Sunday, December 26, 2010

PRICELESS

50” Plasma TV… $600.00. Vera Bradley handbag… $75.00. Barbie Doll House… $50.00. Spending time with your family making memories… PRICELESS!

Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time making memories with my family. One of my favorites was one of our family traditions. Before my boys were born, Al and I decided we wanted to make Christmas more about Jesus and less about the gifts. We wanted to find some creative way to make Christmas “special” for our family. We found the perfect book one year and decided to set it back for when we had kids.

The book tells the story of Jesus life from the perspective of his niece. It is called Mary’s Treasure Box by Carolyn Walz Kramlich. It tells of a little girl asking her grandma Mary to open up her treasure box to look at all of the things she saved back to remember Jesus. We have made a treasure box of sorts of our own to share with the boys as we read it each year. It contains a piece of straw to remember the stable, wool to remind us of the shepherds who came to visit, a wooden flute, a piece of cloth, and the gifts of the magi. Holding the elements in our hands somehow makes the story more realistic.

The boys got more excited this year than any other about reading the Christmas story. They wanted to hold each item from our treasure box in their hands to imagine what it must have been like the day Jesus was born. It was PRICELESS. I loved seeing their eyes light up. What made it even better was the fact that they knew and understood the magnitude of the treasure that could be found in Jesus.

I read something recently that speaks about Jesus life so perfectly…

The greatest man in history named Jesus, had no servants, yet they called him Master. Had no degree, yet they called him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet he conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.

Wow… Jesus is PRICELESS. Be sure this holiday season and for years to come that you take the time to share the true reason for the season with your family.

Here is a link to a site that has some ideas of how you can make it special for your family. http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art7018.asp.

Instead of taking all of your time to shop for the perfect gift that will be forgotten, broken, or lost weeks later, next Christmas choose to place your priority on what is really important. Choose to make the holiday special by remembering Jesus through telling the Christmas story, reading a special book about Jesus birth, or having a special birthday cake for Jesus to celebrate the occasion. The kids will love it and you will be making memories that last a lifetime. Give the gift that never goes away… start a tradition this year that you can pass down from generations to come. Jesus is a priceless treasure. Don’t keep Him to yourself… give Him away.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, December 20, 2010

What if this Christmas was your last?


I met a lady recently who has only been given a few months to live… this Christmas will be her last. She has no family close to her and she will most likely be alone on Christmas day. When you hear something like that, it gets you thinking. What would I do if that was me? How would I feel? Have you ever been there and thought about it? Imagine… What would you do if this Christmas was YOUR last?


~What would you want to do this year compared to other years?
~Who would you want to see?
~What would you want to say?
~What would you want to give others?
~How would you want to be remembered?


When our prognosis by the doctors becomes grim or someone close to us takes a turn for the worse, it seems like life stands still. We want to go back to a slower pace and put everything on hold to savor every moment with the ones we love. We make the issues of the moment a priority over the busyness of our everyday lives. We don’t want to regret one moment in these last days they have with us.

In moments like these, time is priceless. We are all given the same 24 hours each day; however how we each choose to use it is very different. For many we choose a variety of ways to “spend” our time… we punch in our “time” cards at work, frequent the grocery stores, chip away at household projects, wait hours on end at various appointments, hang out with family and friends, play sports & pursue hobbies, take time for beauty sleep, and feed our faces at least 3 times daily. Time is precious and what we choose to spend our time on shows what is truly important to us.

How much is our time worth today? How much is your time worth? Did you know that we can give and receive when it comes to our time. We are paid for our time when we work, but when we take the time to be with family and friends, we are choosing to give our time to them. Giving our time to others shows them how much they are valued. How much of your time are you giving away?

Think about it…

Are you above average when it comes to how you spend your time? What do you do on a daily basis? What do you value? Check out a survey that was taken on how a typical American might spend their time. This is based on an average 25-54 year old employed person with children. Here is the breakdown of what was found.

How a typical American spends their time daily…

~Sleeping…….......….. 7.6 hours
~Working………...…… 8.8 hours
~Eating and drinking… 1 hour
~Household activities…1 hour
~Caring for others……. 1.3 hours
~Leisure and sports...…2.6 hours
~Other……………...…. 1.7 hours

With a grand total of 24 hours spent.

Remember this is an average American. We are all given the same 24 hours each day. If we want to be beyond average, we are going to have to make some changes to our schedule to fit in what we feel is most important. We may need to sleep less, work less, or readjust some things to show those closest to us that they are priceless to us and worth “our” time. What we value shows in how we spend our time? Does how you spend your time show what you value?

What would you do if this Christmas was your last?

James 4:14 says…
“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”


I think we need to live each day as if “it” was our last. We aren’t promised tomorrow. Living this way would make life richer, more fulfilling, freeing, and full of possibilities. We would hug people more, speak words of encouragement, Lavish love on others, Forgive and Forget quickly, say “I love you” often, and spend countless hours savoring the moments with the ones we love. I challenge you to strive to look back upon your life with no regrets… cherish the memories made, the lives impacted, and the journey traveled. A life well spent is a life well lived. Let this Christmas be your best yet!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, December 13, 2010

"If You Ever Wonder Letter..."


Did anyone ever ask you as a child who you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. What did you want to be? I also wanted to have a pink jeep like Barbie when I was younger, but I think I changed my mind now that I’m older. The dreams of a child are so innocent and filled with wonder. A life filled with hope for the future.

Those childhood dreams can sometimes be crushed by the pressures of reality. Have you ever felt… unnoticed, unloved, hurt, rejected, or alone? Sometimes life can be painful… and sometimes that pain can be inflicted upon us by those that are closest to us. People can be cruel and hurtful. Words and actions can make heavy imprints on our hearts. They can shape who we become if we let them.

