Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Fire Blower

I've been building a lot of fires lately.  I'm not very good.  Just started last winter, and am highly reliant on the starter blocks and my fire blower.  The girls love it when I use the fire blower because they see the logs glow when I blow on them; and what looks to be a completely failed fire can be revived!

It reminded me of Genesis 2: 7 "(God) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being." When breath is breathed on the logs that have been in the fire; the flame comes to life again.

I think Jesus can be our fire blower.  I actually think that's His job as the Holy Spirit.  The logs that haven't been in the fire cannot be ignited with the blower, but the logs that have the Spirit in them - have been lit by the flame, can be reignited with breath.

Matthew 3:11 says He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  "He will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you" - changing you from the inside out.  (The Message)

As we contemplate His birth, let Him blow on that Spirit inside of you, and be amazed by the flame He came to set ablaze!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deep Thoughts from "Chipwrecked"...

After I woke up about 45 minutes into the movie; I actually found some (3) cool comparisons to bore the kiddos with on the ride home...

Spoiler alert:

The Chipmunks get lost on an island (I was asleep before that, so I can't tell you how they got there); and Alvin was pretty naughty, so he didn't think Dave would come look for them.  But he did.  He went searching for them because they're his kids.  It doesn't matter how good or how bad they were - Dave would do anything to find them and bring them back (see the parallel?).  Once Dave found Theodore, he picked him up, and Theodore just sighed a big sigh of relief and rested his big ol' head on Dave's shoulders - comforted by the safety of his Father!

Then there was Simon - he gets bit by a spider and changes personalities into "Simone" - a suave, brave French guy/chipmunk.  He used to be this squirrelly (no pun intended), scaredy cat who never did anything halfway risky - to Alvin's dismay.  But all of a sudden he's a new personality; and it's way cool - he's living life to the full; and having fun being brave!  Once his bite wears off, he is reminded by others of the things he had done before, and since he hears that it is in him - he starts being brave again.  We have a true self, too - that has been suppressed for so long, that God is trying to get out of us and show us how bold He really made us!

Lastly, Zoe.  She has been on this island for 9 years searching for some treasure.  She went to the island searching for a treasure - with no way to get home!  So, what is she going to do with the treasure???  Who really cares if she finds millions of dollars in gold if she's stuck on an island!  That's this earth!  We can't take it with us  - "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal - for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".  Mt 6:19-21

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Indulgence...

For Christmas, I would like a yellow Hummer, a motorcycle of any kind, and the siding on my house to be changed to log-cabin style.

Websters defines indulge as "to yield to or satisfy (a desire); give oneself up to".

Jesus wants us to indulge in Him.
He says to eat of Him and drink of Him.
"To give ourselves up to Him" - as Websters would say...

He came to the world in person, as a baby, to ask for our hand in marriage because that's how proposals are done - by the person - not through someone else.  He's the bridegroom - and wants to rescue his bride (from indulging on other things).
This is the ultimate proposal - better than your name on a baseball stadium's scoreboard, better than your name written in the clouds, or on a blimp, or on TV...  God came down from heaven for you!
And He doesn't make your pockets any emptier, waistline any tighter, or following day any foggier.


"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.  He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." Mt. 5:6  The Message
Indulging in our bridegroom allows us to see who we were created to be, to see others as God sees them,  and keeps me pretty content when I don't get my yellow hummer - until heaven...

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Ultimate Goalkeeper

My middlest brought home the picture book about Goalkeepers this week.  I'm sure it was for me, because she is like that, a pleaser (sometimes); so, of course, we sat down and read it right away.  I read way too much for her liking -  all of the words, instead of the ones just under the pictures, because it had a lot in it and I was starting to see something that I had never seen before.  She left, and I continued to read the picture book on my own...  This is what I read:

A Goalkeepers job is to stop the other side from scoring goals.


They must be strong and able to react quickly.

They see how an opposing attack is building up...

They communicate with their team and tell them what to do because they can see the whole field.

A clean sheet is achieved with no goals allowed.



If you are a defender there's nothing better than looking around and seeing a goalie behind you who's in complete control of his area.

Do you see it, too?
Jesus is the Ultimate Goalkeeper.
All those balls we miss while playing the game; HE SAVES FOR US!!'
He gave us a clean slate when He died.  No one has scored on Him!
He sees the enemy and give us wisdom and strength to avoid him.
He is always awake and ready to defend (intercede) for us!
There is nothing better than sitting still and knowing Jesus is with us - and He's in complete control!

I loved knowing that my team had confidence in me as a goalie; how much more must He love being depended on to meet all of our needs, wants, and desires...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celebrating Silently...

I've been pondering why more Christmas Carols aren't more upbeat and celebratory (can't really work out to most of them).
Why so many of them are slow?  It bothered me, but now, I'm good with it and here's why:

I think it's like when you're on a roller coaster;  they say the people who are truly scared are totally silent.  Or when you witness a huge fire or a big accident, or a major storm - you don't scream about it, you're silent - taking it all in.  And, when you give birth (or witness it) - you don't scream and yell in excitement in the delivery room - even though it is VERY exciting - you are still, you are in awe, or you just cry and can't talk, like I did - you "ponder these things in your heart" as Mary did  (Luke 2:19)

With a little help from Websters, and my Ipod, I was able to see the connection.
"Come and behold Him" = to look, to see, to regard
"Oh come let us adore Him" = worship, love greatly, honor highly
When we are doing these things; it is a deep, internal regard - something we do with our hearts - something that shows what we esteem.  I scream excitedly when my child scores a goal, but I am silent and in awe, when she is born. Because that is bigger.

