometimes he will tell us Not Now.

Whatever the answer, we must know that God gave us that answer because he loves us and he knows best. We must be thankful for unanswered prayers, those times that God told us No or made us wait. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Child of Mine Part 2

My sweet precious Carson.....

Sunday night in church, he was hog wild.  Evidently, Mrs. Leslie got the kids all hopped up on Mountain Dew or something (ha ha).  Not only did my child work Jacob over, Carson got in my face and announced, "I have to go pee," and it was NOT in his quiet voice.  Well, thanks to the Burklows behind us, I couldn't keep a straight face the rest of the night. 

When my darling came back from the restroom, it sounded like a herd of cattle coming down the aisle.  No, just my one little four year old.

Toward the end of the service, after much working over of all on our pew, Carson got in my face again and insisted that I smell his breath.  He was desperate to know exactly what it smelled like.  Again, he did not use his quiet voice.  Needless to say, to keep from beating him in church or laughing out loud, my sweet middle child was escorted by his father to the library. Here, said child escaped and proceeded to "do the dance." If you don't know the moves, watch Evan Almighty.  Again, as he made his way back to me, he made a nice little move down the aisle.  Not sure where he learned those moves and he wasn't very quiet either.

Oh, this child of mine!

Day 9 - Covenant and Redemption

Baptism and The Lord's Supper are two symbolic acts we as Southern Baptists take part in.  Here is what we believe about them.

Baptism is an act of a believer being immersed in water in the name fo the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We do it to show our faith in Jesus, that he was born, crucified, buried, and  is risen.  It shows that as believers, we are dead to sin, have buried our old life, and we are resurrected (made new in Jesus).  Baptism does NOT save.  It is only a symbolic act of our faith in Jesus.

When we partake in the Lord's Supper, we are remembering the death of Jesus and his second coming.  Again, it is an act of obedience.

At our church, we also have a baby dedication once a year.  Again, this does not save anyone.  The baby dedication is an act symbolizing that the parents are promising to raise their child for God.  This sort of reminds me of Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the temple for the first time.  I found Moore's story about this quiet interesting. It is sort of like we are saying, "Here God. Take my child. We want him to live for and serve you."

As Christians, we must take part in the activities commanded by our Lord.  I appreciate the fact that our pastor has made a committment to us in order to make sure we truly understand not just what we believe, but why we believe it. This made me appreciate today's study much more because we know the why behind Mary and Joseph's acts of obedience.

I pray that as we grow in the Lord and become closer to him, we would act out of obedience and not out of tradition.


Monday, January 17, 2011

This Child of Mine

Yes, this one. The one who has an unhealthy love for markers.

The one who cleans his fingers by licking them before decorating cookies.

The one who punched his big brother in the stomach during the middle of the baby dedication in front of the entire church.

Yes, this one.

Would you like to guess what this child of mine did last night at church?

Day 8 - A Night of Nights

"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

As moms, I don't think we will ever forget those first moments with our newborn.

When I held Colin for the first time, I couldn't believe the little miracle I was holding and that I was a mom.  With him being my first child, it was overwhelming and a bit scary.  I wasn't sure if I knew how to be a mom and care for a baby. All in all, the moment was perfect. With his chubby little self and squished little face, he was perfect, my little miracle from God.

Carson's birth experience was totally different.  The whole delivery was faster, yet the end result was  not what I expected.  As soon as he was born, the nurses let me hold him for about 2 seconds and rushed him out of the room.  He was having trouble breathing. Not the experience I expected.  Yet, when I finally got him in my arms, the moment was perfect: snuggling with him, caressing his dark hair, and kissing his cheeks. 

With Carter, we actually got to keep him in the room with us for some time before they took him to the nursery for observation.We had lots of skin to skin time and family time.  Again, a perfect moment in time.  Sharing the moment with my oldest sons was wonderful.

With each child, I had my own personal thoughts throughout each experience, thoughts of how miraculous and perfect the moment was.  I wondered if I would be the mom that baby needed me to be.  I wondered what the future would hold for us as a family and for that baby as he grew.  Like Mary, I kept these things to myself.

