Friday, December 30, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE...Pruning has purpose

My husband is currently reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud entitled, “Necessary Endings”. He pointed out a chapter in the book to me about pruning. Even though the book is referring to the necessity of pruning in business at times, the same concept is just as imperative in our spiritual being. The book defines pruning as…

“removing whatever it is in our business or life whose reach is unwanted or superfluous.”

When I think about pruning, I think about a bonsai tree. As the tree grows, the pruner must be careful and intricate about cutting the branches to develop the correct size and shape. What is interesting ....


Thursday, December 29, 2011

THANKFUL beginning!

It is hard to believe that we have arrived at the last THANKFUL THURSDAY post for this year. As I reflect back over the past 12 months, I see alot of things. In our family we had a wedding, a birth, and a death. In my spiritual walk, I have experienced some persecution, some growth, and a change of direction.

2011 seems to have been a year for change for me. Some good change, and some awkward change. But thru it all God has been with me, in fact, He has been one step ahead of me, preparing the way, preparing my heart and preparing for my tomorrow.

In the man's eye, we put things in a box that is regulated by time. If we cannot regulate events of our life according to the calendar or the watch, it is difficult for us to have control or even understanding. But God does not limit Himself to the expectations of man or the time restrains of the calendar. He cannot be restrained by the habits of man. Man dictates harvest according to what his calendar says. He hunts during one season so he can have plenty for another season. God  is not like that. In fact, He makes a way in the wilderness and a way for rivers in the desert...

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…" (Isaiah 43:18-19)

I think that the prophet is asking a very timely question for you and I today, "Can you not perceive what He is doing?"  The pharisees were hard in heart, and refused to see that their self righteous attitudes stood between them and seeing what was clearly in front of them...God and His righteousness! It is my prayer that I do not become like a pharisee, and miss out on what God is doing. It can be easy to get caught up in my agenda, my plan, and my way and totally miss out on what God's plan is.

If God can make a way in the wilderness and provide running waters in the desert, how much more can He make something new for you and me? 2011 is gone. We cannot get that back. But 2012 is just around the corner and I believe that God is making something new for each of us. We need to be open to it, embrace it and trust Him for it!

I am very thankful for everything that has happened in my life in 2011. The joys, the tears, the heartache, the sadness, the blessings, the hardships...all of it, it has made me who I am today and because of God, I can look forward to a new year as He prepares a new way for me.

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am joining Iris who is hosting TT this week. Please join your grateful heart with ours by linking your post. Next week, TT will be found right here at womentakingastand! :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Another Christmas has come and gone. So much thought, work and decorating goes into this cherished holiday, but almost as quick as it comes, it passes quickly. The presents are opened, the cookies are eaten, the guests have gone home. Now there is only one thing left to do...pack away Christmas!

In years past, I have not always been patient with packing away the Christmas decorations. By the end of Christmas night, I have looked at the twinkling lights, the shiny balls and the fallen pine needles long enough and I am anxious to put it all away. In the hustle of trying to get my house back in order, I have not always wrapped precious ornaments like I should. I usually do not notice the effects of my carelessness until the next Christmas when I unwrap my treasures and find that my carelessness from the year before caused damage.

One thing that I have always taken tender care of packing away is my large porcelain nativity figures. I don't just use plain tissue to wrap them like I do my ornaments, I use thick towels and wrap them tight. The resting place for all of our Christmas decorations all year is out in the garage, except for my nativity figures, they have a special place in my back storeroom in the house.

Isn't it funny that I take more care of those than my other treasures?

Spiritually speaking, I think we do the same thing. Some things are easier to take care of than others. I would never dream of mistreating my Lord and Savior, but yet when it comes to some other treasures, such as joy, peace, and patience, I don't take as much care. I can become careless with those things along with my kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We may not see it right away, but just like my ornaments, eventually over time our carelessness will cause damage.

 GALATIANS 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."

As you pack away Christmas, be sure to not pack away Christ! Take tender care of the treasures that God has placed within you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...what does the wrapping have to do with it?

If you are anything like me, you are probably knee deep in wrapping. With just 5 more days until Christmas, we are all feeling the crunch. The dining table is easily turned into a array of paper, ribbons, bows, scissors and tape. With each gift, creating the perfect package is almost as important as finding the perfect gift.

I always said that "presentation" was everything. If you had two gifts wrapped under the tree, one in beautiful gold foil and bright ribbon and the other wrapped in day old newspaper tied with string, which do you suppose would be more attractive and appealing? Most of us would overlook the one in newspaper and go for the shine and beauty.

But the truth is, the wrapping does not reveal what the gift inside contains. After all, Jesus was not born in a palace, with golden archways and marble floors. He was born in a stable. He was clothed in rags and laid in a feeding trough. Jesus was the most amazing gift ever given to us, but the presentation of His arrival, the wrapping of such a wonderful gift did not diminish the importance of His birth.

If anything, the wrapping of that first Christmas gift reminds me of the beauty that lies within simplicity. Jesus Christ came to us in the most simple and humble way. Wrapped in swaddling cloths, layed in a manger, born where the animals rest ... I can't think of anything more simple and humble.

So, as I wrap these last gifts this week I can't help but to think back to that first Christmas gift and realize that the wrapping has nothing to do with what the gift represents. Love, joy, peace and forgiveness is the best gift you will ever unwrap.

LUKE 2:9-12 "And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

The beauty is in the gift, not the wrapping!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not just an ordinary ornament!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is putting up the tree. After 30 years of marriage, we have so many ornaments that have special meanings. It's funny that even after many years have gone by, we still can look at the ornament and be flooded with memories.

