Do you know how to use your gifts?


Did you get everything you were expecting for Christmas yesterday? Maybe you're headed to the store today to return some things you weren't expecting... For me, yesterday was a mixture of laughter, tears, excitement, bad attitudes, surprise, and mostly fun. You know, the normal when the participants range from ages 2-80. :)

In the midst of all the gift giving, I couldn't help but be reminded of the greatest gift-giver of all. Our Heavenly Father gave us all he had when he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Through Jesus, we now have access to everything in the spirit rhelm. What we lack is knowledge of what is already ours and knowledge of how to put those things into action.

If someone gives us a Christmas gift that doesn't come with a manual on how to use it, it will either take much longer to figure out how it works; or we will give up trying to figure it out and it will end up in a cabinet somewhere. If it does come with instructions, how do you think the loved one who gave the gift would feel if we didn't take the time to read the manual on how to use it?

Sad, disappointed, hurt, shocked?

Well, that's how God feels! He already did everything he's going to do when he gave us Jesus. If we don't read the owner's manual (the Bible) for instructions on how to use that gift, it's like a brand new present sitting on a shelf looking great but not doing us any good because we didn't take time to read how to use it.

The number 1 excuse of believers is "I don't have time." Our problem, though, is not a time problem but a priority problem. Human beings ALWAYS make time for what's important to them... It's time to wake up and start reading our owners manual. Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."

In John 15:7 Jesus says, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you can ask what you will and it will be done for you." Verse 8 goes on to say that by doing this our Father is glorified! It brings God glory and great joy when his kids start using the gifts he's given them. 

So go ahead, take the present, rip it open and eagerly read how to use it. I guarantee you it will be the best present you've ever received. And you won't be regifting any of God's gifts. They're perfect!

Begin with the end in mind


Do the thoughts of holiday business overwhelm you instead of excite you?  Sometimes the day in and day out of life can feel monotonous and meaningless if we don't keep our end goals in front of us. Even a super busy life like mine can feel that way if I focus too much on the miraid of seemingly insignificant things on my to-do list. 

When we have a clear picture of what is before us, what God has called us to do, we can endure any stumbling blocks along the way. The enemy will always magnify the pain we're going through but when we understand the joy that is set before us, we can focus on that joy instead of the pain.

As we run our race, Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus was able to endure the sufferings of the cross because of the joy that was set before him. Verse 3 reminds us to remember how Jesus focused on that joy when our minds are being attacked.

Philippians 2:5-11 confirms this by saying, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." 1 Corinthians 2:16 also reminds us that we have the mind of Christ. We are able to think exactly like Jesus thinks! How? By spending time with our Father. That's how Jesus knew what to think. 

So when we're feeling overwhelmed by the many details of life and it doesn't seem like we're making any progress, let's stop and remind ourselves of why we do what we do everyday. If you don't have a why, take some time to ask God why He created you. It's for a very special and specific purpose and He's eager to let you in on His plans for you! :)

Is God forgetful?


Last week I eagerly jumped on the FBI's website to apply for a background check which included being fingerprinted at my local UPS store. My goal of being more involved in our children's school and youth group activities required me to acquire 3 different background clearances. This was not a problem. I even paid the $25.00 for the FBI check.

A few days after successfully applying, I was shocked to receive an email reminding me that 15 years ago I had been arrested for theft! My mouth was literally hanging open as I read the email since I had completely forgotten about this incident! I still don't remember what I stole, although I do remember getting fingerprinted at the police station and being terrified (I was about 19).

Then, interestingly enough, the message at church this past Sunday was on Romans 8:1 which says "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." We were reminded that when we repent of past mistakes, God never remembers those mistakes ever again! God says in Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remember your sins no more."

