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Devotionals

Disappoint

on Monday, 02 July 2018. Posted in Devotionals

. I will always disappoint someone and that is okay.

disappoint

 

I didn’t set out to lead. I was just following Jesus. I was doing what I love and that placed me in front of others. I looked behind me and was surprised to see that others were following. For eighteen years I’ve been leading in one form or another in my church.  
 
I wish I could say I was more intentional in my path to leadership. Honestly, everything of importance I have found myself doing I didn’t see coming. Yes, I made decision that put me on certain paths but I didn’t have this destination in mind. Yet, here I am. 
 
One of the continuous hurdles I need to jump over is people pleasing. It really does feel like this is a life-long race. As my leadership roles increase the hurdles become higher but so does my ability to leap over them. 
 
At times I care too much about what others think. I want everyone’s support. But in a world full of opinions that is an impossible goal. Listening to That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs pod cast, Alli Worthington said “It is not a sin to disappoint others.” It startled me to realize that my brain agreed with this statement but my heart did not! My heart longs for approval but that is not God’s way. Fear of disappointing others is a sister to people pleasing and there is where the sin lies.  I will always disappoint someone and that is okay. 
 
As a nation, the United States is in a season of extreme public criticism.  Everyone has an opinion and they know they are right. Fingers point, accusing others of what is wrong in this world. This public pressure has pushed me toward timidity. I crumble under unbending accusations. I struggle with the right words and that ever present fear that I will disappoint. The fears run deep. Don’t be mad at me. Don’t reject me. 
 
To please everyone we have to compromise who we are. This dilutes us until we are just a watery mess of our original design. I don’t what that. I want to be who God meant me to be. Can you relate to these thoughts? Does it grieve you as it does me to see and hear so much negative rhetoric thrown around society by Christians and those outside the faith? It chips away at my hope for the church when I hear divisive language.  
 
Then I remember the opinion of man has no power over me. There is only one whose opinion holds weight. Lord, how do you feel about me? Your word says I am your Beloved, your treasure. I am created in your image. Each day as I cry out and you wash me with your redemptive power. Creating me fresh. Producing in me your righteousness. I will each day depend on you to reflect your goodness, your love toward others, who are created in your image as well. All to impact others for your kingdom. All to enrich the lives of others so they are drawn to you. Help me Lord to be an ambassador for YOU in this dark and dreary world. 
 
If you too, struggle with this. Know you are not alone. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me. Dear gentle friend you are not alone. You are loved. Pray for the church. Pray for our nation. Pray for this world. Hope is alive. 
 
Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
 

Cultivate the soil of your soul in 2018

on Tuesday, 02 January 2018. Posted in Devotionals

Acquire and develop fruit🍓🍇🍒 to further build our legacy.👭👭👭

cutivate 2018 400x335

Cold, dark, and dormant. This is winter in Michigan. Yesterday, I wore leggings and jeans. Yes, you read that right. Two pairs of pants at once. It was that cold. Why then write about cultivating when the ground is frozen? Now, in the quiet season, this is when we prepare for the next step.

The New Year holds promises of new life. Although, the earth is suspended in rest, we are not. Now is the time to review, refresh and move forward. We need to cultivate the soil of our soul. Cultivating prepares the soil to bear fruit in the coming season. It loosens the ground where it has become hard. It delivers much needed air to the life that lives deep in it. It allows the soil to percolate water where it is needed to aid in growth of the plants for the new season.

Cultivate is my word for 2018. When we cultivate we acquire and develop what God planted in us. It allows us to acquire and develop skills to further build our legacy. Oh how I want to bear the fruit God is calling me to develop.  Psalm 1:3 defines this goal. “They are like trees planted along the riverbanks, bearing fruit in each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  I wrote this verse in my journal in mid-December. Unaware of this, my son included it in his Christmas present to me. I’m pretty sure that is confirmation for my 2018 Scripture verse.

