Wednesday, December 28, 2011

People are Seasons!


It is awesome to me to look back at my life and remember the people that have walked into my life!  I have had some pretty AMAZING people that I have known over the years.  It started at a very young age and still continues to this day.  I have not forgotten any of them.  Once in a while I find that my mind will be drawn back to a memory of an individual.  It could be while I’m in the middle of doing something that may spark a recollection.  I then find a smile fall across my face as I remember the time gone by.  I cannot even begin to count how many people I have encountered in my life that has made some sort of impact on me.
  
Some of those people’s impacts have not been as pleasant as I would have liked though.  There have been a few individuals who left a mark that shows along the way pain was caused.  Unfortunately, my mind falls to those people as well.  Some of those people left big scars that, to this day, I have to deal with and make a conscious choice to overcome daily.  

Funny that as the holiday season is drawing to a close, my mind seems to have been captured by such thoughts.  Maybe it is because this year and season I have enjoyed a life filled with love and compassion.  There have been a lot of things my family has gone through over the last several years.  Some of those things were caused by those very people that have caused some bruising and scaring.  Every time something has happened though, God seemed to find just the right person to bring to our door, figuratively, and help us through.  Sometimes it felt like God himself showed up.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to harvest.  A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build up.  A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.  A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.  A time to search and a time to quit searching.  A time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear and a time to mend.  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.  A time to love and a time to hate.  A time for war and a time for peace.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Many times I have found myself wondering why so many people have come in and out of my life.  Wonderful and not so wonderful people that have made a visit to my door.  Why the need for so much pain?  Why a friendship that didn’t really end just moved to something different?  Then I am reminded that everything has a time and a purpose.  People come into our lives for many different reasons.  God is the only one that knows the duration of how long they will stay.  The difficult ones are to help us learn something about ourselves.  The wonderful ones are usually to help us walk the path and have a hand to hold as we do.  We go through so much in our lives that God knows we occasionally need someone to go through them with us.  When that time is over, sometimes He says it is time to move on for both individuals.

My challenge this week is this… are you holding on to a person for longer than you should?  Are you not allowing that difficult person to teach you something you need to learn?  Have you found yourself afraid to make new friends because of the pain that was caused?  Remember that you must have diverse types of people in your life to teach you different things.  God made us unique for a reason.  To understand different aspects of walking a Christian walk you must allow different people to be allowed at your door.  If you have been blessed to have a good friend last a long time, don’t take them for granted.  That is a HUGE gift that God has given you.  However, make sure there is room for others as well.  


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saving Birth


The days are getting colder and the threat of snow is in the air. As I have said before, I am not a fan of the cold. If I could have a cordless electric blanket to wrap around me everywhere I went, I would be one happy girl. Take a look at a blog that I wrote at the first of this year and you can see why being cold is a beautiful thing.   http://randomordeep.blogspot.com/2011/02/cold-and-beautiful.html 

Too many times we lock ourselves up in our homes to try and shield ourselves from the cold. Don’t forget that God made this season as well and remember He made everything perfect!

When the cold sets in we start to feel the warmth of the holiday season. The love of friends and family can be found as we gather for sharing and remembering Christmas past. We as adults cling to memories and traditions we grew up with, as if trying to hold on to a bit of our childhood. We try to make new and lasting memories for our children, so they can pass them along to theirs. Yes, this season is by far, my favorite time of year. The cold doesn’t seem to be as bitter during this time.

However, this season does pass and all the decorations get packed up. Friends and family go home and life returns to normal. We remember all the things that were put off doing and we cringe at the thought of shoveling snow. The days are grey and we feel the sun has forgotten how to shine. When it does and we see the rays beaming down through the clouds, we find a smile fall across our face. We look up to allow it to warm our faces and hope that it will penetrate into our inner core. We find ourselves hoping that the warmth will last. When it doesn’t, we slip back into our funk and rush through the cold to find warmth of any kind.

It is easy for us to allow the grey of winter to darken our mood and steal our joy. I find that it is times like these that I have to work even harder to rejoice throughout my day. Everything around me is begging me to focus on the grey in life and take my eyes off of the things in my life I have to be thankful for.

One of my favorite scriptures for this season is…

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ~ Matthew 1:21 (NLT) 

This scripture gives me something to be thankful for year round. Not just during the Christmas season. His name was to be Jesus, why, to save US from our sins! How AWESOME is that? He saves us daily not just once a year. How wonderful to know that He is there for me whenever I call to Him. He is there day or night, in the middle of a crowd, when it is as loud as can be or in the stillness of quiet. ANYTIME ANYWHERE!

So this is my challenge to you… this winter as Christmas comes to a close, remember why our Lord and Savior came. When the day seems grey, and you can’t find your sun beam to look up to, look up to God and thank Him for His Son. Thank Jesus for laying down His life for YOU! Remember Christmas every day in your heart and practice the joy it brings. Be blessed this holiday season my friends and may you find a sweet peace and rest!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

STOP thief!


Last week was one of those weeks where something really awesome happened and then almost right at the same time something terrible happened.  This happened so many different times last week.  It got to a point where it was almost comical, well maybe not because I wasn’t doing too much laughing.  I would have just a few minutes to enjoy and bask in the wonderful news and then something would come crashing down and find me crying.  I found myself actually saying, “Why is God doing this?  Has He forgotten us and our situation?  Did we do something wrong?”  In the same breath trying to still rejoice in the great news that I just got an hour ago.  This past week has been a struggle to say the least.  There have been so many ups and downs. 