This is the biggest thing that had ever happened - God has come to earth - as a baby - "Fall on you knees" (O, Holy Night),  "(shepherds) quake at the site" (Silent Night)!  Be silent and treasure these things with a nice, slow Christmas Carol...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Not My Will, But Yours...

Wouldn't it be cool if when you asked your twelve year old (who was very busy texting her friends on the couch) to do the laundry; she paused, thought, and said "not my will but yours, Mom."

Or if, when your nine year was happily singing her lungs out in her room after her younger sister was put to bed and you asked her to stop - she replied, "okay, not my will, but yours."

Or, when your six year old decides she is supposed to have candy for breakfast and you tell her no way - she politely responds "not my will but yours."

That would be pretty cool if they thought about it, decided it was better to obey mom than obey their own selfish desires for their own enjoyment.

That's exactly what God wants us to learn.
That's exactly what Mary knew, and taught to her Son.

When asked to bear the Son of God instead of going on with her scheduled plans of getting married first, then having children, she tossed her life plans out the window and went on the experiment that God asked her to go on - and it was Amazing!!!  Looking back, there's no way she could say she wished she listened to herself instead of God.

When He knew God wanted Him to die on the cross and experience God's wrath, but didn't really want to - maybe He remembered the lesson that His mom taught Him from her experience - not our own will, but God's (Ortberg)!  It's way better!

Today when you come to that crossroads; which will you decide?  Go with God and His will for you - His plans are greater than we can ever imagine!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent, Emmanuel, and Eternity!

Advent is defined as the arrival of something that has been awaited; the coming of something very important.  Yes, Christ has come!  The Messiah who has come to save the world of sin has come, and for that we are to reflect and celebrate, but there is more...

We are still waiting for something.

Emmanuel is seen again.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."  Rev. 21:1-3

The day is coming when God will satisfy our deepest longings and fulfill our highest dreams.  All ecstasies and intimacies will be met in God! (Luke 20:34-36)
I've been sitting on this verse for a week.  Yes, this day is coming, and we have hope in that because God is faithful and keeps His promises.  BUT, we can pursue this now!  The more we allow Him to satisfy our deepest desires, the more He will prove Himself faithful.  His Kingdom is within us - He came as a baby to live among us; then gave us His Holy Spirit to live in us - until He comes back to live with us again.

This is the other half of advent.  Anticipate His second coming, knowing He came once, born of a virgin, to save us, He will come again, to be with us forever in a new heaven and a new earth!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Highly Favored...

When Mary heard the angel say "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." - You would think it would go to her head and she'd be all pumped up.  However, if you keep reading, Luke 1:29 says "Mary was greatly troubled..."  Probably because she was familiar with God's history, and how He tends to put those who are highly favored by Him under some tough assignment.  If we remember Noah, Ruth, and Job - they were favored by God, too.

According to a recent sermon by Steven Furtick (Elevation Church)  When we have God's favor, it pretty much means that our lives won't be a cakewalk.  How can a mighty God show His strength in us if nothing ever goes wrong in our lives.  We have to have a mountain to climb; a sea to swim; a game to play - as the underdog; in order for Him to be shine.

Can you imagine having to tell your family and friends that you were pregnant, not married, and your child is God's?  Or having to build an ark to save the human race - when it had never rained before.

I love being in God's favor - I think my life has constituted being able to say this.  It is definitely more exciting because I know with being favored that I am promised His presence through every storm; and He will continue to show Himself strong!

Like the little cub in this picture who looks like he just got hurt...  But look at the confidence and comfort of his mother.  That is what our heavenly Father promises to those who are favored by Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Do You Have Enough?


I'm reading a book called Naked Spirituality, by Brian C. McLaren, and, as God should have it - I happen to be on the two chapters regarding the word "thanks".  The italics are his, and there are a lot simply because his words are way better than mine, and today is a great day to share them.


Why are the kids in this picture so happy?
"It's not the amount of stuff you have, it's the amount of appreciation you have that matters."
That is why you can go to a third world country and see genuine smiles on peoples faces - then come back home and see a grumpy kid eating to his hearts content, playing on his Wii in his mansion...


"Consumerism robs the soul of happiness while it sells the soul more stuff."
The goal here, is to make us feel that we need more in order to be happy.  Anytime we feel like that; advertising has succeeded.  I love my DVR because we can fast-forward commercials.  Any time we watch something live, the kids watch the commercials and always see something that they really want to have - drives me nuts.  My oldest is a mall-walker.  I can't stand it.  To me, it creates greed in our hearts seeing all the stuff we don't have, so I avoid it at all costs.  Catalogs - another one; I am now (used to keep and circle and covet) tossing them as soon as they exit the mailbox; definitely helps me to fight greed.  And, it is actually very freeing - kinda unchained, if you will - not allowing myself to be pulled into this helps me maintain a spirit of gratitude.


In the simple words, "Give us this day, our daily bread," Jesus invites us to radical nonconformity, which means radical liberation from this never-enough system.

