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Devoltionals

Who am I?

on Tuesday, 30 May 2017. Posted in Devoltionals

30 day discovery

30 day

 

For the month of June, I’m trying a new idea. Listed below are 30 identity Scriptures, one for each day. Prayerfully read the statement for the day. Write it in your journal and then reflect on what it means to you. A dragonfly woman is confident in her identity in Jesus. Thank God for your identity! If you would like this is a document email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for a copy!

  1. John 1:12 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
  2. John 15:15 (NLT) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
  3. Romans 5:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NLT) But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
  5. Ephesians 2:18 (NLT) Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
  6. Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT) For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
  7. Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

I am ACCCEPTED!

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
  2. 1 Corinthians 12:27(NLT) All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
  3. Romans 8:33 (NLT) Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
  4. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
  5. Colossians 3:3 (NLT) For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
  6. Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
  7. Philippians 3:20 (NLT) But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
  8. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
  9. Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
  10. Romans 8:38 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
  11. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT) It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
  12. John 15:5 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
  13. John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
  14. Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  15. 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
  16. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
  17. 1 John 5:18 (NLT) We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.

I am SECURE

  1. Matthew 5:13-14 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NLT) And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
  3. Ephesians 2:6 (NLT) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
  4. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
  5. Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
  6. 2 Corinthians 6:1 (NLT) As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.

I am SIGNIFICANT

 

Goodbye Insecurity

on Friday, 02 September 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

You are enough.

 

How can I impact the world? I'm just me. Pretty ordinary. The world is big and intimidating, even scary.extraordinary

And when it gets scary, I remember Stephen.

Acts 6-7 tells Stephen’s story, and it also describes him as “a man full of God’s grace and power.” What a lovely combination! But Stephen isn’t the only one described as being full of grace and power. In Acts 4:33 it says, “with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (NIV). The words for grace used here (both pistes and charis) mean faith as well as joy. And all the apostles were filled with grace, faith, and power through Jesus Christ!

All of us have this grace. All of us. Even you! Jesus’ completeness has influenced your heart. You have the grace, faith, and power you need for the work ahead.

In Review: You + Jesus = Enough

 I spoke to a young friend at a Wednesday night service recently. It was a simple how-are-you exchange and then she asked a question I thought her actions had already answered. “Weren’t we going to get together on a regular basis?” I hadn’t heard or seen her in a year. I assumed she wasn’t interested. But instead of concentrating on who misunderstood, we moved forward. I didn’t allow doubt to step in and cause division; we met at the end of that week and will continue to meet monthly.

Discipleship—mentoring—is not about what you have or have not done. Accomplishments may play into it at times but what you share comes from your struggles as well as your victories. Sharing life is more important than sharing advice. Availability is a stronger role than teaching knowledge. Sure, it’s always nice to have some wisdom to share but your confidence shouldn’t—doesn’t—come from your wisdom or achievements or what you do. It comes from your relationship with Jesus.

You may you think you have nothing to offer, but in reality, you already have everything necessary. When you share your time, it shows others they are important. Jesus did this with the disciples—He shared life with them. He told them they were important because of the time He gave them. He was available.

Are you willing to make yourself available?

Excerpt from Legacy by Leslie Schonfeld click here to purchase your copy.

Grab God's Hand

on Monday, 01 August 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Fearless in 2016 series

Fearless 16

Raise your hand if you love your yearly mammogram.

Anyone?

No? Me either.  Yes, this blog post is about breast exams. TMI? I don’t think so because it addresses another fear. CANCER. Well, not really cancer but the death and suffering that it has potential to cause.

As in the past, I get the call. “You need to come in for a second mammogram.”

Ya, ya, happens every time.

Then the voice said “You will also need an ultrasound, only on the left side.”

Ultrasound? That hasn’t happened before. Just on one side? Usually it is both. Stupid dense breast tissue. Fear whispered “This is bad.”

A week later, a letter arrives in the mail. “You have dense breast tissue. Dense tissue is more likely to develop cancer.” My heart skipped a beat. Fear whispered louder.

The exam consisted of a 3-D mammogram and then the ultrasound. As I lie on the table, my view of the screen is unhindered. My thoughts were jumbled.

“That doesn’t look good. What is that black blob? What does cancer look like? Does it look like that? I’ve seen normal tissue and that is not normal.” Fear was louder now.

Left in the room alone, I waited for the radiologist. I prayed “What is this Jesus?”

