Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's His perfect strength for His perfect will

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

What a powerful verse! How many times do we see this verse? We see it on the desks that line offices. We see it tattooed on athletes. We shout this verse out to everyone who passes. I have it marked in my bible and memorized in my heart. We can do all through Christ who gives us strength, but lets think about this for a minute.

What exactly do we think when we read this verse? Do we take it as Christ will give us strength for everything? That anything we do He will make it happen? Do we run with our dreams thinking God will find a way to make it happen? Might we look at our life as it is and think God will______? You fill in the blank.

Lets look at a few more verses before we move forward.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." John 15:5-8

I love when God makes His word clear to me. Sometimes we can take His word and use it for any purpose to suit us. Many times that is exactly what we do to Philippians 4:13. We use this verse for our own good. We see it as we can succeed in everything we touch.  We run with this verse as a do all, can all, instead of seeking God's will and way. God will give us strength for ALL He is asking for us to complete in Him for His glory. Not our own glory. This is not a verse for us to stand proud in having others looking to us as we have completed something bringing glory to ourselves. If we are abiding in Jesus Christ and doing His will, He will provide everything we need. He will give us strength to overcome all obstacles, giving victory to God's power and might. We are not to bring attention to ourselves, but we are to allow Him to shine through us.

In obeying God we produce fruit for Him. The more we seek Him the more opportunity He is going to provide for us to bring glory to His name. Isn't that what it is all about? Having strength to complete His work? We are a work in progress. Our desires will match His if we are living in Him. Through opportunities made possible by God others will look at our life and see that only God could have opened doors and made all possible. Ever wonder why His assignments look so big to us? So others can see just how big He really is.

Apart from Christ we can complete nothing. But in Him, through Him we can complete everything He is calling us to. It is through Him that we gain knowledge and wisdom. It is through Him that we find our purpose to use the very gifts He has instilled in us. We have nothing to fear in completing His will. The only thing holding us back from gaining all for Christ is trying to gain all for ourselves.

Blindsided with pain

Last week was just awesome for me. I woke each day making my husband breakfast, fixing his lunch and beginning my chores before 6:00 am. I exercised and had such energy I could have shared in my surplus. Saturday afternoon my Fibromyalgia hit me so hard that I felt blindsided. It was like a line backer had charged me from behind and plowed me over.

A migraine came on and I hurt from head to my toes. It felt as though my bones felt every movement and my muscles were tender and inflamed. Pain medication only took the edge off. I stayed in bed resting and found I just couldn't get comfortable. Ever want to sleep so badly, but the pain is so intense you can do nothing but lay there?

I am blessed to have a husband who understand my pain. A son who does whatever he can to help out and a God who is with me through it all. As Daisy lay curled up by me I prayed to God, "Please take this pain away." Have you ever just flat out told Him you don't want something? God is good to listen. He fills us with what we need to not only make it through, but to overcome.

My pain never eased up on Saturday, but did as I woke Sunday. I was able to go to church. Each movement hurt. I don't think others noticed my pain. I think I am getting pretty good at hiding it. You just learn to smile through and keep pressing forward. I refuse to give in and let it overcome me. I may have to rest more. I may have to slow down and know my limits, but I too know that I have a God who will give me victory through it all.

Living in chronic pain is something you grow in each day. You know it's there and sometimes it so intense it is just about all you can think about. But, you take one moment at a time. You focus on all you are thankful for. You set your mind above your pain. I just keep telling my pain, "You are not going to win today." Yes, this girl talks to her pain. I let it know that it has nothing on my God.

This might be my thorn in my side at the moment. It might be a thorn I do not want, but it one I have. Instead of having pity, I must give praise. That's right. We can turn any pity party into a praise party by just changing our attitude. It is all a choice. I can give in to my pain, but there is just too much to be thankful for. In all God has for me this is just a bump in the road. This is minor to the big picture. The big picture is all God can do through this illness in my life.

I am learning there are things I have no control over. So I must wrap myself in God's peace and comfort. He is with us my friends. Pain comes in all sizes and shapes. I know this dreaded illness effects many. It is one of those diseases that is different for everyone who suffers from it. My life is better from it. Yes, little by little I am learning to be thankful for all. Again, that is a moment by moment thing. As one moment I am praising God the other I am cursing this dreaded thing that touches my life with such pain.

How do you make it through each day? Is there something that has touched your life that was unexpected? I am finding those unexpected things warrant much praise because it is through all those things in which we cannot handle that God does His best work. We are work in progress. I must surrender my life in such a way that God can use every part of me for His glory and honor. In surrendering I find peace. A peace that leads through the valleys of pain into streams of hope.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." James 1:2-6

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are you as HOT as me?

What is happening? I wake in the middle of the night and I am drenched in sweat. Hello? I pull the blankets off and then five minutes later I am cold again. Am I losing my mind? One moment I am in tears over the smallest thing and then the next I am mad over something even smaller. Sleep? Are you kidding me? Who sleeps? I go to bed about 1:00 am and wake up at 5:00 am, but in between there sleep comes and goes. I wake feeling as though it's time for bed!  I never wear a coat anymore. I just wear layers. Why? I break out in a sweat when it's not hot! I am not looking forward for summer girls!

Okay ladies, I thought this happened when we hit 60. Oh, how wrong I have been. These mood swings and hot flashes, yikes. I feel like I am living in a constant fog. You know, driving on one those cool days where the heat is rising and the fog appears. Or wait, do I have that backwards? I can't remember what I did twenty minutes ago. My husband can ask me something about yesterday and I find myself looking at him like, "Are you kidding me, you want me to remember that?"

I mean really, is there some big surprise after menopause I don't know about? I don't want something else to sneak up on me unexpected. Gosh, being thirteen is bad enough. The day comes and Flo comes for a visit and you think your life is ending. It's not like PMS is a walk in the park. You have your children. Things finally begin to calm down and here again you have another unwanted visitor in your life. There is no room for hot flashes and mood swings. Just ask my husband who is constantly saying, "Honey, it's not hot in here." I don't even know what to name this visitor. I mean, gosh, how long does she plan on staying?

Being a woman is confusing enough. Again, here is change once more. I remember long ago this was a subject no one spoke of. I never remember my mom talking about this. It was almost as though it was shameful. Maybe we are just too open today and we talk about everything. But shouldn't we? When we share we know we are not alone. We know others are going through the same things as we are. It doesn't seem so scary when you know your not the only one. I love having girlfriends to chat with. Why do we feel like this needs to be hushed? It is part of life. It is part of who we are. Together we can face this with a positive attitude.