Dayenu is a Hebrew word meaning "it would have been enough".  Though it is from a Jewish song sung at Passover, recalling all that God had done for them through the generations, it can be used another way too - If God had sent His Son to die for us and did nothing else...  dayenu.  But He has done more, way more for us!
May you spend today basking in all you have to be thankful for, and not able to stop...  And truly believing that.

PS.
"Giving" - there is another half to this word that we celebrate today.
I think, in giving, we realize our thanks.  Maybe it should be called "Thanks (comes from) Giving".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spinning Unchained

When I started this blog a few months ago, I had no idea how many ways "Unchained" would relate to my life.  Now that I'm back in the saddle - this title has taken on a whole new meaning.
There are several different types of stationary cycles out there for group exercise.  Some involve a chain and a 40# fly-wheel, and some involve a band that can tighten or loosen on the wheel to increase or decrease resistance.
When you get going really fast on a bike with a chain, it is very hard to slow down.  You can actually take your feet out of the toe cages and the pedals will keep going while your legs are not doing a thing.  The speed of the chain is maintained by the heavy flywheel going really fast; which actually caused me a nasty leg laceration several years ago.

When we live a life bound in chains, we are going with the flow of our life.  If our lives are spiraling downward, we don't really notice and just go with it.  It is hard to get out.

Living Unchained, nothing is holding us back from being who God made us to be.  Our joy comes from being in relationship with the One who made us.  "Religion" has a root "lig", from ligament, meaning joining together, connected, united.  Re = again.  True religion bonds us together to our Creator again  (McLaren).   False Religion bonds us to other things; like the nasty flywheel that the chain is attached to - pulling us in directions we weren't meant to go.

May the freedom of chains being broken by the One who wants you connected to Him alone, drawing your strength and energy from Him alone, awaken your hearts to what you were made for today!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dive In!

"Do I love others enough to share with them what God has done in my life?"
That is the question I was posed with this morning listening to my podcast on my walk.  That convicted me, because, my answer usually is, no.

According to Bill Hybels in his recent book Just Walk Across The Room, "The single greatest gift we can give someone is an introduction to the God who asked His Son to go the unthinkable distance to redeem them."
Greg Ferguson was also quoted in this book with the lyrics of a song he wrote called "Peacemaker" -

Peacemaker, Fear-taker, Soul-soother, Storm-smoother
Light-shiner, Lost-finder, Cloud-lifter, Deliverer
Mind-clearer, Sigh-hearer, Hand-holder, Consoler
Wound-binder, Tear-drier, Strength-giver, Provider
Heart-healer, Kind Father.

Who wouldn't want at least one of those in their lives right now?  Someone could be all these things to them!  And, then, why don't I love enough to tell everyone about HIM?

The thought that came to my mind was that of jumping off of a diving board.  When we haven't given our lives fully to Jesus, it's like living on the board - careful, limited, contained.  But when we get the courage to jump off, it's like giving up everything for the pearl of great price - more than we could ever have experienced on the board, to go after the promise.

"Give your life to following Jesus because giving our lives to anything else will be far less than what you were created for!" (Summit Church, Orlando)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Are You Trying to Fit Into Something That You Have Clearly Grown Out Of?

No, I am not referring to clothes.

I recently heard a quote from John Piper that I wrote and put on my fridge:

"Be careful of harking back to what you once were when God wants you to become something that you have never been."

Are we so used to our way of doing things that we don't give God room to get rid of the old and put on the new?  Are we scared of what He may have planned for us, or excited?  They (pastors) always say...  "If you don't answer when God calls, He'll just ask someone else."
Wouldn't it be exciting to be used by God!  To be one of His "go-to" people that is always listening and obeying Him?  Or is it easier just to do our own thing and not take the risk?

I recently took a risk by switching email accounts.  Wow.  I never would have known what a pain my old one was until I switched to my new one.  All the glitches that drove me crazy with the old account are gone.  I dealt with them, figuring that was just the way things were.  There are even new things on the new account that I never knew existed.

I also started teaching spinning again, and making the "tapes" is now so much easier.  I used to have to go through song by song, recording them, and if one didn't work in the ride, I would have to re-do the whole CD.  Now, I just drag and drop, or delete if one doesn't work - it's awesome - NEW!

And, I changed cleaning supplies.  Switched to Norwex.  Amazing!  An investment in the beginning, but cleaning the house is so much faster now; and actually kinda fun (really)!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  Isaiah 42:18-19

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Are You Waiting?

I walked into the "Y" this morning with Mia in tow and she got all pumped up because she saw her little friend to play with in the parking lot.  But before we went down to the play room, her friend got to stop at the vending machine and get a pack of cookies.  Smile turned to frown.  As she looked down at the lame bag of pretzels in her hand that she was no longer grateful for, she drearily sulked down to the playroom.

When I picked her up an hour later, she was happily playing, said her thank-you's, grabbed her coat and left.  I asked her if she enjoyed her pretzels and she said "yes; oreos are not healthy right now anyway"; to which I agreed and said, don't you think you'd rather save your sweets for that yummy M&M ice cream tonight after dinner?  Yes!  She said.