How do we cultivate so that we bear fruit in all seasons?

  1. Remove spiritual weeds from my gardens. This includes letting go of the heavy cares of this world, avoiding deceitfulness that comes with comfort and power, and distractions from the pleasures of life.  (Matthew 13) For me this is a daily process. Give up worrying. Put my faith fully in God, not my stuff. Balance my time.
  2. Loosen the soil of my spiritual garden. Meditate on His word. I’m not going to read it alone but I’m going to chew on it. Digest it and let it become part of who I am. Challenge my opinions by comparing them to God’s word. I am often surprised by what I learn about myself. (Matthew 13) You probably will as well.
  3. Cultivate to make sure my roots are feeding and drinking from God’s living water. (John 4:10) Drink deep through worship and prayer. This brings strength, empowerment, and resolve.
  4. A cultivated garden of my heart allows me to grow toward God and follow God where He leads. This one is scary but I will tell you it is so worth it. It may not be easy but He will take you places you never dreamed and the results will overwhelm you with joy. (Ephesians 4:15)
  5. Cultivate to bear fruit that shows I delight in God’s way of living. Each day I will choose live that way. This is simple if we focus on bearing His fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Don’t worry about how others are living, their fruit isn’t my responsibility.

This soil needs to stay rich with the nutrients God provides. We need to cultivate it so that these nutrients penetrate deep into us so that mere opinion is replaced with steadfast truth.

“Oh but I know the truth!” Don’t we all think that?

Honestly, we are only grasping the edge of it. A wisp of knowledge is in me. God is so great, so vast, we must continue to expose ourselves to Him in order to know Him. There is so much more to know, so much more to understand. Psalm 90:12 says “So teach us to number our days, that we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.” Grow our knowledge Lord, and help us to apply it wisely in order to build the Kingdom of God.

Oh Lord, penetrate the deepest part of me. Help me to know you better. Teach me to live a life that reflects you, my beloved Lord and dearest friend.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Are you willing to cultivate with me this year? I’d love for you to join us in our Facebook study of the Legacy workbook. You will receive a downloadable preview of the workbook that is designed to go with the Legacy book. The workbook is free for this focus group only but you will need your own copy of the Legacy book to participate. Space is limited so please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, January 5, 2018. 

Gentle and Respectful

on Saturday, 03 February 2018. Posted in Devotionals

Navigating through a harsh world in a winsome way.

gentle

Bumper stickers are funny. They often reflect our personality.  I am particularly sensitive to Christian themed decals.  The abrasive ones really annoy me. I saw one the other day that started “You are not a Christian if…”  You fill in the doctrine from there. Often the person feels so passionately about the subject they don’t recognize the antagonistic message they are sending.  I found myself grumbling lf the rest of the way home.

Then it dawned on me I was judging  a woman I don’t know. How could I know the intent of her heart? Maybe she meant to be judgmental, maybe not.  I don’t always love others. People can be annoying. Do you know what I mean? They don’t drive right, they don’t talk right, they don’t believe right. …Have you caught yourself thinking that way?

 Left to myself, I cannot reflect Jesus to others. I need to know and follow Him. I can only do this through a daily interaction with the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said in John 14:26 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

 None of this is new revelatory information. Yet, we need to be reminded. Living life as a Christian, balanced between grace and truth, is difficult. We often fall too far to one side or the other. We daily negotiate mine fields of cultural rhetoric. Often I want to throw up my hands and walk away. Not from Jesus mind you but from people.

But Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This is our challenge, not only to learn the truth but to live the truth.   I can only accomplish this with a close association with the Holy Spirit. I need to daily allow myself to be filled with His power because ministry requires us to be other focused instead of self-focused.  It is our challenge to remember people are more important than anything. Jesus died because He loved the people.