I love how God says He doesn't remember our sins for HIS sake. I would think it would be for my sake, but it's for His sake so that when he thinks of us, He only sees us through the blood of Jesus and through His eyes of grace and mercy. He can't see us any other way! As I'm sitting in Starbucks typing this, there's a big smile I can't wipe off my face as the greatness of this sinks in.  :) 

The devil is great at reminding us of past mistakes and failures in an attempt to drag us down in our current endeavors. He uses little aggravations to get at us and make us offensive. Or when God gives us a new assignment, he's there in our ear telling us we aren't qualified or we don't have time. 

The way we combat the devil's lies is to do as Jesus did in the wilderness and quote scripture to him. There's a verse in God's word for ANY situation we deal with! And most of all, we must own the fact that after we repent of faults, God does not remember them! And if He doesn't, we sure have no business remembering. 

The FBI and other organizations operate on remembering our past, but thankfully we serve a God who is forgetful. We can get overwhelmed as it is remembering the everyday to-do lists! Let's do ourselves a favor and start being more forgetful.


Is God's power working through us?


Not long ago, our area came under a severe thunderstorm accompanied by heavy rain and high winds. (Normally thunderstorms don't happen in October but this season has been exceptionally warm here in the Northeast.) Many power lines were brought down by fallen trees. Those power lines had an insulator around them to protect that power from an innocent bystander who would come across a downed power line. If that power line is exposed, a person can be killed! 

Ephesians 1:19 says we should know what is the surpassing greatness of God's power toward us who believe... Ephesians 3:20 goes on to say that God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.  We all want to receive exceeding abundantly beyond what we can ask or imagine but have we checked that God's power is working in us?

God's powers through the Holy Spirit must be at work in us if we can expect God to do great things in our lives. A wonderful thing about the word "work" here is that it is in the present tense meaning that it is working NOW! It is working constantly. His power worked at the time of our salvation but it is also working every moment of our lives if we allow it to work.

Just like those electrical lines must be insulated to protect that power, so God's power in us is insulted by his love. If God's love is not working in us, that power could be used against someone and cause great harm. God's power is released through us in direct proportion to the degree His love is working in us. Another way of putting it is that He actually turns his power up or down in us depending on how developed we are in love.

If we back up to verses 17-19 of Ephesians 3 we can see that being rooted and grounded in love proceeds God's power working in us. So, once we learn to walk in love in every situation (no matter how ugly someone treats us) God can turn his power up in us which leads to him being able to do exceeding abundantly in our lives.

We work in great power when we learn to walk in great love.

Romans 5:5 is exciting when we see that the love of God has already been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. We simply choose to activate that love every day. So let's focus on being rooted and grounded in love and then we will automatically experience God's mighty power working to give us exceeding abundantly above what we can ask or think. That's a lot!

Which pot are you?


I made the mistake recently of jumping on Pinterest in search of DIY fall decorations. I should know by now that I'm either going to get overwhelmed by all of the ideas and won't do anything; or I'll decide on something that will turn out NOTHING like the instructions pictured it would. :)

What I found, though, was a surprising variety of pots! There were planters of all shapes and sizes, window boxes, baskets, and (my favorite) the little 2 in. terra-cotta pots. Of course even the terra-cotta pots came in many materials like clay, stone, plastic and wood. 

I'm sad to report that I gave up my search without embarking on one of the projects, but I was reminded of a verse in 2 Timothy 2 that calls US pots! Verse 20 of this chapter says that in a great house there are not only containers of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable use. 

I've heard pastors teach on this verse comforting the people by telling them that not everyone can be a gold or silver container; and that God can still use you even if you're a little clay pot. As I went on to the next verse (21) it said "if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a container for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." 

So if we are not being used by God like we desire to, it's up to us to cleanse ourselves and become the gold and silver pots. It's not God's plan for us to stay little mud pots! He has great work for each of us to do if we will prepare ourselves.

I love how the message translation of 2 Tim. 2:20-21 puts it... 

" In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing."

Who wants to be a compost bucket all their lives??? Not me! :) I'm excited about letting God make me more and more like him as I am changed into his glorious image. (2 Cor. 3:18)



We are one step away...


