Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: On Your Way

I had an all day meeting yesterday at our district office.  It was a wonderful day of encouragement with fellow ministry leaders and pastors, as we had some training on different aspects of the ministry. We ate lunch together, talked and laughed.  

After the meeting, I stayed and met with my mentor and another friend who quizzed me on some of my consecration questions. I appreciate this time I can meet with her to go over the questions and solidify my answers each month before my future exam. 

Then we went out to dinner with other friends and it was a fun few hours, chatting, swapping stories and laughing.  It was one of those days that I wish didn't have to end. In fact, when my friend offered to let me spend the night I was so tempted. But I knew I had things to do here so I reluctantly headed home.  I didn't want to come back to my reality. Not because I don't like it here, but because I was enjoying my mountaintop experience.

It reminded me of the other day when I read the following passage:

Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (HCSB) ~

“The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Negev and the sea coast—to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the Euphrates River. See, I have set the land before you. Enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their future descendants.’"

Horeb was called the Mountain of God and Mt. Sinai.  It was there that Moses received the ten commandments and there that the Lord spoke to him. I'm sure it was a sweet place of communion and rest. It was a place that was lush and plentiful. But the time had come to come off the mountain and start their journey.  They needed to get moving and God tells them, "On your way!" "Start moving."

It's hard to start moving when we've had those mountaintop experiences. The Israelites journey was going to be difficult.  This passage lays out the path they took, and mentions the Negev which was an arid, difficult land. They would be hungry, thirsty and tired and yet, they knew what lay at the end of the journey. The promised land was coming.

We too, have those mountaintop experiences with God and they help to get us through the desert places in our lives. In those moments of sweet fellowship and rest, we hear from Him and He ministers to us so that we can keep moving forward. We can't stay on the mountain indefinitely.

We have a long journey ahead that will go through some rough, dangerous places. But at the end of our journey we'll be in the promised land.  Soak up those mountain top experiences when they come because they are refreshing, but then get up and get on your way.

There is a promised land ahead!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I was disappointed by someone this week. I was let down, felt betrayed and taken advantage of. When this happens, and it has happened through the years with different people, I want to run away, get out of the ministry and just find some quiet corner of the earth to hide away in. It seems as if change is painstakingly slow and will never happen.

But I can't hide away from people, and I know without a doubt that God called us into the ministry so I'm left to sort out my tangled emotions, pray, forgive and move on. It feels like a mess that will never unravel.  

However, when I consider Christ's work on the cross and all he has forgiven me for, I know that He can sort this out too.  I know that he can bear fruit even in what seems like a mess. I know that just as He forgives me for many mess-ups, I too must forgive. It's in the extending of forgiveness comes my own growth.

As we enter into the next two weeks and reflect on Christ's atoning work on the cross, I'm also reflecting on my ability to forgive others and to extend grace and mercy because of what Jesus did for me.  I can spend my life hiding or wishing people were different or even complaining about other's failings. Or I can move forward in the knowledge that I too, am broken and in need of a Savior.

I want to follow where God leads, even down those broken paths with broken people, strong and confident in the knowledge that He is with me, helping me to become more like Him each day. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Monday Goal Setting

I have a meeting first thing in the morning so I'm working on this tonight. I love Mondays for many reasons and this is one of them. I like having a fresh start and moving forward with my goals each week. Typing this up each week and being able to come back and cross them off has done much to help me keep focused and reach my goals.

The past few weeks I could feel myself crossing the line from busy to overextended. I love doing many things and do get bored easily, but there comes a point when I know I need to let go of something because I'm not doing anything to the best of my ability. I get in this frantic pace which is leading me towards a crash! Dan and I had some good conversations this past week and he helped me get some clarity. 

I took a look at what I'm doing and made a decision about what I could let go of in order to free up some time. I let our worship leader know that I needed to step off the worship team for a time. I love singing and it is the one thing that is really fun for me, but I just can't keep spreading myself so thin and that is something that takes up one night a week plus early Sunday.  

