Thawing Out

Tonight we had our 5th Sunday celebration at church. The night consisted of worship and testimonies, and afterwards, some food and fellowship. I was sitting on stage listening to the testimonies of how God had worked in so many lives recently. I started thinking of all the great things God has been doing for me. 2010 was NOT my best year. To be honest, it was pretty bad. So, with the arrival of 2011, I was (and still am) expecting good things. We all know there are seasons in ones life, so I was ready for my winter to be over and for spring to be on it’s way!

My winter was particularly hard this time around. I felt cold, alone, and honestly – bare. It really was a bad time in my life. It was dark, and the only time I was relieved was when I was worshiping. I lost myself in worshiping God. I didn’t worship him for what he was doing, because really, I couldn’t feel or see him “doing” anything. I worshiped him for WHO he IS. He IS I am. He is peace. He is joy. He is provision. He is unfathomable love. He is justice. He is alpha and omega. He is all in all.He is king of kings. Most importantly, he is the covenant maker and keeper.

So, that is what I did. Because only in worshiping was my pain eased. Only in that moment did I find peace.

I began looking back, sitting up there on stage. What leaps and bounds have I made! God has brought me through and I’m thawing out. I have a God dream that he is bringing to fruition everyday. My heart is healed and my soul has peace. I was just reveling in those facts when I heard him. He said I had to have my winter. I had to have time to dig into myself. To see what I was made of. To trust him. Just like the trees get rid of the leaves that once made them beautiful and useful, I had to shed some things I believed made me beautiful and useful. Just like animals hibernate so that they are protected from harshness of the outside, I had to bury myself in him to protect ME from the harshness of the outside.

I am truly glad my winter is almost over. Not that spring doesn’t come with it’s own lessons – sowing, waiting for the rain, watching for the frost, pushing through the soil, beginning to grow . . . But, I know I will make it through. Summer will be on it’s way and soon the fall and harvest time, and, undoubtedly, winter again.

This time, however, I think I will have a different prospective on it all.  I will find the beauty in it all. Because just like some think the barren trees are ugly, I know they are letting their maker refresh them and protect them. Just like some think the snow is a pain, I know it is Gods way of showing that EVERY season has something of beauty in it!

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Just Breathe

I was listening to the song “Breathe” and I was just worshiping and I asked the Lord to speak to me. The chorus part came up, you know “and I am desperate for you. and I am lost without you.” And I heard the Lord say, “that’s me. I am desperate for YOU. I am lost without YOU. The same way you would be without your spouse, or your children, or your family. When you are not with me, I am desperate for you. When you are not with me, I am lost.” Wow. Now, I know some of you may analyze this and say, “God can’t be lost.” or ” God is almighty he’s with us everywhere.” But, it’s not that way. It’s just an example. He wants us to fellowship with him. He wants us to enter in to worship and prayer. Uninhibited. Unashamed. Because he desires us. All of us. We are his children and if we are not with him, in our actions, in our words, in our day to day life, who then are we with? I challenge everyone who reads this to step in deeper today. In your worship, in your prayer time. Just tell him you are there to spend time with him. Not to ask him for a favor, not to petition him, not to speak the whole time, but to listen to him and love on him.

silly facts

  1. It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs
  2. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.
  3. Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
  4. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.
  5. 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  6. Snails can sleep for three years without eating.
  7. The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
  8. Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a Friday the 13th.
  9. 75 people die each year playing Twister.
  10. There’s no Bettie Rubble in Flinstones chewables.

Slaying Your Jabberwocky

Muchness – Greatness of quantity, degree, or extent.

My favorite movie quote, by far,is the one off of “Alice in Wonderland. At this point Alice and The Mad Hatter are discussing the slaying of the jabberwocky.

Alice Kingsley: I’m not slaying anything. I don’t slay, so put it out of your mind
The Mad Hatter: …Mind?
[Hatter stops, puts Alice down on a log, and continues walking]
Alice Kingsley: Wait! You Cant leave me here!
The Mad Hatter: You don’t slay? Do you have any idea what the Red Queen has done? You don’t slay.
Alice Kingsley: I couldn’t if i wanted to.
The Mad Hatter: You’re not the same as you were before. You were much more…”muchier” You’ve lost your “muchness”
Alice Kingsley: My “muchness”?
The Mad Hatter: [Points to Alice’s heart] In there.

Isn’t that how we are sometimes? When it comes to a spiritual battle, we just lay down and say “Nope. I don’t do battle.” We leave it up to someone else to pray. Someone else to fast. Someone else to speak the words. Meanwhile, God is like “For real? I have seen you battle before! Where is your fire? Where is your ‘muchness’?”

My question for you is have you lost your “muchness”? Have you lost your braveness, your boldness, your greatness? I know we are only great in Christ and what he does through us, but we have to be willing to MOVE. Willing to STEP OUT. Willing to be great in Him. Jesus was bold. Even when he was young. He sat in the temple, listened and asked questions. As an adult, spoke to those who were ignored (John 4). He touched those who were “untouchable” (Matthew 8 ). He spoke out against wrongdoing (Matthew 21). All of these things and more made Jesus a bold, brave and great man. He is the Son of God who was sent not only to die for our sins, but to teach us the right way to live.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

I also like how The Message puts it:

10-12″And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.13-18Be 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. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

So, here it is . . . be bold in Christ.  Be bold in prayer. Be brave and remember where your “muchness” comes from. When satan is attacking, when the world is coming against you, when your whole world seems to be falling apart, remember – in the end, Alice slays the jabberwocky.

Roll on 18 Wheeler . . .

My daddy is a truck driver. My mom was a loan officer. Neither of them went to college. They were not exemplary students in school. Their backgrounds did not include wealth. Nope, they included farmers and mill owners. People who worked hard for what they owned and took pride in their work – what ever it was.

