Tuesday, December 24, 2013

He Came

From all outward appearances, it was just an ordinary night.  Shepherds slipped on their  cloaks, grabbed their staffs and went to work, out in the fields. Sheep grazed.   Innkeepers kept busy, filling rooms to capacity and turning away those who he could not accommodate.  Mary and Joseph travelled busy roads, with a throng of others, doing what they were ordered to do -- register for the census.  Cows mooed and donkeys brayed and they ate their food out of the manger trough, just like they did every day.  Dogs barked and kitties purred and mothers tucked their children in to bed. The stars twinkled, breaking through the backdrop of the night sky.  The wind blew.

People talked and walked and worried and laughed and cried and wondered about their lives.

It was just another night, following just another day, in the middle of just another week, part of just another year.

And then He came, unexpectedly -- at least from most of man's point of view -- in to the cold, dark, hurting, world.

He came.

He came for the lonely and the busy and the preoccupied and the forgotten.

He came for the the angry and bitter and unforgiving, and for the unforgiven.

He came for those who hurt and those who hurt others.

He came for those who lost loved ones and those who were lost themselves.

He came for those who wanted to give up hope or give up everything.

He came for the less-than-perfect and for those who thought they were perfect.

He came for those who were looking for Him and for those who never even gave Him a second -- or first -- thought.

He came for those who strived to please God and for those who thought they were so far gone that it would never be possible, anyway.

He came for those who made mistakes and for those who believed they were a mistake.

He came for the miserable and the meek.

He came for those who looked to have their act together and for those who never acted as they should.

He came for those who were broken and bleeding and brought chaos wherever they walked.

He came for the ill and the broken and the broken-hearted.

He came for those who were abused and confused and refused to believe.

He came for the neglected and the negligent.

He came for the weary and the wealthy and the poor.

He came for the restless and the resentful and for those who resisted love.

He came for those who felt purposeless and plain.

He came for the orphaned and the fatherless and the heartless and the helpless.

He came for the disabled and the abled.

He came for the ones who could not sleep because of their choices, and for those who could not get out of bed, for the same reasons.

He came for all people, all shapes, all sizes, all sorrows, all sins.

He came for people from the past and the present and the future, and for you and for me.

Sometimes I forget it, neglect it, don't believe it ~ I forget that Jesus came. When I am weary or lonely or stretched thin in the trials that the Lord allows in my life ~ I forget Jesus came.  When I feel restless or ordinary or useless or like giving up ~ I forget Jesus came.

I forget or neglect or don't believe, that He came for me, so that when I am hurting and hopeless, and even when all is well, I can have hope and rest and peace in Him.

Dear reader, wherever you are today, on this Eve of Christmas, whether in warm or cold weather, whether surrounded by loved ones or all alone, whether filled with excitement and joyful anticipation of Christmas or not feeling festive at all, remember ~ Jesus came.

He came, because He loves you.  Say 'yes' to Him, today. Allow Him to show you how His coming made all the difference in the world, and still does today. And take a moment to thank Him and take a moment to tell someone else, "He came."

Blessed Christmas, dear ones.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Coveted Life Saver Story Book

It was the early 1970's. For several years, shortly after Thanksgiving, as the teacher announced the great Christmas gift exchange, visions of Life Saver Story books began to dance through my head.

I pictured myself holding the rectangular, firm cardboard book between my hands and opening it up, setting my star-struck eyes on the delightful contents.  I imagined the neat rows of side-by-side Life Savers, in their colorful packages, stacked one on top of the other.  And if I really focused, I could even smell the cherry, lime and orate scents of the individual Life Savers, as my mouth watered.  Ahhh. Sigh.

I don't what exactly what it was about the wonder of rolls of Life Savers, bound in a book, but all I knew is that it was the greatest gift garnered at the grace school Christmas gift exchange.  At least, it was for me.  How sweet it would be to have my very own supply of Life Savers to relish in my room, throughout the Christmas season!

Here's how the gift exchange worked.

