Tuesday, May 05, 2009


God continues to weave recurring themes throughout my quiet times and devotional and has therefore given me plenty to ponder. Twice, now, a passage from Scripture that weighs heavily on my mind has popped up into sermons. It's as if I was NOT getting the point so, God generously spelled it out for me from the stage. I'll think twice before taking a seat next week.

Several weeks ago LifePoint Church rolled out a new missions strategy based on Acts 13. Last year, following the Sacred Gathering, God led me to learn everything I could about the first missionaries. Is studied the life of Paul and started in the book of Acts. A story in Acts 10 stuck with me: Peter has a vision of something like a large sheet being led to earth by its four corners. It contains all kinds of animals. Then he hears a voice, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." Peter replies, "Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice replies,
"Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
This happens three times. As Peter considers the meaning of the vision, three men arrive. The Spirit tells Peter to go with them because, "I have sent them." The men ask Peter to accompany them to the home of a Roman centurion, Cornelius, a good man but a Roman nonetheless, who has requested his presence. Cornelius heard word from the Spirit to send for Peter. He obeyed. Peter did too. He goes with the men and arrives at Cornelius's home.

And now they sit together. A Jew and a Roman. Brought together by the Holy Spirit. Wondering why.

P:Why did you send for me?

C:It was the man in the shining clothes. He told me to. And now we are ready to listen to everything the Lord commanded you to tell us.

So......a high level Roman soldier, placed in Israel to keep the peace, just so happens to love God. He is well-respected by Jews and actively seeks the Lord. He has a vision to send for Peter. But he is a Roman, there are Gentiles with him and for that reason, Peter should not go into his home and share a meal. Rules, rules, rules. Fortunately Peter is focused on the ways of the Lord, not the ways of men. Fortunately he obeys the Spirit. He goes.

And what does he find?

A captive audience. And a life-changing lesson.

Peter's first words after Cornelius invites him to speak:
"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."
I wish I learned my lessons that quickly. Peter immediately connected the dots between "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean," and his call to visit a God-fearing Roman and some Gentiles. So he does what the Spirit brought him to do: he shares the gospel. Verses 44 and 45 continue,
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles."
Wow. What a testimony of obedience. And the blessings that follow obedience. It is a testimony that Good News is for all men. It speaks to our prejudices and our contrived rules, and to the boundaries we set up between ourselves and others. Are we the ones to determine who is worthy of Christ's love and who is not? Do we withhold the Good News from those with whom we do not identify? Do we think they don't want it.... or won't accept it?

This story reminds us there are people everywhere eager to believe. Some of them need only to hear the story. Are we brave enough to identify those we deem "unclean"? Do we have the strength to defy society's rules and share the Good News with them? Is God calling us to do just that?

I've thought about that question too often. Who have I labeled as "unclean"? Thinking can make me stagnant, and it has, so the Good Lord delivered Acts 13 to me a few weeks ago. I bogged down in the details of that passage. I knew it was connected to my lesson from Acts 10 but I could not figure how. Finally, it hit me. Look at the big picture. Peter learns in Acts 10 that "God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." He identified the group with whom he needs to share the Gospel. And what happened soon thereafter? Enter the church at Antioch. They also identified a need to share the gospel, and.....

They went.

There's the lesson. Maybe we go next door, or far away. There are people everywhere who want to know Him. Our man-made boundaries and prejudices should not keep us from following God's call to share our faith with them.

We just need to go.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


God's call to action in our lives is invigorating. There is no stronger pull out of bed and into the cold morning darkness than a day of pursuing His work....and knowing what that is! The emotional high that comes from connection with God and the pursuit of His plan is extraordinary. We move with laser-like focus and assume we always will. Then, out of the blue, it hits.


Oh, how I thought the hard part was determining what God was trying to tell me. If I can only hear Him clearly, I'll know what to do. Then I'll do it. The End. Yeah, right.

For several months I have pursued God's vision of establishing a school in Africa. I've done it cautiously and at a tortoise's pace, but I have moved. I have not doubted.....until several days ago. The process of thinking through the details had me second-guessing myself over and over again. That old saying, "The devil is in the details," comes to mind! My passion suddenly gave way to planning and practicality. Yes, I know those are vital components to a well-run project. But there are times we have to balance faith and control. We have to walk without clearly seeing the path. We walk by faith, not by sight. It can be hard.

I sat with my devotional and my Bible in front of me. It was one of those doubt-filled mornings and I needed some inspiration. My devotional has relentlessly inspired me for months, and I was certain this day would be no different. I read the day's words. Nothing. I pored over the day's Scripture. No sparks. All I could do was share my heaviness with God, and wait. I prayed. Father, I am not at all feeling good about this. Is this really what you want for me? Do you want me to pursue this school in Africa thing? Did this vision come from you or am I making it up? Are these doubts and distractions an attempt to throw me off course? If they are, Lord, please continue to confirm I am doing the right thing. I just don't know. Please show me. 

