Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Too Much Grace…Is That Even Possible?

Part One-

Is it possible to show or BE shown too much grace? Huh…I am trying to form an intelligent answer to that question…and I’m struggling. My head says yes it is possible because I tend to want to punish people for my unspoken scale of ‘what they deserve’. My heart on the other hand, says no because you should give what you want/expect to receive. The problem is that sometimes my heart follows my head. =( There are many days that I talk my heart into feeling what my head does. Those are the days I regret most. I tend to be judgmental. Arrogant. Lacking in forgiveness. Without unconditional love. Stupid.(I’m allowed to say that word because it is in the Bible. Check it out. Proverbs 12:1. Just like Prego…it’s in there. Lol!)

The days that I follow my heart no matter what my head says…are the days I live for. They are moments with lasting impressions. The results are eternal. The lessons learned are teachable examples to my family and friends. (And of course you out in the blogging community. *smiles*)

You see today, as I’m writing this…it is one of those days. My head said I should be folding laundry. (Enticing huh? I know, not at all…but necessary?…absolutely! Haha!) My heart said I should be writing. You can tell over the last week I’ve been following my head because my writing has suffered. And for what? Clean underwear? Eh…it is over-rated. ;)

Today…today I listened to my heart. I heard God say, “Sit and write for Me.”…and I listened. And for what? Or should I say who?

YOU! God is speaking to you! How do I know? Because this is the point of my writing in which I felt the Spirit of God. A chill that radiated throughout my core. Instant tear moistened eyes. Immediate excitement in the presence of my King.

You see my friend…your head is smart. Sometimes too smart for your own good. The enemy will use your own brain against you. He can’t get to your heart though. If you are a ‘blood-bought, highly-favored, child of the Most High God’…your heart is already spoken for. The enemy has to work with your head…because he doesn’t have the power to touch a heart that belongs to Christ. He’s no match for that kind of power. (Smile at that thought. I did. =) )

So how does the enemy get to you?…he whispers lies to you. He uses people you trust to tear you down in their moment of weak judgment. He makes you feel guilt for past wrongs. Wrongs that have already been nailed to the cross. He piles on responsibilities to make you busy so you don’t have time to meet quietly and reverently before your Savior. He places things in your path that he thinks you might lust after.

He’s sly…but you are God’s beloved and you are smart. You are intelligent because you have access to the Creator and all of His knowledge. You are strong because of the Spirit that lives in you. You are saved because of the sacrifice on Calvary. You are forgiven because of the Blood that washes you clean. You have a clear mind because you were born with a will to think on your own.

So you see…if we can seek our heart’s answer. If we can follow the love and compassion that God has placed in us…we will not live in so much regret. Each time we make the right choice…our Father will rejoice.

It is kind of like teaching your young children to stay away from fire. We make a big deal about it and possibly punish them because we want them to understand the severity of the possible consequence. And when they comprehend and apply their new-found knowledge…we stand back and watch. We are ready to run to their rescue if they try to play with fire. And we are ready to rejoice with them when they choose life. =)

God longs for us to apply the knowledge He has given us. He wants us to use our life experiences to change our future reactions. He wants us to always be teachable. He wants us to follow our hearts (remember, this is where Christ resides in us) when our heads seem to be failing us. He wants us to be forever changed to be more like Him.


Part Two-

The second part of this post shows the real me. (I try to show the real me through my writing. Never acting like I always have it all together. Instead showing my faults and failures and then how God’s grace covers them all!) I tried to publish this post Saturday…and was clearly not successful. The reason? I had not yet been tested. The enemy tested to see if I would live what I wrote. I am happy to say in the end…I passed. But!…I definitely lost sight in the middle. =( Ugh!!

I will spare you the details of this weekend for the purpose of showing only God’s glory and not the enemy’s handiwork. The enemy’s plan started on Thursday. It escaladed on Friday. And by Saturday it was just ridiculous. I was in a bit of shock as to what was happening. Instead of calmly extending grace…I fought with hurtful words. (I know the author and the source of them…and I am a bit ashamed of how carelessly I slung them when I was hurt.)