I do not remember what I was doing and where I was when God reminded me of this.  All I can remember is that He reminded me and I’m so very glad He did.  Sitting among people God wanted me to hear Him loud and clear and I did.  He brought this scripture to mind:

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” ~ John 10:10 (NLT)

So what does this scripture have anything to do with the week that I had God?  Well let’s look at exactly what it is telling us.  The thief, being the devil, has come to steal some things from us.  What is he stealing?  We know that stealing belongings will not serve him any purpose.  However, stealing those moments of happiness and excitement will gain him a lot.  If he can cause our joy filled moments to become moments with tears and sadness, it brings him great pleasure.  We start to focus on how things are and that things have gone so wrong instead of life being a gift.  He comes to kill... really?  He tries to kill our bodies?  No!  He wants our love and faith in God to die.  If we allow those moments of joy and happiness to take our eyes off of what God has done for us, our faith slowly dies.  He comes to destroy what has been built up.  When things start to pile up and we start to focus on that, we tend to forget all the things God has done for us and what He continues to do.  Our eyes only see how bad things have gotten and how rotten our lives have become.  We can’t forget what the rest of the scripture says.  It tells us that God’s purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life.  So when all those wonderful things were happening, it was God showing us that He loves us.  He promises us that our lives will be satisfying.  Starting to question and doubt doesn’t sound like a satisfying and rich life to me.

My challenge for you this week… we all have those moments in our lives.  Have you allowed them to take your eyes off of what God is doing for you and allowed the thief to steal those moments from you?  Remember what His purpose is and that He follows through with His promises.  It is us that don’t follow through with our part.  It’s time to get back up and dust the dirt off and say “GET BACK SATAN!”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Don't say anything!



Want to know a really good way to see if you have the patience of God?  Well try this verse out.  I DARE YOU! 

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” ~ James 1:19 (NLT)

How many times have you talked instead of listened?  When someone really needed you to hear what they were saying.  You thought they were asking you for help instead of listening.  Maybe they just needed to get their feelings out and you were quick to speak instead.  Or maybe someone “did you wrong” and you need to set them straight.  You may not know that their reason for saying or doing what they did was because they themselves are struggling and are reaching out for help.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in “I need to be heard” or “He/she made me mad” that we are blinded to the real needs around us.  Christianity isn’t about US being heard or even our feelings that matter.  It is about the OTHERS being heard and our feelings taking a back seat sometimes.  I’m not saying that your feelings don’t matter but what I am saying is let God take care of your feelings, He will!  Let God take care of your needs while you tend to someone else’s needs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Double Burn


I made a decision to return to school almost a year ago now.  Yes that would be a really good idea.  I gathered all my information and began the process of enrolling.  Next all I had to do was to wait for the fall semester to start.  It is now well underway and I have to say, it is quite the experience.  I enjoy meeting new people and learning new things.  I’m learning a lot about myself as well.  Things like how I budget my time and what is important to me.  I know you have heard that saying, “Burning a candle at both ends” before, well that is pretty much how I have felt.  I have been trying to figure out how to balance all my normal duties and then fit homework from four classes in!  It is a little tricky! 

As I was attempting to do my homework this weekend, the attempt was fruitless; a thought was brought to my mind.  God reminded me about being a candle and how we are supposed to burn.  Then a picture of a candle burning at both ends came into my head.  A candle burning at both ends would be even brighter.  We as human beings tend to think that burning our candle at both ends is a stressful thing.  What if we turned that around and looked at it from a different perspective.

"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” ~ Luke 8:16 (NLT)

"No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” ~ Luke 11:13 (NLT)

We not only light our candles and lamps but we place them in a spot where it can shine the brightest.  It is placed high so that its light can be allowed to reach the furthest it can go.  Now what if that candle or lamp had another end to it that could be lit?  I know what the “burning the candle at both ends” means and that it will burn out faster.  What if we looked at it through a different set of eyes?  There are two ways I would like to explore thinking about this.  One way being; the light would shine so much brighter if there were another source.  It could reach further out than one source.  With God being the wax or oil that allows us to burn, we won’t ever run out of fuel.  The second way of thinking would be this.  What if we had one side burning bright for all the people we see regularly, even people we bump into from time to time?  However, what about those people that we might meet at a new time in our life?  There are season of changes in our life and new adventures arise and along with that comes new people as well.  These people may not be people you see every day but they are people that need to be able to see in a dark world.  What if we looked at our candle or lamp and asked God to give us another source for burning?  One for the friends and family we have already and another for the people that need a little more light.  All you have to do is ask God to help you shine brighter and He will provide the fuel for the continual brighter light.  Both ends burning for the glory of God!  What a thought! 

Challenge for this week. . .  Are you shinning bright for every soul that enters your life?  Are you reserving your light for only a certain few?  Do you have a desire to be as bright as you possibly can or are you content to just let a little light shine and call that good enough?  Do you light your light but leave it on the floor so that it can’t spread out into the darkness?  I dare you to give the “double burn” a try and see how God can move!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Don't just run to run!