“You’re fine.” He answered

“Fine, fine or you’ll walk through this with me as I battle cancer – fine?”

“I’m here you are fine.” He said.

I wasn’t clear what that meant but the Isaiah 41:13 repeated through my thoughts:

13 For I hold you by your right hand—

I, the Lord your God.

And I say to you,

‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

Time crawled by. But I wasn’t alone. Fear and peace battled one another. But I was not alone.

Finally, he Radiologist appeared. Those black blobs are benign cysts. Nothing to worry about. I am fine.

Relief swept over me but also a deep gratitude. Gratitude for a renewed knowledge that no matter what, I am not alone. Neither are you my friend, neither are you.

I've got to be me!

on Sunday, 02 October 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Authentic living in a character-crippling world.

Be ME

So the question is: how does a person become and stay authentic in this character-crippling world? I don’t think the answer is to list all our cares to everyone we greet. The grocery clerk doesn’t need (or want!) to hear about your cat puking on the carpet. But it’s okay to say you’ve had a rough day. You can be honest and real without complaining about everything. It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it. Don’t fake it ’til you make it. Be your real self. Take some notes from John the Baptist.

 John the Baptist was the epitome of authenticity. Unique and individualistic, he marched to the beat of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 3, I am struck by the remarkable life of this man. He was not influenced by other’s opinions, yet his uniqueness drew others to him. His confidence did not waver.

John was related to Jesus as his cousin. Elizabeth, John’s mother, had a close relationship with Mary, Jesus’ mother. God told Zechariah, John’s father, of John’s coming, though Elizabeth was unable to have children. Yet John’s life path was described to Zechariah before his birth. God paved the way for John’s unique impact on the world. (Read Elizabeth and Zechariah’s story in Luke 1.)

John grew up with the knowledge of his prophesied birth and life. So he prepared for his mission by living in the wilderness. He was gifted with the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) but he did not try to mimic Elijah. Unabashed by local custom, he survived on honey and locusts. He was viewed as a fanatic by many around him.

 But John lived a life that reflected his faith. Don’t take this for granted—his faith had to be big. He knew what was said of him—that he would prepare the way for the Messiah—but he had yet to see it happen. We now know how his life played out, but as he was living it, he couldn’t see the future. John had promises, predictions, and prophesies, but no outline or step-by-step life plan. This blows my mind. How do you live up to such expectation? Surely only with God can this be possible.

John lived his life to the fullest. Each day his purpose was to prepare his followers’ hearts to accept Jesus. Passionately, he preached repentance, uncertain when his mission would be complete. Many found their Messiah in Jesus because John pointed the way. We was even privileged to baptize Jesus. This was culmination of John’s ministry.

 As Jesus’ influence increased, John faded to the background. Was there an inner struggle here as John’s fame diminished? Perhaps, but we don’t know. His ego had to die; he had to accept this was not about him. Charismatic by nature, he had to give that gift over to God, in a breathtaking act of faith. But he did not escape the human propensity to doubt; we know his faith wavered as he sat in jail, and sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He really was the one John had been preaching about. Jesus pointed to the evidence to assure them He was. (See Matthew 11.) Soon after that John was beheaded.

John’s example screams across the millennia to all Christians. It can never be about what you get. It is not to be about your fame. It is not about feeling good about yourself; it’s always about following

Jesus.

Now think about this. What if John had waited? What if he thought his life’s calling wasn't worth the locusts and honey or social rejection? What if he had said “I’m not sure. Let’s just see how things work out?” If he had been tentative he may have lived longer, to be sure. Risk involves a price and John paid a high one—the ultimate one. I imagine, however, he lived joyfully to the end with no regrets.

Following Jesus is not safe. But it is not about your comfort. It’s about building the Kingdom. (Matthew 28:19) You've probably heard the popular platitude, “The safest place is in the center of God’s will.” This is true for the spiritual self, but not necessarily the earthly self. John ended up in prison, on the wrong side of political favor, and eventually on the sharp end of the guillotine. None of that sounds even close to safety to me.

 But was it worth it? I think John would say it was.

So what does that have to do with you and me? As far as I know, no angel showed up at my conception to announce my grand impact on humanity. It is pretty clear I am not called to wear camel hair. I could handle eating the honey but locusts are out of the question. But I know God has a plan for me, the real me. And one for you, too. The real you. 