Our words and actions are powerful. They can build others up or tear them down. They can speak life or death. What is inside of us comes out… and words cannot be taken back once they are spoken. That is why it is so important that we are careful what we say especially to those closest to us. Not only is, what we say important, but also how we say it.

Children are very impressionable. They are trying to discover who they are and many of them do that by listening to what others think about them. “What a great job on your test!” – I’m smart. “Why don’t you pick your things up… this house is a mess!” – I’m a horrible person. “I can’t believe you forgot that again!” – I’m dumb.“Your hair is sticking up, brush it!” – I’m ugly. “I can’t believe you did that!” – I’m unlovable.

We need to be especially sensitive with the words we speak to our children. Not only do we need to keep from speaking the negative to them, we need to purposely speak the positive. Speak the obvious to them… after awhile they will start to believe it. “You are beautiful!” “I love your handwriting.” “Thank you for helping me. You are so good at helping others.” Look for the positive… you are building your child’s self-esteem daily with your words. It is at times overwhelming to know that “my words” are molding my kids daily. Wow… what a responsibility.

Each child has a self-esteem bank. It is active daily. There are deposits and withdrawals made. Life in general at times can drain their accounts. As a child, most of their time is spent at school. School can be a very negative environment. They are cut down, discouraged, and most days come home defeated. We need to be the ones as parents who actively make deposits daily into their bank. If nobody else encourages and lifts their spirits up, we need to be their biggest cheerleaders.

I am constantly trying to watch my words with my boys. Not only do I need to be purposeful about what I say, but I also need to watch my careless words. If I fail and something comes out that I didn’t want to say, I need to fix it immediately. By fixing it I mean… say you are sorry to your child for your tone, bad attitude or ugly words, and ask them to forgive you… and WAIT for them to say they will. This shows them that you fail just as they do and how to move forward afterwards.

Self-esteem is important. It defines us. It is our opinion of ourselves reflected for the world to see. I had a low-self esteem as a child. I didn’t think other people liked me. I thought I was ugly, unlovable, insignificant, and unnoticed. As a child we decide who we are based on everyone else’s opinions of us. What do they like about us? What do they dislike? We look for imperfections in ourselves and wait for someone else to confirm it to us.

I’ve decided this Christmas that I am going to give my children the gift of an “If you ever wonder letter.” I want to give them a constant reminder of my never ending love for them. I’m going to write them a letter sharing “my opinion” of them in case they ever wonder. I am going to speak life-giving words to them to make impressions on their hearts for the future. No matter what age they are if they ever wonder about my love for them… this will be a spoken and visible reminder.

As we grow into adults, we can face moments of discouragement and may have doubts along the way. Am I loved? Does anyone care about me? Why am I here? Does my life make a difference? In those moments of doubt, I want to be the steady determining factor of my boys moving forward with a healthy self-esteem. What would your life have been like had you been given a letter like this? In your moments of doubting, would this have made the difference?

It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered who I really was through a relationship with God. I was seeking for others to tell me who I was instead of seeing myself through God’s eyes… after all, He made me. I realized that it was God’s opinion that mattered most and He was the only one I needed to seek to please. My favorite chapter of all in the Bible is Psalm 139… it speaks of how well God knows me.

13 -16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.


God knows us better than anyone else. It’s good to know that not only does God know me, but He loves me too. In case YOU ever wonder…

YOU are an amazing, intelligent, gifted, giving, compassionate, loving, kind, sensitive, tender-hearted individual whom God loves, made on purpose, and has a purpose for your life.

This Christmas season choose to seek God’s opinion over man’s. It will change your whole perspective and YOU in the process.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Grow Up!"


Have you ever been told to just “GROW UP!” When I was little I couldn’t wait to grow up. I looked forward to each milestone along the way… turning double digits, being an official teenager, getting a car and driving, getting a job, graduating from High school, getting married and having kids. I wanted to grow up. As you get older, it seems the other way around. Time goes by too fast and we want to go back and be young again. But the fact is whether we like it or not that, we can’t stay babies forever.

As Christians and followers of God, we have to grow up too. We can’t stay spiritual babies forever. Our spirit person wants to grow big and strong in God. It’s our job to feed it what it needs to grow. If we don’t, we will become full grown adults with a limited knowledge and understanding of God. Our lives will become “Me” focused and solely dependent on others to feed us spiritually. Spoon fed Christianity. We will continue to be baby Christians who never truly mature in God.

Let me tell you a little bit about babies. Babies are cute, but can’t really do much. Their whole life is dependent on another person for everything. They can’t talk, can’t eat on their own, walk, or take care of their basic necessities. They are pretty much limited to what others choose to do for them. As a Christian if we choose to stop growing or just stay where we are spiritually (baby Christians), we are choosing to limit what God wants to do in our lives. He has so much more in store!

As we choose to grow in God, we will start to look more like Him. Our reflection of God can be seen by the God-like fruit in our lives that resembles Him. These are traits or qualities of God that begin to shine through us. As we grow in Him, they will begin to become a natural part of who we are as a person. We will become more loving, forgiving, serving, self-controlled, etc… as we strive to grow closer to God.

Think about it this way…when you plant corn in the ground… what do you get? corn… When you plant pumpkin seeds… you get what? pumpkins… When you plant green beans… you get what? Green beans… and when you plant God inside of someone’s heart you get… a life filled with the fruit of God.

The fruit that is produced on the outside of a person shows what is really on the inside. There is a scripture that says… “out of the mouth the heart speaks…” What comes out is what is inside of us… pretty scary. If there is ugliness inside of us, ugliness will come out no matter how pretty you make it look. We can not hide an ugly heart. When we give our lives to God, we should change … we should become more like Him each day. Our old life, ways, and habits should be set aside as we focus on our new life with God.

