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A Dividing Line

I've prayed hard about exactly how and when to post this. I don't in anyway want this to come across as judgmental or sound as though I think I'm better than anyone else, because goodness knows I have been and still am the chiefest of sinners; the only difference is that I've chosen to cross the dividing line. So, I'm praying right now as I type that the Holy Spirit will move through these fingers of mine and speak to all of our hearts the message He desires for us to hear.

Several weeks back my mom, kiddos, and I made a trip to Florida to visit with family. It's been about 20 years since I've actually lived in Florida close to my extended family. We left when I was in the 5th grade so that my dad could attend Bible college and live out the calling God had placed on his life and the life of our family. We were by no means the perfect family. We had our struggles like every family does, but there was never any doubt in our home that God was first.

I've had my own personal struggles, seasons of rebellion, and pits of sin that I lived through myself. If you've read my story you know that the Lord has delivered me and restored me to Himself. Like my immediate family, my extended family has had it's own set of struggles, challenges, hurts, and pains.

On Sunday everyone was planning on getting together to have lunch and visit. Saturday night I found out that a cousin who I've always been close to was in the midst of dealing with a "situation". This cousin and I have always been very open and honest with each other. A couple of years ago we had a conversation that involved me having to apologize for not being a godly example for so many years, sharing what the Lord had done to heal my heart and marriage, and then sharing with this cousin the love of Jesus. My cousin's response, "I'm not ready to give up what I'm doing. I'm not ready to let it go. You and I are different. We don't see things the same way." I have prayed for this cousin for years- for their salvation, protection, and healing. When I found out the situation this cousin was in my heart was broken. "I just don't understand Lord," I prayed that night as I went to bed. As I drifted off to sleep that night the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, "it's all about choices and whether or not you are willing to cross over the line that divides."

I woke early the next morning and lay in bed with this burden still heavy on my heart. The Lord brought to mind Abraham and his journey to the receive the blessings God had promised him. Abraham had the choice. He could choose to leave his homeland, his family, his life, everything that was the norm for him and literally cross over the river to the promised blessings that awaited him or he could choose not to and continue living in the mediocre, hum-drum life that was comfortable to him. His choice- cross over the line that divided the blessings from the mediocre and receive God's blessings even though he wasn't sure about anything that was to come.

My mom and I went to worship at a local church that morning. Can I just say that it was a much needed refueling for my soul! God used that pastor to reiterate to me what He had spoken to my heart earlier that morning. His message was about Noah and his choice to cross over that line that divided those who were living immoral lives and the family of Noah who had chosen to follow God. I began praying right then and there that the Lord would open the door for me to have a conversation with my cousin once again sharing with them how much God loves them and desires to have a relationship with them.

God opened that door through a question posed to me by my cousin, "why do you home school your kids?" My response, "Well, first of all, God told us to. And because we want to instill in our kids Biblical principals and guide them in growing in their relationship with the Lord." I went on to say, "It's about them being armed and ready to go out into the world, so that when they are faced with the things that you and I were faced with, hopefully they will make a much wiser decision; a decision that is based on the Truth of God's Word."

We talked for a while and I poured out my heart about how much God loved them and was there for them. It began raining as we talked and I believe it was the heart of God breaking as my cousin said, "God. He's not for me. I can't let go of what I'm doing. I just can't do it."

What do you do? What do you say? It was very clear to me that day that a dividing line had been drawn in the sand between the two of us. I was on one side, my cousin on the other. Choices had been made. One choosing to follow Christ, while the other chose to hold on to the things of this world.

In Matthew 8:18-22 a scribe came to Christ wanting to follow Him. The scribe was unable to follow Christ because he was not willing to leave behind his family and an inheritance that was to come.

"23)And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me,
let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own
interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me
[cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need
be, in dying also]. 24) For whoever would preserve his life and save it
will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will
preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death]. 25) For what does
it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses)
himself? 26) Because whoever is ashamed of Me and of My teachings, of him
will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the [threefold] glory (the
splendor and majesty) of Himself and of the Father and of the holy

Luke 9:23-26, Amplified Bible

There is no profit in clinging to the world. Only in Christ does one find peace, contentment, and joy. Only in Christ is true happiness. Only in Christ is true love and acceptance. Only in Christ is eternal life; without Him life is meaningless.