I continued to sit, devotional in hand, my heart stuck in the mud. I thought, Well, maybe I'll flip through last month's lessons. They were really good.  I grabbed a chunk of pages between my thumb and fingers and flipped backward through the book. The first place the book fell open was February 29th. It says (and I am NOT making this up):

You are on the right path. Listen more to me and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way I uniquely designed just for you. Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone. Do not expect anyone to understand fully my ways with you, any more than you can comprehend my dealings with others. I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, moment by moment. As I said to my disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: Follow Me.
Uh, God, this really doesn't cut it, but......thank you?

Doubt throws us off course so well. Maybe it is also an indication we are headed in the right direction. Whatever your path, wherever God leads you, and whenever doubt strikes, there is a set of directions that never fails. You won't find them on Mapquest, but commit them to memory because you'll never be lost.

Follow Me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Lyric from Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise":
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

A paradox. It seems self-contradictory but expresses truth. Nowhere else than before God can we simultaneously fall and rise. We fall on our knees, or surrender our lives to Him, and rise. We rise on eagles' wings. A steady, graceful rise, propelled by God. 

As we sang "I Will Rise" on Sunday, it occurred to me how often the Bible expresses paradoxical statements and ideas.  We find truth in unlikely statements. Look at the following:
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
"One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." Proverbs 13:7
"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: ...... genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and not yet killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." 2 Cor 6:4, 8-10
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." Philippians 3:7
Outside a Christian walk, these make little sense. Only through the love of Christ do we find meaning.  And what is the lesson? There are many and I will miss most! But here is the one that reaches me: each verse calls us away from those things deemed important by the world and toward life through Christ. The world tells us to control our lives, to find happiness in money and possessions, to be strong and independent, and to take pride in our accomplishments. Scripture tells us otherwise. There is an antidote above for each of these wordly "treasures." Consider how they apply to your life; I will be doing the same.

It could be no accident that Scripture uses paradox to teach these messages. Living a life committed to Christ often means we live against the way of the world. Scripture trains us accordingly by using lessons that contradict themselves, yet speak truth. 

Your walk with Christ may run contradictory to the world but you, too, can speak truth through it.
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise." 1 Cor 3:18
Time to get smart and be a fool.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


"Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

"I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:24-26

The Hebrew word for "wait" in both passages is qavah. It is not simply the passage of time. Its definition is "to wait, look for, hope, expect." 

If you wait, then wait and look with hopeful expectation.  

What a gift it is that as children of God, we don't have to wait without knowing. We know he is with us. We know he is working. We know he waits alongside us. 

If anything makes the wait easier, He does. 

Friday, April 03, 2009

Pure and Faultless

Last month I posted about my dream to establish a school in Africa. It is a desire born from a passion laid on my heart by the Lord. I cannot explain it any other way. The pursuit of this dream is a real test of obedience for me because, hey, does this make ANY sense?, but God continues to affirm the call. I am grateful that my God not only understands my need for encouragement but so freely gives it. He provides it in the tiniest details of every day life: the excitement and support of this endeavor from friends and family, the connection with hearts similarly aligned, and the steady unraveling of a plan before my eyes...His plan.

I have to go on record to say this: if there is a day when this school opens its doors, ALL praise and honor and glory go to God. This is His plan. He is reaching out to the people of Africa and calling them to Him. He wants them to know they are His children. He wants them to know what it is like to abide in His love. He wants them to know freedom and have hope. And He want us to know that He loves them JUST AS MUCH AS He loves you and me.  The parable of the lost sheep ends with this: "In the same way your father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." He wants them to be found.

The Bible also instructs us to care for widows and orphans.  James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Wow, that verse packs a double punch when I think of how it applies to Africa. War and disease are rampant in Africa. A heart-breaking result are the number of orphans and widows left to fend for themselves.  Our offering to them is accepted by God as pure and faultless. He also accepts as pure and faultless when we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Does anyone else wonder why these two, seemingly separate ideas are placed together? Is it possible that scripture is nudging us to realize how service to widows and orphans cuts down on our "pollution"? Do we make ourselves "pure" and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world when we serve the widows and orphans? I also consider how the pollution of the media and our American lifestyle leads us to believe that Africa is a far-off place, too dangerous, too dirty, with too much of nothing. 

It is a lot to think about. Service to Africa is an opportunity to introduce the lost to a life in Christ. It is also a chance to live out James 1:27. I would like to offer something pure to God. I want to avoid the pollution of this world. Or maybe, by looking into the eyes of "the least of these," God will show us purity. And as they look into ours, pray they will see His love. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Patience, NOW!

