Thursday, December 30, 2010


Today we took down all of our Christmas decorations, tucking them away for another year. It seems like every year as I put them away, I feel a bit sad to see them all go. Perhaps it's just because of the work that goes into putting it all out in the first place--but I think perhaps some of us feel a little sad watching another year go by. Maybe the year had some moments we'd rather hold on to, or maybe another year just means another year older and we're dreading the wrinkles or gray hairs that are inevitably coming. Or maybe some of you are experiencing the opposite feeling and can't wait for the new year because this one was the toughest one yet. Either way, I think the end of the year tends to draw out the pondering within us, the thoughts we don't always think.

For me, the end of the year has become a time where I ask myself questions about what I want to be doing differently, where I ask the Lord what He wants of me in the upcoming year, and where I take time to treasure the gifts I've been given....not gifts that came under a tree, but gifts of people, of places, of memories, and the gift of relationship with Jesus. After all, it all started with God's great gift to us, and I certainly want to remember His faithfulness with each passing year.

This year, God has blessed me with amazing friendships--old and new. He has blessed our family financially. He has blessed us with the gift of knowing Him more. And that's just three of the blessings He's given us. He's also blessed me with a home to live in, a husband and children to call my own, a church family I adore, clothes to wear, food to eat. I could go on and on.

So what about you? How has He blessed you this year? Even if it was the worst year of your life, there has been blessing. The blessing may even have come right in the middle of the worst moment. Maybe the blessing was a meal someone brought over. Maybe the blessing was a smile from your preschooler. Maybe it was a rainbow in the sky. Whatever it was, I know that God loves to give good gifts to His people--we just have to be on the lookout for them.

I encourage you as the year is drawing to a close, take time to think about what God has done this year. You might want to write it down so you won't forget. If you take the time to think about it, you'll definitely want to thank Him for His goodness. I personally like to make a list of one hundred things I'm thankful for from the year. And this year, I'm actually making a list of one hundred people I'm thankful for in 2010.

Whatever you do, however you do it, I hope you'll remember the One who gave it all to us. And I hope that you'll enter 2011 overflowing with the joy of Christ Jesus. Happy New Year!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from "Stitches"!

From all of us on the "Stitches" blog team to you and yours, we just want to wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have had an amazing Christmas celebration with loved ones, and have been touched at some point with the true Spirit of Christmas.

My oldest daughter told me that early this Christmas morning (4 a.m., to be exact), she was awakened. She felt like God was speaking to her heart, and the only message was "I Love You!". In that moment, Christmas all fell into place for her. All the carols, all the gifts, all the well-wishes from loved ones, all the nights at our church's live depiction of the life of Christ.. birth through death. It all was summed up by that one message from the Creator of the universe... I LOVE YOU.

I was reminded of the following story I received this week from a friend. My Christmas gift to you, a beautiful illustration of the love God has for us.. for you.

Merry Christmas!
The Birds

There was once a man who didn't believe in the incarnation of Christ or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God.

He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her observance of Christmas. "It's all nonsense - why would God lower himself and become a human like us?! It's such a ridiculous story!" he said.

One snowy Christmas Eve, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.

Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn't see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of birds! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but had been caught in the snow storm.

The storm had become too blinding and violent for the birds to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles.

He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm."

So he opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they didn't notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still didn't catch on.

Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety and shelter.

Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me? Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become a bird. If only I could become like one of them! I could speak their language and they could understand me and trust me. Then I could save them! They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."

At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had just said. The words reverberated in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them - then I could save them." As he pondered those words, the bells from the little church where his family was attending the Christmas Eve Service begin to peal the melody to "Joy to the World". And then, at last, he understood God's heart towards mankind as he fell on his knees in the snow and worshipped Him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Music That Moves Us

As Christmas approaches, the radios and ipods in my car and home have been blaring carols and other holiday music, er... religiously. Yeah, all the time. Without the music, the Christmas season would lose a lot of its magic for me and my kids.

I'm not so picky as some about the beat or rhythm or overall sound, so much. I kinda like it all. We enjoy the traditional carols my husband and I learned as children growing up in church, but we also relish the newer renditions of old songs as well as newly written material. The lyrics, however, hold much more significance for me. A well-written Christmas song not only entertains and inspires, but it teaches theology.

(Has anyone else experienced the parental nightmare of having your 8-year-old listen to Silent Night in the backseat of your minivan and ask, "Mom, what's a virgin?" Apparently Christmas music can teach the birds and the bees as well. But I digress...)

A great Christmas song will celebrate orthodox theology. It will exalt Jesus as no ordinary person but the one and only God-Man (This Baby, What Child is This?, Away in a Manger). It might retell the story of the Incarnation, that magnificent event in a small, humble Jewish town (O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Holy Night, Silent Night). Perhaps it will attempt to communicate the perspective and glory of the angels (Angels We Have Heard on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Angels From the Realms of Glory).

Mary has become a favorite voice in recently written or re-recorded songs (Mary Did You Know?, Ave Maria, Breath of Heaven, You're Here). Some songs even manage to show how Jesus fulfilled God's plan from "of old" (O Come O Come Emmanuel, No Eye Had Seen, Here With Us).

My favorites tend to combine inspirational sound with theological truth. A song that can move me to worship, make my spirit soar, as I glorify the birth of my Savior... Click below for a worship experience, and rejoice that we can know truly that, because Christ has come, "All is Well."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He Came

Sunday morning, as I was preparing to go to church, I got word from Iowa of a terrible accident. During the night, a young member of our family had been taken from us. It is the kind of turn in life that just doesn't make sense this side of Heaven.

Speaking through tears, a beloved member of my family asked, "How do we celebrate Christmas?" And I confess, in the moment, I didn't have an answer. For as I sat stunned by the events that had come to pass, I couldn't find words.

Though I wanted to sit alone and cry, I went to church with my family instead. And it was there, during worship, that I found clarity. My heart still broke. My spirit ached. And tears streamed down my face as I replayed the news in my mind. But I now understood the answer to the question.

How do we celebrate Christmas in the midst of tragedy?

We celebrate because Christ still came.

He left his throne, came to us as a baby, took on the sins of a fallen world, and conquered death. We celebrate, for without a manger, there is no cross. And without a cross there is no redemption.

We celebrate...

Christ's life.
Christ's death.
Christ's sacrifice.
Christ's resurrection.
Christ's victory.

After all, Christmas is not about beautifully trimmed trees or carefully wrapped gifts. It's not about music, parties, food, or games. The true reason for the season cannot be stolen from us no matter what we may be feeling. And that includes grief.

For many of us this Christmas, the lights will seem a bit dimmer. Still, we celebrate the gift of Christ.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
(Isaiah 9:6)

Celebrate the Savior because He came. For you. For me. He came.

