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