Deep breath!  My heart feels as if it will beat out of my chest.  My water bottle is empty!  I think I need to get some new running shoes; these ones are about worn out.  I need to make sure I have the proper clothing to wear so I don’t over heat.  Training for this marathon is a lot harder than I ever thought it was going to be.  I need to make sure I understand the path to take or I am sure to get lost.  There seems to be many different paths I could take, how will I know what one is the right one?  Am I ready for this?  I better be because it has started and it is too late now!  I’m running a race that started about 26 years ago.  So I guess it might be time to check my gear and make sure it doesn’t have too much wear.

OK so no I’m not talking about running an actual marathon!  But I am talking about one that is way more important!  We all run!  There are times in our lives that we run faster than other times.  There are sometimes we decide it is time for a rest stop.  But the race is still going on.  When I was younger, I ran and I ran fast!  However it was in the wrong direction.  There were things that happened in my life that I didn’t know how to deal with so I ran from them.  Most of the time I ran right into another problem!  Boy that was smart now wasn't it!  It was just sprinkling where I ran from.  Now I am running in a huge thunder and lightning storm.  YIKES!  It got pretty scary to say the least.  Dealing with problems and issues are always hard.  We can find ourselves turning a blind eye to them sometimes in hopes that they will just disappear.  I don’t know about you but I do know that for me, it NEVER happened that way.  Thinking that I could avoid them only made them worse.  But I did run! 

The path for my race has taken many different paths from when I first started out.  Many I chose, some I let God choose for me.  Sometimes I wonder how far I would be now if I only would have allowed Him to choose the path more often.  We all have problems along our paths.  You still run no matter what you decide to do with those problems.  But I began to wonder what direction I was running in.  It is hard to continue to run to what we view as a problem but God views as a growing lesson.  I still find myself wanting to run from the “problem” and just not deal with it.  It would relieve the pressure and weight it adds to me while running.  If someone says or does something to me that I don’t like, sometimes I would like to not face it head on and deal with it.  Sometimes I wish I could turn a blind eye and say “Oh well!”  Then I’m reminded what God has said.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

So we are to not only just run the race we are supposed to do so with endurance.  That means for the long haul.  There are things along the way that will try to trip us up.  If we make sure we have the right kind of running shoes, a full water bottle, and light weight clothing, we can do it for the long haul.  Don’t allow those issues in our path weigh us down so we get tripped up.  In the grand scheme of things is the issue really that big?  Scripture says that it “easily” trips us up!  So my answer to that question would be NO it isn’t.  Not if it easily trips us! 

So this is my challenge . . .  Do you still feel like you’re still training for the race?  Have you not continuously made sure you were fully prepared?  Have you allowed those little things easily trip you up and cause you to run in a different direction?  Are you scared of running where God wants you to run because of what He might ask of you?  Well I’m here to tell you that the training is over!  Get new running shoes on those feet and run brothers and sisters, RUN!  Fill your water bottle with strength from God.  Clothe yourself with family and friends that run with you!  Run this race with passion and compassion,  strength and love,  hope and reassurance, and most of all RUN with a lighter load!  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Freedom in Forgiveness


I have covered a lot of different topics in my blog.  Society, paths, bad days, father’s love, becoming a child,   quiet moments, changing ourselves first, cracks, how we treat enemies, and the list goes on.  As I read through my postings there was one thing that I have yet to discuss and I felt God saying it was time to.  We are people that God created with emotions and feelings.  Sometimes those feelings are feelings of joy and hope, love and peace, excitement and anticipation.  Other times they are feelings of despair and grief, sadness and hopelessness, anger and bitterness.  I have been told that I am a very passionate person.  When I love someone I love with a sincere passion, one that runs deep.  When I hurt it fills my entire body with such deep passion and sadness.  I care deeply, love richly, and grieve severely.  There have been times in my life that having such passion has been a beautiful thing yet there has been other times that I almost feel it was a curse.  I have been hurt in unspeakable ways, into the very core of my being, where every fiber of in me is crying and trying to find a way to get back up.  A word someone said, a look received in passing, an act that took place, words left unsaid.  Yes I have been wronged in my life or at least I thought I was.  When I was younger I was told that I should just forgive.   Are you SERIOUS?  You have NO clue what this person has done to me.  The hurt and pain they caused.  Or maybe this person told me they were sorry and truly did not mean to cause me pain.  I would accept and yet inside of me still hold it against them.  Oh I could act the part really well.  Whenever I saw that person I was very friendly and kind only to later think to myself how they hurt me.  I have had lots of hurts in my life just as many of you have.  We all can go to a moment in time right now that was so painful for us that it can still bring us to tears when we think about it.  Yes pain is very real.  Friendships die because of it, love ends, divisions are made.  I know you hurt, I know you have pain from an individual but I’m going to ask you a question… what are you doing about that pain? 

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. “  ~ Colossians 3:12-14

The scripture tells us to forgive but did you notice that it didn’t say to forgive only if they ask for it?  Sometimes we just might have to forgive someone that didn’t ask for it.  It was only then that I was able to understand what it meant to truly forgive, to have a peace inside me from forgiving.  That unconditional love we are supposed to have applies here too my friends.  How can we be clothed in love if we hold some resentment toward another person?  How can you be kind and gentle while still holding on to bitterness?  How can you show Christ if you can’t be Christ to that person that needs forgiveness?
My challenge for you this week . . . is there someone you need to forgive deep down?  Maybe they have asked for it and you didn’t truly give it.  Maybe this person didn’t ask yet you need to be free of it.  I am here to tell you that if you do not make it right, it will just grow inside you and cause more bitterness, division, and pain.  Lighten your load and let go!  God forgave, we are no better than Him.  Forgiveness is the beginning of hope and life.  Allow God to show you and allow yourself to listen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Starting with ME!


