Archive | May 2018

This is the Time

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The days pass by so quickly, don’t they?  Just like that … there goes another one!

It seems like just yesterday that it was Christmas … and today we stand on the brink of sunshine, dandelions and Popsicle weather!

In my life, it seems as if the seasons have passed more quickly than the speed of light – have yours?

Surely I was just an enthusiastic teen-ager last month … a homesick college freshman perhaps a fortnight ago … a young bride last week … and certainly it was only yesterday morning that I was enjoying a quiver full of children in my home!

Today, my nest is empty, I have been married for 4 glorious decades and my delightful grandchildren are scattered from coast to coast.

The nerve of those children of mine … growing up and leaving me!

However … let me let you in on a little secret … my heart still feels like it is barely 26 … or maybe 28 … or at the very oldest … 32.

The date on my birth certificate somehow doesn’t match the grains of sand that have fallen through the sandglass of my heart.

When I look in the mirror – I still don’t see wrinkles even though they are there.  I continue to see potential.

When I get up in the morning … my joints might be a little slower to respond to life than they used to be … but after a few minutes of stretching there remains a spring in my step and purpose in my gait.

When I face another birthday … I don’t dread the coming year but I am just so thankful to be alive!

 

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Time … I must admit that I endure a “love-hate” relationship with you!

There is something about the measuring cup of “time” that seems to empty far too quickly for my liking.

How can my measuring cup of time already be more than half empty?! Where did it all go?

I think that the reason that this entity known as “time” is such a conundrum to human beings is because we weren’t made for time – we were made for eternity.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 – NIV

The world that we live in is our temporary home not our permanent destination.

The outer shell that we call our “body” wasn’t made to last forever – it was made to last for several decades but not for forever.

However, our hearts were fashioned for eternity!

The deepest, most precious part of our temporary life was made for eternity! What joy there is in that particular piece of knowledge!

No wonder there is a dis-connect between me and time … between life and time … between the memories that I have made and the commodity known as time!

I was made for eternity and for all the glory that it offers.

I wasn’t made for time but time was made for me by the God of eternity!

God has given me the majestic gift of time as a tasty hors d’oeuvres that only precedes all of eternity.

God, the Father, delivered the asset known as “time” to His creation in order to bequeath us with the priceless opportunity of choosing Him before we get to eternity.

Of serving Him! Of knowing Him! Of loving Him! Of worshiping Him!

 

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Time was meant to prepare me for eternity … and so I must spend every day, as the hourglass quickly sifts through its allotted amount of sand, in pursuit of eternity!

In pursuit of Him!

“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – II Peter 3:8

I believe that as I involve myself in eternal pursuits that the Lord will grant me 1,000 years of impact in just a 24-hour period!

I believe that I am not a captive of time but that I have been made in the very image of the God of eternity!

No wonder I don’t “get” time … I was never meant to understand it or embrace it.

Time might say that I have been living over 6 decades … but God says that I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

God says that I have only just begun to splash in His joy … dive into His hope … and taste His abundance!

There is definitely more of life ahead of me than behind me! So let’s get on with it … let’s get on with the business of tasting eternity this side of heaven.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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When Your Friends Are in a Battle

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I am standing strong in the battle right now for two very dear friends. 

Have you ever had to do that?

Have you ever had to watch someone you love dearly go through pain, uncertainty, devastating circumstances and years of sorrow?

It’s not pretty.

It’s certainly not easy.

It’s just plain hard.

It’s heartbreaking to stand on the sidelines when a friend is dealing with the heat of the battle, isn’t it?

Oh! How I wish I could save her from this!

Oh! How I wish that he didn’t have to go through this!

What do you do when you feel helpless to help?

What do you do when the heat of the pain is not your own but the sparks that are flying everywhere are leaving blisters on all those who have gathered around to watch?

What do you do?

What do you do when a friend is diagnosed with cancer?

What do you do when a dear friend loses her mom much too early?

What do you do when a friend deals with the pain of an abusive childhood?

What do you do?

Are you ready for yet another list of mine today? 

As you know by now, I am famous for my lists! I keep a small notebook in my purse and jot down ideas that often take the form of valuable lists in my life.

(Sometimes I write my lists in my phone if I can’t find my pen … because even though I love lists … I’ll admit it … I am not very organized.)

(Hey … I just had a thought … sometime I need to give you a list of my lists … wouldn’t that be a fascinating blog?!)

Here you go – this is my “go-to” list for what I am going through right now …

“When Forced to Stand and Watch a Friend Fight a Horrific and Unexpected Battle:

1 – Remind yourself what an honor it is to be called along side your friend during a battle.

You are not the one dealing with the personal pain – they are.

So … don’t get all stuck in self-pity and mired despondency but remind yourself every single day that it is a high honor in life to help someone who is in the fire.