Merry CHRISTmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busyness of life

It's that time of year again where we double up on our activity levels with parties & recitals & programs that seem to fill every evening & weekend. This is usually a very high stress time of year for many people. Some have stress due to the amount of people to make time to be with & others due to not enough loved ones around to spend it with. In the months leading up to December God has been speaking to me about the "busyness" of my life. I've been asking myself often if an activity that has been placed in front of me is really necessary or is it something I can do without in order to preserve some calm in my family. I am constantly looking for ways to simplify the "work" at home & the "work" of work without sacrificing the quality of either. I am also looking for ways to delegate or organize so that when I do have an activity come up that requires (or I desire to give) my attention, I do so without spending days playing catch up. I recently heard a sermon on the characteristics of Mary & Martha. They are only mentioned briefly in the Bible but I think that their stories are so incredibly important in our lives. We need to make sure that we don't focus all our time on the preparation for our Lord Jesus but rather spend time at His feet listening & learning what He has for us. This sermon was another reminder for me to work to manage my priorities. Yes as the woman of the house & a helper to my husband it is my responsibility to "manage" my household but God also desires I spend time with him in his presence. So there is a balance that must be found between fulfilling our roles for our families & learning to set & rest & learn from our Savior.

My prayer for you this very "busy" holiday season is that you will take a step back & examine the priorities & activities in you life. I pray that God will grant you wisdom & discernment in your planning.

Proverbs 2:1-8
My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment– raise your voice for understanding – if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eric Ludy - Depraved Indifference

Sometimes someone else can say it better....That's how I feel about this video. It is worth every second--I urge you to find time today to watch it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sitting right where God wants me...

It was about 6 years ago. God was stretching me, challenging me, and opening my eyes to just how BIG HE IS. Just months before, I felt a call to missions. My heart was overwhelmed by Him and I was certain He was asking for my life. All of my life.

I was doing dishes and talking to God about the sacrifice I felt he was asking of me...and my conversation with Him that morning went a little like this:

ME: "Lord...can You just call me to the 'white picket fence' kind of life? You know--husband, kids, PTA, Bible study, and a white picket fence?"

GOD: "Really? Are you serious?"

ME: "I'm pretty sure I want marriage and family and...the American Dream"

GOD: "You just THINK that would be the best life. But, what I ask of you and prepare for you will be so much better than what you can imagine for yourself."

ME: " seems so big...what you're asking of me...and I'm a little freaked out by it"

GOD: " this for me: no matter how much you want to sit in the 'green' chair, however enticing or wonderful it may seem, sit in the red chair. I promise you that the view, the blessings, the experiences will be more than you would ever have sitting in the green chair of your choice."

Sounds simplistic, huh? Or maybe it sounds cryptic and makes no sense at all. Background info: green has always been one of my favorite colors, so I would naturally choose to "sit in a green chair" because it appeals to me. Green=everything I want for me. Red (at that time) was one of my least favorite would probably be the last "chair" I would have chosen for myself if given the option. Red=everything GOD wants for me. Starting to make more sense?

Well anyway, that day I realized that no matter what God calls me to do, where He calls me to go, what He asks me to sacrifice, it is all so much better than what I would choose for myself. It will probably be outside of my comfort zone and beyond what I am used to. I'm sure I will balk at opportunities and ask God if he's crazy from time to time. I'm sure I'll stare at what he puts before me with eyes wide open and heart pounding in my chest. But THAT is where the adventure is.

I WANT to sit in the Red Chair. I WANT to see things the way HE sees things. I WANT whatever HE wants for me. I don't ever want to settle for the green matter how "pretty" it may seem.

I want the Red Chair...and the life that comes with "sitting right where God wants me."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for the Thorns

OK, you guys... I promise I really do write. Once again, however, I am feeling really strongly urged to share with you a story I received on email. It deeply touched me, and was really timely as far as being something I needed to hear. I hope that it does the same for even just one other person out there.. as a matter of fact, that is my prayer as I post this.

From all of us on the Stitches blog team.. we wish you & your family a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving!


"Thankful For The Thorns"

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her crocks when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss. Troubles had multiplied. Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location.

Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.

"I... I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? Do you want the beautiful, but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the 'Thanksgiving Special'? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, "Hi, Barbara... let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed, thorny roses - except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped. There were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again.", she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Uh, that lady just left with, uh... she left with no flowers!"

"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on! You can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do, today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year, I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra. "I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me. But when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, "WHY? WHY Me?" It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about the thought that her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement... twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"No... I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem. The Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny, here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too... fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant." Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Author Unknown

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Whole Church

This blog is written by women, for women, to women (primarily). And since we focus on the spiritual most of the time, it should follow that we writers and readers are concerned about our relationship with God. And if we believe in Jesus Christ, call him our Savior and Redeemer, then no matter where, or if, we attend a local house of worship, we are all part of the Church--the Body of Christ. Through our feet He travels to the far away, through our arms He comforts the broken, through our words He brings life and healing. We are His representatives, just as our believing brothers are.

Sometimes women tend to think less of themselves than God thinks of them. But the Bible is pretty clear that He treasures and values us. Genesis 1:27 -- "God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them." IN THE IMAGE OF GOD...did you get that? We have been created to resemble Him. He gave us a calling, a responsibility, to join with our brothers to "fill the earth, and subdue it" (v 28).

Often we stop at the command to "be fruitful and multiply," relegating our worth and work to that of wife and mother. Not only does that bestow a false glory on the role of mothering, it cheats the young, the single, the widowed, and the elderly. As a wife of one godly man and the mother of four young children, I strongly support the ministry of motherhood. It's important, even crucial. But not every wife gets to be a mother. 

Before I was a mother, I was a wife; before that, a single woman; before that, a young daughter. Did I have a role then? Or was I just waiting for my potential to be fulfilled once I married?

If statistics prove true, there's every chance that I will outlive my husband and become a widow in the (very far, I hope) future. What then? Is my job finished? Am I washed up in the church? When my kids are grown and gone, will my purpose fly with them?

Of course not! May it never be. Yet this is a message we find ourselves struggling against far too often. Let's get back to the original story, the one God wrote before sin entered our relationships and messed us all up. Women are half the church, and we are called to join the other (male) half in order to maximize the gospel of Jesus Christ. God wants the whole church together to fulfill His purpose. It's how He designed it to work.

The short video here was created by Synergy and shown at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, a worldwide gathering of evangelical leaders held in Cape Town, South Africa, last month. Find yourself in the images that flash before you, and be encouraged!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Am Thankful For....

We think about things we are thankful for all year but it seems we focus on it even more at Thanksgiving.  Sometimes life circumstances can make us be thankful for the smallest things in our lives.  Have you ever had something happen in your life that totally changed the way you thought about things and perhaps made you thankful for things you may not have really thought about being thankful for before?

I am so thankful for our precious little girl. I know that is a pretty big thing to be thankful for!!  I am also thankful for all the time I get to spend with her.  This will be her second Thanksgiving and she has taught me so much.  It is amazing how God can use such a small child to teach us so many lessons. 

When we stop and really think about what we have to be thankful for I think it may help us to be more content with what we have and not constantly want more.  I remember after losing our first child telling someone how before she was born I was so worried about her room not being "cute" enough and after she passed away that did not matter anymore. At that point I just wanted her.  I did not care what her room looked like I just wanted her to be here.  I think about that quite often and it can remind me to be thankful and content with what I have.