For instance, on our tree, we have an ornament that my grandmother (who has gone to be with the Lord) made many years ago. My daughter this year pulled it out of the box and said "What's this?" and proudly I said, "My Grandmother made THAT!"

Also on our tree are some very cherished ornaments. The ones that the kids made in school when they were younger have so much meaning. But, I remember one year I was going to decorate the tree in all blue ornaments and my son (now 21) said, "NO MOM! You have to put our ornaments on the tree!"

This year, we have adorned our Christmas tree with yet another special ornament. An ornament that last year we received as a gift that was hand painted by one of our kids.

As I gaze over at our tree adorned with such beautiful memories, I can't help but think about how we often times attach memories to certain objects. The emotions that often come attached to those memories can instantly turn a common, ordinary object into a wonderful treasure!

I would imagine that is how it was for Mary. Every time she saw a manger after that first Christmas Eve, it must have taken her back to memories of the stable. Her thoughts must have raced back to that one life changing moment when her baby was born a Savior. A stable, hay and animals set the stage, there was nothing extraordinary about that, but yet from that, a wonderful treasure was brought forth.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

I wonder, this Christmas, what kind of ornaments have memory and special meaning for you? Not just the kind that hang on your tree, but maybe you have something that appears ordinary to the common eye but when you look past the outer appearance you see the beauty, the treasure of it.

That is exactly what God does when He looks at us. He does not see what we see. He sees beauty in His masterpiece. What we see as ordinary, He sees as a wonderful treasure. He sees the ornament in all of us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE...The grinch that steals Christmas!

Today I have shared a devotion over at LACED WITH GRACE entitled "The Grinch who steals Christmas" The Who's of Whoville are not the only ones who have to contend with a slimy, present-stealing grinch...there is a grinch lurking around your household trying to rob you of your gifts also, the ones that God has bestowed upon you. CLICK HERE to read this post!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...stoking the fire

This time of year, when the air is crisp and cold and the furnace is working overtime, there is nothing like sitting close to a rip roaring fire. Nothing like pulling your chair close to the fire, curled up with your favorite blanket and a good read. Every once in awhile, as the fire snaps and cracks, you may need to add another log to the fire to keep it going. Some call that "stoking the fire."

Spiritually speaking, "Stoking the fire" has another meaning. Stoking the fire means doing things that really causes us to focus on God. Our love and passion for Him and His ways take on purpose when we stoke the fire.

Just like the fire in the fireplace, if we do not add more firewood, eventually the fire will go out. Our spiritual firewood comes from reading God's Word, communicating with God daily in prayer, seeking His will and not ours, giving sacrificially both monetarily and with our time, having a servants heart in all that we do. Each one of these things have a purpose and the more we do for Him and His Kingdom, the more our fire will be stoked.

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes One Who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." -John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11)

Many times we associate a fire with getting burnt and even though it is true that we can easily become burnt by a consuming fire, the kind of consuming fire that John the Baptist experienced is the kind that God offers. The kind that will never leave us disappointed or burnt. But it isn't enough to just HAVE the fire, we have to KEEP the fire stoked!

Aren't you thankful for the fire? It is so important that we keep that fire stoked, it is so easy to slip on our time with God and slowly see the embers begin to fade. I am so thankful that my daily walk with God keeps those embers glowing and fire ablazing. What are you grateful for today? Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY today, please join us!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Christmas count!

If you have been to the store lately, than there is no denying that we are inundated with the Christmas shopping season. Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas ornaments, Christmas cards, Christmas dishes, Christmas towels...the stores have not missed out on merchandising what they believe Christmas is all about. The sale ads dictate to us what THEY think that WE should buy.

But as THEY count down the number of days left for shopping for Christmas, I would like to suggest that we don't just count down to that final shopping day but instead may we make these next couple of weeks count!

This year, I have decided to put alittle more effort, alittle more work and alittle bit more heart into our Christmas. Instead of buying those high dollar toys, over priced Ugg boots or underrated PS3 games, I am making most of my gifts this year. For those of you who do not know me personally, you cannot appreciate what a stretch this may be, seeing as I am not the craftiest person. However, after a 3 hour trip to our local Hobby Lobby, I have found that making, creating my own gifts this season is not as hard as I have made it out to be.

I have found that a small bottle of paint, a wooden letter, some ribbon and a hot glue gun can make something from nothing! And when I add a very special, personal photograph, it makes it so heartfelt. It makes a memory come alive!

LUKE 6:38 "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure  you use in giving - large or small - it will be used to measure what is given back to you."

Christmas is not just about giving gifts, whether they are store bought or made at home. Christmas to me cannot be found in your local mall, but it is found in your heart. Making Christmas count may just be putting that long to-do list aside and doing only the things that matter, such as calling an old friend who may be spending this Christmas alone; baking some cookies and visiting your local nursing home to share some love, letting the frazzled mom with two screaming kids go ahead of you in the checkout line, surprising a stranger by paying for their lunch while at your local Cracker Barrel.

Just like I have found many creative ways to express love with my Christmas gifts this year, there are so many other ways that we can express love to others this busy season.

All we have to do is slow down, seize the opportunity and make Christmas count!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: the stone rolled away!

"That is impossible!"

Have you ever heard that said? Maybe someone has even said that to you. Alot of things are difficult but I don't know if I agree that things are impossible. Well... with God anyway, nothing is impossible!

After all, the life of Jesus on this earth starts with an impossibility and ends with an impossibility: a virgins birth and an empty tomb. I once heard it said that Jesus entered thru a door marked NO ENTRANCE and left thru a door marked NO EXIT!