Titus 2 says "God's readiness to give and forgive is now public.  Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a god-filled, god-honoring life.  This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.  He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness."  The Message

Patience is often referred to as "long-suffering".  It is not one of my strong points as a mom, but I do understand the long-suffering part, especially when someone is whining incessantly...  am I indulging my flesh by blowing up? or suffering long, by breathing slowly while they go on a rampage?  Indulgent usually refers to getting what we want NOW, instead of waiting, and can refer to a number of things.

Are you settling for vending machine cookies, or waiting for something much, much better?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ACTIVATE

So, I have a gift for Faith that I've been hiding in the closet for a few days - it's very valuable but hasn't been "activated"  so, it's pretty much no good right now.  It's just siting there, in the storage room with the 4th of July and Easter decorations collecting dust.
Today is activation day and she has no clue - and I'm so excited. (Especially because she was pretty grumpy earlier).  Giving gifts that you know your kids totally want is a blast.

I've been reading a book by Ravi Zacharias called The Grand Weaver, and my favorite quote is this:  "Jesus does not offer to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive!"

I've also been listening to a lesson from Bob Hamp of Gateway Church, and he's been talking about Genesis 2 and 3 (Adam & Eve/The Fall).  The source of all thoughts in the Garden was the Spirit of God in them, to them, and through them - BUT when they ate from the forbidden tree, they changed their source to the knowledge of good and evil, which is NOT life, unplugging from the true source of God's Spirit, and plugging into what the tree represents!

Jesus came to get us plugged back in to where true life comes from (Hamp).  He wants us to understand that we were born to be activated by HIM!  When our source is knowledge of good and evil, that's not life - we're wrapped up sitting in a storage closet.  John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we could have life to the full, where He is the source of everything we think, say, and do!  And, I bet He has a blast of party when He sees us actually get it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Under The Umbrella

I was pretty excited when I noticed that I would not need my puffy coat this morning to walk, so I put on my lighter one and headed out the door... I took one step after opening the door and who was there to greet us? Yep, Mr. Skunk, on my front door stoop! He scurried away, I held Moose back with all the strength I had and that was it - no spray - disaster averted! Besides the heart attack I was having.

The stories I've heard of dogs being skunked are when they are off-leash. So, maybe, since when we walk in the morning, he's on a leash, we have nothing to worry about...?

Moose was pretty bummed (understatement) that he couldn't go get Mr. Skunk, and he actually whined in pain because of his pinch collar, but thankfully, it worked. He doesn't know it, but that pain in his neck, is far better than the nightmare that he (and the rest of the household) would have experienced had he been free to go do whatever he wanted.

Beth Moore teaches about the umbrella of God's protection. As long as we stay under God's umbrella/His rules for us, we don't have to experience the nasty weather. We are free to go wherever, without getting hit by the elements while under His umbrella. They are for our protection.

Another children's story I've been reading to the girls talks about a dog playing in his yard. What happens if we got rid of the fence, or left the gate open? The dog could run out and get run over, or lost. But, in the boundaries of his yard, he can play all he wants, freely, not worrying about what will happen to him.

Often, when God does not give me what I want, I whine or get depressed or grumpy. But if my eyes could see what God's eyes see, I'm sure it's to keep me safe, close to him, and living freely and abundantly in His love!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You a Big "Purse Dog"?


My dog is a wimp. He is 100 lbs and scared of a leaf that is blowing the wrong way. My neighbor who owns a Basset Hound calls him a "scaredy cat". He barks at himself in his window reflection, and barks when we go upstairs without the poor little thing... Has he not seen himself? Does he not know how big he is?

Then God said... You are much bigger than you think you are because I am living inside of YOU! Do you not see Me in there? Why do you consider the opinion of others? Why do you belittle that reflection you see? I am living inside of you - your forever companion; why do you get lonely? Do you not know how big I AM?

Bask in that one today - enjoy My companionship, My strength, My sufficiency! - God


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Katie Davis

I cannot get this girl out of my head.

Her heart and her life are truly a life lived "Unchained".
If you haven't heard about Katie Davis; check out her story. She is founder of Amazima.org; is 23 years old, lives in Uganda, fosters 13 girls; and it all started when she took a "short term" missions trip there at 18 yrs of age!
I heard an interview with her yesterday on the Brook Hills Church podcast with David Platt, and have been in awe of how God is using her, as she has given her heart to Him!
She has just released a book called "Kisses from Katie" (kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com), and I'm going to go find it. Anything that reminds me how much I have, and how much of that God wants to use for His Glory is worth buying!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Old Maid


I have had somewhat of a grumpy 5 yr old lately. Doesn't like to listen to books much (though we still read); doesn't like to play by herself (still make her); and doesn't like many games - except Old Maid. She will play Old Maid forever, so we often do. She plays very confidently when the Old Maid is in her hand; always smiling waiting for me to grab it, re-arranging her cards to put it where I've been picking from. But when I have the Old Maid, she always hesitates in taking a card from me; worrying and trying to be very careful not to pick it, and choosing from different places instead of always the right hand side.

Then I heard a sermon from John Piper regarding Judas, and he got me thinking along the same lines... He was talking about John 6:70 when Jesus says that he chose the twelve, knowing Judas was an enemy. God put Judas in the midst of the twelve and he will do what God tells him to do. Stated more powerfully; "He reigns over the resistance" (Piper)

In Job 1, we see that Satan needed God's permission to pretty much destroy Job's life. And again in Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." This shows us that these trials had to go through God first.