All day on Saturday I held back my grace and forgiveness. My focus was not in the right direction. I was focusing on what/who was before me, and not Who is above me. Finally at 8:30 Saturday night God spoke to me. He reminded me of something I heard from Woody Woodson early this week. “I will show up if you do.” Whether you agree with that statement or not is not the point. To me it meant something specific.

If you read a post I wrote a month ago (called God’s Generosity)…you may remember that I mentioned my newest song. If you remember that, you will also remember that I asked you to pray for the man who God revealed to me the song was for. With this in mind now again I say… “I will show up if you do”. To me this was God saying, “Fix what you broke…because if you don’t show up at church on Sunday, I can’t.” Does this mean that God’s presence would not be there? NO! But does it mean that God’s plan for this man would be impossible? I don’t know. But I would hate to be the person who messed up the plan of God for myself and even more so for another person.

It had been weeks since I told this man’s wife of God’s plan. Each week I saw her with her children. No husband. What would make me think that today would be any different? The voice of God…and I could not risk it. Fixing what I had broken Saturday…was necessary to make Sunday successful. I was dreading it…but God was with us. He softened our hearts (and our voices) and forgiveness and grace were the victors.

This past Sunday morning was my most peaceful in a while. I was home alone, preparing only myself for church. I thought here and there about the possibility of singing my song…but decided it wasn’t likely. I leisurely sipped my steaming mug of Coconut Cream coffee. Read a little. There was no rushing. No yelling about how it was time to go. Just peace and quiet.

I spoke with some encouraging sisters when I arrived at church. Walked into the sanctuary not really paying much attention to who was there. As I walked onto the stage to begin worship…my husband (the worship leader) approached me. He asked if I was ready to sing my song today. I said, “Why, is he here?” YEP…he was. I looked up and saw him sitting with his family. I got a huge smile on my face realizing that what the enemy meant for evil, God used for good. I had passed the test. It took me a day…but I listened to the voice of God…and I played my part in His plan for this man.

I don’t yet know the outcome. That is not my worry. I was obedient. I was real. I sang it in the wrong key. Oh, haha! Should I not have said that? Too real? (Maybe God was sparing me from becoming prideful. Lol…I couldn’t hit a few of the lowest notes the I intended to. I had started it too low and it was too late to fix it by the time I realized it.) But with all of that said…I will do whatever else God instructs me. I will help however I am needed. I can’t wait to see how this man creates his own ripple effect.

God is faithful to the end. He gives us opportunities to redeem ourselves with what He has taught us. I may have played with fire…but I didn’t not get burned. God reminded me of my own words. He didn’t give up on me. He didn’t decide that I was a lost cause when I lost focus. He consistently spoke to me…until I heard His instruction and applied it.

Can you extend or receive too much grace? Not if you are saved by the blood of Jesus. I fully understand how I feel now. My heart doesn’t fail me. My head…eh…I’m still a work in progress there. I thank God that I can say…I get it. I understand why that word was spoken over me last week. Grace! My world doesn’t make sense without it. I am not whole without it. I could not survive without it. I would live in a constant state of sadness without it.

I don’t have to ever be without it. Do you?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oh What a Wonderful World

Today’s statement to ponder…”Describe a world where everyone gives someone else the break they hope to receive.”
Fall '11 001

