Archive | September 2012

Two 4-Letter Words for Elections…

My Love/Hate Relationship with Presidential Elections

It’s an election year.  I have a love-hate relationship with presidential elections.

I love it that I live in a country where we get to vote for our next leader.  I absolutely love it!

I hate it that politics has become so ugly and divisive.  I thoroughly hate it.

I love it that I live in a country that has built an entire way of life upon the tenet of freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech is precious to me.  I am a communicator; freedom of speech affords me the privilege of writing about my convictions, talking about my belief system and holding high the Word of God.

I hate it when freedom of speech becomes nothing more than the excess of pontificating opinions birthed in half-truths and absent values.  It makes me gag.

I love it that all of America pays attention to presidential elections through the communication magic of television, the internet and radio.

I hate it that all of America is subject to the opinions spouted by the often-biased media through the relentless voices of television, the internet and radio.

I am not going to tell you how to vote. It is up to God and your conscience to advise you on which candidate deserves your vote in 2012.

However … I am going to throw two 4-letter words at you that will tell you how I really feel about this election of 2012.

PRAY!!  We must pray for our nation.  I believe that praying is more important than voting.  If Christians vote and forget to pray … we are putting all of our hope and trust in a broken system.  We must pray for America and for our leaders.  We must pray for righteous men and women to arise and to lead us.  We must pray for the media.  The media needs revival.  We must pray for young Christian men and women to infiltrate the world of media as never before.  We must pray that God would raise up a Moses … a Joshua … a Daniel at this time in America’s history.

VOTE!!  You must vote!!  Voting for our next president is a God-given privilege and honor.  If you don’t vote, you are placing the future of America in the hands of those who are not being led by a righteous and holy God.  If you don’t vote, you are throwing away the future of this nation.  If you have not registered to vote yet … do it today!  Get up off the couch and register to vote!  The deadlines are looming (generally mid-October) for voter registration for this election.  Call 1-800-FOR-VOTE.

And now … let’s pray for America.

“Lord Jesus, we love America.  We are so grateful that you have allowed us to live in this free nation at this time in history.

We pray for Mitt and Ann Romney and for Barack and Michelle Obama.  We pray that the man of your choosing would live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next 4 years.  We pray that You would speak to Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama.  Wake them up in the night hours Lord and speak to their hearts!!

Lord, send a revival to this land.  Send your Spirit upon this nation as never before …” from the mountains … to the valleys … to the oceans white with foam!  Bless this nation, Lord because it is our home, sweet home.”

Doors that Only God Can Open….Or Close

I often pray a prayer that starts like this, “God, open a door that only YOU can open!” How I love the God Who opens doors … doors of opportunity … doors of relationship … doors of ministry … doors of destiny.

But, I must tell you, I have been pondering lately my extreme gratitude that God has loved me enough to close doors as well. As I look back at my life from a vantage point of over 5 decades … I am just as grateful for the doors that God has strategically kept closed as for the ones that He has deliberately opened.

I am grateful for the many times (shamefully too many!) that God closed a door on a relationship during my dating years. How grateful I am that God chose Craig for me and didn’t allow me to choose based on teen-age hormones or young adult selfishness.

I am grateful that God gently held doors of destiny closed tightly for me until the right season in life. I am grateful that during my years of mothering that the doors to publishing contracts remained closed so that I could focus on the 5 most important things in my life. Little hearts … fingerprints on every window … bedtime stories … PBJ sandwiches and little arms around my neck.

I am grateful that I don’t always get to live where I want to live but where God needs me to live.

I am grateful that God’s ways truly are higher than my ways … and He knows what doors to miraculously open … and what doors to patiently keep closed.

I do believe that there are times that I must persevere in prayer for the best doors to be opened for me and for those that I love. Some doors remained unopened simply because I don’t stay on my knees long enough … or often enough. There are some doors that have remained regretfully closed just because of my lack of persistence in prayer.

And for those closed doors, I repent and pray again. I ask God to give me the resolve of Daniel … of Joseph … and of Hannah.

I have learned that it is only in the prayer closet of my heart that I discover which doors were never meant to be opened … and which doors I must prayer harder and longer about.

It is in the prayer closet of my heart that I experience the power of God Who always opens the best doors for me.

It is in the prayer closet of my heart that I relinquish the door knob of all of my future doors … and safely place my hand in His.

A Tale of Three Friends

Yesterday was a good day … no … it was a great day! I started the day by taking Craig for his annual colonoscopy so maybe I should clarify and say the day was great for me and challenging for him!