Are you waiting? I am. It seems like there is always something I am longing for, looking toward, or praying to completion. I can find myself so engrossed in the future that I forget about the present. Today. Now. This beautiful day created for us by God, a day we can look to him and follow his will, a day where we should walk with him moment by moment. It seems simple, but too often our gaze is so firmly fixed on the future that the present slips by unnoticed. But back to the future. :) 

Why do we want tomorrow's blessings today?

Beth Moore gives some great words in her Esther study, and here's one: it's hard to balance passion with patience. Think about that. Those things about which we are most passionate are the very ones we long to see complete, the ones for which we petition God, the ones that drive us to dream about tomorrow. These are the things that make us forget who is in control. 

I guess I've grown a little impatient lately, because the Lord has bombarded me with scripture and studies on patience. It amazes me how God works! He has shown me time and time again that He is in control and I just better not forget it. Having said that, let me allow him to work through His word. Consider this:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!     Isaiah 30:18  
Here is something I learned. This blew me away. Look at the words I put in italics. They are THE SAME word in Hebrew. The Lord longs to bless us just as we long for him to do it. The Lord waits to bless us but those who wait will be blessed. We wait together! How incredible is it that we share this with Him! OK, but He is God. He doesn't have to wait. 

So why does He? 

God sees everything. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. We are told in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything." And there is. There is a time for God to bless us. He longs to bless us now, but He knows our future and He will not act until the time is perfect.

So we wait. Here are scriptures to ponder today (got to make the most of it!) while you wait for your time to come:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."   Proverbs 3:5
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3 (italics mine)
We have joy set before us, don't we? Are we willing to endure our cross until the time is right for our joy to arrive? Phillippians 4:19 answers to those who wait:
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
He will meet all your needs, according to his riches in Christ. Worth waiting for, isn't it? Poor Lazarus had to wait. He waited two days for Jesus to come and heal him. Lazarus died. But his death wasn't without purpose:
"Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, 'Let us go back to Judea.'"  John 11:5-7
When Jesus arrived in Judea, Lazarus had died.  And that was perfect. Jesus knew when Lazarus' death would take place and waited for it to pass before he returned. The wait presented the opportunity for Jesus to perform a miracle greater than healing disease. It gave him the opportunity to raise Lazarus from the dead. By doing so, he showed the disciples his power over death. He performed a miracle central to our faith, resurrection from the dead.  I am sure Lazarus and his loved ones longed for his healing. The disciples surely raised eyebrows when Jesus chose to wait two days after hearing of Lazarus' sickness. Why not now? they thought. In the end, Jesus blessed Lazarus with healing. And by waiting, he accomplished much more.

Finally, lest you fall captive to weariness and lose sight of God, read the words of Jeremiah 29:11-14. They give hope for the future, and a plan for now.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity.'"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A fresh perspective

The Bible amazes me. This morning I read a familiar story and its effect reminded me of a hymn I sang during childhood: 

"Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me."

The words of the Bible, although unchanging, are able to fall afresh on our hearts. Each time we study scripture, there lies the possibility of unearthing buried treasure. This morning I read about the miracle of Jesus walking on water. It has always been just that....the miracle where Jesus walks on water. But today I read the passage differently. I focused on the disciples. Have you ever wondered why they were so scared when Jesus appeared to them on the water? They thought he was a ghost! The very one who already performed miracles before them, the one they laid down their lives to follow, it was he who shocked them by showing up on the water. I'm sure the sight of a figure walking on water made them jump, but was it really such a surprise? Are we surprised when our Lord shows up? Should have the disciples, in their faith, called out to him? Should they have expected him? 

Do we?

This fresh perspective confirmed the day's words of my devotional: God is a God of abundance. He doesn't run out of miracles, or answers, time to listen to requests, or ability to answer prayer. He is a God of details. He is everywhere. We can expect Him to be with us always. But the disciples didn't expect Jesus to show up. There are times I haven't either. This is not the faith that says, "He won't come." It is not the faith that says, "He will come." It is the faith that has not yet grasped how big our God is. We believe, but we don't yet expect.

And the disciples? They fought strong wind and rough waters in their attempt to row to shore. Then Jesus came aboard, and "immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. "  

Expect God, in His abundance, to help you reach your shore. 


Monday, March 16, 2009

Prayers for Africa

Africa is a continent in need.  There exists war, hunger, and disease, which lead to war atrocities, starvation, an orphan crisis, homelessness, slavery, and corruption. This is a partial list. The bottom line is simple...Africa is a continent in need. 

There are videos and stories that will break your heart. Children left to starve. Women used. Young boys forced to fight and kill. Death due to preventable disease. Unimaginable situations are common. I don't know how I ever looked past the plight of these people. It is devastating, yet it was once so easy to look past it as someone else's problem. Now, it is my problem. It is our problem. These are God's children, and they suffer.  What will we do?

