Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Living in the Grace of God

I just finished reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, an eye-opener of a book. The gist of the book is living in the grace of God because we are objects of God's unfailing love. Not a light subject, but a rather simple one. The final chapter, "A Touch of Folly" might be the one that hit me the hardest.

I am still processing all the questions that Manning poses. They are questions that we, as Christ-followers, cannot ignore. Questions that we need to consider. Questions that we need to come face-to-face with. I want to share them with you. Do with them what you wish. My prayer is that you would take time to think, write, pray, seek answers to each question.

We live in a world that is pining for us. We live in a world that wants to pull us away from God. We live in a world where the focus is solely on "me" and what "I" can get. We live in a world where there is a battle for souls. The time is now to think about and respond to God and the call He has put on each of us...."Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?

After falling flat on your face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace?

Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ?

Are you shocked and horrified when you fail?

Are you really aware that you don't have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?

Are you as certain of the triumph of good over evil as the fermentation of dough by yeast?

Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of you life toward peace and joy?

Are you diminished by other people's perception of you or your own definition of yourself?

Do you possess that touch of folly to transcend doubt, fear, and self-hatred and accept that you are accepted?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. More than that, I would love to know that these questions stirred you up. I would love to know that they made you dig deep into God's word, that you sought HIM out in a new way, that you found peace in the unfailing love of Abba.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Baby Changes Everything...

I have a new favorite Christmas tune.

Faith Hill's A Baby Changes Everything

Teenage girl, much too young

Unprepared for what's to come

A baby changes everything


Not a ring

On her hand

All her dreams and all her plans

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything


The man she loves, she's never touched

How will she keep his trust

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything


And she cries, ohh, she cries


She has to leave, go far away

Heaven knows she can't stay

A baby changes everything


She can feel, it's coming soon

There's no place, there's no room

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything


And she cries, ohh, she cries


The shepherds all gather 'round

Up above the star shines down

A baby changes everythiing


Choir of angels sing

Glory to the new born King

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything


everything
everything
everything


hallelujah
hallelujah

My whole life has turned around

I was lost but now I'm found

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything


I hope that today you got what you were wanting under the tree. But more than that I hope that you are surrounded with people that you love, remembering and standing in awe once again of THE baby that changed everything. Allow Him to be the center of your day. Praise God for changing the world with a tiny precious baby. What an amazing Father!


Merry Christmas! We love you!
Holy God,
Thank you for who you are and thank you for sending Baby Jesus! I am awestruck at your amazing and flawless plan. Thank you for using Mary to show us that sometimes faith is WAY outside the box, dangerous, scary and incredibly rewarding. Her faithfullness is an indescribable example. Help me today to remember what this day is really all about. Oh yeah, and hey Jesus, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you! Ahmen

Thursday, December 24, 2009

He Came

I want to remind you all this Christmas season that Jesus came. It is very real. He came to this earth as a child, grew to be a man, and died on a cross so that each of us can experience heaven. Below is an excerpt from the book of Luke...the account of the birth of Jesus. May you be blessed this Christmas season. May you praise Jesus for the blessings you have. May you be surrounded by those who love you and care for you deeply. And may you remember the TRUE reason that we celebrate.

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Greatest Story Ever Told!

Christmas. It's coming, fast.
I don't feel like it though.

*There is no snow - which I am actually happy about.

*I don't have a tree up at home - not there enough to spend the time putting it up/taking it down.

*I haven't bought any presents and I only have one to get - Dave Ramsey tells me I am not allowed. Don't know who Dave is? He controls my financial life...well actually he is teaching me how to control my own financial life. Check him out http://www.daveramsey.com/

*I didn't send out any Christmas cards - Dave's fault again.

*I haven't seen any promotions for A Christmas Story on TV yet. This is my all time favorite Christmas movie and also an incredible memory as my family and I spend hours upon hours watching this movie on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...we have been known to schedule various events on these days based on what parts of the movie we have seen the most! I probably haven't seen the commercials because since we don't have cable anymore I get two NBC channels and a CBS...

As I thought about all of these things,
I thought,
yeah, ok, Monica, so what?

Maybe you have also let your heart forget that it's not about decorations, or presents, or movies (although I am pretty sure that Jesus watches A Christmas Story all day, as part of his Birthday Party of course), or cards, or anything other earthly thing you could imagine. It's about

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD!
We are amidst the season where we get to celebrate because God sent His Son as a tiny infant, to save the world. I am so thankful for this reminder today.
Praise God for who He is and that He sent His Son!
God,
Thanks for the awakening in my heart today. I am so excited to Celebrate the love story that you wrote for all of us thousands of years ago. Jesus, the Birthday Countdown is on! Help me keep focused on what this season really means for me! Ahmen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trust

I told you last week that I would give you more on what's going on with me. Nothing major, first of all. No catastrophes or major life changes. I've just been going through an interesting season. And I think I can label it Trust.

If you would have asked me a year ago. I would have told you that I'm a very trusting person. I would have told you that I know who I can trust and that I am good at trusting. I would have probably told you that 6 months ago. But ... I think I was wrong. I think I am only trully beginning to learn what trust means and how to give that trust.

So I'm basically still a newlywed (yes, you can roll your eyes, or say aawww here). What that means for me, after being single for 30 years is that I'm used to doing things my way, and making my own decisions. I consulted others, yes. I spent time praying about my choices, yes, but when all was said and done the decisions were mine. Now? Now I'm half of a whole. That means that we make decisions together and that I have to trust that we will come to the best conclusions together. I also believe that my husband is the head of our house and that my job is to support him. (no, I'm not belittling my position or telling you that everything he says goes, but I do believe that's what God's plan is for marriage). Sometimes our husbands need us to trust them. I believe they need us to let them know that we believe in them, that they are doing the best they can for our family and that we fully support them.

That's the tricky part for me. Maybe it's the giving of myself. Maybe it's the feeling of losing control but ultimately it's trust. Do I trust my husband enough that he will take care of us? Do I trust that he has our best interests in mind?

As I've been considering this lately, I've realized that it's not trusting in me, or my husband, but it comes down to trusting in God. Do I trust that God has a plan for me/us? When something comes up that shakes (even just a little) my comfortable life, do I trust that He has a plan that will see me through? A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about this and she basically laid it out for me. She told me that I'm not trusting in the one who has given all for me. Wow, that's an eye opener! I don't know about you but I don't like to be told things like.. well, like that. I want to think that I'm always doing things that are pleasing to my Father. I want to think that I do trust him and that whenever something happens I'll go to him and walk in faith.

Here's what I'm learning. I would do that if it was a major thing. If it was a point where I had no where to turn but to Him. But when it comes to day to day life, I like to keep that in my own hands. that's where I'm sorely lacking. If you'd like to know how that's going for me- the keeping life in my own hands (but pretending that I'm giving it to God)... not so well. I'm falling hard. It's not fun. But I'm learning!

"trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" Prov 3:5-6

That's pretty basic and easy right? I've been working on even just breathing that silent prayer.. God I trust in you. I know He's hearing my prayers and I know in my head that He will walk me through everything, so now I'm working on moving it to my heart.