This Thanksgiving are you content with the many blessings God has bestowed upon you?   I would love for you to share with us in the comment section something you are thankful for this year!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You're Worth It

I find it particularly amusing as I watch my own daughters play dress-up. Adorned in high heals, feather boas, and party dresses, my daughters feel beautiful and grown-up as they strut confidently around the living room. They are not inhibited by their dress size and they are not embarrassed about their hair style or color. Embracing their unique beauty, my daughters celebrate their individuality. May it always be so.

Watching them takes me back to another time. How I long to see myself with the eyes of a child. "When did I forget who I am?" I wonder silently as I watch them in awe. Somewhere along life's journey, I started to see myself with eyes of criticism and self-loathing. Relentlessly, the world bombards me with images, conceived by my enemy, and designed to erode my self-worth. My eyes deceive me. Commercials for weight loss plans, exercise regimines, and cosmetic procedures all point mercilessly at my many flaws and shatter my confidence. Some days, it is enough to send a girl straight to the candy aisle!

UNLESS...I choose to see myself with new eyes. God's eyes. Now is the time for me to lift the veil of lies designed to hide God's perspective on my identity. And my daughters will learn by my example. There is no time to waste. I must begin to see myself with new eyes. So, that is what I have been doing this week. During the quiet hours of the day, before the kids rush through the door and the afternoon crazies begin, I have been lifting the veil in search of my true identity. And this is what I have discovered.

I am...
precious (Isaiah 43:4),
beautiful (Song Solomon 1:15),
chosen (John 15:16),
redeemed (Psalm 71:23),
forgiven (Ephesians 1:7),
accepted(Romans 15:7),
equipped (2 Timothy 3:17),
protected (2 Thessalonians 3:3),
secure (Romans 8:38-39),
and loved. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I am His beloved, "worth far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10)

He knows all my ways. (Psalm 139:3) The good. The bad. And the ugly. And still, God calls me "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand." (Ephesian 2:10 NIV)

God sees His children. Our faults. Our weaknesses. Our selfish tendencies. And He loves us anyway. In mercy, our Heavenly Father sent His only Son to die for each one of us, as Christ took our sins to the Cross so that we might know eternal life with Him.

In humble gratitude, we look towards Heaven and we proclaim, "How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 36:7 NIV) And in response, God looks upon us and whispers lovingly, "You're worth it."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

Today I saw an amazing Puzzle fall into place in my MOPS group. It is very common in our lives to see or experience events that we step back & go why oh why am I or someone I know going thru this. As a Christian I believe that God has a plan & a purpose for each & every event. But often we don't understand this event for days or even years down the road. This morning it was amazing to hear 4 women from very different places in their lives come together to speak as we launched a new ministry to families of babies who will spend time on the Special Care Unit Nursery at the local hospital.

One of these ladies had experienced the NICU with her own child & later went on to be a NICU Nurse Manager at one of the largest hospitals in the DFW area. My path crossed hers earlier this year when a mutual friend referred her to me to help her with selling her home. She shared with us some ways we can best minister to the families in crisis & also helped us put into perspective how fragile some of the babies are when they are born.

One has been a friend from MOPS for the past couple of years & we have grown in friendship & I have seen a passion grow in her to reach out & share God's love & hope with these families. She experienced the Special Care Unit Nursery in our McKinney hospital 4 years ago. She has been leading the charge for this ministry & we have been blessed by her vision.

One was ministered to by another in our group just after her twins were born & both ended up spending time in the NICU at Children's in Dallas. Her family came to to our church just prior to the babies being born & God is now using her to give back to others facing the same issues as her baby has.

The last mom came to our group just this year but has also experienced the NICU twice. One experienced ended in a loss of her firstborn & the second in the rejoicing of walking out of the hospital with her third child. Out of her loss she became a strong supporter of another ministy called Early Angels at FBC McKinney. Early Angels is a ministry to those who have experienced Miscarriage or Early Infant Death.

Out of the experiences of each of these women a piece of the puzzle was formed to bring together a beautiful picture of God's plan to minister & love on families with babies in crisis. I am so amazed at what Moms can do when we put our minds together for the ministry of Christ.

In just a few weeks we have raised over $100 in cash donations, received grocery store donations of $120, restaurant gift cards & coupons worth over $200 & food, water, clothing, books & toiletries to fill 20 buckets.  What an amazing work our God has been doing in preparation for this ministry.

We already have two families that are ready to receive a love bucket. Thank you God for providing for the needs of little babies & their families way before we even knew we would be a part of it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Could Never

Have you ever said, "Oh, I could never fill in the blank..." only to later realize that you indeed could....maybe even that God had called you to that exact thing? Back in 2001, on a plane from Hawaii to DFW, I said I could never fly further than that flight (about 8 hours) because I just couldn't stand it. I couldn't sleep on the flight, I was uncomfortable, I just couldn't fathom being on a plane longer than that. I'm sure God enjoyed my logic as He chuckled about what was to come....What was to come was 2007 when God let me know I could indeed fly longer than 8 hours because I was called to go on my first overseas mission trip to South Africa. Yes, that is a little bit longer than 8 hours away!

But guess what? I can fly on long plane rides--and I can even sleep on them. You know how I know? Because I have gone to/from South Africa 3 times now. And (hopefully) next year, I'll be going to Ethiopia twice. Which leads me to my next, "Oh, I could never...".

Growing up, I remember telling my parents I would one day adopt, so I went into adulthood believing that to be an option. However, in the midst of that option, there was always the doubt. The doubt that said, "Oh, I could never get through all the paperwork." "I could never have a trans racial family." "I could never deal with all the looks and the comments." "I could never disappoint those who don't agree...". And guess what? God (of course) decided to turn my never into an, "Are you ever!"

Though the paperwork does seem unending and the comments, the disappointment, the fear is still there, God has called us to adopt. And not to change the topic too drastically, but God has called every one of us to do something to care for the orphans. Do not mistake what I am saying. He did not necessarily call every one of us to adopt an orphan,--in fact, many of them are not able to be adopted (for various reasons)--but He did put us as Believers "in charge" of their care.

After all, there are 143 million of them...many going to bed tonight having gone all day without a meal, without clean water, without a hug. Though the task seems daunting, I think this may be our big "I could never" moment. It sure does seem like it: I could never take care of all of them. But what about one of them? Could you sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion International or World Vision? Could you help out a foster family by providing a meal? Could you send money to an organization like Show Hope or go on a mission trip to hug and feed one of them? And maybe you could be one of the ones who God is calling to adopt. Maybe there is another face that belongs in your family.

November is adoption awareness month, and this Sunday is Orphan Sunday. If you live in the McKinney area, I urge you to be at FBC McKinney this Sunday, November 7, to hear more about the cry of the orphan--both in the morning services at 9 and 10:30am and then that evening at 6:30pm. But whether you're in the area or not, I urge you to pray about whatever "I could never" statement you've found yourself saying. Open your eyes and your heart to what God has for you. Maybe it's regarding orphan care, maybe it's something altogether different in this season, but I assure you: God has great plans for you, and those plans will take you outside of your comfortable life if you listen and obey. Our God is a GREAT BIG GOD, and He has great big plans for His people. Let's join Him!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Everyone longs to have their life “mean” something. Many of us long for something greater than anything this world could ever offer. Actually, all of us do. We may not even realize it until something “big” happens and snaps life into perspective, though.