The waves were wild and boisterous, beating against the small boat when all of the sudden what appeared to be a ghost moved across the water toward them. It was 3:00 in the morning and pitch black as Peter and his friends struggled to make out who was walking on the sea. But as they cried out in fear a familiar voice called out to them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid".

Suddenly Peter, knowing this must be Jesus, called out "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water". Jesus answered, "Come." Without thinking, Peter climbed over the side of the ship and walked on the water toward Jesus! Along the way though, he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to look at his surroundings. As he saw the reality of the wind and waves, fear gripped him and he began to sink.

Matthew 14:30 records that as he started to sink, he cried "Lord, save me!" Verse 31 says, "And IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him..." That word "immediately" struck me in a new way today that brought tears to my eyes.  Peter was only ONE step away from Jesus when he succumbed to the negative around him. Only one more step and he could have grabbed Jesus' outstretched hand and walked back to the boat with him.

How many of us are one step away from our answered prayer, one step away from the door opening, one step away from divine healing manifesting in our bodies? How many people shift their focus away from Jesus and onto the negative pressing in on them when one more step of faith would have brought them to victory? 

If we've already been bold enough to step out of the boat into God's calling on our lives, let's keep the blinders of God's word on and refuse to focus on the negative around us. Then we can say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that "we walk by faith, not by sight."



Are we fighting the right enemy?


She sits there at her patio table with a large iced coffee at her right and a playful kitten batting at her blonde curls as they gently blow in the breeze. The sun beams down on her journal and computer and makes her freshly applied lipstick a more brilliant shade of pink. Her 2 yr old yielded willingly to her nap releasing this girl to focus on her weekly blog. A neighbor glances out their window and assumes her life is perfect, even envying her a bit...

On the inside, this girl knows her world is far from perfect, yet she's expected to sport a smile as she goes about her day. This girl has said "yes" to different assignments God has given her with true joy in her heart only to be blindsided by an enemy who is far more real than any flesh and blood threat.

When those closest to her attacked her faith and convictions she began to listen to the subtle voices in her head each day. Voices that told her maybe it wasn't worth fighting for, voices that suggested she should even seek out a doctor for depression medication, voices that accused her of not even hearing from God in the first place...

This girl is me and I would venture to say almost every other girl in the world today.  Medical Science calls it a disorder but what it stems from is demonic. Many Christians stray away from the subject of demons, but we must acknowledge how real and numerous they are in order to know how to fight them. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.

So when opposition comes at us in whatever form (finances, relationships, employment...) we must see that demonic forces are behind those attacks and to speak out loud to those demons. At the same time, we are also instructed in Hebrews 1:14 to command our warring angles to go fight for us and bring our prayer requests to pass. Just like Daniel in the Bible, our prayers are hindered by demons requiring us to stay persistent. 

The devil is out to destroy our destiny and our calling and usually the more we press in to what God is calling us to, the more opposition we face. Knowing this is no big deal if we know how to fight and use our authority. And we are guaranteed to win EVERY time! That's a battle worth fighting! 

And let's remember, like a sign I once saw said, "be kind... everyone we meet is fighting a battle".

But God...


God promises all throughout His word that certain things will happen in our lives simply because Jesus came to this earth and paid the massive price for sin so we don't have to... Grace. Salvation includes everything from a promised home in Heaven to a healed body, to a sound mind, to financial freedom. So why is it that so many believers today are living in lack in at least one area of their lives?

Maybe we're asking the wrong questions???

God says, "By Jesus' stripes, you are healed"; and we say "But God... my doctor tells me I have cancer and I'm in pain." God says, "I will supply all your needs according to my riches in glory by Christ Jesus"; and we say "But God... I need $25,000 right now for my children to be in private school and I have no clue where that will come from." God says, "I have given you power, love and a sound mind"; and we say "But God, I suffer from depression and my mind is under attack every day."

