Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today is a LEAP day!

Happy LEAP day!

29 days in February instead of the usual 28. Something that rolls around only once every four years. So what are you going to do with this unique day?

It is my prayer that something unique will present itself to you today. A financial blessing? A promotion at work? A kind word spoken from a stranger? Perhaps, the uniqueness of this day will happen not FOR you but FROM you!

Sometimes we miss out on a blessing because we are too afraid of stepping out in faith or we miss out on an opportunity because we have our heads in the clouds. God has something special for each of us today, but we have to be willing to step out in faith...

Philippians 3:13-14 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Has God laid something specific on your heart to do today?
Or perhaps someone to reach out to? Don't allow the enemy to sidetrack you, just do whatever it is God is pressing you to do. Today is your's a day to not waste. It's leap day, you won't get another day like today for another 4 years, so go for it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

LACED WITH GRACE...what would it take to get the lights turned on?

Today I have shared a devotion with the readers over at LACED WITH GRACE, entitled, "What would it take to get the lights turned on?" ...

"There is a young man who lives around the corner from us. He use to live with his father in his fathers house, but ever since his father passed away, this young man has been living in the house alone and in the dark…Literally. Because of choices of a certain lifestyle, this young man spends all of his money on drinking and drugs and chooses to live in the house with no electricity. He has lived like this for years. It is a lifestyle, that quite honestly, I cannot even comprehend.."

CLICK HERE to read this entire post!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gumball Machine

When I was a child, one of the biggest kicks was to get a nickel or quarter from my mom and put it in the gumball machine and then turn that big knob and wait with anticipation for something sweet to come rolling out!

You don't really see those big gumball machines anymore. If you do, it will cost alot more than a nickel to get something sweet, I am sure you will need a few more coins to fulfill your anticipation.

As I was thinking about this sweet memory of my childhood, I couldn't help but think that we as people are much like a gumball machine. The more we put in, the sweeter the outcome will be.

The problem is that in today's busy world, such input is becoming almost as rare as the original gumball machine. There is no better proof of this rarity than the picture I see almost every day here in the Memphis area. It is not a rare sight to see a seemingly homeless person standing on a corner, holding a sign, asking for help. The rarest thing about this picture is seeing anyone stop to offer help...its hardly ever seen.

A quarter doesn't seem like much, it wasn't much when I could drop it in the gumball machine, but yet, a quarter, a dollar, a hamburger, a cup of coffee, a new pair of shoes seems like way too much to invest in someone who has nothing.

Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

Christians should be the gumball machines of the world...investing in others (putting something in) so that a sweetness, the kind that comes from Gods love, can come out. Someone, maybe on the corner or maybe at your workplace, is waiting with anticipation for a sweet taste of Jesus. All they need is a quarter and it is still in your pocket.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

THANKFUL THURSDAY...Passion play of my heart

We are fast approaching the time of the year that many churches are planning their annual Passion Plays! It is one of my favorite times of the year, not only because of the springtime feeling that is in the air, but because of the message that we see in these plays, it gives us such a fresh look at Calvary.

Recently I came across the story of the origin of the first passion play...

It was in the early 1600s, a small village in Germany desperately called out to God in despair over a plague that was devastating to Germany at that time. The people from the town of Oberammergau made a vow to God that they would perform a play that all would participate in, sharing the story of the Messiah if in turn God would spare them of the plague.

Even though thousands were dying of this plague all over Germany, those from this small village were being spared. Thus creating an annual presentation as we know today as the "Passion Play".

Things are not much different today than back then in the 1600's. What plagues us now may be just as devastating, if not more. The truth is that our world has become accepting of such devastation, we have become tolerant of the plague of sin. What we need in the year 2012 is a whole-hearted commitment to serve God, recognizing the passion of Christ will certainly allow us to escape such horrific plagues like the village of Oberammergau did.

No matter what strikes against our lives, against our families or against our country ... He will make a way of escape for us.

13 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) NIV

Today, I am very thankful for the passion of Christ. His heart, His life, His blood...I am thankful for it all!

