Friday, December 18, 2009

Give Jesus

Last fall I started reading a blog called Bella Mella by Melanie Clark.
I love her sensible fashion tips that she provides.

And then suddenly in August she put a post up asking for prayer for her 12 year old son Andrew. And all her fashion tips were set aside.
Pray for Andrew
The Clark family would find out their son would have brain cancer and life as they knew it would never be the same. Andrew's skateboard that he rode on daily was put down as he would be taken to doctor's appointments and even checked into the hospital.

Prayer after prayer from all over the country bombarded the throne room of heaven on behalf of Andrew.
Hoping, begging God for a miracle.

Wednesday, December 15th Melanie and her family ushered Andrew into the arms of his Creator.

So as we are stressed about getting the right gift, enough gifts, the perfect gift,
Melanie is picking out what to bury her 12 year old son in.
Choosing a casket to hold his body.
Going through his empty bedroom and getting his favorite stuff to display at his funeral.
Holding his skateboard he'll never ride again.

And in the midst of this horrible storm that just started last fall,
she is choosing to keep her eyes focused on Christ.
Her ending of her post says:
God is good.

I would say Jesus is definitely the reason of her season.
The season of her life she never thought she would be going through and yet she chooses to bring honor and glory to her King.

Want to give someone the perfect gift this Christmas?
Give them Jesus.
Keep focused no matter what on Him, because you can get sucked in so quickly to the demands of this world.

If you would've told Melanie that her youngest of 3 children would be dead before Christmas,
she would've never believed your news.
Andrew was healthy and was riding on a skateboard more than he walked
just days before his diagnosis in August.
if Melanie did have a heads' up of her son's death,
her panic wouldn't have been over where Andrew was going to spend eternity.

Her actions would have been the same ones she displayed these last 3 months.
She would have tried to find a way to save his life, buy them more time, make him comfortable, ask others to pray,
but never worry about where he was going.

Because Andrew knew Jesus.

And in the last days Melanie had with her son on earth,
she didn't ask him to make a Christmas list and then run out and join the mad shoppers to
buy him the
best skateboard,
latest video console or i-pod.

Instead, she sang songs about Jesus to him,
read the Bible to him,
prayed over him
and laid in bed with her Andrew.

And with his last breath, her 12 year old son reminded her that
God is good.
He gave her Jesus for Christmas.

Let's keep the X out of CHRISTmas
and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Only a Mother can describe her child's last moments in such a beautiful way...
please click here to visit Melanie and leave her an encouraging message.


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Last Jesus

This song (bottom of post) by Kirk Franklin, The Last Jesus really goes along with yesterday's post.

Hope you take the time to listen to the very truthful powerful words of this song.

It's meant for all of us.

If you were the Last Jesus someone saw...Who are they seeing in you?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

.75 cent Jesus

The church.
It's made up of many different lives coming together as a body of Christ.
Gathering together to worship Jesus one to two times a week.
Many churches preach the message of bringing in the lost "as is" and just loving on them.
Being Jesus to them I believe would be the correct "Christianese" terminology for this out reach.

But what does this really mean?
I mean, it's easy to cheer people on from the pulpit or place in leadership to be Jesus to others, but it's harder to actually step out and do the reaching.
Not everyone in the church is like this though.
Some actually don't just ask themselves WWJD, they just live it out.

It's easy to talk about reaching out to the city, to the ones who don't know Jesus, but to actually do it when you're face to face...whole other story.
So what if you were visiting a church that professed this stuff and someone in a leadership role approached you at the coffee center.
And the Jesus they left you with didn't match the Jesus they preached about from the pulpit?

If you have guessed something happened at church this morning to spur me to get on my blog and write from my heart, then you would be correct.

My son had two friends with him at church and after the service the boys went to get what they thought was free hot chocolate. A basket of cocoa packets seemed inviting to them as the snow was falling to the ground outside, so they were helping themselves when approached.

Approached by a woman who has a role of leadership at the church.
A woman known by many for her rudeness.
And that is what she approached my son and his two friends with this morning.
Over hot chocolate.
Telling them that each packet of hot chocolate is 75 cents.
And taking Aaron by his shoulders and telling him how he knew this.
How this time it would be "free", but next time they each need to put 75 cents in the money basket.
Not only approaching them once.
But twice in a matter of minutes.

I was packing up my stuff when my very embarrassed son came to me and told me of how rude she was. Knowing the reputation she has of being rude and witnessing it first hand, it was very easy to believe 3 boys over one rude woman.
So, I wrote out a check for $5.00, enough to cover 5 boxes of hot chocolate at Wal-Mart.
I put Hot Chocolate in the memo and went and handed it to her.
When asked what it was for and I said hot chocolate, without taking her eyes off the check, she waved her hand at me and walked away.
With my payment. And her rudeness.