Find out more about authentic living and mentoring in Leslie's book Legacy. Click here to purchase. 

JOY

on Friday, 03 March 2017. Posted in Devoltionals

Even when I'm not feelin' it.

joy

It’s a struggle to stay positive these days. I know I still care way too much about what other’s think of me. I’m frustrated with critical people and find myself critical of them. Don’t you think that is a little dumb? Maybe even hypocritical? I’ve got caught up in examining the minutia of life. I’ve shifted my center of thinking to me and my circumstance. I know better but my emotions have ruled over logic and truth.

So what do we do when we are overwhelmed by the world?

 WE COUNT IT ALL JOY!

James 1:2 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

James reminds us that this is the opportunity to put Jesus back into the center of my focus. Not so He blocks the problems, but so I can see the problem through Him. He is my Lens for the world. He is the Source of my worth. He is the Director of my steps.

Joy means to have a feeling of well-being. Circumstances do not dictate my comfort. Well, it does but my response to any discomfort is confronted with the reality of Jesus.

Jesus is my Re-creator. Daily He is making me new and more and more into His image.

Jesus is my Source for living water. He sustains me. He purifies me.

Jesus is my Bread. He is my Provider.

Jesus is my Light. He illuminates the truth.

Jesus is my Shepherd. He protects me.

Jesus is my Vine. He is the source of what is good and through Him I produce fruit.

Jesus is my King. I belong to His Kingdom. I am just a visitor here. However, while I’m here I will do all that I can to help bring His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.

I am reminded again of the two verses that would not leave me alone last year:

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

James 1:27 (NLT) Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

I pray that we each live this out. We need to trust Him. He is working all for the good of His Kingdom. I don’t see Him, but I trust Him. I see the results of His presence. I lean into it and I know He is working.  In the process, with Jesus in the center, we will be filled with joy.

1 Peter 1:8 (NLT) You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

Question

on Wednesday, 15 June 2016. Posted in Devoltionals, Blog

unicorn

But why? As a parent, I both love and hate this question. Curiosity in my children delights me. I love to observe them as they work to figure “it” out. On the other hand after an exhausting number of inquiries, I’m done. I DON’T KNOW, I DON’T’ WANT TO THINK AND I’M JUST TOO TIRED TO FIGURE IT OUT! Thankfully, God is not that kind of parent.

As children of God, we have questions. Too often we are afraid to ask them. We fear our questions reflect doubt. A good Christian shouldn’t doubt. That is a lie! Ignoring questions won’t make them go away. In fact, pushing them down allows them to fester, like an infection. Unattended to it will grow.

Recently, I ran into a Scripture verse that opened all sorts of questions.

Isaiah 34:7 (KJV) And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

Unicorns? In the Bible? What?!? Look it up for yourself. It is in the King James Version. Does that make you as uncomfortable as it did me?

Ignored, that could start to cause doubt. Left alone it would quietly gnaw at my faith. Curiosity drove me to examine it in detail.

First stop: Strong Concordance. The word for unicorn here is more commonly translated wild bull. There isn’t an English word that directly translates here most likely because the animal is extinct.

Second stop: Google. Yep, that is right. This brought up some interesting sites to say the least. And with any search, make sure you are reading reputable sites. In the end, the accepted conclusion for the use of unicorn was that word had an entirely different meaning when King James’ scholars were transcribing the Bible. It referred to an animal with one horn, similar to a bull. Not the magical pink unicorns we have all come to love.

It is okay to ask questions. Certainly there are deeper questions then the existence of unicorns. Questions drive us to reconcile what we believe with what we observe. Our faith is to be based on truth. The best way to find truth is to search it out.

If we are not careful Scripture can be misapplied. Our opinions can ebb and flow with cultural influence. I’m not just talking about societal culture but Christian culture as well. We must always seek righteousness but in a Godly manner, never self-righteousness

Doubt is the antithesis to faith. It is not to be nurtured but don’t ignore it either. Face it. Challenge it. Make it prove itself. It will reveal one of two things; a lie believed or a misunderstood truth. We must stomp out the lies and elevate the truth. We can only determine this by growing in our understanding of God’s Word and listening to the still small voice that always speaks. (1 Kings 19:11-13) 

Spiritual Kids

on Sunday, 30 April 2017. Posted in Devoltionals

Spiritual Kids

Spirtual Motherhood

Your descendants aren’t just your biological children. Spiritual children can also be part of our homes. Are you prepared to accept new “daughters” into your life?