I had a friend share with me a few days ago that she thought she was getting old. She happens to be younger than me. LOL Now, that was just not nice at all. We have television and magazines to thank for that feeling. We hide our age. I am proud to share with others that I am 44 years old. I have no fear of getting older. Now ask me that that when I hit 50 and my answer might change. Hollywood shuns those actors who begin to age. It's like they are just pushed aside for younger, prettier women who are much thinner and taller. I must be honest. I wouldn't want to go back to twenty. This February 14th my husband and I will be married for twenty years. During these twenty years I have grown so much. I am not the same person I was when we married. I am wiser. I am softer. I am more beautiful inside and out. Yes, we can say we are beautiful. We should feel beautiful. We should be proud of who God created us to be. I will never be that size 2 model that happens to be 5'9. I am barely 5'4 and my legs are anything but long.

Just a few days ago while watching television I spoke out loud not meaning to. I said, "Wow, look at her. She is so pretty. She is tall and slender." My husband took my hand and shared how he thought I was beautiful. Of course, there were those tears once more. The mirror doesn't have to be an enemy. Why do we continually compare ourselves to others? We put ourselves down and think we are less beautiful than another. Why? It's one of Satan's tricks to crush our spirits and make us feel unworthy. You know exactly what I mean don't you? I challenged our Awana class to look into the mirror each day this week and find something beautiful that they like about themselves and one thing they can work on. Do you know how much easier it was for them to think of what they can improve on than what they like about themselves? What message are we giving to our daughters and sons if we ourselves cannot find beauty in us?

Ladies, change happens. Our hair turns gray and our body no longer looks like we are twenty. Cellulite hits our thighs just at the thought of ice cream sundays. Our knees get weak. Our backs get sore. Everything about us changes. But the amazing thing? We too change with our bodies. We can take care of this body that God gave us. It's the only one we will ever have. We can exercise and eat right. We can eat those veggies and stay away from sugar. We can walk instead of taking the stairs. We can enjoy every minute of our lives. We can look up to those who are older than us and be examples for those coming in age.

Carry your bible with you. Place it right next to your bed. When you wake up and kick those blankets off grab your bible. Read Psalm 139 and let God remind you just how beautiful you are in His sight. Be who you are. Be yourself! May we teach our daughters what real beauty is. It's not what size you wear or the color of your hair. It's not Hollywood. It's those quirky things that make you, YOU!! It's your heart and your imprint you leave on this world.

It's exciting to be a woman of change. Really, it is. We don't have to hide what's going on. All we have to do is just be us. Look just how much we have to share with others now. With each passing year hot has new definitions and as women we can make up our own as we go!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

He can make us whole

Psalm 34:18-19 "The Lord is close to the Brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time."

I love these verses. God is our Rescuer. He is there to throw out His arms and catch us when we are falling. Ever play that trust game? As you fall back, your friend stands behind you to catch you when you fall. For many this is a hard game to play. To trust someone is an honor and privilege. To trust you know without a doubt they are going to catch you and not allow you to fall. I am blessed with a few that I deeply trust with my life.

My husband is one of them. Other than Christ, he is the one I trust in this world the most. He has been there at the edge of the cliff with me. He has been there through the night. He has seen me at my worst and best, and still chooses to love me. But my husband is not my Savior. He has faults just as I do. He will let me down, just as I let him down. Friends will come and go. But our Lord will always be there. He is One who will never leave me nor will He forsake me. He is there to catch me when no one else is. He knows my deepest thoughts, struggles, and fears. I don't know why the Lord loves me, why He would want to save me, but He does and He did. He gave all for me. What else could He give more than His life to show me how much He loves me?

Now listen to Psalm 34:20, "For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken."

Wow, what encouraging words to hear from the God who loves us. As Christians we will suffer, we will struggle, but our spirits will not be broken. In this verse, bones refers to our entire being. There is nothing that can crush us. There is nothing that can destroy us when we have Christ with us.

John 19:36 "These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, Not one of His bones will be broken." When Christ was crucified, not one bone was broken on Him. When He was raised from the dead He was perfect. He carried the scars upon His hands, but nothing was broken.

Bring those two verses together and it makes a perfect picture doesn't it? As Christ was made whole, we to will be whole and not broken when we are found in Him. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest. Many times I have thought I could not go on and struggled with the fact that there was more to life. But as God brought me through, He has healed me of brokenness I felt, but in some places I carry those scars. Those scars that show His healing power over the strong holds in my life. At times we feel as though we will be destroyed, but God always provides a ram.

Psalm 34:6-10 "In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need."

There are times we just don't realize how much we need the Lord until the Lord is all we have. This world has nothing in comparison to what the Lord can do for us. He can meet each need. He can bring us from the depths of destruction. He can lift those clouds so we can see clearly. There was one dark night in my life as I lay in bed, tears streaming and I cried out to God for help. I felt Him take my hand and whisper to me, "I am here my daughter, be still." I felt His love and mercy wash over me, bringing me comfort and peace. When I woke that morning, my circumstances had not yet changed, but I knew without a doubt that whatever come, it was going to be alright.

We can't go wrong when we place our trust in Christ. Whatever is at your door today my friend, you can face it with Christ. He will meet your needs and He will bring you through to the other side. Life is hard, and sometimes it seems as though for no good reason, but through our pain we are never alone. There are no monsters under the bed, no bogey man in the closet that can touch us when Christ is surrounding us with His love. Find your encouragement in Him today. Look to Him for the answers.

Psalm 62:7 "My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me."

Psalm 145:18 "The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth."

Seek the Lord today to rescue you from your pain, hurt, discouragement, anger, all those things you are holding in. He will lift you out of that pit and set you high above the miry clay. When we cry out to Him, He hears and listens. He is working in our lives even when all is quiet. Don't allow this world to get you down, look to the Lord and be rescued so that you may have life again in Him!

What if?

Oh, how many times do we say, "If I had only....?" Those what if's add up surmountable in our lives. I could probably wrap my what if's around the world and tie them in a knot. That's what my stomach feels like at times. Like it is in a knot.

I know, I have let the past go. But yes, I still pick it up those what if's from time to time. Maybe "What if" is a catch phrase Satan uses to tie us in knots keeping us from being set free. A sweet friend, Eleanor Denise Irving made a statement today. Don't wait until your loved one's casket is ordered to bring them flowers. Don't kiss their cheek when it is cold. Don't wait until its too late to say how much you love them. Don't wait until they are gone to forgive them. Bring them flowers NOW! Kiss their cheek NOW! Tell them how much you love them NOW! Forgive them NOW!