What is  your immediate reaction to that statement? I will admit, mine is mixed. It makes me smile to picture a world as beautiful and whole as the one mentioned above. It also makes me want to silently cry when I think of how God desires for us to be…and how many holes we leave when we don’t. Especially as Christians. His desire for how we treat others (believers or non-believers) are not always met.
Is this a wonderful dream? (A seemingly unreachable one.) Or is this your light bulb moment? The moment that God has divinely placed in front of you to start a movement. A movement that starts with one…and ripples or snowballs to reach many. The ripple effect can start with you. Own it. I have my ripple effect and you can have yours. If they can connect and cross paths…what a more powerful movement they become. And God can use those ripples to reach MANY. I don’t feel as though many is a large enough word for the mental picture I am trying to portray. It will do for now.
We are called to think outside of the box, right? =) This is outside of the box of my pea-brain thinking. But then again, so is healing. So are divine appointments. So is saving a sinner from the eternal punishment that he/she deserves. My brain doesn’t understand what is not explainable. Just because I am not able to ‘figure them out’ does NOT mean that I don’t trust they are real.
Trust…now that I can do. And my Savior has proven Himself faithful time and time again. He has healed. He has set up appointments that were clearly by His divine guiding. The timing was just toooo perfect to be by ‘chance’. And saving the sinner…is so beyond what we deserve. Therein lies the problem. We treat each other sometimes according to terms we deem deserving.
You don’t deserve my forgiveness because you have hurt me too deep.
You have offended me too often to deserve any more chances.
You don’t deserve my kindness because I see how you treat others.
You don’t deserve my compassion because your heart is hardened towards others.
You don’t deserve my love because it is too difficult to love you.
You don’t deserve grace because you don’t learn from your mistakes.
Ouch! Read those statements again. This time picture Jesus saying them to you. You can’t. It is impossible for Him to be without love. That is wonderful, almost unfathomable news for you. To know that He will always give you grace…is a life-changing realization. It is all about what people deserve with us. And we are harsh with our standards. We set ours high and expect others to set theirs low. How has that been working for you? Not too good, I assume.
Do you give your friends, your family, your church, the strangers you meet; the break that you would want?
If that question immediately makes you angry, or ashamed, or sad…that my friend is called conviction. It is how God helps us to realize His will for us is different than how we’ve been living. What you do with this information…makes all the difference. We were born with free will remember? Sometimes I wish that I didn’t have it. Then I wouldn’t mess up so badly…and soooo often. But that wouldn’t show God our reverence for Him. It wouldn’t prove how much we love, respect and fear Him. You see if God wanted puppets, he would have created them. But no He created us to be His heirs, His sons and daughters. He desires relationships with us. This is not a dictatorship.
Because we are free willin’ men and women, we sometimes are too proud to admit that we react against God’s will. Sometimes we are too busy to notice. Sometimes just flat out defiant and unwilling to change.
Let’s try to picture it if we did change. What would your world look like? Peaceful. Kind. Gentle. Fun. Joyful. Compassionate. Filled with love. Forgiven. Beautiful! And what a proud Father we would have! Help me make this happen. Start your ripple so that when it crosses mine…they are a powerhouse to be reckoned with! The bigger the combined movement…the harder it will be for the enemy to fight against us. We are strong in Jesus name! Rise up and meet the hand of your Father. He is waiting to turn what the enemy tries to use against you…for HIS purpose.

Friday, March 16, 2012

You are Going to WANT to Make These!

Good morning all! I am sitting here going through pictures and I decided I just had to share this recipe I recently made. It all started at Christmas this past year. I got this cute little bag of goodies from my brother and his wife. Some sort of fun Bugle snack. They were super cute…but didn’t look ‘out-of-this-world-amazing.’ I figured my kids would like them. Not expecting much…I tried one.




They were so so so super yummy. I knew that I had to get the recipe because I certainly wasn’t sharing any of the ones that were a gift for my ‘family’. Haha! (I really didn’t share. Awful huh? I know…I have repented about it. And I’ve moved on. Move with me won’t you? Lol!)

So…since my family didn’t get to enjoy them. I bought all the ingredients and finally made them last Friday night. (What is just a few short months to wait for something so awesome? Lol!)

If you are on Pinterest…which I am…but don’t EVER get to really look at. You can find the original recipe. I don’t know the name for sure…so good luck with the search. (Your welcome.) We are calling them Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles. Simple, yet surprisingly time consuming.

As I said…I made them last Friday. We had a youth event at our church. Since we were getting pizza I thought this would be a nice little dessert that would be easy. An hour and a half it took my daughter and I to make about half of a large bag of bugles. (We did of course sample some during the process.)