Whether or not you have biological kids, when you mentor, you have spiritual kids. You don’t even have to be married! The relationship with your younger friend becomes much like mothering—your nurturing instincts kick in and she becomes your spiritual child.

These relationships develop slowly. They need to be nourished. Not all people in your life will become family. As a mentor, be open to the idea that they might bust open your heart and even house.  “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities” (Isaiah 54:2-3 NLT).

This is exactly how Paul describes his relationship with Timothy—“my true child in the faith,” he writes (I Timothy 1:2 NLT). This is a unique situation, because from what we know of Timothy, his father did not share the same faith. Paul wasn’t a replacement, but an enrichment.

 More than likely, your young friend will already have her own mother, and you will not be a replacement—nor should you be. But your spiritual motherhood is an enrichment in her life, and in yours as well.

Spiritual parenting is not literally raising a child. However, it reflects important aspects of it, particularly when it comes to love. Love your spiritual children unconditionally. While you may choose to dislike some of their behaviors, never reject the individual. Paul set this example for us in his letter to the Thessalonians. Examine the familial language Paul uses; “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (I Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV).

“As a father deals with his own children.” The apostle Paul made it clear these relationships are strong and long-lasting, much like a parent’s relationship should be. Work to form a bond that lasts. This is not a short-term commitment. Put simply, it means you will be there for them. Demonstrate to them that they matter. They matter to you like your biological kids matter to you.

What does it mean to encourage, comfort, and urge? To encourage someone it means to give them courage to take the next step. When they falter, motivate them to move forward.

For example, one of my young friends was thrown into a leadership position while on a mission trip. She was given no warning and was only a little older than the team she was leading. She did have experience, and she is a trained leader in our church. When she called in a panic, her initial response was to give up and come home. So I asked her questions:

“Did God call you on this trip?”

“I think so?”

“Do you have experience and training you can share?”

“I guess, but I’m scared.”

“That’s good. It will keep you dependent on God. You can do this.”

“Thanks. Pray for me.”

I did not give her much advice. I simply asked those questions and told her I believed in her. I assured her I would pray and I did. In fact the intercession that week was heavy and constant. I did not know what was ahead of her, and neither did she! Once she was overseas, I could not communicate with her, so I too, had to trust Jesus to walk her through this adventure. It turned out to be a challenging trip. But God showed up and God led her. She was strengthened by the experience and now has greater courage!

Encourage but also comfort. Although this generation is more globally aware, they are still somewhat naïve. They can be blindsided by life when it doesn’t go as they plan or expect. Transitioning into adulthood has not gotten easier since I did it (however many years ago that was!). Understanding relationships, making decisions on careers, and establishing independence can be overwhelming. Disappointments occur and your young friends need comfort. They need a safe place to share their fears. Affirm their feelings and point them toward the truth of their situation. This is not a time for advice—it’s a time to reassure them God has a plan. It is a time to demonstrate faithfulness. They can walk away from you but you will not abandon them. And neither will God.

Sometimes it is through their discomfort you can urge them to make the right choices. Lead by example, just as Jesus did (see John 13:15). When your young friends get caught up in a tough circumstance, remind them of the big picture. We all live for God’s Kingdom and His glory. Remind them you too, are imperfect—honesty about your flaws demonstrates your authenticity—but you’re determined to seek after God’s own heart as best you can. They are to do the same.

When life is hard, console and comfort them. Bad things happen to all of us: death, illness, and accidents steal from us. They absorb joy and drive us to despair. Comfort is imperative. Your quiet presence can make the difference in ways you may not understand. Be there for your friend when they experience loss. This gentle act of kindness touches the soul.

As a spiritual mom, urge your children to live a life reflective of Jesus. Urge is a strong word. The Greek word used in I Thessalonians 2:12 is, martureo,1 literally meaning to live as witnesses. Aspire to live as a witness, as well as inspire a life that daily gives testimony to the Holy Spirit in you. This is a tall order and cannot be done without His empowerment. Don’t let this scare you into disqualifying yourself. No—let it inspire you to take the next step of faith. You can do this because He is in you; Jesus is all you need. Let His perfect love drive out the fear that wants to creep in (see I John 4:18). - Excerpt from Legacy by Leslie Schonfeld

Spiritual Motherhood

on Thursday, 02 June 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Growing a family in ways you didn't expect

Legacy children faith

When first married, I wanted a big family—a house full of kids! Adoption seemed like a real possibility. Then after our three kids came, we had a miscarriage and I was tired. It seemed that a family of five is all I could handle. Dreams of adoption vaporized in the crazy days of raising young children. Yet, I always knew there was more to our family than the five of us.