Now as I share this, please know when my kids have come to me before on things, I am not the type of Mom who just "sides" with them. But taking in the reputation of this woman and after driving back to the church to talk with her, I know that I have 3 teenage boys that are not lying cocoa thieves on my hands. Just 3 boys that wanted some hot chocolate.
But above all of that he said she said garbage, this post is about what kind of Jesus we are to others.

So if you were this person in leadership how should you be to them?
Shoot, even if you're not in leadership, how should you be?

In the few moments you gave yourself permission to enter these kids' lives...what kind of Jesus would you leave them with?

Let's say, before you approached them, you knew some inside information about them.
Would you leave them with a different type of Jesus?
A kinder one?
What if you knew....

That the 2 boys that came to church with us come from homes that their parents don't care about them. At all. One kid has spent up to four days with us before his dad has called his cell phone wondering where he is.

That yesterday morning Aaron and I attended their basketball game and I was both kids'"cheering Mom" because one kids' mom is back in jail after already serving 4 years and the other kids' Mom just doesn't care to watch him play or do anything.

That the reality of these 2 boys having a dime in their pocket let alone 3 quarters for a packet of overpriced hot chocolate is probably pretty low, especially when I know for a fact both boys receive free lunches from the government at school.

That both of these boys are really on their own. They both live on the north side of town and both get up early to catch a city bus to attend Southwest high school. A school that probably has the most supportive parents in the city. And that's just by looking at how many parents attend the sporting events wearing booster buttons with their kids' faces on them. But not theirs.

That one of the boys is not saved.
That the other boy became saved when he came to youth group with our son 3 years ago.
At this same church.

That these boys will ask to spend the night on Saturday night so they can go to church.
Any church.

That Aaron has been going through some real struggles himself lately at school. And how he doesn't even want to come to this church. And how Gene and I were just praising God he came this morning without an attitude.

So if you had the opportunity to approach these 3 boys this morning knowing all of the things above, would you approach them differently?
Would you not embarrass them and make them feel like they're stealing packets of hot chocolate?
Would you still take the time to make a sign on a hot pink card that says:
A sign you took the time to place on the cocoa basket because you said "Aaron has done this before", even though he said he didn't know there was a charge for hot chocolate.

Because see, it doesn't matter if we know those things or not.

We're either clearly Jesus to others.
We're not.
When we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, the joy of Jesus comes oozing out of us.
And when we have pride and a need to control then that is what will come oozing out of us.

My husband grew up in a black southern church in Orlando, Florida.
One I have attended with him a few times when we go visit.
When talking with him this afternoon, I said this...

"You know for a fact Gene that the church you grew up in would've never acted like this.
Not one of those sisters in Christ would've approached these boys like this.
Instead, they would've said, "Baby are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come with me to the kitchen and let me feed you while you sip on your hot chocolate."
Because bottom line is Jesus wouldn't want their measly 75 cents.
He wants their hearts.
And those women get that."

For years, I've heard my Grandfather tell a story of being embarrassed when he was a kid by a "church person".
He's 84 years old now and hasn't attended church since.
That was the Jesus he was introduced to.
And that's the Jesus he wants nothing to do with.

Not too long ago our pastor spoke about the different rooms in a house and how important the "foyer" is to welcoming new people, hurting people...everyone.
Does the foyer of your church have a hot pink sign up?

Being Jesus to "them"...

"Them" might just be 3 teenagers helping themselves to some hot chocolate in the
house of God's foyer.

What kind of Jesus will you leave them with?

A lost soul costs a whole lot more than 3 quarters.

~Many Blessings~

Friday, November 20, 2009

Time of Refocusing and Renewing


For those of you who are reading the book, Becoming More by Lysa TerKeurst and wanted to participate in the study I'm so sorry I have been behind.

Instead of trying to catch up, I am going to take a little break from blogging and really focus on the Lord. I can't share my heart with you here in my blog if He doesn't have my heart completely.

A lot of things have been going on in my life and instead of drawing near to God, I have been stepping away. I feel it best for me to really REALLY fix my eyes on my King. Everything else has to be put aside for now and He has to be given my full attention. I miss Him so much and can't believe how quickly Satan will move into a heart not filled up with Jesus. I'm just really tired sweet friends and feel so defeated which is crazy because I have a King that has already won.

So, my sweet friend Paula, author of the blog, His Ways will be graciously hosting YES to GOD Tuesday's for me until God lets me return. Paula has participated in all but one of the studies since starting them in March '08 and always has wonderful insight to each chapter. Plus she has a love for the Lord that is just so evident.

So, if you are reading the book, please click on the link above and go to Paula's blog each Tuesday, until she lets you know differently. I will be stopping over and reading your thoughts when I can and I know I'll learn much from you. I always do.