Ephesians 4:22-24 "…everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you."

When we start showing “God-like” fruit in our lives… it means we are GROWING in God!

What does that fruit look like?

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

The message version says it a little different…

"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people." (MSG)

Growing in God and moving forward is a process. This growth process involves overpowering the pulls of the flesh or our old ways and habits, to replace them with the character of Christ. God wants you to grow beyond where you are spiritually. He has more in store for you than baby food spiritually.

We need to take responsibility to “grow ourselves” in God.
One meal a week would never be enough food to sustain us. One message a week and visit to church is not enough to sustain and grow us spiritually either. We’ve got to feed our spirits every day.

How can we “grow ourselves” spiritually in God? Here are some ideas…
~read the Bible
~pray / talk to God
~go to church faithfully
~memorize scriptures
~tell others about God
~get baptized
~find a place to serve or minister to others
~tithe
~really worship God
~read Christian books
~hang around Christian friends who encourage you
~find a spiritual mentor to help teach you more about God
~go on a Missions trip

These are just a few ideas of ways you can “grow yourself” in God. Choose to grow and you are choosing to change. We are changing to become more like God each day. The more fruit we have in our lives, the more of Jesus others will see in us. Our “God Like” fruit can give us opportunities to reach others for God.

I love how 2 Corinthians 3:18 talks about this process of growing in God… it says:

"…our lives are gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him." (MSG)

Shine brightly for God today. Let that “God-like” fruit shine through you for the world to see. Choose to grow up! You can’t stay babies forever. It’s time for us to grow strong enough in God to lead the way for others to follow. You can do it! “Grow Up!’

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, November 29, 2010

A life with NO REGRETS


Over the Thanksgiving break, my son had homework. He didn’t tell me until three hours before bed Sunday night that he had forgotten to do it. His assignment was to write 100 things he is thankful for in complete sentences. Needless to say, it got me thinking of things I might be thankful for too as I helped add to his list.

Many times we get so caught up in what we want that we take for granted what we have to be thankful for each day. When I think of what I am thankful for… many things come to mind. I think our list changes over the years based on the circumstances we have faced and life experiences. It becomes more purposeful and introspective.

What are you thankful for? Your car, your house, your pet, your job, your bank account… Some times it takes facing unexpected circumstances to see what is really important to us. What is truly important to you? Who is important to you?

Why not think about it now and live with purpose. Show love to your family NOW, spend time with your kids NOW, take time to go to church and build a relationship with God NOW. Why wait until it is too late. Live with purpose. Love with purpose. Laugh with purpose. Live a life with no regrets.

Think about it… WHO do you have to be thankful for?

I am thankful for God who saved me from a meaningless, dead life and filled me with life and purpose. He has turned my whole life upside down for good and has left me radically changed for the better.

I am thankful for my awesome, incredible husband of 17 + years. He is my best friend, an amazing daddy, my cheerleader, and an inspiration to me. His walk with God pushes me forward to want more.

I am thankful for my two amazing boys full of life. I am thankful that they are healthy, happy boys who love God and each other (depending on the day). I am not thankful they are growing up… time goes by too fast.

I am thankful for family and friends who encourage me on a daily basis to keep walking forward no matter what life throws at me. Their prayers carry me through when I don’t have the strength.

What are you doing to show the people who mean the most to you in your life that you are thankful for them?

Show them with your words (verbally and written), your actions (physical expressions of love), and with your time (spend purposeful time with them with no agenda).

Think about it… WHAT do you have to thankful for?

Since struggling with health problems… I am thankful for some more specific things. I am thankful that I no longer have double vision, I can drive a car, I can eat solid food, I can make meals for my family, I can stand for long periods of time, my voice is strong, and that I have enough energy to accomplish everything I need to each day.

Since going on various missions trips overseas, I am thankful for a few other things you wouldn’t normally think of… I am thankful for clean, fresh water, “flushing” toilets, ice cubes, paved roads, a car to drive in, grass, shoes, a closet full of clothes, a house with solid walls on every side of it to live in with wood floors and windows, and a church to go to freely whenever I like with no fear of attack.

Many times after going on a Missions trip or visiting another country, you can come back experiencing “culture shock.” You begin to see your selfish lifestyle and the excess all around you and it offends you. You start to see that many of your supposed “needs” were actually “wants” and that you have more than enough of everything.

It’s hard to be thankful when we are being selfish and it’s hard to be selfish when we are thinking about the needs of others. One way to live with a thankful heart is to take on the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:3-5 says

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."
Choose to live a life with no regrets today. Be thankful for those special people you have in your life and SHOW THEM daily. Also be thankful for what you have… we have to remember that it’s not all about us. There are people all around us with needs. Look for an opportunity to bless someone else this holiday season. You might be surprised how much you are blessed in the process.

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, November 22, 2010

"My Love Story"












Recently I shared my “love story” with a group of teenage girls. I was hoping to in some way impress upon their hearts that they were “worth the wait.” My story is one of passion put on hold until the wedding day. A friendship was built that would last a lifetime.

I was blessed with a sweet, sensitive, romantic from the very beginning. What I appreciated most about Al was that he respected me enough to set physical boundaries in our relationship. He wanted to protect our future from the very first date so we could live a life with no regrets.

The best part of developing a strong friendship first was that we never had to go through the “let me impress you” stage of our relationship. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly and still loved each other. There were no false impressions… we were real with each other all the time. It was very evident that he loved me for me. Our relationship grew from the friendship gradually to protected dating, engagement, and finally marriage. God blessed me with my very own Prince Charming.

My love story with Al is not the only love story I have to tell. There is someone else in my life who has loved me for me…God. He has loved me… failures, disappointments, bad choices, insecurities, ugliness, and all.