Each student brought in a gift with their name scratched in the 'FROM' space, leaving the 'TO' space specifying if it was to a girl, if you were a girl, or a boy, if you were a boy.  We didn't pick names, but rather were to buy a generic gift -- a gift everyone would like.  I suppose the teacher did it this way to prevent someone from getting a downer of a gift if someone who didn't like them, picked their name.

The gifts were brought in the week of the Christmas party, and placed under the small tree in our classroom.  Slowly but surely, brightly colored packages of all sorts accumulated under the tree, waiting for the big day.

I knew the shape, the size, the detailed dimensions.  And I didn't have to imagine smelling effervescent fruity scents; I was pretty sure I could smell them, through any thickness of wrapping paper, as the gift entered the classroom.  I kept a very close eye on the tree and it's growing pile of gifts. I watched to see who brought what and hoped beyond hope that I'd be the lucky recipient of the Life Saver Story Book.  Spotting more than one of the coveted cardboard books under the tree added to my joy, and some years, the odds seemed to be in my favor.

On the day of the party, the teacher sent us out for recess, right before the celebration. Oh, how the excitement mounted, as we stood frozen outside on the playground, waiting and wondering.

I remember coming in, chilled with goose bumps percolating beneath my skin.  I'm not sure if they were from the cold or my eager anticipation that it would be my special day.

I didn't care about the cookies or the Kool-Aid, all I wanted to know was -- would this be my year to get the Life Saver Story Book? Finally?

I slipped off my coat and held my breath as I slowly walked through the door, savoring every moment. While were were out, I knew the teacher would have set a present on each of our desks.  I don't know why she did it that way, other than maybe she didn't have to deal with kids trying to influence her or maybe there were never quite enough gifts, so she could pull a few extras out of her desk drawer, to cover for the ones who couldn't afford to participate that year. No student left behind when it came to the Christmas party gift exchange.

I tried to contain my excitement, while trying to brace myself for disappointment.

Rounding the corner of the door frame, my eyes drifted across the room and settled on my desk.

And each year, my heart fell.

Resting on my desk was a different gift than I imagined -- a smaller one or a bigger one or a softly wrapped, oddly shaped package.  And each year, I can remember forcing a smile, sitting down and opening the gift that was chosen for me, by my teacher.

I didn't want to hurt any one's feelings, surely not the person who picked out what was on my desk, or possibly offend their mother, who more than likely was the one who went to the store and picked it out.

I tried not to look around the room to see who got the gift I wanted. I tried hard not to be jealous; it was really hard.

I never did get the Lifesaver Story Book. I'm not complaining or dwelling on dashed dreams of the past.  Really, I've gotten over it, but every year when I see them on the store shelves I think of those days when the great gift exchange consumed my Christmas thoughts and my heart had to find contentment in what I was given.

I some ways, it's not so different today.  We hope for one thing, and sometimes, get another.  My heart no longer is set on material things, but rather less tangible, more valuable desires, like peace and joy and relief from stress. And some days, I still sit down and try and smile seeking to find contentment in what the Lord has given.

The reality is that we may not always receive the things we want at Christmas, but we have been given the most precious gift of all -- Jesus.  My heart still yearns, but it now finds restful satisfaction in Him -- let's face it, the One and Only Life Saver, in the "sweetest story ever told."

What did you wish for as a child?

Friday, December 13, 2013

And the Winner in the Compass Bible Give-Away is --

Thank you to all who entered the Compass Study Bible Give-Away (see previous post)!  I enjoyed reading many of your reflections on which Christmas Story character you can most relate to this Christmas Season.  

But before I go on, the winner is of the give-away this time is - Gina! 

I've known Gina for a long time and am excited to give her this copy of Compass.  She is a woman of God and I know she'll love using it! On an unrelated note, she and I share a passion for solid organ transplant and the gift of life that Organ Donation results in. It's one of the things I love about Gina!