Many times we face very difficult situations that seem nearly impossible to overcome, such things as sickness, death, divorce, addictions, persecution, loneliness and depression. But I am glad to tell you my friend, that Jesus is standing at  your door that is marked NO WAY and He is waiting for you to open the door and let Him in.

LUKE 24:2 "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb."

Many stood around that day and probably gasped with surprise when they saw the stone rolled away. The mission was for Jesus to die, to keep Him down for the count, but as that first Easter story unfolds, we see that there was a "Mission Impossible" planned... one that would have a different ending than predicted.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in one of those "impossible" situations. The kind that feels like a BIG stone has been rolled in front of us and the door of difficulty seems like it will never be opened again. I have been in some of those kind of situations before, where it felt like the mission was to keep me down, to kill me, destroy me. In the process of my tomb being closed up I found myself to be alone. Some of those friends that I thought were my closest of closest friends even deserted me. Some even betrayed me.

Sound familiar? I think that is exactly what happened to Jesus. Only a few believed. Only a few stood watch. And only a few were not surprised at what happened on Easter morning. He arose! The stone was rolled away! He was alive!

If you find yourself in one of those "mission impossible" moments like I was, you may need what I found in my impossible Easter morning experience. Allow God to show up in your situation and roll away your stone,  you will once again feel alive and brand new and your mission will no longer be impossible but with God, all things will be possible!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, and I am very grateful not only for His resurrection but for giving me hope when I need some stones rolled away in my life. Please join your grateful heart with ours by visiting IRIS who is hosting TT this month!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Being in control!

I wonder how many of you reading this today like to be in control? There are many things that I like to be in control of... I like being in control of what I eat and what I don't eat. I like being in control of scheduling my day. I like being in control of where I go on vacation. All of these things are important for one to be in control of, but sometimes in life there are circumstances and events that are totally out of our control.

Even though we cannot always control the things that happen in our life, we can control how we react. When our minds are controlled by the Holy Spirit, we have a new sense of what control is. No matter what may come your way, no matter how difficult or dark your situation may seem, having the Holy Spirit in your life will allow you to control your response.

Control really isn't all that it is cracked up to be. Some people like to control people. In your relationships, at your job, even at church. This kind of control is different than what I am talking about though. This kind of control is what I call "manipulation". This kind of control is destructive. Not only in relationships but in ministry.

Having control is not the main is what you do with your control that is most important. Controlling others is not the same as allowing the Holy Spirit to have control in your life. One is destructive and the other is obedience.

ROMANS 8:6 "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit is life and peace." (NIV)

When it comes to having control in your life, respond with godly thinking and not with sinful instincts such as manipulation. Doing so will take "being in control" to a whole new level.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...the forgotten holiday!

I cannot believe it, but another Thanksgiving time has arrived! It is the holiday that I most look forward to. I love cooking all of my families favorite dishes and getting together with all of the family. Laughing, eating, more laughing, watching football, and going to late night movies. Unfortunately though Thanksgiving seems to be a forgotten holiday. It is just a "Thursday off of work" sandwiched in between Halloween and Christmas.

If you don't agree with me, just look at your local walmart and just see how much Thanksgiving decor you can find. I went today on a hunt for some special Thanksgiving dinnerware but to my dismay found nothing! There were already aisles of Christmas decor and even a clearance aisle of leftover Halloween decor...but NO Thanksgiving merchandise.

I cannot believe that so many people miss out on one of the greatest holidays. It seems like the focus of Thanksgiving has been taken from giving thanks for His plenty to making out shopping lists for the morning after. Somehow our idea of Thanksgiving has gone haywire. We have forgotten all about that first Thanksgiving, you know the one with the Pilgrims and Indians!

On that first Thanksgiving in 1621, the feast was to celebrate and show gratitude for survival. After being in America within a year, the Pilgrims lost half of their population due to starvation and disease. The Pilgrims hosted that first feast not to try out new recipes, but to celebrate life with their Indian friends and to show gratitude to God for His provision during difficult times.

It is my prayer that we will never forget what this holiday means. Not just today but each and every day may we all have the attitude like the celebrate life and show gratitude to God for His provision.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY and I am so glad that showing gratitude is not just a day, but it is an attitude of our heart. May we never forget to give thanks to God in ALL circumstances. The good ones, the bad ones, the sad ones, the happy ones. In all things...give thanks!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...infinity and beyond!

While I was in school, math was not always my strength. I enjoyed classes like accounting but when it came to advanced Algebra or mind had a hard time keeping up. Even though I did not understand everything about mathematical equations, one thing I fully comprehended was infinity. A number in math with infinity power is a number that goes on and on. It has no end.
Grasping this math concept was easy for me because I understood what infinite power was. I don't mean in math, but the infinite power of God!

PSALM 147:5 “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.”  KJV

Just like some math equations, there are some equations in life that I simply do not understand. I do not understand why loved ones get cancer. I do not understand why babies are born that are unwanted. I do not understand why people have to live on the street and go hungry. I do not understand why some people struggle while others have it easy. I do not understand why our prisons are busting out of the seams with inmates. I do not understand why people hurt other people. I simply do not understand everything.

Did you know that it is not for us to understand everything? The ups and downs of life are not for us to worry about. The only thing that we need to understand is that God is in control. He sees everything. He is all knowing. He understands our hurt, our pain, our loss. And He will turn it around for good.

God's love for us is endless. His message of hope is endless. His compassion, His joy, and His encouragement is endless. His ways are infinite. There is no end. It goes on and on and on.