Unlike Mary, I did not give birth to the holy Son of God.  I'm sure some of those tender moments I shared with my boys could have possible been similar to Mary's first moments with Jesus, but a truly awesome journey was awaiting her.  She had become the mother of the Holy One.  No matter precious our moments were, they can't top hers. Mary was in a truly unique situation, one that would never be repeated.

My prayer for us today is that we would be obedient to our God.  That we would have open hearts to be able to hear what he would say to us.  I pray that we would allow him to have complete control of our decision making when it comes to our children.  Whether we are teaching a children, making special memories with them, or disciplining them, may we seek wisdom from him in being the Christian mothers our children deserve.  May our children see that Christ is the center of our lives so they may one day make him the center of theirs.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm Diggin' This

It amazes me how God works.

When I bought my book Jesus: 90 Days With the One and Only, I had the intentions of going home and starting on the study immediately.  That was my plan.

In the craziness of remodeling our house, the book got pushed to the side, and then in the craziness of preparing for our annual Griswold  Grimes Family Christmas, the book got placed in a basket in between the computer desk and armoire.

I knew in the past few months I had become lazy when it came to Bible reading, study, and devotions.  My heart was yearning to get back into fellowship with God, but I kept thinking "accountability."  Never before had I thought of having someone keep me accountable for my Bible time, so I wasn't sure why I kept thinking of it.

Now, I realize it was a "God Thing."  Yes!  I can feel it in the depths of my soul that God truly wanted me to do this Bible study/devotional with someone else. Six someone elses actually. 

Hilarie, Lori, Leslie, Vanessa, Holly, and Emily.

At first, I felt a little guilty about the easiness of doing this online.  Then the more each lady became involved and opened up, I realized that this is a good thing. 

Girls, you have touched me.  I appreciate that you are opening up. I appreciate your honesty. I appreciate you keeping me accountable.  You have blessed me this last few days.  I hope that I have been a blessing to you as well. It is so nice to know that I am not alone in how I feel. You are right there with me.  Thank you for that.

Emily made the comment that some women make it look easy. I have often had those same thoughts.  There are some women that I look at and just can't imagine them spanking their kids or even raising their voice, that they are the perfect moms and live in perfect harmony with the world around them.  On days when I'm at my wits end, I wonder where I went wrong. How did I turn into the world's worst mom.  Then I stop to think:  we don't see the whole picture. We don't see their struggles.  We are not them. God created us to be the Christian women HE wants us to be, not to be like these other women.  Instead of being envious of them, we need to deepen our bond with Him so that we can be who He has planned.

So as we are growing through this study, it is my prayer that God will touch each of your hearts and that you'll find peace in the chaos of your everyday life. I pray that you find the joy of having crazy, wild kids and that you cherish those moments of tranquility, rare as they may be. May we never forget that our children are a heritage of the Lord.  As mom's we are to raise them to be God fearing individuals. Let's us be mentors to the women we encounter on a day to day basis.  Let us live our lives so they know God is the center of everything thought, word, and action. Let us be the Christain wives our husbands need us to be, submitting to them in the Biblical way that God requires. 

I am looking forward to this second week of study.  Thank you again for joining me!  I love you all.

Day 7 - Heaven Came Down

When Colin was starting kindergarten, we went to his open house.  A former coworker of my came up to me and asked, "Aren't you going to go over there to see who is in his class.  You don't want him with the riff raff."

I was appalled.  I am the riff raff. 

My parents are working class. When I was growing up, they both worked in factories. We lived in the trailer park for a while. We didn't have brand name clothes or fancy cars.  What we did have, my parents worked hard for.

My husband and I now work hard for what we have.  We bought our house after it had been sold at a Master Commissioner sale.  It was totally trashed and we had to completely remodel it.  We drive used cars. My kids wear hand-me-down clothes.  I make sure they have what they need, before I take care of myself.

Yes, we are the riff raff.  Big stinkin' nobody's. 

But that is just fine with us.

You see, we can learn a whole lot from looking at the news of Jesus' birth.  When the angel appeared to share the joyous news, who did he appear to first? 

The shepards in the field.

The riff raff.