I will continue to pray for my cousin. I'm praying specifically that they will have an undeniable encounter with the God of the universe. I'm praying that Jesus will shower down upon them grace and mercy. I'm praying that brokenness will come. I'm praying that there will no longer be a dividing line between the two of us but that one day soon we will be fighting the same fight.

I'm sure you have those in your life who you are praying for for their salvation. Let us not grow weary, for in His time the harvest will come.


In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 Bible Study~ Lesson 2

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed you some Jesus? Well today has been one of those days for me. In fact, this week has been one of those weeks where I just needed me some Jesus. Monday, the 22nd, was the second lesson of the "In Pursuit of Proverbs 31" online Bible study that I'm doing and today, Friday the 26th, I'm finally getting around to doing it. And, let me just say people, it has been worth the wait. God has spoken a Word to me tonight.

We had our normal Friday night family night by wrapping a two week home school study on The Story About Ping (it's a story about a duck named Ping who lives in China). The kids and I decorated the dining room with homemade Chinese lanterns and flags to set the mood and then we enjoyed some yummy Chinese cuisine. After dinner the kids shared the lap books they made with dad, practiced tae kwon do, and snuggled with dad on the couch while he read to them. I opted out of story time, as it was getting late and I wanted to get my shower so that I could have that much needed time with Jesus. I got my shower, put on my comfy jammies, made myself a yummy pot of carmel truffle coffee, grabbed by Bible, pens, and notes. And, well... here I am enjoyin me some Jesus time with some nice Praise and Worship music softly playing in the background. Can it get any better than this!?!

I'm not sure if there is a "right way" to tackle and post what the Lord has shown me tonight in my time with Him, so I'm just going to go through my notes as I recorded them and pray that they make sense to you. Let me go ahead and give you a heads up, this is long, looonnnggg people. When God speaks we are to write it down, right? "This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD." (Psalm 102:18) Well it appears tonight that we may have a session instead of a post. You may want to grab yourself a cup of coffee before you get started. :)

So, without further ado...

Amy made the statement in the introduction of the study that we may have to retrain our patterns of thought and overcome some mindsets we may have formed and possibly even unlearn some things about the P31 (Proverbs 31) woman we may have been taught in the past. I know for me, anytime I would hear the P31 woman mentioned, I would cringe and get this sickening feeling in my stomach. But, that 's not at all how the Lord intended for us to react to this beautiful passage of Scripture. Rather, I believe the intended meaning of this passage is to encourage us, not to necessarily sew or go out and buy a piece of land, but to pursue an intimate relationship filled with reverent worship and respect for the God of the universe.

Another thing that Amy said from the intro was the "God speaks to each and everyone of us on a daily basis. We must learn to hear and obey Him." Hummm. We must learn to hear and obey Him. For me to obey God's voice I have to know what His voice sounds like. When I was pregnant with my kids they would kick and move when they heard the familiar voices of my husband or me. Why? Because we were constantly talking to them and singing to them. They got used to the sound of our voices; they knew who mommy and daddy were. Our voices were the voices they heard the most so when they were born, ours were the ones that more often calmed their cries. Their ears had been tuned to hear us speak. It is so very important for us to tune out the noise of this world, whether it's the media, music we listen to, books we read, opinions of friends who think they know what's best for our lives, and turn up the volume on the voice of God so that we can clearly hear Him speak Truth to our hearts.

We were to read chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew. My first thought was, "uh, why?" After I read it I understood. One of the things I like to do in Bible Study, after reading an entire chapter in a book, is in a few words (the less the better) write down a theme for that chapter. The theme for Matthew chapter 6 is HUMILITY. It brought to mind Galatians 1:10, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." So what does this have to do with P31, you ask? The P31 woman did nothing to seek the approval of her neighbors, the women at her church, or the other soccer moms. Her number one goal was to please her heavenly Father and no one else.

I have struggled with "doing" in order to gain the approval of men. There have been times when I have jumped on the bandwagon because it was the "thing to do", knowing all the while that I was in absolute defiance of God's will. This is not just something that happens outside of the church. It can and does happen amidst God's people; that's why it is so important for us to know intimately the voice of God and obey what it is the HE is telling us.