Truth be told, my image was idealistic. I didn’t understand the stress of another human’s 24/7 dependence. I have dealt with a lot of poop, pee, and puke in the last 22 years. (More so in the beginning, in case you are concerned.) Of course, I also didn’t understand the joy of giggles and snuggles either. As I look back now, I see we were caught up in our own little family. Now as we approach the empty nest, I’m glad we chose it this way.

 It wasn’t until I started writing today, that I realized God answered my wish for a big family through spiritual parenting. It was a seed the Lord planted a long time ago but I didn’t understand exactly how it would grow. The young women in my life are dear to me—they’re like my own children. They are an important part of my life. Like my own kids, their love is a joy.

Spiritual Kids

These relationships develop slowly. They need to be nourished and developed. Not all people in your life will become family. As a mentor, be open to the idea that they might bust open your heart and even house. Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities” (Isaiah 54:2-3 NLT).

Your descendants aren’t just your biological children. Spiritual children can also be part of our homes. Are you prepared to accept new “daughters” into your life?

Whether or not you have biological kids, when you mentor, you have spiritual kids. You don’t even have to be married! The relationship with your younger friend becomes much like mothering—your nurturing instincts kick in and she becomes your spiritual child.

This is exactly how Paul describes his relationship with Timothy—“my true child in the faith,” he writes (I Timothy 1:2 NLT). This is a unique situation, because from what we know of Timothy, his father did not share the same faith. Paul wasn’t a replacement, but an enrichment.

 More than likely, your young friend will already have her own mother, and you will not be a replacement—nor should you be. But your spiritual motherhood is an enrichment in her life, and in yours as well.

 What do you think? Are you ready to expand your house? Find out how in Leslie's latest book Legacy. Purchase it here.

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

on Tuesday, 01 November 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

20151104 091537

 

Frustrated that we jump from Halloween to Christmas. I decided it was time to bring back thanksgiving. Not just one day of gorging ourselves but truly embracing gratitude. Honestly, we need to do this all year long. However, it is fun to grab a month and focus on giving thanks.

I wanted to find a personal way to bring this into our home. I announced to my family that we would write one item of gratitude each day of November. I cut out leaves from construction paper, grabbed a fistful of sharpies and we were set.

20151031 155744

True five leaves a day for thirty days is a lot of leaves. 150 to be exact. Yes your hand cramps as your snip away at the colorful paper but trust me it is worth it. This has become a tradition, one my daughter now shares with her college roommates. My kids have enjoyed it so much, those not living at home anymore text in a daily "leaf". I write it on a leaf and add it to our wall.

Some leaves are silly and some sentimental. All bring joy to our home. It brings perspective and an understanding that even in our darkest days, we are blessed.

leaves

 

Colossians 1:11-12(NLT)11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

If you would like to make your own thankful banner follow the link here.

I would love to see your walls. Post a picture here in the comments or on the Dragonfly Ministry Facebook page. 

 

 

Why do we do CRAZY things for God?

on Friday, 30 December 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Compelled in 2017

2017 word

Why do we do things for God? Why do we do CRAZY things for God? We move way out of our comfort zone, past our personal limits, into what we feel is brave. WHY???

Sometimes we are dangling out there and wonder: did I hear right? What if he said left but I heard right? What if it was that way but I think it was this way? What if I’m wrong? What if I look like a fool? What if I step out and nothing happens? No one is helped. No one sees Jesus. No one new comes to call Him friend? What if?

I’ve been there. I don’t want that to happen. I pull back. I protect myself. I put me first.

True, those who know Jesus know His voice. Jesus himself told us that in the book of John. But I’m imperfect, flawed. My ears are clogged by the din of societal pressures. How do I know?

Who do I think I am? Too full of myself, too judgmental of others. Oh how I need grace and in turn how I need to overflow with graciousness! Jesus what should I do?

Mark 1:12 tells us that “The Spirit compelled Jesus to go to the wilderness.” He went. Jesus moved to the wilderness even though He knew it meant traveling across a pathless, empty wasteland. He traversed the uncultivated and inhospitable landscape for one reason. He was compelled by the Spirit.