What if we switched our tone of voice when saying those 2 little words from whining to confidence and say what Ephesians 2 tells us to say. Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds us of the terrible situation we were in without Christ. Then verse 4 tells us how to respond: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were still dead in sin, has quickened us (made us alive) and raised us up together and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ."

It's from that high seat that we look down at our problems and speak God's word over them. When we can see ourselves up above the problems of life, and then spend enough time in God's word (where all the solutions are), the waiting time until the problems are turned around is much easier. Are we focusing on what God has said in His word or on our situations? When things aren't going as planned, are we so filled up with what God's word says that we see what's happening in the natural and say... BUT GOD... :)

Something I've learned to do is to find a verse to stand on concerning my problem and put it up where I can see it everyday. This constant reminder is critical since satan is constantly putting thoughts of doubt and fear in my mind. 

Let's shift our focus from our circumstances to our Savior. And when the pressure is on us and we see no possible solution, we can boldly say "But God..."

Are we being led?


In church this past Sunday, I found myself digging in my purse looking for the sticker with the magic numbers that would allow me to pick my children up from their classes. After searching without success, I started the process of presenting my drivers' license and filling out a form with EVERYONE'S information. After finally gathering each child with the help of an escort (I was required to follow), we headed toward where we had come in.

But no... we were instead asked to go down a different hallway where we then took an elevator down. A little disoriented, we paused. All of the sudden, who walked right in front of us to leave the back of the church but Dr. Billye Brim! We had been there all weekend for the conference she was holding and after being connected with her prayer ministry for 8 years, I wanted with all my heart to meet her. My 6 children and I followed her and the handful of people who where with her out that door as I thanked her for being there.

She turned around, thanked me for coming and proceeded to lay her hand on each of our children's heads and pray for them! Overwhelmed with thankfulness, we headed to our vehicle. It was quite a while before the smiles left my face... :) What a divine appointment considering I went to such lengths a few years ago to meet her that I attended the funeral of someone I didn't know just hoping to meet Billye Brim since she was conducting the service! Is that terrible? lol

What was interesting about that whole encounter was that if my sticker wouldn't have been lost and I would have picked up our children on time, and gone down the "right" staircase",  I would have completely missed meeting Billye Brim. She was exiting the back of the church on purpose to avoid the masses of people...

I believe these "divine appointments" or "God encounters" are available all the time if we are not always in a rush or allowing changes of plans to affect our attitudes. Our spiritual radar must always be turned on if we want to experience the thrill of these "appointments". Psalm 37:23 says "The steps of a righteous man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way [and blesses his path]." AMP version

Let our prayer be that we will be more sensitive to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and not miss out on any adventures God has in store for us.

How do you see yourself?

How we see ourselves is how others will see us whether we like it or not. The good news is, we can change how others see us by changing how we see ourselves. To get the most accurate view of ourselves, we must look to the One who created us. Since we are made in God's image and likeness that means we are just like him! A poor self-image simply means we are too focused on ourselves and less focused on the one who created us. 

Do we see ourselves as a victim or a victor?

Do we see this earth as our permanent home or do we live out each day knowing that our true home is Heaven. In Revelation 1:6, Jesus said He made us kings and priests unto God. How does a king live? There are certain places kings won't go, certain things kings won't eat and certain people kings won't associate with. 

Isaiah 66:1 tells us that Heaven is God's throne, and the earth is His footstool. Since we are kings, heaven is also our throne and the earth our footstool. Ephesians 1:6 tells us that when we became born again, Jesus raised us up and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 

Every morning when we wake up, we take our seat with Jesus at our Father's right hand and resume our rule for the day! We place our weight on our throne, not on our footstool. Can you picture a king sitting on his footstool expecting everything to go great that day? NO! The footstool is an added accessary to the throne and not meant to hold all of the kings weight.

We must put our weight on our throne- Heaven, which contains everything necessary to support us.  Life on this earth is not our primary reality, therefore, any problem that arrises must face Heavens reality and Heaven's solutions. Our lives should manifest the overflow of our Heavenly lives. 