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers and support.
You are some incredible women.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

Life is so tough and I have lived a life without having Christ #1 in my life and it is a miserable way to spend time on this earth.
So when I see myself slipping back to that type of life, I recognize my need for Him and I just have to put everything down and just run to Him.
I must sprint to Him and know that I will be falling into arms that don't want to let me go. And this tired soul just wants to collapse in His presence and allow Him to lead my life.
This enemy we have is relentless and wants to destroy, so I'm off and running to my Savior, Girls.

This song called Strong Enough by Stacie Orrico is the song running through my heart right now.

Love to you...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 5: Devotion Time Blues

So glad you have come by for the
where we are discussing the newest book by Lysa TerKeurst


Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

Lysa opened this chapter in typical Lysa fashion, with a funny and true story.
I remember when she first shared on her blog about trying to prepare for her sister's visit and how she had to deal with the the floating in the pond mattress.
So funny!

Lysa just wanted everything to look nice for her sister.
I wanted to prove that I'd long since outgrown those nasty teenager housekeeping habits I was famous for when we both lived at home.
Unfortunately, Lysa's kids had other plans when they took the mattress from their neighbor's trash pile and made it into their very own floating device.
In their pond.
The pond that's in the front of their house.
The pond that welcomes you to the TerKeurst home.
The pond with a mattress in it.
A whole new twist on the saying: one man's trash, another man's treasure.

So Lysa who usually sees the humor in stuff, didn't laugh.
Not when the kids jumped on it.
Not when the frogs jumped on it.
She thought nothing of this situation was funny.
Normally, I would have. But it had been a week in which everything else had crowded out my time with the Lord, and it took quite a toll on my peace of mind. The longer I went without meeting with God, the more desperate, cloudy and starved my soul became.

Ugggh....ever been there before?
Me too.
Running on empty eventually causes things to break down and stall out.
That's quite honestly where I was.
As if my life wasn't already sounding like a bad country song, now I was also singing the devotion time blues.

Lysa goes on to explain the importance of spending quiet time alone with Jesus.
He will give us the exact instruction and comfort we need to handle all He sees coming our way---how to act and, even more challenging, how to react in every situation.

Okay, I cannot even go on and I have so much more from her book that I wanted to share.
BUT I have to confess that I have been going through this very thing. My name is Lelia and I am suffering from

Yes, I have Devotional Time Blues as we speak.
I'm not trying to have a pity party instead of a quiet time, but I'm just really overwhelmed with some stuff right now.
My life is nothing like it was 18 months ago, which in many ways I am grateful for.
I never saw how life is today coming our way.

Husband having 3 surgeries in 18 months.
Husband becoming jobless and put on disability.
Two grandbaby-blessings born from our gorgeous teen daughter.
Me working my normal day shift job plus an overnight job.
So many medical bills that if you send me yours, I probably wouldn't stop to think that Gene can't have an annual pap smear....I'd just pay the thing!
Trying to balance not working so much that I rob God the opportunity to provide.
Since Gene can't drive, I find myself in my car a lot running from here to there and back again.
Cooking, cleaning, caring and just trying to not lose my cluttered mind.

So how am I supposed to fit Jesus into all of this?
I mean, c'mon Lord, what time of my busy day should belong to You?
Gene needs me. Aaron and Alivia need me.
Shoot, even the dog Kane is needy.
We adore and love our grandgirls and we want to spend time them and our oldest girl.
And they all want to be fed at supper time for some reason, seven days a week.

Please believe me, I am not trying to whine here.
It all looks so pathetic when it's in writing, but
I'm rather confessing that your hostess of this study is currently have the
Devotion Time Blues and some days I just don't care anymore.

That's not true.
I do care.
I really care, because like Lysa said,
When I take the time to meet with Jesus each morning, I am prepared to face life with much more peace than if I just rush into my day without Him.
Because God is able to stand in my yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
He knows things and sees things for which I need to be prepared.

WHY is it so easy to let go of the Scarred hand that gave His life for me while I search for my tattered Super Woman cape and try to dolife on my own strength?
The kind of strength that crashes midday and needs a can of Red Bull to give her false energy.

What is it that makes me think Jesus isn't enough?
That He's not capable of handling all that is before me and my family?

The good Bible study girl in me just gasped at those last two questions.
Because see, she can confess with the best of them that God is the great I AM.
He is the Rock on which she stands.
God is her Provider and the Lover of her soul.
She knows how to raise and praise.
And she can certainly say all the right things at all the right moments.
But God knows the truth of her.