Another great point of Amy's: "If we put our effort into growing our relationship with Him, then we will develop a deeper understanding of who He is and what He is showing us through His Word" (emphasis added). I can desire in my heart all day long to be the woman of noble character, that virtuous woman, but unless I do my part to deepen my relationship with Christ, my relationship with Him won't grow but will become stale and stagnant. What is the effort I must put forth? Laying aside those things that enslave me, like the TV, phone, computer :), etc... so that I can spend that quality time with Him getting to know Him more intimately.

Whew! This is getting long. I told you I needed me some Jesus time. For those of you who are still with me, I need to refill my coffee cup. Be right back. :)

Ok. I'm back. I decided to go ahead and start the dishwasher and visit the ladies room while I was up. Can I just tell you that it drives me NUTS, nuts I tell you, to sit down upon the porcelain throne only to realize that the last person there left only ONE sheet of toilet paper! ARGGGG!

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes. We were told that P31 is not a set of guidelines or a to do list for the Christian woman. Amy gave a few verses for us to look at that were guidelines for us as Christian women: Titus 2:3-5, Ephesians 5:22, Proverbs 14:1, and 1 Peter 3:1. Just a few quick things on Proverbs 14:1 and 1 Peter 3:1 that were PoW (Pearls of Wisdom, as Amy calls them- I just love that, don't you!?!).

When I study God's Word I often times will read different translations. I looked up Proverbs 14:1 in the Contemporary English Version and this is what it said:

"A woman's family is held together by her wisdom, but it can be destroyed by her
Proverbs 14:1, CEV

Foolishness. Just let that soak in for a minute. Foolishness. Ever made any foolish decisions that not only affected you, but also those within your family?

"1) Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of
them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior
of their wives, 2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5) For this is the way the holy women of the
past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were
submissive to their own husbands, 6) like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called
him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give
way to fear."
1 Peter 3:1-6, NIV (emphasis mine)

Beauty equals a gentle and quiet spirit; a spirit that is humble and peaceable. Beauty would not be someone who raises their voice or who constantly nags or who is boisterous and prideful. The women described in this passage made themselves beautiful by submitting to the leadership of their husbands.

Our Scripture verse for memory is John 5:30.

"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous,
because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me."
John 5:30, NKJV

Everything Christ did/does is solely dependent upon the Word and will of His Father. Oh, how I pray that everything I do and say is solely dependent upon the Word and will of my heavenly Father.

One can't leave John 5:30 without taking a look at verses 19-21 of that same chapter.

"19) Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the
Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He
does, the Son also does in like manner. 20) For the Father loves the Son, and
shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works
than these, that you may marvel. 21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives
life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will."
John 5:19-21, NKJV

Christ mimics the actions of His Father. Do I mimic my Father's actions? Do I mimic His love, compassion, tenderness, mercy, and grace? Makes me stop and think through my day. Makes me praise God for forgiveness and His mercies that are new every morning.

One of Amy's last questions for this session was, "what is the one verse in Proverbs 31:11-28 that you would most like to accomplish? I hope it's ok that I picked two.

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness."
Proverbs 31:26, NKJV

"She rises while it is yet night and gets
[spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks."
Proverbs 31:15, Amplified Bible

I love the Amplified Bible's version of verse 15. I picture in my mind this woman rising everyone else in her home, feasting upon God's Word so that she is filled to overflowing and then I see her praying over each member of her family. BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely beautiful!

Wow! That was a lot. Lots of challenges and areas that need improvement. Thank you, Lord for Your Word!


Psalm Friday

Lush, Green Pastures
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still
Psalm 23:2, NKJV

Join me today as we continue along with the Good Shepherd watching Him tend to His flock. On our journey so far we’ve seen how sheep handle fear and worry. We've also seen how they relate to one another and how friction amongst the flock affects each one of them. Last time we were together we saw what happens to sheep if they are not properly taken care of. Today we are going to look at the last element that needs to be met for a sheep to lie down in peace- freedom from hunger.

Green pastures don’t just happen by chance. Areas like those of Palestine where David penned this Psalm and kept his father’s flock, are a dry, brown, sun-burned wasteland. The green pastures needed to feed one’s flock only come with diligent labor on the part of the shepherd. Lush, green pastures are the result of clearing off rocky land; removing brush, roots, and stumps; plowing and carefully preparing the soil; seeding, planting, and irrigating the land; and carefully nurturing the grass as it grows. If the shepherd’s sheep are to enjoy these green pastures, then their shepherd must be diligent in his care of this land.