And thank you to those of you who shared your thoughts on which Christmas character you can most relate to, this year.  I enjoyed reading your responses, so much that I am sharing a few of them here.  You've provided me with points to ponder, and am encouraged and challenged with what you've all said. Here are a few:

Karen said, "I think I would associate with the shepherds the most -- being afraid of the great host of angels, but wanting to go see what it was all about.  I can't imagine their astonishment and wonder as they looked at the King born in a feeding trough.  It just amazes me how God used such 'normal' people to carry His Son and to see Him for the first time.  Reminds me that God can use me, too." 

Brenda shared, "I think I most identify with Zechariah.  An angel shows up to tell him his prayers are answered and he doubts!  Doubts that God can do a miracle in he and his wife and sometimes I go through the motions, really wondering if I believe God does answer my prayers, also.  Zechariah paid a price for his doubting - but oh, how sweet the redemption at the end of his journey.  He experiences God in such a real and personal way and then he gets to be the father of John the Baptist. WOW!"

Fran commented on the last post, but I am so touched by her words, that I thought I'd share them here.  She said, "While I would love to identify with all the characters in the Christmas story, like the Wise men who showed up to lavish Jesus with gifts or with Mary who willingly bowed to unexplainable circumstances with amazing trust and faith, even at the cost of her reputation, I think I would hope to identify with the Shepherds who probably were often ignored in their seemingly menial, unseen work, yet were chose by God to be the first ones to be told Jesus had come to earth. I love how the shepherds did not hesitate to run and find Him and to tell Mary what the angel said about her Son."

Thank you, ladies for sharing!  Yes, God uses normal people, doubting people, even those who are often ignored in their seemingly menial, unseen work.  This truth truly resonates in my heart today, as I (perhaps) like you, face the ups and downs of life, questioning how God is at work and how He uses me.  

Keep on thinking and reflecting this Christmas, and above all, keep your eyes fixed on the One who came for you.  He loves you dearly! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Compass Study Bible Review and Give-Away

Recently, I was asked to review Compass, a study Bible published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and finally, I had a chance to sit down and soak in it for awhile. I don't know what took me so long, but what a delight it is!  A slightly different concept in Bible reading and study. Compass is interesting, informative and thought provoking, helping to apply God's Word to every day life and circumstances.

This Bible, using the "Voice" translation, relays God's Word in a fresh way, using biblical dialogue in a screenplay format.

Let me give you an example. Let's take a portion of the Christmas Story in Luke 2:8 - 19 --

8Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. 9Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!

Messenger: 10Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. 11Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! 12You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

13At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

Heavenly Choir: 14To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!
And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!

15As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

Shepherds: Let’s rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let’s see what’s happening! Let’s experience what the Lord has told us about!

16So they ran into town, and eventually they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the feeding trough. After they saw the baby, 17they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. 

18Everyone who heard their story couldn’t stop thinking about its meaning. 19Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.


Robert Sanford, vice president and associate publisher at Thomas Nelson said, 'What makes Compass different is that it helps people connect with God by pointing them in the right direction and showing them how they fit into His narrative." 

In addition to the scriptures reading differently through this translation, Compass also incorporates a large number of Bible-reading helps, notes explaining the text, and even Bible search tools. It offers, along with a reading plan to help you read through the Bible in a year, a '40 Day Retreat with Jesus' study plan, and topical study guide to help direct you to God's truths regarding such topics as heaven, anger, jealousy, Jerusalem, missions, money and more!  One of my personal favorites about this study Bible, is the "Road Map to God's Promises" offered in the beginning of the Bible, to help anchor us to God's Word and ways.  What a valued treasure!

I would recommend Compass as a companion Bible to anyone interested in exploring God's Word, whether it's for the first time or the thousandth.  And I'd like to give my copy away -- not because I don't like it -- I do! -- but rather, in the Spirit of Christmas and giving. So, here you go --

Leave a comment (or email me here) and tell me which Christmas story character you see yourself most like, and why. I'll collect the names and pick one this coming Friday, December 13.  Go ahead, give it a try! Maybe you could even give Compass to someone else, just in time for Christmas! 