 

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God looked around and chose you to be a voice of hope.

God looked around and chose you to be a calming influence.

God looked around and chose you to be a prayer warrior.

It’s a high honor so treat it as such. Don’t ignore it or walk away from it.

There are few honors greater in life than being called to be a friend when times are tough.

You got the job so do it.  Do it well.  Do it with humility and with grace.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

2 – Don’t just say that you will pray … but really pray.

When someone else is in the heat of battle – your prayers have the power to extinguish their flames.

Your prayers have the capacity to lessen the intensity of the heat they are facing.

Your prayers on someone else’s behalf have the divine ability to strengthen … to comfort … to heal … to soothe … to restore joy … and to deliver.

Why in the world wouldn’t you pray when a friend is being tested?!

“ … Pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:16

You are a powerful friend when you pray! Your prayers can get the job done!

Set aside specific times of prayer for the one who is in the battle.

Pray while you are brushing your teeth in the morning … pray while you are in the shower … pray while your cup of coffee is brewing … pray on your way to work … pray during your coffee break … pray during lunch … pray on the commute home … turn off the TV in the evening and pray for your friend … pray while you are brushing your teeth at night … pray when you lay your head on the pillow.

Pray when you are folding laundry … pray when you are weeding your flower garden … pray in the grocery store … pray instead of playing games on your phone … pray when you are fixing dinner … pray when you are loading the dishwasher … pray when you go for a walk … pray when you are sweeping or dusting … pray rather than spend time on Facebook.

There is a call to pray from heaven so take it seriously! Spend time in focused and determined prayer for your friend.

It might just save their life …

3 – Show up and be a friend.

Put other things aside during this season in life and just be a friend.

Choose friendship over entertainment and over business and over distractions.

Take a meal.

Send an e-mail.

Give them a call – if they don’t answer – leave a voicemail.

Send a card in the mail.

Hire a cleaning service for their home.  If you can’t afford to do it – gather a group of friends to chip in.

Mow their lawn.

Buy them flowers.

Give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store.

Babysit their kids or their pets.

Go to the grocery store and buy groceries.

Water their plants … wash their car … do carpool for them this week.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus when a friend is in pain.

Be Jesus with skin on.

Don’t just “say” that you care … “show” that you care.

Don’t just “say” you are a friend … “be” a friend!

And finally …

 

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4 – Be a voice of hope.

“But encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called today.” – Hebrews 3:13

Don’t tell them horror stories about their condition … but be a voice of hope.

Don’t worry out loud with them … but be a voice of hope.

Don’t tell other people how bad it is … but be a voice of hope.

Send them scriptures in the form of text messages.

Send them the lyrics of powerful hymns of faith.

Help them to dream and think about the good future that God has for them.

Give them something to smile about today because a cheerful heart is good medicine for anyone’s soul!

Step up to the plate and be the friend that your friend needs you to be in the fires of life!

Who knows?! You might have born for such a moment and circumstance as this!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Qualified

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Have you ever wondered if you “have what it takes” to be used by God?

Perhaps, like I have done during so many gray days in my life, you have slogged through the greasy morning dishes … the intimidating mountains of laundry … the unending text messages … and unpaid bills … and then have thought, “My life will never change. God will never be able to use me like He did Esther, David, Daniel and Ruth.”

Or maybe for you it is not just the foggy nothingness of life that is keeping you from your destiny in Christ but it is a past sin or failure that dogs at the heels of your potential.  You wonder if God can use someone who has had an abortion … who has been divorced … who has gone through bankruptcy … whose child deals with addictions.

I have loved a powerful quote and often remember it when I am in my own self-created depths of despair.  I hope that you don’t think that this particular quote is hokey or cheesy … but that you can use it as a tool of encouraging yourself in the Lord as I have!

Jacob was a cheater – Peter had a temper –

                David had an affair and killed a man –

                Noah got drunk – Jonah ran from God

                Paul was an assassin – Gideon was insecure

                Miriam was a gossip – Martha was a complainer

                Thomas was a doubter – Sarah was impatient

                Elijah was moody – Moses stuttered

                Zaccheus was short – Abraham was old

                Lazarus was DEAD –

                Now … what was your excuse again?!

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You see – the truth that you and I often ignore in our deepest discouragement is this Scripture-based fact: The only type of people that God is able to use are imperfect people!

One of the most amazing characteristics about the God we serve is that when we make a mistake God doesn’t love us any less than He did before the mistake!

When we sin – He doesn’t turn away from us but He comes after us!

What an astounding fact!

I believe that it is actually our human weaknesses or frailties that qualify us for service in the Kingdom of God.

When we are weak – He is strong.

When we fail – He is perfect.

When we cry – He holds us.

When we sin – He forgives.

When we say, “I can’t” … He declares, “But I can!”