What an impact those words can make on our hearts if we only take our eyes off ourselves and put others before us. We let birthdays pass by, holidays, and ceremonies. Day after day we let pass without a word of love or encouragement.  We allow stuff to control our time. We are busy with what we want to be busy with. Simple as that. I call my mom everyday. I know how blessed my mom is when she hears my voice. If it is only to just say, "Mom how are you feeling? Do you need anything?" She knows I am thinking of her. It warms her heart and mine just to hear her voice.

I just had a birthday pass by and I will share with you although it was an awesome birthday I carried hurt in my heart. Whether selfish or not it was still there. My mom made my day when she got me an ice cream cake. It happened to be my first one. My husband and son made me feel so very loved. Friends made my birthday one I will never forget. Even though my day was blessed it still hurt because of the ones who were not there. The ones I did not receive a call from. I kept waiting to hear from them, but I never did. I wondered if I would see them. But I never did. It was like it was just another day. To me it was a special day. Do you have those days? You know them. Those days where you wait for a call, a gift, or just a hug. I think we all do. I mean who do we want to be with when something special happens? Those very people we love.

I know, some of you might be thinking, "Gosh, Rob, you should just be thankful for those who did make your day special." I am grateful. My heart was overflowing with love. I had a friend, Sandra, just completely make my day beautiful with her thoughtful ways.  But I think you know how I feel. I try so hard to make others feel special. I try to let others know just how much I love them. When that isn't returned it hurts. It down right stinks. All we really want is to be loved and accepted.

I guess I learned at a young age with losing my dad to cancer never to take one person for granted. Never to let a birthday or any day go by without letting someone know how you feel. We often think it's no big deal. We use the excuse that we are so busy and don't have time. Why do we wait until it is too late? Is it really so hard to say, "I'm sorry or I forgive you"? How many times do we have the chance to open up and say, "I love you", but we let it pass? We just think assume they know. But many times they just don't know. Let me be honest. When we don't hear it we miss it. When we don't hear it we think we are forgotten. It is just a blessing to hear from those you love.

My husband texted me from work this morning to say, "I love you." That made my day! You should have seen the smile on my face. My son tells me everyday he loves me.  I cannot change my past regrets, but I can let them go and move forward today making a change. A change at never taking one day for granted ever again. At the end of my life I don't want to look back and have a list of "What if's."

What about you? Is there someone who has been waiting to hear, "I'm so sorry?" Maybe someone in you life needs to know how much you really do love them. Hearing I love you is priceless. There is no greater gift than giving our time. I mean, think about it. What are you thankful for? Too often we allow the things of this world to far out way the people in our lives. Does no one think it is meaningful to spend time with others anymore?

So why share that? I wish my dad was here for Sunday dinners. I miss those very dinners I took for granted as a kid. We just really never think. We spend time doing what we want to spend time doing. I think of the elderly folks in the nursing homes that fill our country. Some get visitors daily while others have no one. Their families don't even want to be bothered with knowing when they pass. My friends that is sad.

We are so self involved that we simply don't take the time to think about others. We show up at funerals and think, "Wow, when was the last time I saw them?" We sit and ponder over what we talked about last and how much we miss them. We wonder where we should send flowers to or if we should send food.  Instead, what if we could show up having peace in our heart knowing we gave our time and our heart? We should live our life with no regrets. None.

Don't allow today to pass without letting go of self and reaching out to someone you love. Someone who loves you. Someone who wants to spend time with you. It is an honor to have someone say, "I want to spend time with you." Why is it so easy for us to say, "I'm busy." What if we lived in such a way that we thought about life with meaning and purpose? What if we woke each day wondering who we could bless? What if we gave more and took less? What if we simply just let stuff go and let others know? Now there are some what if's to ponder.


Women who give all. Women who stand out. Women who do not live in fear, but in victory. Women who seek God daily and strive to be all they were created to be. Women who are content, but searching for more than this world has to offer. These are the characteristics of a Proverbs31 Woman. I am so happy that Leah DiPascal made time to stop by and chat with us. Leah is one of those women. As you will see she is living for the Lord with passion and purpose. When we place the Lord first in our lives life is exciting. We expect the unexpected. We set our eyes not on the troubles we face, but the God who gives victory through them. We Look past ourselves and see God in all His majesty. As women we face many different struggles. We may be women wearing many hats, but we are clothed in Christ Jesus. That makes all the difference to living each day with purpose and finding joy in all circumstances that are surrounding us. Leah gives us great insight on just how to surrender. When we surrender and place God first we then will find success daily through Him. Sit back, get cozy and be blessed.

(Robin) Please tell us a little about yourself

(Leah) I grew up in the wonderful town of New Orleans, Louisiana where my daily nutritional intake consisted of spicy and delicious Cajun food! Nine years after marrying my college sweetheart and giving birth to our first son, my husband came home one day and say “Honey, we’re moving to Tampa, Florida” and that’s just what we did.

His job took us to Florida for eight wonderful years and during that time our second son was born. After moving once again, we landed in the Queen City of Charlotte, N.C. which is where we call home.

I’m so privileged to be a part of the most amazing organization called Proverbs 31 Ministries and serve as executive assistant to Renee Swope. Yes, I LOVE my job J Actually, it’s really a calling and everyday I’m completely blown away but what God is doing through this darling group of gals who love Jesus more than chocolate.

(Robin) I would love for you to share your testimony.
(Leah) Gosh, it would take a book (or two) to share just a few of my stories. I actually believe that God gives us many testimonies throughout our life to share with others along the way.

I’d have to say that the most difficult time in my life was when our youngest son was two years old. I was very involved with church, leading women’s bible study and couples study with my husband, working over 70 hours a week, and trying to be the best stay-at-home mom ever by setting up an office in our house so I could be with my boys.

After years of pushing the envelope in every area of my life and not creating boundaries or balance, I developed anxiety induced depression and was diagnosed with Chronic Anxiety Disorder. The story is long and I won’t bore you with the details but for two years I struggled with this disorder and every single day I begged God to heal me.

The journey was hard and the process was painful but in the midst of it all God was refining me and stripping away the junk in my life that needed to be stripped. By His absolute grace He completely restored me and made me brand new and improved!

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Leah) This is an easy one. I’d have to say that maintaining balance in my life is the most challenging. My goal each day is to put God first, my husband second, our children third, ministry next, and all other commitments or obligations follow after that.

(Robin) What has been the most challenging aspect of being a mother and the most rewarding?
(Leah) In this season of life, I’d have to say that the most challenging aspect of being a mom is following through when it comes to discipline. I can come up with some great consequences if the family rules are broken. By the time one of those rules have been tested, I’ve already forgotten what the consequences were that I created in the first place.

Maybe I should buy one of those whiteboards and write everything down like my sister does. J

My greatest reward is watching my two sons develop into Godly young men. It’s absolutely worth all the hard work that goes into parenting boys.