My friends. I am thankful for you. I'm going to take the Christmas holidays off as well, but I'll ask that you pray for me. Pray that I'll continue to learn what it means to trust in the Lord with all of my heart.... And I'll be praying for you and thanking God for all of you!

Merry Christmas siestas. :)
Love,
Shan

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Wish You a Merry Christmas......and a Happy New Year!

I have decided to take a few weeks off of blogging during the holidays but I will be back in January! My wish for you is for a relaxing, memory-filled time with family and friends, and that you make time to reflect on the awesome gift that God has given to us.... Jesus!!

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "O Holy Night". I leave you with its words (the second and third verses I did not know, but love them!)... how it reminds me of just what Jesus came do for us and how much we need him! Merry Christmas!!!

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear savior's birth. Long live the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night, o night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by his cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men of Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger, in all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Behold your king! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your king, behold your king.

Truly he taught us to love one another, his law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His Holy Name.

Christ is the Lord, Praise His name Forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim, His power and glory evermore proclaim!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Waking Up

"...there is only one thing God asks of us - that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough."
Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin Gospel"

Have you ever noticed that the more you read about Christ, immerse yourself in daily prayer, and study the Word of God that you catch yourself waking up? This has happened to me several times throughout my 12 year walk with the Lord. Each time it is like I am waking up with an even clearer picture of the ugliness and evil that swarms this world.

I have found myself making time for the Lord every day, INTENTIONALLY making time. Sure this seems like something that one does as a believer and follower of Jesus, but it takes work. Some of my close friends have asked, "why is it so easy all of the sudden?" My answer is that it is necessary.

As the day of rejoicing the coming of Jesus as a man to this earth approaches, I feel the enemy angering and attacking more ferociously than ever before. AND for the first time in my life I am connecting with God daily because I feel it completely, 100% necessary for protection. I find myself needing to be studying, learning, on my face in prayer, and connecting with other believers in order to build myself up in the Lord.

I want to close with a prayer. Paul writes this prayer for Ephesians in Chapter 3. It is my prayer for believers everywhere as we are facing a spiritual battle every day that we walk on this earth. May it strengthen you and remind you that you are not alone in your walk.

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Friday, December 11, 2009

BRRR!

I spent a good part of today outside for WSBT's 22 Ways to LIVE UNITED event. It was freezing! So cold, a really good time but did I mention yet that it was cold. I crawled under the covers as soon as I got home and I am still curled up under the blankets trying to get completely warm.

As I drove to South Bend this morning I was thinking about the people that are served by United Way in our community. There are many people this year who aren't able to make ends meet and something can't get paid, sometimes that's the heat bill and sometimes it's buying groceries, and the list goes on. I don't know about you but even with my very strict Dave Ramsey dictated budget, I have EVERYTHING I could possibly need. Sure, like many of us, I want different things but there is really nothing that I need. As I stood outside today I just kept counting down to when I would be able to come home and get all toasty warm.

Some people don't have that release.
Can you imagine?
I can't believe that some people have to live outside during this type of weather. I am praying tonight and thanking God for choosing to bless me with everything I need. And I am praying for those who aren't as fortunate, that they can still feel the presence of God.
Lord,
You know my heart. I thank you and praise you for who you are. And for who I am in you. Bless those in need this day, and especially this Holiday season. Amen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A challenge

This post goes along with Kristi's. How do we keep the real meaning of Christmas alive? Have you thought about it?

I was talking with a girlfriend yesterday about this and she shared a wonderful idea. She went to a cookie exchange with her sister in law. We all know the idea of a cookie exchange... go there with some of your own and leave with lots of different kinds. This was the same with a little twist. Instead of each of the ladies bringing home a ton of cookies, they each were able to fill two tins and also a plate. The idea of the tins was that they were to give them to someone who needed some holiday cheer, but more specifically needed to know the reason we celebrate Christmas was because God loved enough enough to send His Son. It was the beginning of everything. So in addition to a pretty tin of cookies, they included a note that specifically shared this amazing truth. It was beautifully written and so very loving and clear in explanation.

I love that idea. So much that I tried to think of how we could all meet and do it! Unfortunately I think my Christmas plans are about maxed out. So instead I'm challenging YOU! Can you be purposeful about sharing the reason we celebrate Christmas? I make a lot of Christmas goodies for family and friends but I often only share them with those I just mentioned. When I heard about this idea, two or three families came to mind. I am going to make just a little extra to share with them this year but that's not where I'm going to stop. I am also going to write them a little note just like my friend's. Giving cookies is wonderful, giving hope and joy is even better.

Have you already done this? Can you think of a way to share God's blessing? If you do, please share with us. We can all encourage each other!



Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Becoming Clark Griswold

I have to admit that "Christmas Vacation" is one of my favorite movies this time of year, despite its sometimes, can I say inappropriate? sense of humor. My husband goes around quoting cousin Eddie, "Nice Clark, Reeeallll Nice...." I love it because all Clark wants is a perfect Christmas for his family. He tries so hard (can you say a gazillion lights on the house!) and nothing seems to go his way. Okay, if you haven't seen the movie, none of this is funny to you... but if you have, you know what I mean!

Anyway, it is so hard in this world of crazy, sensational Christmas idealogy to stay focused on the true reason of this holiday. Like Clark, we want Christmas to be an unforgettable time for those we love. We get sucked into buying more and more gifts as a way of making it the best Christmas ever! As a parent it is a challenge to raise children who don't fixate on Santa and their mile-long list of toys they want from him. Our family follows tradition and we do have Santa visit our house, but we do our best to keep redirecting our kids to the birth of Christ as the reason for our celebration. I am trying my best not to overschedule this season with too many activities so we can enjoy time together at home, making cookies and delivering them to neighbors, playing games, listening to music. We are doing an advent calendar devotion every day (thanks Amy!) and the kids absolutely love it. It is taking the time to sit down and cherish those moments with the kids I don't want to become like Clark, so busy trying to make everyone happy that I forget to stop, take time and just enjoy being together. Like Clark when he gets locked in the attic, dresses up in old clothes and watches old home videos, I want to remember the time I spent with my loved ones celebrating the birth of Christ, not the gifts I gave them or they gave me.

How do you stay grounded during the Christmas season? Do you have any family traditions? I would love to hear about them!

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger. when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all the things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:16-20

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Lights

I love this time of year! I love that Jesus is mentioned every time someone says CHRISTmas! I love the time with my family and friends who come home for the holidays. I love the smells of cookies, pine, and cold.

One of my favorite things are the lights that people put up! I will drive around neighborhoods just to look at Christmas lights on people's houses. (If you want to see some good ones, go to Columbia City....just east of town close to the softball park.) I don't have an explanation for why, but seeing those lights just gives me warm fuzzies.

For my family, this is the season that we spend TONS of time together. We hang out to watch football. We get together for Christmas. We try to find that "perfect gift" for one another. We just enjoy our time together.

I don't really have anything profound or deep spiritually, I just wanted to share some of my favorite things about the holiday season. I will leave you some hilarious Christmas lights pictures. The first one was sent to me by a friend. The second is my nephew. Enjoy!



Thursday, December 3, 2009

UPWARD...