God is moving in Africa. I despair over the pain and suffering and hopelessness and heartache that continue, but I rejoice because I know He is there.  I watch Him use His people to introduce hope. Hope comes in many forms. It arrives through gifts of clean water, orphan care, mosquito nets, adoption, medical care, church-planting, and refugee assistance. The greatest of these is the Hope found in Christ. Africa needs a Savior.

I am privileged to know a few of God's people who serve Africa. Following are links to their blogs and websites. I also will include others I follow. Please take a moment to read their stories and learn how God is using them to reach the people of Africa. Please pray for them. As you become more aware of the needs in Africa, please pray for your role. Each of us may not be called as missionaries or to adopt, but we all are called to serve those in need.  


Adoption: Hood Family


Articles of Awareness
warning: content may be graphic

This list is far from complete. Please send me your ideas and I will include them! 

Please continue to pray for the African people and thank God for the work He is doing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surrender and the Church Lady

God's call to wholly surrender my life to Him came several months ago. I shared the experience here. Surrender is not an isolated event without lasting consequences. It is a long-term deal that continuously calls us to release control to God. I withheld pockets of my life and in spite of the ones I surrendered, the few I kept were thorns in my side. He allowed me to release them and, WOW, do I feel free. The release allows Him to move freely within, around, and through us. I want to share with you His movement in my life since I "let it all go," with the hope it might encourage you to do the same.

My children are a source of struggle for me. Hang on, that's not what it sounds like! I have a plan for their future, and it is hard for me to imagine anything different. God's call to surrender demanded change and coincided with some decisions we faced regarding our children. Nice timing, isn't it? I couldn't help but notice how tightly I held the reins of their future. Thankfully God intervened. He allowed me to more fully understand several things, which consequently provided the peace I needed to let go. First, they are His children, entrusted to my care. He knows what is best. Second, He sees their lives from a much greater perspective than I. He knows their future; I imagine it. Finally, their lives were created to fulfill His will, not mine. Is that not what we hope and pray for, that our children will pursue His will for their lives? Then we, too, should pursue His will for their lives. It begins in the decisions we make for them every day. And what became of the decision we faced? I tried to beat down the door I wanted opened to near exhaustion. I finally gave it up and handed it to God. It took a lot of prayer and determination to "walk by faith," but I released. Enter God. Within weeks, He graciously opened the door I tried many times to beat down. I had the most joyful run of my life (with what seemed like endless energy) after the door opened and could think of nothing to offer but, "Thank you, Father. Thank you! Thank you!" God is so good, and so kind. He gives far more than I deserve.

Our Father places ideas in our minds and passions in our hearts. It is one of the Spirit's ways of accomplishing His work through us. Of course, we must listen. I allowed numerous ideas to wither and die. The call to surrender challenged me to follow His lead when His inspiration strikes. The blog is one example of listening to Him. Another is my post about my passion for Africa and dream to establish a school there. I walked far out a high limb to place into public view a dream of mine for which I had NO PLAN. How many times did I think, What if this doesn't work? How stupid will I look if this never happens? The fear of failure can be a huge stumbling block, but I've seen God shine through other's weakness and I have faith He will do the same for me.  So I put the vision on the blog. Enter God. I received an email from a friend who had read the post. She has ideas..... and contacts. Suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, my "no plan" vision is taking shape. It is a plan that could really make this happen, Lord willing. It was as easy as starting a blog I didn't want to start and sharing a vision I wanted to keep secret. Thank you, Father!! He is all about the details. 

There is one other side-effect of surrender that I experienced. I will again, for sure. This one needs a warning, so here's a clue:

Put on your church lady face and say it with me: "Could it beeeeeeeeeeee.....Satan?" Yes, it's true, surrendering to God's will is a tried and true method of inviting in the Enemy. It just happened to me. First, please believe me that I am not an angry person. I can't remember the last time I was burning mad about something. Surprise, surprise, I recently felt anger take root in my heart and grow like kudzu. I was so mad I could have spit fire, blown steam out of my ears, and worn a path around the house from stomping my feet so hard. I did not know how to handle it. It never happens to me. Why now? Only when I noticed the "coincidental" timing between my surrender and my festering anger did the fighter in me come to life. I remembered a recent lesson from my bible study, and please take note because I don't want to scare off anyone from surrender! Here's the good news:
The Enemy never wins.
God reigns supreme over everything. There is no victory to be had for the Enemy, but there is distraction. Distraction disables us. Anger took my focus off God. If it consumes me, I will slowly withdraw from pursuing His will, and the Enemy wins. The Lord showed me that I needed simply to refocus.....on Him. Sometimes I have to be very deliberate in directing my thoughts. The spiritual weapons found in Ephesians 6:13-17 are invaluable when we sense the Enemy lurking. The following scripture, too, encourages us as we fight:
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (italics mine)
Our Father wants to accomplish His purpose in our lives. I felt God pulling at my heart, asking for every bit of it. I experienced the peace that accompanies surrender. I marvel now as He accomplishes His purpose in a way that brings me great, unexpected joy. I watch as He attends to the tiniest of details. I praise Him because I am overwhelmed.