(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake if we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Leah) I’m a people pleasure by nature. In the past, saying “yes” to something I should have said “no” to has left me with an over-committed schedule, a frustrated family, and a stressed out me. It’s part of that whole “balancing” thing I talked about early.

I’ve learned from my mistakes that I can’t please everyone all the time. I’ve overcome my need to always please others by choosing to pray first before making a commitment. It takes some discipline but produces great results!

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Leah) Matthew 6:33 – Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

(Robin) Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the age of eighteen to prepare you for life ahead?
(Leah) Fear less, trust God more, and don’t take yourself so seriously.

(Robin) With a new year beginning what do you hope to accomplish for this year?(Leah) For years I’ve wanted to go back to school and get a degree in Theology or Religious Arts. This was never possible with my schedule but now with online courses available, I’m hoping to start pursuing that dream this year – even it means one class at a time. J

(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Leah) Loosing someone is so painful. My niece died when she was only 5 years old and it was so tragic for our entire family.

I think it’s important to allow yourself to go through the grieving process and seek Christian counseling for help if needed. I also believe it’s real important not to isolate yourself from others. Allow God to comfort you through His word and through loved ones/friends that can be His arms to hold you and His feet to walk by your side.

(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least you can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing in your life?
(Leah) The Lord is teaching me to trust Him more in every area of my life. He continues to reveal Himself and the plan He has for me as I spend time with Him each morning.

(Robin) What empowering advice would you give to someone facing adversity?
(Leah) One of my favorite scripture verses that I’ve memorized and have hidden in my heart is:

Trust in the LORD (Our Covenant God) with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

When I’m facing adversity in my life I rely on God’s truth to speak to my heart when everything around me says otherwise. I’m learning to trust God above all else.

(Robin) In your legacy what do you hope to leave behind?
(Leah) I want to leave a legacy of love:

Love for Jesus

Love for God’s Word

Love for my family

Love for the body of Christ

Well now I am ready to face the day. What about you? Is there something Leah shared that blessed your heart today? A nugget to carry away and keep in your pocket? My friends, when we are living honestly and sharing our precious moments of our highs and those teaching moments of our lows we grow as women. There is nothing in this life that we cannot learn from. Why not share, open our hearts and learn together? God reveals Himself to us in many ways. I cherish each woman who stops by. God is revealing so much to me through these ladies who choose to be willing vessels for the Lord. Take time out today to stop by Leah's Website and see all that she is doing. If you touched by something special today please share with Leah just how much her inspiring words brought blessings to your heart.

Now for a little fun!! Leah is going to give a way a gift card to Starbucks!! WooHoo, now doesn't that sound awesome? Here is what you do. Leave a comment here and then pop on over to Leah's blog and share with her your favorite scripture verse. Sound easy enough? Leah will pick the winner and I will announce the blessed person on their way to Starbucks to grab a yummy coffee!! Blessings sweet friends.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Looking for that perfect bible for your young tween girl? I have found one for you. Tyndale has just released the iShine Bible for young tween girls. This is an awesome bible. It is designed in pinks with a  leather like feel. It is compact and easy to carry. This is one they will enjoy picking up daily. It contains three sections. Value. Identity. Purpose. V.I.P!! Get it? You are a V.I.P to God and He wants you to be inspired by His word. In the value section it asks the question, "What matters to you?" Tweens talk about so many topics. Clothes, friendhships and much more. How you act toward others matters to God. In section identity it asks, "Who are you?" Who we are in Christ matters. It's not just about who you are, but WHOSE you are. In section purpose it asks, "Why are you here?" Have you ever felt like you don't know what to do because your overwhelmed? Here are answers just for you. It is written in New Living Translation so it is easy to understand and when a young girl picks up this Bible she will be excited to read through the pages and isn't that really what Christ wants us to do? To know Him more? Let your tween grow in faith by digging in to this totally awesome bible made just for the princess she is!! There is also an iShine Bible for tween boys too.

This was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.


Looking for that perfect bible for your young tween? I have found one for you. Tyndale has just released the iShine Bible for young tween boys. This is an awesome bible. It is a navy color/orange leather like feel. It is compact and easy to carry. This is one they will enjoy picking up daily. It contains three sections. Value. Identity. Purpose. V.I.P!! Get it? You are a V.I.P to God and He wants you to be inspired by His word. In the value section it asks the question, "What matters to you?" Tweens talk about so many topics. Music, video games and much more. How you act toward others matters to God. In section identity it asks, "Who are you?" Who we are in Christ matters. It's not just about who you are, but WHOSE you are. In section purpose it asks, "Why are you here?" Have you ever felt like you don't know what to do because your overwhelmed? Here are answers just for you. It is written in New Living Translation so it is easy to understand and when a young man picks up this Bible he will be excited to read through the pages and isn't that really what Christ wants us to do? To know Him more? Let your tween grow in faith by digging in to a cool bible that will grab their attention!! There is also an iShine Bible for tween girls too.

This was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Needing a message of hope?

Sitting here in my rocking chair today I opened my bible looking for a message of hope. I found one. Shocked? Don't be. The bible is filled with messages of hope. Hope for God's children. See, today my little granddaughter is visiting a genetic specialist. Without sharing all the details it is very scary to say the least. It could be nothing. It could be something. We are praying it is nothing. I am choosing to believe it is nothing because there is nothing that God cannot handle.

In 2 Kings 7:1-2 it says, "Elisha replied, 'Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and ten quarts of barely grain will cost only one piece of silver.' The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, 'That couldn't happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!' But Elisha replied,' You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won't be able to eat any of it!"

What unbelief of this man. Is there no hope with him? Has he not seen God move? I read this over and over again, and asked myself, "How many times have felt as this man?" Oh, how many times I have doubted. But even in my doubt, God shows Himself. Even in my shame, He still blesses. Why? Because He is God. No matter if we choose to believe or not, He is still God and He will still bring glory and honor to His Father.

See, this man thought he was being wise. But in his foolish words he did not realize God had already opened the windows of heaven. Listen to this next verse! Just think of the blesses he would miss out on just because he chose not to believe. I pray I do not get to heaven and witness before me gifts the Lord had for me that I missed because of my unbelief and doubt.

Genesis 7:11-12 "When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights."

Think of those people Noah tried to warn. Think how long he spoke to others trying to get them to see the mighty promises of God. He tried to get them to turn from their wicked ways and leave this world behind and follow God. They choose to not listen. They choose unbelief. The door soon closed and they were not allowed to enter because of their unbelief. How sad that God is right in front of us and we still choose to close our eyes to His love and hope. The story still doesn't end here. Listen once more.

Malachi 7:10 "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies."