We are to follow Jesus’ example. Compelled means a force or pressure. His Holy Spirit lives in us.  He creates an internal pressure that urges us to move. Do we fight it or live it?

compelled continuum

Each of us are within a continuum between compulsion and complacency. If we don’t yield to the Spirit, we stagnate. We miss the quiet urges of the Sprit and we sink into a complacent quagmire.  

The more room He gets, the more compelled we become. I’d rather step out in faith and fall flat on my face then to sit paralyzed by indecision. You too? Then pray this prayer with me and MOVE.

compelled HOly Spirit

Take my hand, Jesus. Lead on. I don’t trust myself to make the right move but I trust you. Correct me when I misstep. Give me courage to overcome my fear. Help me to say no to busyness that distracts me from your desires for me. Encourage me when discouragement overwhelms. Empower me when fatigue creeps in around the edges. I will answer when compelled. Lead on Lord, lead on. AMEN

Be God's Champion Even When You Want to Hide

on Sunday, 01 November 2015. Posted in Devoltionals

gideon

I love Gideon because I can relate to his story found in Judges 6-8. God told Gideon he was a "valiant warrior." Gideon rung his hands and said, "Are you sure, God? I don't feel like one."


I am both comforted and challenged by this conversation between God and Gideon, because it looks a lot like what happens in my life.


When God approached Gideon He was hiding—Judges 6:11.
When God identified him as a warrior, he questioned God—Judges 6:13.
Gideon said he wasn't gifted—Judges 6:15.
Gideon asked for proof—Judges 6:17.
Gideon was afraid—Judges 6:22.
After a struggle with doubt, he was obedient but in the dark. He stayed hidden—Judges 6:27.
Gideon again questioned God and asked for a sign—Judges 6:38-39.

I love God's patience with Gideon. He continued to instruct and wait for Gideon to get it. Long story short—Gideon became the warrior as God declared. He found the courage necessary through his faith. He no longer had to test the instructions he received, he just followed them. God had shown himself faithful to Gideon, and in turn Gideon was faithful to God.


I am comforted God allows us to see this example. It helps me recognize that insecurity is a universal human challenge. I'm not the only one, and neither are you! But it also reminds me we need to overcome it. Gideon learned to trust God, the one who produces victory.


When we lack confidence in ourselves we need to remember it is God who provides our success, not us. Our confidence needs to be rooted in God's power and God's strength. He will complete His work.


Be courageous, valiant warriors, even when afraid. It's totally okay to seek encouragement as Gideon did. But we must step out and do it! The results are in God's control. Trust Him for His outcome. Push through the obstacles. Most of them are only in our minds anyway. You are God's child, with His acceptance, His rights, destined to do His work. Persevere and do the hard work. God is with you.

Blessed to be a Blessing

on Wednesday, 20 May 2015. Posted in Devoltionals

Seven ways to GIVE

give

Thursday we are cutting old jeans up for shoes for children in Africa. As I write this, it feels a little silly. How can such a little action on our part impact the great evil of poverty? In itself, not much. If you look at the devastation all around the world it can be overwhelming. However, if we each do a little bit the cumulative effect will astound the world. Mother Teresa started by caring for the poor outside her door. In Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God, he encourages his readers to look where the Father is working and join Him. If we choose to live out our faith, we can influence the world for good.

What can I give?

  1. Money. This is an obvious one. Worthy organizations are in need of financial support. This allows them to further their work.
  2. Service. Give your time. Do something that helps someone else.
  3. Prayer. Pray for others who work in ministry. Prayer brings power. God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to accomplish His purposes. He moves through prayer. This is our communication tool with the creator of the Universe. Our awe-inspiring, profound, and mysterious God will move when we ask, if it is in accord with His purposes.
  4. Encouragement. Ministry work can isolate the individual. The needs of others weigh on the worker. Your encouragement whether communicated through written word or verbal acknowledgement makes a difference. Send a card, an email, a tweet, a post, a text, or give them a call. Your words may be an answer to their prayer.
  5. Priorities. Make giving a priority. Not as part of your leftovers but as an active part of each day. If you don't have enough money, give your time. No time? Give an act of kindness, a smile, or word of encouragement. Impact the world each day in a positive way. This is your choice. YOU CAN DO IT!
  6. Influence. Everyone influences someone. Coworkers, family, friends, and acquaintances are all influenced by your choices. The question is this: Are others blessed because you were part of their day? How can you impact those around you for good?
  7. Recreation. How do we spend time re-creating ourselves? What brings you joy and refreshment? Can you use it to give back to another? This is why so many walks, runs, and bike-a-thons are popular. People sew for others, cook for others, write for others, garden for others and the list goes on and on. Spread your recreational joy by doing it for and with others.

