Sunday, January 25, 2009

"I'm here for you!"







Yesterday, my family and I went to the rally and march for life in Fort Wayne. The speakers and the testimonies always inspire me. I am always touched by the fact that we have people like Mark Souder who continue to fight for what’s right in Washington. He spoke at the rally, and his words were encouraging (despite the fact that fighting for life will be even harder with Barack Obama in office).

We also heard from Shawn Carney, who is one of the original founders of the Forty Days for Life campaign. One of the most moving things that he said was that it’s not about making abortion illegal, but UNTHINKABLE!!! Indeed, THAT’S the goal!! We can change laws, but what REALLY needs to change are hearts!! (Pray!!)

Actions really do speak louder that words! We have to be active, involved, and hands on! We have got to SHOW that we care, and we do that through prayer, providing help/aid to those that need it, and being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of just His mouth. In fact, Chad has been addressing that very thing in his recent sermons (haven’t blogged the sermons lately…sorry!). He has been reminding us about what “church” is (and it’s not a building! It’s PEOPLE!). Each “faith community” of Christian brothers and sisters combine together to make up ONE CHURCH - the body of Christ. And because we are a BODY, we need to be a body that moves!! The hands and feet of Jesus need to be going and doing. Yes, rest has its place, but we need not be the “butt” of the body all the time.

So, how do we get moving and start seeing real “change” in this world? Well, you have got to demonstrate that you care and that comes through continuing to spread the Good News (and doing it in the most gentle and compassionate way possible)! We’ve got to keep standing together, helping each other, reaching out, and actually DOING things that support what we stand for!! For example, there are LOTS of people that say that they are pro-life, but what good is it if you merely say it and don’t DO it? Why is everyone so afraid of rolling up their sleeves and getting involved? I’m not just talking about marching, talking about it, or pestering our senators and congressman to do what’s right. What I’m especially pushing for is people to say “you can count on me!” It’s about helping out your crisis pregnancy centers, giving help/counsel to a scared pregnant mom or a post-abortive woman who is hurting, providing a soft place to fall/shoulder to cry on, developing a connection with the people you help, etc. It’s not just a “cause”; it’s PEOPLE!! Putting it more simply, the cause IS people and investing yourself in them by building a relationship/connection and fellowshipping with them. How much more is a person’s heart touched based on a personal relationship connection? How often do we display our love and compassion by pouring out our hearts in service to others? How often do we drop to our knees in humble service (literally or metaphorically) and wash peoples’ feet like our own Savior did?

Talk is cheap. Though, it’s not to say that words are not necessary or effective. Most of you reading this know that I am a “words” kind of girl (you can tell by how much I blog! LOL). I write to motivate, inspire, and encourage because it‘s one of my spiritual gifts. Words ARE important, but they are only worth as much as the heart that‘s behind them. Many of you reading already know this because I have been “active” in your lives (and you in mine!). When I say I’m there for you, I MEAN IT (and prove it!). Lots of people, including myself, say “if you need anything, I’m here for you“. I can’t speak for everyone, but sometimes that phrase is taken a little too lightly. It kind of loses it’s meaning because that phrase isn’t always a reality when it comes to ACTING on it. So, I would like to make it perfectly clear to EVERYONE that when I say “I’m here for you. If you need me, let me know!” I ABSOLUTELY mean it!! I don’t throw that out there for the heck of it. It’s not just empty words from me! Though, it’s not to say that I’m superwoman or the greatest person in the world. I do the best I can however I can, but like I tell everyone, I am human and I have my failures. So, don’t expect miracles/perfection out of me (or for me to be a complete doormat either!). Even with my flaws, though, I’m HERE and I do mean what I say. Plenty of you out there can vouch for the fact that I back it up - and I appreciate those of you that return the favor and back up your own words as well!

So, with that in mind, don‘t be afraid to call on me if you need a friend. I want to be as helpful and effective as possible, so feel free to tell me what you need (or don’t need lol) from me. I know that at the very least, I can keep working on trying to keep my blogs shorter (when possible! LOL), talk a little less, and work on my conciseness (I am such a work in progress!! LOL). And, I know that I will continue to use my gifts to blog, volunteer, listen, e-mail/call/IM friends who need someone to talk to, provide encouragement/counsel/aid, etc. I’ll keep trying to be the kind of friend that one can depend on for love, compassion, and support (just like I receive from many of you).