Father, reveal to us the reins still clenched in our hands and give us the strength to release them to You.  Help us demolish the stongholds of the Enemy as we take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to You. Open our eyes that we may see you at work around us. Help us focus, Lord, that we may be the vessels You use to accomplish Your purpose. Thank you for the joy we find in You.

Friday, March 06, 2009

What's Your IQ?

There is an advertisement online that challenges us to a battle of IQ's against a celebrity. Picture an image of Simon Cowell with a "122" over his head (we're supposed to believe that's his IQ) and the question, "Think you're smarter?" I've never clicked the ad. I can take one look at the photo and give a yes or no, although that may be a bit shallow on my part. However, I can think of one reason I might take the challenge: Simon Cowell is a huge, international star. I am not, and for the sake of argument, say that bothers me. I'll feel better about myself if I take the test and somehow, my IQ is higher than his. He may be rich and famous, but at least I'm smarter. I can forever look at his photo and say (think in your best Simon accent), "You are horrrrrendous!"  

Why do we try to measure the intelligence and worth of those around us? Why do we compare? Why do we do whatever it takes to make ourselves look good? Why do we slip negative comments about others into conversation? There are many answers to these questions. We feel inferior. We are insecure. We put too much stock in other people's opinions. We feel threatened. We want to be better than everyone else. 

We miss the point of who we are in Christ when our worth resides outside of Him. Ephesians 1:4 states, 
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."
 He chose us to be forgiven through Christ so we can be holy and blameless in his sight. We will always find someone smarter or richer than ourselves but we will never find one who values us more than God.  We also miss the unique destiny He created for each of us.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
He values us, He has plans for us......why shouldn't He be our focus and why wouldn't we want to find our worth in the One who holds us in such high esteem?

Our worth in Christ and our destiny in Him is not lost due to our weaknesses. He accepts our weakness, but we point out each other's and find shame in our own.  The Lord said to Paul in Second Corinthians,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
 His grace fills the gap of our imperfection. He can use us for His purpose not only in spite of our weaknesses, but because of them.  Society mocks weakness and finds fault, but even the most weak and faulty vessels can be filled with His light and used for His service. Second Corinthians 4:7 claims,
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Do not be caught in the snare of "other people." The disappointment that awaits when we live our life in comparison to or guided by others is great. Go to the place where every IQ is high, every profession is worthy, and every weakness can be strength. It is in Christ. 

Happy weekend!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


A side note: This post was inspired by the courageous women in my bible study and the great conversations we have. Beth Moore's video lessons are usually the topic of conversation, although we occasionally discuss flying garbage. 

I am in the middle of Beth Moore's bible study on Esther. We've arrived at the point in the story where Queen Esther's destiny, and that of her people, hang on one decision: Will Esther summon the courage to appear uninvited before King Xerxes, a choice that could be her death sentence but could save the Jews of Persia, or will she chicken out?

Esther didn't want to put her life on the line. She probably preferred her plush palace lifestyle to the king's sentence of death (yes, the king is her husband). One couldn't request an audience with the king of Persia in the mid-400's BC; one had to be summoned. The penalty for violating this law was death.  It didn't matter that Esther was queen. She, too, had to be summoned. Esther's surrogate father, Mordecai, told her to go the king and plead for the life of the Jewish people, who were marked for annihilation. Esther balked. Her first reaction was, I can't go before the king. He hasn't asked for me! He could put me to death! Mordecai reminded Esther that she, in addition to being queen, was also a Jew. She could be put to death for that reason alone. Or she could choose courage and go before the king. She would risk her life, but could potentially save herself and her people. What's a girl to do?

It wasn't luck that crowned Esther as Queen of Persia. An orphaned Jewish girl doesn't get chosen randomly out of hundreds to be the next queen. Her Heavenly Father placed her there to save her people. Mordecai said, "...and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) And she had! Esther realized she must go to King Xerxes. She accepted that which may transpire: "And if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16) She entered the King's presence, he offered her the gold scepter in his hand (consider it a pardon for appearing uninvited), and he eventually agreed to help her.  Esther's courage sealed her destiny.

Now imagine the story differently. Imagine that God put all of the pieces of the puzzle together except one, the piece He gave to Esther, and imagine she kept it. She could not place the final piece. She chose the path of less risk; she forgot to trust God; she acted selfishly. She chickened out and failed to plead with the King.  Her destiny, and that of her people, would forever change.