This is not a naïve principle. It is Biblical. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2 (NIV) "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” Jesus made us part of that nation. We are blessed to be a blessing. He amplified this in Luke 12:48 b (NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” How will you give to another today?

Brave?

on Friday, 01 July 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Courage of a Middle Class Mom of Millennials

Brave

I live in a small town. There is always enough food. My house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Crime is low. I have to work to get out of my comfort zone. Yet, there is still fear. It creeps around in the dead of night and it whispers it threats. Some fears are real and some are imagined but all can cripple.

My 2016 word of the year is fearless. With fanfare I boldly stated this in January. Privately I daily choose to live this out. Sounds impressive huh? Truth be told it is not. As an average woman living in an average home it is easy to justify cowardice choices.  Have you ever heard these excuses?

I’m too old.

There isn’t enough time.

There isn’t enough money.

Somebody else can do that.

I’m too tired.

That makes my uncomfortable.

I don’t want to…

And the list goes on. In the coming weeks I’m sharing part of my journey. God has showed up big time. For now my big fears have subsided. Today I share my fear of insufficient finances. A life long struggle.

Fearless

Fear #1 – Money. Our middle child just completed her sophomore year at Hope College. It is an expensive school but it fits her perfectly. She is flourishing there. This past school year she worked 3 part time jobs to offset tuition cost. Each summer, she works hard at a local sandwich shop.

This year, she felt God call her to a Christian camp as a counselor. Awesome! What better way to strengthen your faith than to serve God and lead others to a closer relationship with Jesus. Um, but there is a practical problem here. The camp pays the counselors next to nothing.

Me: “How are you going to pay for school?”

Elizabeth: “Mom, you have always said, ‘If God calls you, He will provide’”

Don’t you hate it when they quote you back to you? Don’t you hate it when you know they are right but a little voice keeps nagging at you? What if I was wrong? What if God didn’t actually call her? What if she is setting herself up for big disappointment? What if and what if and what if?

She sat next to me one night with her laptop open. Pinned to the corner of her screen was this verse:

Matthew 6:34(NLT) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

“Did you know that was the verse that got me through college? I had it written on a 3x5 card on my bulletin board.” I asked

She looked slightly surprised and smiled.

Yet, I couldn’t shake this uneasy feeling. How was she going to do it? I prayed for her finances every day. When I couldn’t sleep, I told Jesus I trusted Him and asked Him to provide. I could sleep but that uneasiness lurked in our house. I would try to discuss it, she felt attacked, and she sensed my lack of faith.

Last week, I drove her 5 hours away to camp. She wasn’t sure what she was stepping into. She bravely went anyway.

On Friday, we received a letter from her college with an amended financial aid report. Elizabeth was awarded a scholarship for showing promise in her future field. A scholarship she didn’t apply for. A scholarship she didn’t know existed. God provided for my girl who was following Him.

God used this circumstance to build her faith and reinforce mine. He is so good and His timing is perfect. I am stunned by the grace He has granted us.

Each of us face a battle that is threatened by fear. I want to give a shout out to brave friends out there! We each see the courage you possess. You have:

Watched your children join the military

Put your children on a plane for mission work

Faced disease and fought against it.

Faced job loss and financial uncertainty.

Loved a wayward child.

Cared for an aging parent.

Lost a parent.

Faced the death of a spouse or child.

Chosen life after the suicide of a loved one.

More importantly God sees you and He knows what you are going through!

I have two more fears to write about and I will in the coming weeks. Meanwhile hang in there my friend. Tell those fears to hush up. Shout to your Lord that you trust Him and He will be there for you. It doesn’t always turn out the way we wish but we must remember that He is always with us. So close that He is holding each of us! Feel His presence, face your fear and BELIEVE

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Share your brave moment below. I want to hear all about it. Please share this with a friend that is facing fear. 