Ephesians 3:18 says…
”And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

God’s love for us goes beyond anything we could comprehend… no relationship, physical expression, or definition of love even comes close. God loves you with an everlasting love. God’s love is different than what the world tries to offer us.

I Corinthians 13 shows us the difference. Look what it says…

“…So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”


Wow… so “love in action” should look like this. When we love with God’s love, others will notice a difference! Many in the world today seek the love of others with selfish terms. I will love you if… It’s a conditional type of love. I’m sure glad God isn’t that way. He loves you for you and me for me.

The day we invite God into our lives, our love story with Him begins. Our love for Him grows and is manifested for everyone to see each time we show His love to others. What does your love story with God look like? How has he shown His love to you?

Our love for others should mirror our love for God.
How does God love us…
~He loves unconditionally
~He forgives immediately
~His love is permanent and never ending
~He takes us as we are
~He brings out the best in us

As we continue to grow in God, our love for others will grow. Some people are hard to love, but when we choose to see them through God’s eyes and love them with His love… it can happen. Offer your whole heart to God to receive love and give love and you will truly be blessed.

Romans 12:1-2
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out…”

God’s love molds us and shapes us into the best “Me” we can be. Today He wants to write “your love story.” He wants to know you personally and romantically. I challenge you to spend some time getting to know God. Really let Him see you for who you really are... ugliness and all. His love is like no other and He offers it to you today. May His love consume your life as you choose to pursue Him.

Living to leave a Legacy!
Julie

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fear Not...


Is there anything you are afraid of? What scares you? … spiders, mice, tornados, heights, planes, small spaces, the unknown, failure… the list could go on. Fear takes many forms. We are all afraid of something. The question isn’t necessarily what are we afraid of… but do we allow our fears to rule our lives and restrict us from truly living?

When my boys were little they had trouble sleeping at night… they were afraid. Afraid of the dark, their closet, their toys, the trees blowing outside, anything and everything… Mommy made it her mission to find the problem and fix it. We prayed every night before bed for good dreams, we got a night light, we talked about what they could dream about, and I even traded pillows with one of my sons so he could have good dreams like me. This is something we constantly fight against… FEAR.

Our minds are sponges. They absorb everything we see and hear all through out our day. The good, the bad, and the ugly… that is why we need to be extremely careful about what we allow into our hearts and minds. Things stick with us longer than you would think. That is why my husband and I have made it our job to help "protect our boys minds” until they are old enough to do it for themselves. One area we strive to protect them from is fear.

We gauge our decisions for our children by our choice to protect what is allowed inside of them. We restrict where they go and what they do for a purpose. The things that we see and hear stick with us. We never want to put them in an atmosphere where fear will grow inside of them. For that reason we are very protective over their media elements, they aren’t allowed to see scary movies, go to haunted houses, or watch things that may have scenes that are too intense. These kinds of things can invite “fear” into our lives.

I saw a horror movie when I was a child. I was sitting in the midst of a bunch of adults and I can still see the vivid images. It really sticks with you… it stuck with me into my teen years. In fact the fear stuck with me as well… I was afraid to sleep at night. Fear grew as I got older. It dictated what I did or didn’t do based on what the possible outcome could be. I lived my life based on the “what if" mindset of life. I would think about doing something based on what could possibly happen as a result. I inserted the worst case scenario of course. When my husband was running late from work… he got in an accident. When I got sick… I was dying. Fear began to consume my thought life.

Even though I knew God and had a relationship with Him, I still allowed fear to affect my life. It wasn’t until I decided to trust God with every area of my life that I started to notice a positive difference. I had to come to the point where I realized that God held my destiny. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Do you know what the opposite of fear is? Faith. Our walk with God is a walk of faith and walking by faith is a new way of living.

So... how can we overcome fear and begin this new walk of faith? Here are few thoughts to help you:

~Fear should always be combated with scripture. We have power over fear when we speak in faith. When you put God’s word inside of you… it stays and comes back when you need it.

~We can build our faith by hearing and speaking God’s Word daily.

~As we read and memorize God’s word, it will become a part of us and give us control of our thoughts.

~Face your fears with faith believing that God is in control of whatever the outcome.

There is a scripture that I memorized that helped me overcome and face my fears. It is one that I passed on to one of my sons to use as a weapon when he felt afraid. When Jesus fought the devil He used scripture. The devil wants to fill us with fear and paralyze us, but we can overcome him with the word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “Take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

As I began to walk in faith, a part of my process of overcoming fear was taking captive of my thoughts. Sometimes our minds can run wild with possibilities. I had to learn to give my thoughts to God. If it was a good thought, I could keep it. If not, it was God’s to have. God became my filter for my thoughts and my life. When we allow God into every area of our lives… we no longer have to live in fear, we can truly experience LIFE.

I pray today you will face your fears with faith believing God to do the impossible. I challenge you to let Him have control of every area of your life. You can trust Him!

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is your "Ugliness" inspiring others?

This fall we moved to a new home that we rent in the country. The house is great with the exception of the “ugly” mural on the garage. To emphasize it’s ugliness… you should know that this garage is a landmark off the road for everyone to see in our area as they pass by. I asked several people who didn’t know where I lived, if they knew where the garage was with the “ugly” mural on it and it was unanimous… bulls eye, bingo, jack pot. You get the point. Needless to say as a part of the lease, I requested that it be painted. I could take the “ugliness” no longer.

The landlord provided the paint, so I began the process of painting last weekend. I didn’t realize how much needed to be done to prepare the surface to paint. I ended up scraping for a couple hours. I recruited my two boys and a neighbor boy to help and we still didn’t get it all finished. I was able to paint the top and cover the words (see picture provided), but I still have more scraping to do…. errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Living with ugliness that you can see every day is no fun!