When I had Craig all settled at home after the invasive procedure and gave him plenty of liquids as per the doctor’s orders, I went for my daily jog/walk. I intended to go about 2.5 miles and then come home and fix dinner. I love to walk in a neighborhood across the street from ours that has a half-mile track around its nature preserve. The day was perfect … the sun was brilliant … and I was ready to sweat.

I often see familiar faces as I walk my daily route and smile and say, “Hi! Great day for a walk!” But truly, when I am out exercising, I just want to pray alone and enjoy God’s creation by myself. I really don’t want to talk to strangers.

Yesterday, I spotted a woman whom I usually observe walking on my nature trail with her i-pod on and her eyes riveted on the ground. She was walking the opposite direction of me and so as I crossed her path, I merely tried to make eye contact. Just trying to be friendly, you know? I might enjoy solitary exercise but I am not stuck up! I was jogging and she was power-walking. After crossing her path, twice, she looked at me and said, “We really should walk together so you can help me run further.”

Now … I know that I am a pastor’s wife and I sincerely love women’s ministry, but truly, my first thought was, “Crumb! Now I have to walk AND talk!” (By the way, “crumb” is the only bad word that I ever use.)

But, I got over myself and welcomed Sue to join me. I started to explain to her my strategy of running 1,000 steps, walking 200, running 800 steps, walking 200, running 600 steps, walking 200. Well … you get the picture.

It turns out that God’s design was for Sue and I to walk together not so that I could give her a strategy for running but rather share my strategy for life. Sue shared her heart and I shared mine. Although she doesn’t know the Lord yet … she is interested in my faith. That 2.5 miles turned into 5 miles and I arrived home not just with calories burned but also with a new friend by the name of Sue.

“I am so sorry, Lord. How small of me to think that my daily discipline of walking and jogging is all about me. Everything I do really is all about You.”

When I arrived home, sweaty, stinky and aching, a bouquet of beautiful spring flowers sat on my kitchen counter. I read the card and discovered they were from a dear friend, Pamela, who is a precious gift from God. Pamela and I had suffered a schism in our relationship several years ago that was painful and unnecessary. I take full blame. However, over the course of the past year, we have both worked diligently at mending our friendship and have truly fallen in love all over again! Immediately I called Pamela to thank her for her thoughtfulness, and we giggled, cried and visited for the next 10 or 15 minutes. What a gift! What a delight! To have an old friend become a new friend! What joy to realize that the minor things really are minor and that the blessing of genuine friendship is not to be taken lightly.

After my restored friend, Pamela, and I finished our phone call, I noticed that another friend had been trying to reach me.

I wish that you knew Sarah. Everyone needs a Sarah. Sarah has stuck with me through thick and thin. Although I am old enough to be her mom, sometimes she is the one who speaks into my life. We have a hard time defining our relationship … are we mother/daughter? Perhaps big sister/little sister? Mentor/mentee? Or maybe … we are genuinely sisters of the heart which is the dearest kind of friend.

I can tell Sarah ANYTHING without fear of being judged or criticized. She always believes the best and looks for gold in me. She is my kindred spirit and I love watching her juggle mothering a strong-willed 2 year old, loving a premature baby to health and spending time with her husband. She tells me who to vote for, disciples my daughters and believes in my dreams. Sarah is my friend for life.

Sue … Pamela … Sarah. What did I do to deserve such blessing? My tale of three friends today is to encourage you to nurture the relationships that God has given to you. Be ready for divine appointments and welcome strangers into your heart. Allow God to restore broken relationships and be willing to forgive and to be forgiven. Treasure the miraculous gift of life-long friends. Isn’t our goal that every friendship would develop into a Sarah?

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”

Love 365 Days a Year

Valentine’s Day … some folks love it … some folks tolerate it … while others dread it!

Remember those Valentine Boxes we used to make in Elementary School? We would carefully decorate them with shades of pink and red in the days leading up to February 14. We would painstakingly print our names in bold letters across the top … hoping for a Valentine from at least a few friends in our classrooms.

As the years went by, and we realized that Valentine’s Day was not really about how many cheap cards were placed in a shoebox but in our ability to love and be loved.  When that realization took hold, the holiday either took on greater significance or was kicked to the corner of our heart.

Whether you are 16 or 86 … here is my advice for you today:

If you are happily married … wholeheartedly love your husband today. Live with no regrets. Treat him extra special. This doesn’t take a lot of money but it does take a lot of attention. Fix his favorite meal … watch his favorite movie with him … find a copy of “your song” and play it for him first thing in the morning. Get up early and make coffee for him … leave him a note on the dashboard of the car … choose not to nag, criticize or complain for 24 entire hours!