To most of us, this word means "something higher", to others of us it means something completely different. To me this word brings back many fond memories because of UPWARD basketball and cheerleading. I was the director of this sports oriented, Christ-centered ministry at my church for a few years. It was a beast to plan, execute and man with volunteers but so worth it!

For those of you who don't know, UPWARD is a athletic program developed for church's to use as an outreach to their community. They have multiple different sports available but being from Indiana...of course we do basketball! We have done this for probably 6 or 7 years, and if you can't tell by now...I LOVE IT!

This year I am looking forward to just coaching! I say :just: because it will be my only responsibility...a big one, but the only one I will have to this season. 9 little kindergarten and 1st grade super stars are going to make up a great little team, The Boilers! :)

I am so excited to start the season; our first practice is a week from tonight. Mike, my dad and Mike, my boyfriend are going to coach with me and I am SO pumped to get started. I am looking forward to meeting my Jordan Juniors, building relationships with their parents and family, reading and learning the Word with them, praying with and for them, inviting them to church, sharing devotions with them, oh yeah, and teaching them about basketball.

Now, if you know me at all, you might find that last bit a little funny. While I have watched a lot of basketball in my life, I am no good at it. (As long as you exclude the time that my much more athletic and basketball talented siblings and I played around the world in the driveway, AND I WON! IT WAS AWESOME! *side note, it was like 5 years ago) I am hoping that since I might actually be taller than a 5,6 or 7 year old and hopefully have a little more skill, maybe I will fool them into thinking I was in the WNBA!

One thing I know I won't be kidding about?
At the end of the season I promise that every kid on my team will understand what it feels like to be unconditionally loved with the love of Christ. I promise that they will have been individually, purposefully, and lovingly asked about considering to let God be the King of their Heart.
Whether they score every time down the court OR they can't hit the broad side of a barn.
I will love them.
Whether they can dribble with both hands OR they can't dribble to save their precious little life.
I will love them.
Whether they guard their opponent well on defense OR offense (I saw it once, cutest thing ever).
I will love them.
I am sure I will have some Upward stories to share with you over the next few months. Will you join me right now in praying for this league. What an incredible opportunity the volunteers in this program to show Christ.
God,
We thank you for ministries like Upward. They challenge us to reach others. I know God that you are just as, if not more, excited about this upcoming season of Upward. After all you already know the outcome. God today we just pray that you would be with all the volunteers in this league. That they would be in a close relationship with you and in tune to your voice; that they are open to the opportunities given to them to reach people for you. God we thank you for the athletes and their families. Some coming from home churches, relationships with you: may they be blessed. Some coming from really tough places, where it seems to them that you are no where to be found. I know you are there with them God. May they too be blessed. I am amazed that you have picked me to help them see you. Move me out of the way, forgive my sins, give me your grace, mercy and love. Let me be your hands, feet, words and heart. I want to show others the redemption that they can find in you. Pour your perfect love into my imperfect heart. All the glory be unto you, my God. Bless us, Love us, Reveal yourself to us. Amen

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For You

I'm working on incorporating more verses into my prayer/quiet time.. I read this one today and wanted to share it with you... I'll share more next week about this...

"You are my witnesses," declares, the LORD
and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the LORD
and apart from me there is no savior
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God."
Isaiah 43:10-12

Monday, November 30, 2009

What is God's Will?

How many times do we ask ourselves, "What is God's will for my life?" I know I have asked it many, many times. Sometimes I feel I know the answer, and other times I do not. Something I read this week in my Bible study caused me to pause and rethink this question.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby.

What is God's will for my life? is not the right question (to ask). I think the proper question is, What is God's will? Once I know God's will, then I can adjust my life to Him. In other words, what is it God is purposing to accomplish where I am? Once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to do. The focus needs to be on God, not on my life.

When I want to learn how to know and do God's will, I can find no better model than Jesus' life. During his 33 years on earth, He perfectly completed every assignment the Father gave Him, He never failed to do the will of the Father, He never sinned. (see John 15:17-20)
Jessu watched to see where His Father was at work and joined Him. Jesus' approach to knowing and doing His Father's will can be outlined like this:

Jesus' Example

1. The Father has been working right up until now.
2. Now the Father has me working.
3. I do nothing on my own initiative.
4. I watch to see what the Father is doing.
5. I do what I see the Father doing.
6. The Father loves me.
7. He shows Me everything He is doing.

This model applies to your life personally and also to your church. It is NOT a step-by-step approach for knowing and doing God's will, but it describes a LOVE relationship through which God accomplishes His purposes. I sum it up this way: watch to see where God is working and join Him!!

When I read and studied this, the Holy Spirit really moved me to start thinking in a different way. Instead of a me-centered prayer, I need to be praying a God-centered prayer. What is your will LORD? Help me to open my eyes to what you are doing around me so I can join in. How many times do we go about our daily lives oblivious to those around us, or at least not focused on how God could be using us in a situation or relationship?

Lord, your mighty hand is at work all around me; in my home, in my church, in my town, in my social circles. Open my eyes to what you are doing so I can join in your plan. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time Away...

Time away is wonderful! I have been blessed to be in Texas visiting a very dear friend of mine who is down here on a one-year internship with Texas A&M’s strength and conditioning coach. She is a phenomenal woman and has a heart for the Lord that is tough to find in this day and age.

As I was preparing to come down, AJ told me she had a book for me to read while visiting. For those of you that know me, I LOVE TO READ! It is one of my favorite hobbies. So, the mention of a good book to read and discuss got me super excited. I started the book yesterday morning and my goal was to catch up to AJ, who was on chapter 11. I did not heed God’s warning as I began to read this book. I should have known it would be intense and stirring since AJ was recommending it. Now and Not Yet is a book about “making sense of single life in the twenty-first century” and it has hit home with my heart.

I want to share some of my initial and on-going thoughts with you all. This is a glimpse into my heart, my struggles, and my desires. I tend to fight when I feel God pushing me to share, but I know he pushes for a reason. My prayer, as I write this, is that you would be blessed in knowing that we all struggle at times in our walks with Christ. But, we must learn to rest in HIS love and HIS truth as we go through those times. Just as James tells us to “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,” we must push through the struggles. Push through the struggles knowing that we will come out stronger on the other side.

11-28-09

“Our highest calling is to love God and to live in obedience exactly where he currently has us.” This truly is my heart. I want to be satisfied right where God has me. But, shouldn’t I be allowed to have desires and hopes and dreams WHILE living in the satisfaction of where God currently has me? I mean God says his plans are to “prosper us….to give us hope and a future.” So I find myself wrestling to find balance in living obediently in the present while trusting that it’s okay to hope and dream about the future. I can’t find the middle ground. So I go from high to low – highs of the joy I have in where I am in life and lows of thinking my hopes are selfish and God doesn’t care.


Yes I am blessed as a single woman. I have more “freedom” in ministry. I am able to go visit people. I have one agenda to consider. I am so grateful for where I am. But I also don’t think it is wrong to want something else. I look at marriage several ways: 1) an opportunity to share life in an intimate relationship with another believer 2) the ministry doors that are opened 3) the opportunity to live as an example of Christ and his church 4) levels of intimacy that can only be shared by two people who have committed themselves to one another for LIFE.