As I have entered a new season in my life, I have an empty nest and now a new title, I want to revisit this age old lesson. I don’t want to worry about what others think about me. I simply want to accept them where they are. Peter summed it up beautifully. “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” 1 Peter 3:13-17

That is how I want to be thought of. Someone that lives a good life, by choosing what is good in a given situation. Someone that is gentle and respectful towards others, even if I disagree. Someone who declares Jesus as Lord of her life. Someone who draws others to truth. Plain and simple, someone that loves. How about you? Will you join me on this journey?

Spiritual Motherhood

on Wednesday, 02 May 2018. Posted in Devotionals

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 25 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.

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? Mentoring is the key to this life. Find out how in Leslie's latest book Legacy. Purchase it here.

Spring Into New Life

on Friday, 06 April 2018. Posted in Devotionals

It's an ongoing process

spring

 

A true sign of spring is the chorus frog songs that erupt in our backyard each March. April arrived and we still haven’t heard our frogs. Spring continues to lay dormant. It is a bit irritating. I like snow in February but not April! So, we wait, because we know it will come. It always comes.

Spring reflects the promise we hold dear; new life. It symbolizes Jesus, our hope of life reborn, not just in heaven be on earth as well. (Matthew 6:10) As we wait we know, even when God is quiet, He is working. New life is developing in our mind, soul, and body as we learn to love Him more.

Transition is ongoing. Funny how we can see the need to change in others but we are blind to our own need for growth. There is always areas of improvement. Embrace the process. Yield to Him. Be transformed back to His image. This is how we were created. The world has tarnished and dented our designed. The Holy Spirit however is at work resurrecting us back to the initial plan. 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us of this. “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image”

We wait. We notice it when change is drastic but are frustrated when we don’t see progress. It is a time for patience. If you are like me, that is hard. I’d rather not see the flaws. They remind of the lack of progress. Then I need to back to my earlier statement. Recognize it is good, press in to the Lord and let Him reflect me.

“The Lord –who is the Spirit-“. He is right here, dwelling in us. Speaking to us. Molding us. All we have to do is let Him work. Let spring erupt inside of us. Oh the beauty of new life!

Change initiates new seasons. That change can come from our personal growth or our change in circumstances. My husband and I are seven months into our empty nest. We are accustomed to our quiet house. It is okay that we don’t know what is coming next. We continue to seek God, what do we need to work on? I love this process, most of the time. Yes, the process can be painful but it is good. We trust that God has us where He wants us. Our role has changed but our identity is the same. We are His children and He loves us. That is enough.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

on Friday, 02 March 2018. Posted in Devotionals

Be the One

A friend remarked, “You have a Mr. Roger’s way about you.” What a sweet thing to say. But what does that mean? He invited everyone to be his neighbor. I find that interesting. He was a man of deep faith. He didn’t come out and say it but I’m guessing he was living out the second greatest commandment; love your neighbor.

Just like the expert in the law in Luke 10:29, I asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus clearly answers this in The Parable of the Good Samaritan. A good neighbor is the “one who had mercy on him.” Luke 10:37 Simple right?

We are to do as Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37

The history of Israel’s relationship with Samaria was well known. The Hebrew people were to keep separate from the Samaritans. Yet, Jesus was encouraging them to do the opposite. We see examples of the call for separation throughout the Old Testament. Have you noticed that God broke that? Look at the line of Jesus. There we find Rahab from Jericho and Ruth from Moab. What God saw was the heart of these women, not their birthplace. The same is true for the Samaritan in Luke 10.

I find it fascinating that the verses just prior to this is the sending of the seventy-two. It almost seems to contradict the Good Samaritan. In these verses Jesus says “But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’ I assure you, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on judgment day.” Luke 10:10-12 But look closer. Who has the power to reject? Who made the decision to accept neighborly love? It is the town, not the seventy-two.