Trusting in God is like going to infinity and beyond!

There is no end to what God can do for you! Do you understand and fully comprehend this my friend?

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


PSALM 118:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."

As we quickly approach Thanksgiving of 2011, I can't help but to look back over the past 11 months and trace God's hand. From the first day of January to today, He has led me, guided me, provided for me, healed me, seen me thru some difficult times and at all times He has loved me and believed in me.

It is a tradition in our home to take a moment around the table to give special thanks. As I begin to make preparations for the holiday feast, I have asked God to also prepare my grateful heart. So I am getting a head start on things here on Thankful Thursday by offering up my top ten THANKFUL list for 2011...

#10. I am thankful for surviving a cold, wintry January. 3 things that I couldn't do without ... central heat, hot chocolate and my electric heating blanket!

#9. I am thankful for being able to receive my 31st valentine from my one and only valentine. God has given us so many great years together and I am blessed to be married to my best friend for over 30 years.

#8. I am thankful for God's provision. Even in times of turmoil and unstable financial times, He is still an on-time God! Heat, Air, food, clothing, and luxuries such as the washing machine, microwave and Internet service can be all taken for granted. I'm thankful for all of it!

#7. I am thankful for good health. A common cold, a slight headache and a sinus infection is nothing compared to cancer, lupus or chronic depression. Without good health, I may not be able to work, or enjoy day to day activities.

#6. I am thankful for good memories. Even in the shadow of death of a loved one, I can always cherish memories of a last smile, a last conversation and a last "I love you." Alot of things can be taken from us but our memories stay intact.

#5. I am thankful for my Dad. Even though we were separated for 40 years, the few short years we had together were a blessing. I am grateful to be reunited with him before God took him home this year.

#4. I am thankful for our freedoms. Not only for the American freedoms I enjoy but also the freedom to worship my Lord freely and safely in our Country. I am truly thankful to be an American!

#3. I am thankful for the tests and trials that God has seen me thru. They have caused me to step out of my comfort zone and strengthen my trust in God.

#2. I am thankful for my beautiful family and for their love and support. During times that nobody else has been there for me, my family has been. I am grateful for the love, support and faithfulness of my beloved for over 30 years. I am grateful for the trust God gave me to raise 4 of His beautiful children. (David, Jeremy, Jordan and Anna) I am grateful for the godly mates that our children have chosen (Sue, Rachel, Krista) and lastly I am so grateful for our first grandchild born recently. Family is a never ending circle of love!

AND THE #1 reason I am grateful in 2011...

#1. I am thankful for salvation and everything that comes with it. Love, forgiveness, acceptance and deliverance. I could not and would not want to face one day without God. He is the reason I can face each day, even the tough days.

Maybe you would like to join in and see what you can come up with. I promise you that as you reflect back, you will be astonished at how easy it will be to trace God's hand in your life! To join in on THANKFUL THURSDAY, link your post up below in Mr. Linky!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Growing Pains!

When my son was young, he would complain of terrible leg pain when he would go to bed. He would wake me up with his crying, he would say, "I think my skin is trying to come off!" Of course his skin was not trying to come off, we came to the conclusion that what he was experiencing was growing pains.

There wasn't much we could do for his pain, he just had to endure it. Eventually his growing pains subsided but in the meantime, the best comfort I could give him was rubbing his legs and giving him a hug. Even though this act of love did not take away his pain completely, it helped him make it thru another night.

Many times, as growing Christians we also experience growing pains. Some people call it trials or tribulations. Trials or growing pains...either way you describe it, it is often very painful to go thru. But all the while that we struggle, or have pains in our lifes, God is using our situations to stretch us, to mold us, to make us better. To be more refined.

Just as my son found comfort in my acts of love, God also is comforting us during our times of pain. He understands what we are going thru and He stays right by our side thru it all. We may wonder why He doesn't take the pain and heartache from us, but it is in the midst of our pain that we often draw closest to Him.

Having spiritual growing pains is meant to soften our hearts and to give us more compassion towards others that may go thru the same difficulties in the future. Going thru trials brings humility to us and teaches us to depend upon God. Growing pains also can take the focus off of us and placed upon God and what His will is for our lives.

Without the pains of growing, we would not know how to trust Him or obey Him or even need Him.

ROMANS 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose."

It is during the growing pains of our christian journey that we feel the peace of God in our lives. Even though we can still feel the sting of the pain, we also feel the hand of God working in us and thru our situation.

Are you experiencing some growing pains today?

God is giving you a testimony...but you have to go thru the test first!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have often wondered about those disciples that Jesus took with Him to pray in those last hours. He asked them to stay awake and pray with Him, but as we all know, they fell down on their job. They could not stay awake, therefore, they were not able to accomplish what Jesus asked of them.

If I needed someone to do something so important and they were found asleep on the job, I would not be so understanding. But as I look at scripture I see that even though the disciples failed at this task, there was still more for them to do...

"Arise, let us be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand." - MARK 14:42

Even though the moment of urgency had passed, and the disciples failed in the one task that Jesus asked of them, there was still hope for them. In the above passage, Jesus did not dwell on the shortcomings of His followers, rather He recognized other duties still awaiting the disciples. Jesus calls them to ARISE to meet these needs.

Even though the disciples failed in one responsibility, there was no time to curl up and quit. There was no time to sink deep down in despair for failing their Master. The time was short, and they needed to stand up and meet the responsibility that still laid before them.