We encounter many decisions each day and most aren't life-changing. Paper or plastic? Regular or decaf? To shower or not to shower? (ok. maybe that's just me). What will you do when the next big one comes along? Will you choose courage? Esther did! Consider that your decision could unlock the destiny your Father has planned for you. I learned this week that the most frequently given commandment in the Bible is: be courageous. (Thank you, Beth Moore!) What does this tell us about our lives and God's plans for them? We should expect to encounter choices that require courage. We should pursue God's Will courageously. And when faced with difficult choices, we should remember the blessings that await when we live with courage. 

It may not be long until someone says to you, "...and who knows but that you have come to ________ position for such a time as this."  When that time comes, and it will, be courageous.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flu, Day 11

Yes, that's correct. Over each of the past eleven days, at least one person in our home has had the flu. One day there were four of us. I guess it would have been too easy for everyone to get sick at once. We had to spread it out. My husband had the flu shot so he was safe but, not to be outdone, he came down with strep. Here are some random thoughts and photos from the past few (or eleven) days.....

1) Injured on the job? Involved in an automobile accident? Watch Family Feud. There were approximately seven dial-a-lawyer commercials during one episode. I couldn't believe it.

2) Home with sick kids? I found the bright side: I cleaned an entire room, all at once. That never happens.

3) Drake and Josh is really, really funny. Or was it the fever?

4) Balloons are entertaining, especially when they reveal hidden talents. See (very amateur) video:

5) A daughter willing to make up some fun for her younger sister, while I lay in bed, is a treasure. Thank you, Taylor!
Pics from the fashion show:  


The stylist

6) It can be hard to get warm when you have the chills. 
I was desperate a few nights ago, so I grabbed our dog. That girl can put out some serious heat. I give her a ten hot water bottle equivalent. She doesn't get as high a rating for good looks. (Sorry, Lulu. It's just the truth.)

7) Let me turn this into a public service announcement. The flu is everything it's cracked up to be.  Do what your doctor suggests. Which leads me to this, because I know what you're thinking:

8) Yes, I'll get a flu shot next year. (if I had a dollar for every time...)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Origin of a Call, Part III

This is what can happen when I get a "big idea": I get excited, motivated, and if it doesn't materialize right away, I lose interest. My desire to support the people of Africa has not waned. I have been patient as the idea takes shape. It may take five or ten years to develop, whatever "it" is, and I am happy with that. Several times I have thought to myself, and laughed, "Why am I being so patient?" It is a direct result of God's lessons on timing. I cannot will something to happen if it is not His appointed time. I can be diligent and obedient as I prepare, but those ideas that originate in Him will come to fruition by His hand, not mine.

Soon after the fast I was in a bookstore with my daughter. We spent the entire visit in the kids' section. As we walked to the checkout, we passed tables stacked with non-fiction books. One book caught my eye:
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace.....One School at a Time

I read the back cover and took it straight to the counter. My awareness of the plight of many in Africa, although limited, led me to consider how education might help change the course of the next generation. Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, establishes schools in remote villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with an emphasis on girls' education, with the hope of giving these children a brighter future. The genesis of his organization, Central Asia Institute, is an amazing story. Mortenson attempted to summit K2, the second largest mountain in the world, and as he descended, he took a wrong turn. The path he chose led him directly into a remote village in the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan. The villagers befriended him and nursed him back to health (the summit attempt drained him). During his stay, Mortenson came to love the Balti people but was concerned about the absence of a village school. He promised to one day return to the village and build a school for its children. He did. He has since established over 78 schools that have educated more than 28,0000 students.

Mortenson's book is inspiring. It is a lesson in the importance of relationships. It is proof that one person can make a huge difference. It exemplifies the impact of culturally relevant education for people who have never been promised such. It could not have been placed into my path at a better time.

I attended an all-girls' school. I still receive its quarterly magazine. I remember reading an article about the students' desire to devote proceeds of their annual fundraiser to an organization that establishes girls' schools abroad. I received it before I read Three Cups of Tea. The next issue of the magazine, which was published after I read the book, had a larger article that detailed the results of the fundraiser. In it was named the recipient of the money, Mortenson's Central Asia Institute. I saw the article and began to cry. Why? Three Cups of Tea weighed heavily on my mind over the weeks I prayed about specific needs in Africa. I wondered if education was the issue to which God was leading me. Should I attempt to establish a school as Greg Mortenson did? Then the magazine arrived and it just seemed like confirmation. I cried. I read the article and learned the students raised $60,000. It was enough to fund a new school. I really cried.