When others refuse our extension of kindness, it is on them. When others reject the Gospel, it is on them. Our job is to continue to extend ourselves, in the name of Jesus, to others. We don’t get to decide who is good enough to be our neighbors. Those receiving our love get to decide. It is humbling. It is risky. It is out of our control. It is not up to us. We are simply to ask “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Thank you Jesus, that YOU give us the power to love all people.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT) “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

 

Question

on Wednesday, 15 June 2016. Posted in Devotionals, 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) 

The Power of Encouragement

on Sunday, 03 December 2017. Posted in Devotionals

Elizabeth and Mary

Elizabeth Mary

Elizabeth and Mary

       Throughout our lives we are called to different roles. You may be knee deep in diapers, climbing the corporate ladder, fresh from college or approaching retirement. In each and every stage God directs us to build His Kingdom. This is a bit intimidating in the craziness of our current to-do lists. Yet, when we remember we are the daughter of the most-high God we can move forward. One tentative step at a time, we reach out to those that God puts in our lives.

       With the approach of Christmas, we can get caught up in all our preparation. Ah, but Christmas is so much more than that. The WORD became flesh. The God of the universe came to earth as a tiny babe. His mother, Mary was a mere teenager. How afraid she must have been. Of course, God knew. He directed others to her to stand with her, instruct her, and protect her. One of those people was her cousin Elizabeth.

Elizabeth represents the encouraging mentor. Oh what she must have done for Mary’s spirit when she greeted her with joy! Luke 1:41-42 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear’” (Luke 1:41-42 NLT)!

Mary’s story—betrothed and pregnant of the Holy Spirit—was unfathomable to most people, but not to Elizabeth. Culturally, Mary’s pregnancy was social suicide. Although betrothed, she was not yet married. If not for Joseph’s brave acceptance of her (as he was instructed to do by an angelic dream), she faced death by stoning.

God prepared Elizabeth to take Mary in and teach her despite the awkward social dynamics of the situation. Elizabeth was a builder of faith for Mary. She reminded Mary of the great responsibility she had been given. Elizabeth lifted the burden of this task and replaced it with exaltation.

I wonder how often Mary thought back to this day, with fond memories I expect. It must have built her faith and allowed her to trust God in times of doubt or fear. Did she hear Elizabeth’s voice when she was having a baby in a stable? Did she rely on it when she escaped to Egypt? Did she remember it when she saw her son rejected, beaten, and murdered? I believe she did. Mary had to be a woman of great strength and faith—a foundation Elizabeth helped lay.

This beautiful relationship, found in the precious preface to the Christmas story, does more than prepare out heart for the coming holiday. It reminds us that, in all seasons, our God directed encouragement impacts lives. This season in all your preparation, be aware that your words are lasting. You too, can be like Elizabeth.

Portions of his devotional were taken from Legacy by Leslie Schonfeld Click here to purchase. 

Why Mary?

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Posted in Devotionals

mary

Her big eyes peered up at me.
    “Momma?”
    “Yes, Hannah.”
    “Can girls have babies and not be married?”
My mind scrambled. Dear Lord in Heaven, help me answer this with grace, and in a way a five-year-old can understand.
    “Yes, but that is not God’s best plan.”
She stood very still. I could tell she was sorting through this new knowledge. Again she looked up at me. Her eyes penetrated into my soul as she asked:
    “Then why did God do that to Mary?”
That conversation took place ten years ago. On an intellectual level, it is a fairly easy question to answer. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Oh, but the emotional response can be overwhelming. Looking at this from a human level, the Lord put Mary in a nearly impossible situation. To be a pregnant unmarried teen was a stoning offense in her culture. Why would God do that to Mary?