And Ariel took a break to do what we love most…

I know what it looks like. She is about to enjoy the chocolate off the rubber scraper. (And if you know me and know my love for chocolate…I would say that is a valid guess.) But no…she is singing into it. Anything is a microphone when you have a passion for singing. Lol! This day…she was singing my newest song. “Rise Up”. It is so powerful…and I am so excited for when God has me share it.

Okay, on to the actual recipe. You need three ingredients. That’s it! The fourth ingredient is 100% optional. =)

Ingredient #1
Chocolate Wafers (I don't believe the brand name is vital. I used part of a bulk bag of chocolate wafers when I ran out of these. You would probably need 2-3 of these bags to do an entire large bag of Bugles.)
I melted these in my Pampered Chef micro-cooker. =) Heat for 1 minute. Stir. Heat in 30 second increments until melted and smooth. (OR melt them however you want. Double broiler...sauce pan filled with water with a small bowl on top holding the chocolates. Be creative. Lol!)

Ingredients #2 & #3
Original Bugles and my favorite brand of peanut butter...J I F! Cause I am a choosey Mom! ;)
(Look at me dropping Brand Names like I'm getting paid from them. I can assure you...I am SO not getting paid. *sigh* Lol!)
I used my Pampered Chef spreader to get the peanut butter into the hole of the Bugle. Then I dipped the peanut buttered end into the melted chocolate and placed it on wax paper. (Ok...so I clearly didn't have wax paper, but that would have been my preferred choice. And I am a bit embarrassed of how old my saran wrap covered cookie sheet looks.) 

 Ingredient #4 (100% optional)
My sister in laws version were for Christmas so they were adorned with some awesome red/white/green sprinkles. The closest holiday to last Friday, was St. Patty's Day...so I used green sugar crystals. They didn't really look that impressive. But since my daughter was my 'sprinkler'...I couldn't ask her to stop helping. She was so happy to be sitting on the island in our kitchen, helping Mom. These days won't always be here...so I have to take them while I can. =)

There you are folks! These are so simple. And so delicious. And so addicting. You should try them asap! Lol!

As for me...I am so excited today. You see, this post is part of a revelation from God for me. Not anything to do with the contents of the post. Just the fact that I wrote it AND sent it from my home computer...in my home! God is good...and He has made a way when there seemed to be no way. I praise Him that He is smarter than I!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Juggle, juggle…thud!

Afternoon all! I am sitting here today at my dining room table, and it is covered in clothes. They are all clean…but all need to be folded, sorted, and put away. I am putting it off. But for the first time this week I am putting it off for a good reason. =) You!

How often do you feel as though someone or something is getting left in the dust? You are not alone. We ALL have our own personalized struggles…but you’d be surprised at how often we struggle silently with the exact same things. Really! I mean listen…I am a stay at home mother…as you know by now. And yet…today…without leaving the comfort of my home, I know of three people that are struggling with their devotional time. I didn’t even have to leave my house to find people that I can pray for and minister to. Divine appointment. That is what this world is all about.

See each person as God appointed. Why are they on the phone with you? How can you pray for them? What is going on in their life that could use a prayer warrior? Sometimes God will have you ask. Sometimes He will tell you. Sometimes a wave of compassion will come over you…and that is all it takes to know they are your mission for that day. Pray. Encourage. Write. Whatever He asks…do.

God sent me to a man struggling to find time to meet with Him. God sent a woman to me who is struggling with the same. They are entirely different…and yet simply the same. Their struggle is unique…yet similar. Let me explain it so it is easily understood. You see I read a devotional 4 years ago that has stuck with me. It was a divine appointment for me to have in my quiet time…that left me forever changed. How thankful I am for the words that I read that put this subject matter into a simple picture.

Juggle. Juggle. Thud. Picture with me…a person who is juggling a set of three bean bags. Not too dangerous…but still difficult. The more bean bags you add…the higher the degree of difficulty.

Now change the person you picture. Put yourself there. Maybe you can’t really juggle. (I can’t.) If you need to (for the picture in your head, mind you) change the bean bags to scarves. Now picture the juggling act.