If you are still waiting for your prince charming … allow yourself to find fulfillment in the heart of the One Who knows you best and loves you the most. Even after you are married, Jesus should still be your First Love! Wait well … while you are in the days or years of waiting … purpose in your heart to serve others and to become the best “you” that you can be. Go on missions’ trips! Teach Sunday School! Invite others over for dinner! Baby-sit for free! Prepare to run a marathon! Take an extra class at college or at church! Tell the pastor that you are available to serve your local church! Women who wait well seldom wait long for fulfillment because they find satisfaction not in being loved but in loving well!

If you have found yourself “suddenly single” due to rejection or divorce … know that you serve a God Who will never leave you or forsake you. Do not build a wall around your broken heart but allow God to heal those broken places inside of you. Pray with other single women and spend time with a mentor. Join a Bible Study and allow your soul to flourish in the fertilization of the power of the Word of God. Reject bitterness and embrace His power and His joy.

If you are a widow … it’s o.k. to enjoy a sweet memory or two … but then choose to give to someone else today. Perhaps you could babysit for a young couple so they could go out to dinner. If you are not able to do that … slip a young couple a $10 or $20 bill so they can go out and enjoy the days they have been given.

I don’t believe that celebrating love should merely be confined to Valentine’s Day … but we should love others well all of the other 364 days of the year! God has placed us here at this time in history to reveal His fruits to the world in which we live.

“But now, faith, hope and love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – ICorinthians 13:13.

I love each one of you!
-Carol

The 7 Facebook Commandments

I will be the first to admit it … I probably spend way too much time on Facebook.  I somehow justify it by saying that it connects me to people or that it is part of my ministry.  But the truth of the matter is this:  most of the time, Facebook is a waste of my time!

In the midst of wasting time on Facebook, I have noticed an alarming trend of less than honorable behavior.  And so, in order to justify in some small way my Facebook compulsion, I have decided to write the 7 Commandments for Facebook Behavior!

Don’t run and hide … read on ….

Commandment #1 – Facebook is not a place to correct people.  If correction is necessary, it should always happen face to face and heart to heart.  Perhaps this should be the scripture that guides our responses on Facebook: “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God …” – I Peter 4:11.  Wow!  That scripture will take some hot air out of our sails.  Don’t talk unless God told you to say it.  You can only say it if you are 400% sure that God would say it.  Even then, God probably wouldn’t say it on Facebook.  Just sayin’.

Commandment #2 – Just because someone doesn’t write on your wall for 2 weeks or daily respond to every little comment that you make, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like you.  Don’t take it personal.  It’s not.  Facebook is not personal … it is public.

Commandment #3 – We all have opinions but is Facebook really the place that you want to share those opinions?  Some opinions are for the privacy of your own home not for the very public walls of some mindless social media space like Facebook.  Quit pontificating, reverberating, prognosticating and bellyaching and just be a blessing.  I find that if I am too quick to share an opinion on Facebook what happens is that I alienate people whom I really do love.

Commandment # 4 – Don’t be gross.  Use a little bit of reserve.  Do you really want people to know that your baby pooped … your dog vomited on your new rug … your underwear is too tight and your husband drools and snores while he sleeps?  Listen … you wouldn’t burp in public without being embarrassed.  Facebook is not your opportunity to burp without saying, “Excuse me!”

Commandment # 5 – Don’t respond to someone else’s posts by being argumentative or by being offended.  If you want to enter into a productive conversation concerning an issue, call the person on the phone and sincerely share your heart with them in a kind and reasonable fashion.  Or perhaps, having coffee together and meeting face-to-face might help you realize that this person is not your Facebook enemy but just another pilgrim on a journey. Or perhaps, you should keep your mouth (or in this case, your computer keyboard closed) and just pray.  You will not solve all of the world’s problems by barking back on Facebook.

Commandment # 6 – Never send a private message that is filled with anger, criticism and judgement.  I know women who have been the victim of cruel and vicious private messages through Facebook. Shame on all of us who falsely believe that just because it is private we can be savage and unprincipled.  Grow up and be sweet.  Just be sweet.

Commandment # 7 – Do not allow Facebook to replace the joy of relationships!  Put your computer away and call a friend for a long overdue conversation.  Send a tangible and lovely letter in the mail on beautiful stationery.  Better yet … have a lunch date and share some laughter.  Gather some grown-up girls together in your own home and spend time in prayer and in encouraging one another.  Suddenly … you will all be saying, “Facebook Who?!!”

God wants you to be a blessing … and that includes blessing all of your Facebook friends! If your heart’s desire is to change the world through a ministry on Facebook you might start by just being kind.

I have an idea … if you have read this blog and in some small way agree with me … let’s all post this scripture as our Facebook status for a day or two, “But encourage one another day after day, while it is still called today.” – Hebrews 3:13  It is a good reminder for all of us!