We do not choose our situations (some people do, but that is a different blog post).  I think God places us somewhere and it is up to us to use that situation to glorify him.  I love this commentary from my Bible about 1 Corinthians 1:26-28:
"Paul explained that the gospel of Christ appears foolish to human reason.  To further his point, he encouraged the Corinthians to remember their own humble orgins.  According to human standards, most of them were not intelligent, influential, or rich. On the contrary, they were members of the common lower class and would have been considered weak, lowly, and even despised.  Nevertheless, God called them. A "call" is a an invitation or an official summons by God to enter into a personal relationship with Him.  A call is not based on human wisdom or staus but on the grace of God who, in his "foolishness," has chosen the unworthy  things of the world to shame those of hugh human worth.  This was done so His chosen people would glory in Him and not in their own status or accomplishments."

Jesus came for ALL OF US.  Not the rich and powerful. Not the good and saintly. He came for the riff raff like me.  Those who fall short of His glory.  What an amazing gift!  I did nothing to deserve the gift of Jesus.  I am a complete failure without him. We could never be good enough to earn His love or our salvation.

I am so glad that God called me, a big stinkin' nobody with more faults than I can count, to enter into a relationship with him.  I pray that I never forget my humble beginnings and that I never glory in myself, but in Him.  It is through Him that I get my worth.

O what a wonderful, wonderful day
Day I will never forget.....

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul  
When at the cross the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 6 - Perfect Timing

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

As humans, we try to plan accordingly for life changing events. We spend almost a year planning our weddings, and then try to plan out our children. I remember when Jeffrey and I were thinking about having a third child. It was in the middle of his trying to join the military. For months on end, he had been filling out paperwork to get in and I was itching to have a baby. We decided would be best to wait until we found out whether or not he was going to be accepted into the Army before we went forth with trying to get pregnant. We were afraid of how difficult it would be if he had to go off to training while I was pregnant or having to be home alone with a newborn and two bigger boys. Well, we learned quickly that the Army didn’t really get in a hurry. So we decided that whatever happened first would be the way it was meant to be. Well, after our Chicago trip in July 2009, we found out that I was pregnant. Then in September, Jeffrey was officially admitted into the Army, and thus began our journey.

We tried to reason out waiting to see what would happen because we were worried about, “Can we handle it?” When we turned it over to God, He showed us that our strength comes from him and that he would take care of us.

During the journey of being a single mom during the summer, we had planned that Jeffrey would be gone for the first part of his training. He would leave in June and come back home mid July. However, the opportunity came up for him to be able to stay and complete the CHBOLC course. We had a decision to make because that meant he would then be gone until September. Well, the decision was made for us by one of his superiors.

We saw the difficulties that would lie ahead of us throughout this situation and had our worries. God however saw the bigger picture. His plan was better than ours. He had people here to support me and my children. He had people in Columbia to support Jeffrey. I learned a bit of independence. Jeffrey completed his course ahead of time and came home to a job promotion.
God’s timing is perfect. We can’t see the whole picture, but God can. Although it is difficult to wait, we have to trust him. We should be secure in the fact that God will provide, even though it may not always be the way we wish. His plan is perfect.

The trust that Mary and Joseph had in God to provide for them is amazing. They were alone, away from home, having a baby in humble conditions. Joseph was the earthly father, nurse, doctor, and pediatrician. Mary had no Lamaze, no pain medication, no hospital bed.

But God’s timing was perfect. This was the way it was supposed to happen. There are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to fulfilling his purpose.

I thank God for his perfect timing. Although we have good intentions with our plans, we know that His plans are perfect. I pray that we are accepting of his timing and that he will give us the patience and strength to endure. Our hope is in him. Hard as we try, we will never fully understand his ways, so the best thing we can do is trust and obey.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 5 - A Good Time to Celebrate

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7

Hilarie and I took the kids to Dunkin Donuts Thursday afternoon. While chatting, we reminisced giving birth to our children, the details of our labors, the pain medications, and the length of that exciting time. For moms, this is a time that we reflect on often, a time that changes our lives forever, no matter if we have 1 child or 19, like Michelle Dugger.