I have learned a great deal recently. In addition to the books and organizations already mentioned, I have found many others that teach invaluable lessons about Africa, its history, its people, and its challenges. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "The more you know, the more you realize you don't know." That applies to me! But it drives me to learn more, which I love.

This is where I am today.......still learning. My dream is to establish a Christian school in Africa, one that serves the many needs of its community: to teach children, promote public health education, train young leaders, and share with young and old the knowledge of a life in Christ. They need hope, in Christ.

But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. Psalm 9:18

Monday, February 16, 2009

Origin of a Call, Part II

The days of the second Sacred Gathering were intense. Fasts can be that way. I had a great deal on my mind and searched God's heart for answers to several questions. The search drew me closer to Him, but I did not receive emphatic statements on the issues I hoped He would address. It is funny how we sometimes go to God with an agenda, isn't it? He spoke about HIS desires during those days.....not my "needs." That was a lesson in itself! The passion He laid on my heart was for the people of Africa.

The first evening of the fast I sat in silence, as we often did during our directed prayer time, to allow myself time to listen to God. At that point in my life, I never sat and listened. Doing so would have been unproductive! I could sit and read, or sit and pray, but to sit and listen? It never crossed my mind. Time spent sitting was time I should have been "doing." Now you know this about me, so it will come as no surprise that I was overwhelmed once I sat and listened. (If you are not able to do this, train yourself! You will be blessed.) I sat with my eyes closed and allowed God to direct my thoughts. Suddenly, images of precious African children flashed through my mind's eye. They were smiling, joyful, even hopeful, but there was no doubt they were the faces of children in need. I remember thinking, OK.......that was pretty clear. Mission trip, anyone?

The events of the following two days confirmed the call to serve the people of Africa. They also broadened it. This was more than a call to go on a single mission trip. I flipped through the mail on day two of the fast and noticed our college's quarterly catalog. The cover story? Davidson's medical mission trip to Africa. I eagerly read and acquired a more in-depth knowledge of the health issues faced by many Africans. They are numerous and in many instances, preventable.

The week coincided with Spiritual Life Week at our children's school. Students attend a weekly chapel throughout the year, but during this week they attend daily. Each morning they are treated to a program that may include a special speaker, musician, skits, and more. I received an email about one of the programs on day three of the fast. One of the members of Jars of Clay, an incredible Christian rock group, was on campus to introduce students to an organization the band supports, Blood:Water Mission. The organization promotes and establishes programs to facilitate clean blood and clean water throughout, of course, Africa. Between poring over their website and giving my kids the great inquisition about the program, I continued to learn in greater detail about the needs of the African people. I also began to loosely shape my vision for making a difference.

That ended my three day fast. I emerged with a passion placed on my heart by God. He allowed me the opportunity to feel His call to the African people and learn more about their needs in the same three days. His Providence is amazing! He began to refine my vision not long after the fast was complete and continues to do so today.

I'll spare you those details until Part III. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Origin of a Call, Part I

David challenges us in the book of Psalms to declare what God has done for us.

"I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly."
Psalm 40:9-10

I want to share with you a story of God's faithfulness in my life. The story has just begun. I cannot yet see "the end" but I feel Him at work in my heart, and therefore I know this story is His and worth sharing. I do not need to have an end. I know He will get me there. With God, the journey is just as important as the destination. He calls each of us to something great and it is during the "finding out" that He shapes us for His service. I expect that when I am ready for His calling He will lead me directly to it. In the meantime, I seek Him, He prunes me (OUCH!) and together we walk the path He has set for me.

It was approximately four years ago when LifePoint Church, our incredible church home, led its members to a Sacred Gathering, a fast. We fasted for three days and met each evening for a time of prayer and worship. I specifically remember sitting in my chair during the Gathering, talking with God. I felt His call to something but literally had no inkling as to what. I wanted to know it and do it....right away. I begged Him, "Please, Father, show me where you want me to go. Show me what you want me to do." He answered clearly and somewhat unexpectedly: you're not ready yet. That was a large and needed blow to my plan but it was clear, so I set myself about the task of preparation. I spent more time with God.

Last February, three years after our first Sacred Gathering, LifePoint held a second. The first fast was obviously a success. God blessed us through it. The second fast was so well attended that our Multi-Purpose Center overflowed. We moved to the larger, Worship Center. It was quite a sight, the mass of hungry people walking together to be filled by God. What a moment. The feeling of unity was strong. Everyone was clearly excited and filled with anticipation as we wondered how God would use the fast to guide our church and her people. It was an amazing experience I highly recommend to those medically able to fast (have to throw that in there!). Hunger has a way of breaking down the walls we place between ourselves and God. It intensifies our focus. Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. I was lucky to get through three.

Prior to the second fast, I was told our church was establishing a partnership with missionaries in Africa. I was very excited. I thought about it occasionally and knew I wanted to visit one day. Then, the second Sacred Gathering commenced and the floodgates of all things Africa opened. They haven't closed.