Being so driven by relationships and constantly desiring depth, marriage is very appealing. And I don’t feel it is wrong to want that. I know I have to keep myself in check so that I am not consumed in negativity of being single. I know that I have to be ready when satan twists words of my married friends and throws daggers at my heart. I know that I need to be living out this time to deepen my relationship with Christ. But knowing all the “right things” doesn’t automatically make life easy.


11-29-09

It can be overwhelming to think of all I desire or don’t have right now. But, I am rich. I am rich in the love of Christ! And I am being reminded of that often lately. Sometimes I get so me-focused that I take my eyes off of that eternal reference point. Every little bump in life causes me to over-correct and veer onto a wild roller coaster. Perspective is skewed and satan attacks. This trip has been refreshing. It has put my perspective back in line and the eternal reference point is back almost to clarity.


I’m hungry for more of Jesus! I’m desiring to dive deeper into him and grow. I need to get back down on my face from time to time. I need to pick up on the running again and exercise. I need a focus check.


Thank you Jesus for this time. It has been emotional and uncomfortable, but it has been good. Please help me to stay focused on you and the truth that you breathe into my life every day! AMEN

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's starting...

I thought it was pretty appropriate to talk about the Holiday season starting on this Black Friday. First, I need to take this chance to tell you that people who have been up for hours shopping...I think you're nuts. But I suppose to each their own. I am not a big shopped anyways but I am a gift giver. I get it honest, my mom LOVES to shop but mostly at Christmas because she loves to give gifts too. There is something about the look on a gift reciever's face when they open the perfect present. I know that God feels the same way when He sees a person accept His salvation and start to live for Him. What an amazing God!

However today I am focused on the fact that because of what time of the year it is: The Holiday season has begun. You have started to see Christmas decorations go up, candy, decorations, and Holiday scents for candles have been out in the stores for weeks now, people are starting or finishing their shopping... I think as Christians we have to be careful about how caught up we get in that part of Christmas. I want nothing more than for each of you to have a blessed Holiday sesason, surrounded by family and loved ones, experiencing that fulfillment of a person opening the perfect present, getting some things you have been waiting all year for, but mostly I pray that today and each day this Holiday season you will take time to be surrounded by God, to remember what present He sent so many years ago to each one of us. It's time to prepare our hearts to remember that Christ was born on Christmas...afterall, He is the Reason for the Season. And what a better way to start than being Thankful for all that He has given us.

God,
I thank you so much for all that you have blessed me with, I am certainly not worthy. Thanks for sending Jesus as a little baby to grow and save the world. I praise you for this time of year: a time to focus on family and to focus on you. Please help us each day of the year and especially in this time remember that you love and care for us. Prepare our hearts once again to remember the birth of Jesus. You are an awesome God and we love you! Amen

Monday, November 23, 2009

First...Then...Finally...

First, read Kristi's blog about Thanksgiving.

Then, go to www.blessedbydefault.blogspot.com and get the update on Pat's sister Linda.

Finally, pray. Thank God for what He has done in Linda's life and yours. He is so good!

A Thankful Heart

Hello everyone! Are you counting down the days until Thanksgiving like I am? I have to say that I am looking forward to getting to see my family and I am ready to enjoy all of the delicious food my grandmother prepares for our meal! I am so fortunate to have a grandmother who still cooks for an entire houseful of kids, grandkids and great-grandkids! She is amazing!


Anyway, I have been thinking about my blessings this week. As a family, we have been writing down something we are thankful for each day and putting it in a pumpkin basket on the table. On Thursday evening, we are going to read all of our blessings. It is fun to see the kids write (or draw in Caroline's case) what they are thankful for. Today, Caroline drew a sun on her sticky note as the rays shone in through the window, warming us as we sat at the table. It reminded me that it is not the material "things" that God has blessed me with this year that I am most grateful for, but the more basic items that I take for granted: Clean water to drink and bathe in, fresh air to breath, the ability to walk and use my five senses, the privilege to write to you about my faith in God on this blog. Also, I thought about how the Pilgrims, even in the midst of their dire physical and mental circumstances, managed to set aside a day of Thanksgiving. I live in the lap of luxury compared to them, yet am I as thankful? Do I give thanks to God even for the difficult experiences in my life, because they made me stronger in my faith and perserverance?


I found a few quotes I would like to share with you today as you prepare for Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a wonderful day full of celebration and find some time to reflect on the blessings God has given you this year. I am so thankful that I serve a true, living God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me, to take away my sins, so I can spend eternity with Him. Thank you Lord!



"The pilgrims made seven more times graves than huts; nonetheless set aside a day of thanksgiving" H.W. Westermeyer



"Not what we say about our blessings but how we use them, is the true measure of thanksgiving." W.T. Purkiser



"Oh Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!" William Shakespeare



"Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Praise ye the Lord! " Psalm 150:6

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Mom!

Wow, I've had to think and think.....I've had so many people influence me through the years. I believe I would have to say that my mother, Carol Alexander, was and has continued to be the most positive influence on my faith as I watch her live out hers.

She was an only child, went to Catholic school, her mother died when she was a teenager. When they were first married, my Dad was in the service and he wasn't even in the states when I was born. My Mom always told me with tears in her eyes that I seemed to recognize him (I s'pose from pictures) and went right to him when he came home! I am the second to the oldest of eight children. My Mom was a stay at home mom, as most mothers were at that time. We went to church every Sunday and as I remember how crazy it was getting my four kids all ready to go to church, I can't imagine my Mom getting all eight of us around. Back then, too, my sister's and I all had the frilly Sunday Sch dresses, white tights or socks and black patent leather shoes.


My Mom has always encouraged me and shown by example how to live a life following Jesus. We were always involved in church and youth activities at the churches we attended. When she married my Dad she changed to his families denomination of Methodist which we have been all our lives. But she wouldn't have cared if we changed as long as we were going to church somewhere. I don't remember her words from my childhood as much as I remember her and my Dad's priorities.

I think one of the most important lessons my mother taught me and has continued to reteach me is about the way God would have me relate to my husband. She has at times scolded me if I was complaining about him. Then and at other times, she would tell me about the positive she saw in him and the kind of husband and father he was which I knew but maybe at the time needed to be reminded of. She told me early in my marriage to Mike when we couldn't make it to a family get-together (and my sisters were making me feel bad cause we didn't think we could come) that my family was with him and we had to make decisions for 'our family'. She always wanted us to be there but she would understand. That always helped me and I shared that with my son and his new wife a few years ago because I felt it was so important. Even tho, there was a time my son had to remind me of it when they couldn't come to something. (Boy, am I a slow learner! Even when I'm the teacher!!)

Now I know this might not seem like a lesson we all need, if you aren't married but in a way it is...she always sees the good in people and loves no matter what. I try to do that most of the time but occassionally hear my Mom's words and know that Jesus would see things just abit different and aren't we glad He does. We need to do that for others. The cool thing is He will help us to be more like Him if we call on Him. Which I do quite often!