Once we grasp everything that is ours, we won't merely react to the darkness this earth throws at us but we will make Heaven's light shine through us to obliterate any problems. The body of Christ has barely scratched the surface on the reality of bringing Heaven to this earth. Let's dive into God's handbook for our lives and find our what it really means to make a living. :)




What are you hungry for?

All last week, our family of 8 plus a babysitter were in Fort Worth, TX for a convention. What we expected to be a great week turned out to be one of the most life-changing weeks of our lives. While Jonathan and I were in services 3 times/day and our middle 3 children were in their services, Matthew- our 14-yr-old was in his group. We knew the speaker line-up for the teens looked powerful but since we had never attended this event, we didn't know how Matthew would enjoy it.

We found out at the end of the first session on day one! We could tell just by looking at him that the power of God was in the room where he was... Every day during our lunch break, Matthew was the one who was checking the time and reminding us that he had to be back early to get a good seat. Moms of teenagers reading this know the joy that flooded my heart all last week seeing how hungry my son was to know God. 

Do we have that kind of hunger as we wake up each morning? Or is it "slurp, slurp; doughnut, doughnut and out the door"... Would we hurry by our kitchen table to get to work on time if Jesus himself was sitting there? Jesus would call out as we walked by, "Son, Daughter, come sit with me and let me tell you how much I love you. I have some marvelous things to tell you about the work my Father is up to. Let me teach you how to be an overcomer today and just how close you are to that promotion you've been asking me for..."

Well, guess what? Jesus IS there every morning! I think God smiles as soon as we wake up knowing it's time to fellowship again. That is why He created us you know. :)

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6 When we start to feel empty or unsatisfied is when it's time to get into God's word to get filled up. The more time we spend in God's word, the more hungry we will get. We will find contentment but will never be satisfied. That's a good thing. 

If we only knew how much our Father longs to spend time with us, we wouldn't hesitate to set our alarm an hour earlier each morning.   Check out one of my favorite songs below of Jesus' call to us. :)

Are you a giver or a taker?

Comedian, Michael Jr. told of a point in his career when he needed more laughs... God spoke to him before one of his performances that he needed to stop trying to get people to laugh and to start giving people an opportunity to laugh. From there his success went through the roof!

Just that simple thought process shift will radically change anyone's profession. A shift from "what I can get to what I can give". 

A huge key to success is shifting our mindset from getting someone to do something to giving them an opportunity to do something. This principle originated with our Heavenly Father and applies to every area of life and every field of work.

God didn't take the offensive approach and say, "Why did the first people I made have to sin? Why me?" No, He got right to work on his plan to redeem all mankind through Jesus. This was Jesus' goal in everything he did while he was on this earth. Everything he said was to help people be drawn to the Father, not put the spotlight on Jesus' ministry or build his name. He said "I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." John 6:38 NLT

Wharton Professor Adam Grant shares, "most of us assume that people achieve success and then start giving back. But what if the opposite is true? Could it be that giving first actually leads people to succeed later?"

Jesus said "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap." Luke 6:38  It has to happen in that order or success will take longer coming and be much more of a struggle than it should. 

John F. Kennedy owned this principle when he said during his inaugural address, "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." So, let's have our goals and dreams mapped out, but then ask ourselves "what can I do for those I'm expecting to receive from?" Imagine how much smoother a Monday would go if we walked in to work with that mindset! And Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. :)

Try it out! It works when exercised out of a genuine heart.


What are you studying?

I sat outside at our patio table recently enjoying a few quiet minutes with nothing pressing on my mind. This is partly due to the chore charts we have been implementing in our household this summer which has been working beautifully! I realized on the first day of summer break that I just couldn't do everything. Nor should I have to. I am a huge advocate of raising our children to prepare them for adulthood, not just to give them a great life. 

As my eyes followed a couple of robins, I started thinking about how everything they did was on purpose. Then I realized that there are people who actually study birds for a living! They are called OrnithologistsOrnithologists study every aspect of birds, including bird songs, flight patterns, physical appearance, and migration patterns.