I had also been toying with the idea of doing the weekly summer farmer's market that is down the road from my house, but decided that I don't want to tie myself down to that. Instead I'll do events here or there but not on a regular basis. Both my 3D Kids program and the youth group will be ending for the summer and rather than replace it with something, I'm going to use the summer months to focus on home, family and my consecration papers that I need to write. I do feel a bit of the burden lifted which is a good feeling. 

Onward and upward!

Goals for the week of March 19-25, 2018:

Spiritual/Personal Development

1. Personal Bible reading and prayer at least 5 out of the 7 days (goal met last week).
2. Required reading for consecration & personal development:

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
The Broken Way by Ann VosKamp


1. Go out to breakfast one morning this week.


1. Make Emily's favorite dish for Friday night.
2. Schedule appointment for her to get her hair cut

Weight Loss

1. Gym 3 times.
2. I must work on a better eating plan and not snacking after dinner.


1. Put together lesson and project for Thursday night's 3D Kids 
2. Meet with hotel staff for upcoming retreat
3. In-Service training (consecration requirement) at our district office
4. Meet with my mentor for dinner and working through some of the consecration questions
5. Board of Ministries meeting on Tuesday night - Didn't get back in time
6. Work on items for retreat
7. Come up with something for palm branches for Sunday
8. Put together games for Sunday night's youth group

Craft Business 

1. Make a couple of things for Etsy shop
2. Buy fabric for custom order


1. Deep clean Emily's room for her spring break
2. Deep clean bathrooms
3. Clean sunroom

Have a wonderful week!

For Those Days When You Want to Give Up

It was one of those days.  You know what I'm talking about.  A day when nothing went right.  Harsh thoughts turned into harsh words that flew off my lips.  When I wanted to hide away in my room and never come out.  It was the kind of day when I thought, "Why do I even try?"  A day when I couldn't take one more burden on without feeling like my back was going to break.  When my spirit seemed to close up inside of me. 

So often our hearts can feel as if they are surrounded by ice and cold.  We are frozen in our tracks by whatever overwhelming situation we face.  No amount of sun will cause the frigid temperatures to warm.  We are faced with an unending situation that wraps icy fingers around us and we want to give up.  "What's the use?"  "Why do I even try?"

Yet as believers, we have hope.  Hope that the Son will melt the ice that is forming around our hearts.  Hope in knowing that the Lord forgives and has mercy.  Hope that tomorrow will bring renewed vision and determination.  Hope that we will begin to warm.  Hope that only the love of our Heavenly Father can bring.

Romans 5:13 (NLT) ~

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer today is that you will experience that joy and peace today, as you experience the hope we have in Christ Jesus.  May the SON warm your hearts today.

God provides the hope you need on those days when you want to give up.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

When God Wants You to Open Your Fist and Let Go

"Why can't you just do what I ask?", I wailed. As the words came pouring out of my mouth I could hear the desire to control in them. I winced. Once again I wanted to have things done my way. I want control, not because I want to be all powerful or be "the boss."  I want control because being out of control makes me lose the feeling of safety and orderliness. Being in control means everything is right with the world and there is peace in my soul.

But God didn't call me to a life of being in control. Everything that I do in following Him is about relinquishing my desire to be in charge of my life.  "Let go, be still and know that I am God." is what He says. That may mean the things that I deem safe and reliable are the things that I need to let go. 

Letting go means that I may lose something. Relinquishing my hold may mean that God has a different plan for my life than I have. It may mean that God is working in someone else and my holding tightly or trying to control is preventing God's work in their life. 

My daughter was in a minor car accident on Thursday morning. She was a passenger in the car and as they were turning left across a lane of traffic, a car coming the opposite direction hit the right bumper on the passenger side.  She has some bumps and bruises from the airbag, but is okay. But I was reminded once again that I have no control over anything. I can do everything I can to keep my family safe, but a random driver and crumpled steel can do damage in a second.

I was reminded that just the day before I had prayed that He would work in my children's lives, and that He would do whatever necessary to keep them grounded in Him. Perhaps that fender bender is part of His plan? If I hold too tightly, I can prevent even God from working.

So as I open my hands and let go of those things I tightly clutch, I do feel a bit of panic. But I also know that when I open my fist and let God take my insecurities, my gifts, my desires, my children, my friends and family that He will always replace them with good, good gifts. Gifts for my benefit. Gifts that will help me grow in Him. Gifts that will draw me closer to Him.