It's true - He holds the cards, AND He holds the Old Maid (The Enemy). And, when we are on His side - we can enjoy the peace of knowing He is sovereign; we don't have to live life worried about what card we will pick next; but knowing completely, that He is in control.

"This should be a sanctuary for our souls when all hell breaks loose in our lives!" (Piper)


The Power of a Good Coat


I have lived north of Chicago for over 20 years now and have finally realized the truth in this title. I hate (bad word in our house, so it must be fiercely felt) being cold. Coming from Florida, I just figured people in the north were always cold and they just dealt with it. Once I had kids; I would send them to pre-school partially just to get the outside play time in the winter because I wasn't about to go out into the frozen tundra and play with them. You go play, I'll look out the window and make sure the snow plow doesn't hit you.

Last year I got two new coats (and cool snow pants) and they have changed my life! I can go out in the cold and actually enjoy it. I am not phased by the snow or freezing rain hitting me. I am protected so I can go down sled hills until the kids are done, not until I'm done. I can walk the dog early, before it warms up to 10 degrees. And I can actually enjoy watching the girls play soccer in the cold! It only took me 20 years to figure this out.

I think this is what God wants to show us in Ephesians 6. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" v. 11. "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet" (v. 13 MSG).
Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Bible and prayer are God's coat for us. When we put on those things; He gives us the strength (and joy) to brave the elements!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let the Earth Shake!


My new favorite piece of exercise equipment is the Bodyblade. When I recently switched health clubs, it was the only thing missing, so I purchased my own and love it. Why? Because it strengthens what matters. You have to shake it and force it to move, requiring your body to stabilize itself to counteract the force you're putting on it - enhancing your core strength. (It is actually supposed to strengthen the muscles in my neck and core to prevent further injury after my lovely slipped disc.)

I recently listened to a sermon entitled "Shakedown" by Steven Furtick. He was teaching on how when our world is shaken it is often to reveal the treasure (2 Cor. 4:7) that is inside of us. Everything that is not solid - falls off; things like people, money, or stuff that we depend on too much.

While the bodyblade helps to strengthen our core (where all of our physical strength comes from) by shaking what's around us - God uses the earthquakes in our lives to strengthen our grasp on our treasure, letting anything superficial fall off.

The Old Testament refers to shaking the dust off of our feet before we go somewhere new; something that has to be done before we are free.
Amos 9 - throwing Israel into a sieve and shaking them good - shaking out all the sin.
Isaiah 52:2 - "Shake off your dust; rise up...Free yourself from the chains on your neck..."
Nehemiah 5 - talks of a man be shaken out and emptied.

God is constantly shaking things up to see what's inside; to get rid of the wasteful things; to show Himself golden to those who are clinging to Him. He's the only stable thing there is - and because of that, He's a treasure worth holding onto with all we've got.

Psalm 99:1 says "The Lord reigns... Let the earth shake!"



Monday, October 17, 2011

Thank you Sir, may I have another?


I heard this line this morning in the gym and a huge grin spread across my face. An older gentleman was saying this (in jest) to his trainer as he was doing step-ups. It made me smile because I remember the days of enjoying putting my clients through painful workouts, and smiling when they'd return a few days later saying how sore they were (yes, people thought I was somewhat demented that way). Deep down, however, I know that the pain was for their good - it would make them stronger! I loved it when my clients wanted to work harder because they knew that that was how results would come.

I have personally gone through this a lot. With each meniscus tear, torn fascia, slipped disc... God has taught me something new. As a Christian, I have grown spiritually from every physical injury I have had. I actually caught myself saying something like this to God the other day: "Bring it on, if that's what You need to do to get me where you want me to be. Or, Thank you, God, may I have another?" I realize this is a dangerous prayer, but it's worth it!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Squeaky Violin


My middle daughter has started the violin. I was spared this luxury with the oldest, who chose the Upright Bass; a nice, low tone.
I think I'm getting old because I'm not too bothered by it. I'm actually just thrilled when she practices, knowing discipline is not her middle name.
Last night, however, I totally enjoyed it. Why? Because she was teaching her little sister, who she's not been too fond of lately, how to play. She was acting like the master teacher, and her sister was actually listening and responding; not saying "I can do it myself".
It was beautiful. I just sat there and soaked it all in.

I think that's how God looks at us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. He has made each of us really good at something and others better than us at other things. When we let them teach us and are responsive, I think he gets that joy that I did. Likewise, when we use what we have or know to teach those who haven't learned that yet, He beams for us.
Listening to my kids argue makes my heart heavy. Listening to them learn from each other is a high I can ride for a while.
There will always be someone who we can teach, and always someone we can learn from.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Full Moon


As I arose from slumber yesterday, I knew there was a full moon. I knew it because it was lighter in the house than it usually was at that hour, and I didn't knock over anything.
When I walked Moose, it wasn't as dark as it usually was (quite helpful on the skunk look-out).
The full moon was awesome, I couldn't get my eyes off of it; so I did a little research...

The moon has no light of its' own; it's made of rock; it only reflects the light of the sun.
The illuminated side of the moon is constantly facing the sun no matter where it is in it's rotation around the earth, while the earth, of course, revolves around the sun.