God invites us to believe Him. He seeks us to walk with Him. He choose to give all so that we could see how much He loves us. He will open the windows of heaven for us. For those who choose to see and yes, even for  those who choose not to see as God wants them. But as the rains come, as the door closes they too will understand then that God is God. Hope brings life. Hope stirs our hearts to wake up and choose to see the Son shining even on a cloudy day.

Hebrews 11:1-3 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."

Don't allow fear to destroy your hope. Don't allow circumstances to disrupt your walk with Christ. Choose to believe. Choose hope beyond all shadow of doubt. Put your faith in the One who chooses to believe in you.


The Lioness Rising is a bold attempt to bring women into their full power. To unleash all we are and to be all we were created to be. Lisa begins with a dream, a vision, she has and shares how this has impacted her life. Throughout the book she brings stories together that teach women to rise above and take control of their lives. She brings scripture together with many stories of her own life to teach inspire women to overcome and reach our capabilities by acknowledging we are daughter's of the King of kings. We are to wake up and change our world. This book leads us to empower ourselves to dive into all God has for us. We were created to do more, be more and seek more. She teaches us that we should be the best version of me. The whole book is comparing the lion world to women in God's world. As the lioness is strong and powerful she still knows how to be gentle and quiet. The more I allow God in my life, the stronger I will be as a women of God.  I want Him to have control of my life and take the lead. There were parts of this book that were really interesting and others that I found lacking. I found this book was more about women gaining power than submitting and surrendering to God.

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for it's review.

Passionate. EDGY. Relatable. POWERFUL. Funny.

This is what people are saying about the voice and message of LISA BEVERE, international speaker, best-selling author, and co-host of The Messenger television program, which broadcasts in more than two hundred countries.

In her unique, transparent style, Lisa unpacks God’s Word, revealing truth most people have never encountered before. Her personal stories touch and empower lives. And as audiences and readers experience how Lisa Bevere’s heart breaks over social injustice near and far, they are deeply moved by her call to help people who need the hand of God in their lives.

When she’s not changing the world, Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table with family. She enjoys riding her Ninja motorcycle with the love-of-her-life—husband John Bevere—and spending time with their four sons, stunning daughter-in-law, and grandbaby. Find out more about Lisa at and

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I was recently just searching on the computer for that perfect bag. I came across and was amazed! I know, I am slow to these Internet things, but I had never heard of esty before. As I began looking at all the amazing bags I came across HurlyBurlyBags!!!

Friends, Sara, hand makes the most beautiful bags. I love my bag she made. It's roomy and has this old feel to it that is just charming. I will never again by a bag from a retailer. From now on I am sold on hand made charms like Sara makes.

I found many favorites and will share a few here for you to check out too, but make sure you check out HurlyBurlyBags. You just might find something for yourself or as a gift for that person who loves bags!!

We can find hope through the touch of another

Sometimes there are days where we just don't know what to say. We are surrounded by things we simply don't understand. Life is hard. We have mixed feelings about things that happen and are not sure how to express ourselves. We see loss. Death occurs. Under quietness it reveals a pain. Struggle faces our friends. Our families are lost. We are forever searching for that perfect day. That perfect peace.

What do we say when a friend shares they have cancer? Where are the words for one who loses his wife? How do explain to our children when we lose our job? What happens when grandma can no longer see? There is no money to buy those needed medications. Time slips away. Day by day we dredge on through in wonderment at how our lives came to be this way. We didn't see that trial coming. Sickness was not on our list of accomplishments today. We place our father in a nursing home. We search for our next meal and some, some search for a warm place to lay their head. So many are abused each day. Babies are taken from this world. Young people are caught in drug wars as we fight our own flesh. What do we say?

Sometimes what a friend needs is to just for us to simply listen. As words may not find a place to bring comfort a touch will. We don't have to pretend to know all the answers as to why. We just have to be real. Sometimes all we can say is, "That really sucks!" We can utter the words, "I am so sorry." We can share how much we understand. But more importantly we just need to be there. Just to have a friend reach out to you and give you a hug. We need to love like Jesus.

I admit I have cried out to God asking Him, "Why Lord?" There are things we may never understand until heaven. So, what do we do today? We believe. We trust. We hope. We place our faith in One greater. In One who does know. One who understands. One who knows our deep pain and frustrations.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Our bodies are yet the shells of what is inside. The heart of man. I spend time focusing on the things that I can see, but cannot control. I need to focus on the things which I cannot see, heaven. We were not made for this home, but we have an eternal home waiting for us. In this life if we focus on Christ we will one day see Him face to face and the things that we spent so much time worrying about here will seem so very little.

Why do we get so worried about those things in which we cannot change? We cannot control most of what happens in our life. As I leave my home I can control my car, but I am not in control of those other drivers on the road. As I get in my car I must simply trust God. I must let go of all fear, give Him the wheel of my life and trust where He is taking me.

God is working in all those areas which we cannot see. Our vision cannot reach all the four corners of this earth as God's can.  Do I understand everything He allows? No. But, I am not so sure I want to. I didn't always have that thought. When my dad died I wanted to know why. That was something this young nineteen year old did not understand. My friends, I still don't. But I have come to the place where I have to let it go and trust God in all His ways. Even if I did know the purpose or the reasoning behind it, would it make it hurt any less? Really? No, I would still miss my dad and want him here.

"Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." James 5:11

Why did my husband lose his job? Well now that one I do think I know. Sometimes God does show us the reasoning behind such struggles. It was a deep lesson for our family to learn. We were to be content. To be humble. God has done a work in my husband and I. We are not the same people we were two years ago. Our hearts are even bigger and our faith has grown. We no longer want control, but to trust God with everything. He has shown Himself to us over and over again. Friends, faith is something that grows over time. The more valleys we go through the more we want to see the mountain top. We learn the only way to rise to the mountain is to settle our hearts and rely solely on Jesus Christ and His strength.

It is not for us to carry the weight of yesterday. We are not to hoard anxiety. We are not to board the plane of pity. Worry is not equivalent to faith and in self we cannot see Christ to His full extent.  We can simply wake each day and make a choice to find God in everything. To seek Him in the dark pit that has encircled us. We must take off that coat of pain and replace it with the covering of Christ.

"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:29-40

We cannot change everything. We cannot fix what is broken. We must trust the One who can. He is our Redeemer. He is our Restorer. He is the One who can being complete healing. His way is not always what our way would be, but the thing is, He sees the whole picture. He sees past today into tomorrow. His sight reaches the Promise Land of Heaven. And isn't that where we are bound? That is our destination. This earth will try to take everything away from us. Satan will try to steal all from our lives that we hold so dear. Friends, if we have sealed our heart with Jesus, nothing else matters. There is nothing on this earth that can touch us and take away what is really important. Our faith. Faith is bigger than any cancer. Faith is stronger than any hurricane. It triumphs over all. We can overcome if we just believe in what is bigger than us.