(Compass can be found at Walmart, and will be available on Amazon in February 2014).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Please Take a Compliment

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Knock. Knock.

Anybody there? I'm back!

It's been awhile since I wrote. (Yikes! July 29?  That was two seasons ago -- literally!)

I was deep in to the Book of Esther, studying, writing and teaching for the Women's Bible study at our church, looking at the Evidence of God's Providence -- not only throughout the story, but in our own lives. I'm sure I'll share more thoughts with you in the weeks to come. I learned a lot!

And I was busy with our Women's Christmas Tea.  Can I just say this? Working with the women at my church and ministering together is such an amazing experience. I cherish how God works in and through His people, as we share our gifts and serve Him.

I will say, though, I've had a lot of ideas bouncing around in this ole' noggin, waiting to get out.  I hope to access them out of my mental hard drive and boot them up, soon!

But for starters, I've been thinking about compliments.  Recently, my friend Amanda spoke on 'insecurities,' pointing out that, for many of us, it's hard to receive a compliment.  We minimize it, dismiss it, rationalize it, or even try and deny it. Yep. I'm guilty of this. Are you?

In response to listening to her speak, by friend Becca told me a story. (You can read more about her and her passion for health HERE).  At day, acknowledging the hesitation of humans to receive a compliment, she decided to do something different.  She printed off a pack of posters, and put them in coffee shops and spots around town.

She offered people a chance to -- Please Take a Compliment.

They had a choice.  No strings attached.  No verbal responses required.  They could just take a compliment by ripping off a little piece of paper on the poster, each offering a different compliment.

You are brave.  You are a great listener.  You made my day. I lover your persistence. You make me happy.  You are lovely. I like your dress. You have great taste.  I appreciate you. Your hair looks nice.

And then, awhile later, she went back to check out the posters, and you know what?  People had taken a compliment.  We don't know what they did with it. Maybe they walked around that day, smiling silently, cherishing a truth about them selves.  Or, maybe they passed it on.

Either way, people took a compliment.

I wonder.  Were they in need of a compliment?  Were they bone dry?  Had it been awhile since anyone noticed them?  Were they feeling down in the dumps that day?  Were they lonely?  Sad?  Feeling ordinary and not special?  Maybe it was easier for them to take it anonymously?  Easier to take one if they didn't feel compelled to explain it?

I don't know, but it has me thinking -- we need each other.  God gives us each other.

So, let's give and receive compliments -- freely.  Let's encourage one another, honestly, earnestly, truthfully, openly, frequently, not to flatter, but to build up and breath life in to.  Let's look for opportunities from the Lord AND let's also receive His gifts.  Let's work on receiving a compliment from someone, without feeling guarded, or insecure or weird.  Maybe, just maybe, the Lord is using someone to encourage our hearts today, if we would only allow Him to.  And maybe He's using us to do the same.

So, please take a compliment.  I may not know you, but I know Who does, and I think that you are an amazingly beautiful, valued creation, loved by the Father and made for a purpose!

Take that -- and believe it.  It's true!  (And then pass it along, too)!

Monday, July 29, 2013

When Resistance Bands are Wrapped Around My Plans

The course for the Chicago Urbanathlon 2013.
It all started out with a goal. A hope. A desire.

Urbanathlon 2013 (click here).

I ran the race in a relay in 2010 and then completed the whole race in 2011 (click here), but since then, let's just say, I've 'fallen off the work-out wagon.' It's not that I'm terribly out of shape, it's just that I'm not nearly as strong as I used to be (way) back then.

And so, about a month ago, I made a plan and I ran.

I started with three miles and worked my way up to seven miles, pretty quickly.

I was encouraged (read -- pumped) until the second time I ran seven miles.  It was then that hip pain settled in.  A deep boring pain in both hips was my constant companion. Whether I was running or not, it was there.  Walking, sitting, standing, lying down, I had pain.