Today, Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY. Please join your grateful heart with ours over at . Next week you will find TT right here at Women Taking A Stand!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A PIECE OF MY HEART...dealing with controlling people

I consider myself a very confident and trusting person, I like to be in control of things. Notice I did not say in control of PEOPLE, I said in control of THINGS. For instance, I like to be able to determine my schedule, deciding what is most important to accomplish each day...I have the control of what gets crossed off and what gets bumped to tomorrow.

When driving on the highway, I have the control to either monitor my speed or decide to push the pedal to the medal and risk getting a ticket.

Controlling THINGS is very much different than controlling PEOPLE. When I control the things in my life, that is a purposeful decision. Controlling PEOPLE usually rises up out of something else, I can't imagine what purpose having a controlling spirit could have.

But yet, I see so many people turned that way, having the need to control others. In marriage, in friendships, in church, on the job.

So how can we as Christians deal with these controlling people in our lives?

The first thing that is imperative to do is to recognize that the need to control comes from a place of fear, of weakness, never from strength. People who operate from their strengths never have the need to control.
The second thing is to remember that most controlling people do not even recognize that they are controlling. They do not see what everyone else sees. They put off their weaknesses as strengths.

The third thing is to refuse to allow the control and manipulation of others to define you.

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

We cannot always control what others do or say, but we can control how we react to them or our situation. I haven't always responded in the way that God would have me respond. But instead of making myself go crazy because of someones manipulative ways in my life, I have to surrender it to God and allow His Holy Spirit to work not only in me but also on that person who has a controlling spirit.

May you experience Romans 8:6 fully and allow your mind to be controlled by the Spirit and not by man. God is who defines you, and nobody can take that from you...unless you choose to let them.

And this has been a piece of my heart today;

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Listen to Meeee!

This morning as the preacher read a passage from the book of Isaiah, I couldn't help but hear it in the tone of a parents voice:

(Isaiah 51:1-2) "1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many."

So many times when my children were younger, I had to bring their attention back to what I was telling them by saying in a stern voice, "LISTEN to Meeee!" Listening is not always the easiest thing for a child to do.

As a child of God, I guess it is no different. How easily we get distracted. We lose focus. We make choices that keep us from seeing and hearing exactly what God is trying to tell us. I can very easily see God wanting to just grab our faces and say sternly to us..."LISTEN to Meeee!"

As I read the passage in Isaiah, verse 2 helped me to see how exactly I can listen more to God. The word "Look" really jumped off of the page to me. Abraham is a great example, a great mentor, for us to look to for seeing the blessings of God. But as I read this, I thought about my children. I thought about the times that they would have to look right at me in order to hear everything I was telling them.

I would suggest that in order to trust and obey God, we must listen to His voice and we must look right at Him and His ways. If we don't, we just might miss what He is telling us and miss out on the blessings that even Abraham experienced.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

THANKFUL forward some love

This week for THANKFUL THURSDAY, I would be amiss if I didn't give thanks for love, after all we just celebrated the holiday of love, aka Valentines Day. I hope that you have experienced love this week, not just any kind of the love but the greatest love of all.

I am a blessed woman. Married to my high school sweetheart for the past 31 years. He loves me more today than ever. He holds my heart in his hand and for all of these years he has taken good care of my heart. As wonderful as that is, he is not the only one who holds my heart. Ever since I gave my heart over to God, many years ago, He has also carefully tended to the condition of my heart.

He has protected it.
He has strengthened it.
He has healed it.
He has kept it close to His.

Love...what makes it so amazing anyway?

For one thing, it is what propelled God to send His Son to die for you and me. Without love, we would have no redemption and without that we would have no faith or hope either.

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

You see without love, nothing else matters. It is the very foundation of why we live. It is my prayer that you receive much more than just a heart shaped box full of chocolates, it is my hope, (and faith) that you receive the greatest gift of all....His eternal love.

No matter what condition your heart is in, whether it has been broken, bruised or mishandled...Once you give your heart to God, He will cherish it like none other. His love is truly the greatest gift you could ever receive. I am so grateful that His love propels me to love others. This kind of love is a pay forward method...Because He loves me, I can love others!

Pay forward some godly love to someone today.

Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY this week, we would love to hear what is on YOUR grateful heart! Link up here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A PIECE OF MY HEART...Taking the narrow road

Our youngest recently got her drivers learning permit. We have been trying to let her practice her driving as much as possible around town. So far she is a pretty good driver, she is very cautious. One thing that I noticed in her driving though is that she likes to stay away from narrow lanes. She is alittle apprehensive and would rather stay in the wider lanes. One day as we were grabbing something to eat at a fast food place, she panicked as we pulled up to the take out window, the lane was too narrow and she wanted to hop out of the car and switch places with me.

Have you ever considered just how narrow the road can appear?

When I am driving, the road seems much wider than it appears than when I am the passenger, especially when riding with someone who is just learning. It is always scary when one passes over the line.

Crossing the line not only happens on the road but also in life. Many of us have crossed over the line, and have regretted it. I don't know why it is easier to travel down the wide road, instead of the narrow, but like my daughter who is learning to drive, we can learn that it is possible to stay on the narrow road...

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” -Matthew 7:13,14

Who says staying on the narrow road is impossible? Jesus believes that we can do it! He knows that finding the road to a faith-filled life is not easy, but it CAN be found. To travel the narrow road safely, we must remember some basic driving skills:

1. Adhere to the danger signs. They are present to warn us ahead of time of danger, don't ignore the signs. God places them in our lives at very intricate moments.

2. Stay alert to what is ahead. Where we find ourselves today may not be the place God intends for us to be tomorrow. We must keep an open mind and spirit as we seek Gods direction for our lives.

3. Slow down for the speed bumps. None of us like speed bumps (difficulties) in our lives, but they may just keep us from having a collision.

4. Adjust your rear view mirrors. Not only is it good to see what lies ahead, but looking behind us can also keep us focused on staying on that narrow road that Jesus speaks of.

Learning to be a good driver isn't always easy, but when we put Jesus behind the wheel, it is much easier to adhere to the laws of the road. Knowing Him and knowing what His Word says will help in steering us off of the wide road...if we stick to the plan (God's Word), the gate will not seem as small.

and this has been a piece of my heart today;

Thursday, February 9, 2012

THANKFUL THURSDAY...a great blend

Some people cannot get their day started without a fresh cup of coffee. Personally, I am not a coffee drinker. My husband is and he keeps telling me that I am getting old and that I need to learn to drink coffee. (ha ha...isn't he funny?)

In our kitchen, we have alittle corner that is designated the coffee center. Always ready to brew or pour a cup of "Joe" in case family or friends pop in. I don't know what it is, but there is just something about sitting around the table with those you love, with a cup of coffee (or your desired beverage) and chatting.

As much as I look forward to those moments, I couldn't help but think this morning, that spending time with God and reading His Word, is much like this. His Word is like a fresh cup of coffee...once we have a craving for it, there is nothing else that can satisfy. After spending some time studying His Message, it brews in our spirit and keeps peculating until it spills out.

We have this engraved plate in our coffee center in our kitchen...

 The perfect blend for me is when I spend time with God.
 I'd rather be addicted to Him than any form of caffeine!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY and I am so thankful for His Word and the opportunity that I have to spend time chatting with God. May my cup never be found empty.

Share your grateful heart with us over at . Iris is our host this month.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

LACED WITH GRACE...Spiritual Weight Loss

Today you can find me over at LACED WITH GRACE where I have shared a devotion entitled, "Spiritual Weight Loss"...

"Last week we came across an interesting documentary on the LIFETIME channel that followed the story of an overweight woman. Now, when I say overweight, I am not meaning by 10 or 20 pounds. This particular woman weighed in at 650 pounds! For most of us we think an additional 10-20 pounds weighs us down, but can you imagine what life would be like for such a person weighing over 600 pounds? The woman was just like most of us..."      

  CLICK HERE to read this entire post!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A PIECE OF MY HEART...joyful noisemakers

If I could be alittle bit transparent today, I would like to admit to you that there is something that really gets under my skin. Don't judge me or hate me for it. The truth is I really, REALLY hate it when early in the morning there is some sort of loud noise outside of my bedroom window that awakens me way before it is time to be awoken!

Barking dogs, honking horns, car alarms going off, the screeching tires of the garbage truck, people walking by get what I am talking about. Loud noises that rub us the wrong way at the wrong time of the day.

It occurred to me the other day that noises can happen anywhere. Especially the kind that rub us wrong, however, the one place that this should not happen is in church. I'm not talking about when someone drops a pan in the fellowship hall kitchen, the noises that I am talking about happens in the foyer, or the bathroom or even quietly in the pew.