Crafting Your Coffee Klatch

on Wednesday, 04 May 2016. Posted in Devoltionals

Or how I insulted a famous guy's wife.

coffee klatch

You need a group of friends you can rely on. Some call it a posse or squad but that doesn’t really work for me. I’m not a horse-riding, law-enforcing kind of woman. I prefer the term “coffee klatch.” “Klatch” is a German word meaning to gather for light conversation or gossip. Throughout history, women have gathered together to ex-change tidbits of their lives with one another. But often we have preferred to exchange tidbits of other peoples’ lives with one another. That’ a problem.

We've got to redeem the definition and perception of such a group, especially with a definition like that. But let’s talk about that for a moment. Women seem to have a natural propensity for gossip. Friend, we must be aware of it and avoid it at all costs. Scripture instructs to steer clear of it (see Ephesians 4:25-32). If you’re not sure you have permission to say something, don’t.

Years ago, I was at a public event. My friend and I saw a sports celebrity she had worked with in an advertising campaign. She then began to share the difficulties she experienced working with him. I then shared something I had observed at another event. We exchanged a few more comments, both of us made others around us aware that we were in the know. We didn’t actually know the man personally, but we had experienced him firsthand. Then it happened. We were interrupted by another woman. It turned out to be his wife. Talk about an awkward moment! Embarrassed, we continued on in silence, down what felt like a never ending staircase.

Friend, please learn from my mistake. We spoke about situations that were true but not ours to share and it was hurtful to others around us. Scripture is clear: gossip in any form is wrong.

Your coffee klatch should be a place to share your heart, not a place to share rumors and idle talk. Build relationships within your home church for support and strength. We are such relational beings. People that “get” us are precious. They are safe. Be that precious person for someone.

So, how do you build a safe, godly coffee klatch? Well, first let me clear something up: this is not about the coffee. I make this suggestion to women and their first response is “I don’t drink coffee.” That is not the point. Socializing with like-minded women is the focus. You decide your common interest. Your “coffee klatch” could be a book club, Bible Study, or a running group. But make sure you do more than the activity: purpose to support one another.

My coffee klatch is the Dragonfly Ministry. These are the women who believe in God’s call in this ministry. They offer their gifts and prayer support to see God move. It encourages me and humbles me. It relieves what can be a lonely burden of leadership. It is a gift to know I am not alone.

The women who support me don’t necessarily meet together. They are the individual women I trust with my inner thoughts. One of these women is my walking buddy, and she is my true safe place. With her I share ideas, vent frustrations, and rejoice over blessings. She is interested in my well-being and I am invested in hers. There is beauty in a trusted friendship. A place, where confidences are shared and kept, is treasured. This is the type of friendship community fosters. Do you long for this kind of friendship? Be this kind of friend. Excerpt from Legacy by Leslie Schonfeld

Do we really trust?

on Thursday, 05 March 2015. Posted in Devoltionals

trust jesus

“Thank you for trusting me.” He said this as we sped around another corner. We had driven this road a great deal while on vacation. He imagined he was in a video game. Enjoying every turn, my husband was having the time of his life.

I hadn’t really a thought about it as I sat in the passenger seat. He was right, though, I did trust him. We have been together for over 25 years. He has proven himself trustworthy.

Later that week, my confidence was shaken. We decided to go up a mountain road - it was a chance of a lifetime. We, again, were driving along a road full of twists and turns, but I unexpectedly became intimidated by the extreme drop-off as we went along. I experienced vertigo, and completely lost depth perception as we climbed above the clouds. My trust melted into fear: I had to fight to keep myself from slipping into a panic attack.

Dave was driving. I still trusted him, but my fear became greater than my trust. Logically, I knew my feelings were irrational. Even so, I couldn’t get this anxiety in check. I asked Dave to slow down and he responded immediately. He instinctively knew I needed him to respect my request - yet another reason to trust him.

The same is true with our life with Jesus. We think we know where we are going. We have a plan for the next big event. Then, BAM: plans change. We experience loss or disappointment, and then find ourselves heading in an entirely different direction. The unknown outcome can disorient us, and even be quite frightening. We want answers; we want assurance of heading in the right direction, and promises of safety from flying off into an abyss.

I am reminded again of my simple prayer. “I trust you, Jesus.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) reminds us: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Life can be out of our control, but our path is ALWAYS in His hands if we trust in Him. We don’t have to know why we are in our current situation, nor do we have to know where we are going to end up. The important thing is to simply seek Him and His direction. We need to let go of fear, and take hold of FAITH.

Give your future to Him today, and see where He leads.

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