Dear God, I thank you right now for my Mom and the example she has shown me thru the years. Help us all to see people the way you do and to love them as you would. AMEN.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't forget!

Don't forget about our 2nd Annual Women's Retreat...
Friday May 21-Saturday May 22nd
Beth Moore LIVE IN PERSON! in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Cost: $150, includes ticket, hotel, bus travel, dinner, and goodies
$60 non refundable deposit due by Sunday, November 29th (ticket price)

Please contact Kristi if you are planning on going. Kristi_beer@hotmail.com - Space is limited!!!
(we'll be leaving the church around noon on Friday and will return by dinnertime on Saturday)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In the Center of God's Will

Our ladies Bible study ended about a month ago---I was so sad because not only do I miss seeing my Bible Study pals, but I knew the inevitable would happen. .... and it did. I lost the super close feeling I had with Jesus. I had been getting in the Word every day for six weeks, and then POOF. I dropped the ball and got caught up in life. How can I possibly be so ADD when it comes to God?

Well, all of the things pulling at me, which were all good things by the way, got priority
over time with God. The cooking, cleaning, homework, kids'activities, Upward planning, grocery shopping, laundry, traveling, catching up with sleep, and reading other books took over my life. These things ARE my life right now. But what I keep failing to realize is that in order for me to stay in the center of God's will in all of these parts of my life, I have to seek Him FIRST. If I start my day dedicating that day to Him, He will show me what His will is that day. If I end my day with Bible Study, He will show me through His word what His will is for my days to come. When will I learn this? I know it, but I seem to keep forgetting it!

Thank goodness that I serve a God that doesn't give up on me! He is still there, welcoming me back. And those few weeks that I did not open my Bible? I didn't realize until after the fact how out of sync I felt. Disconnected, not seeing the JOY in my life. Focused on ME, instead of Him and others.

So, what now? Well, Jason and I talked about doing a Bible Study together for a while, and we finally decided to do "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby. I just started, but I already feel like a new creation, infused with the Holy Spirit once again. Ready to seek His will for my life once again. How do you stay in the center of God's will? How do you not get diverted by life's stresses?

"Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jesus Came Home With Me!

I'm continuing with our little theme from last week....people of influence. I just really wanted to share about a few others, so I'm going to. I don't know if the other girls will do the same, but here goes.....

Three amazing girls taught me how to bring Jesus home with me. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so Jesus was never really "at home" with me. Jesus was like the guy that I would sneak around to see - at church, at my friend's house, at my youth pastor's, but never at home. I had a great home don't get me wrong, but Jesus was not a part of it.

In April of 2004 I moved to Goshen. I moved into the upstairs apartment of a house. Downstairs lived Darcy, Alice, and Erin. I had known Darcy from school and met the other 2 through her. I had been up there to hang out and was attending their small group (which on any given night could have anywhere from 10-25 people). Anywho.....the upstairs apt. in their house was vacant so they convinced me to move up there.

I loved it! I was on my own for the first time. I had 3 friends to hang out with. I was involved in being young and single. Life was good. And it just got better. Jesus was a part of that house. We would pray together, talk about God, keep each other accountable, host small groups, sing worship songs, laugh, and just share what God was doing in our lives. Sure, it wasn't always easy with 4 females living in the same house, going to the same church, sharing the same group of friends, but it was a time in my life that I am forever thankful for.

I learned SO much from those 3 girls about myself and about Jesus. I decided after living with them, that no matter where I lived, Jesus would be in my home. And he has been.

This summer I bought a house, MY VERY OWN HOUSE! The first thing I did was pray over each room. Why....because those 3 girls taught me too. There is a ton more that I could say about each of them. Shoot, I could dedicate one post to each of them. But, for now, this is what I'm remember about their influence.

Jesus, thank you for living with me. Thank you for Darcy, Alice, and Erin and the impact that each of them have had in my life. Thank you for their love and amazing friendship through some great times and some not so great times. Thank you that you place them in my life! You are amazing!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Torture or Teaching

Maybe I am cheating a little bit because I could not pick between two people, luckily it makes pretty good sense for these two people to travel together - my parents. I have been blessed beyond all earthly imagination with two parents who love to serve the Lord. As I was growing up I didn't always see it that way but in all my wisdom at age 25 I know that to be true.

I grew up the second of four children. I can remember once a comedian saying that he and his family were always at the church - "if the janitor was washing the windows, we were there in our pew praying". This too would apply to the Wilson clan. Even before my siblings and I came a long, my parents were incredible Christians. As they raised their four children they stayed close to the church and VERY involved. This of course was the worst thing parents could be when I was about 14-17. I, like many teens who have been raised in the church, fought and fought to not go. My parents really didn't leave many options when it came to attending church. But my real sob story is that we never took "normal" family vacations.
Since the time I was very young, pretty much every one of our family vacations was a mission trip with our church. As a child this seemed pretty much like my parents were trying very hard to torture me. We would not travel to the beach, or Disneyland, or snow skiing trips, or for relaxing-kick-your-feet up by the pool vacations...instead the vacations were full of cutting soup labels for Red Bird Mission, digging post holes, sleeping in nasty cabins with even worse bathrooms, eating processed-cook-for-250-people-at-a-time meals. And to top it off most of the time we were the only kids on these trips, so we spend time with all the "old people".
I didn't realize at the time that my parents were teaching me physical service to God. They were probably praying at the time that these trips would encourage their children to understand what it meant to be called into mission by Christ.
And I can tell you: IT WORKED!

Little did I know at the time that into my adult life I would be using my vacation time from work to travel to some of these same places to serve (now, because I want to), I understand that even the seemingly unimportant job (like cutting soup labels) is so important to people who are constantly striving to serve the less fortunate, that those cabins, bathrooms, and meals would be life-long reminders to be thankful for all that I am blessed with - afterall I have seen people living in those all the time and some living ini conditions much worse, and that those "old people" would turn out to be some of my best Christian mentors and friends.

I can not fit the words into a post on how thankful I am to my parents for teaching us what it means to serve. As I look back over these mission trips I can now see that my parents were teaching not torturing. They embodied the idea of teaching by example. Some of my most treasured memories growing up have happened on mission trips and these are memories that my immediate family as well as my church missions family will be able to share forever.

Missions will forever be an important part of my Christian faith, and I have no one to thank for that except my parents. They made so many sacrifices I am sure to follow God's call on their hearts to take their family on so many mission opportunities.
I could probably post for weeks other acts of Christ that my parents have shown to me over the years. My mom and dad aren't perfect, this I know, but at the end of the day I know that they put Christ first and try their best to live for Him. Because of them I now do the same. I have had many people in my life who have impacted me for the Kingdom, but none hold a candle to the job my parents did and still do in loving me as Christ does.
My parents and I got to visit my brother, Andrew, while he was on a mission trip to New Zealand!
My grandma, mom, sister and I on Ladies Mission Trip 2008!
God,
Thank you for blessing me with incredible earthly parents. I ask that you would allow us many more days of service together. And that all missions trips, close or far, from the past or in the future, would bring glory to your name. Amen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary Anne

Ladies! I was supposed to have this done THIS MORNING! The day got away from me. For those who noticed.. I'm sorry. For those who didn't... read on!