Some long for perfect love—no broken hearts, no unrequited love, no fear of loving or being loved. Others may long for justice—due “payment” for wrongs committed against them or those they love, recognition for all the hard work that may go unnoticed or that someone else takes credit for. Still others long for life free from pain—void of physical ailment, handicap, or disease. They desire life free from seeing a world torn by war and other evils, the pains of seeing our young people make decisions that lead them down the wrong paths. A life free from divorce, miscarriage, cancer, murder, war, poverty, hunger, AIDS, discrimination, inequality, and death.

None of us will ever know such love, justice, and freedom from pain and fear until we know the One who gives it. Jesus Christ holds the key to the very things each of us longs for. I’m sorry…let me say that again: JESUS holds the key to what we long for. Not you, not me, not the world, not family or spouses, not careers or education. Without Christ, we only long for what we cannot gain by our own power. With Him, however, we get it all—no questions asked, no dues to pay, no tasks to perform, no strings attached.

What are you longing for today? I have a running short-list myself…and I need to look to Him for the peace, hope, and assurance that He’s “got this.”

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire [long for] besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:23-26

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Valuable Lesson

Well, sometimes the best-laid plans....
Regardless of what I had intended to write about today, I believe God has other plans. I received the following in an email from a friend, and it touched me deeply. I am really feeling led to share it. I believe there is someone out there who needs to read it as much as I did.


Are You Adoptable?

One of my favorite activities is to visit our local animal shelter. A bittersweet tug on my heart, as I would love to scoop up and take a bunch of the animals home with me-- yet, I know that reality tells me I cannot. So, my time is spent mostly conversing with and petting the animals that I can.

There is one large dog there named "Otis", who is NOT up for adoption. I believe the Lord used this dog to teach me a valuable lesson. When I first started coming to the shelter to visit with the animals, Otis would always growl, bark and sometimes lunge at the cage. It didn't matter how much I would try to talk to him, he was still very stand-offish. Soon, I gave up trying and kept my distance, so as not to cause him any additional stress.

Months went by, and even when in the same room with Otis, I would just ignore him and not go by his cage. Although he wasn't barking or growling at me anymore, I still maintained my distance. I just didn't trust him.

One day a small 4-month-old black lab puppy was placed next to Otis. I went up and started talking to this puppy, gently and playfully. Little did I know that the whole time I was talking to the puppy, old Otis thought I was talking to him. Starved for attention and human touch, Otis placed the side of his body up against the cage so I could pet him.

Was I nervous? You bet I was!!! This was the same dog I thought would bite my hand off. I looked in his eyes and all I saw was one of God's creatures wishing only to be loved. Slowly, I started to pet Otis and call him gently by his name. The joy in his eyes was inexpressible.

How many times, I thought, had I treated a person in the same manner as I had treated Otis? Maybe because of their outside exterior, their gruffness, rudeness or maybe even irritability, had I distanced myself from them or even ignored them? Had I failed to really, really look and see their true inner being? Like Otis, all of us long to be loved and accepted.

Isn't it wonderful that Jesus accepts us and wants us just as we are? He doesn't say, "Come, when you get your life in order" or "Come, when you stop with that bad habit" or "Come, when all your relationships are mended". No, when He says, "Come as you are" that's exactly what He means.

Remember, a kind soft word, gentle hug or smile may be all that is needed to soften the hearts of the Otis's in this world. And yes, Otis is still at that shelter and still one of my most favorite dogs to spend time with!

"Having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted into the beloved." (Ephesians 1:5-6)

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)

"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26)

-Michelle Roberts


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fighting for the Underdog

When you live in the Dallas area, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the sports mania right now. Our beloved Dallas Cowboys are kinda stinky this season, which has shocked the team's followers. They were supposed to be playoff contenders after last year's successful season. Uh--not so much!

The Dallas Stars are off to a great start this year, even without all-star, lifelong team member Mike Modano. He's playing for the...who?...the Red Wings??! That's just bizarre. But anyway, the Stars are 5-0-2 and looking good.

And then we have the Texas Rangers, our baseball team. In its 50-year history, they had won exactly one post-season game. In the words of a friend who lived in Dallas for many years, "The Rangers were there for pleasant family outings on warm July evenings, not baseball in October."

Until this year. They dominated their division so thoroughly that their run to the post-season became apparent soon after the mid-season break. When they knocked out their first-round opponents, the fans went berserk. It took some work, but they fought hard. We cheered hard. Then we faced the Yankees...not exactly our favorite opponents. And the Rangers blew them away in all aspects of the game. Our hometown underdogs, the guys who never made it to the big-time, the ones who might have only dreamed of going to the "big stage"...they crushed the most talented team that money could buy, the annual contenders. Crushed them.

Such sweet justice.

So how does baseball fever have any spiritual value? A question for the ages, no doubt. But the people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area have been so energized by the feel-good story of our underdog Rangers. We so badly want them to win, not just because they are our team. But because no one ever expected them to win. They've been perennial underdogs since they came to town back in 1971.

I think humans are wired to root for the underdog. We desire mercy, deep within. When losers are transformed into winners (even if it's not "our team") we cheer, our hearts are warmed, we (sometimes secretly) rejoice.

And so it is when we think of Jesus' future coming. The Book of Revelation talks of some crazy bad things that are going to happen one day, the Great Tribulation in which God pours out his judgment on the world. Read Revelation 6 and 8 to get a taste of what I'm talking about. You'll be rather horrified at thinking "God is going to do this to us?" At some level, you'll wish He were not quite as just as He is, that he would relent and not let people suffer the way they will. Those are some very bothersome chapters to ponder.

Likewise, when we think of hell, and eternal damnation, many people cannot stomach it. It's just too much suffering, we think. Surely God will end it at some point and just annihilate those who have rejected Him so they won't have to suffer forever. That's mercy talking, not justice.

Mercy is a good thing. It's a by-product, a fruit, of God's Spirit living in us. So use it, make it work for those who need it. Have mercy on the unbeliever by sharing the Good News of Jesus. Let God use you to influence others so that they don't have to fear coming judgment but will know the mercy of God in this life and beyond.

Have mercy on the sick, the suffering, the lonely, the hurt--by serving, visiting, caring for them. Stop just thinking about the underdogs, and move toward them with hands and feet ready to pull them up out of the darkness.

Without you, how will a hell-bound person ever hear about her Savior? Without you, how will a lonely widow be encouraged by an unexpected visitor? Without you, how will disaster victims be comforted? "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!" (Romans 10:15).

The Rangers are an inspiration this year. It's been great to watch them rejoice at each new victory. But watching and hearing the stories of God's people being His hands and feet...those bring me to tears. And knowing I've been a small part of someone else's journey toward healing, renewal, and hope brings joy and gratitude to my heart. And I'm inspired to keep doing it. To find someone else to love.

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

Our Women's Fall Retreat is quickly approaching. Join us for a great time together on Friday night and Saturday morning.  Our speaker this year is Jill Rhodes and the theme is "Refuge".  If you have never heard Jill speak you are in for a treat and if you have heard her you already know what a great speaker she is.  Be ready to receive what God has for you over this awesome weekend!!