I grew up never thinking that we lacked. We lived in the family home (built by my great-grandparents) until I was 7. The house had 2 bedrooms. At the time, there were 3 of us kids in one small bedroom. I thought we had the best house ever. It was on top of a mountain. There were 4 barns, a pond, trails and a pasture. We had dogs, cats, bunnies and ducks. My grandparents lived down the driveway. There was a dug out basement where we stored potatoes that my parents and grandparents (and us kids!) helped plant and harvest. As far as I was concerned, it was awesome! But, my parents knew we needed more room. So, my mom and dad saved every penny and paid their bills on time to build the credit they needed to buy a house. We moved to a 3 bedroom house, with a full sized basement that included what we so fondly still call the “play room”. There were 1 and 1/2 bathrooms and a fireplace in the middle of our great room! I thought we had moved into a castle!

My parents ended up having 4 kids. My daddy was home every afternoon when we got home from school.He helped with our homework, made us clean up, and talked to us about our days.  My mom worked in an office, came home cooked dinner, talked with us and put us to bed. (My dad went to bed by 7, because he had to get up around 1 or 2 in the morning.) They worked hard. We had cars, we had vacations, we had toys. We had food, we stayed warm, we were clothed. I never thought we were anything but normal. I thought every household had parents that fixed their own cars or appliances when they broke. Parents who loved each other and loved us. Parents who helped others and a family who weathered the toughest storms together.

Up until I was in the fifth grade I wanted to be a truck driver, just like my daddy. He got so upset with me because he wanted better for me. I thought what he did was awesome. To be honest, I STILL think what he does is amazing. But, to him, he was mediocre. He was just ordinary. Nothing special, just a man making money. My mom, was amazing at her job. But constantly they preached about doing well in school, and doing better than what they did. They wanted us to be something besides ordinary.

I am writing all this because I want to acknowledge what amazing parents I have. They made us feel like we were rich. We never missed out, we never lacked. They worked hard, they loved deep. They made me want to be what they were because they made it seem so great.

Recently, my son said he wanted to be what I was when he grew up – a preschool teacher. I love my job, I just wish it paid better! So, my response was “Sweetie, you can be a teacher. But you WILL go to college, so you can be a real teacher.” Do you know what he said? “Mom, you are a REAL teacher.” Made my heart soar. I am sure of this one thing: a good parent makes the worst of situations look like the best. That’s what my parents did. No, a truck driver isn’t a glorious job. It’s long hours and fickle pay. A non college educated job that pays okay is not wonderful. It’s working hard to get up the ladder and wondering when you’ll be stepped on by someone who is college educated. But, when you’re a parent providing for a child, you do what you have to.

So, a big thank you to my parents. Thank you for making your jobs look like adventures. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for pushing me and giving me an example to live by.

I love you both.

Where DOES the white go?

Here in Asheville, North Carolina, our county and city schools closed today due to “snow”. I put that in quotation marks simply because there wasn’t any. Well, at least after 9 a.m.  The roads were clear, the local dollar theater was packed with parents trying to find something for their kids to do, and facebook was flooded with comments about authoritative personnel not being able to make good decisions. This snow day will prolong our school year, shorten our spring break, take away a teacher’s work day, or worst of the worst – put us in Saturday school. I have to say, I am one of the few who have enjoyed this “snow” day. I have enjoyed all our “snow” days. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer vacation, but getting to spend time with my kids is priceless. Yes, I miss work. Yes, it’s bitterly cold. Yes, there is some boredom involved. But, honestly, our weekends are so packed with sports, family events, and church that there is hardly time for playing and goofing off.  So, in the spirit of enjoying our mountain weather, I found some quotes about snow!

There’s one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor’s.  ~Clyde Moore

When it snows, you have two choices:  shovel or make snow angels.  ~Author Unknown

Snowmen fall from heaven… unassembled.  ~Author Unknown

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  ~Author Unknown

Where does the white go when the snow melts?  ~Author Unknown

Snowflakes are kisses from heaven.  ~Author Unknown

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  ~J.B. Priestley

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.  ~Kin Hubbard

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.  ~Patrick Young

A lot of people like snow.  I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.  ~Carl Reiner

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  ~John Ruskin

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Wisp of fog . . .

I – The self; the ego.

Love – A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship

You – refers to the person addressed

I know we all desire to hear these 3 words. These 3 words can heal a broken life, can brighten a dark day, and bring a smile to even the saddest of persons. But what happens when we neglect to say these words? What happens when we miss the moment or when we’re just “too busy” to say them?  What about when we just assume the person or persons know already that we feel that way? How about when we’ve said it numerous times so we figure it’s okay to only say it every once in a while?

I think (this is just an opinion) that those 3 words are some of the most important words in the world. I think that you can devastate a life by avoiding saying them. Maybe, just maybe, not saying those 3 words can cause depression in ones life. I’m sure if you never heard anyone tell you they loved you it would cause catastrophic damage. I know that it can cause a heart to sink if the sentiment is not returned.

It is highly important that we do not miss the opportunity to deposit these words into people’s lives.  If you are a parent, hug your child, look them in the eye, and tell them that you love them. If you are a child, run to your parents and give them a hug and tell them you love them. If you are an adult child, call them and tell them. If there is a friend who has blessed you, tell them.  Do NOT let the opportunity pass. Our time is limited. Our life is just a vapor. We are not guaranteed the next breath.

James 4:14 says “You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.” (The Message) Verse 17 says “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” So, my challenge to you is to tell those you have a “deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection” for that you do, indeed, LOVE them!

(I’d love to hear about some of your experiences if you take my challenge. Please feel free to post your comments!)