When the moon is new (hardly seen by us), it's illuminated side is facing away from the earth towards the sun, and it is between the sun and the earth.
When we see a full moon, the earth is actually between the sun and the moon. The illuminated side is facing the earth and is completely lit up by the sun - and the earth does not get in the way of the sun's illumination! That got me.

Maybe, even though the world seems bigger than us; when we are completely allowing the Son to illuminate us (the way we were made); the world (earth) can't get in the way! We can shine fully. Sometimes we need to be alone with God (prayer/study) to feed our spirits - between the earth and facing the sun. While other times we need to get out and shine His light to the world, not letting the world (and its' desires) come between us and The glory of the Son!


Hebrews 1:3 says "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."

Monday, October 10, 2011

God's Physiology


I have found a few ways to utilize my Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology! Here's lesson one:

"Hearts are stronger after broken..." - Needtobreathe (Slumber)
(That was not what I learned)

Our skeletal muscles are broken down in weight training, and they grow in recovery. The strength comes from repair (sleeping). If we didn't work them hard enough to stress them; they won't grow in the repair process. (That's what I learned)

The Needtobreathe quote is saying the same thing about our heart. When our hearts are broken throughout life, they grow stronger. This does not mean physiologically (pumping harder), but spiritually. The more we let God repair our brokenness, the more He gets to touch our heart and repair it with His Master Hands. And the more our hearts are touched by the Master, the stronger they get.

So, what is a strong heart good for anyway? Well, what is our heart made for? Yes, pump blood, but that's too simple. What about love? What is the greatest commandment? Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength". What if the more our hearts were broken, the more the Master could repair it, and the more we'd be able to love? As long as we bring it to the One who made our hearts, He will grow a broken heart in love.

Paul says it best in Ephesians: "I ask the Father to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." (3:16-19 MSG)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amazing Grace!

Apparently some churches are hesitant to preach the true grace that God gives us. That He loves us completely, no matter how much we mess up would possibly urge us to not really care about holiness. Having this amazing grace in our head and hearts might keep us away from studying the bible on our own, or staying away from sin, or not really go to church since we don't really need it.

Others think Christianity is a bunch of rules. They think it is all about keeping us from happiness. Do's and don'ts; keeping us from freedom. A road too narrow to follow.

John Eldredge blends these two thoughts in a great quote:
"It's not that God doesn't want us to be happy. He does. It's just that He know that until we are holy, we cannot really be happy."

God made us. He made us to glorify Him. God's ways are way higher than I could ever imagine, but I do know that I am way more drawn to holy, happy people, than grumpy, ones. He alone can fill us with true joy when we make lots and lots of room for Him by getting rid of the stuff that doesn't really matter...

Have a wonderful Sunday living in His Amazing Grace, pursuing holiness and being filled with happiness.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Slumber

This is my favorite CD right now! One of the reasons I like it so much is that I can ride my bike to it - hard. At least half of it is "bike-able" for me, so totally worth it! I also like it because I can jam to it in the car with the girls and their friends and no one is embarrassed about it. If you listen carefully, it's all about living for Jesus, and the life He brings.

"Able" is a great cool down song and one to listen to every day about how we are not able on our own; but He is! A great way to end a morning workout and start a new day.



Another great one is "Slumber":
"Days, they force you back under those covers -
lazy mornings, they multiply -
Glory's waiting outside your window -
Wake on up from your slumber, baby open up your eyes!"

I love this! The beat picks up and forces you to wake up! See the glory all around you - it's waiting for you - OPEN YOUR EYES! I'm pretty sure it's taken from Romans 13:11 & 12 "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber... The night is nearly over; the day is almost here!" Go for it! Have an awesome, awakened, Friday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Skunk!


Since two of my best friends have had the experience of their dogs being skunked recently, when I take Moose out early in the morning, we start our walk with the prayer "Lord, keep the skunks away from us, and keep us away from the skunks". You would think they are lions or something the way they freak me out. We see about one a day; and each time, they are either running away from us, or I spot them from far away and direct Moose on a turnaround or go to the other side of the street. So far, so good; God is answering my prayers, and to that I am very thankful!

Listening to David Platt (Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL) this morning, he said "It is a scary thing when God gives man over to his sinful desires". It's been all over the Bible, God gives men over to their evil desires; He doesn't make us love and choose Him; He wants us to love and choose Him. He knows that is what will ultimately fill us. He also knows what will hurt us, and often shields us from those things; but sometimes their staring at us in the face and we have to choose.

I totally see this in my dog. If he spots the skunk first, he wants to move towards it. Thankfully, I have hold of the leash! Sometimes, I spot the skunk before he even sees it and steer him quietly away from it. If he spots it; he wants to go to it - it's interesting, looks like fun to play with - but I know better than he! If I give him over to this desire, he will be skunked (and I will have a huge job ahead of me)!

Sometimes, I wish God had me on a leash; totally protecting me from every selfish desire that would hurt me. The more I make these poor decisions, the more I learn how much they hurt me. And, the more closely I am walking with God, the more I am focused on Him, and in joyfully walking with him, my aroma stays sweet.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sink or Swim?



For those of you who know me (probably all of you), I am not a high-maintenance person. This is good or bad, depending on who you are. One of the areas I really could care less about is soap. Until now. I rotate my soaps and shampoos all the time, just because I get bored with the same thing. I don't really care if it's 99 cents or $5; but I do stay away from the salon stuff (I don't have enough hair to warrant that).
I rotated back to Ivory Bar Soap a few days ago and it has changed my outlook on soap. It cleanses me better than anything else. I used to have to wash a couple times to get the squeaky clean. Ivory does it in one lather - I love it.

