Thursday, December 31, 2015

LACED WITH you have a bucket list?

As we close out the year, I sit here thinking over the past 364 days: oh the things that have happened; some sad, some happy and some things that I thought would happen - didn't. So, the calendar moves on and in a few hours we embark on a new year, new adventures, new hopes, new dreams and yes, even some new disappointments.

In my Bible devotion reading today, I was directed to Revelation 19:11:
"Now, I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He Who sat on him was called Faithful and True." (NKJV)
I am sure that most of you are like me and you have dreams. Even though I don't really make New Year Resolutions, I do have a "bucket list", I refer to it more like my dreams, visions and aspirations that I would like to see happen this side of Glory. Do you have some of your own?

Oh, the stories that I could tell on how that "dream list" or "bucket list" has changed over the years. It seems when I was younger, my list was much longer and much more detailed. But now that I am getting a little bit older, I guess you could say my list is more realistic. Like for real, what are the chances that I am going to actually travel around the world in 90 days? I guess you could say that I've had to tweak my list here and there.

All of us have made plans in this life that maybe did not materialize or turn out exactly how we had expected it to. Ten years ago if you would have told me that on my bucket list it appeared that my husband and I would be living in a small, rural town pastoring a precious, small church, I would have laughed and then I would have looked down and crossed it off! One thing that I have learned about dreams, visions and lists is that not everything goes according to our plan.

God sometimes has to tweak our plans and redirect our focus to align with His plans and His focus for our lives. I guess you could say that is what happened when He sent us to this little town outside of Memphis right when I thought I had it all figured out. I'm not at all disappointed with how things have turned out, oh there have been some things that have brought me disappointment in this past year, but standing in the Will of God is not one of them.

Now that I took you on a rabbit trail ... let me return to the daily verse that God brought me to today. You see, even when life brings us disappointments or when things don't go exactly how we think it should or could, God reminds us that everything is going to work out just right and EXACLTLY according to His plan!

You see, we have a Redeemer Who is also called FAITHFUL and TRUE, and He will accomplish everything that He has ever promised. Good will triumph over evil; death, hell and the grave WILL be defeated! The redeemed of the Lord WILL enter into an eternity of worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

That should make someone shout today! The future that you and I hold cannot be held down to broken promises, faltering lists and disappointing dreams that never come true, not when we have a faithful and true God Who will one day make ALL things bright and new!

So, as you end this year of 2015, no matter what it brought; joy, pain, sadness, disappointment, sickness, death: REJOICE in the promise that 2016 is the year of the Lord and this may be the very year that the Lord comes back for His Church ...may we all be found ready without spot or wrinkle.
"Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." -Titus 2:13
Now, that my friend, would be an awesome thing to cross off our bucket lists! May we all keep a watchful eye and an expectant heart in this new year that God has brought us to.


*Check out this and other daily devo's also over at

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

TODAY'S DAILY...if God is for us, who can be against us?

Have you ever set out to do something but in return you were ridiculed or not supported?

That's a tough one, but I'm reminded of the famous quote by good 'ole Teddy...

"I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character." -Theodore Roosevelt

Many years ago I worked for a well known paper manufacturer. It was a company that many people would fight to get hired on at. After a couple of years of customer service work with such company, I decided to take on something else with less stress, less drama and unfortunately less money.

Even though I knew it was the right thing for me to do, those close to me, yes even my family, disagreed. The criticism and lack of support was the last thing I had imagined to come from those who I thought would support me no matter what.

Since then, I've made some other decisions that my closest friends and family haven't quite understood or supported but with the urging of the Lord, I steamrolled ahead.

It hurts when those you love and support don't support you but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, "Who are you doing this for?"

Not everyone will believe in you or support your dreams but as long as YOU believe it, and God has DESIGNED it can only end up a winner!

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" -Romans 8:31

Monday, December 14, 2015

Laced with Grace....the empty chair

Last year at Christmas, there was an empty chair. Even though Mom had left this worldly place for her eternal home the summer before last, the first Christmas without her was very lonely and … empty!
I caught myself shopping for that special gift to send Mom last Christmas. And when I printed off the family Christmas address labels, I had to skip over her name.
Not being able to buy her a gift and not being able to address a card was bad enough, but then there was that empty feeling each day that I went to the mailbox and there was no card from her.
That first year without her just seemed so empty. Seemed like I was just going through the motions with no emotion. Everyone said it was to be expected but even though there was that empty seat at the table, noone seemed to want to talk about it.
The question just seemed to linger in the air, everyone seemed to just grasp to change the subject if her name was mentioned until finally someone was brave enough to ask:
Are we missing someone?”
Well, there did seem to be one too many forks and place settings. And then there was that “empty” chair. As I thought about the missing Christmas card and the present that I wanted to buy but was still at the store and as I looked at the empty seat I began to remember the Christmases past.
I remember the year that when I was just 5 or 6 years old, Mom had “Santa” show up with our presents. And then there was the year that we didn’t have alot of money because my step dad had been laid off, but somehow I still got the stereo that I wanted and a mood ring! (anyone remember the mood rings?)
Suddenly, the empty chair turned my mourning into a sacrifice of praise. In the midst of my sadness and missing my Mom, I realized that there was a reason for joy and love on that Christmas Day…
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mightry God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
I don’t know what your empty chair represents this Christmas; perhaps, it is the loss of a dear loved one this past year, perhaps it is the loss of job or empty promises made, or it could be due to conflict with family members. Whatever the cause for your empty chair, I know it hurts and it is sad, but with God, He can bring joy in the midst of your heartache.
Even though we mourn our loss or suffer in our difficult situation, remember that Christmas is a time that we celebrate the birth of Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” What a comforting thought to know that in ALL seasons that God is not only with us, but He is continually our Prince of Peace in times of turmoil and distress.
There will still be an empty seat at the table this Christmas. I wish I could tell you that it gets easier the second time around, but the emptiness still remains. Yet, somehow this year, the peace and joy that only comes from knowing that Christ is in control fills that seat that once belonged to my precious Mom.
Perhaps you find yourself hurting this holiday season, I pray that you will stand upon the promise of the Lord that He causes ALL things “to work together for good” (Romans 8:28) and seek His peace during your time of sorrow.
Not everything that happens is good, but God is always good. May you see Christ when you look over at your empty seat, this year and all years to come.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