Let’s name some of the bean bags. (I am using bean bags, because in my imagination I am a rockin’ good juggler. Haha!) These are things that are important to you or that MUST be done every day. Here are some that I came up with…pictures included are free of charge. ;)

 Ch (168) (I realize none of my kids are actually sleeping here. But they are all ‘camping out’ on the living room floor with their pillow pets. Close enough.  Lol!)

Dishes. (I guess just housework in general. Laundry…ugh, dusting, de-cluttering, vacuuming/sweeping, bathroom cleaning…etc.)
 Winter 2012 005 (Here is a little shout out to Dawn’s new (to me) scent. Hawaiian Pineapple!! Um…I loathe dishes. Is loathe a strong enough word? But…I do enjoy new soap scents. My sister in law will be pleasantly surprised when she sees that I washed all of her containers and bottles just to try this new soap. I do love the smell…not so much the process. Lol!)

Recreational activities. Whatever that is to you. (Examples for me are scrapbooking, writing, photography, and singing.)
 Early spring '11 032 (This is one of my favorite scrap pages from my son’s Kindergarten school year. And I must tell you. It is a copy. I have trouble creating pages in my own little head. It is overloaded with all these blog ideas…yeah that’s it…full. Haha…but I can copy with the best of them. That is why they make scrapbooking magazines right? Cut paper just like theirs. Copy their idea. Paste on all of the embellishments just as they did. Add your own pictures…and give them the credit. Lol! I did come up with my own heading…Knotty or Nice. Get it? Knotty because of the crazy hair? Hahahahaha!)

Late fall 2011 019 (2) (Love this picture of my children’s Sunday School class the week of Thanksgiving!)

Cooking/ baking. (Eating whatever you cooked or baked.)
 2012 036 (Fruit pizza I made for Valentine’s Day. It was amazing!)

Fall '11 046Fall '11 061  (Setting posts for our fence. Aiden carried the post before it was set. They all gathered around it for a quick photo shoot after it was set!)

Spending time with your family.
Winter 2012 036 (2) (This is Eric, Aiden and Bill (the horse) last night. Sunset. Beautiful spring day. A man. His son. And a horse. I
abso-toot-a-loot-ley LOVE IT!)

Drinking a Pumpkin Pie Latte.
Winter 2012 004 (Latte’s are almost always a daily event in my house. Today, my flavor of choice was a Coconut Chai Latte. And yes, it was as delightful as it sounds!! THANK YOU RACHEL!)

Personal time with God!!!
Wait…that is my spot. Why is my spot is empty? Where did that day go? Where was yesterday? Last week? Why do I keep filling my days with nonsense and being okay with it? What am I doing to try to make a difference? Not only in my life…but those I am surrounded by.

Where does personal, relationship-oriented conversation with God fit in? These are just some of the things that I juggle. I’m sure your list is different. Maybe some of them are similar. Maybe none. Maybe all. It doesn’t really matter…the list isn’t the important part. What does matter is how do you fit all of these things into a 24 hour day?

Write down a list of all of your bean bags. Now when you picture yourself juggling them…throwing them up and catching the ones that are absolutely vital to your day. Which of them seem to fall most often with a thud?

That sound. The sound of a bean bag hitting the floor is heart wrenching to me today. It literally just brought tears to my eyes. That is how I know this message isn’t just for you today. Knowing that I have been showing my dishes and laundry more attention than my Savior…ouch! Why is it that His sacrifice isn’t ALWAYS worth mine?

Why is it that He is patient…and I am not. ‘Just one more thing,’ I tell Him. Just let me make my latte and then I will sit with You.

Interruption…the enemy’s tool strikes again. The phone. The stench of an obviously poop filled diaper. The dog. The mountain of things staring at me while I sit and relax to write. When I see them as a tool the enemy is using to keep me from meeting with my Savior…I can get through them and press on to my goal.