I'll spare the details, but turns out (after seeing a professional) that I have weak hip and gluteal muscles.  The pain is mostly due to 'other' muscles tightening to help compensate for weak ones.  My compensatory hip muscles are over-firing, thus very tight, while the ones that should be strong, are terribly weak.  Did I mention that I was in a lot of pain? 

So, I was put on a running restriction and given a strengthening and stretching exercise program.  In addition, the doctor offered to work on the tight areas to help give me relief of my pain. 

It's not how I thought it would go.

Now, instead of racking up my miles and feeling good about myself for the accomplishments I make, I'm waddling back and forth across my family room with a blue resistance band strapped around my ankles, strengthening muscles that need to be strong. And I'm lying on the ground, stretching muscles that need to be relaxed. 

It's not what I planned.

I've been thinking, it's not all that different from portions of my life.

Sometimes, it's not how I thought it would go. 

It's not what I planned.

And God has other plans. I have weak areas, that I may or may not be aware of and I have tight areas in my life, that over-compensate for those weak areas -- defense mechanisms. 

Instead of going the distance and working towards the goals in my own way, God grounds me and says, "No, we're going to do it this way.  There are some ares in your life, my dear, that need to be strengthened and some areas that need to be stretched."

I don't like it. I like my orderly, organized plans that I can see and understand and check off with pride along the way. I like doing things my way.

I don't like going short distances with resistance bands wrapped around my plans.

But God knows the perfect plan.

I'm pausing on that point today. 

God knows the perfect plan for my life and what it takes for me to run the race He has marked out for me. 

I'm still hoping to run the Urbanathlon in October, and hopefully, I may even run it better, by slowing down now and focusing on the areas that need to be stronger and areas that need to be stretched.

And somehow, I'm thinking that is the case for me in some areas of my life.  God knows what He is doing.  He doesn't leave me on my own, but institutes an 'exercise and strengthening program' for my good, and He takes His Holy, healing hands, and works to give me relief, as well.

I may not understand why He does what He does or how He does it, but I am trying to trust His ways.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"I Don't Know How to Trust You in This, Lord!"

I'll cut right to it -- I've been worrying. Yes, worrying.

I'll spare the details for now, but I am worrying about my oldest son. He's my boy (a young adult, actually) with Cerebral Palsy. He's struggling, and I probably don't have to tell you, so am I.

For days and weeks, the heart cry that continually wells up from deep within my soul is this --

"I don't know how to trust You in this, Lord!"

The thing is, I get that we are to trust the Lord. I've heard it said, I've read about it, and I've even taught about trusting Him.  He's clear as to what we are to do.  We are to trust Him and Him alone.

But what does it look like for me today? What does it really look like to trust Him in a particularly painful situation?

Maybe you're asking yourself that question.

Maybe you're in a dark place, a difficult place, a deeply uncertain place, a broken dream place.

Maybe your marriage is failing and your heart is breaking. Maybe your child is suffering and you are bewildered as to what to do next.  Maybe you are experiencing a conflict in a relationship and are unable to come to a resolution. Maybe you are hurting physically, and there is no relief for your pain. Maybe you feel lost and loneliness permeates your days.

And perhaps you, too, are asking "What does it look like to trust You, Lord?"

I wish there were easy answers, quick answers, simple 'cookie cutter' answers.  I wish there were 'one-size fits all, pull off the shelf, slip on and go' answers. I wish there were 'clear margined' answers. I wish there were 'one-stop-shopping' answers, or 'drive-through for fast food' answers.  

More and more, I'm finding that it is not so.

And to make it more complicated, lately, I've been asking (pleading) and it seems as if the Lord's been silent.

Until this week.

In what seems like the millionth time of asking for something, He gave me a thought, something to imagine, a place to focus and remember.

When I don't know what to do, and uncertainty washes over me, like one wave after another, He gave me a picture -- a picture of Him dancing with me. 

"Come waltz with Me," I felt Him say as He pressed close to my heart.  And in my mind, I saw Him wrap His strong arm around my weary waist and His mighty, gentle hand grab hold of mine.