Why is it important for a flock of sheep to have lush, green pastures to feed on? These pastures are essential to having a successful and flourishing flock of sheep. A successful flock is a flock that has sheep with full bellies, lying down, resting peacefully. For ewes to produce enough milk for their growing lambs, they need green pastures to feed upon.

A hungry sheep is always on its feet, searching frantically for something to fill its belly. These sheep are never content, they don’t grow as they should, and they are no use to themselves or their shepherd. They end up weak and lifeless.

The Good Shepherd led His people, Israel, into a land flowing of milk and honey; a land that would not only provide them with much food and nourishment physically speaking, but also a land flowing with the bountiful blessings and the richness of the bread of life for their souls.

Our Shepherd has provided lush, green pastures for us to feed upon. He has provided a food to fill our souls. The Lord has invited us to pull up a chair, open wide our mouths and let Him feed us to the fill. Will you today spend some time at His table, feasting on His Word?

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open
wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10, NIV


Vacation 2008

Here are a few pictures from my vacation last week. It was sooo relaxing. My whole family enjoyed several days on Oak Island on the coast of North Carolina.


Join me in Pursuing Proverbs 31

Amy over at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 is beginning an online 10 week Bible Study of Proverbs 31. I am so excited about this. The Proverbs 31 woman is so often misunderstood and presented to us in a way that it seems this "superwoman myth" could never be met by the woman of today.

Having studied this passage with a group of ladies earlier in the year, I am so thrilled to join Amy in this journey. Amy has am awesome story to share about how the Lord has worked in her life. I've had the privilege to work with her personally, even if it was from a distance, as she designed my beautiful blog. This is going to be a great time of fellowship with other sisters in Christ and digging deep into God's Word. Will you join us? Click on the button in this post and it will link you to Amy site. See you there!

As an introduction, Amy has asked that we answer the following thought provoking questions:
What do you hope to get out of this bible study?
New truths from the Word. Even though I recently studied through this passage, I believe that God always has something new to teach me from His Word. I'm excited to see where He will lead me this time as we look into Proverbs 31.

I'm also excited to meet and get to know other sisters in Christ.

What, if anything, has prevented you from studying these scriptures in the past?
In the past, I've always viewed this passage as an unattainable goal; as something that just appeared to be a great idea, but something that I could never live out in my own life- after all, I don't sew or buy fields.

I guess to sum it up in one word- fear of failure. Ok, maybe three words, but one complete thought!

What have you found helpful or frustrating about living out these scriptures?
Frustrating- how in the world did she do it all? How can I do it all with all I have to do?

Helpful- she began her day feasting on God's Word and everything else fell into place

This is going to be great. Hop on over the Amy's now and join us!


And then there were babies

Back in June our family witnessed something that I believe was truly a gift from God. You can read more about that HERE. Last weekend, we watched as the miracle of life was literally "hatched" before our eyes. Friends, we serve an awesome God!!


Psalm Friday

Those Pesky Flies
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 23:2, NKJV

Join me today as we continue walking alongside the Good Shepherd watching Him tend to His sheep. On our journey so far we’ve seen how sheep handle fear and worry and we’ve also seen how they relate to one another and how friction amongst the flock affects each one of them. Today let’s look at what happens to sheep if they are not properly taken care of.

There are many pesky flies and parasites that can aggravate a sheep to death if the sheep is not properly taken care of. The summertime is especially difficult for sheep. This is the time of year when they are tormented by bot flies, warble flies, nasal flies, and ticks. When bothered by these annoying flies it is almost impossible for a sheep to lie down and rest in peace. Their time is spent shaking their heads back and forth and stamping their feet in an effort to rid themselves of flies that persistently upset them.

Several years ago I worked for a veterinary supply warehouse. We supplied items for animals of all shapes, sizes, and types. On numerous occasions I sold sprays, ointments, face masks, liquid dips, fly traps, insecticide ear tags, and other products to sheep farmers who were trying their best to make the summertime bearable for their sheep. The care of the owner to his flock is what will get his sheep through this hard time of the year.

This kind of care and attention calls for extra work on the part of the shepherd. He constantly has to examine each of his sheep making sure it doesn’t have fly eggs that have been embedded into their ears or ticks that have attached themselves to the skin of the sheep. I was amazed to hear the stories of the old time sheep farmers who had so much love for their sheep and knew them so well that they were aware the moment their sheep were bothered by flies, tick, or parasites because they had seen the behavior of their sheep change dramatically. These farmers had spent time with their sheep on a daily basis, knowing the behavior of each of them and knowing when they were in need of something. Those farmers who truly loved and cared for their sheep took care of the problems immediately, desiring the best for their flock.