He sees her when she cries herself to sleep from being overwhelmed.
When she gets angry and ugly all in the same breath.
When she feels like all the many hours she is working isn't enough.
When the caregiver in her gets frustrated because she can't ease her husband's pain.
When she earns the Worlds Worst Wife/Mother/Daughter/Sister/Friend award. Daily.
When she allows Satan to beat the crud out of her and believes his lies.

And while she is limping through life in her own weak strength,
her Creator sees it all,
for nothing about her escapes Him.
He hears her cries and her sighs.
He hears her whispered praises, her attempt at trying to get back into His arms.
And He waits.
Waits for her to return completely as He lovingly looks upon her.
Flaws and all.

I'm in that place friends.
So desperate for Him it makes my breath quicken.
The lump in my throat appear.
And the tears fill my eyes so full that I can't see what I'm typing right now.

I so need Him.
And I feel blessed beyond words that I'm reading an book by an author who has been in the same place I am in right now.
Not someone who has just researched life in a pit, but a woman who has lived life in a pit.

There are many ways I can choose to react when things happen each day.
I can choose the way of "It's my right to be frustrated."
I can choose the way of "Doesn't anyone listen to me around here?"
I can choose the way of "Do you know how this makes me feel?"

Or, I can choose to let God teach me His way.
My way leads to all kinds of runaway feelings that pull me away from the truth and into an absolute pit of yuck.
His way leads to calmly finding a solution without all the anger and frustration.
His way leads to me being able to extend grace----the same grace I so desperately need myself.
And His way leads me to the truth.

I love Him so much.
I love His timing of this book and His faithfulness to such an unfaithful heart.
And so I dive into my quiet time slowly.
Feeling encouraged and not pressured, thanks to Lysa.
Remember, we aren't after accomplishing our quiet time routine.
Mercy, don't we already have too many things pulling at us?
No, I'm talking about seeing our time with God as the most precious and valuable minutes of our day.

One verse she shared on page 68, I wrote down on an index card to help me with memorizing it this week so I can keep it in my heart forever.

Psalm 86:11
"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name."

An undivided heart.
That hit me so hard.
He wants all of us.
Wants our undivided attention, love and life.
Nothing half way with Him.
No lukewarm devotion.
All or nothing.

And I want to give it all to Him and become more than just a good Bible study girl.
Because what I've found out over these last 18 months,
is that the good Bible study girl in me just doesn't cut it when the going gets tough.
And on the good days, she can't even connect the bat with the ball on the slow pitches.

There are other things I didn't even mention in this chapter.
Great stuff.
I had planned on sharing them, but surprisingly was taken on a different route.

If you've shared your thoughts on this chapter please leave your link in the comments so we can visit your blog.

Oh, this is tough Ladies, but let's keep moving forward.
Chapter by chapter.
I'll post my thoughts on chapter 6 tomorrow.

I just opened back up my book just to see if there was anything else I wanted to add from the heart of Lysa. This is what caught my eye:

Oh, how we underestimate the power made available to us when we spend time with God.
Our earthly eyes are so limited because they don't allow us to see what is happening in the heavenly realm.
A daily battle is being fought for our attention and our devotion.
Satan would love nothing more than to keep us separated from the power God gives us during our time with Him.
It's time to stop feeling guilty and ill-equipped and start embracing the incredible privilege to meet with Jesus every day.


~Many Blessings~

Sunday, November 8, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 4: Beyond Sunday Morning

where we meet every week (Lord willing) to discuss this book by Lysa

Life has been getting in the way, but I am trying my best to get chapters 5 & 6 up by Wednesday, November 11th.
Thank you for your sweet patience and I hope this doesn't discourage your participation. Unless something major happens next week and I mean it has to be huge, I will post chapter 7 ON Tuesday, November 17th!

Anything in blue is a quote from the book

I loved how Lysa shared with us her church experience as a child. One thing you will consistently hear me say about this author is that she is so real. The way she describes how going to church seemed like a colossal waste of time until she visited her friends church. That is where Lysa first felt like going home after church and digging into her Bible for herself.

Lysa brings the food to the table when she explains how important it is to read and study the Bible on our own so we don't starve...we'll never grow to our full potential unless we jump in and get serious about studying Scripture.
She took a term from Pastor Bill Hybel who referred to this as being a "Self-Feeder".

She doesn't leave us alone to figure out the how to's of becoming a self-feeder.
Lysa goes on to explain the 3 important things we need to do when we read and study God's Word on our own.

Let's take a look at each one.

1.) PRAY
Becoming a self-feeder requires that we pray first and ask God to open our spiritual eyes like never before.

The context is found by asking basic who, what, when, where, and why questions.
~Use commentaries and ask God for help.
~Read the Scriptures before and after your targeted verse(s) as to not take anything out of context.

Because every word and phrase within the Bible has been intentionally and divinely placed, much discovery and revelation awaits us whenever we study.