So today – for all of us who are feeling unusable – I thought that I would encourage you (and myself!) by sharing with you what I believe are the 6 qualifications that it takes to be used by God!

 

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Are you ready?!  Let’s go …

6 Qualifications for Service in the Kingdom of God

1 – Simply love Jesus.  Love Him with your whole heart every day in every possible way.  Tell Him that you love Him … tell others that you love Him …  and think loving thoughts about Him as you drift off to sleep at night. The first thought that you should think when you hear the alarm clock ring in the early morning light is, “Wow! I have been given another day to love Jesus!”

2 – Worship Him unconditionally.  Sing a loud song of praise on the very worst day of your life. When the bills aren’t paid … and the house is a mess … and the kids are screaming … break out into a hymn of worship! Don’t ever allow your circumstances to stifle your praise. Sing often and sing vibrantly! Make a joyful noise to the Lord as you drown out the clamor of your circumstances.

3 – When you blow it – get right back up and begin again. Don’t be paralyzed by your failures in life but dust yourself off and try again!  Try again and again and again. Failure is never final as long as you are willing to learn from your mistakes!

4 – Tell the Lord that you are available.  Ask Him to use you.  Give Him your heart, your mind, your mouth, your talents, your fears, your weaknesses, your successes, your shame, your failure, your strengths, your family, your home, your time, your money … give Him everything that you are and humbly ask Him to use you today.

5 – Look for ordinary open doors and be on the alert for common opportunities. When your church needs a Sunday School teacher – make yourself available. When your neighbor needs a ride to the doctor’s office – just do it. When your mom needs encouragement – you are just the person for the job! When a young mom needs a morning off – offer your services joyfully! So many people are waiting to speak in arenas in front of massive crowds … or to lead worship in front of thousands … or to write the best-selling book of a generation … but I have learned that the biggest thing in life is simply to be faithful in the little things!

6 – Create opportunities for ministry. Invite people into your home for a Bible Study … ask a widow out for coffee and pray with her … be kind to the cashier at the grocery store … share a favorite book with the girl who does your hair or nails … invite your neighbors to church. You ARE the ministry so just make it happen!

If your heart’s desire is to make a difference at your moment in history – please don’t make it any harder than it is.

God is looking for a few good men and a few good women who are head over heels in love with Him … who know how to sing loudly … who are never paralyzed by their mistakes … who offer their services daily … who meet the needs around them … and whose very life creates a ministry environment.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Here’s to You, Moms…

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Happy Mother’s Day!

This is the single week of the year in which we celebrate the calling and the cause of motherhood.

We salute all types of moms this week … biological moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, grandmoms and empty nest moms.

We take the time to pray for moms whose children are dealing with serious illnesses and those who have sent their little ones to heaven much too soon.

Our hearts go out – especially this week – in compassion and sensitivity to those women who are not moms yet, but who ache to be moms.

We remember the moms who have no relationship with their grown children or grandchildren and we cry with them.

No matter what season of life you are in … regardless of how the call to motherhood has wearied your soul … no matter who empty your arms and heart may feel today … I think that you would agree with me that all mothers deserve celebration.

And so, in hoor of mothers this week, I am sharing with you an excerpt from my book, “Pass the Joy, Please!” I believe that in some miraculous way – it was the book that I was born to write.

The subtitle of this devotional is, “Passing the Joy of Motherhood from Generation to Generation!”

I believe that part of my life’s call is to remind moms of the enormity of their call and the joy that it delivers.

So … from my heart to yours … Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

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Motherhood is not for the faint of heart!

Motherhood presents the challenge of a lifetime, it heralds the call to be uncommon in common surroundings and it exacts an exorbitant price from a woman.

I can assure you without wavering and with no apology that being a mom will be the most daunting test of your entire life.

If you were to be the first woman president of the United States of America, it wouldn’t hold the challenge or significance that raising a child for the cause of Christ entails.

If you were to write numerous best-selling books that sold for millions of dollars, it is just a pittance compared to having an impact on one child’s life.

If you were to be an entertainer that thousands flocked to hear on stages from Los Angeles to London to New York City, it wouldn’t mean as much as singing a simply lullaby to an infant child in your lap.

If you were a world-famous doctor who was renowned for intricate, exacting surgeries and for brilliant scientific discoveries, it would pale in comparison to putting a little band-aid on a tiny finger and consoling the miniature person who depends on you for daily care and consolation.

God has placed you in a situation where every ounce of creative, spiritual, mental and emotional energy is being squeezed out of you every day from dawn to dark.

This is the season in life when you need Him most.

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It is during the years of hands-on motherhood when you will die to self as never before. It is also the season of life in which you will realize a delight and a fulfillment that you have never before experienced nor will you ever experience this particular delight and fulfillment again.