Tickets are on sale now through October 31st.  You can purchase them online or in the Connection this Sunday October 24th and next Sunday, October 31st.

"Refuge. It’s what you long for when life gets hard and the road seems long. A place of peace and safety. A shelter of strength and refreshment. Somewhere to hide out and Someone to hide in. A space to be still and to know that He is God. A fortress of sure victory. We all need it at some point, and many of us need it now, more than ever! Come and find firmness to steady your steps as you learn more about your Rock of strength and salvation. As David discovered through every stage and storm of his life, you too can experience in his songs (psalms) more of the nearness and nature of the One who even now waits to be a refuge for you right where you are. It is all you really want and everything you need. So what are you waiting for?"  Jill Rhodes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where Do You Get Your Strength When You Are Tired?

I don't know about you... but I find myself TIRED a lot lately. I usually write about saving... but this month, I am starting a "new" savings plan. I have had to go back to work part-time, so my money saving tip, is to work if and when necessary! God will provide!

I am at a different season of life. I have an elementary student, a middle schooler, a high schooler, and a 25year old nephew living with us. I love having everyone in the house, and every day is a new adventure. However, I am keeping later hours, earlier hours, longer days, and a much tighter budget. I have 4 singers in the house, one gymnast, one cheerleader, one violinist, 2 piano players, 3 guitar players, one football player, three basketball players, a rock band member, one softball player, and a dancer. WHEW! I am tired just typing all that the 4 of them are involved in.

Sometimes I get through the day, but I am so exhausted, that I think I am asleep, before my head hits the pillow. At the end of the day.... I know that the only way I made it through was by the Grace of God. My strength is in Him and through Him alone.

My "savings plan" this month, is working when and as He provides. God has given my children so many gifts and talents. Those talents, unfortunately require money, sometimes to get better, and improve. That is where my part-time job comes in.

I used to be a teacher , and while I loved teaching, I loved staying home with my children, even more. Recently, I have gone back to substitute teaching. I also have been painting again, which helps bring in income. Both of these things could be looked at as good and bad. If I wanted to look only at the negative, I could look at the time that they take away from my family, and the energy that they take from me. BUT.... I am choosing to look at the blessing they are to me, my family, the teachers I am ministering too, and the families that I get to paint for.

I have been subbing for the last 8 days, and was looking forward to 2 days off. At the end of the day, however, I was offered 3 more days. At first I wanted to say no, but then I thought about the budget, God's provision, and God showed me why I was really there. He would give me the strength I needed.

I got to speak with the teacher that broke her leg, for whom I have subbed the last 8 days.... she was so grateful. During our conversation, I truly felt that God would use this to minister to her someday. She is someone that I have been praying for, for a while. Then, the most humbling thing happened. As I was getting ready to leave for the day, I was able to hug and pray for a teacher who lost her "best friend" to cancer last night. I will sub for her over the next 2 days. It broke my heart, to hug her while she cried. It also reminded me, that working part-time may not be what I thought I would be doing, yet what He wants me to be doing right now. There is a reason.

I know that a lot of women work full time. I have new sense of prayer for them now. I do know that I would not have committed to so many other, extra-curricular, volunteer activities, if I had known how much I would be working. Even those though, God gives me the strength to do.

I feel like I have just rambled on, or shared a little from my diary today with you, but I think the main point, that I hope to get across is: We all have different "seasons of life." Sometimes we are called to work, stay at home, coupon, bargain shop, etc. But we are always supposed to sit at God's feet and say: How can You use me best today Lord? Who do You want me to Love? Is there a way that You want to provide, yet I have to be willing to do the work? He is our Great Provider!

I know that I can't do any of this alone. As a wife, my first priority is to Love & Serve God, then my family. He can not use me anywhere else, no matter what the cause, unless I do that first. But I know that when He does call you to save, work or go, He and only He will give you the Strength that you need to succeed.

Phill. 4:13.... I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus, who gives me strength.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 15th - Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  This is a national remembrance day as of September 2006.  Yesterday at our MOPS meeting we had a balloon release at the end.  Each of the moms there that had a loss or losses released a balloon for each child.  All the other moms released a balloon as well.  We released the balloons as we all sang Jesus loves me.

It is amazing no matter how short their life may be, the footprint that they leave on our heart.  I know for me personally I will never be the same again after going through the loss of my two precious angels.

Romans 5:3-5 says 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Losing a child is something that you do not plan on happening.  We may never know this side of heaven why it happened.  We may ask God "why me" a million times but like Isaiah 55:8-9 says,

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD.
 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God has a plan for each person and for each angel baby.  It is amazing how someone so small can change a life forever.  I remember to this day a card I received after our first child passed away.  It said how one day she would meet us in heaven and say "hello mommy, hello daddy".  I can just imagine her giving us a tour and telling us all about the things she and her sister have been doing there. Knowing they are safe in the arms of Jesus and that one day we will get to hold those precious babies can give us so much hope.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Too often I think I make it through my entire day without stopping to think about how much God loves me. I know, we're taught the song "Jesus Loves Me" as soon as we can talk (at least if you grow up in church), but I think we forget what it really means. God LOVES us--not like we love our favorite purse or our new outfit, but He loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for us. His perfect, without sin son...died for me, and you...sinners.

I think that it's really easy to sugarcoat Jesus into this sweet man surrounded by children, but there's so much more to Jesus. He was beaten for us; was nailed to a cross for us; suffered anguish for us; was temporarily separated from His Father for us. He was not just some sweet man. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord. He loves us enough that He said YES to God so that we could forever live with Him in Heaven one day, so that we could experience grace--something we don't deserve but are freely given.

Oh, how He loves us. Have you thought about it today? Have you thought about the fact that this life is more than just the latest technology, the cutest clothes, and the fastest car? This life is about the Creator of the Universe loving us and offering us freedom in Him. He extends Himself to us, and He asks us in turn to tell others about Him as well. He desires relationship with us. He is not some unapproachable god; He is the One who approaches us. He came to Earth for us. He comforts us. He carries us. He LOVES us.

I couldn't say it better than the lyrics to the song, "Oh How He Loves Us," so I've copied them below. Please take the time to read them--even if you've heard the song a hundred times before--and really let it sink in how much God loves you.

How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

I pray that each of you who reads this might feel fully how much the Savior loves you. If any of you don't know Jesus personally, I pray that God might use this for His glory and your salvation. His love is deeper, wider, longer and higher than we can comprehend--and He feels that way about YOU. Bask in it today. You are fully and completely loved.

Oh, how He loves you....

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Trust Me" --God

When asked by a renowned ethicist in search of direction that she ‘pray that [he would] have clarity,’ Mother Teresa told him, ‘No, I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’ When the ethicist commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed said, ‘I never have had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’*


Wow. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked God for clarity, but as many times he has not answered my prayer with clarity as requested. Instead, I can confidently say he has always asked me to simply trust him. There is an account of one of Jesus’ miracles in Matthew 9:27-33 where a blind man and a mute man ask Jesus to heal them. They want to be able to see and to hear…and Jesus’ first response to them is not immediate healing, but a question. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He wants to know that they believe and trust in Him.