Sometimes, actually time and time again, I have failed my Master. It would be easy to throw in the towel and just give up. But like the disciples, I too, need to realize that it is time for me to just ARISE and continue on with the work that God has laid out before me.

I have failed Him in the past, and I will fail Him again. And so have you. Even on the darkest mornings, there is still light in the day to turn things around. So just ARISE and get going. There is still work to be done.

And this has been a piece of my heart today;

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...surely our God is able!

I tried moving a very large piece of furniture by myself, but I failed. It was too heavy, it was too hard for just one person to do.

 Have you ever tried to do something that was just too hard?

For instance, have you ever wondered if you could  lift up a car off of a crushed person? Would you be able to find a lost pearl ring buried in the sand at the beach? Seem impossible to do?

You may not have had to do either of those difficult things, but many of you have been faced with some other very hard things in life. Hard things like the loss of a job, sickness and even death. All of these are difficult for us to bear, but for God, there is nothing too difficult. Even in the loss of jobs and in the loss of a loved one, God is able to see us thru.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)"Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you."

Jeremiah recognized that no matter how much he exercised his muscles that it was God, not him, that was the strong man. God can easily arm wrestle any need that we have. He did it for Jeremiah and He will do it for us.

God made the heavens and the earths for Pete's sake...what could we possibly have that could be harder than that for God? He holds everything in His palm, not just the stars and the moon, but He also holds our sorrows, our fears, our trials, and our tears in His palm.

If we can trust Him for the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, then why can we not trust Him with everything else? Things may seem difficult and too hard for you my friend, but trust me, nothing that you face today is too difficult for God. Surely He is able....

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming in just 2 short weeks, I am reminded that some of us are in a battle right now. Some of us are struggling financially. And some of us will not have family, friends or even a turkey to share a meal with on Thanksgiving Day. Even in the midst of our despair, we must remember that He is able. He will meet our needs and He will provide. I don't know how. I don't know when. But I know that He will. I am so thankful today that nothing is too difficult for Him!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, please join your grateful heart with ours as we all link up our TT posts here today. If you are in a situation that is too difficult for you, listen to the song that I have uploaded from Gaither Homecoming, may it remind you that surely our God is able!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Answering the call!

Last night my husband got an unexpected call. Just as he was about to get ready to go to bed, his work called and needed him to come in and cover someones shift. He wasn't expecting to have to do that so he was not dressed for the part. After a quick trip to our closet he found what he needed to look the part...his scrubs. He was now ready to answer the call.

Sometimes I think as Christians, we try to dress the part. We try to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, pray a certain way and even dress a certain way.

As a young girl, I use to think that holiness had something to do with the outer appearance. One of the holiest ladies that I knew, (the pastors wife), always had everything together. Her clothes were the finest, her hair was never out of place, her nails were always filed and painted pretty and every Sunday she was in her place (at the piano). She didn't say much, but she always had a smile on her face. To me, as a young girl, this was the perfect picture of holiness.

As I got older, I quickly realized that make up, clothes and having the ability to play an instrument has absolutely nothing to do with holiness. I also realized that those who stand up on the platform are not always the perfect person that we all so often put up on a pedestal. Holiness is not the outer appearance.

Unfortunately, there are alot of people who think like I did when I was younger. We are looking inside the walls of the church and we are defining what holiness is by what we see or by what we don't see. But the truth of it is, it doesn't matter how much make up we apply or how many designer clothes we wear, holiness is not something that we can acquire by changing our wardrobe or looks. We cannot just dress the part.

The more we read God's Word and understand His ways, the more our attitudes and behaviors change. The closer we walk with Him, the more we will come to realize that holiness has absolutely nothing to do with our outer appearance but it has everything to do with what resides on the inside.

Holiness is something that only God can identify and define. God looks past our outer shell, He looks at our heart. He sees what is pure and what is unclean. None of us, even on our best days, can obtain holiness in our own strength. To be holy is a change of heart, it is an indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. It is an obedience to His will and call on our lives. These are all things that occur inside and not on the outside.

Even though holiness starts on the inside, it should also seep to the outside for others to see. But we must remember that on our own, holiness is impossible to acquire. We cannot just dress the part, when we get the call to obey Him, we must go as we are and let Him adorn us with His blood and His power.

2 TIMOTHY 1:9 (niv)"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."

Are you ready to answer the call?

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's that knocking at the door?

Have you ever been startled by an unexpected knocking at your door?

Several years ago, my husband and I were sitting alone in our family room watching late night television when we were startled by a rapping at our door. Because the hour was late, my husband told me to stay in the family room while he checked it out. He peeked out the window, but saw no car. He slowly opened the front door, but found nobody to be at the door. He stepped out onto the front step and looked to the right and to the left, but saw no one.

He came back into the house, perplexed. Possibly it was a neighbor child pulling a prank. After a few minutes had passed, we heard it again. (rap rap rap) Again my husband goes to the door, but finds no one to be there.

My husband was determined to catch whoever was disturbing our household at such a late hour. This time he waited by the door, ready for the next rapping on the door to jump out and grab whoever has been knocking at our door. A few minutes pass and sure enough the pranksters come back ... rap, rap, rap at the door. My husband flings the door open and jumps outside...but nobody was there.

It turns out, a short time later, that we discover that the rap, rap, rap at the door wasn't anybody at all trying to pull a prank. Actually it was our pet dog, who was laying against another door in the house and when she would scratch, she would hit the door making the rap, rap, rap sound.

That is about one of the funniest stories I love to tell about how my husband tried to catch the midnight intruder who insisted on rapping on our door but never would come in. As funny as that is, the truth is that many of us are doing the same thing but it isn't funny at all.