There are going to be pesky irritations that, at times, will plague us in our Christian life. Pesky flies of worry and doubt, frustrations and insignificant arguments; the flies of pride and jealously, unforgiveness and blame can trouble us to the point of making us useless in God’s kingdom.

What can be done about these irritating, pesky flies? Can one be content and lie down in peace regardless of them? Absolutely yes! The presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers brings to us a comfort and healing that provides us relief from the annoyances of life. Philip W. Keller says it this way, “The gracious Holy Spirit makes real in me the very presence of the Christ. He brings quietness, serenity, strength, and calmness in the face of frustrations and futility.”

When we turn to the Shepherd who cares so deeply for us His sheep, and allow Him to examine our hearts and find the source of the problem, frustration, or annoyance, we will then be able lie down and rest. For it is the Good Shepherd who is able to apply the healing salve that we need to continue on in this journey called life. It is the Good Shepherd who is able to administer the antidote of His person to the very root of my problem. It is the Good Shepherd who is able to remove those pesky ticks who desire to suck the very life out of me. My friend, it is ONLY the Good Shepherd who is able to provide for me true healing, comfort, peace, and contentment.


Remembering 9/11

To all those who lost their lives that day and to your families who were left behind, today we remember you and honor you.

To all the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save the lives of their fellow Americans, we salute you.

To the men and women who, everyday, put themselves in harms way for the love of this great land, the United States of America, we honor you and thank you for you unselfish service.

In the midst of this time of honoring and remembering these great men and women, may we not forget the greatest Man who ever lived and died so that you and I might enjoy freedom from the chains of the enemy.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

"For freedom Christ has set us free."
Galatians 5:1a

"and you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free."
John 8:32

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
John 8:36


The Fashion Diva

I don't think I'll be taking any fashion tips from my kiddos. Yesterday the two oldest dressed the youngest in a pink sun hat, brown t-shirt, pink bumble bee panties, purple socks, and tennis shoes, which were put on the wrong feet. And of course, she had to have some accessories- the pink cell phone! Such a diva!


But It Looked SOOO Good

The doors slid open and there she was. Just to the left of me sat the most beautiful, sweetest smelling pineapple you have every seen in your life. I picked her up to get a better look. She was firm yet soft; bright green and yellow skin protected the juicy fruit she contained within; tall green leaves topped her beautiful body and she screamed out to me, "buy me! Buy me!"

There I stood deliberating- should I, should I not, should I, should I not? My heart so wanted to take her home with me. I could already picture it in my mind the yummy fruit salad I could create- the juicy strawberries, the sweet cantaloupe, the delicious blueberries, maybe throw in some watermelon and a few peaches. Then, oh yes, then I would finish my fruit salad creation off with this most excellent pineapple.

So, what was the dilemma? Why was I standing there debating in my mind if I should or should not take her home and provide her with the best life possible? Well, I'm allergic to pineapple. Not like deathly allergic, but allergic enough to be miserable for days after consuming this most excellent fruit. It all started when I was in college. I had gone to visit my grandparents for the weekend. My grandmother made some kind of fruit dip that contained crushed pineapple for us to enjoy with apples and freshly sliced pineapple. I ate apples, pineapple, and fruit dip all weekend. It was so good! By Sunday afternoon I was in pain. I could hardly swallow because ulcers filled my mouth and lined my throat. The ulcers had to take a number to get in line because there were so many of them. Not realizing what was going on I enjoyed a few more servings of the yummy fruit and dip because the coolness of it going down was the only relief I was getting. Long story short, by Monday morning I was in the doctor's office, at this point having to spit out my saliva in a cup because I couldn't swallow at all. The doc determined that the cause of this infirmity was the delicious, very acidic pineapple I had gorged myself on over the weekend. His remedy? No more pineapple and several days worth of steroids.

So, you can see the dilemma I was in as I stood there admiring this beautiful work of creation. Not heeding to the still small voice within me that was saying-"don't do it, don't do it! Do you remember when?"- I took her home with me. As soon as I got her home, before I put up any of the other groceries, I chopped off her head, peeled the skin away from her bright yellow body watching the juice pour out, and cut her up into bite size pieces- that sounds a little gruesome, doesn't it? Anyway, I immediately began enjoying this juicy, sweet, delicious pineapple. It was just as I had remember it to be.