When we search for clarity, we want to see and hear whatever it is we feel like we are missing or just not "getting." We want to see the details of the road ahead and hear God’s turn-by-turn GPS-like directions. What we really need to see and hear is that HE. IS. ABLE. We need clarity only in this: God is worth trusting, so let go of the searching for anything other than Him (like clarity about _______). Let go of listening for something specific in His voice, and just listen. Let go of trying to see the writing on the wall or the course lain out for the next few years/months/weeks.

TRUST. “Trust me, Amber.”

What sweet words from the Author of all things beautiful, all things perfect, all things right and just and holy and worthy of our praise.

I hope that the impact of this quote stays with you as it will with me. God is so good and His timing is never short of perfect.

[Acts 8:25-28, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 9:10, John 14:1…and so many others on trust!]

*A more detailed account of this story can be found at Andrew Schoonmaker’s blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I am privileged to be part of a team of bloggers on the women's page of my latest contribution, I shared insights about my relationship with God that I've learned from my infant son. Things like, I need Him for everything. He's my source of life. Why don't I get upset when He's not in the same room with me? When did I start "toddling" and decide that I could do life myself?

This is shaping up to be one of those weeks when I am slapped with the truth that I can do nothing in my own strength. With four deadlines, 3 intense workout sessions, preparing to leave for a family wedding, and laryngitis brought on by a sinus infection, I'm pretty stretched. So I'm going to punt this one, and lead you to the original blog through this link. Please click and read my earlier thoughts, knowing that I'm living them today. And I pray you'll find some encouragement for your own spiritual journey.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

 6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Speak. Praise. Love.

"I've been watching you for months. Sort of testing you. You know, trying to figure out if you really are who you SAY you are," my new friend shared openly. "You really do live for Christ. And it has helped me to wake up from my spiritual slumber." she said smiling.

Her words hung boldly in the air as their truth hit me between the eyes. While I rejoiced in her candid honesty, the words of my friend filled me with quiet trepidation. For while she saw the best in me, I was now keenly aware of my many human frailties.

Some days, I am the best version of myself. Others, I am impatient and self-absorbed. In fact, the painful truth is, I fail more than I succeed. My friend's revelation served as a humbling reminder that I am "Christ's ambassador" and through me, He makes His appeal. (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

When I watch the news, or listen to the heated dialogue of the cultural climate today, I am overwhelmed by the task ahead of Christ's faithful. Everyday, someone is watching. Waiting. Wanting us to fail. Sometimes, it appears that believers are given very little margin for error.

But, when I take my eyes off myself, and place my focus on my Savior, my inhibitions fade. After all, my missteps are irrelevant compared to the power of Christ in me. For, "the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NIV) Therefore, in word and deed, I strive to introduce the world to my Jesus.

I speak for "my lips have been anointed with grace". (Psalm 45:2 NIV)

I remember to "praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me". (Psalm 103:2 NLT)

And I strive to "do everything in love". (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV)

It's quite simple, really. This life is not about me. It's about the one who lives in me. So, today, I speak. I praise. I love. And I remember...somewhere, somebody is watching.

Monday, September 13, 2010

iDare U2

As kids we would often say to our friends "I dare you to..." Well our awesome God following interim Pastor (Chris Stull) has been using this phrase for the last few weeks. Today's sentence was completed: "i Dare U 2 ...Move!" Seems simple enough
One of the things we did in service (we attend the theater at the 9:00 hour) this moring just before the sermon was to turn to someone next to you and share what God has been saying to you this week. This is can be a little intemidating for some but for me it was fairly simple.  One word - "Simplify!" I have had an overwhelming need to simplify my life. With 4 children & a business to run many days I am feeling overwhelmed. Last week I spent a day cooking so I could put meals in the freezer so that at the end of a long day all I had to do was pop a pan in the oven and add some fruits & Veggies. Then we made a big decision to found a new home for the puppy we had adopted just 4 months ago because he was not making life simplier but more stressful. So meals prepared, 1 less thing to take care of & next is to go thru the house and clean out "stuff" that gets int the way.  So I was already on the path that God had intended to share with me this morning.
As the sermon starts Pastor Chris challenges us. He asked if we had the "Courage" to 1-reorder our Priorities; 2-Maintain our Focus & 3-Create healthy Habits. Amazingly God had been stirring in my heart on all three of these things this week! So time for a week of change. Matthew25:21 says "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come share your master's happiness!'" That's what I want to hear God saying to me next. I want to prove my faithfulness with my priorities, my focus & my habits.

As a mom I pray I am leading a good example of a Christ follower, one that has her priorities straight. That shows my focus is on things that are good. And shows healthy habits for my kids. I know I won't always be the example I wish to be but I will be striving to be all that God has planned for me to be.

Thank you God for bringing just the right message at just the right time!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Least of These

Last month I wrote about something uncommon that my husband and I felt like God was calling us to, but we hadn't shared it with our family yet, so I had to keep things vague. This month I am happy to tell you that we have begun the long road of adoption. It is one of those things that is both breathtakingly exciting and tie-your-stomach-in-knots scary all at once.

We've known for years that this is something God might call us to, but He hadn't--until recently. And once He called us, He didn't let up until we heard exactly what He was had for us.

We know that God's Word says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27), but we didn't know that for us part of that meant actually adopting an orphan into our family. We sponsor children already through different organizations, and that is certainly taking care of orphans, but God had more for our family. He desires (and we desire) for one of them to take our name, to become our family.

Why do I tell you this? Well, I tell you for a number of reasons. I tell you because there are well over a hundred million orphans. I tell you because God wants us to take care of orphans--whether through adoption, child sponsorship (Compassion and World Vision are two amazing organizations to do this through), foster care, or mentoring children at a local elementary school. I tell you because our hearts should be broken over the things that break God's heart, and the cry of the orphan certainly breaks God's heart. I also tell you because our church has an adoption/foster/orphan care ministry that is in the early stages called The Journey, and I am excited to see how God is going to use it to awaken Believers to orphan care.

But most of all I tell you so that you might consider: What does God have for me in this? Not everyone is led to adopt, but everyone is called to obey God's Word. How are you taking care of the orphans? What more might God have for you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hold Fast

"I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do." -- Corrie ten Boom

Over this past week, any time I've had a spare moment, I have been reading, "The Hiding Place" by Resistance heroine and Nazi concentration camp survivor, Corrie ten Boom. I had always heard various quotes and excerpts from this book, but am sorry to say I'd never read the whole book through. I am still not finished, but along the way in the reading, I have been stunned and amazed at Corrie's insights.. into human nature.. into faith itself.

One of the things about the book that has really struck me so far, is Corrie's memories of her childhood experiences, and how, looking back, the insights and knowledge she gained from her father were preparing her for what was to come in the dark days ahead.

Corrie's father, Casper ten Boom, always seemed to find that perfect balance between wanting to impart knowledge and insight to his young daughter, and also wanting to protect her innocence as long as possible, and never pass on more than she is ready for at that moment.

For example, when young Corrie asks her father a question about "sex sins" (which she'd read in a poem), his reply was just beautiful. They were traveling on a train, and he picks up his (very heavy) suitcase and asks her if she could carry it off the train for him. When she replies that it is too heavy for her, this is what he says:

"Yes.. and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

I loved his answer...truthful, yet never giving his young daughter more than she could handle.