Many times we rap on God's door, we ask for blessings, healing and provision but then we don't really expect them. We knock but we never really intend to enter. And we aren't satisfied with knocking just once, but we come back again and again. Knocking, asking for an answer but then we just run away. We don't stand still and wait for the door to open.

I don't know why we flee after we have knocked on God's door. Maybe it is because we fear the outcome, or afraid that God will not answer our need or He may not even hear us. So we find it easier to just walk away.

Luke 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

The truth is that we cannot expect God to answer our runaway knocks. He didn't promise that...He said that we should keep knocking and knocking until He opens the door.

May we become more persistent in our prayers and come to Him fully expecting. And when He opens the door, may we not run away but walk thru the door.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...let the thanks begin!

It is that time of the year again when the leaves begin to fall, the weather gets cooler and we get closer to the holidays. In November, we turn our heart towards the Thanksgiving holiday, the special time that we eat turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie. But that isn't all. Thanksgiving time is also a time that we turn our heart towards the good things in our life and we offer up thanks.

However, Thanksgiving is not just a day or a special meal. Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart.

Farmers have the right kind of attitude when it comes to giving thanks. They plow the land, they plant the seeds, they work the land and while they wait for the harvest...they give thanks. They thank God for the plenty that will come their way in a few months. We also need to give thanks, even when we haven't seen the harvest yet. We may not have everything in our house that we want, but we still need to have a thankful heart. Look at what David said about this...

"I will thank you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High"(Psalm 9:1-2, NLT)

God loves to hear our thanks! I would imagine that when we do not express our thanks to Him it is much the same as when our own children fall short on giving thanks to us for the things we do for them.

When my children were young, often times my day as a mother was full of running around doing things for them. Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving to school, going to the store, making doctor appointments, baking cookies, helping them study for a test, paying for sports uniforms, taking them to their ball practices, taking them to McDonald's for lunch, etc, etc. And  many times all of this was done with no thanks given. Sometimes I noticed the seemingly ungrateful heart of my young ens, but yet I kept on doing these selfless love acts over and over again, because I wanted to.

As great as my love is for my children, our Heavenly Fathers love is even greater. He does things for us because He wants to and His deeds are awesome. Even when we cannot see the harvest, we can know that He has a marvelous work in store. May we continually give thanks to Him for His goodness! Not just on Thanksgiving but may we give thanks with a very grateful, THANKFUL heart. Daily.

Today I am hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY, and I would encourage you to stop and give Him thanks today. Even for those things that you are still waiting to happen. God not only loves a cheerful giver but He cherishes a grateful heart! We would love to hear from you today, share your grateful heart with us here at TT by linking up your grateful post!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Choosing to NOT be offended!!

I am sure all of us can say that we all know someone who gets offended easily. Seems like no matter what is said, or how it is said, there is a risk in communication that may lead to someone walking away upset, hurt or misunderstood.

I use to be a person that got my feelings hurt easily. But to be quite honest, God showed me that it is not good to always wear our hearts on our sleeves or to be easily offended. One thing that I learned early on in ministry is that from time to time we just need to have thick skin. Sometimes we have to let things go in one ear and out the other. Other times we just have to let things roll off our back, so to say. If I could quote a not so christian saying right here to make my point,

 "We gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em."  (Kenny Rogers)
Sometimes we just have to know when to walk away. Kenny was talking about gambling, but I am talking about life and knowing that there is a time to just walk away from always having hurt feelings.

Some people hurt others intentionally, but I have found that most people who hurt our feelings are not even aware that they do. Sometimes I wonder if offense is put on us by others or if we, ourselves, are responsible for being offended? When words are spoken, do you jump to conclusions and choose to be offended?

Taking offense is a choice that we each make...

PROV. 18:11 "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook offense."

God is saying that we have another choice other than being offended with others. Instead of allowing offense to harbor in our hearts towards people which in turn usually grows into anger, bitterness and resentment, we can instead choose to see past the words and actions of others. We can look into the heart.

What is really going on...are they just mean spirited or is there a hidden issue that is below the surface? Instead of being angry at the words or actions, can we listen and try to find resolve?

This past year God has seen me thru some things that has softened my heart towards hurting people. When we can see past the hurt, and even the hurtful words people often speak, we will be able to see their heart. It is the heart that God is most concerned with. We cannot continue to go thru life allowing others to offend us, it will keep us from seeing things like God sees things.

Words spoken (whether ill intended or not) is not what causes offense. Offense happens when we make a choice to allow words of others to take root in our hearts. It is our responsibility to stop words entering our heart and infecting it with anger, malice or bitterness. God is pleased when we make this choice to not allow offense to control our heart and our life.

This choice is a win-win situation. Instead of allowing offense to control us, we now control it. We can now do what Kenny Rogers was saying..."know when to hold em and know when to fold em"!

Let the words go, just let them go. Choose to NOT be offended!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Domino effect!

I have always been fascinated by people who can make amazing things out of dominoes. Each domino is placed with such precise thought, it cannot just be placed anywhere, it needs to be placed in the right spot, with the right amount of spacing between the next domino.

Have you ever seen someone turn an entire room into a domino sensation?

It is amazing how with just the touch of the first domino it affects the rest of the tiles. They Climb up hills, cross over domino made bridges, go down slopes, create a smiling face or a spinning pinwheel. The domino effect keeps going until the very last domino is turned over.

In life, not all domino effects are as exciting as this.