Did you know that each of us carry “ugliness” with us on a daily basis? Unless you are perfect, we have all failed some time in our lives. Some of that “ugliness” represents bad choices we have made, old habits, addictions, lifestyles we aren’t proud of, etc… We all live with a memory of some kind of “ugliness” from our past. God is faithful to forgive and forget as we give these areas of our lives to Him, but the memories are still there. We have to remember that we are works in progress and with God’s help we can overcome.

When we give our lives to God, we start a new chapter in our lives. It’s one with God being the focus… it’s a new way of living and we are still learning the ropes. Look at what 2 Corinthians 5:17 says about it… ”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” How exciting! We have the opportunity of a fresh start. Even though we have started this new chapter in our lives, sometimes there are days where we tend to dwell on the past. It seems at times hard to get beyond it all, but God has a better idea when it comes to our shortcomings and failures.

I was at a ladies group recently and heard a phrase that soaked deep into my spirit. A lady was sharing about how the “ugliness” of her past wasn’t pretty… she was discouraged and afraid to talk about it. Another lady there said…“your ugliness is my inspiration.” She had seen such a difference in this family that it changed her life and gave her hope that God could do the same for her. Whether you realize it or not, the “ugliness” of your past is inspiring others.

People are watching us. They are watching and waiting to see how we will react to what life throws our way. They are watching to see the difference when we give our lives to God and waiting to see how long it will last. Once they see it sticks… they are using your life as inspiration and a goal to shoot for. If God can do it in you, surely they are not a lost cause. You inspire them!

It is our natural tendency to hide our past failures, but God has another option. We have the opportunity to share God’s faithfulness to us with others. When He prompts us and allows us, we should share “our story” of what God has done and how He has changed our lives. When we share it does two things: it says “thank you” to God for setting us free and it encourages others to trust God to help them overcome in their struggles.

Your life has the potential to inspire others to have greater faith. Faith to believe God to do miracles in their lives. There is a scripture in the Bible that talks about how God can turn any bad situation around to bring good… your life is no exception.

“Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

What could God do with your “ugliness” if you let Him? Could your life be inspiring others without you even knowing it? Whose “ugliness” has inspired you? Don’t hide the miracle He has done in your life… tell the world and help them experience for themselves a life changed by God. So, tell me… what is “your story”? I’m ready to be inspired.

Living to Leave a Legacy!
Julie

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Art of Listening

Have you ever had a hard time hearing someone before? My son just got tubes put into his ears recently. He has had trouble for awhile hearing us. He occasionally mixed up words he heard and he could only hear parts of what we said at times. I mentioned it to the doctors years ago, but he passed all the required tests so nothing was done. I am surprised that he has managed so well all this time and even got incredible grades in the process. It wasn’t until after really pushing this time that they finally did more tests to find out he wasn’t hearing everything correctly. Hmmmm… you think?

Hearing is pretty important. It affects every part of our lives. Can you imagine if you lost your hearing how it would affect your life? What would you NOT be able to do anymore? How would it affect your day? Think about it. It would be difficult to drive, talk on the phone, shop, go to school, order fast food, etc… As we get older, the harder it is for us to hear. For some of us today whether we realize it or not, our hearing has been impaired for some time. People all around us are talking, but we are missing what they are saying. We aren’t really listening.

Have you ever been in a conversation where you couldn’t get a word in edgewise? You were forced to do all of the listening because that person wasn’t that interested in what you had to say. Have you ever been guilty of talking more than you listen? Listening is an art… and something we need to learn to practice. Listening is taking hearing a step further. We don’t just hear what someone is saying, but we listen intently and back it all up with genuine emotion in response.

The Bible talks about listening in James 1:19. It says… “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. I think God intended for us to listen MORE than we talk. Why should we listen? You can learn a lot about a person by listening. If you listen really close, you can hear their heart. When you take the time to really listen to someone, it shows you genuinely care about them. So, how do we learn to become a better listener…

The first step to learning how to listen is to let the person you are talking with speak first. Treat them as the honored guest in your conversation. Ask them questions and set out on a quest to learn something new about them each time you interact.

As a listener we should be…
~like an archaeologist digging for the truth
~like a reporter investigating the facts
~like a writer gathering information

The second step to learning how to listen is to motivate and inspire the person you are talking with to share. Look for ways to get them to talk. Ask lots of questions and really listen to their answers so you can learn more about them. Show interest in what they are saying and stay engaged in the conversation. Their job is to do the same for us! Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way YOU need to CHOOSE to be a good LISTENER.

Think about your last conversation. Replay it in your mind. How much did you learn about the person you talked with? Did you listen long enough to hear their heart? What were they excited about? What was troubling them? Did you leave them encouraged and uplifted… better for having been with you?

The third step to learning how to listen is to share only when asked and briefly. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Sometimes less is better. Give them a chance to inspire you to share. Let them dig a little deeper into your life. Your relationships will grow richer and deeper as you learn to invest in other's lives through listening.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle to be a good listener especially with my family. I get busy, distracted, or uninterested in what’s going on and really miss what is being said. What a great place to practice our listening skills. They are the ones that will notice the difference immediately. I dare you to try it!

I think you will be surprised at how your relationships will change as you begin to practice the art of listening. Let God lead you as you begin your next conversation and watch as He uses you in ways you never imagined. Let the conversation begin…

Living to leave a Legacy!
Julie

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Buttons"

Recently I shared a topic at a women’s group that has been soaking in my spirit ever since. The topic was on “buttons.” “Buttons” being those areas Satan likes to bring up in our lives to make us go back to those old habits, attitudes, and behaviors of the past.

Think about your life now… how has it changed since you have given your life to God. Have the things of the past remained the same?

When we compare what we looked like before having God in our lives to after having God, is there a difference? Here are some things to think about as you look a little closer into your “God life”…

What did your life look like without God in the following areas?