"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:8-10

When there is only one petal left on the flower it is the perfect picture of hope. You can still see the beauty. There is beauty of yesterday still holding on and the promise of tomorrow just by one seed. That one seed can grow into thousands. Although we may never understand what happens each moment of every day, there is one who has purpose in each petal that reaches the toward the Son.


What a ride this book is!! If you love Dee Henderson, you will love Irene Hannon. She is awesome at bringing the reader in and bringing life to a story. Jake Taylor is someone I would love to meet. He is a U.S Marshal. He has been through war and knows the pain of loss. Jake was widowed by his young wife and has struggled to move forward. He has returned to St. Louis and is now watching over, Liz Michaels, a federal judge, who is in danger. Liz is a workaholic who has kept much of her life a secret. Her sister has been murdered and now the killer might be after Liz. The Marshall's are on a hunt to find the killer and Jake is ready to protect Liz at all costs. But, a few short years before she was married to his best friend. A friend who has died and Jake isn't sure of the details of his death. He is harboring resentful feelings toward Liz, but that is because of what his best friend has shared over the years. Does she have another story to tell? As Jake is protecting Liz, he too is protecting his heart. He is beginning to see her beauty and is questioning all that resides in his heart. This book is filled with suspense and romance. This book holds so much!! Forgiveness, letting go and moving forward. As both these characters try to release themselves of yesterday's pain we get the front row seat in watching God move in their lives bringing peace and new beginnings.

This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm’s Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Have you ever thought about your purpose in this life? Maybe you have questioned what your gifts are and just how are you to know what they are. Each of us are created uniquely by a God who has a specific purpose that only we can fulfill. Doesn't that just make you feel loved? It does me. I have asked these same questions at times. If you are longing to make a difference. If you are looking for your purpose this book is for you. I can honestly say, "I loved this book." From the very first chapter Cymbala had my attention and held it all the way through the very last page. He teaches us through God's word how He can transform us and bring us right where we are to be. We don't have to walk through life confused. We can find all we are to be just by having an intimate conversation with Christ daily. I enjoyed the stories of Danial, Ruth and Joshua, along with so many more. Cymbala brings to light those who didn't fit the profile, but made a mark for God's kingdom through following Him and trusting in all He is. We can have more joy, more peace and more contentment in knowing the will of God for our lives. As I read through this book you cannot help but highlight sections that speak right to your heart and write in the margins. This is one I will return to for future reference. It is filled with beautiful personal stories as well as stories of those Pastor Cymbala has known through the years. Being Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle has brought many blessings. He even shares the story of his personal journey getting there. God gives us assignments and we are to seek His will. This is a great book for a small group study or to give as a gift for one who is just starting out on their Christian journey. Challenging and thought provoking.

This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.

Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle for more than twenty-five years. He is also the author of the bestselling titles Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Fresh Faith; Fresh Power; Breakthrough Prayer; The Life God Blesses; The Church God Blesses; and The Promise of God’s Power. He lives in New York City with his wife, Carol, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Author Website:

Dean Merrill, former publishing executive with Focus on the Family and International Bible Society, is author or coauthor of 31 books, including The God Who Won't Let Go and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church. He and his wife live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Author Website:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

'Dem Bones, 'Dem Bones, 'Dem Old Dry Bones

In reading our Sunday School we learned about the Valley of Dry Bones. This is quite a fascinating story my friends. I have read these words before, but today as I read over the scripture once again, it really did come to life for me. This story comes from Ezekiel 37.

Here Ezekiel is having a vision. God is calling him to speak to a scattered group of old bones. Old, dried up bones. For me, I think I might have to pinch myself to make sure what I was seeing and hearing was true. I might even run the other way. It is like the scene of a horror film. I mean, can you imagine standing here watching these old bones come together. You hear them clanking about. Flesh becoming attached to bone. Lets read a bit before I get too far ahead of myself.

Ezekiel 37:1-8 "The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then He asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones become living people again?' 'O Sovereign Lord,' I replied, 'You alone know the answer to that.' Then He said to me, 'Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, 'Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'" So I spoke this message, just as He told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them."

Does that just set your feet a blaze? Wow! What a mighty God we have! How can we read that and not be excited. When all hope is lost. When we feel as though we are at the end. When we find ourselves in the bottom of a pit, God is there. The question isn't so much as, "Can God bring these bones back to life, but will He?" The people of this time have witnessed miracles. They know God's power. They know He can bring man from death to life. This is a drastic picture here.

First, we have Ezekiel who is following God. He is obeying His every word. If God had called me to speak to a group of old bones I might look at Him and say, "Really God, are you sure?" I think I would be questioning myself more than Him. God can move all on His own. He doesn't need us to complete His work. This was not Ezekiel, this was God in all His glory. So we can learn, when God calls, answer. It's gonna be something bigger than we can ever imagine!

Second, these bones were scattered everywhere across the land. Ezekiel is transported right smack in the middle of these bones. They have been dead for some time. God brings these bones back together. He reconstructs them. He is in the business of reconstruction, isn't He? I have seen Him do so in my life. Here is a vision for others to witness. For others to see just what God can do. When we think all is lost. When we are ready to give up. When we think we are in the bottom of a pit, God is there in the midst of our sorrow. In Matthew 5:4 "God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Just what mourning is He speaking of? Could it be the mourning over our sin? What does sin do to us? It dries up our heart. It hardens every part of us. When we repent and come to Christ with humble hearts He will forgive and restore us. Isaiah 61:1-3 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His glory."

No one likes discipline. But God's discipline is out of love. Just as a parents discipline is. He wants to see us be all He has created us to be. He wants us to serve and not be about ourselves, but Him and His kingdom. Sometimes, even for this stubborn girl, it takes more than a slap on the hand. Sadly, it can take me a few lessons before I really understand. Why is that? I want what I want when I want it. Now, if I live my life totally surrendered to God, it will always be about Him and it won't take me fifteen lessons to learn. I will hear His word and allow it to wash over me. Ever read your bible and think, "Ooh, so and so needs tor read this?" Um, if the Lord has sent us to that scripture, He is speaking to us my friends. Sometimes we don't want to think He has to correct us, but that is all part of growth. That is our Christian walk. In our intimate journey with Him we must be willing to listen and obey each command.

Ezekiel 37:10-14 "So I spoke the message as He commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet-a great army. Then He said to me, 'Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, 'We have become old, dry bones-all hope is gone. Our nation is finished. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O My people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O My people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!'"