"Look in to my eyes, my dear one, and dance with Me.  One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three."

"This is what trusting Me looks like for you, right now."

"Do not look down at your own feet. Look at Me.  Feel My warm embrace.  Feel My love for you. Stay focused on Me, then when I move, you will move, to the right and the left and the front and the back.  When I pause, you will pause.  Follow my lead."

And, so, I've been picturing myself with Him. I am conscious of His warm embrace around my waist and His Holy Hand, holding me firm. I am gazing at Him -- only Him -- and I am moving with Him.

It's what trusting Him looks like for me today, in this time that He has made for me.

I'm not sure what He is doing or where He is going, but I am certain that no matter the trial or trouble or tear drenched difficulty, I am held secure in His loving arms.

Tomorrow, it may look different, as to how to trust Him.

But today, I am leaning in to His love and waltzing with Him.

What about you?  Do you ever struggle with what trusting the Lord actually looks like? How has He shown you?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Words from Our Winner -- Betty!

When I, with eyes closed, reached in to the pile of names to pick out the winner of the Woman's Study Bible, I had no idea who I would pick or why that particular person would be chosen, but God knew who and why.

He always does.

After I emailed, Betty Z,  to let her know that she was the winner of the Study Bible she wrote back and shared this with me.  I thought it might encourage you. Here's what Betty had to say: 

Seriously,  Andrea -- I won?????

I must say, I am touched by God's goodness!  

Joel 2:12-13 was my verse to live out yesterday, "'even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.'  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious an compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love ..."

I hate to say, but it is not often at all I fast, but yesterday morning in quiet time, I really talked with the Lord about my thoughts and actions lately, that were not what He wanted for my life -- acknowledging sin, confessing sin, asking forgiveness, believing His forgiveness is mine, repenting and desiring to turn to His good ways for my life.  Then my "through the year bible reading" was Joel.  And God convicted me by the verses above.  I said the words, but do I really mourn over my sinfulness?  Christ paid such a great price of suffering and separation from the Father for this sin of mine. 

So, it was a sweet day yesterday of fellowship with God and of being reminded that giving up food is so small compared to what God gave in Christ Jesus.  Not that we should be telling others about fasting in a prideful way, but I just wanted you to know how moved to tears (seriously) I am as I "break the fast" this morning and am SO thankful for God's graciousness and compassion to me. 

And now to read the email that He is blessing me with His WORD.  He is El Roi -- the God who sees me personally and touches my life with His love in very special ways! 


Thank you, dear Betty! The Lord used you to bless me and remind me of His unique and personal love for each of us, a love that knows no limits and never fails.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Could It be, that God says of Me, "That's My Girl! I'm So Proud of Her!"

I sat back in my chair, on a warm summer night, and watched her play soccer.

I could easily pick out who she was, on the field, even from a distance. She is my daughter. I know her. Pigtails popping back and forth, long legged and graceful like a gazelle, she floated down the field.

Watching her brought me joy.

She maneuvered fancy footwork.  She fell down and bounced right back, still going strong.  She kicked for a goal and scored! She kicked for another goal, and missed. She "high-fived" a team mate, with a word of encouragement. She kept on going.

I smiled to myself, "That's my girl! I'm so proud of her!" 

I love watching her run and play and try her best, even when she falls, and even when she has a hard game.  I am proud of her, not just in soccer, but because of who she is.

As I sat there, I found myself wondering -- when the Lord watches me live and persevere and try my best, even when I fall, could it be, that He thinks of Me, "That's my girl!  I'm so proud of her!"

The problem is, I don't always look at the Lord as being happy with me.

I see Him frustrated or critical or disappointed or angry.

What about all the times I fall down and don't just pop back up?  What about when I am no longer strong, but overwhelmed and weak?  What about the goals I've missed and the times I've failed?  Or the ways I've let others down or Him down or myself down?  What about all the broken places in me that are not beautiful? 

I see Him displeased with me.

But the Lord is trying to help me see differently.