I love to listen to music.  I love a lot of different styles of music.  I feel that sometimes a song can reach into our inner being and awaken something.  There have been many different songs throughout my life that has portrayed my experiences and said how I was feeling.  Many times a song has shown me something in myself that I needed to pay attention to and maybe work on.   One of my favorite times to listen to music is in the car when I’m by myself on a long drive.  I have it loud and you will find me singing with the windows down and my hair flying in the wind.  Such a freeing feeling for me!  I have a play list that has a lot of those songs in it.  So you can just imagine what I might look like in that car all by myself with my favorite life moment songs playing!  Keep in mind some of those songs are make you dance in your seat type songs. . .  Yep that would be me bopping around in the car!  However some of those songs are quietly reflect songs!  When you are alone in the car for almost 2 hours you have lots of time to reflect.  There is a song that plays if I make it to the bottom part of my list; my play list has almost 50 songs on it so a 2 hour trip doesn’t play them all.  Every time I hear this song it makes me really stop and look at my life.  On my trip the other day I was able to hear this song.  I heard a voice inside me say, “If this song makes you think so hard about who you are then don’t you think that it might be time to make others think too?”  So are you wondering what song it is yet?  “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.  I really liked the song when it came out in 1988 but not until the last few years has it really touched me in this way.  I think being a little older, married, being a mom, and just living life has played a part in that.  I have more of a history to my life now than I did then.  That was a year and a half before my wedding.  So my life hadn’t really begun yet.  There were so many things to learn and do yet. 

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways 
And no message could have been any clearer 
If you wanna make the world a better place 
Take a look at yourself and then make that change
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
'Cause when you close your heart
Then you close your mind

Now that I have lived more of life this song reaches deeper.  It really makes a great point. 

I think we as humans look around and see things in other people that they “need” to change and be a better person.  We say things like “Can you believe what so and so did?”, “How could they say such things?”, “Don’t they know better?”  The list goes on.  You know what you have said before.  Are we so sure about ourselves to think we are perfect and we don’t need a little tweaking ourselves?  Guess what… WE ARE NOT PERFECT!!!!  I KNOW shock, I’m sorry! 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” ~ Matthew 7:1-5

If we really want to make the world a better place we really better start looking at ourselves first.  How can you expect to go out and change the world when you have things going on that someone would look at and say “I’m not listening to that person, they don’t practice what they say!” 

My challenge this week . . .  look at your life.  Do you look at others and find the things in their life that they need to change and maybe even help point them out to them?  Are you so busy paying attention to them that you don’t see what you need to improve in your own life?  “If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make that change.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bad days are good days!


I know I have been MIA for quite some time now.  There have been many events and things happen in the last several months that I have found myself having to step back to ponder, reflect, and be quiet.  One thing though I have learned through all this is God is the only one I can truly count on.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have had family members and friends come along side me and try to encourage, lift up, or pray for me.  But what I have found is every time one of them said words to me it was always about God and how He will get me through.  They weren’t words that they came up with on their own.  They can’t make anything change or happen for me.  I have loved every word, prayer, and hug that I have gotten.  They have meant so very much.  But it doesn’t hold a candle to what God can give me.  There have been times of a complete loss for words, times of pain and deep sadness.  Times when I couldn’t even bear to think about getting out of bed to face yet another day.  It is during those times, when nobody else was around, that I have received the most indescribable comfort and peace.  There were times when I couldn’t dry the tears but somehow they were dried.  So many times He has picked me up and carried me through these last few months.  So many times has He told me “It is ok daughter, I am here!  Hold tight and I will carry you till you can walk again.”  It has been such a comfort to know that I have a heavenly father that cares so richly and deeply for me. 

Things have not gotten any easier.  Matter of fact, there has been new things popping up for what seems like every day.  I thank God that He has given people to me that have helped remind me that God is in control and helped by lifting me up to Him! 
This song has really been a blessing to me!  So I thought maybe it might be helpful to others to have a gentle reminder that we WILL get through the bad days.  That God KNOWS what is going on and promises us that we can do ALL things through Him.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13&14 (NIV)

So this is my take on this.  If we can do ALL things through Christ because it is Him that gives us strength then no matter what it is that is thrown our way we will be able to handle it.  Because it isn’t us that is handling it, it is GOD!  Nothing is uncommon that we go through.  Even though sometimes we feel like we are the ONLY ones.  We WILL go through things, sounds like God promises that.  But He ALSO promises that He will provide a way out so that we can endure it!  That way out might look different for each situation that we must endure but He says it WILL be there!

My challenge to you. . . are you looking at the hard times as a good thing?  Are you allowing them to help you grow and learn?  Or are you being grumpy about them?  Are you allowing them to control what kind of day you have?  Are you trying to handle it or are you allowing God to take control?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time out for me and no I wasn't naughty!