I guess all that’s left to say is “who’s with me?” Chad is saying the same thing. Are we all in this together? I know some of you already are!! There are a faithful few of you who I can consistently count on; the ones who always put their whole hearts into people (and you know who you are!!!). These are the people that back up their words with actions. They devote time, money, resources, and love to helping the broken and getting them through whatever they are struggling with. They know as well as I do that we need to give and do as much as we can. Alone we are one, but together we are many! The WHOLE body of Christ needs to network together in order to have maximum impact!! So, THANK YOU to my true family and friends who ALWAYS have my back; and the backs of others!! THANK YOU for always saying “yes” when I ask you to help me aid a friend (or even help me personally in any number of ways), give back to the community, etc. You are more than just the “mouth” of Jesus; you are His hands and feet. You’re going, doing, and caring!! I feel the urge to name some of you one by one, but I know you all are humble servants and I don’t want to embarrass you (or cause the less than humble people to give me grief if I didn‘t mention their name lol). You know who you are, and you have my infinite love and gratitude for all you do!

Grace and peace to all of you!! God bless you and may you be a blessing to others!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MONSTROUS!!!





Today, my little kindergartner brought home a bag full of papers. Among them was a page he had colored. While that is not something out of the ordinary, the genre of this particular picture certainly wasn’t something I was accustomed to seeing. It was a picture of “our new president.” Casey even signed and said the word “president” for me.

Despite the fact that I was extremely nauseated at the sight, I was glad to know that at the very least, my son knew a new word. LOL It was also refreshing to know that in his little mind, Mr. Obama is the president and nothing more (unlike a vast amount of those who are practically bowing down to worship him like he’s a god).

I was almost ready to throw the picture away when I noticed what Casey drew on the back of the page. It was a picture of the REAL Barack Obama (well, how he looks on the inside at least). On the back of the page, Casey drew two monsters (at least that‘s my best guess as to what they are! LOL At any rate, they are savage looking creatures). He also wrote the word “up” (which is one of the few words, besides his name, that he writes).

In that moment, the word “up” totally grabbed me. “Keep looking up” was all I could think of. Amen to that!! There are always going to be “monsters” running around in the world, but I don’t have to worry about it. All I have to do is keeping looking “up” to the one who is above all things!! Monsters don’t scare Him, and they don’t scare me because since God is FOR me who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Throughout these next four years, I hope to have Casey’s realistic view of Mr. Obama: he’s the president. Period. Nothing more. He is a mere human like everyone else. He’s not God or the savior of America (a nation of which he’s not even a legal citizen - but who cares about that constitutional stipulation right??!). I will pray to my one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, and that He will be with this ordinary man who was carelessly chosen by a nation of people who are forgetting who the true savior is.

I pray that God will move in the hearts of “monsters” everywhere - and I’m meaning that for EVERYONE!! EVERYBODY can be a little “monstrous” sometimes (yep, even me!). I’m not perfect. I have a sinful nature just like every other human being. I NEED Christ to drive the savageness out of me so that I don’t become a monstrous monster who does monstrous things! Did I drive that word home yet? The raging beast can be tamed! Every monster can be redeemed!

Let us hope and pray for miracles in this new administration. Pray for real “change”; changes of heart! That way, monstrosities (like FOCA) won’t become a reality! May the only thing that’s monstrous be our prayers rising “up“ to the Father!!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He's Snow Wonderful!




IT’S SNOWING!!!! I know, I know. Many of you are groaning and saying, “Duh! What else is new? I wish it would stop already!” While snow does have it’s negative effects (slippery roads, inconvenience, etc.) I couldn’t help but notice the intricate beauty of the snowfall today.