Noises such as "Did you hear so and so about so and so?" "I hope that the worship leader sings at least ONE hymn today!" "I sure hope the pastor get done before the game starts!"

When the psalmist said to "make a joyful noise before the Lord", he did not mean this kind of noise. Hearing gossip, backbiting, and complaining is nothing but a loud noise to me that just rubs me the wrong way. At home, I can put a pillow over my head to drown out the early morning noise, wouldn't it be great if we could do the same thing when we hear such ridiculous noise in the House of God?

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:1-2

Come into His presence with singing? Many times I think we stop short on this verse and we miss the part about coming to God with a song in our heart. This is not talking about style of's not about it being contemporary music or hymns. Its not even talking about if the words are on the wall or not. Coming into His presence with singing is not about the music at all, it is about our attitude!

We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! But yet how many times do we allow our circumstances or the negativity of others to negate our attitude of praise? How often are we sour and complacent when we gather to praise God? When it comes to praising God, we must also use our emotions for the glory of God. Approaching Him with joy and gladness!

God is looking for some joyful noisemakers....what kind of a noisemaker are you?

And this has been a piece of my heart today!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

SUPERBOWL SUNDAY...are you on the injured list?

Like many people I watched the annual Superbowl game. Even if your "team" didn't make it this far, you or someone in your house probably tuned in to see who would walk away with the Superbowl ring and trophy.

So much has happened for both of these teams in order to have made it this far. Much practice, a winning season and much endurance. You have to have alot of strength and endurance in order to be a good football team. But even with such things, no doubt along the way, each team has experienced some injuries. It would really stink to play all season and then right before the BIG game, become injured and be placed on the injury list. As disappointing as that would be, the truth is, injuries still happen. And when they do, all you can do is take the bench and allow time for the wounds to heal and then get back in the game.

Sitting on the bench does not make you any less part of the team.

Injury may keep a player out of the game for a period of time, but continuing with the strengthening and conditioning exercises is very important. Eventually the wounds will heal and the injured player will be moved from the "injury roster" to the "active roster". You see, the players were only hurt, they were not disconnected. They were still on the team and still just as important as before.

In my own life, I have come to realize that being a Christian is not much different than being a injured player on the team. Recently during a church service, the pastor asked the congregation to raise their hand if they had ever been hurt by someone at church. Hurt by a pastor, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher or another member and to my astonishment the result was almost 100% of hands raised, including the pastors hand. It resounded the fact to me that people will hurt us and we will hurt people. I guess you could say it is part of the game.
  • But how do we recover from such injuries? 
  • Do we sit on the bench? and for how long?
  • Does it mean we are no longer part of the team?
To find the answer to this, I found myself drawn to the story of Hannah in the Bible:

1 Now there was a certain man…and his name was Elkanah…2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh...4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: 5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. 6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.” (1 Samuel 1:1-7)

Hannah was persecuted by those that should have loved her and helped her. The one who should have encouraged her, instead falsely accused her and judged her. To make things worse for Hannah, all of this happened while she was trying to serve God. The words in verse 7 jumped off of the page to me ...

"therefore she wept and did not eat."

Hannah was injured. She was sitting on the bench. Instead of getting stronger, she got weak. I know this because anyone who does not "eat" will slowly become weak and they will lose their strength. Physical weakness not only comes from a lack of eating but so does spiritual weakness. We must have some protein (meat) in our diet in order to get strong. Without it, we may never recover from our injuries.

Unfortunately, once we get put on the injury list, we no longer remain part of the team. Part of that is because we cannot get past our hurt and we don't want to be part of the team any longer and another part is that the rest of the team looks over at us sitting on the bench and decides that they have no use for us. Either way, the concept of being a "team" is forgotten.

Anyone who has or will serve our great country in the armed services understands about the team mentality.

 "Never leave a fallen soldier behind."

In churches all over, we have some soldiers that are injured and sitting on the bench. It is imperative for the team, that we all recognize that being injured is part of the game, but it is only temporary. Strengthening and conditioning our hearts and spirits will not only put us back in the huddle with our teammates but it will put us back in the game.

Stay strong my friend, and get back in the game...your team needs you!