Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A challenge was issued by a friend of mine for 10 people to make a list of ten blessings or ten thanksgivings; I know of a couple of people who have accepted the challenge and now I am accepting it to.

I'm thankful for (in no particular order...)

1. Music. Psalm 92:1; "It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High..." Psalm 108:1; "My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul." Music is a gift and a powerful tool that God uses to draw us into his presence. What would I do without music...?

2. My spouse. Proverbs 31:23; "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." My husband is a man of God - and growing more and more like a man of God every day. While we don't always see eye to eye or appreciate each other the way we should, I am blessed beyond...to be able to share his life.

3. Kids. Psalm 127:3; "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." Proverbs 17:6; "Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children." Jeremiah 31:7; "So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land." I am proud of my children; even though they don't always do what I think they should. I love and accept them for who they are and what they are but I don't stop praying that my children "will return" and have an authentic relationship with the Savior. I trust God's promise in Jeremiah 29 that when they seek him, they will find him when they seek him with all of their heart.

4. Friends and Family. Luke 15:9; "And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me...'" Hebrews 10:5; "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Ecclesiastes 4:10; "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" We have been blessed by so many wonderful friends and family; those who rejoice with us but also those who cry with us; we meet, we encourage, we grow together. We have the Ecclesiastes 4:10 friends; friends who love and support; encourage and pray for us.

5. Grace. John 1:16; "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." Thankful to that I was finally able to accept the grace; one of the best gifts ever!

6. The freedom to choose. Deuteronomy 30:19; "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Philippians 1:20; "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." That God, after he sacrificed his own Son, would still allow us to choose to accept the gift of salvation is beyond me. That kind of love and patience is amazing.

7. Past mistakes. Job 23:10; "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." How much shall I write here? If I were to write about the ways that I've taken and the tests that have come from my choices and mistakes, they would need to be bound into a book. I am thankful though, that God allowed me to try things my way; he allowed me to fail. In my failure, I learned and experienced and got to know a compassionate, forgiving, pursuing, abundant and intentional God - my God! I don't know if I would know him the way I do if it hadn't been for the ways that taken...

8. Blood and the Lamb. 1 Peter 1:19; "but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." For the sacrifice that Jesus made for me; that he appeared in front of God "wearing" all my sin and shame as if it was his own. That my chains are gone because of Jesus, the pure spotless Lamb.

9. Justification and Sanctification. Romans 5:1; "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..." Titus 3:7; "...so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Romans 10:10; "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." 1 Corinthians 6:11; "...But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." Can I get a witness? My heart believes, my mouth confesses = I am saved!!

10. Eternal Life. John 10:28; "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." 1 Thessalonians 4:16; "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." Revelation 12:10; "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." What more is there to say aside from AMEN and HALLELUJAH!!

Thanks Steph, for the challenge; this was good for my soul.
Also, in giving thanks this week and spending time with friends and family, will you keep the Lindsey family in your prayers? Their little girl, Jessica, went to be with Jesus not so long ago and they miss her so much. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessicalindsey

Monday, November 24, 2008

A "Three-Peat" At Least

In my house, sporting events are rarely watched, listened to, or even followed; with the exception of NASCAR. As the race is beginning, the family gathers around the TV to hear the announcer say "Boogity, boogity, boogity - let's go racin' boys!" Then, we go about whatever it was we were doing; the kids go downstairs, and Clint and I settle in for...a nap! When I wake up I do a quick catch-up on what happened while I was asleep and hope that my driver didn't crash or get a flat tire and put him a lap behind. These past few years have been "good" years for me as a NASCAR fan. In 2002 (I'm almost certain it was 2002 but don't hold it against me if I'm wrong) a new driver entered the NEXTEL Cup (F.K.A. Winston Cup) line-up and I became a fan of his immediately; I even bought a cap with his number on it! This past year, "my" driver, Jimmie Johnson became the NEXTEL Cup Series Champion for the third year in a row! A "three-peat!"
A few years ago I found myself at a Dunamis Retreat which was taught through Presbyterian Reformed Ministries (www.prmi.org); together, my husband and I attended two teaching weekends a year. The focus of the teachings being on the Holy Spirit, with each weekend session focused on different aspects of the Holy Spirit and our responses; since there were 6 teachings, my husband and I also experienced our own sort-of "three-peat" in that it took us three years to complete the teachings.

One of the things that was clear to me early on in these teachings was that I had wounds, deep and hidden wounds, that Jesus wanted to heal. So a journey began; sometimes it was difficult but the outcome was always the same. I felt a burden lifted (given/surrendered to God) and I also felt like I had a better understanding of the "abundant life" that God wanted for me.

One topic that was discussed during one of the weekend teachings was the idea of generational sin; that sins (i.e. anger, sexual sins, complacency, etc) can be passed from one generation to the next. Right away, there were obvious ones and I confessed them and asked for God's protection for my children - that those sins didn't continue.

These past few days, God has been reminding me of another generational sin that has affected my family and me. I grew up in a family where emotions weren't talked about; there was not much affection shown; and compliments were not free-flowing. I also didn't feel like I was given much room to fail - and if I did, (which BELIEVE ME, I did) we didn't really talk about that either.