Simply amazing!! What a word for us. We see once again God's promise to restore His people when we will humble ourselves. 2 Chronicles 7:14 "Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land." Don't you love it when God brings it all together for us to understand?

I will end with Revelation 7:11 "But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. This is the story of the two witness'. They were dead for three days and God breathed life back into them. God restored them. He does this over and over in scripture. He breathes life into us when we think all is gone. He completes us with His everlasting love. We can find victory in God. We must lay our sin at His feet and allow surrender to happen. In doing so we find new life.

Our Sunday School teacher, Ms. Joy, left us with a question. What happened to all those who rose again? What did this great army of people do? I would love to hear your thoughts as I study this myself today.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's a race without hurdles?

"Do you see what this means-all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running-and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with god-He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through-all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as His children?" Hebrews 12:1-5 The Message

Do those words excite you as they do me? WooHoo! We have a God on our side who paved the way for His children. Remember Danial Boone? That guy who ventured out into the wilderness to pave a way for those to follow? Think he was ever afraid? Think he had days of terrible struggle? I cannot imagine what it was like to pave the Wilderness Road for hundreds upon hundreds to follow. He was at the forefront. He knew the path and he knew just how hard it was. He didn't expect anyone to do anything he himself was not willing to do.

My friends we have a Savior who paved the to the cross for us. There is nothing we face that He has not faced. Can we really expect not to have struggle? It is through that very struggle that our faith increases and God creates in us, His children, a desire to follow His path. We don't have to stay in the wilderness for forty years. We can trust in Him and stay within the boundaries He has for us. It's when we get off on our own that we lose our way and we lose site of our path before us.

God gave the Promise Land to the Israelites. It was not an easy road getting there. They struggled. Most of their struggle was their own doing. God opens the door, but He expects us to follow every direction. It is when we listen fully that we can see what is promised ahead. We don't have to fear the road before us as long we know it's the road God has called us to be on.

What about those very veterans who have paved a way for us to have freedom? The road before them was not an easy one. We can look to Martin Luther King Jr. He paved the way for us to have equality. So many have stepped out. They have made a way. They are examples for us. We don't have to have a pity party when things get hard. We need to stand in faith looking to our Savior who have paved our way home. He is giving us the promise land of heaven. All we have to do is follow the path before us. In our following Him others will see the road we are on. They too will want to join us. Then we can walk this road together, paving the way for those who will come after us. Then we too will cheer from heavens door.

When things get difficult all we must do is focus on our Lord. See His path and all that was in front of Him. He could have given up, but He never wavered. Whatever is in our way, God will make a way for us to go over it, under it or around it, but there are those times the only way is to go right through it, but He will be there every step of the way with us. We never have to face anything alone. He is our Guide. He is our Forever North. Don't lose sight of Him. For it is He who will guide us home. Before we get home we must finish our race here. Our road has been paved. Now we must be willing to show others the way.

Faith is a verb

"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, 'Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!' and walk off without providing so much as a coat or cup of soup- where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, 'Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I''ll handle the works department.' Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove." James 2:14-18 The Message

So often it's easy for us to tell others to pray. But how much time do we spend in prayer? We tell others to keep the faith and trust in God. But when something happens in our life where is that faith we speak of? We like to say we are Christians, but where is that Christ-like attitude? Oh, sure, we are there doing works, but for whom? Are we praying before each act? Is it that we are called or are we just stepping in so others will know the job was done by us? Now, there is a thought to ponder. We are human after all. We like when others know we have made an effort. How many acts do we really do in secret?

All those works we do outside of faith? If they are not in faith are they really for God and His kingdom? So many think they will find themselves at heaven's gates because they lived a good life and helped others. They think that doing for others is what Christianity is all about. That is only a portion. You must also carry faith. My friends, the only way to heaven's door is by the Father. The only way to get to Him is through having faith in Jesus Christ.

On the other side of that how many times do we sit back and say we have faith, but never move in that faith? We have people coming to church to be served. The church is the people not the building. We are there to worship and to serve God. In our faith He will light the way and give us the tools we need to work. We work under Him. We allow the light to shine upon Him. In faith we want to serve. In serving, really serving for others, we find Jesus. We see Him move and therefore our faith grows. We cannot just say we are a Christian and sit back comfortably. We must put our faith into action. Love is a verb. Faith is also a verb. In our faith we love our Savior. And in the same love we have a hope in Him that lives on for tomorrow. It is a hope we pass on.

When we see another in need we must do more than share with them to have faith. Maybe God has placed us in their path to provide a need. My pastor says, "A need seen is an assignment given." Isn't that real faith? Putting action to our words and words to our actions by giving God all the glory. Faith and works are inseparable. We must express our faith. That is how we will be a light to the world. It is through our works and the faith we have knowing God will complete them through us that others will see Christ.

Friday, January 21, 2011

UNPLANNED by ABBY JOHNSON with Cindy Lambert

Ever feel like your riding the fence? Maybe trying to understand each side and not quite getting it? Abby Johnson knows that exact feeling. Unplanned is the story of Abby Johnson as Director of Planned Parenthood. Abby shares her own personal journey and what a journey it has been. Ever think God can't use you? He can and will for His glory. He used Abby to bring glory and honor to Him today. He was working and planning in her life when she didn't think He was watching. As I opened the first pages of this book tears did not stop falling. It simply broke my heart. Abby shares her life before Planned Parenthood and all the facets that lead up to her working there. She shares intimate details of her work and just how it not only effected her, but the impact it left on others who walked through the gates of the center. Abby had good intentions. She wanted to help women. She wanted to serve with passion. She shares how she left the center and what her life is now. I love seeing how God works all for His good. He was bringing people around Abby  together while they thought they were apart. Being Pro-Life myself, there were parts of this book that broke my heart. I was broken for Abby and those around her. She knows what it is like on both sides of the fence. She knows the fear and heart ache personally. For so long she used the word fetus until she too was carrying her child. Then all things began to change, but things really changed for her at the first ultrasound abortion she took part in. She is sharing now to make a difference. To bring awareness. If we could only come together at the fence and meet with love for all the children and women instead of creating evil we could bring new life to those who are searching for answers. My hat goes off to Abby for sharing details of her life that she doesn't have to. But by grace, she knows that this book has purpose and will touch all those who read it. This is a must read. No matter where you stand on this issue, this is a book that is well written and brings us right to the heart of the matter. It took me a while to make it through some parts. It is a difficult read, but many journeys are. Abby's journey is not over yet and she is still bringing change and awareness to ending abortion. Praise God for those who are not afraid to stand for the unborn.  May the Lord bless you Abby for being so honest and sharing your heart.

This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review along with Focus on the Family.