What habits did you have?
What kind of people did you hang around?
What issues did you struggle with?
What did you feel like inside?


What does your life look like with God in the following areas?
What brought you to the point of salvation or committing your life to God?
What did your life feel like inside afterwards?
What things changed in your life?
What did you start doing?
What did you stop doing?


Satan is not happy about this change that has occurred in your life. His goal is to get you to turn away from God and go back to your old way of living.

There are some things that I want you to remember as you think about your old way of living. The Bible is clear about how we should view our life before God… take a look.

Colossians 3:9-10, 12-14 says…
“You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.”

”So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (MSG)


Ephesians 4:22-24 says “…everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (MSG)

Growing in God and moving forward is a process. This growth process involves overpowering the pulls of the flesh and replacing them with the character of Christ.

I love how 2 Corinthians 3:18 talks about this process of growing in God…

…our lives are gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him (MSG)

The more of God we get inside of us, the more beautiful we become inside and out.

Think about those issues you struggled with before having God in your life. Have any of these things been a temptation for you or a struggle since you have given your life to God? THESE ARE YOUR BUTTONS! Beware… you need to find some weapons to fight against the urge to give in and go back to your old lifestyle.

How can you continue to move forward and grow in your relationship with God? What can we do to overcome these areas? Here are some things to consider…

Do you have an accountability partner? This is someone to help you grow in God and hold you accountable to it. An accountability partner can help you not only keep from going back to your “old ways,” but help you make choices to move forward in your walk with God. If you don’t have someone to keep you accountable, you need to find a friend to do this. Don’t assume they will… ask them to do it and have a plan!

Can you name anyone you can go to when you are struggling that will encourage you. Accountability partners and other Christians can help us grow in God and protect us from temptation. Another way to protect yourself and become stronger in God is by going to church. Church is a great place to be around other people who love God and to hear God’s word that can change your life! Memorizing scripture is another weapon we can use to fight the devil. You can memorize verses in the areas you struggle with and when you need them, God will bring them back. The Bible is a weapon. Reading it and memorizing it can make your stronger! When Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4…. He used Scripture to fight the devil and we can too! Pray and ask God for help when you are struggling… He will be there to help you through it all.

All these things together will help form a hedge of protection around you to fight against the devil. We can never expect to ever be “strong enough” to overcome temptation. We can become stronger in our areas of weakness with God’s help, but there will always be days or seasons where we are more susceptible to Satan’s suggestions. Your button may be… holding grudges, anger, drinking, unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex, ugly talk, suicidal thoughts, pornography, anorexia… the list goes on. Whatever the button, Satan’s specialty is in using what is familiar and comfortable to tempt us. He isn’t very creative… he likes to use the same old things every time (those old habits, behaviors, and attitudes). When we choose to protect ourselves, we choose to win over the devil’s attempts to pull us away from God and back to our old ways!

Can you think of someone who’s relationship with God you admire. What about their life draws you to them? What about you? Who do you want to be in God? Can you see it? You can be all God has called you to be and more… Your life is inspiring others around you whether realize it or not. Satan sees all your potential and is watching you too! He wants you to fail… all the more reason to get stubborn and fight to protect your future! God has amazing plans ahead for you. Get your spiritual armor on, weapons ready, and get ready to fight! We’re going to win!!!

I am always available if you want to talk, need prayer, or just a battle buddie to share with… you can do it! I believe in you and I am watching inspired by your life. Shine bright for God!

Living to leave a Legacy!
Julie

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hide & Seek


My boys are full of life lessons. They never cease to amaze me by what they teach me along life’s journey. Their recent endeavor involved my solar lights outside on the walkway and football. We live out in the country and have a big front yard. For some reason even though we have a huge area out front to run around, they consistently choose to play football close to the house. Mom gave them some boundaries as they play to hopefully prevent them from breaking anything close to the house.

One day recently, I walked out the front door and the boys were close to the house… again playing football. I warned them that if they weren’t careful that they would break one of the solar lights. As I looked out at the lights I realized one was missing. Hmmmm… I wonder where it went. I asked the boys and was surprised at what I found. I guess it broke and they decided to go put it (or hide it) under the dog house on the side of the garage. When I asked them why… they said they thought it would be safer there in case it rained. When I probed them more I found out that they broke it playing football and tried to hide the fact. It was moments later when mommy came out and discovered it all. They even went to the trouble of rearranging my solar lights so I might not notice, but I saw it immediately. Moms know everything or so it seems.

Why is it that our first instinct when we mess up is to HIDE things? Eventually we are found out and all is revealed. I guess it started at the beginning with Adam and Eve hiding their sin from God.

Genesis 3:7-12 says
When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

God called to the Man: "Where are you?" He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid." God said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"

The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."
God said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"


It was their disobedience that caused all the trouble. Disobedience led to falling into sin, hiding it from God, and making excuses. Have you ever been there… done that? Disobeyed maybe your parents and tried to hide it. Have you ever tried to hide things from God thinking He couldn’t see it all on His own? Maybe there is a part of your life you choose to ignore and don’t like to look at… God wants to see into every area of your life.

Disobedience, making bad choices, and hiding our sin doesn’t help us draw closer to God. It pushes us further away from Him. Instead of hiding things from God, we need to invite Him to investigate our lives and become an open book. We need to crack open the book of our lives and let Him look at ALL areas freely as He chooses. I know there are some areas we don’t want to look at… we’d rather lock the door on those rooms and throw away the key, but God wants to know ALL of us. He loves us the same no matter what our lives look like inside or out. Invite Him to a closer look inside of YOU!