OK, my time to write for the day has officially ended. There are two precious five-year-olds who want lunch. Now.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I thought it might be nice to explain my blog title. Timing is everything - as long as it is God's.

God's timing is often a mystery. We wait for answered prayer or events to unfold. We wait and we grow weary and impatient. Do you wonder if He hears you? Take refuge in knowing that our God "searches minds and hearts" (Psalm 7:9) and therefore knows every thought in our mind and desire of our heart. He often calls us to wait, but consider the promise for those who do:

"I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God."
Psalm 40:1-3

One recent day, after waiting patiently for several years to hear from God on a matter I committed to prayer, I began to see God's will take shape. It was a bad day. It was absolutely not how I wanted that prayer answered. We talked, God and I, and although I didn't confess these thoughts, God knew the reality of what lay in my heart: I've been SO patient, God, aren't I supposed to be rewarded? My way?

The answer is yes....and no. I will be rewarded. He will pull me from the mud (I think I'm about half out), He will set my feet on a rock, and He will put a new song in my mouth. He will do those things at His appointed time and, to answer the second question, in His way. If you are sick, do you want a doctor who will make you feel better or one who will make you well? In this case, my way makes me feel better. God's way makes me well. What will you choose?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Have you ever been brought to your spiritual knees?

I have. Several times. Several different ways. Same lesson each time.


God has been so good to me lately. I have felt His presence more often than any other time I can remember. He is right here being the perfect God He is. Several times recently I have been overwhelmed with His presence. I mean overwhelmed. I dropped to my knees, I gave thanks, and for a minute I thought, "Why? Why would God show up in such a powerful way when I sit alone on my couch, reading His Word, just trying to be obedient? Why would He do this for me?" The answers came within seconds and it is so simple. He just loves me that much. He loves all of us that much. And he wants us to surrender.

The call to surrender is powerful. For those of us who hear it, then dig in our heels more firmly, the message is this: you won't get the call if there isn't something to surrender! It can be hard, but the benefits are plentiful because surrender brings transformation. The transformation in us takes place in a way we don't often notice, but others do. It begins when we enter the process of surrendering our lives to God, piece by broken piece. We let go of worldy desires and focus on the desires of the Lord. The transformation begins.

My husband, Pete, and I discussed this several nights ago. The next morning I opened my devotional. The day's lesson referenced two pieces of Scripture. One of those was Romans 12:2. It says:

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you
will be able to test and approve what's God will is -- his
good, pleasing, and perfect will."

I guess it's time to pull my heels out of the mud.

Friday, January 30, 2009

At Your "Service"

I created this blog, quite simply, to be obedient to God. I'm not a particularly "public" person; a journal is a more comfortable, safe outlet for my thoughts. But did God promise that our journey with Him would always be comfortable? Did He promise not to push us into unchartered territory when we turn over our lives to HIm? We know the answer and I know what you are thinking.......it's just a blog! You're right. It's not like He called me to Africa. At least not yet. :) (Pete, you're supposed to laugh.) For now, I jump into the world of blogging. It is my prayer that I honor Him with my words and learn from Him throughout this process.

God created me with a passion to serve. I love to volunteer. It brings me great joy to help others. Why, then, must He teach me eye-opening lessons about a subject I thought I knew well? He's God and I'm not. I am human and although I know the teaching in James 2:26, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.", God reminded me what comes first: faith. He reminded me over several days in His perfect, subtle way. I walked to a water fountain in my daughter's school. Posted over it was this:

"Jesus answered, 'He who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give Him will never thirst.'" John 4:13-14

I thought about that as long as I could before I went to do something else. No problem. The next day I stood in line to vote -- in a church, in a long, slow-moving line -- and the same passage hung framed, on the wall. It was the wall along which I stood with nothing to do but consider that God was indeed telling me something.

I quickly realized my lesson. Too often, I filled myself up with "doing." Yes, they were good things, helpful, kind. I did not do them at the expense of prayer and studying God's Word; I spent time with God. But I still felt empty and God's voice was clear: it's not enough. You feel empty because the time you spend with Me is not enough. Slow down. Be with Me. I will fill you in a way nothing else will.

He has filled me in a way I did not anticipate. God's love for us is so great that no matter how deep our devotion to Him, He can take us to a place of greater depth. And contentment. And peace. He continues to speak, and this morning addressed what we do first for those in need: we pray. God's power to provide exactly what is needed beats my pot of soup any day. James 5:16 reminds us, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." My lesson I share with you is this: take the time to be with God in a way that fills you completely, first lift up those around you in prayer, THEN turn on the stove. That soup won't heal, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Almost ready........blog should be up and running soon!