The dominoes in our lives are usually termed as trials and tribulations. It seems like one comes right after another, much like a domino effect. It seems like one problem bumps into another and then another. But like the clever game of domino building, with each bump, strength and endurance is revealed. But only if the foundation is laid properly.

James speaks of such domino endurance...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." -JAMES 1:2-4

In the art of making a great domino creation, you cannot take shortcuts. In fact, you must be patient and diligent. The same is true in the domino effect of life, there is no shortcut, there is no such thing as "instant" endurance. The pain brought on by disappointments, failures and unexpected loss is the long road to maturity. There is no other road to take. One domino will affect the next. One pain leads to strength, another leads to perseverance, while another leads to faithfulness. The second trial is as life molding as the first. God will mold us, teach us and heal us in each bump along the way.

It is fair to say that with each domino (life trials and tribulations) we must learn to endure them rather than escape them! However, our foundation must be Jesus Christ, or else our domino effect could have a negative outcome.

What kind of dominoes are you facing today?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...faithful servant!

A few years ago, God brought across my path two very special ladies. Iris and Lynn. Even though we have never met in person, our hearts and passions were almost instantly connected. The kindred spirit that I first felt with these ladies happened right here...on THANKFUL THURSDAY. It has been my privilege to work side by side with these two inspiring women not only here on TT but also over at LACED WITH GRACE.

When I think about Iris and Lynn, I think of one word...faithful.

 Both of these ladies have been faithful in praying over all of the participants on Thankful Thursday as well as the readers of their personal blog sites. Not only that, they have been faithful to bring to you their passion and joy and love of Christ thru their devotional writings every week.

Being faithful is an incredible characteristic to have.

These two ladies are only just a few of the awesome, passionate and faithful women that make up this great ministry that Thankful Thursday has become.

 I have heard it said that our government is looking for a few good men...but honestly, God is not only looking for some good men (and women) but He is looking for some men and women that are faithful! In today's world, trustworthiness, dependability and commitment are hard traits to come by. Yet, God longs for His children to be faithful to the call on their lives.

2 CHRONICLES 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."

God is eager to bless those who are sold out to following His plan for their lives. Sometimes God takes us thru different seasons. Our faithful writer and host Lynn is entering a new season as God is opening up doors of opportunity for her in her ministry over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Her trustworthiness, dependability and commitment will continue on, just in a new venue. With that said, and today being Lynn's last time to host THANKFUL THURSDAY, I would like to say a BIG thank you to Lynn for answering the call, and for being willing to be not just A faithful servant but HIS faithful servant.

Thank you Lynn for your many words of encouragement and we look for great more things to come from your ministry! ((hugs))

Please visit Lynn who is hosting TT today and let her know how much you appreciate her faithful heart and her uplifting words! CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taking a dip in dirty water!

This is the time of year that people are closing up their swimming pools. If they haven't already done so, they are in the process. Fall and Winter is definitely not a time to take a dip in the pool, well not here in the south. During the summer months, swimming pools are very inviting with their crystal clear waters. There is nothing like a dip in the pool on a hot summer day. But even on the hottest of days, if a pool has been neglected, there is no way I am enticed to jump in for a swim.
I remember one summer, we went out of the country for a missions trip. We cleaned the pool before we left, but because nobody tended to it while we were gone for over 2 weeks, it looked alittle different when we came back to it. Twigs and leaves were the remains of a thunderstorm that swept thru while we were gone. The dust and dirt that blew in from the high winds left the waters dark and murky. There was NO WAY any of us were going to set foot in that water until it got cleaned.

We have this same kind of thinking spiritually sometimes.

If there are dark, murky waters, we want to stay clear and not step foot into it. But often times, God asks us to go places that may seem dark and do some things that may seem dreary. He may even ask us to step our foot in places that we may seem uncomfortable with or that we may think there is NO WAY we would go there or do that.

When God asks us to step into the water, He is not worried about the condition of the water as much as He is our obedience.

I am reminded of Naaman. He was sick in body and he had to step into the water to be healed. But not just any water. Back in Damascus, he had clean water. But that water would not suffice. Elisha gave specific instructions to Naaman, and Naaman had a choice to make. To receive healing he would have to step into the dirty river of the Jordan.

I wonder how many of us would have done what Naaman had to do?

Would we turn our nose up to the dirty water or would we be obedient? Stepping into the dirty water was just the first step for Naaman, obedience soon followed when Elisha said for him to immerse in the water not once, not twice but seven times!

II Kings 5:14 "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child and he was clean."

Don't you know that Naaman's healing had nothing to do with the condition of the water? It had everything to do with the condition of his heart and his obedience. Sometimes in order to receive our healing or answer to our prayer, God may ask us to take a little dip in some dirty water.

Naaman had to dip seven times.. how many times would you be willing to dip for your answer?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...Moving thru the fog!

Yesterday morning, as I drove to work, I drove right thru a very thick fog. The thickness of the white fog made it very difficult to see what was ahead, but because I drive this same road every day, I felt like I could find my way.

The thing about a dense fog is that we can't see things that are familiar to us. I could not see the stop light that I knew was right ahead. I couldn't see the big oak tree that I knew was to the right. Even though I couldn't see these things, I still crept along my way.

Eventually I worked my way thru the white blanket and came up on the stoplight. You see, even though I could not see it, it was still there. It was just covered up by the fog. The stoplight didn't move. Neither did the big Oak tree. It was only my view that was altered.

The same is true in our spiritual life.

Many times difficulties came our way and it may feel like we are just wandering around in a deep, dense fog. Financial burdens, loss of a job, sickness in family, relationship problems, divorce, miscarriage, depression ... the list could go on and on. The stress and pressure that comes with such problems leaves us feeling like we cannot see the stable things in our life, because the fog (the problem) is too intense.