"God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you..." Psalm 139:1 (MSG)


We need to invite God into every area of our lives. He needs to be the center of it and everything we say and do should flow through Him. We need to let God see the good, bad, and ugly. The more of God we let in, the more we will grow to experience His freedom, peace, joy, love, mercy, grace, and presence. Why would we want to keep ourselves from these awesome things by keeping the book of our lives sealed to God?

In order to really know what’s in a book, we’ve got to open it, right? Have you ever ordered a book in the mail that was shrink wrapped? I’m sure if you are an avid reader that you couldn’t wait to rip the wrapping off and start reading. It’s hard to read a book that is sealed shut. Maybe we could read the front and back covers, but that limits us at getting to the meat of what’s inside. How often do we give God the shrink wrapped book version of our lives saying you can have my life God… I’m an open book. It’s all closed up and you can’t read or see the pages. Can we trust God with what is in between the covers of our life? I think so and when we do, we will begin to experience God in a new way.

Why do we think we can hide things from God? Actually it is when we bring things into the light that we are truly set free. Instead of HIDING FROM GOD, I encourage you to SEEK HIM. Chase after Him, tell Him when you fail… ask for forgiveness and move FORWARD. God wants to write some new chapters in the book of your life and you’ll never believe what He has in mind.

Open your life up to Him today… look inside for yourself and ask Him to show you what He sees. Sometimes His perspective makes all the difference! No matter what the pages of the past hold, there is always hope for a new chapter for the future. There are new chapters to be written and life to be lived. Choose today to invite God to be a part of the journey. The books He writes are always inspiring masterpieces!

Let today be a blank page given to God to write a masterpiece using YOUR LIFE as His inspiration!

Living to leave a Legacy!
Julie

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Can I have a Band-Aid... Life Hurts?


When my boys were little they had this weird fascination with band-aids. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t keep them stocked enough in our house. We were constantly running out. I decided to investigate this mystery. I discovered in my search that my boys had a unique philosophy about band-aids. They thought that anytime they hurt that the band-aid would immediately heal them and take all of the pain away. It was amazing.

I tested the theory several times to be sure. When they would get a bump, bruise, or scratch, they cried their eyes out and immediately stopped the minute the band-aid was placed in position. Wallahhhh… they were healed. I wish it were true! This concept seems a little silly, but some of us see God in the same light. We hurt and therefore we want Him to immediately put a band-aid on it and take all of the pain away.

There have been many times in my life’s journey that I wish I could put a band-aid on my life and see it immediately healed. It would be awesome to see all the hurt go away in a moment. It’s a nice idea, but doesn’t always happen that way. God doesn’t promise to take all of the pain away, but He promises to walk through it all with us. He has been there and knows what it means to hurt.

John 16:32-33 says…
“But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

It is inevitable that we will face pain sometime in our life time. It could be the pain of a broken relationship, hurtful words, a miscarriage, financial hardship, disease, death, an injustice, or a physical pain that won’t go away. When we face pain, we can most relate to Jesus and how He felt on the cross. He was willing to suffer to do whatever it took to build a bridge for us to get to God.

I’ve faced various types of pain in my life time, but a couple years ago I experienced extreme physical pain like never before. I had severe stomach pain that wouldn’t go away. I went to every doctor imaginable and each one kept saying we don’t see anything wrong. I felt like I was being sent in circles and nothing was helping. After awhile, my patience ran out. I was vomiting because of all of the pain and on strong pain killers that barely cut the edge off. I remember lying in bed in severe pain one night thinking… why me???? I didn’t blame God I just didn’t understand what He was doing. I decided that regardless of how I felt that I was thankful I was alive and could be with my family. I determined that if I had to live with this, I would with God’s help. After SIX MONTHS, we finally discovered that one of my meds I was taking for the autoimmune disease I have had a side-effect in very few people that caused abdominal pain. A slight change in the dosage fixed it. A lesson in patience I suppose.

I don’t know what kind of pain you are facing right now in your life, but the main thing you need to realize is that God has not forgotten you. He is near and wants to walk with you through it all. Run TO Him, when you are hurting not AWAY from Him.

I read this quote recently and it really stuck with me.

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

I remember feeling when I’ve been sick or struggling like I was hanging from a rope. It felt like it was wearing thin and I was hanging by a thread. But God reminded me that He was holding the other end and I was safe as long as I held on tight to Him. No matter where you are in life or what you are facing… run to God. Hang on tight and let Him carry you through. With God nothing is impossible. Pray, trust Him, Hang on, and let God take care of the rest. He is faithful!

“Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

May God bless you today as you face life’s difficulties with His peace, presence, and patience for the journey.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The Amazing Race"


I like to watch The Amazing Race. It’s exciting to see all of the challenges the contestants have to face and the fearless passion they have to make it to the end. Their inspiration is to finish the race to win the money and change their lives! Many start the race, but few finish it. Did you know that we are in a race today as well. Our motivation is a little different though. It is a race to heaven. This life we live is a race filled with different stretches along the way… some ground is level, some places have ruts to watch out for, there are hills, and valleys. No matter what we face, God is faithful to walk with us along the way and carry us when we get too tired to walk.

Recently I was a part of a one mile walk for the Crisis Pregnancy Center here in town. It wasn’t “The Amazing Race,” but it felt like it to me. It was my first big physical feat after being so sick at the first of the year. Six months ago, I struggled to walk across the room because of my health problems. I set a goal that when I felt well enough I would strive to finish a one mile walk. It was my way to thank God for all He has done in and through me this year. I did finish the walk… I was tired and sore, but remembering WHY I was walking spurred me on. The pain I felt later was a reminder that I completed the walk and crossed the “finish line.” YAY! I did it!

Philippians 3:14 says…
By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back (MSG).