He's been showing me and telling me, in a myriad of ways, "Dear daughter, no matter what, when I look at you, I say 'That's My girl!' I know you, I made you, I love you, I chose you and I rejoice over you. Believe it! Even when you fall, even when you fail, even when you are tired and don't know what to do, even in your brokenness, I still love you. I love you, not for what you do or don't do, but because you are Mine.  You're my girl!"

I've needed these words in the past few weeks. I've needed the reminder that He's watching me, watching over me, and cheering me on. He unfailingly adores me. 

From time to time, I doubt His love for me. When I mess up or want to give up or when my faults and failures in the present and past cloud my vision, I flounder.  But I'm asking Him to help me to see what He sees and believe what He says, "That's My girl! I'm so proud of her!" 

Maybe you need these words today, too.

Let me pray for us.

Dear Lord, help us to see who we are from Your perspective.  Help us to believe that You love us and look on us with great care, not critically.  Help us to believe that You are fond of us, not frustrated with us. Help us to believe that you are devoted to us, not disappointed in us. Help us to see ourselves as You see us, not perfect, but saved by Your Son, and chosen and dearly loved.  Forever. Amen

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And the Winner of the Woman's Study Bible is ...

For those of you who entered the Woman's Study Bible Give Away, I wrote your names on little yellow slips of paper, folded them up, tossed them around on my work space for today (which is my ottoman), prayed that the Lord would have me choose the person He's already chosen (does that even make sense?)  and picked the winner ... 


Betty, I'll be in touch and get you this great source of encouragement and refreshment!

For those of you who are still interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can find it on Amazon (click here)  I'm thinking of getting one for myself! 

When I posted the Give Away (click here) I asked you all to share one of your favorite attributes about the Lord.  Oooooh, I received some very encouraging truths that have blessed me over the past days, and I've sure needed them. Here are a few, to encourage you, too:

*Michelle:  My favorite attribute of God is His faithfulness.  He never gives up on me.  I honestly would expect Him to at times.  There have been so many times that I behave in unpleasing ways to Him. I choose to doubt, to throw pity parties, to get angry, to be impatient, to be disobedient and want to run the other way from what He is asking me to do and yet, in spite of my ungodliness, He still is there for me, taking care of me, blessing me, showing Himself to me. Only God could do this.

*  Carol:  God is the definition of love.  Knowing this has helped me to understand His mercy, grace, forgiveness, sacrifice, discipline, etc ... 

*  Crystal:  God is our Provider.  He continues to amaze me with all the ways He cares for my family. His provision has been far better than anything I could have asked or imagined.

*  Megan: God is my Hope.  "we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).

*  Joanna:  God is sovereign! He is totally aware of all things at all times, therefore, I don't have to try and control my own life, nor anyone else's life! 

*  Jenny:  Mercy! 

*  Alisa:  He is our Abba Father and I can rest in Him!

* Betty:  God is El Roi! The God who sees all!  

Isn't it a great encouragement to know that we are not alone?  Not only does the Lord give us Himself, He gives us each other.  I don't know about you, but I need Him and I need the women in my life that He gives me -- women who are willing to live out their faith, give grace, share wisdom and push me more and more towards the Lord.

Let's link arms and walk together, holding on to Him, holding on to each other, and holding on tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise (Hebrews 10:23 NLT). 

Know that I am here for you. Feel free to email me (click here) and share your story with me.  I'd count it a privilege to pray for you! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Woman's Study Bible Giveaway!

I was recently contacted to review The Woman's Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson, and sent a copy to post about and share with one of you!

Wow! What a treasure! 

This study Bible (NIV) is a beautiful addition to any woman's collection of God's Word.

This Bible uniquely speaks to issues that women are faced with day after day. Special notes addressing subjects such as distress, competition, problem solving, the challenge of a career, God's providence, the attributes of God and more, provide points to ponder and wisdom to apply from God's Word.