This is such great advice from Lysa. Sometimes I just read through something and I totally miss what God had for me. I need to study His Word like this more consistently.

My favorite part of this chapter was how she took Ephesians 1:17 and broke it down for us.
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."

I keep asking=constant prayer

the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father=We aren't asking a remote, distant, angry, rule-thumping, finger-wagging deity.
We are asking God, the God of our Lord Jesus.

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation=I don't just want to be a woman who has wisdom and revelation; I want to be a woman who has the Spirit of wisdom and revelation working around me, in me, through me, ahead of me.

so that you may know him better=Having the Spirit of wisdom and revelation is purely "so that" I can know God better. Really know Him. Not just know facts about Him. But know Him in deeper ways than I ever thought possible.

So let's say we become "self-feeders" this week.
I know I need and want to learn more about my Savior.

I can't help but picture my son's dog Kane when I think of a self-feeder.
Every morning, Aaron sets out a bowl of food and a fresh bowl of water for Kane.
Then Aaron leaves for school.
Now, the food and water are both there, but Aaron doesn't stick around and throw Purina into Kane's mouth and make sure he gets plenty to drink. That part is on Kane. He has a choice, he can either starve and get dehydrated or he can eat and give his body the nourishment it needs.

Most of the time when Aaron returns from school the food bowl is empty and the water in his bowl has decreased.
And he needs more of both.

Let's stop taking everyone else's research and claiming it as our own.
Let's get our hands a little dirty ourselves and find out what God has to say to us.

Please put a link in the comments if you shared on your own blog regarding this chapter.

~Many Blessings~

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 3: When I Feel Like I Don't Measure Up


where we are discussing the new book by our Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries.
I am really loving this book. Chapter 2 made me cry and this chapter made me laugh. Before we get to it, let's talk for a minute.

This past weekend Alivia, Amiyah and I took off to KC for a well needed Girls Getaway with Kelley and her family. We don't get to see each other often, but when we do we just have such a great time. Saturday night we went out of dinner with my girlfriend Megan who just moved to KC with her family from Lincoln. Nothing like great fellowship over some wonderful Mexican food served by Ricardo, the best waiter from Peru. Ricardo who has a little boy named Little
Ricky. Seriously.

It had been quite awhile since I had laughed until I almost lost control of my bladder, but the three of us together made for a great evening. Although they were not very nice to me.

I mean, how was I to know that people from Peru are Peruvians?
Not Persians as I lovingly called him.
Supposedly, Persians are cats.

I have only birthed three babies, but apparently when one is pregnant with baby #4, you gain some knowledge. One would think Megan had traveled to Peru before the way she held a conversation with Ricardo about Peruvian food and the beauty of the place.
Nope. Turns out that when her husband had to get a third job to support the family while in Lincoln, his boss was a Peruvian and she learned a lot about his beautiful country at the Christmas party. Incredible she could put that knowledge to use in less than a year.

Anyway, Kelley and Megan let me say "Persian" for quite some time. I was trying to sound intellectual like Ms. Megan when I asked where our sweet Persian waiter was for a water refill. I was wondering why Kelley kept meowing and Megan was saying "here kitty kitty" and didn't catch on until Megan schooled me on what the beautiful people from Peru are really called.

We all had a great time and made some more great memories while Gene was home watching football and Aaron was taking out his first date to homecoming. He assured me to not cancel my plans that have been made for 2 months since she asked him to her school's homecoming just last week. My Mom blessed him and took him shopping and he just looked so handsome....even though he was looking at the wrong photographer and what a beautiful date he had.

Okay...let's get to our book study.

Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

Starting this chapter out, Lysa shared a story that happened to her just last year which she refers to as the "great brownie failure of 2008".
Lysa was making brownies for her children's school bake sale.
100 brownies.
Fancy brownies.
Turtle brownies with caramel swirl.
Cut up and packaged in individual baggies.
Lysa would carry her baked with love brownies to school in a wicker basket.
How perfect.
Lysa was proud and would surely look like a doting Mom to the other bake sale Moms.
Three minutes left until she had to leave to take her kids to school when she remembered.
These turtle brownies had nuts in them. Lots of nuts. And there I was standing over individually wrapped brownie number 97 listening to my daughter's reminder that our school is, in fact, a peanut-free school.

Then she had to make that dreaded phone call to the bake sale coordinator to tell her that she could not count on Lysa to bring brownies that morning.
No shining star. No Really Good Mommy Award. No ooohs and ahhhs over my rectangular wicker basket filled to the brim with the deliciousness known as turtle brownie. No happy, proud kids elated with their mom's efforts.

