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.