The only way you will make it through this monumental test of motherhood is to discover the joy!

You are the chief joy- bringer to your child’s life so stir up the joy in you!

If joy is not abundant in you, it will not be abundant in the home.

If joy is scarce in you, it will be scarce in the home. Take some time today to cultivate deep joy in your heart, and as you do, you will find yourself discovering a strength that you never before knew.

This is my prayer for you today,

“Father, I pray for every mother reading these words today that you will help her be a woman of excellence in the home. I pray that she will be filled to overflowing with the fruits of your delicious Holy Spirit and that she would learn to rely on You for strength. I pray that, like the Proverbs 31 woman, the teaching of kindness will always be on her tongue. And, I pray that, like Jesus, she will go about doing good in all the ways she can … to all the people she can … as long as ever she can. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.”

No Tresspassing Allowed

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Criticism hurts, doesn’t it? 

I think that it especially hurts when people say, “Don’t take it personally…”

Because it is personal.

Criticism is most often personal.

What do you do when you feel like you have been criticized unfairly?  What do you do when people judge your motives, your heart and your intentions?

What do you do?

There are so many times in life when I am just left reeling by what I perceive to be unfair judgment.  My mouth is dry … my heart begins to beat faster … and there is a general sinking feeling in my stomach.

Yuck.

What did I do to deserve this?!!

Now – I will be the first to admit that there have been many, many moments in life that I deserved a swift kick in the pants … a raised eyebrow … or a stern talking to. There have been times when I was thoughtless, unkind and quick to spout an unnecessary opinion when a friend or family member had the absolute right to put me in my place.

In those momentsI deserved criticism.  I deserved a reaction.  I deserved what was given.

But there are other times in life when I am left with a dropped jaw concerning the negative assessment that was aimed in my direction.

Come on … has anyone else ever felt this way?!

Don’t leave me standing here all alone as the cruel arrows of commentary fly viciously in my unsuspecting direction!!

In case you were wondering, I have decided that when I am chastised for what I believe to be an unfair reason, that there are four things I can do to speed the healing process in my soul.

Would you like to hear the miraculous treatment for the ugly wound that an improper reprimand causes?

First of all – forgive quickly and fully.

Don’t try to understand their unwarranted verbal sideswipe or try to defend the issues in your heart.  Just forgive the one who critiques.

Quickly. Fully. Completely.

Let. It. Go.

 

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Life is too short to hang onto fictitious and mistaken commentary. So, rather than lose sleep over the bad review, it would be a wise choice to send the momentary bitterness quickly away from the address of your heart. Don’t let bitterness or blame anywhere even close to the boundaries of your life.

Put up a “No Trespassing Allowed” sign at the entrance to your heart and make sure that any residual bitterness and spiteful blame walks the other direction.

Secondly – find a way to bless the person who has reprimanded you.

You might choose to say something kind to them or about them even though you would rather not do so.

Your application of this healing remedy might include sending a small gift, an encouraging card or a bouquet of flowers.

How wonderful it would be to invite the person out for coffee or for lunch and pick up the bill!

There are times in life when we just need to act like Jesus even though we don’t feel like it.

There are moments in life that call for kindness when everything within would rather give the cold shoulder.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” – Colossians 3:12 & 13

It has always been so interesting to me that Paul, through the unction of the Holy Spirit in these verses, said that believers in Jesus Christ should “put on” a heart of compassion.

Kindness is always in style … it always fits … it is always appropriate for any kind of relationship weather.

So put it on.  Put on kindness.

The third thing that I do … and honestly perhaps it should be the first thing … is that I pray for the person and for the situation.  I pray for understanding and for blessing all around.

In that moment of honest human pain, I pray that the difficult event would not cause an irreparable break in our relationship.  I ask Jesus to give me His heart of love for the person who reprehended me.

And sometimes, when appropriate, I pray that the Lord would give me the opportunity to share from a loving heart concerning how perhaps we can handle these situations in the future.

 

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I humbly ask the Lord that if it is His will that He might give me the opportunity to share truth and insight from my very fallible yet honest heart with the person who has criticized me.  And then I wait.

I don’t make it happen on my own but wait for Him to open the door in His time.

And finally, would you like to know the fourth thing that I do when I feel that I have been criticized unfairly?

I resolve in my heart never to treat someone else that way.

I determine that even when people say things that I don’t understand or may not agree with me that I will be compassionate enough to give them that universal gift known as “the benefit of the doubt”.

I determine that the words that I speak will be perpetually kind and that when I find it necessary to have a heart to heart conversation with a friend over a difficult issue, that my words will still be kind.

I decide that when life is hard and that when emotions are flowing and when opinions are opposing that I will listen before I speak and that I will only respond … I will never react.

Forgive … bless … pray … be kind.

It sounds like a blueprint for life to me, how about you?!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!