I'm choosing to share today about a dear friend and mentor who has helped grow my faith. Her name is MaryAnne and we worked together in Haiti for two of my four years. I met MaryAnne my third year in Haiti. It was my second year teaching second grade. MaryAnne came to our school to teach science, but her background was also in administration among many other areas of education.

My immediate thought about MaryAnne was- wow, she's got guts! She was in her mid 40s (I think!) and had two boys in the States, but felt the Lord calling her overseas. She jumped in Haiti and immediately began to get to know the culture. For some, that's hard, as exciting as it sounds, even if you chose to go there. Yes, I was living there too, but I was a just graduated college student with no major attachments at home and I'll admit, I was also a bit naive about life and living overseas. She learned all she could about Haiti and gave every bit of her energy and love to the students she taught.

MaryAnne taught me so much about education, about being a good teacher and giving my all to my students but she taught me so much more about faith and a walk with Christ. Her faith is her driving point. It's what keeps her going and it's obvious. She does not mince words and I think that was what helped me grow the most. You know those days, those moments when you want to have a pity party for yourself? Well, often when we do want that, we find a friend to commiserate with us. I tried that with her a few times. Did not happen. I remember one day after getting a frustrating email from the States, I shared with her how upset I was about a situation. She looked me square in the face and said "does this person have a personal relationship with Christ?" I answered no and then she said "you cannot expect someone who has a broken leg but does not even know it, to walk a mile with you. It will not happen." My first thought was to find a new friend to talk to! But then I realized the wisdom in her words and they have stuck with me ever since. That is one example of many during two years of growing and learning under a woman who lived her life for Christ.

That time in my life was one of tremendous growth. I am so thankful that I had a dear friend who was strong enough and brave enough to tell me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. Our paths did not cross for long but I will always remember her as my mentor in education and my faith. I strive to be a friend like she was/is to me and though it's hard I think about how much I love and value her and pray that God will use me in ways like that to glorify Him.


Monday, November 9, 2009

My friend Ram

The one person who most influenced my spiritual life...... my friend Lynn aka Ram. (Yes, I know, another person with a funny nickname--Cheez yesterday, Ram today :)

I met Ram soon after Jason and I moved from Indiana to Dallas, Texas. Jason was busy with graduate school, so I was on my own quite a bit. I met Ram at the school where I taught- I was a paraprofessional in special education, and she was a student teacher in English. I helped one of the students in her class. We found out that we were both taking the test to get our licenses to teach English in the state of Texas. So we decided to ride together to take the test, and the rest is history, so to speak. We hit it off right away. I remember being able to laugh and be silly with her. At a time when I was a bit overwhelmed being newly married and living in an entirely different world (yes, Texas is like living in a different country!), I needed some female companionship-- a shopping buddy, a reading buddy, a movie buddy, a walking buddy.

At the time, Jason and I just started attending a Methodist church in Dallas and became a part of a Sunday School Class (which was also one of the biggest influences in my spiritual walk). Even though she went to a different church, Lynn was a great role model to me. She never pressured me to attend her church, but she invited me several times to go with her. She spoke often about her Bible Study group and shared stories of her family. Her father was a Christian writer, and she gave me several of his books to read. She listened to Christian (and country) music, which I had never heard in my life! She gave me my first study Bible, which I still use to this day.

Most importantly, Ram was such a supportive friend to me those six years I lived in Dallas, and even though we live far apart now, we still keep in touch. When we talk, it is like we never were apart. When we get to visit each other, we can pick up on all of the silly things we used to do way back when. We reminisce about all of the fun times we had teaching together, coaching 170 8th grade cheerleaders (yes, 170!), how she would spend the night with me when Jason would travel, and how she painted my toenails for me when I was pregnant with Alex.

She lived her life with Jesus in her heart, and she gave a piece of that to me. I wanted what she had---a love for Christ. I know God placed her in my life at just the right time. I surrendered my life to Him in Texas, and my dear friend Ram was instrumental in who I am as a believer today. Thanks Ram!! Love you!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Call Her Cheez

These next few posts on GLOW are dedicated to the people who have had the greatest spiritual impact on our lives. Please, please, please let us know your story. You can leave a comment or send us an email at theglowministry@gmail.com.


I would have to say the person who has impacted my life for Jesus the most is my best friend, Karissa (aka...Cheez). I have known her since the summer before 6th grade. We met at band lessons. The funny thing is, I didn't really care for her too much when I first met her. She was super good at the clarinet and I wanted to be the best. Plus......she went to Syracuse!

But, God had a bigger plan. As we went through middle school our paths continued to cross through sports and our classes. There was something about her, something different, something that seemed to bring her joy. But I was not going to seek this out. At least, not for a little while.

I have several favorite memories with Cheez. The first one happened the summer before our Junior year of high school. By this time we were great friends. We spent TONS of time together and talked all of the time. It was 4th of July weekend and she invited me over for fireworks. She also told me to bring clothes for church the next day. I tried everything I could think of to get out of going to church. Needless to say (and boy am I thankful she didn't let me off the hook) I went to church. Thus changing the course of my life. She introduced me to a Jesus I had never dreamed of. Sure I knew of him and had heard stories at VBS when I was little. But this Jesus was AMAZING!

From then on I started going to youth every weekend. Cheez's mom Kim (another woman who has had a profound impact on my life) and her best friend started a Bible study. I went. I was hungry to learn about Jesus and all this stuff I was hearing at church and youth. Cheez was so patient with me, my questions, my frustrations, and my absence from church for a few months. Through the next year and a half she loved on me.

As I shared before, I accepted Jesus on October 30, 1997. I couldn't wait to see her at bball the next day and we celebrated and hugged and laughed and cried! She was the one who baptized me later in November.

Today, she is married to an amazing man. She is a missionary. She is one of the most godly women that I know. Though distance has separated us for most of our adult life, she is not far away. I can email, text, or call her anytime. We can spend countless hours laughing or walking and talking. She knows me better than any other person and keeps me accountable. She has taught me that its okay to ask questions and have struggles and cry out to Jesus. She has also shown me the love of Jesus for almost 20 years, even before I really knew who Jesus was.

I cannot express my gratitude for her invitation to church 14 years ago. Or her willingness to deal with my stubborn-ness. Or her love that she reminds me of at the perfect time....just when I need to hear it. I don't doubt that God knew exactly what he was doing when our paths crossed almost 20 years ago.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Going to the chapel...

Ha, I thought that might be funny because maybe some people would think that I was getting married. I am not! Well hopefully someday I will but it's not soon.... However - my best friend from college is getting married tomorrow!

I am crazy busy today trying to get all my maid of honor duties completed, and make sure when I leave this afternoon, I have everything I could possibly need, and I have to finish making my gift.

I don't have much time to post, but was thinking how great it would be if we all joined in prayer surrounding Marc and Jillian, as they start their lives together.

Lord,
Thank you for who you are. I praise and thank you for the friends you have made for me in Marc and Jillian. I ask that today and tomorrow would be blessed days in your eyes. May their marriage be something that brings them so much joy and blesses your name. Help me to be an example of your love to my friends. Oh yeah, and could you add a few more hours to this day? :) Ahmen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sparks

We are sparks for Jesus... Sparks to light the word. We will hide God's word in our hearts. We will serve Him right from the start! We are SPARKS to light the world!