People study what they are interested in. My sister, Kimberly is studying right now for her Bachelors degree so she can move up in her field of interest. Second Timothy 2:15 says,"Study to show yourself approved unto God; a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (KJV)

The Bible is THE word of truth. When we face doubts or confusions or need answers to questions, God's word is where we need to turn first. Some people view studying as a laborious task that requires other activities to be pushed to the back burner. This may be true in most areas of study. But when it comes to God's word, that course of study is full of joy and wonderful revelations. 

And as a bonus, God never puts any time crunches on us to know a certain amount of scripture for an exam. We will face tests, but not from God. :) What we study builds us up so that when the tests from this world come, we can pass with flying colors! We've all had tests that have been thrown at us that we didn't score so well in... Is it because we weren't prepared? Maybe we didn't study like we should have? 

First John 5:3-4 explains that "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."

So let's be encouraged! Studying God's word is not a burden, but is fun and so rewarding.

Are you sick of the season you're in?

The other day, I was reading the story of a young man who was frustrated with where he was in life. He went on to explain that God was teaching him to submit to the season he was in. 

My instinct told me this was crazy; especially if that season is an undesirable one! Who wants to submit to something they want out of? When we are going through a rough time in life, isn't the goal to grit our teeth and get out of it ASAP? Here's God's perspective... "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2)

The word "submit" is actually not a dirty word... It simply means to yield without complaining in order to develop patience. :)

Whether we got ourselves into the season we're in, or someone else influenced where we are right now; it's up to us how fast we move out of that season. The great news is that seasons don't last forever. The atmosphere is what determines the length of the season.

If you live in Southern CA, the main season is summer because the atmosphere is mainly hot. The seasons are more varied and shorter in the Northeast because the atmospheric conditions vary. That's good news for us since regardless of the atmosphere we're in, WE control the atmosphere WITHIN! How do we control our atmosphere? By being intentional about who we talk to & listen to, what we watch & read, etc. The quicker we alter our internal perspective, the sooner the season will pass.

Don't wish the season away though, because how quickly we move out of it is determined by how quickly we learn. As James 1:3-4 reminds us, we need to be patient through the learning. We have to let patience have her perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. In other words, be diligent through the learning process.

Learning is what will push us into the next season! We need to stop complaining and start being thankful for what we're learning. If we feel like we've been stuck in the same season for too long, we should ask ourselves what we're supposed to be learning. Each season gets easier as wisdom is gained. 

So, let's be submitted to the season we're in or we'll have to surrender to that season for a LONG time.



Should we be alarmed at North Koreas recent activities?

It shouldn't have come as a shock when on America's independence day we received the news alert that North Korea had finally perfected a missile capable of hitting the United States. 

Many people including Christians are responding to this development with fear and hatred. I agree that North Korea is Americas enemy and it might seem like a perfectly natural feeling to be afraid for our safety. First of all, though, we have nothing to fear. We are told 365 times in the Bible not to fear! That's one reminder for every day of the year! :)

Psalm 91:1 Amplified version says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]." Jesus reiterated this in John 15:1-8. My translation of these verses... "If you stay connected to the vine, everything will work out fine."

When we still struggle with fearful thoughts, what we need is a greater revelation of God's love.     1 John 4:18 reminds us that there is no fear in love and that God's perfected love casts out fear. We also have to remember that the love of God has been shed abroad (spread completely around) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)

Once God's love is controlling us, His compassion will bubble up in us; and what once were thoughts of retaliation will become thoughts of mercy. As I began thinking about these things, I truly felt God's heart for North Korea. God's heart is that all people come to repentance. His mercy always triumphs over judgment. 

So as the news alerts continue to pop up, let's commit to pray for North Korea. God is so rich in mercy. His mercy endures FOREVER! In fact, all 26 verses of Psalm 136 say "His mercy endures forever." :) As we pray for God's mercy on America, let's not forget about the other parts of the world that haven't experienced God's love yet. It's not too late.