In addition, character portraits of over one hundred women (women like you and me!) are shared.  From Eve in Genesis to the Widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings to Gomer in Hosea, The Persistent Widow in Luke and Chloe in 1 Corinthians, women of the Old Testament  and New Testament are brought to life and made more real through a deeper investigation in to who they were, how they struggled and/or how they walked with the Lord.

As an added bonus, wise words from women who love the Lord and His Word, are scattered throughout the pages, giving us an added perspective on life and the power of God's Word. 

This Bible has blessed me, even in the short time that I glanced through the pages.  I would highly recommend it to any woman, regardless of whether you've just started to think about the Lord or you've walked with Him for many years.   

Therefore, I would like to give away the copy of this treasure to one of you! 

Either leave a comment, sharing with me your favorite attribute about God, in the comment section, or email me (here). In one week, Thursday, June 27, I will randomly pick one of you and send you a copy of this Bible.  Check back, and I will post the winner, whom I believe God has already picked out ahead of time, right here on that day! 

If you'd like to discover more about the Woman's Study Bible (click here) to view it on Amazon, where you can consider purchasing it for yourself! 

Let me leave you with this quote from Dorothy Kelley Patterson (page 1571) "Living by faith is not easy, but it is essential.  It is the only weapon for adversity that cannot fail."  Take heart, my friends, and persevere in the faith and in seeking God in His Word! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Strong Willed Son is Growing Up -- Celebrating Him


Memories fill my morning.

Today is my youngest son’s birthday and today he graduates from eighth grade. 

I’m smiling as I remember him, and I am crying tears of joy and tears of transition. Birthdays and graduations -- to me, there is something very reflectively Holy about them.

I ran across this photo of him a couple of days ago. 

On his fifth birthday, he received a plastic replica of the Armor of God.  He’d gear up and march around the house, fending off evil and bringing justice. His name, William, means ‘strong protector,’ and that was his quest.  He liked that his name meant that, and would often say, “I am your strong protector, Mom!”  I loved that!

Truth is, he was a little guy, strong-willed and filled with life, often more of a ‘won’t’ than a Will. 

One day, when he was three years old, I pulled up early to pick him up from preschool.  I watched him as he ran and played on the playground.  The preschool teacher called all of the children to line up outside of the door, to go back in to the classroom.

The children ran to the door and began to line up.  William lagged slightly (probably wanting to get in any extra moment of play) and then made his way to the front of the line, a line that was already formed.  The teacher gently took his little shoulders in her hands and led him to the back of the line.

“William, you need to get in line behind the last person. That’s how we line up. We don’t just go to the front of the line.”

He looked up at her and nodded.  She turned her back and walked away, and he, in a very deliberate act of independence, took one step outside of the line and stood still. He would stay in the back, but he would do it his way.

Today, he graduates from that same school where he started out, in preschool.  Strong-willed then, strong in the Lord, now.

Yes, he was a strong-willed child, but I’ve learned over the years, that it’s okay. (Take heart, my younger friends with strong-willed children)! 

Now I see how God is using it for good and is shaping his character.  My son is strong and gentle.  He knows when to be goofy and when to get serious (most of the time).  He loves his brother who has special needs and loves his three sisters, who try to rule the roost. He plays hard, works hard, and loves deeply.  He understands rules much better than he did when he was little, but also does things his own way, but in a good way. He is compassionate, kind, and thoughtful of others. He is sometimes loud and forgets to use the volume switch, but he is fun.

Although he is not perfect, God knew that he is the perfect son for me.

My prayer for him this year, as he continues in to manhood is that he will continue to gear up, not in a plastic replica, but in the true Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). I pray that he will not depend on himself to be strong, but will look to the Lord for his strength.  He’s going to need it. And I pray that he will both know the Lord as his protector and that he will, in turn, have a heart that is called to protect others, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with his Lord (Micah 6:8). And I pray that he will maintain his joyful outlook on life, continue to laugh, and walk boldly in to the future, not fearful but confident in who he is. Because he is a great guy.  

Happy Birthday, young man and Happy Graduation.  I am so proud of you and so thankful to be your mom. I celebrate you!
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