When my 15 year old son Aaron was in kindergarten he played t-ball. Wasn't really his sport as he would draw in the dirt during the game. One hot summer game I was watching my son draw as his teammates ran after ground balls when Skyler's grandma Ann asked me what I brought for snack.

Ann was assigned to bring the drinks. Which she had in her cooler.
And I was assigned to bring snacks. Which I had completely forgotten.
I told her I was going to run to the store and would be right back.
Fortunately, she had reminded me before the last inning so I had plenty of time to make myself look like a prepared Mom.

When I got back I asked her if I could put my brown paper bag in her cooler until the game was over.
It was so hot and after the kids told the other team "good game", they all came running full speed toward Ann and I.
Ann, who had handed me my bag and opened her cooler so the kids could see her display of icy cold pop.

Aaron was so excited and rushed up to my side as I pulled out two boxes from the bag.
A shriek of excitement rippled through 12 little boys when they saw the picture of the snack on the box I was opening. I'm sure one boy even patted Aaron on the back as if to say,
"you have the coolest Mom ever".

This would be one of those "what was I thinking" moments in my life.
I opened the box and started to hand out the cute yellow treats.
Happy, yellow smiley faces on a stick.
Or in my case,
white wrappers dripping out yellow melted smiley face popsicles.
All down the boys' hands.
Who did not have smiles on their faces.

I was horrified.
Ann started laughing. Hysterically.
And the boys just held their sticks staring at me.
And most of the parents did too.

WHO but Lelia Chealey takes popsicles to an outdoor game in 90 degree heat as a snack?
Oh it was so sad.
I kept apologizing to the parents and each child and just like Lysa, I received no Good Mommy Award.
Then I took Aaron to wash his sticky hands and get some Dairy Queen.

In the grand scheme of life, this was not a big deal. I realize that now. But in that moment, it felt huge.
Suddenly I was overcome by a tidal wave of memories recalling many other events in which I'd fallen short. The more I let my mind free-fall into the pit of negativity and shame, the more disabled I felt.
And that's exactly where Satan would have loved for me to stay. That's his daily goal, actually. If Satan can use our everyday experiences, both big and small, to cripple our true identity, then he renders God's people totally ineffective for the kingdom of Christ.

Wow. Did you hear what Lysa said there?
If Satan convinces us that we are nothing but failures, he wins.
Because he knows nobody who believes low of themselves will allow God to use them.

Lysa goes on to tell how Satan delights in our feelings of inadequacy and he wants to help us stay there.

Satan wants us to start questioning God when we feel like failures.
But instead of questioning the One who is always adequate and asking
"Why doesn't Jesus work for me?"
Lysa began to ask
"How can I see Jesus even in this?".

How does she do that?
Because for me, I can get so fixed on what I did wrong that I can't see anything else.
I never thought of looking at my situation the way God showed Lysa to.
So, how does she ask herself
How can I see Jesus even in this?

The only way I can ask myself that question is when I pull back from the situation I'm facing and separate my circumstance from my identity.

One thing that drives me nuts is when people talk about teenagers getting pregnant and how they've ruined their lives. I've told my daughter over and over again that this can enhance her life. Yes, she is a 19 year old with two little girls under the age of 2, BUT what would happen if she stepped back from her situation and asked herself
"How can I see Jesus even in this?".

Separate her identity from her failure.
That is exactly how Lysa saw Jesus in the brownie let down.

Lysa learned much from the nuts in the brownies that day.
She saw that she is not identified by her failures.
She became more intentional about being prepared for school events.
She did a heart check and to see what her intentions of volunteering really were and whose approval she was seeking.
And she learned that God never intended for us to rely on others for our sense of well-being. Only He is equipped to provide that.

Mrs. T ended the chapter with telling us that it's a matter of the heart and encouraged us to not rely on others to complete our joy. Because we will never measure up.

I have to rest my heart with Jesus only.
Remain in Him.
Obey Him.
Stay faithful to keep His commands--even when I want to yell and scram and pitch a fit over nutty brownies.
Then my joy will be complete.
Not because I got an award or measure up in everyone else's eyes, but rather because I am secure in the fact that God loves me and must have had some good reason for allowing the great brownie debacle!

Oh, how I wish I would've learned that lesson with the melted popsicles.
But God's timing is so good, because now I get it.
Right on time in case I get assigned to take snacks to Alivia's gymnastics class.

Next week: chapter 4: Beyond Sunday Morning.

If you have something on your blog to share, please put your link in the comments section. I have to head out the door to take Gene to Omaha for his
pre-op appointments.

~Many Blessings~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 2: Flitting To and Fro


YES to GOD Tuesday
on Wednesday this week.
Due to life getting in the way I am posting today. Alivia and I have been both sick since the weekend. I'm better, she's still running a fever and it was confirmed this morning she has asthma.