I have found myself being a little overwhelmed lately.  My mind can’t even form a logical thought and I find myself unable to make a simple decision.  So after much thought and prayer I am going to take a few weeks off from writing.  I am sure God will still lay things on my heart and I’ll post them when I am able.  Thanks to all of you who have supported my posts and shared how they have touched you.  Please pray for me and my family as there is a lot going on and as we seek the will of God. 

Thank you so very much!

With much love,

Michelle

Monday, June 6, 2011

Growing Pains

Sometimes I really wish our minds and memories would be able to go back to when we first entered this life.  What it was like to depend completely on our parents.  As we grew we sat up, went from only drinking milk to being introduced to real food, began to crawl, learning how to talk, and eventually learning to walk that inevitably turned into running.  Life was full of so many new and wonderful things.  There was always something to learn or try.  We never had to wonder what we would do next because we always found something to occupy our time.  Living was an adventure and around every corner awaited something to be explored.  The only reason I know these things is because, first of all, I’m a mom.  Second I have known A LOT of little ones and watched them grow and learn.  My mind may not be able to go back and remember my own new life but I can imagine what it was like for me as I watch these little ones.  I can remember however what it was like when I got a little older.  How I couldn’t wait to get out of school so I could go play in the dirt and mud, go fishing, ride my bike, or just go play in the woods.  As I grew and life began to take shape for me, I quickly fell into the roles that it demanded of me.  As hard as I tried I could not have life be as care free and simple anymore.  I must step up and take ahold of what was now my life and try every day to learn new things to help me with each new task.  Oh sure I could have made a choice to not become responsible and be carefree.  But for me to be able to get very far in this life I would have to admit that I needed to learn these lessons and put them in action.  There were so many times that I didn’t want to do the right thing because it was a lot harder than just going with the flow.  WOW have I learned a lot and I’m still learning!  Every year I live it is a year I never lived before so how would I know how to deal with the new things?  I haven’t gotten a chance to learn so I must take that opportunity to learn something new so when it happens again, you know it will, I will be able to say I know what works. 

So this got me thinking about our Christian walk.  We all were new Christian at one point in time.  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US!  Remember the newness?  Remember the feeling of that unexplainable freedom you felt?  Remember not knowing everything but your willingness to?  Learning to crawl through the grace of God and what it truly meant?  We all had to take those uneasy learning steps of how God’s love was unconditional.  Do you remember the thrill of telling someone about God?  You were ready to save the world through your testimony.  Something interesting happens to us though.  We get to a point in our walk that we "get it".  That we understand it now.  We just KNOW!  You then begin to live this “Christian Life”.  I mean after all you know you love God and you wouldn’t do anything on purpose to displease Him, right?  But I think we displease God more and more every day.  We have chosen to not grow anymore, to not learn the older our Christian walk becomes.  I think we become content or complacent.  We don’t even notice we have become that way.  Do you not think this would make God unhappy?  Do you think this would make His heart sad or maybe a tear fall?  What does He think when He is looking down at someone that is calling themselves His child and seeing them just “living” the life? 

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.   Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” ~ Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)

My challenge this week . . .  Look at your Christian walk.  Are you content to stay where you are or are you growing daily in the will of God?  Are you allowing your part in the body of Christ to grow and be healthy?  Or are you sitting there every day and just knowing that you love God and are doing right?  Do you allow yourself to be stretched and pulled so that you might learn what God would have for you?  I’m here to tell you that if you never have trouble or discomfort you are not doing something right!  We must go through pruning every once and a while in order to produce wonderful and tasty fruit.  We must ALWAYS grow and learn.  If you believe you  have “made  it” then you haven’t!  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Society Led?

I have been thinking a lot about this topic over the last few months.  It has never been far from my mind but for some reason it seems that I just have been thinking about it nonstop.  So much so that it has burdened my soul.  I think it is time to share.

When I became a mother 20 ½ years ago I never could have imagined what was ahead of me.  I became responsible for little lives that were in my care.  Life didn’t seem to be so dangerous or threatening when it was just me.  I never noticed things before that all of a sudden just seemed to JUMP out at me when I saw them.  Now that one son is 20 and one almost 18, I find myself even more attentive.  I see things that now are common place.  Things that even just 20 years ago would have NEVER been talked about let alone put on the television and there was no such thing as internet to “vent” it.  What is acceptable has changed GREATLY!  Don’t get me wrong, things were still misconstrued when I was growing up but there were still those things you just never saw.  When I was in high school, I remember this so clearly, I came back on a Monday and someone told me that a classmate had her baby.  WHAT????  I didn’t even know she was pregnant.  She hid it VERY well.  It was not something that you wanted to show if you did happen to find yourself in that circumstance.  I also remember that yes there was homosexuality but it was not something you announced openly.  I had to deal with that reality at a VERY young age and the shame that it brought.  Now it is typical to see a pregnant teenager or know a homosexual.  We have become comfortable and tamed by this world we live in.  As a country we have become fast food.  As Christians some have become “fast food Christians”, get it how YOU want it.  And if it isn’t fast enough complain that you didn’t get it your way.  It isn’t just sex or sexual acts before marriage and homosexuality that I am speaking of.  Those two are just the easiest targets.  Check with your children to find out where they stand on those because what society tells them is acceptable is speaking louder than you know or think.  I’m talking about a lot of things.  What we say, how we conduct ourselves, what we watch or listen to, even what we allow in our lives have been compromised. 