As I hurried in the cold to get Gianna into the van after the Mom Life meeting, I was awestruck as I beheld the pure elegance of snow accumulating all around me. Then, as I looked at my coat, I saw that the huge snowflakes that had fallen were clearly defined in great detail!! I was in absolute awe as I narrowed my eyes to look closely at all the bold details. Usually, you just see little wet dots that look like specks of dandruff, but these were not like that at all!! I could clearly see shapes and designs!! Even in the mass clusters on the van windows, you could see all the individual flakes as they stuck together in all that fluffy snow dust. I don’t recall ever seeing snow like that before! We all know that snowflakes are uniquely and intricately designed (and no two are alike) but how often do we really observe it for ourselves like that?

I took joy in beholding all the simple and wonderful sights. Relishing the moment, I forgot all about the “bad weather”, the frigid cold, and the crappy gloves that did little to protect my hands as I scraped my vehicle windows. My heart was excited and overwhelmed by what I knew to be a precious blessing from my heavenly Father: one of those “be still and know” moments where all that exists is you, God, and your intense awareness of His sovereignty and greatness. I felt His peace flood my soul.

As I drove home, I just took it all in. The amount of snow on the road forced me to be careful and slow, which I didn’t mind at all. I relished being a little bit “pokey” because I was just so blessed by the complexities and details of everything around me. When I got home, my neighbor (who was graciously shoveling everyone‘s walkways) echoed the other thought I had in my mind as I stood in my driveway taking it all in: “a big bang didn‘t create this.” AMEN! Nothing you see here was created by something blowing up! NOTHING gets created by exploding; it gets destroyed. Duh!! ;) I AM SO IN AWE OF MY CREATOR!! PRAISE HIM!!

In the midst of all these wondrous thoughts, God showed me a perfect illustration. Each snowflake is so individually different. Yet, when they all come together, they create a smooth and uniform blanket of white glistening perfection. Even then, if you zoom in on one, you can see their distinctions once again. God brought 1 Corinthians 12:12 to my mind: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

Every single one of us is a uniquely crafted “snowflake.” We have different allocations and attributes, but we all have purpose. The beauty of our calling is stunning when you look at us one by one, but when we all work together, we shine radiantly and collectively as one in the body of Christ! All clumped together, we make a beautiful blanket of pure white snow!

Have a “be still and know” moment today! Rest in the fact that God created you beautifully and uniquely!! Your uniqueness is exquisite and one-of-a-kind!! You matter and you have purpose!! If the devil or anyone tries to tell you different, reject that “pig slop” (right Pastor Howie?!). We’re all a part of that beautiful blanket of snow, and EVERY snowflake is needed to make that blanket and reflect the beauty of Christ! If you aren‘t part of that blanket, it will look a little patchy and holey (like the unfilled areas of my van windows). So, let it snow! Let it SNOW! LET IT SNOW!!!! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist! LOL).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weighing Self-Control

In the last video session of Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” (a study on the fruit of the Spirit), I was deeply touched by the things that she shared on self-control. I have enjoyed the duration of the study with my small group very much (and wish I could share every detail of the numerous things I have learned) but it’s a much richer experience if you can undertake the study yourself. However, I was eager to share some things from the last video because it was so powerful to me!

The first verses that Beth Moore highlights at the start of the video are these:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

She says that the Holy Spirit wants to be comfortable in our skin. Isn’t that a neat concept? To be comfortable in our skin, we ought not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30) and we should listen to Him. We need to have the self-control to know when to restrain ourselves and stop when we need to. She also made a point of telling us that the process of discipline is a “one day at a time” thing. Yet, so many of us expect instant maturity rather than being just as patient with ourselves as God is with us.

Beth particularly focused on the aspect of loving God with all of our strength; controlling the body that the Holy Spirit dwells in. She makes several important points and the first one is this: “Deeply absorbing a biblical perspective of our physical bodies would free us from the horrific stress our culture has placed on us.” Beth reminded us of just how media-driven our culture is. Though, I hardly doubt that comes as a shock to anyone reading this. ;) She says that we have a hard time reaching a point of balance. We are either one extreme or the other - either neglect or obsession. We either care too much or too little about caring for ourselves. She says the middle ground is a place called respect; where you neither obsess nor disregard yourself to either extreme.