DAILY DEVO...Peace and goodwill towards men

"Peace and goodwill towards men" is the sentiment on so many Christmas cards that I receive.

Isn't Peace exactly what we all want?

We want peace in the world; but sometimes we have to sacrifice lives to fight for it.

We want peace in our country; so we vote for who we think will best lead us.

We want peace with our friends; so we do whatever it takes to not offend them.

We want peace in our family; so we work hard to provide for them.

Lastly, we want peace in ourselves; so we compare ourselves to others and say how happy we are with what we have.

People will spend all day long seeking peace, sometimes all their life. Unfortunately, peace is not something that can be achieved, it can only be received!

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:7

True peace can only come from God. This kind of peace will not affect our surroundings, only our inner soul. Inner peace settles deep in our hearts and minds.

No President can guarantee it; no friend can seal it; no family member can understand it and sometimes we cannot grasp it.

May "Peace and Goodwill towards men" become more than a holiday greeting; may it resonate in our hearts as a gift from God.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

LACED WITH GRACE...a gift for a King

As I move down my holiday list, and checking it twice, I double check all of the names: David, Jeremy, Jordan, Anna. And then there is: Caleb, Sophia and Bell. Don’t forget the new babies: Grayson and Sadie. I ever so carefully shop for each name on my list, making sure not one is left forgotten.

This is the time of the year that gift giving is the most prevalent in our spirits. Wouldn’t it be something if when we double checked our list that we came across the name of Jesus? Suppose this year, we did something a little crazy and bought Jesus a Christmas gift! If you could, what could you give?

Socks? A new worship CD? A knitted scarf?

How could we possibly choose an appropriate gift for the very One Who not only has EVERYTHING but Who MADE everything! I don’t know what gift I could choose suitable for a King. But the wise men did.

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

You and I may not have that kind of earthly treasures to give, but what we do have to give, probably couldn’t be wrapped and put under a tree. Our presents is not what matters to our Lord and Savior, as much as our devoted, presence to Him!

In addition to the gifts the wise men brought, they also brought themselves. While everyone else simply saw a night sky, this trio saw the Light! The star struck a chord in their hearts and when they saw it, they knew they had to find Jesus. For months, maybe even years, it is what the wise men hoped for – to seek and find the Savior!
 “You will seek him and find him when you seek him with all your heart” (Duet. 4:29).
So, these next final weeks, as you finish up your shopping; your to-do lists and checking them twice – make sure you keep Jesus on your list and spend time seeking Him. If you seek Him, you WILL find Him, but He has to make it on your list.

Friday, December 4, 2015

TODAY'S DAILY... The blame game

Have you ever played the blame game? You know, the "he said, she said" monopoly game of life whenever things go sour and we wish things had a different outcome?

When I was a very young child my parents got a brand new leather chair, back then, that was a costly purchase. One day, while our parents were at work, a sibling challenged me to see if I could cut through the tough leather. With a big butcher knife in hand, I found not only could I cut through the to...ugh leather but I could easily make several slices!

Later, when our parents came home and saw the damage, the blame game went into action!
God doesn't want His children to do wrong but when they do, He expects them to own up to their responsibility and admit their part.

Far too often, we shift the responsibility off of ourselves and on to someone or something else. We want to blame others for our mistakes by claiming, “If only he or she had not made me do it" or "if they would have just listened to me".

No one can fix the mistakes that you make except you. So forget about what "he said, she said", instead focus on what YOU SAID!

If we mess up, admit it; ask for forgiveness; take responsibility and move on! The blame game just does not work with God’s plan for our lives.

Jesus never said, “If you had not been so hardheaded, I COULD HAVE avoided the cross.” NO, He knew the responsibility God had given Him, and He was determined to be faithful. When we shift the blame to others so that we appear blameless, it kind of defeats why Jesus took a nail for you and me.
Blaming others for what is our responsibility keeps us in bondage and we can never truly be free. God sent His Son so we could be free, so why are you blaming others for the things that could easily give you freedom?

Admit your mistakes, ask quickly for forgiveness and don't blame others for what is in your control.

"Teach me Your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path." (Psalm 27:11)