I know that I have no control over the wind, waves or seasons. But unlike what I believe at times, I also have no control over anything in my life. The bit of control I think I do have is just an illusion. But when the Lord sees that I'm willing to give up even that false control, it allows Him to work in my life. 

Psalm 46:10-11 (NASB) ~

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Being Pruned

It seems as if I go through many stages in my life of being stretched and pulled and pruned. As much as it pains me to say, God is not finished with me yet and I have so much growth that needs to happen in my life.  I wrote the following a few years ago, but it's applicable to my situation today so I thought I'd remind myself again.

John 15:1-8 (NIV) ~
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Pruning is necessary to produce fruit in my life and yet, it hurts.  I don't like the trimming away of dead wood and leaves.  I want to shout, "Leave me alone!"  But the Lord knows what is good for me.  He sees the branches that need trimming. 
Another branch falls to the ground and another bad habit or attitude is trimmed away.  "Lord, I don't like this."  "Why must there always be something that has to be cut?"  And he reminds me that he wants me to bear fruit and not just some fruit but MUCH fruit.
Which is why I must be pruned.  As much as it hurts, it is necessary for my good.  I feel stretched and pulled outside my comfort zone and I truly want to climb back in my box.  I want to go back to my safety zone where it's familiar.
But He continues to trim and chop away at the dead foliage.  He carefully cuts back the branches so that I will grow and produce and be fruitful.  It's hard and it hurts.  It is not a pleasant process but the end result is so sweet.  If I just allow him to prune, I will ripen and mature.
My ripening glorifies the Father.  When I show fruit in my life, it points to Him.  Bearing fruit is a responsibility of all believers but that will only happen through the careful pruning of the vineyard keeper.  I will only grow when I allow the Lord to work in my life and reveal and cut away those rotting branches and leaves.  It's hard but worth it in the end.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: Tipping the Scales

John 5:41-44 ~

I do not accept glory from men but I know you--that you have no love for God within you. I have come in My Father's name, yet you don't accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God."

The Greek word, doxa (glory), that is used in this passage when used in relation to God's glory means God has infinite, intrinsic worth. His very character and essence are worthy of honor and highest esteem. There is nothing trivial about Him. God has weight and is greater in magnitude in wisdom, authority, power, grandeur and desirability than all else. He has earned our good opinion of Him. 

The Pharisees were so intent on achieving their own self-righteousness and importance that they missed the very one they said they were seeking. The Messiah was standing right before them, but they missed Him because they were focusing on themselves. They were trying to receive the honor and high esteem that can only be attributed to God. They were looking to men to stroke their egos instead of focusing on what the Lord desired of them.

How often do we fall into that trap? We look to people for our affirmation. We want others to recognize our good works. We feel slighted when we are overlooked or ignored or what we do goes unnoticed. Yet, the only opinion we should be seeking is what God thinks about us. 

Our scales are weighted down on the wrong side. We place man's opinion as heavier than God's and yet, He carries the greater weight. We measure ourselves against what others think rather than seeking out God's glory.

Let's tip the scales back to their proper place. Whatever you do, make sure you are doing it to bring God the glory and not yourself. When we are doing it with the right motive, it is a sweet, sweet thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Son is Still Shining

It snowed over night and there is a winter storm warning with amounts ranging from 10-18".  I had to laugh at our church sign this morning.If this keeps up, it won't be hard to find brightly colored Easter eggs!

At this point I am so ready for spring and it feels like it will never come. However, I saw little shoots springing up in my garden bed the other day and some song birds have made their way back north.  So regardless of how I feel, spring will get here.

That is so true in our spiritual lives too. So often as we face a daunting trial and hard times it feels as if we will never come through it.  We get bogged down emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sometimes, physically. The skies are gray and it seems as if the sun will never shine again. But the thing that we need to remember is that the SON is always shining. God is there and walking through the valley with us.  When we keep our eyes on Him, we will find our way through and come out the other side.  

I'm not sure what storm you are going through today, but I felt led to share that truth. Keep your eyes on Jesus, keep moving forward and remember that He has power over the waves that are crashing over your head.