I got to tell you, that had me nodding my head the whole time because I know what she’s talking about!! It resonated with me all the more as she shared the story of a woman who shared her testimony with her regarding this second point: “From a strictly biblical point of view (as opposed to medical), physical fitness is probably more about freedom than size (Galatians 5:1). Keep in mind that extreme conditions call for focused measures. The ultimate goal for most of us, however is freedom from obsession so that God rather than the body can be glorified. This goal is most often realized through recapturing the lost art (practice) of moderation.”

Wow!! Isn’t that powerful?!! She told us about a lady who said she has been everything from a size four to a size fourteen. She said that at a size four, she was not free because she had to work so hard to maintain it. She had to count every calorie and obsess about every detail in order to stay a four. She also said she was not free at a fourteen because at that size, she didn’t care much at all and food was her friend, comfort, and idol. Though, Beth was quick to point out that either one of these sizes could be the point of freedom and balance for someone else (everyone’s body is different). Though, for this lady in particular, she said her freedom is in being a size ten. She neither has to focus too much or too little about it and she’s free from both extremes of bondage.

I found that fascinating and so very true! As most of you know, I have been struggling with my weight for a long time. In the last couple years, I have lost some (and gained some back when I quit focusing on God as my “coach”). I don’t know what my ideal size is yet (because I haven’t gotten that far) but I hope to reach that place of balance as well. I know that at my highest size (18/20) was not freedom for me and I was neglectful of my body. I also know that obsessing too much over losing weight is not good either. So, I am patiently waiting and working to reach my goal without becoming too consumed with food at either end of the spectrum. I expect my place of freedom will be much like hers. I think the size that my height and frame can be will probably be around a 10. I KNOW that I am not built to be anything too much smaller than that!! I think anything below a six would NOT be for me. It’s like what she said, we just need to ‘learn to do what we need to do, then get on with living.’ We should focus on whatever needs taken care of, but it shouldn’t be the focal point forever. It goes back to that verse of Galatians 5:1 about Christ setting us free and not being burdened again by another yoke of slavery. When it comes to losing weight (or anything else) don’t trade one bondage for another! Don’t become free from being overweight just to become enslaved to becoming too thin!

Beth used Romans 12:1-2 as the scripture for her next point which is: “The most transforming and freeing way we can approach the care of our physical bodies is making fitness one way we worship God.” She talked about listening to praise and worship as she walked, and just praying and fellowshipping with Him as she took the time to maintain her body through exercise. She said our bodies were meant to be active. It wasn’t until the inventions of modern appliances/equipment that we lost the reason to keep our bodies moving. (LOL Isn’t that the truth?!). Technology and “labor saving devices” (as Mr. Lunt from Veggie Tales would say LOL.) are great! However, we don’t want to lose the benefits of physical activity just because we are enabled to be sedentary.

So, what do we do now? Beth made a very profound statement in saying that “radical restoration follows radical repentance.” Amen!! That’s true no matter WHAT you’re dealing with!! Amazing results are the product of first taking some radical actions! If the results in your life aren’t what you want, you got to change the steps you took to get there. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” ;)

Beth concluded by having us celebrate our own Hanukkah. Does that sound odd to you? Well, she explained that the word Hanukkah was from the Hebrew word hanak which means “dedicated.“ She said our Hanukkah is about dedication/rededication and a reestablishment of worship. She said: “The time has come for us to take our positions. Before we do, let’s rededicate our temples.”

We are now a little over a week into the new year. For most, the new year symbolize a new start. Though, the new year isn’t the only time we can have a new start. We can have that each and every day because God’s compassion and faithfulness is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every day can be a new start and a day of restoration as we surrender and rededicate ourselves to Him. Like the phrase Tom Felger said that has always stuck with me: “Surrender is a lifestyle.” Indeed it is!! We daily take up our crosses and lay down our lives before Him (Matthew 16:24) and He lifts us back up (James 4:10)!! How glorious and wonderful is that?

Grace and peace to all of you today, tomorrow, and always!! May this new year, and every year, be blessed!! God bless you all!!