Later on, Corrie sees a baby that has died, and is quietly upset for the rest of the day. That evening as her father comes up to tuck her in and say goodnight, she bursts into tears and tells him that he can't ever die because she needs him so much. She is terrified that all those she loves-- her father, mother, sister, are going to die and she can't stop thinking about it.

So gently, once again, her father asks her a question:

"Corrie... when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"
"Why, just before we get on the train."
"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time."

I was thinking of Corrie and her father today, as I was driving. For a long holiday weekend, my mind was especially weighed down with some family issues that my extended family is facing. Above and beyond extremely challenging health and healthcare issues, there are deep-seated emotional hurts and much frustration on all sides. It was just one of those situations that seems never-ending.. seems hopelessly beyond repair. And I was driving with my daughters to visit some of the parties involved. Though I was praying, I could not seem to shake the cold feeling of dread this afternoon. I just kept praying that God would see us through.

About this time, I heard the first strains of a familiar song that I hadn't heard in a while.. so I turned up the radio. God spoke so clearly to me through this song today, that I wanted to share it below, in the hopes that it could encourage at least one other person out there.

I know, just as Corrie faced with the Nazis.. some dark days are ahead. I can feel it in my bones, as a Christian. I know that many of you out there are probably sensing the same. I just wanted to remind all of us, myself included, that "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still" (a quote from Corrie's sister in the concentration camp). We know the ending of this Story. Evil does not triumph in the end. And God never gives us more than we can handle in any given moment.

If you are feeling hopeless about a situation in your life... hold fast. More help than any of us can ever imagine..... is on the way.

"Hold Fast"- MercyMe

To everyone who's hurting
To those who've had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there's hope

You may think you're all alone
And there's no way that anyone could know
What you're going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we're soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes

Monday, August 30, 2010

In _____ We Trust

This weekend my church family worshiped together knowing it would be the last time we would hear from Jeff Warren as our senior pastor. Maybe he’ll come back one day to preach as a guest, but now he is moving on to lead another church. This kind of change is difficult. Not only are we losing a beloved friend and leader, but we now must face the unknown future.

Do we worry that the next pastor won’t live up to his predecessor’s standard? Do we fear the potential turmoil a search process might stir up? Will people leave in the meantime? Who’s going to lead us in the interim? Why…who…what…? The anxiety potential is potent.

In the life of our church, this situation definitely counts as what the Bible calls a trial. How will we respond, corporately and individually?

I think one of the songs we sang in worship holds the answer:

I’m putting my fears aside
I’m leaving my doubts behind
I’m giving my hopes and dreams to you, Jesus

I’m reaching my hand to yours
Believing there’s so much more
Knowing that all you have in store for me is good, it’s good

Today is the day you have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day you have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

And I won’t worry about tomorrow
I’m giving you my fears and sorrows
Where you lead me I will follow
I’m trusting in what you say
Today is the day!

During our Sunday school hour, we are studying the first chapter of James. In 1:2-4, he says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I love it when one nugget of truth studied in class is reinforced in the sermon or singing during the worship service. It’s like God is trying to hammer a truth home to me.

No worries. Have faith. You can trust me. Follow my lead, and I will show you greater things than you can imagine. I’m sending Jeff to them, and I’m bringing someone else to you. I am trustworthy, no matter what trials you are facing. Rejoice in this trial, and be glad in today. I’ve got great plans for you!

So whether you are experiencing this challenge with our church, or you have your own trial to face on a personal level, consider your attitude about it. In whom do you trust? In whose hands do you place your hopes and dreams? How will you respond to the adventure that is "today"?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Last week my daughter got sick and then within 48 hours both my husband and I had caught her little bug.  For a whole week my household chores were all on hold because we were just trying to survive with both of the grown ups in the house feeling like we had been run over by a truck.  Normally, when I go to bed at night I at least try to have my kitchen clean and the dishwasher running.  Being sick that week though I would have to clean what I could when I could and then rest. 

When I had more energy I looked at my house and could not believe all the clutter everywhere. Stuff that we did not put up because we did not feel like it. I decided I was done with the clutter and pulled out the trash bag.  First, I decluttered my kitchen.  I think I spend 90% of my time in the kitchen and living room these days.  I really like the model homes you go in and there are very few things on the kitchen counters so I have decided from now on as little as possible goes on my countertops.  There is not much to declutter in the living area because that is where our little girl plays during the day so we have pretty much baby proofed that room.  Her toys are in there but at the end of the day when she goes to bed I can put her toys in a basket and move them to one area.

I also worked on a few other areas of our house and the next morning when I got up I did not mind walking into the the kitchen because it was all clean and no clutter!!

As I was admiring my clutter free area it reminded me how much clutter we sometimes have in our spiritual life too.  What kind of clutter do I have that keeps me from having a closer relationship with Christ?  Just like the clutter in our homes can make us so unmotivated to even start throwing things away does the clutter in our life keep us from reading God's Word the way we should or does it keep us from having the prayer time we should?  Can it keep us from hearing what God is trying to say to us sometimes?

It may not be January 1st when it is time to make your New Year's Resolution but I decided my goal is to keep the clutter out and by doing so there will be more room and time for the things in this life that really matter.  I am far from being done decluttering my house.  There are several more rooms and closets to go but I know if I take it day by day I can do it!!

What kind of clutter do you have in your home and life that you could throw away today?  I know that when my house is messy, cluttered, etc, it just makes me not be in the greatest mood.  I think getting rid of those things will even give me more time to be a better wife, mom, daughter and friend.  Let the decluttering begin!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Year, New Start!

As I sent my children out the door yesterday, to begin their new journey for the year, I sat at God's feet for a while. I don't know about you, but my summer was so busy! We went from one camp to another. Three children going in 3 different directions usually. I have to admit, that my couponing was left at home quiet a bit this summer. In fact, in all honesty, I didn't cut a "complete" set of coupons the whole summer. (Now, I did still use some of them, they just didn't make it to the binder, all neatly organized!)

As I sat at God's feet, I thought, "I wonder how many other women are feeling the way I am right now?" I felt sad that children were back at school, relieved that I was going to have some type of routine, and overwhelmed with where to start first!

I had let the finances go a little, (checkbook needed to be balanced,) let the coupons go (all cut and organized now!,) hadn't worked much over the summer, so the budget was really tight, and my house was full of piles and clutter. I even gained weight over the summer instead of losing. :-(

As I sat there praying, I realized, that satan often tries to catch us as women when we are at this overwhelmed point. He tries to tell us, that we have messed up, we can't catch up, we are not good enough, etc., etc. We all have those moments where the negative self-talk can try to come in to our minds.

But, this time... and hopefully always, I chose not to listen to that negative talk. Instead, I decided to pray God's word, and get out a notebook. I made a plan! I decided that with God, I can be the best ME, that I can be. You can too. We don't have to be and do all of the other things that other women are. Be who God has designed you to be. Just the way you are!