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” ~ Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.   For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.   And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” ~ 1 John 15-17 (NLT)

We are called to live in the world dear brothers and sisters but we are also called to be set apart from this world.  How can we be a light to this world if we look a lot like it?  How can God’s saving words go out from our lips if we act like those we are telling it to?  My challenge this week . . . Do you measure yourself by the faith of God or have you allowed yourself to be tainted by this world?  Have you allowed society to water down how God wants you to live a Christian life?  Take a little time and examine your life and ask God to show you if you are His faithful servant.  Be set apart my sisters and brothers!  Show this world what God can do if you totally give your life to Him!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cracks are not beautiful!

This last weekend my husband and I took a little mini vacation.  We really needed this time away to revive.  We decided to start our weekend off by going over to our house, that has been empty for 2 years, and check on it.  While he mowed the lawn I walked through the house.  What I found made my heart sink.  We knew there was damage to the house due to a water leak from the roof.  What we didn’t know is that our job of covering the area with plastic on the roof did not hold.  The last time we went a couple months ago it was still there but it does not take long when wind and rain are coming down daily.  I found a once beautiful kitchen that I worked so hard on remodeling, starting to actually crumble.  I then found myself sitting in the middle of the living room floor crying and asking God why He allowed this to happen to my home.  Why did He take us so far away that we could not stay in our home or keep a close watch on it?  My mind filled with so many questions.  Questions I could not find any answers to.  My heart truly seemed to be lying on the floor in front of me.  How on earth are we going to be able to move this house without it falling apart?  How are we going to repair all the damage and still have it livable?  So many more things started running through my mind.  As tears fell, my hope went with them.  My husband walked through the door and saw the new damage for the first time.  He turned and saw his wife and said, “It will be ok.  It will all work out!”  We finished up our business there and left.  We went about the rest of our night but the house was not far from my thoughts.  This situation, it seemed, was trying to ruin our much needed time to rejuvenate.  I played into that for a short time till God reminded me, once again, that He was in control.  “Ok God I trust you, with EVERYTHING!  You said go and we went.  You knew then what you were doing and you know now!”  We had a beautiful weekend after that.  Time shared with friends and family but most of all with each other.  When our weekend began to come to a close my mind fell to the house again.  This time however, it was thinking how this house that I so much cared for was a reflection of God in our own lives.  How you may ask?  Well let me explain.

We as Christians tend to think we have it all together.  Even when the rough stuff comes we still think we got it under control, at least somewhat.  As in taking care of my home while we lived in it.  If something went wrong  we would repair it, knowing that if we did not, it would only get worse.  We as Christians see things in our lives sometimes and we choose to fix them.  But sometimes we don’t pay attention to that small crack over there that we allowed to begin.  A word perhaps said unkindly or a thought left unchecked.  We go about our daily lives attending to the things we can.  Sometimes we may take notice of the crack and tell ourselves that it is ok, it isn’t very big at all.  We leave it unattended.  My friend I’m here to tell you that leaving things unattended in our Christian walk is very detrimental.  It can lead to so many things if left unchecked.  In time it can become a bigger crack and it can start to crumble the very foundation you stand on.  God doesn’t ask us to give all but that “one” thing to Him.  It isn’t ok for you to hold on to something that you value as important.  I’m here to tell you, like my house that I loved so dearly, you WILL begin to crumble.  Maybe not right away but I can guarantee that you will.

  “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-9 

Don’t be too proud to admit that you have cracks and for goodness sakes DON’T think that they are ok to let be.  God doesn’t tell us to be alert for no reason people.  There is someone out there that HATES you and wants to kill you.  It starts with allowing him access to the small things and him telling you that it is ok to let them be.  God NEVER told us that once we become a Christian we can sit back and relax.  STAND up Christians and FIGHT!  This is not a time for us to allow those cracks to remain in our lives.  My challenge this week . . .  What do you have in your life that you have allowed to stay a little too long?  What have you convinced yourself that it wouldn’t hurt to stay?  Don’t allow the devil to fool you.  Fix those cracks RIGHT NOW!  Make sure that you keep your house tended to.  Don’t grow comfortable or lax about your Christian walk.  Because I can guarantee that the devil NEVER becomes relaxed about trying to kill your love for God!       

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fail to plan, plan to fail!

Have you ever heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”?  There have been so many times I have made plans and they didn’t happen.  Or sometimes didn’t make any plans and something took up my entire day.  I have made plans for my life that I thought for sure would be the best thing for me.  I mean why wouldn’t I know what is best for myself, right?  So I proceed down that path that I so carefully laid expecting some pretty awesome things.  It starts out pretty cool.  The sights are beautiful and new.  I take my time and enjoy looking at the scenery.  I quickly decide that yes I made the right plans!  Then I come across trees that fell on my path, so I have to climb over.  Next a bump then a hole.  Then I come to a bridge and all of a sudden it crumbles and there is no way across to the other side.  What started out as what was a “perfect” plan had come to a complete halt.  Now what do I do?  My life has no forward momentum.  Has this ever happened to you?  You get to a point where you have no clue what to do now because you didn’t plan to have this happen.  I think everyone at one point or time in their life has laid plans only to have them crumble. 
Now I know we Christians NEVER do anything like that.  I know you would never move out on your own and plan something without God!  So I should just stop writing right now!  I think however we as Christians sometimes do it more than we think.  I think we have the intentions of following the plan God has for us but then somewhere along the line we began to rewrite them.  We don’t really notice it right away and only until we have really messed things up do we see that we changed them.  So then it is our responsibility to cry out to God and ask Him to correct us and guide us.  “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.”  ~ Jeremiah 10:23&24 (NLT)  Your life is not your own my friend.  Your life belongs to God and if we would totally trust that, I think we would remember that He knows what is best for us.  We may not think that it is BUT sometimes it doesn't matter what we think.  When the times do come that we decide that we are going to write our own map, humble yourself to ask your God for correction and guidance.  My challenge this week . . . Do you need to stop thinking you know what is better?  Or maybe you are at that crumbled bridge and you need to cry out to God and ask Him for a gentle correction.  He loves you and all He asks is you TRUST Him!  Ask Him to show you and guide you in each and every situation you may face.  Don’t think you have a better way of dealing with it because I can guarantee that He has a better way.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Michelle and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