Did that little diddy ring a bell for anyone? Was anyone ever in Awana? I was! I was a Spark for quite a while. I loved Awana! Since Dina did a post sharing her wonderful story of being born again and it "sparked" (hee hee) a few others to share. I thought I'd share mine too!

To start with. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Let me say though, I grew up in a great, loving, home. Just not one that was centered on Christ. My parents were wonderful and taught me right from wrong and even got me started on my faith journey by sending me to Sunday School. I was that kind of kid that wanted to do everything. So when friend invited me to Awana I jumped at the chance. I am not sure exactly on Awana now but from what I remember it was a time of group singing/Sword drills (who can find a Bible verse the fastest), small group time where we learned/memorized verses and then game time. We sang that song above weekly I think.

Although I don't remember the date, I was around 8 years old. I do remember sitting in the church pew at Awanas and raising my hand to accept Jesus into my heart. I think that I did this for a few reasons. One, I was a follower and two- I wanted all the great things the leader was talking about- living forever with God, having someone love you always... sign me up!

When I got older and people shared their faith journeys, I always thought... mine isn't exciting... accepting him as a child is pretty anti-climatic. But now I disagree. That was the pivotal moving point in my life that led me down a road of growth and discovery and growing into the woman of God that He meant for me to be. Since I've been helping with Upward Basketball these last few years, I've learned that a huge percentage of kids will make their faith decision by age of 14. The chance that they will accept Christ after that drops off very dramatically. I don't know for sure what my life would have been like if I hadn't said yes to Him in the pew wearing my Sparks vest, but I know it had the chance of going downhill and not ending up like this. I praise Him that He gave me the nudge and that I did.

No matter what our faith journey was/is God is moving and working. He can work in the heart of an 8 year old. He can work in the heart of a teenager or a 40 year old. The greatest thing is that HE IS ALWAYS WORKING!

My faith journey took some great bumps along the way. I went through a great valley in college where I thought I'd never see the end... but of course out of the valley comes great rejoicing. I'll share that next week.

Would you like to share your faith journey with us! We'd be honored to hear it and also to pray for/with you!

I love you ladies!
Shannon

Sunday, November 1, 2009

12 years ago....

It was exactly 12 years ago on Friday that I gave my life to Jesus. I was laying on the couch in Sara Frantz's living room. I had been going to a Bible study for about a year and attending Milford Christian Church. I had spent a year learning, questioning, fighting, searching, and growing. I don't think I will ever forget the final statement that turned the light on in my brain. Sara looked at me and said, "Let's say you accept Jesus, he isn't real, you die, and rot 6 feet under for ever. OR, let's say you accept Jesus, he is real, and you spend eternity in a place noone can even imagine." I let that all sink in deep and was silent for about 10 minutes. Finally at 4:00 am on October 30, 1997 I gave my life to Jesus. It was the turning point of my heart and soul.

It's absolutely crazy to look back over the 12 years and ever fathom having spent the previous 17 without Jesus. I grew up in a great home, with loving parents, good morals, and was overall and pretty good kid. But, there was an incompleteness....something was missing.

Jesus is my all. I have grown so much over these 12 years that it blows my mind. I would not and could not be doing what I am today if it wasn't for the relationship that I have with Him.

I don't know if you remember the exact day, hour, or minute that you proclaimed Jesus as your Lord for life. Regardless, I would love to hear your story. It is always so encouraging to me.

Be blessed today knowing that you belong to the King of kings!

Jesus, thank you for rescuing me in all my stubborn-ness. Thank you for calling me your own. Thank you for using some pretty awesome people to get me where I am today. I love you!

Friday, October 30, 2009

One person's trash is another's treasure...

A few weeks ago my mom's family spent some time cleaning out my grandparents garage and basement. My grandpa, like my mom, enjoys saving thing...lots of things. I am not saying this is all bad...actually it isn't all bad when that means you can go back to your old bedroom and it's pretty much just how you left it, with all of your old things on the shelves and clothes in the closet.

But my grandparents are needing to start the declutter and organize process. I know that this was probably hard for my grandma but it was especially difficult for my Pap. He did a great job watching people carry his belongings out to take with them or to the trash bin. At first I wasn't sure how much work they would be able to get done because I figured he would have to tell a story about everything they uncovered.

The more I went through this experience and have thought of it since that weekend, I realized a direct link that these feelings have towards my relationship with Christ.

There are a lot of attitudes and feelings that I have neatly packaged in boxes and stacked on the shelves of my heart. Waiting until just the moment when I (for whatever ridiculous humanly reason) decide that I want to uncover them, blow the dust off, and experience them all over again. Most of what I have stored is trash that I want to get rid of, but some of them still seem important to me, just like some of those belongings did to my Pap.

The good news,
I have a Savior that wants it all...my trash is His "treasure" because
it releases another piece of my heart and soul
for Him to fill.

But what things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Christ. Phil. 3:7

Jesus,
Thanks for being who you are, for your salvatin, forgiveness and mercy. I love your Word and know that it will restore my heart. May my life bring glory to Your Name. Amen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good morning!!!

Good morning! It seems wierd to be saying that because I started typing this later in the evening but the reason I say good morning to you all is because I feel like I have awakened from an uneasy dream. One that in some ways doesn't seem real but you know you were in the middle of it and it had you somewhat uncomfortable.

Well, not to worry, I'm awake now and have seen the 'Joy of the morning'!!! I felt like God finally got thru to my questioning, hurting heart. I've also been taking the Beth Moore Stepping Up bible study at our church along with many of you. She said at the beginning that 'our God is a God of perfect timing'. I believe that! It has been just what I've needed. It has made me to see that I was allowing something to influence my faith song. I was allowing something to squelch my joy and passion. I realized especially after the last three weeks of the Stepping Up bible study that in a way 'the evil one' was winning or at least, gaining ground. I've wised up and realized that I was not handling myself as God expects when we say we are His. I was allowing some past hurts to influence my whole life, my attitude, and my reactions to some people. I was in some situations, not allowing God to pour His Perfect Love into my imperfect heart and love others thru me. So I'm working on that again but this time feel like I understand more what God can and will do thru me if I allow Him and it will be all good!!

The Steppin Up bible study came at just the right time and last week-end I got to put into practice what I learned with a few members of my extended family. I still struggled but kept telling God my complaints, didn't let things effect my usual mood and felt better. I tried to see them differently, to see them as God might see them, and to tell God he had to help me to love them, unconditionally. It helped. Praise God!!

Dear God, I thank you for the love you have for me and the love that you will help me to have for those I have difficulty loving. Help me to know how you want me to love those around me and to have a better attitude for everyone I meet. Help me to see all people as you see them. I know we are all sinners and need you! I praise you for loving me even when I am the most unlovely. I ask all this in your name, AMEN.