My grandma is still living; she's 87 years old. In all the years that I've been with her, I don't really remember grandma showing affection to me; in fact, I don't remember my grandma showing affection toward my mom (her daughter); and I don't recall a lot of affection from my mom to me. Will it be another "Three-peat" or is it already? Maybe there are several more generations of "history repeating itself" than I know about. I've also felt many times over the years that I have disappointed my grandma; and unfortunately, that sort of attitude has been passed to me from my parents as well. Even though I love my grandma and my parents (and I know the feeling is mutual) I feel as if I've been marked "failure" because of mistakes and choices I made when I was younger.

I don't want my children to ever wonder if they were ever good enough for me; I also don't want it to be awkward when I say "I love you" to my children. Every night my kids give me a good hug (kisses were out a couple of years ago...) and we tell each other "I love you." When I talk with the older kids on the phone or when we say good-bye in person, there is almost always a hug and an "I love you;" but I want more for my kids. I trust that my children will know that they were loved, but I wonder if they will have feelings like I have: that they never quite measured up to my standards.

Zechariah 10:6 says: "I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them."

Dear God, it's me. I know I've messed up; I know that I've sinned against you and my kids. Please have compassion on me forgive me. I pray God, that you will equip and empower me to break the generational ties that kept me from receiving your grace for so long. God, help me to love Ashley, Brandy, Chyanne, Amber, Taryn, Natasha, Morgan and Cole the way you love them - unconditionally! Empower me to show them as much grace as you've shown me. Thank you God, for being a redeeming God. Thank you for constantly pursuing me and showing me areas of my life that need your light - and mostly God, thank you for doing it in such a way that I don't feel like a failure. In Jesus' name.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dry Bones (The House is A Mess-Part 2)

Ezekiel, a prophet, wrote in his book in chapter 37 about a vision that God gave him. It says (I'll summarize some of it but please understand this is me summarizing and I encourage you to go directly to the word of God for perfect information) that the Holy Spirit brought Ezekiel to a valley covered and filled with dry bones. God inquired of Ezekiel whether or not the bones could live and Ezekiel responded that only he, the Lord, could know that. Then God asked Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones and tell them that God is going to breathe life into them; he's going to cover them with skin and attach tendons and flesh - all this so that they would know that he is the LORD. So, Ezekiel obeys and bones come together; tendons begin to attach bone to bone and skin covered them - but there was no breath.

So God again tells Ezekiel to prophesy that breath will enter these bodies - breath from all four sides - so that the bodies may live. And Ezekiel again obeys and the bodies come to life and stand up. Then God told Ezekiel that the dry bones stand for the people of Israel. And the Lord then tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel the following:

'The Lord and King says, "My people, I am going to open up your graves. I am going to bring you out of them. I will take you back to the land of Israel. So I will open up your graves and bring you out of them. Then you will know that I am the Lord. You are my people. I will put my Spirit in you. And you will live again. I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I have spoken. I have done it," announces the Lord.' Ezekiel 37:12-14

In a previous post of mine titled "The House is A Mess" I shared that I was struggling with finding time to sit with God; since that time, I have recommitted to spending time with God. I spent this past weekend at a spiritual retreat called Cursillo and was challenged to be intentional. While pondering what God wanted me to be intentional about I was convicted of this time that I spend with God. I have been putting in the time physically, but emotionally and spiritually, I was not committing the time to God. My bones were dry.

I was intentional this morning: intentional about reading the Bible and not moving past a scripture until I understood it or received a blessing from it. I have been reading through some of the Old Testament books and just happen to be in Ezekiel right now; and this morning, when I started, I found my bookmark at Ezekiel 37. Coincidence? I don't think so-I don't believe in coincidence!

God confirmed this morning what I know to be true about him. He does not want me to be spiritually dead and that he will "put his spirit in me and I will live again." Not only did God speak to me today in scripture, but he spoke directly to me about what I was convicted of. And he reassured me that if I am willing to be intentional, he will not leave me with dry bones.

Are your bones dry? Do you need "new breath" in your life? I encourage you to seek God's heart and be INTENTIONAL!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Love & Hearts & Stuff

There is a framed poster hanging in the bathroom at work with a picture of the Tin Man and the caption on the poster says: "Remember my sentimental friend, a heart is not judged by how much it loves, but by how much it is loved by others." (From the Wizard of Oz to the Tin Man)

WHAT? Seriously, could this be any further from the truth? When I die and go to heaven I know I'm not going to be judged by how many people loved me (thank goodness) but I will be judged by how [many people] I loved. Is my being judged by the latter going to be any better for me than former?

Here's the problem for me: I know the truth but I still struggle with the lie. I'm constantly "keeping score" of things; how many friends I have on Facebook; how many "hits" I have on my blog, how many birthday cards I get on my birthday, and the list goes on. I'm constantly comparing myself to some "ruler" that I will never measure up on. I do know the creator of this "ruler" though; his name is Satan, the Devil, or his most effective name: the Deceiver.

Even though in my heart and my mind, I know that I am not accepted by God because of anything I've ever said, or done; or because of everyone that I've ever loved. Even so, I still try my hardest to "measure up" for him too. I waste so much time trying to be someone I think he wants me to be rather than just doing what he wants me to do. I think in being a "doing" person (a heart that loves) I'm "being" the person God wants me to be.

God help me to focus on you and what you want me to do; help me to stop keeping score and keeping track for if I do that, I will miss out on so many things you want me to know; I will miss opportunities to love on your behalf; I will be too busy trying to impress people around me that I will miss how great you are and how big you are in my life. Father God, forgive me...for worrying more about how I look and what people think of me than seeing to it that I'm right with you. I'm ready to do your will. Amen.

"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."
Ephesians 1:11-12 The Message