But the truth of the matter is that if we just keep moving, like I did in traffic yesterday, we will find that the familiar things of our faith are still standing strong. God's love is still intact. His hope has not moved. His faithfulness, His grace and His provision are still standing strong. Eventually the fog will lift, and then we will see that all of these things are still present, they haven't moved at all, our vision was just blurred as we traveled thru the fog.

All of us go thru sudden storms in life, even some that leave us feeling like we are in a deep fog, but thru it all God is always near. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We can be assured that He is leading us and directing our path as we keep moving. We have to take our eyes off of the fog and look for Him, even when we can't see Him, we must know that He is still there!

Psalm 121:1-2,8  "I lift up my eyes to the hills -- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore." NIV

Monday, October 24, 2011

Loving deeper and wider.

We are to not only love God with all of our heart, soul and strength but we are to also love our neighbor as yourself...

LUKE 10:27 He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This is not a new concept to me. I have read this scripture many times. I have even written on this subject before. So what was different about God's Word this time?

I would say what was different was defining whom my neighbor actually is. When I have read "love my neighbor as myself," I often have thought about the little retired couple who lives next door or the young couple who lives across the street. Yes these are my neighbors (literally) but our neighborhood extends so much further than just our street. In fact, Jesus defined "neighbor" as anyone who we live with or come in contact with.

When you allow that to penetrate your mind and your heart, you just may want to repent as I wanted to. Sometimes our "neighbors" or those we live with or come in contact with seem unlovable. They may even do some unloving things or say unloving things to us. But according to Jesus, we are to still love them. Love them to a degree that matches how much we love ourselves.

When I think about my life I see how careful I am in taking measures to make sure I am healthy, happy and secure. Each day I get plenty to eat. Each night I get adequate sleep. If I am sick, I go to the doctor to get medicine. If I am sad, I do something fun and happy to bring joy back to my life. I work hard so that my future can be secure, not just financially but physically and spiritually. I do all that I can do to take care of the needs in my life.

It is so easy to take care of ME! But what about those people that I come in contact with (my neighbors), how easily is it for me to take care of them?

How many times do I see someone sick, but yet I do not pray for them. How many times do I see someone in my family in need, but I do not sacrifice to help them out. How many times do I see someone struggling or even depressed, but yet I do not stop my busy life and offer them hope or just a shoulder to cry on. How many times do I see someone going hungry, both physically and spiritually, but yet I do not offer them food for strength.

I feel my hunger pains, but not theirs. I feel my pain, but not theirs. I see my distress, but not theirs. Many times it is difficult to love others because we simply do not love ourselves. We love ourselves enough to take care of the basic needs that we have. But we simply do not love ourselves like God loves us.

If we are to really comprehend this passage about loving others like we love ourselves than we must understand what legitimate self-love is. Nobody is to be excluded from our love, not even ourselves. If we value God's creation and His gifts, we must value ourselves as one of His gifts. If God, by grace, finds us worthy to love, then we should also love ourselves.

With the same measure, if God loves us so much to save us, forgives us and bless us, we not only need to accept His love and forgiveness but we must extend it to ALL those we come into contact with.Our neighbors. If God sees value in us, we must acknowledge the value in others. Who they are, what they have done, what they have said holds no condition to whether or not we should love them.

"We love because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19

I need to love deeper. and wider. and I need to love ALL of those whom I live with or come in contact with. My neighbors, may I have a heart like His heart for all of them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CAUTION: danger ahead!

One of the most difficult things for me to accept is that in order to love myself, I just may need to set boundaries.

Saying "No" to requests and stress takes alot of courage for some of us. Not all stress and requests made to us are for us to take upon our shoulders and bear.

Loving ourselves may have a "selfish" ring to it, but quite to the contrary, loving ourselves is anything but selfish when applying God's Word. In order to love others, we MUST love ourselves. Not once, not twice, but eight times God's Word says "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8)

So it is safe to say that how we love others is contingent on how well we love ourselves.

Often times I find myself running ragged and allowing people, their attitudes and their demands to completely stress me out. Sometimes to the point of stress induced headaches and a loss of joy in my life. What I need in my life is a few yield signs. Signs that will help me to slow down, say no where no needs to be said and when people cross over a boundary line, I need to put in place a few road blocks.

Jesus understood the need to set limits.

He did not allow others to dictate His purpose or His agenda. In fact, when Jesus mother and brothers attempted to divert Him from His ministry. (Matthew 12:46-50)  He resisted.

Even the crowd tried to throw Him off the cliff when He claimed to be the Messiah. (Luke 4:28-30)
But he escaped them.

When Peter told Jesus He would not have to suffer. (Matthew 16:21-22) He rebuked him.

3 things that we can learn from Jesus when it comes to setting boundaries...

1. Jesus knew His purpose 2. He knew when to walk away 3. and He understood God's plan.

Boundaries will help us to achieve these things in our lives. The hardest boundaries to set in motion are those with people closest to us. Those we work with, our friends, and even our family. Jesus had to set limits with those closest to Him, so why do we think we won't have to do that also?

LUKE 14:35 (ESV) You must decide if you can leave everything you have to follow me. If not, you cannot be my follower! "Salt is a good thing. But if the salt loses its salty taste, then you can't make it salty again. It is worth nothing. You can't even use it for soil or for plant food. People throw it away.

Boundaries keep us safe. Not only on the highway but on the road of life also. But we must be willing to adhere to the signs.