Now.... what does this have to do with saving you might ask? Well, I pulled that BIG pile of coupons out, that I had pushed aside for the summer. I cut, filed and then used them at the store. I spent $47. and saved $109. What an awesome God we serve. I was on a very tight budget... and He allowed me to get everything I needed, under budget! It also felt good, to Just Do It! I had been dreading so many of the things that I had "put off" for the summer. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I wrote down my goals, and started checking them off! Money saving time is back!

You can do whatever your hearts desire is. Stop dreading it, get out paper and pen, write it down and begin! As Chris said .... "I dare you too!"

Have a great school year! You can do it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Voice In The Dark

Startled by our barking dog, my little girls were awakened suddenly. "Mommy! Help! Mommy!" they cried out in desperation. I went to flick on a light so that I could go to them, but darkness continued to fill our modest home. To my surprise, a power line was down and we did not have electricity. Things had gone from bad to worse, as my daughters were now on the verge of panic.

I knew my large shadow would only frighten them further, so I chose to stay put and have the girls come to me. In an attempt to ease my daughters' fears, I spoke gently into the darkness, "I am here. Just follow my voice." As they stumbled blindly through the house, I continued to call out to my girls. Moments later, Lily and Sofie, though scared of the dark, were secure in my embrace. They had found their way because they listened for my voice.

To be sure, everyone occasionally wanders through darkness. Blinded by insecurity. Afraid of the unknown. Sometimes we stumble through life. And yet, God is there, speaking into our fears, offering His unconditional love and faithful assurance. Therefore, we, as God's children, must be keenly attune to the voice of our Heavenly Father.

In 1 Samuel, we read about a boy named Samuel who learned to know God's voice. Late one night, as Samuel drifted off to sleep, he heard the voice of the Lord. Unfortunately, he didn't know God's voice at first. Instead, Samuel believed the voice to be that of Eli, a priest with whom he lived. Three times, Samuel heard the call. Twice, he left his bed and went to Eli's side. Both times, the boy was mistaken about who was calling out to him. Scripture teaches us that Samuel simply did not know the LORD at this time in his life. Therefore, he did not know God's voice.

However, Eli was a man who knew God's voice well. Promptly, he sent the inexperienced boy back to bed with instructions. Samuel was still. He was silent. And he waited. At last, "the LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening." (1Samuel 3:10) He had learned to recognize the voice of God, even in darkness.

The same is true for us today. These are challenging days for many of us. If we are to know God's voice, we must be quiet and await His presence expectantly. Gentle and small, God's voice resonates through the chaos of this life, and leads us out of darkness. And yet, too many of God's children fail to listen for His voice in the dark.

No matter how dark life gets, we have access to our Heavenly Father. Be still and listen. God is calling. Do you know His voice?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who are you following?

This morning as I arrived a church I ran into a very dear friend that I used to see all the time but because of changes in our individual worship times we haven't seen each other as much. She seemed "shell shocked" so to say. She shared news that our pastor had just announced God calling him away from our church and back to the church he had come from 11 years ago. Over the past year God has been preparing our church for a transition. I look back over the last year on some difficult times that challenged & strengthened not only our church staff but our congregation. As I went into the church I could tell by the faces who had heard and who had not. It was hard to sit thru the sermon waiting for the shoe to drop. Knowing that I would eventually hear with my own ears the news that our Pastor would be leaving. What I wasn't expecting to hear was the challenge he offered up to us. A challenge to keep doing & being all that he had been guiding us to be in the last 11 years.

My family & I joined FBC in 2003 after an extremely difficult year - we'd lost 2 babies to miscarriage, our son's health was declining, job loss, church change, financial struggles and me a big mess. We walked into FBC hurt and bruised. The love of the people & staff at FBC allowed us the time to rest & heal. Time to seek God's plan in our lives without the pressure to serve or share before we were ready.
Today my husband shared that under the guidance of our pastor he has grown more spiritually than ever before in his life. You see our Pastor didn't just talk the talk but he lived out what he taught in every aspect of his life. Even today as he shared what has been a very difficult decision for him and his family he was thinking about us first. He had such an important last message to share with us. It was simply this, "Who are you following?" Do we go to church to hear Pastor Jeff deliver a great speech or do we go to church so that we can hear God speak to us thru those he brings to our church? If we are following the "Pastor" we will only hear a good speaker. But if we are following God we will hear the message of salvation. Not only is it necessary for us to follow God and his plan for our lives but it is critical. People we love will move and some will die before we feel they should. We have to place our hope in someone greater than the people on this earth. You see God will never move away or die on us. He is in it for eternity. He gave his only son to die for us on the cross, a brutal & painful death in order to be the sacrifice for us. Securing for us eternal life. By accepting Christ's sacrifice of dieing on the cross for our sins we are promised life for ever with God. My 6 year old asked me to day if "we will have eternal life forever." Accepting Christ guarantees us "Eternal life forever!"

So where do we all go from here? We keep putting one step in front of the other. We keep doing ministry, we keep meeting & praising & worshiping God, grateful for the leadership we have had under an amazingly gifted man. But remembering that we are ultimately where we are to worship God & share the good news of Jesus with all we come into contact with.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Over the course of the past few months, God has been speaking to my husband and me about a "next step" that He has for us. Though we are not sharing it with the world yet, it is safe to say that it is not a decision that can be made lightly, and it is not something that all of our friends are doing. It is something that He has grown in us, and we know without a doubt that it is of God.

However, because it is not something that "everybody's doing," we know that not everyone will embrace it once we share. We have found, though, that the only place we want to be in this life is in God's will, so we will face the disapproval, the questions, and whatever else comes with it because we know 100% without a doubt that it is what God has for us.

In the midst of all that we've been wrestling with, my husband introduced me to a song I hadn't heard before. It's called "Uncommon." The first time I heard it, I sat and wept as I listened to it. You see, all year I have been saying that I don't want to be "normal" in the world's eyes, and the decision God has led us to is certainly not that. It is uncommon.

I don't know what you're facing right now, but I believe God has called us as Believers to live a life that is different. He calls us to love the unlovable, to serve those who don't want to be served, to do things that others might not understand. It may be something big, or it may be something as simple as taking a meal to someone who's hurting. Whatever it is, will you take the time today to hear His voice? What does He have for you?

As you read through the lyrics below (or click on the link above to listen to it), I pray that you might hear God's voice and that you would be willing to join me in this uncommon life.


What if there's something bigger for me out there
Than the comfort of a life on this middle ground?
I've played it safe but now I can't help but wonder
If maybe I've been missing out

'Cause I look around and see a sea of people
Everybody's moving in the same direction
And I think it's time to break away, break away


I wanna finally take the road less traveled
I wanna run away from anything typical
I want the world to see the life I'm livin'
And call it

What if the right thing was harder than the wrong thing
But I did it anyway?
Standing strong even when no one else was watching
What if I really lived that way?

Every heart has it's defining moment
This is mine and I'm not gonna miss it


I wanna finally take the road less traveled
I wanna run away from anything typical
I want the world to see the life I'm livin'
And call it

I don't care if it makes me look different
I'm never letting go of my convictions
Let the world see the life I'm livin'
And call it

What if I made it to the end of my days here
Only to find that my legacy is nowhere to be found
I don't wanna waste another second
Give me the strength to start right now