For anyone who has no clue what I'm talking about, we just started reading through the newest book by Lysa TerKeurst.
Lord willing, we gather here every Tuesday and discuss one chapter.
Click here to read the study FAQ's.
It's never too late to join in and even invite your friends. your thoughts or leave them in the comments and I'll post mine later.
Oh, and if you haven't seen Lysa's new look on her blog, click on her name above and go visit her.
It's beautiful!
See you soon.
Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

Last night I was at work reading this chapter and the tears would not stop. I know God is working on my heart and is changing so much at one time, but when you relate to something in print it tends to trigger emotions you didn't even realize you were holding in and boy did I let them out last night!

Last summer when I attended the She Speaks conference I remember listening to this speaker talk about having a "platform". I sat in my chair questioning why I was even at the conference. I had no platform. I'm not a published author. I'm not a speaker. So why was I at this conference? I remember how down I felt until he said this..."Your platform can be your blog."

Who was I to be working with a Christian ministry? Especially a ministry that taught women to love their husbands, nurture their children, and follow after God every day? None of this seemed truly possible for me. I was a hollow woman, not a holy woman. I had said yes to Jesus being my Savior, but didn't have a clue how He could be the answer to my emptiness.

Who am I to be used by God through a blog?
This morning it hit me after reading this chapter that if we don't allow God to be the One to fill us up in every area of our lives then we are on a chase of a quick fix.
I am learning to be content right where God has me and He is opening doors on His timing.

When Lysa shared how she looked for others or things to fill her empty cup I really understood her thinking. The only thing that filled my cup was regret. I now know the difference between being filled with Jesus Christ and the world. The world always has you searching and leaves you feeling so empty. Many women have found themselves on a journey hopping from bed to bed thinking, this guy is the one who will make me feel loved.
They leave that relationship with the same emptiness they entered into it with plus much more loss.

The reality is no person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart-----not my heart, not your heart. It's an emptiness only God can fill.
Anything we use as a substitute for God is an idol, a false God.

Oh, to be able to go back in time and apply what I know now.

I loved how Lysa took us through different areas she struggled to fill with things of the world and the before and after of letting God do the job He is the only One qualified to do.
Lysa tells us that every single thing the world offers is temporary. These fixes can never fill our void long-term.

I think that is one of the many things I love about this author is she is just so real. Real as can be and we can relate to someone who has "been there, done that". She shared with us on page 32 about her battle with the "If I Only Had" temptation.

I could be really happy and fulfilled if only I had...
a skinnier body. (YES!)
a husband.
a husband who was more tender and romantic.
more money. (YES!)
a more successful career....

What is your "If only I had" list?

This past Spring all of our kitchen appliances went haywire. We had already planned on getting a new fridge, but then I needed a new stove (could've waited) and we really had to get a new dishwasher (could've washed by hand).
With my all new black appliances I couldn't have a white microwave.

I was fulfilled with all of my new appliances.
For about a week and then I moved my focus from the kitchen to the living room.

"I would be so happy if I could get a new couch".
Yes, I know Gene is out of a job and has another surgery coming up, but look how worn my couch is Lord!
And our mattress is so old. Gene's back would be much more comfortable with a new bed.
Like a top of the line pillow top mattress.
And my bathroom needs to be remodeled.
The backyard needs to be landscaped.
The front yard needs to be landscaped.
I want to paint.
I need a new house.

Oh, I have no idea why the Almighty One hasn't struck me down with lightning!
Probably because He wants to keep me on earth at arms' length instead of having me follow Him around up above.

I don't know what your "if only I had" statements are, but I do know that none of them will bring fulfillment.
Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means realizing that, apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if you got everything on your list, there would still be a hollow gap in your soul.

What are you talking about Lysa T???
I told myself I'd be a happy girl if we could replace our leaking fridge.
But then our dishwasher broke so whowouldn't be happy with not having to do dishes by hand?
And I was happy.
Until the stove needed to be replaced. I mean, it only had one working burner!
My new stove hadn't even been used yet before I had Gene convinced that we needed a new microwave.
In black.
To match all of my other unfulfilling appliances.

Just a never ending chase ladies.

Lysa then walked us through how she now responds to people, possessions and positions that in the past she tried to get to do the job of fulfilling that only God can do.
Instead of saying "If only I had" she now speaks God's Word into her life.
Whatever your gap is, God is the perfect fit for your emptiness.

This is no quick fix ladies, it's a daily giving Christ control of what we think might fill us up.
Make us happy.
Yesterday on Facebook, author Mark Batterson's status read,
"your ultimate destiny will be determined by your daily disciplines."

So thankful we have a God that cares more about us than our happiness.

I must continue to pursue truth that keeps me grounded and God's love that keeps me filled.
my desperate hollowness is replaced by a desire for holiness.

