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


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Faithfulness of God

"I remember my first visit to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. Rings of Japanese and German tourists surrounded the geyser, their video cameras trained like weapons on the famous hole in the ground. A large digital clock stood beside the spot, predicting twenty-four minutes before the next eruption.

My wife and I passed the countdown in the dining room of Old Faithful Inn overlooking the geyser. When the digital clock reached one minute, we, along with every other diner, left our seats and rushed to the windows to see the big, wet event.

I noticed immediately, as if on signal, a crew of busboys and waiters descended on the tables to refill water glasses and clear away dirty dishes. When the geyser went off, we tourists oohed and aahed and clicked our cameras; a few spontaneously applauded. But, glancing back over my shoulder, I saw that not even a single waiter or busboy--not even those who had finished their chores--looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown entirely too familiar, had lost its power to impress them."

Philip Yancey, as quoted by Mark Buchanan in "The Holy Wild"

This summer, I have been reading "The Holy Wild" by Pastor Mark Buchanan. He really has made me stop and think about just how faithful God is to us, every single day.. and, ashamedly, how little we appreciate the things He does for us, each and every day of our lives.

Especially in our modern-day iCulture...we want what we want and we want it yesterday. Sometimes we get so caught up in putting out our day-to-day fires, we stare right past acres of God's blessings that are right in front of our nose, never pausing once to thank Him..for any of them.

The example Mark Buchanan uses, that brought this point home starkly for me was when he asked the reader to consider how often we thank God for a leaf.. for leaves. I don't remember when I last even thought about leaves. As he states, "God makes leaves season after season, one after the other, billions upon billions, from the Garden to the New Jerusalem, most for no eye but His own. He does it faithfully, or else I would not live to tell about it, or you to hear. Leaves to spill out life-giving oxygen, to shade the earth, to feed you and me."

Because of His faithfulness, we get used to these kind of blessings.. we grow bored with faithfulness. Who reading this leapt out of bed this morning and ran to the window, exclaiming with excitement at the fact that the sun rose this morning? Or exclaimed in amazement that your lungs drew in a breath of fresh air? If I'm stepping on any toes, know that I am primarily stepping on my own!

Very rarely do I stop and thank God for any of these things. I just kind of take them for granted. Unfortunately, the thing that DOES tend to make us stop and thank God for these most precious of when we come very close to losing them.

A good friend of mine, mid-40s, had a massive stroke back in May. He was very near death, as we all prayed to God to please spare his life. Even as he turned that corner and stabilized, the doctors cautioned his family that he might never fully recover.. he could possibly be on a ventilator the rest of his life. Breathing...suddenly it didn't seem so automatic. None of his friends and family were taking it for granted anymore. Thanks be to God, my friend is now recovering and even breathing on his own again. Friends and family exhale...and then we move on...hopefully never forgetting this reminder.

Once more, Mark Buchanan sums this up so eloquently, "When the seas roar and the mountains give way.. we despair, or we take hold of God. There are three things that God promises with a guarantee: He is faithful to forgive our sins if we confess them, He is faithful to make us holy and blameless through Christ's sacrifice...and He is faithful to get us home."

And even when no one's noticing, He's still faithful...making by one.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"I want her"

I recently returned from a mission trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia where I got to serve with an orphanage called Casa de Amor. Before going, I would laugh at my friends and other women in my life who would joke that I should bring them back a baby. How silly, I thought. Well, I didn't bring back a baby. I DID, however, let a precious little 10 month old girl wrap me around her sweet, dimpled, baby fingers while I was there--it was an accident...I was certain that I had prepared myself to NOT get attached.

I spent a whole day and a half with her and just laughed with her and at her and held her and rocked her and played with her and fed her and sung to her and watched her sleep. During those moments I KNEW it was temporary and that she was just a sweet baby that I got to spend time with. But for some reason, when I started preparing for heading home a few days later, I couldn't get her off my mind. I kept kidding with my teammates and with the orphanage director that I just wished I could take her home. [I was at least half-serious] In just a day and a half, I had grown to care SO MUCH about this little girl.

I sat down one afternoon a couple of days after I had last seen her and started journaling and talking with God. I knew in my heart that she wasn't going home with me. I asked God why on earth he would let me feel love for a little girl I was going to have to leave. I didn't I began to pray for her and for who she might go home with ONE day. I prayed that God would please bring her parents who would just flood her with love....and then I was overwhelmed by a thought that God had given me back at Easter...only this time it seemed more personal. The greatest thing we can do for our children is tell them about Jesus. THAT is the greatest show of love we can ever, ever offer. I began praying that she would have parents who would tell her about Jesus. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, Lord...give her parents who love YOU and love her so much to tell her how much YOU love her. I started praying for every child in that orphanage...God, please just let them learn about your Son! Give them homes, give them families that LOVE YOU.

God used this little girl to remind me that the greatest thing we can do for our children is tell them about Jesus. If you don't know me, you may not know that have zero kids. But I know that I am surrounded by people who were not told about Jesus when they were children. Like you, I have family...I have teens in my youth ministry...I have neighbors and acquaintances at places I visit frequently, and I have opportunities to go on mission trips and talk to complete strangers...all of which may NEVER have heard or realized that Christ loves them. We are all surrounded by "kids" that we encounter on a regular basis and the GREATEST thing we can ever talk to them about is JESUS and his love for them. In the same way I wanted this little girl to be part of my family, God wants EVERY person, every child, to part of HIS family.

Thank you, God, for using a precious baby girl to remind me of the opportunity that is all around me, all of the time.

PS-I still want her. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lessons We Learn From Infants

If you have been reading this blog for the past year you know that I had a beautiful baby girl last July. She recently turned one. We have enjoyed every minute of her. Not only has she brought us immeasurable amounts of joy she has also taught me many lessons.

We have finally gotten a bedtime routine down most of the time. It took about 11 months to get to this point but we finally did it! One night recently as I was holding her I thought about how God holds us the same way. How he is there any time to pick us up and hold us close with His arms wrapped around us. Some nights when I lay her down rather than her turning over and going right to sleep she will cry out. Now, for the longest I would quickly pick her up and hold her until she would go back to sleep. I have learned to let her cry for a few minutes and usually within no time she is asleep. That has made me think about how Christ will pick us up when we need Him to but sometimes we need to grow and learn and just like my little girl crying in the crib learning how to calm herself our relationship with Christ grows when he does not do what we are begging Him to do but He does what He knows is best for us.  Just like I know it is best that sometimes I not immediately pick my little one up the moment she cries, God knows what we need and when we are asking for something that is not the best for us. 

It is amazing all the things our children can teach us.  The lessons I have learned and still learn through our first childs short lived life and death and then the lessons I am learning through our precious little girl reminds me each day of our Heavenly Father's love for each of us.

(Please do not think I let her cry and cry.  I can tell if she is crying because she is tired or if she needs to be picked up and held.  Learning to let her cry it out was very hard for me!)