Every morning for the next two days I enjoyed a yummy fruit salad for breakfast. No ulcers, no swelling throat, no spitting of my saliva into a cup... until the third day. The third day rolled around and up from the grave she arose- swelling throat, ulcers, sinus drainage, raspy voice. Doom! Misery! And all for what? A few pieces of yummy, delicious, beautiful, juicy pineapple that I knew I should NOT eat in the first place? Was it worth it? Uh, no. I'm still, a month later, suffering the consequences of this decision. I'll spare you all the details of the hacking cough and sore throat and the like, but it has not been good.

Today is my birthday and as I sat this morning with the Lord I thought about many of the foolish decisions I've made in my life- times when an opportunity appeared to me to be the best choice, relationships that seemed to be "the one" that would be exactly what I needed, career choices that sounded as if my career would be advanced. Many times I've made decisions based on impulse and what has LOOKED to be really good.

I couldn't help but recall Eve in the garden when tempted by the enemy to go against what God had specifically commanded otherwise. The enemy tempted her with the appearance of the fruit, "Doesn't this LOOK good? Surely something that LOOKS this good can't be bad for you." He made her doubt the consequences that were sure to come from deliberately disobeying her Creator, "Did God REALLY say you will die? You won't REALLY die, you'll become like God."

I thought about Jonah when God commanded him to go to Nineveh to preach His message of repentance and hope. Jonah's response as he surveyed the situation- "You won't me to go where? And do what? I'm not going to those people with any kind of message. LOOK at them! Absolutely not!" I wonder how the view looked from the belly of the big fish!?!

And then I thought about Daniel. "Bow down only to the king or be thrown into the lion's den," was the decree that came to the people. Faced with a situation that was a no brainer and met by all with immediate allegiance to the king, Daniel, too, obeyed and bowed to the King. The difference? Daniel looked to his King, his Lord, his Deliverer whom he knew would meet him in the den and rescue him from the mouths of the lions. What LOOKED to all as eminent death for Daniel, LOOKED to God as a man who loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul. Daniel LOOKED at the situation and saw it as an opportunity to glorify the Lord through his actions.

There are times in our lives when things look good, sound good, smell good, feel good, and taste good, but those characteristics aren't what we are to base our decisions upon. Anything we do, any action we make, any journey we embark on, and any relationship we begin should all be directed by God, lead by the Holy Spirit, based upon and tested against God's Word, and bathed in prayer. Why? So that we aren't lead into situations that will have long term negative effects on the health of our emotions, our physical bodies, and our spirits.

"21) Test everything. Hold on to the good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV


When I grow up...

When I grow up...

I want to be an Olympic swimmer or maybe even join the circus.

I want to be a herpetologist or an architect.

I think I might like to be spider man or an engineer.

But, I DO NOT want to be a gorilla researcher.

It appears that gorilla research is completely out of the question for my oldest child. She and her brother decided to climb the "gorilla tree" in the backyard and do a little research. I ended up doing all the research trying to find out what kind of poison she got in to. After 10 days of oral steroids she was good to go. Stick to the frogs and salamanders baby girl!


Your ticket please

Last night was our weekly family night. On the menu was dad's famous homemade fried mozzarella sticks and chicken breast nuggets. Yummo! After dinner the kids picked a movie for us to all enjoy together- this week's selection, The Polar Express. We all grabbed our favorite blankets and snuggled down together to enjoy the movie. Dad did good this time and made it to almost the half-way point before he was snoring. Some nights it's more amusing to listen to the melodies of dad's snoring than the movie itself.

I have seen this movie MANY times, but this time was different. There is a scene in the movie where the kids are on the train on their way to the North Pole. The conductor makes his way down the aisle punching everyone's ticket. One of the girls tickets has been accidentally lost and her friend offers to give her his ticket. "No!" cried the conductor, "these tickets are special." He went on the say that each of the tickets was meant especially for it's original owner and could not be shared or passed on to another.

My thoughts were immediately drawn to the gifts and abilities the Lord bestows upon each one of His children. God has fashioned for each of us specific gifts and abilities that He desires we use to bring honor and glory to Him and His kingdom. My gifts aren't yours and your gifts aren't mine; our gifts are not meant to be passed on to others, but are meant to be used to edify the body of Christ.