As special as the births of our children are, there is one birth in history, more special than any other, that changed the world forever.

The birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

The story of his birth is one I’ll never tire of hearing.

We can only imagine what that night was like. Mary and Joseph there alone (not really, God was with them). They were not in a place with ideal conditions. It was time, time for the birth of the King. There he was born among the animals, humble, innocent, HOLY. As much as I’d like to paint a wonderful picture with words of this miraculous event, no words I come up with do it justice.

I think of the first time I held each of my children after birth. Gazing at them. Touching them. Gently kissing them. What a very special moment that was. Each time was like the first time.

But oh, how did Mary feel? Holding her Savior. Gazing at him. Touching him. Gently kissing him. How much greater this birth was than any other! I just can’t imagine.

As I read Beth Moore’s thoughts on the day we celebrate his birth and how people question the exact day, I thought back to a sermon from our preacher this past December. He posed the question, “Does it really matter that Christ’s birth is celebrated on December 25?”

What matters is we celebrate HIS birth.

What matters is we not only celebrate his birth on December 25, but we also celebrate EVERY day of the year.

I have noticed that the older I’ve become, the closer to God I become, the more Christmas means to me. With all the changes our family has gone through this past year, this past Christmas was very emotional for me. My heart melted as I watched our children in their programs. Carson’s program at preschool was precious. These innocent children learning about Jesus and celebrating Him through song and scripture. The program Hilarie did with our children at church, WOW. She always does such a good job not only telling the Christmas story, but also including the reason for his birth and the path to becoming a Christian. The program is always unique and moving. Oh, and the job Leslie did with the preschoolers and kindergartners. The innocence of it all (to have the faith of a child). During our candlelight service at church, I fought back tears, tears of joy and thanksgiving that God our Father, gave his Son for us. What greater gift is that? This may sound crazy, but I even became emotional during our Christmas parade. I was thankful that God placed me where I am with those I love to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

This year, I bought an Advent calendar for my boys. They loved it. Each night we took out a mini book, read it, and hung the book on the Christmas tree. We started a new family tradition.

I want my boys to know why we celebrate Christmas. God gave us the first and greatest Christmas gift of all, his Son Jesus. The things we do are to celebrate his birth. The gifts we give are to be reminders of the gift of Jesus, but we could never top that gift. Santa and gift giving are fun, but not what Christmas is about. We are to praise God for all he has done.

Through daily thanksgiving, I think it is possible to celebrate the birth of Jesus year round. We can do this through prayer, Bible study, praise, worship, and fellowship. We can do this by our thoughts, words, and actions. I think it is important to celebrate daily the birth of Jesus. If we show our love for him in all we do every day, people will catch on and want what we have…..HIM.

If you want to hear the video, mute the playlist at the botton of the page.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 4 - Mary's Song

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him.”
Luke 1:46-47, 49-50

Mary ceases to amaze me. She told the angel who brought her the news that she would be the mother of the Son of God to let it be done to her according to His will. She traveled to visit with her older pregnant relative while she herself was with child. Now, she is singing a song of praise in the midst of all that is about to change her life.

But WOW, what an example. To be able to sing praises to God for all he has done and will do. In all circumstances.

We should live so that our souls magnify the Lord.

Our spirits should rejoice in God our Savior.

HE is MIGHTY and has done great things for us.


His mercy is on those of us who fear Him.

Those around us should never doubt our love for God. They should see it in all we do. When things are going great, we should give him praise. When things aren’t going as we had planned and our lives seem to be crumbling around us, we should praise God for the hope we have in Him and the promise that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

So, what would our song sound like?

First off, you wouldn’t want to hear me sing! But I imagine mine might go something like this:

O, Lord Father, thank you. Thank you for loving me!
For loving the wretch that I am!
Your mercy, O, God, how GREAT it is!
That my soul is saved and eternally yours.
Thank you, Father, for the hope I have in you.
I can do anything because you are with me.
Never should I fear another because you have me in your hand.
I praise you that you will see me in my valley.
I praise you that you will lift me up.
I praise you that you sent for me a saving grace!


“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will REJOICE and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24