  1. Mary was prepared.  Mary lived a surrendered life. Luke 1: 38 (NLT) “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” She sacrificed her reputation.  
  2. Mary had great faith.  Luke 1:48-49 (NLT) “For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.” She believed the angel. Then God provided evidence to continue to build her faith.
  3. God prepared others to support her
    • Joseph – Her husband-to-be knew exactly what was happening. He loved God and loved her through it. (Matthew 1:20-24)
    • Elizabeth – Her cousin was empowered by the Holy Spirit to know the child Mary was carrying before Mary spoke a word. (Luke 1:41)
    • Simeon – The Holy Spirit guided him to the temple to meet Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they came to present the baby to the Lord. He spoke words that confirmed Jesus was the Messiah. (Luke 2:25-35)
    • Anna – This prophet recognized Jesus immediately. She praised God, and was filled with joy when she saw the family in the temple. (Luke 2:36-40)
  4. Mary remembered God’s promises and provision. Luke 2:19 (NLT) “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” When times became confusing, she remembered God’s promise. This boy, her son, was the Messiah. God’s promised deliverer. His life purpose would come to pass.
  5. Mary was highly favored. Luke 1: 28 (NLT) “Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Gabriel spoke these words over Mary before it all began. Yet, look at her life from a historical point of view. Mary was the only one who knew Jesus from conception all the way to Pentecost. Mary was at His birth, childhood, and first miracle. She witnessed His ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and was present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit empowered His followers. Reread that. Can you fathom the honor of her position? She sacrificed much but she witnessed the greatest events in history.

When the Lord calls us to extraordinary lives, He provides all we need. If we surrender our life to Him, He gives us reminders and supporters. He sends His Holy Spirit to guide us. He never leaves us or forsakes us.
 Join us this month on our Facebook page as we  look at the role of the Holy Spirit in Christmas.

A Season to Thrive

on Tuesday, 07 November 2017. Posted in Devotionals

Empty Nest Full Life

A Season to Thrive 400x335

I want more time. There never seems to be enough. Sadly, time is limited for each of us. A supply we don’t know when it will run out. James reminds us of this in James 4:14 (NLT) “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Now let’s not worry about this. Here’s the deal. Are you breathing? Yep, me too! That means there are opportunities before us. We can thrive because we are still alive.

 Life is funny. Its twists still surprise me. As I was trying to write this, I muddled through five days of headaches. Headaches that made reading, writing, and teaching difficult.  But with each turn of life we need to embrace the ride. It is necessary to stop and see what can I learn? How can I grow? How can I thrive even when I don’t feel like it?

That limited time, our life span, is a gift. A present we get to open each new day. Even when we face challenges, it is imperative to remember “this is the day the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24). It is not cliché, it is truth.

In Psalm 90, we hear Moses express this thought. Psalm 90:12 (NLT) says “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” He laments over the pain they have experienced but He asks God for wisdom. He ends the Psalm by asking for success. Jesus encouraged us that success is loving God and loving our neighbor. Yes, Lord, show us how to use our time to love You and love others!

Thriving doesn’t mean we have to do things that are over the top extraordinary. It means we live in a way that reflects the gift we are given. This isn’t a trite greeting card expression. It is a JOY-FILLED-WOW-LOOK-WHAT-I-GET-TO-DO way of life.

Our home emptied as our girls have left for college and our son works in another city. Over the last couple of months, two friends have passed away. Not older friends, women my age. Life is short.  When we feel sad, we give it to God. We rejoice in knowing He loves us and wants to comfort us. He won’t leave, not ever. His time is forever.

When we are happy, we give it to Jesus. Grateful for blessings, we return that happiness to Him. We let Him use it. We know we are blessed to be a blessing.

It is not so much what we do but how we do it. It is not about our accomplishments. It is our interaction with people. We are in the restoration business. It is all about relationships. Our actions do speak louder than words. We spend our time, that precious gift, on others.

What is taking your time? Are you asking God to teach you wisdom on how to thrive? Are you daily expressing your love to Him and to others? It is a challenge but it is the least we can do with the gift we have received. How will you spend your time?

I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a note and we will discuss it.

 

Be God's Champion Even When You Want to Hide

on Sunday, 01 November 2015. Posted in Devotionals

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 Devotionals

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 Devotionals

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 Devotionals

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 Devotionals

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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