Abby Johnson:
Holds a B.S. in psychology from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in counseling from Sam Houston State University. She was hired by Planned Parenthood in 2005 and progressed to the position of community services director and health educator, where she served as liaison between the community and Planned Parenthood as media correspondent. Later promoted to health center director, Johnson ran both the family planning and abortion programs. In 2009 she left Planned Parenthood and joined the local Coalition for Life as a volunteer. She continues her volunteer activities and now works on projects with the National 40 Days for Life Campaign. She and her husband, Doug, have a young daughter and live in Texas.


I am honored to have Karen Ball with us today. I fell in love with Karen's writing after reading, "A Test of Faith." It is such a beautiful book filled with deep meaning. As an aspiring author with hopes to publish my own book one day, Karen, is one those inspirations for me. You can find Karen on her Facebook Page . This is where I see her funny posts and all her wisdom she shares. You too can visit Karen's website to learn more about all she is doing. Plus find all those amazing books she is gifted at writing. In asking questions I pray over each one. I want to ask questions that really get to the heart of a person. I asked Karen a question that she graciously answers about motherhood. It is my prayer that you will get to know Karen a little better today. Maybe even learn a few things you didn't know. She seems like one of those girls you want on a shopping trip. I think Karen would be a hoot to be with and I too think she would be the friend you would want by your side. Well, sit back and enjoy our chat. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get ready to be blessed. Maybe one those vanilla iced coffees from McDonald's. LOL Those are my new favs!!

(Robin) Please tell us a little about yourself
(Karen) I'm a PK and PGK (preacher's kid and preacher's grandkid), who grew up in a family where we spent most of our time laughing together. My dad always made his family his first ministry, so my two brothers and I never felt as though we were pushed aside by the needs of the church. In fact, the folks from the church Dad pastored (for 45 years!) are my pseudo aunts, uncles, and cousins. I've always loved telling stories, reading stories, writing stories. My mom was a teacher, so she and Dad both encouraged my love of reading and writing. Becoming a novelist and an editor was a natural outgrowth of that encouragement. I love Oregon and animals of all kinds, and have been married to Don for 31 years (Dec. 21st was our anniversary!)

(Robin) I would love for you to share your testimony
(Karen) I don't have a dramatic testimony. I grew up seeing true faith lived out in my home, so it was an organic part of who I was and who I've become. I can't tell you when I accepted the Lord. He's always been a part of my life, and I've always loved him. My faith has deepened as an adult, of course, especially as I went through some really tough times in my marriage and in losing my mom in 2002 to diabetes.

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Karen) Two things:

First, understanding that submission in marriage isn't a 4-letter word, but an act of obedience and love toward Christ. It took me a lot of years, a lot of pain, and many counseling sessions to finally see that the One I refused to submit to wasn't my husband, but my Lord. When I finally started doing that--when I focused on doing what I was supposed to do instead of on what Don was supposed to do, when I placed my "rights" on the altar and served Christ rather than myself--it changed everything. When I didn't feel respect or even love for Don, I put my focus on Christ, loving Don as His representative in our home. And doing that rekindled my love and respect for my husband.

Second, figuring out who I am as a woman without my mom. Her death was a terrible loss for our family, and it took me several years to get past the loss and grief. And anger. It just didn't seem right that someone as wonderful as my mom should die when there were so many awful people who seem to live forever. God had to do some serious work on my heart and spirit, but He finally helped me past all that. I still miss her--so much!--but now I'm grateful for the time we had with her.

(Robin) What has been the most challenging aspect in being a mother and the most rewarding?
(Karen) LOL. Um...not having any children to mother? Seriously, all I wanted growing up was to be a wife and mother, so not having children was a terribly difficult thing to deal with. Especially since it wasn't because I couldn't have children. Don suffered terrible abuse as a child and when it came time to start a family, he just wasn't willing to do so. He wasn't willing to risk continuing the pattern of abuse. It took a long time to reconcile my heart to the fact that I wouldn't never know what it was to hold my own child, to see our children grow up and become amazing adults. It's been the greatest regret I have. God has helped me to accept it, and for that I'm grateful.

(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake is we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Karen) Ha! Don will agree with me on this: getting married! Don't get me wrong. Don and I love each other, but we went into marriage with more foolishness than wisdom, and paid a heavy price. Our backgrounds were so different, and we are so very different. It's taken a lot of work--and almost 15 years of counseling!--to reach a place of peace together.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Karen) Perseverance. Not giving up when the going gets ugly. Holding fast to the truth, no matter what people around you are saying. Don and I both had people telling us we should just give up on our marriage, but we knew that wasn't what God was telling us. And I'm so glad we held on. Though we're still very different, and though we still butt heads at times, I wouldn't give up who we are together--and who I've become because of all I've learned.

(Robin) Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the age of eighteen to prepare you for life ahead?
(Karen) Run! Seriously, I'd tell my young self to spend more time in the Word and less time wishing things were different. To be more careful with money--that "shopping therapy" feels good in the moment but costs dearly in the long-run. And to remember that there's wonder everywhere because we have a Father-God who loves to delight His children. All you need to do is keep your heart and spirit open.

(Robin) With a new year beginning, what do you hope to accomplish this year?
(Karen) I don't make goals for the year. Instead, I ask God each day what He wants me to accomplish, then focus on doing that.

(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Karen) It will get better. It may take a long time, but it really does get better. It took almost three years for me to be able to talk about Mom without crying. I still remember when that shifted, and I found myself smiling and laughing when I talked about her. But let it take the time it takes. You can't rush recovery from loss. Don't get down on yourself when the grief strikes. It still hits me at times, and it's been almost eight years now. Just lean on God and your friends and family, and look forward to the reunion in eternity.

(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least you can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing in your life?
(Karen) He's sustaining me in the face of continued beat-downs. It's been a tough couple of years, on several fronts. But with each new hit, God has proven faithful.

(Robin) What empowering advice would you give to someone facing adversity?
(Karen) Remember, this life is a blink of an eye in light of eternity. God tells us we'll have trials; it's pretty much guaranteed if you follow Christ. But He's there, in the midst of them, to uphold and strengthen. Don't waste energy defending yourself or getting angry. Look to God, seek His truth, and let Him carry you through the hard days.

(Robin) In your legacy what do you hope to leave behind?
(Karen) That life is full of wonder, God is ever-faithful, and peace can be found in letting go and resting in Him.

Karen, thank you so much for stopping in. I just find you a simple joy. You carry such wisdom and your heart is one that is willing to surrender to the Lord and in your walk you show others that trusting Him is the only way to become all we were created to be. Friends, what did you gain from our interview? Is there something that really touched your heart? Please share with us. Leave your comments or questions for Karen. Have a blessed day in the Lord and see you next week with guest Leah Hofmann DiPascal.


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