Answer the phone. Excuse yourself politely if it is not going to be short. Sit and read!
Change the diaper. Wash the hands. Sit and write!
Let the dog out. Let the dog in. Sit and listen to God’s voice.
Dishes can wait. Laundry will always be there. Your friends and family will be cared for much better when your heart has been lifted up. You won’t have to feel guilty for taking a run. Or scrapbooking. Or doing ministry at church…IF you are going out full instead of half empty. (Heard that in church a few weeks ago. Thanks Bob…I LOVE IT!)

Figure out what your THUD is. Ask God to help you manage your time better. Don’t leave your family in your dust. Don’t leave your responsibilities in a heap on your dining room table. ;) And don’t let your personal time with God always thud while you are juggling. He will keep them all going in your place when you spend time with Him. Real time. Quality time at His feet. Waiting in His presence. Singing to make Him smile.

Choose wisely. Choose consciously. Choose carefully what is vital to your day. The proof is in your ministry. You minister to your family. You minister to your friends. You minister to your church. You have the opportunity to minister to your waitress. Your cashier. Your gas-station attendant. Or you just simply don’t minister at all. Make the choice part of your morning…and stick to it! You will not regret your time with The King of Kings. He is the most amazing prayer partner…because He has the power to promote CHANGE!

I am praying for your success. Pray for mine too. Thanks LOVE!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Expect Grace? Extend Grace!

Do you ever feel like your own words come back to bite you in the butt? This happens so often it is almost funny. As soon as I get over the fact that it is frustrating… No kidding too…as soon as I posted those words the other day about the love of God being enough…I was challenged. I faced a situation where my silent expectations of people were not met. So now what? Ugh…how quickly I forgot the words that God spoke to me. His love is enough. His love will never disappoint. If I never feel love like I desire from ‘man’ that is okay, because God’s love is sufficient for me.

How is it that my own words can do that so often? It makes me realize how much the enemy really does loathe me. He hates the written words of life as much as I love them. I have choices. What now? Do I hold onto my offense? Do I silently rehearse the conversations that I will have with people regarding this situation so my fists are clenched?

Or do I allow the Spirit to do His work? Do I let Him be our defense? Do I pass this test? Do I keep fighting the author of lies and keep writing just to further tick Him off? I think so. I think I will do just that. Ha-ha! Make the enemy cringe with each time I push the word “Publish”. Yep, that is what I will do. Write. And write. Forgive and forget. Be humble and meek. Powerful and confident. Look to God for my complete love.

And then…there is grace. (To me…it is like a twin of forgiveness. Close as close can be…but still different.) How do I extend grace? How do I expect grace?

I expect grace from people that know the Word of God. I expect grace from people who live to please Him. I expect grace from people who love me. I expect grace from people who know that the rules and regulations that have held us in religion are dead…and relationship is alive. I expect grace from people who can look past my shortcomings and see Christ in me. I expect grace from people who desire to please God over men.

So when do I extend grace? Not often enough, I am learning. How lovely it is to know that God is patient with us. And now that I know what I expect…I had better be willing to extend it on those terms as well. I love the Christ that I am coming to know more each day I put in the effort. And I am so thankful for His effort back to me.

This relationship we all have with God is not complicated. It is written in black and white. Pages and pages of instruction. Of warning. Of encouragement. Of examples. Now go be His hand. Show His heart. Walk where Jesus walked. And walk where He didn’t…

Where is He sending you? Who is He placing in your path to make a difference? Who is the object of your goal? Is Christ calling you to new avenues in your faith? Is He calling you to reach out to new people? Is He asking you to take steps out of your comfort zone?

I know He is asking me. He is leading me to the path that HE desires for me. And you know what…He is blessing me for my obedience. Man…I don’t deserve His goodness. I don’t deserve this grace I so easily receive. So that is my cue to give that same grace to those that I am surrounded by who don’t ‘deserve’ it. I am not the judge. I am not the jury. I am the servant. And I release myself from any of those roles I subconsciously took upon myself.

I am free to extend grace. Grace is free for the taking. The enemy thought his test would make me stumble. He wanted me to face plant in my bitterness and unforgiveness. But you see…God told me that I am stronger than I think I am. And I am surely stronger than the enemy gives me credit for. I love that!! =)