This is a rhetorical question because I really already know the answer to it.  Have you ever had a time in your life where if it can go wrong it does?  There never seems to be a break from the constant hammering that is happening on top of your head.  You just start to figure out one thing that went wrong and before you can even finish, another thing pops up and shows you its ugly face.  Come on I know you have had those times.  I know you, as the reader, are nodding your head as you are read.  The fact of the matter is we have pretty rotten days sometimes.  Sometimes those days turn into weeks, months, or even years.  We get to a point where we scream and say “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!  I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”  Maybe a tear or two falls and maybe a few objects get tossed lightly, *cough*, across the room.  Oh wait; you would NEVER do such a thing!  ;)    It has taken me a pretty long time to figure out that none of that stuff really makes the situation better.  It just adds to my frustration and unhappiness. 
Bad days happen.  We ALL have them.  It seems like I have had a perpetual bad day for quite some time now.  My bad days spill into bad sleepless nights.  It seems as soon as I turn another corner I’m smacked in the middle of the face with yet another bad thing.  What am I supposed to do with all this?  Why is this still happening?  What did I do wrong to have these things happen?  My mind begins to fill with questions with no answers.  I cry out to God and yet I feel I hear no answer.  However today I got an answer from God.  “I create the light and make the darkness.  I send good times and bad times.  I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.” ~ Isaiah 45:7 (NLT)  At first I was reading it and was thinking, “Why in the world?  That just doesn't make sense at all.”   I actually started to wonder why God would send the bad times.  We as Christians tend to think that God only makes the good things happen.  I then had another scripture brought to mind, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.   I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) So I had to stop and pray and truly hear what God was trying to say to me.  He knows what is going on because He SENT the bad days.  Maybe He sends the bad days so that I might remember that He is there, that He cares.  I then decided I needed to remember the scripture about being content and remembering that nothing I do on my own is going to make my bad days go away any faster.  I now take solace and rest in knowing that GOD is in control.  I may not like the bad days but I do have to remember that NO MATTER what kind of day it is, be it good or bad, I MUST be content.  God will give me the strength to make it through another “bad” day in order for me to grow and learn more about His abundant love for me.  Maybe, just maybe, my “Alexander” day might turn out to be a good day after all!  As Alexander learned, some days are just like that.  Even in Australia!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Christian in America


I must admit that my feelings and emotions have been hard to decipher the last 24 hours.  Everyone has been posting so many different feelings and opinions on how they feel people should react.  To be very honest with you, I cried real tears when I got the news that the man that caused so many deaths was himself now dead.  Yes I cried…
 
My thoughts first went to all those many lives that were lost not just on 9/11 but also of the ones that we as a nation continued to lose for our forced answer on the unspeakable terrorist act.  I then found my mind going to the thoughts of what his last moments must have been like for him.  Did he know that all he had to do was ask and even he would have found forgiveness in the arms of God?  Yes I do understand what this man has done.  Keep in mind he did not just cause the death of our American people BUT his own people that followed him whole heartedly.  Yes he was a bad man.  That I do not argue with. I then began to watch the human reaction play across the screen of the television and Facebook statuses.  I began to see a real hatred come out of people that I don’t normally see.  This has gone on now for an entire day.  The news and media tells us the details of how it all happened.  I have heard it actually said by MY friends, “He did not suffer enough!”  WOW really?  Is this what we as Christians have come to? 

My heart STILL bleeds for the family members of those that were lost 9 ½ years ago.  By no means does the loss of his life make the big gapping sore all of a sudden healed.  Maybe it brings a little less pain and the oozing may subside for a moment.  But then reality will hit again that there are still children that will never grow up, fathers never walking their daughters down the aisle,  mothers never again reading a bedtime story to sleepy eyes, and love that will never be allowed to grow and blossom.

So bottom line is... how does a Christian react to news of such great magnitude?  Don't we have feelings and emotions just like everyone else does?  Yes we do!  Matter of fact, God gave us those feelings and emotions.  That is how we can love Him so richly and deeply.  That is how we can have so much love for one another.  The emotions themselves are not bad and wrong but what makes them wrong or right is HOW we act upon those emotions.  We are going to have enemies.  God tells us this.  BUT He also tells us how to be when we have them. 