How are you using the gifts and abilities God has specifically given to you? Are you using them to bring Him honor and glory?

4) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5) There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6) There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NIV


Psalm Friday

In His Presence is Contentment
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 23:2, NKJV

Let’s continue today walking alongside the Good Shepherd as He tends to His sheep. Last time we were together we looked at how a sheep handles fear and worry. Today I invite you to join me as we look at how sheep relate to one another and how friction amongst the flock affects each one of them.

As with most animal groups there is a ranking system within a flock of sheep. Usually the ewe that is the haughtiest, most deceiving and most dominant ole gal will hold this position with pride among her flock. She carefully and proudly holds this position by bullying, butting, and driving the other members of her flock away from the prime pastures and most comfortable sleeping grounds. Ezekiel 34, gives us a first-hand picture of how the Good Shepherd will handle the ewe who butts, prods, and rules over His precious sheep.

“15) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,
declares the Sovereign LORD.
16) I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I
will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I
will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
20) " 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them:
See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean
sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder,
butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have
driven them away, 22) I will save my flock,
and they will no longer be plundered.
I will judge between one sheep and another.”
Ezekiel 34:15-16; 20-22, NIV

When there is tension within a flock, sheep are unable to get the proper rest they need and tend to stop eating, which could evidently lead to more extensive problems.

I saw this very thing play out right before my eyes with my Sammy. When he was very young, he was cute and cuddly. He would follow close behind and never complain about what he had been given- a nice warm bed to sleep in, green grass to graze upon, clean fresh water to drink, sweet feed to fill his belly with, and a caretaker who would protect him from harm. But, the older he got, the more of a bully he became, especially with my younger sister. Anytime she was outside and I wasn’t looking, whether she was close to him or not, Sammy would run over to her and give her a good head butt. He wanted to make sure that she knew her place among the ranks- that he was in charge and she was subordinate to him. Now, when either I or my dad would come around, Sammy wouldn’t even think about butting her. It appeared that with the presence of his caretaker, Sammy forgot about his inner need to be in charge. He was more at ease and would even skip behind my sister as she ran and played.

Here is a firsthand picture of the human desire and pursuit of trying to keep up with the Joneses. Look inside any group, organization, office, church, family, or any place there are people involved and I can almost guarantee you there is a struggle for power and position. There is a fight for one to be in charge of another. This fight and struggle involves the bullying and butting of the weaker one by the stronger. Yes, the stronger may “win” the position he so desires and gain the power he has deemed rightfully his, but in the end he has only hurt and sometimes completely destroyed the very ones that surround him. The true results of this “power struggle” are only hurt, jealously, anger, bitterness, hate, and discontentment, of which no one is able to properly function in the midst of.

In Psalm 23 we see that the Good Shepherd’s sheep are able to lie down and rest because there is no tension, no struggle for power, no desire to be greater than another among the flock. There is a satisfaction, a happiness, a contentment among them that only comes when one stays in the very presence of the Good Shepherd. The presence of the Shepherd puts an end to the rivalries and desires for more that can so easily invade our homes, churches, businesses, and relationships. Keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on Him, instead of on others around us will lead to a life of contentment and rest, a life of happiness and satisfaction, a life of peace and prosperity.

One last thought and maybe this has only been true in my life- often times the need for and desire of holding a “position” is so that one receives recognition and praise from others. It is of utter importance that we examine our hearts and always remember that we are not to be in the pursuit of man’s approval, but we should seek to please the Lord in all that we do. Because it is before Him and not the neighbor next door that we will one day stand before and be held accountable for all that we have done, or not done.

“10) Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or
am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10, NIV


A Shout Out to Ya!

Hello out there to all my bloggy friends! I'm just getting home from being gone for two weeks and today I'm trying to get back into the groove of things- it's sooo hard. My mom, kiddos, and I went to Florida to visit our family. It was a great trip.

So much has been going on lately. I don't even know where to begin. The Lord has used allergic reactions to pineapple and poison ivy, conversations with family, interesting books, hours of driving, new puppies, strangers in Starbucks, and "dividing lines" to teach me many things. I'm still in the processing stage of it all and hope to share with you soon.

Until then... I hope you are all doing well. I've missed you bunches. Peace out!