They (Ivory people) advertise being pure and able to float. Primarily because it is whipped with air. Yes, they have added some glycerin now so it doesn't dry you up as much as it used to, so it doesn't really float like it used to; but I don't play that in the shower anyway; so they don't lose my business there.

Pure is defined as being free from dirt, defilement, pollution, or foreign elements - containing nothing extraneous - complete.
I think it's pretty cool that something (us, too) can be complete when we contain nothing extraneous.

God made us so that we are complete when we have Him in us (that God-shaped hole in each of us). We don't need anything else. We can try to let other stuff or people complete us, but they won't. Actually, the other stuff we add will defile us, making us impure; and can even make us sink.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tailgate Shepherd



I had the pleasure of attending a tailgate party this weekend. My two youngest did not find their friends, so they were following me everywhere. It got a little (okay, a lot) irritating because they were practically stepping on my feet trying to not miss anywhere I might be going so they didn't lose sight of me. At one point, my youngest lost me, so she just stayed put and got really sad. We went back to find her (approximately 40 seconds later) right where we had lost her, and all was recovered.
I don't think God gets irritated with us following Him.
I think He really wants us to follow Him closely; He probably likes it when we are so close we step on His feet.
John 10:4 says "When he has brought out all his own (sheep), he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."
When we stop following Him closely, we get lost, or make no progress. We become stagnant, not going anywhere, or go the wrong way. And are pretty unhappy in that state. We are secure when we keep our eyes on Him - not letting anything distract us.
And how do we do this?
We know His voice.
We know the comfort and love of His voice.
We know that His voice and His leading is the best for us because He has proven that to us.
And we don't let other ones get in the way.
May we all experience the joy of following Our Shepherd closely today!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kermit, Winter, and Ezekiel


"Maybe you don't need everyone to love you (Piggy), maybe you just need one." - Kermit The Frog.
That is it! That is the point. I heard this quote yesterday during the previews for the Muppet Movie before we saw "Dolphin Tale"; and I can't get it out of my head. Then, it was further nailed in as I watched the movie.

Ezekiel 36:26 says "I will give you anew heart and put a new Spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

Sawyer (the boy in the movie) was a boy with a heart transformed from stone to flesh. He was lifeless until he found a greater purpose. He was given a new spirit and a passion because he felt love from Winter (the dolphin) - and she, too, would do things like eat and swim, when she felt his loving presence. The movie is all about the transformation that the dolphin and the boy had when they knew the love of the other. I don't think that's a spoiler... I think it's encouragement to see it, right?

We, too have hope for this passion and "life to the full" (John 10:10). The Psalms is all about God's love for us and how He changes, protects and inspires David. Romans 5:5 talks about how "God has poured out His love to us through the Holy Spirit". "Because of His great love for us...God make us alive with Christ." (Eph 2:4-5)

God wants to transform our souls. He wants us to feel and know His love. He wants to give us a new heart and new spirit so we can be fully alive, living each day with a purpose and passion from Him!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dancing


When my middle daughter needs some space or just wants to be who God made her to be by herself; she often goes outside or to her room and teaches, sings, or dances. I think it's odd; but it's actually a great way for her to be her, and I admire that. It makes her happy.

I've enjoyed the writings of Henri Nouwen lately. He was a Roman Catholic Priest who studied psychology and religion in Holland; received a Doctoral degree in Psychology; taught Psychology at Notre Dame, and eventually taught Spirituality at Harvard and Yale. He did more, but these are some keys so you get the point.

Here's the connection; as the quote below is his:

"To heal is to let the Spirit call us to dance.
Can you feel the freedom that rises up in you when you have been stripped naked and have nothing to inhibit your movements anymore? You can dance as David danced in front of the Ark. Can you notice in your innermost being the joy of living that comes from having nothing left to lose?... Jesus enters our sadness, takes us by the hand, pulls us gently up to where we can stand, and invites us to dance."

I LOVE that! - "the joy of living that comes from having nothing left to lose... nothing to inhibit your movements anymore"; yes, it goes back to my "Naked" post - just wanted you to see how an extremely well educated priest and I think alike. My daughter is being care-free when she dances, and she comes out of it happier than when she started - consistently. I think Jesus wants to do that for us way more often than we let Him. I'm not a dancer, but today, I want to dance!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hot or Cold?


As we drove home from Wisconsin this weekend; we were cold and wet - especially the ones who played in the rain. I highly recommended they take all their wet stuff off and put on the dry clothes that were in the bag in the back. After the giggles of too much skin showing in the car; the job was complete. After a little while with the heat on full blast, one of them was not warming up. I asked her if she changed everything; and she said yes. I asked if she changed her underwear, and she said, "no; I'm not taking that off, that's gross". It was soaking wet, of course.

Are we living like that? Trying to just change some things on the outside, when deep down, we're holding onto our comfy, wet underwear? God wants to totally transform us to be His own - Are we letting Him? If we hold onto our past, who we think we are, we cannot become who He wants us to be. He want to warm us up completely; make us on fire for Him.