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” ~ Luke 6:27-29 (NLT)  

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)

So my challenge this week... use this current situation playing out before you to look at your life.  How do you treat those that speak harmful things about you?  How do you react when someone speaks ill against you?  Do you treat your enemies well or do you speak harshly yourself about them?  It is completely up to you how you are going to react.  But I plead with you to remember how God would want you to react.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Read your map

Those that know me well know that I make a monthly trip to my parent’s house.   It has become a part of my routine.  There really is no good way to get there.  When we first moved to Greenville I would go into Mt. Pleasant and then head to their house from there.  It was well out of the way but I didn’t know a better way.  I then tried a different way and found that I didn’t like that one as well.  I kept looking at a map and trying to figure out  a way I would rather take.  There is several different ways to get there.  There is no straight way.  I didn’t mind the time it took to get there it was just that I couldn’t find a way that made more sense.  Finally after I got frustrated with trying to figure out what way was best on my own, I asked my dad.  I was at their house and said “Dad, is there a better way to get home than the way that I have been taking?”  He then pulled up a map and began to show me and then wrote it down for me.  I was a little nervous trying it out for the first time on my own and when I left it was pretty dark.  I said my goodbyes and was off to see if I could achieve this on my own.  If you have ever driven out in the country you know that when it gets dark there are NO street lights.  Mile after mile it was not just dark it was pitch black.  I had my headlights on the high beams and still could only see a short distance in front of me.  I was nervous that I would miss a turn or turn at the wrong spot.  I couldn’t see what turn I needed to make ahead of time, I had to be right on it for my headlights to pick up the road sign.  I missed one turn but the directions my father gave me were so clear.  He said “If you come to a dirt road, you missed your turn.  Turn around and go back to the very first cross roads and turn left.”  So that is exactly what I did.  Guess what, I got home.  And even a few minutes sooner than the way I took before.  That has now become the way I take every single month.  I really do love that way too.  It is a beautiful drive and I get to reflect on God’s creation most of the way.

By now maybe you know where I’m going with this one.  The last couple months on my drive God brought this to my mind.  He showed me that there are many different paths to take in this life.  Many choose to go it all alone.  They travel blindly in hopes that they will get to the place they intended to end.  Some take paths that start out with a map and then as the trip progresses they decide that they don’t need the map and put it aside.  Leaning on their own wisdom only to find out later that they made a few wrong turns when they did.  Some follow a map their entire lives only to find out at the end that they could have taken a better way to get there that might have saved a little heartache and pain.  “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.” ~Psalm 32:8 (NLT).  We as Christians tend to think that we have “seen” the map and that after a while we will just remember how to get there.  Well the fact of the matter is, our memory just isn’t that good people.  I tried time and time to find that perfect way to my parents and it wasn’t until I gave up and my dad gave me not only a better way but the exact, picture perfect instructions on how to find my way to the end of my journey.  My challenge to you this week is this… do you seek God only when you have had enough of trying your way and then you cry out and ask God to remind you of the directions He gave you?  Do you forget to look at the beauty along your journey?  Do you find a new path when it gets dark and you can’t see where your turn is?  Do you trust that God will show you where and when to turn?  He has a map uniquely designed for you, are you allowing God to lead you?  He never promised that the roads through this life wouldn't have potholes and cracks but He did promise that He would give us peace that passes all understanding when we come to them.  Let him!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Expectations


Expectations……  How do you fit people’s expectations of you?  You know the people that think you should do this, be here, go there, act a certain way, and don’t do this or that?  I have had people my entire life tell me how they feel I should be.  Being a pastor’s wife for several years, an associate and now a senior pastor, I have had several people hold me to their expectations of what that looks like to them.  It took me years to figure out exactly who I was after trying for so long to please all those people.  Funny thing is, no matter how hard I tried, I STILL couldn't make them happy.  Trust me I really did try.  But I found the harder I tried the further and further away I got from the true me who was inside begging to come out.  I was struggling so hard that I was actually fighting with myself just so I could fit the mold of what everyone around me seemed to think that I should.  Well see I didn’t fit and nothing I could do was going to make that any different.  See I was created to fit GOD’S mold and what HE wanted me to be.  God took me through a year of showing me, up close and personal, that He created me for a purpose.  He wanted me to be exactly the way He created me.  Not something someone else wanted me to be.  He wanted me to be more concerned about who and how He wanted me to be than what everyone around me thought I should be.  In that year God really took me through some pretty emotional stuff and self-seeking times.  I spent a lot of time literally on my knees bawling before God, pleading for guidance and direction.  You know what?  Through all of it, I learned to LOVE the skin I was in and who God created me to be.  I began to see myself as GOD sees me.  I never thought I would find such freedom in that.  The complete and total joy in knowing that God made me exactly the way He wanted me to be.  I’m not perfect, I know this.  I’m trying daily to live as God would have me to live.  I make mistakes and trust that when I do, God will be faithful and show me. 

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 

My challenge to you this week would be this…. Take a look at yourself.  Are you holding others to expectations of how YOU feel they should act or be?  Do you think so and so would be a better Christian if they just did something different?  I also have to ask if you hold yourself to those same expectations.  Maybe you think a Christian looks a certain way and you are trying with everything in you to fit in that mold you created.  Take a step back.  Let God show you what being His child really looks like.  What you look like to Him.  How others look to Him.  See yourself and others through His eyes.  Give God the chance to show you what kind of freedom He can give you.