Do you wish you had more hours in your day?

What if I told you I found a way to make the 24 hours in my day go further than other peoples 24 hours... This is not a blog on time management since I've never taken any courses on that topic, nor do claim to be an expert in that area. I have been blessed with a super busy lifestyle including 6 active children, a husband who travels a LOT for work which means I keep up our home and yard, schedule all the kids activities and appointments and help Jonathan with our businesses.

So where do I find time to write a book, blog every week, prioritize time with Jonathan in the evenings when the kids go to bed (yea, that's hard in the summertime lol) and set aside Sundays for church and family time?

My secret... I spend the first hour of every day with God reading his word, praying, worshiping and seeking direction. When I first started doing this years ago I was inspired by a mom who did this and saw amazing results in the first few weeks! Everything she needed to do got done AND she had spare time. 

Just recently I was reading about tithing. Everyone's been given 24 hrs/day. If we tithed our time like we do our money, we would be giving God a little more than 2 hrs/day. What if we only tithed our waking hours... That's 1 1/2 yrs/day. This is my new goal. I am convinced that the more time I give God each day, the more he will give back to me. 

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to make the most of our time, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence, because the days are filled with evil. Verse 17 goes on to remind us to not act thoughtlessly, but to understand what the Lord wants us to do. 

Our time is valuable. If you think you have too much time on your hands, stop and ask God how to use the time you have. If you are completely overwhelmed with how little time you have, stop and ask God how to use the time you have. :) God's got an amazing plan for every minute of our day.



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Is our commitment being challenged?

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Over the last couple decades of my life, I have failed to stay committed to various aspects of my life. Why is it that we stick with some things but let other things fall by the wayside? 

Just a few things from a long list of my failed commitments are relationships, gym memberships, friendships, addictions... And we won't even start talking about New Years resolutions! We've all been inspired at some point in our life journeys to make commitments to something. The problem is that after making the big decision, we didn't manage that decision daily. 

My good friend and business mentor, Carey Bender recently said "There will always be a challenge to a commitment." How true this is! It's not a matter of if but when. The challenge though doesn't mean the commitment needs to change. It means our stamina to overcome the challenge needs to increase.

Where does that added stamina come from?  On the medical level, stamina comes from the heart. Athletes know that the faster your heart beats, the more oxygen is pumped through the body into the muscles which increases endurance. They also know that they must deny their body certain harmful habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating fried foods all the time.

Psalm 37:5 says "Commit your way unto the Lord and He will bring it to pass."

When challenges come to question our commitment, instead of bracing ourselves for another blow, let's commit our ways to our loving Heavenly Father. He knows our heart's desire is to overcome traps that have come against us and he is always ready to help us. 

So am I saying embrace the challenge? YES! It's not about being perfect at something but about staying committed and never quitting. Let's remember that we are spiritual athletes and to stay focused in our training. With Holy Spirit as our teacher, we will always have a clear play by play.

Keep going! You're looking good! :)


It is possible to see God!

This past Sunday was a monumental day in the history of our church... A new lead pastor officially stepped into his new role and then proceeded to share with the congregation. He shared a prophetic word that was given to him at 14 years old by his pastor at the time. The word was that he would keep his heart pure all the days of his life.

I kept thinking about this word throughout that day. First, was it really possible to keep our hearts pure? Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Then one of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 jumped out at me. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

So if it is possible to have a pure heart, we will actually be able to see God? John 1:18 says that "No man has seen God at any time." I had to have clarity on this seemingly impossible verse! 

First I remembered that when we are born again, God sees us as pure. (He remembers our sins no more.) Whether we act pure or not doesn't change how God sees us, it only taints our relationship with Him. Pure doesn't mean perfect. It means every part of our hearts cry "Lord, I am yours to command." :)

The pure in heart have their eyes opened to see how to let God work in their lives and how to walk in the light as He is in the light. Now what about seeing God? This is what I found when I looked up the word "see" in the 1828 Webster's dictionary...