If I could walk into my life when I was in my early 20's this is what I would say...
"Lea, don't go out tonight. You will end up with a man that will never love you, take care of you or even care about you. That empty feeling you have is something nobody or no thing can satisfy. You have a desperate hollowness that can only be filled by the God you asked into your life in 2nd grade.
Pursue Him instead of a man and see the difference."

My daily lack of discipline led me down a path of never feeling satisfied. Until I really met Jesus.

In my last post I said I had something to share, but then my girl and I got sick, so I'll be back this weekend to share it.
God is just way too good!

Last week we took a poll to see if you wanted to read 1 chapter a week or a section each week and the vote that won was to continue discussing 1 chapter a week.
If reading 1 chapter a week drives you nuts, then just come back and give your thoughts. Reading 1 a week really gives me time to "chew on it" as my dear friend Donna once told me to do. I learn more when I let things sink into my heart. Funny how that works.
Next week, Tuesday October 20th have read
chapter 3: When I Feel Like I Don't Measure Up.
Hmmm...think I'll start reading it now.

~Many Blessings~

Monday, October 5, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 1: Trying to Be Good Enough

Where every Tuesday we will begin discussing the newest book written by the beloved

If you have done a blog study with me before then you know what we do, but if you haven't then you just need to get a copy of this book and join right in at your own pace!
Here are some FYI's of the YES to GOD studies.

This morning I got off work and we had to leave town by 7:30 to meet with Gene's surgeon in Omaha. I will have an update later this week, but there is more back surgery coming very soon. Three major surgeries in one year.
Job back on the market.
Disability pays 60% of his pay.
No paychecks for the next 3 weeks from his job.
Another 6-9 months of recovery coming his way.

We got home and Gene asked if we could pray together and pray we did.
We are choosing to keep our focus on Jesus and Jesus alone.
None of the stuff above.
Not easy, but it is a must that we keep Jesus Christ as our main visual target.
Because really, He is the only One Who is in control.
I'll be back later in the week to share more about our incredible God.

Okay...let's get to it.


Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

People label and categorize so they can define who fits where and with whom, but I had neither the spiritual depth nor the mental maturity to break free.
So, trying to become more acceptable, more worthy, more lovable became my pattern, and worrying about what others thought of me a consuming, often condemning way of doing life. Their opinions were my measuring stick by which to answer the question, "Who am I?"

I have done this in my own life. I have changed who I was to become what I thought I was supposed to be and lost myself in the process. Letting others dictate who you are is such a dangerous game to play.

Throughout the first pages of this chapter, Lysa shares her story with us.
Her very absent yet present Dad.
Her 3 year sexual abuse from someone close.
Her parents' divorce.
Finding religion.
Her Mom's remarriage.
Her new siblings.
The loss of her little sister.
Her loss causing her to feel forgotten by God.
Forgetting God.
With my fist raised toward heaven, I vowed I would never love God, serve God, or believe in God again.

The thought that I wasn't good enough was more than just a feeling. It had become the filter through which I processed life.
Letting go of saving herself for marriage.
Looking for love in all the wrong places.

Life became a wild party full of temporary moments of happiness. The deeper I sank into this lifestyle, the more desperate I felt.
Walking into an abortion clinic as a mother.
Walking out of it with an empty womb.
I went home that day horrified at who I'd become.

Paraphrasing Lysa's story so much of my own life passed before me.
I never had a Dad who didn't love me...I have an incredible Dad.
But trying to fill my life with the wrong kind of love...been there, done that.
That is such an empty lifestyle and the ironic part is that you just want to be loved,
accepted and wanted.
Life outside of God's plan for my life is by far, the biggest risk I have ever taken.
A risk that had horrible consequences and have left terrible scars on my heart.

Lysa goes on to share much more with us, but I really got this part of the chapter when she talked about
Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Seeking with all your heart requires more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist:
Read the Bible.
Do a Bible study.
Go to church.
Be nice.

I can't count how many times I have filled myself up with all that stuff and yet still feel empty.
I need those things in my life, but that can't be it.
My life has to be filled with Jesus.
I can tell when I'm distant from God, by choice and I have to reel myself in and re-focus.
In this world it is too easy to become distracted.

True fulfillment is never found in seeking to do enough, be enough, have enough, know enough, or accomplish enough.

I have a feeling God is going to use this book to take me to a new place in our relationship. I'm so willing Lord...

Next Tuesday~chapter 2.
Also, please take the poll about this study on the sidebar. Your input is very important. It's underneath the picture of Lysa's book on the sidebar.

If you have something posted on your blog about this chapter, please sign up below so we can visit you.
Check out the encouraging word Lysa left you in the comments.

~Many Blessings~