P.S. I'm a little sad because you all will be going to see Beth Moore in May in person, no less!! She truly has a heart for women and guiding us all in bible study so we will be closer to God. I have a super reason to miss tho,it is Alexis and Andy's wedding weekend so we will be busy and I'm sure having a great time ourselves, even in a way praising God for their new life together. If Beth asks about us, you tell her we're sorry we couldn't come this time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What do you do?

Ok, ladies... time for some more honesty from yours truly. It's been one week since we've ended up study... I miss it. I miss learning so much from the Word each week. (in addition to Sundays). And here's the thing. I have the hardest time to get myself IN the word when we are not in a study! I do get there. I do have prayer time. I have gotten on my face (a little) but there is nothing regulated, regular, and to be honest, quality.

I really would love to hear from you. Tell me your routine. Tell me your habits. Do you spend quiet time in the morning or night? Do you journal? Do you follow a devotion of some kind?

I used to journal on a regular basis. I would write my prayers and thoughts and verses that mean something to me. Today while cleaning I found my journals and I'm going to start that again. I have a specific faith journey I'm on and I know that it will be a great blessing to look back and see where He has taken me.

So please share some encouragement with everyone. Tell us what works for you- can't wait to hear!
UPDATED TO ADD: So I started journaling last night.. felt SO good! And got on my face this morning... Keep the ideas and suggestions coming!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deborah's Wisdom

Last night, I read Caroline the story of Deborah out of her "Sweet Dreams Princess" devotion book. To be truthful, I was not very familiar with Deborah and her interaction with Barak. Here is a summary of the story, according to my daughter's Bible:

Deborah was a prophetess and judge of Israel. Deborah told Barak that God commands him to gather an army of men to defeat Jabin's army (the enemy). Barak was too scared to do this alone. He asks Deborah (a woman, mind you) to come with him; only then will he obey God's command. Deborah says sure she will go help him, but basically tells him he is silly to trust a woman instead of God. Deborah understood that no one is as wonderful and powerful as God.

I got to thinking about that story after I had read it to my daughter. Isn't it true that we sometimes turn to other people for support and advice before be turn to God? I know I have. Friends are important, but remembering to go to God first with our fears helps keep our priorities intact.

Deborah was a very wise woman. She knew, even though it an sometimes be scary to do what God asks, it is always the best thing to do. The biggest blessings come when we go to Him in prayer, read His word, and believe what He says is true.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that you are the most wonderful and wise friend that I have!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Prayer Update

Pat is in Ohio to visit with Linda and be with her family. I got a text from her earlier that said,

"She knew who I was. Squeezed my hand!"
What an awesome answer to prayers!? I know that the road is still a long one but this is just the kind of news we wanted! I thank you all for responding so quickly with prayers. Linda certainly can still use them, as well as Pat and her family.
***UPDATE: I talked to Pat shortly after posting this and she said that they took Linda off the ventilator this afternoon. She was doing well breathing on her own so far! Praise GOD! Also, and this is so exciting...a few times as the family was talking to her she would mouth words to them. When her daughter was leaving she told her that she and her kids loved her and Linda mouthed the word love. God is so good! I am praising Him again tonight for showing His awesome Healing Power, and that His will would continue to be done. YAY!
God,
We thank you and praise you for the healing you have done in Linda's body. We know that you are still in the business of healing, what an awesome God you are. Thanks for revealing your power through her brief moments of response. I thank you for giving the family the blessing of time together and ask that you be with them. Keep them all safe as they travel to and from the hospital, keep the people near Linda away from the various sicky bugs that are going around and may they find rest in you. I ask especially that you continue to heal Linda's brain and that she would continue to grow stronger. Be with the doctors and nurses that are caring for her. May your will continue to be done in her life, in all of our lives. Amen

My Rock...

My desk quote thingy mabob had a great quote on it today.

It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally.
It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.
Madeleine L'Engle
I feel like I could list many times in the last year that everything was pulled out from underneath me. And unfortunately when I am being honest with myself...they will be many times again on this earth. But today, I am thankful that when any and everything else is pulled away or out from underneath me, I still have something to stand on. That something is the Creator of this world, of me, and the Author of my life.

I want to live a life that praises His name and gives me the confidence to know that when all is stripped away...He still remains.

Let God be exalted,
The Rock of my salvation!
2 Samuel 22:47

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

EXCITING NEWS!!

Hi friends! I am hijacking the blog for a minute because I have to share our plans for the Spring Retreat!!! After much discussion and planning, I am happy to announce that for our spring retreat we are going to see BETH MOORE LIVE!!! Woo HOO!!

Can you tell I am jumping up and down yet? Okay, here are the details....

When: May 21 and 22 (Friday and Saturday) Leave at noon Friday and get home 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Cost: $150 (includes ticket to evening and morning with Beth, hotel room, transportation, dinner, and goodies)

This is going to be awesome!!!! Over the next month, we will be taking reservations for your spot on this retreat. All we need is a firm commitment and a $60 nonrefundable deposit (so we can order the tickets.) The rest you can pay 6 weeks before we go.

We would love for each of you to join us for this special time of worship and fellowship!

Endings

Last night was our last Bible study. I hate endings about as much as I hate change! :) I loved this study. I loved meeting with ladies who are from all different stages in life and sharing together. I loved watching Beth Moore, get excited and about jump out of her skin. Her love of God is contagious.

What's next for GLOW? Stay tuned... we are talking about this and will let you know as soon as we do. We'd love for you to join us on our next adventure. As for me, for now my life will be wrapped up in basketball and cheerleading and coordinating. (and mothering and wifing) I'm also going to work hard at getting down before God on a regular basis. What a great way to start a day.

Have a great day friends!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Verse For Today

Hi ladies!! I have just had a crazy busy last week or so. Doing Upward with Shannon, regular kids' activities, housework, errands, Bible Study, preparing meals, and last but not least, just spending time with my husband and kids---whew!!! My brain has not been able to think of an awesome blog this week. So I decided to open my Bible and see where the Lord takes me........

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

I am so happy that I serve a God who knows EXACTLY what I need. I kid you not, this is the first verse these tired eyes came across when I opened up my Bible. Just when I start to feel overwhelmed with stuff, God pulls me close and whispers, "Remember who is in charge here... don't try to take the weight of the world on your shoulders, dear one. I am capable of far more than you...."

Thank you God for that breath of life... the living word that freshens my soul.

I would love for you all to share your "Open your Bible and let God's word find you" experiences.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Total Excitement

Tonight is guys/girls night for The U! I am so excited!!!!

I spent the day cleaning my house and preparing to host the girls. I am like a teenager. I get so excited when I know that I get to spend time with the girls and female leaders from The U. We have so much fun together and laugh a lot.

Working with the youth staff at NWUMC has been an awesome experience. I have made many life-long friends, traveled the US, served alongside them, prayed with them, watched kids grow, pulled some shenanigans, and have truly been blessed.

Youth ministry is something I have been involved with for over 11 years. I am humbled that God chose me to be involved in the lives of so many teens. It is amazing and I have been changed because of it.

I encourage you all to find a ministry that you can be involved in. God did not make us to sit on our rumps and watch the world go by or let others do the ministry. He specifically calls us to get out there and do something. If you seek out
HIS direction, I hope that you can experience the "total excitement" of being in ministry.