"To perceive, understand, discern, to know. To observe, notice, to attend to, to discover. To learn, to know by revelation, to have faith in and rely on, to enjoy, to have fruition of." I don't know about you, but I would rather have all of these things manifest in my life then to actually physically see God with my two eyes. 

So I came to the conclusion that I am pure (even though I'm never perfect) and that I will see God work in my life as a result of my decision to let Him be Lord over my life. Here's how the Message translation puts it... "You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." :)

What an awesome, life-long adventure we have in learning about God!

Is your foundation laid?

 Along Route 30 here in Lancaster, a huge construction project has been underway for almost 1 year now. Only recently, though, have we seen walls go up and roofs added. Month after month various work vehicles covered the stretch of land and people were hard at work. Month after month it looked like nothing was happening! Huge holes had been dug and truckloads of pipes had been unloaded but nothing had been "built".

What we couldn't see though was that extremely vital work was being done underground. Surveying, site preparation, sewer, water, electrical work and concrete pouring are just the things I know; which I'm sure is NOT a comprehensive list, since I don't come from a construction family nor have we ever built a home!

So many Christians desire the life of a mature believer but aren't willing to do the work to build themselves up. 1 Peter 2:2 reminds us that we should crave the word of God just like newborn babies crave milk to help them grow. Every time we read and meditate on God's word, we are being built up.

Verse 4  then calls us living stones that are chosen and precious in God's eyes. Verse 5 says we are like living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. As we build ourselves up, then we are able to help build other people up. You've probably heard the saying "hurting people hurt people." Well, healthy people help people!

There will never be a shortage of hurting people in this world, but we can only help them when we are built up. In addition to feeding on the Bible, Jude 1:20 tells us that we build ourselves up in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. In my life, I have found that this is SO effective.  If I need a solution to something or am just feeling down, praying in tongues instantly builds me up! It works every time. :)

 Let's not get discouraged with the little steps we're taking every day to build ourselves up. It takes time to create a firm foundation. The exciting thing though is the more time we spend with our Heavenly Father, the more we will grow. So all we have to do to grow faster is to give God more of our day. 

Give it a try, it's so worth it!



Is God hiding something from us?

Since our oldest child is 14 1/2, we have been engaging in exciting conversations recently about him starting to drive! Exciting for him... nerve-wracking for us. :) In his mind he is confident that if we gave him the keys he could drive just fine now, even though he has never had a lesson. He's seen how it's done but of course is not qualified to drive because he hasn't actually done it and experienced the many scenarios that go along with being behind the wheel.

As Matthew's mother, I would be foolish to give him my car to drive right now; even though one day, I do want to give him his own car and watch him mature into a great driver.

Our Heavenly Father operates the same way with us. 3 John 2 tells us that God desires above all else that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers. There is no confusion about God's desire for his children. He wants to give us EVERY good thing! Mark 9:23 reminds us that "all things are possible to him who believes." Those "all things" don't just automatically come to us though because we are Christians.

The more we walk in God's truth, the more prosperity He can safely give us. 

3 John 4 says that God has no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in truth. Walking in the truths of God's word will open up the windows of Heaven for God to pour out such blessings that we won't even have room enough to receive them! (Malachi 3:10) 

God knows that it literally wouldn't be safe to give us everything he has in store for us if his word hasn't prepared our hearts to receive. For example, a person who has a problem managing their money wouldn't have their problems solved by being given a million dollars. ( Even though that's probably the #1 thing that person thinks they need.) 

God's word helps us to prosper by separating us from the world. In John 17:17, Jesus explains that we are set apart from the world by the truths in God's word. The more we get these truths into our hearts, the more connected we will be to Heaven's economy. 

Matthew 6:33 puts it this way... "Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His way of doing things, and all these other things will be added to you." Let's decide to spend consistent time in God's word every day and as a result watch the supernaturally prosperous life we desire unfold for us. :)