Oswald Chambers said: "Beware of harking back to once you once were, when God wants you to become something you have never been".

"...everything related to the old life has to go - it's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life - a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His Character in you." Ephesians 4:23 - 24 The Message


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Too Dirty

We just returned from a weekend soccer travel soccer tournament - in the rain. Between the stench of uniforms that had been worn 3 - 4 times (times 2) and food particles, wrappers, etc... the car was used well. It provided breaks from rain and warmth from cold, but it was disgusting. As we got in to drive home I just looked around (and smelled around), and made the immediate decision not to tackle it on my own. Monday morning, it's going in. Ahhh, the weight that was lifted off of my shoulders as I made this executive decision - I didn't have to try to clean it!!!

Then I realized, that's how God wants us to see ourselves. Too dirty to try to clean up ourselves. He doesn't want us to see ourselves as just a little dirty or even pretty clean. He wants us to see ourselves as too dirty to try to clean on our own. He wants to take that load off of us, to clean us up by His own power because WE CAN'T DO IT ON OUR OWN. That is freeing!

Yes, the car wash would cost more money - and yes, our freedom is costly; but we don't have to pay for that, it's been done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Be Different


I've learned a lot from our dog, Moose. He was one of 13 in his litter, the "mis-marked" one. He was also the most mellow (according to the breeder); so I could have cared less what he looked like; she said he'd be a good match for us; so I was all over it. When everyone else came to get their 8 wk old puppies, they saw Moose and wanted him - she said; nope, you said you wanted a "perfectly marked" Swissy; this one's taken! We're kinda like that, too. We want to look like everyone else, and stay away from those who look different, but when we really SEE them - we want that - because they're different, we're attracted to that!

We also just purchased a big wagon for him to pull the kids around in. Why? Because that's what these dogs were made for - working/pulling. That's what makes him happy. Is it normal? No. do people look at us differently? Yes. But it's only because they see how happy he is doing what he was born to do.

"God invites us to dance to a different tune because He knows what's truly going to satisfy and fulfill us." - Craig Groeschel, author of "Wierd".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naked


This word has intrigued me over the past year. I am not going to go move to a nudist colony; I just really like what it does for people - yes, on the inside; but it shows on the outside.
Pat Lencioni just wrote a book called "Getting Naked" for the business world. It is based on how to build trust and loyalty with others by being vulnerable - isn't that true? The guy is hilarious, I was able to hear him at the Global Leadership Summit and I laughed the whole time - why? Because he was real! It's like a breath of fresh air.
Life is much more free when we're not trying to hide anything. Like when I have all the windows open at my house in the morning while the kids are getting ready for school and while we are screaming at each other the whole street can hear. Or when we have all the windows open accidentally at night and everyone driving by can see me reading to my kids .
Hebrews 12:1 talks about "throwing off everything that hinders" so that we can run the race! Running freely, quickly, is a lot easier when we're not stuck under the weight of an image or an ego.
"The Naked Christian" by Craig Borlase is another one; "taking off religion to get into a relationship with Jesus. Shun the fake stuff and BE REAL." It can also encourage others to do the same.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Operation World

So, I purchased the book, "Operation World", pretty much because David Platt told me to in his awesome book, "Radical" ( I know I am supposed to underline book titles, but I can't find the underline button). He said it was the most important book to have aside from the Bible - and that's a pretty big claim. It's about all the nations and how to pray for each one, every day of the year.
I never really wanted to pray for the whole world before; mainly because it's always been hard for me to pray for people that I don't know. This book is amazing. I cannot believe how much I have learned. I feel like I'm in school again, but I really like it this time.
I am on the "N" countries because I started in September and it goes alphabetically. Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, Netherlands, New Caledonia... I honestly have not heard of a couple of these.
Did you know that there are 800,000 underground Christians in Nepal?
That 90% of people in nauru (which, by the way, is an island in the Pacific) are overweight and unemployed?
That Netherlands Antilles is off the coast of Venezuela?
Ok, you probably knew all this, but I, being the non-geography buff, did not.
So, in praying for these nations, a common request has been made: "that people who call themselves Christians might discover a dynamic relationship with the living Savior" AND, "that revival might make the Christians into true disciples of Jesus." Hmmm... maybe this world is not so big after all?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not About Me

Matt Chandler (Village Church in TX) seems to be on fire lately. I love listening to podcasts when I walk my dog in the morning; and he has been my recent favorite. He read Psalm 23 and emphasized one verse (3) that I never really heard before "For His Name's Sake". God protects us, takes care of us, guides us; why?? because of that! For His Name. It's all for Him. "I am not the point", Chandler says, and once we realize that - it's way easier to put ourselves last. Get ourselves and our reputations out of the way. It will be way easier to deal with life's interruptions when we get this - I'm preaching to myself, here; I can be so much less stressed about stuff when I get that it's not about me! "I can be free from myself" -(that freedom thing again...) to make much of Him." Maybe the next time my 6 year old gets up at the crack of dawn to disturb my quiet time I'll remember this instead of ripping her head off...

Freedom

2 Timothy 2:9b says that "God's word is not chained".

John 7:38 says "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

That's what I want. I want to flow with living water not being bound by anything. Hence, the title, and the picture of the white water rafting. That is true freedom.

When we allow Christ to cut the chains that bind us to "stuff" here on earth; we become free to fly!