I heard it said before that goals are dreams with deadlines. If we never set a goal, we will never achieve it. It’s just a daydream. I don’t know about you, but I want some of my dreams to come true. Whether we set goals for losing weight, getting organized, spending more time with our family, reading our Bibles, or being more intentional at building relationships, goals can be a good way to move forward on this race called life in a positive way.

1 Corinthians. 9:24-27 says…
I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself (MSG).

No matter what goals you set or how outrageous they seem, God will give you the strength to do it!!! I encourage you to take some time today to set some goals. Make a list, fill in the details, and set some “baby step” deadlines to make it happen. Remember it’s a goal… something to shoot for. Some areas you might think about setting goals are:

FAMILY:
Spouse and kids, Family Nights, Date Nights, communication, showing love, memorizing scriptures etc…

SPIRITUAL:
Bible reading, prayer, being faithful to church, memorizing scripture, etc…

MENTAL:
Reading with purpose

PHYSICAL:
Diet & exercise

OTHER:
Ministry, Writing, Education, Starting a New Business, Goals to start doing something or stop doing something…

Sky’s the limit… dream big, set outrageous goals and watch God surprise you! You can do it!

Living to leave a Legacy!
Julie

Monday, September 27, 2010

"The Most Excellent Way"


In the midst of our moving recently, we attempted to teach our boys the concept of doing things “with excellence.” We gave them lists of things to do to help prepare for the move such as: packing various items, vacuuming rugs, washing walls, emptying trash etc… We noticed that after we checked over their list that things seemed to be consistently done half-way. They did what we asked to some degree, but not well. The trash cans were emptied, but the baskets were lying down half-toppled over on the floor of each room. The rug was vacuumed just enough to get “some” of the dirt off and then rolled up dirt and all. They did the jobs to say they were done, marked it off their list, and then headed for the TV. God gave me a few scriptures to help enlighten them on their work ethic that I want to share with you today.

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17


“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Colossians 3:23


God doesn’t want us to face this life doing everything half-way or to work half-heartedly to say we did it. He wants us to do things to the best of our ability “with excellence.” We are representing Him with all we say and do. We are doing it FOR HIM! Whether we are flipping burgers at McDonalds, changing dirty diapers, or leading Boy Scouts, we are doing it for God and as a representative of Him to this world. We need to do things “with excellence.”

What does doing things with excellence look like? Excellence can be defined as going above and beyond doing something. When we were Youth Pastors years ago, we drilled into our teens that we need to do things “with excellence.” When we went on a trip, we would emphasize the fact that we need to leave this place the same or better than how we received it. We were being a witness or a reflection of God to others by our actions. We wanted to be a good one! They didn’t like cleaning up their trash, straightening up rooms, or staying late, but we were bent on being consistent in this area. Eventually they caught on and began doing it all on their own without being prompted with the right heart.

If we say we love God and live for Him, then we need to show it by our actions. If we really are doing things FOR GOD as the scripture says, then we need to do them WELL to the best of our ability. What does doing things with excellence look like? It’s staying to help clean up after a church service and being the last one to leave, it’s filling the gas tank up to full after borrowing a friend’s car when you received it almost empty, it’s paying above average to your waitress at a restaurant, it’s going above and beyond what is expected of you to bless someone else. What does doing things “with excellence” look like? It looks like YOU doing your best for God in whatever you do! If you were to give yourself a grade on doing things “with excellence,” what grade would you get?

Why should we do things with excellence? Who cares? God cares. We are representing God to the world by what we do and how we do it. We are a reflection of Him. Reflect Him well. The best way to do things is the excellent way. I challenge you today to choose to go above and beyond in everything you do and remember you are doing it FOR GOD. Very few people strive to do their BEST at anything. As you begin to do things “with excellence,” you will stand out among the rest and God will bless you as a result. I pray the “most excellent way” will become a lifestyle for you as you continue to serve Him.

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who am I REALLY???

In case you missed it, we recently moved to Lebanon, Indiana. We moved over the last couple weeks and I have been recovering ever since. Moving wears you out and the boxes never seem to disappear quick enough. We moved for several reasons… it’s closer to Indy, it’s closer to our church we attend, and I got a job as a Home Health Aide in Lebanon. All good reasons to move closer…. I may be moved in, but won’t be completely settled for awhile. I am a perfectionist and for some reason need to have everything in it’s place to be completely comfortable.

In the midst of our moving adventure, I had an interesting event happen to me. I ordered one of my prescriptions as usual from the local pharmacy, but things did not go as expected. When my husband went to pick it up, it wasn’t there. Someone else picked it up before him. I probably should say that in Crawfordsville, Indiana there were THREE Julie Davis’ before I moved. One is a teacher, one is a photographer and then there is me. It caused lots of problems. I had problems when reserving books at the library, people called me looking for their photographer, and I got mail about Teacher’s Retirement plans all the time. I assumed this was one of those instances. After talking with the manager of the pharmacy, she assured me this was not the case. She said they were going to be scanning the video footage to ID the person and possibly calling the police station for further action.

For one afternoon I felt somewhat panicked at the fact that someone knew my personal information enough to get my prescriptions. What more could they get in “my name”? Had my identity been stolen? Who do you contact when identity theft has occurred? A lawyer… the police… I never had to think about it before. I worked myself into a frenzy and headed to the pharmacy to discuss my fears with the manager. As I arrived and shared my concerns she calmed them immediately when she said they got it all figured out. The person who took my prescription brought it back right before I arrived. I guess one of the husbands of a “Julie Davis” in town came in to get a prescription for his wife and thought my birth date was hers. It was a case of “mistaken identity”… all was under control and my identity was SAFE! Have you ever had a similar scare with identity theft? It’s no fun! Our identity is WHO WE ARE and nobody can steal that away from us.

Identity can be defined as this… The characteristics that a person is defined, recognized, or known by. These are the qualities that constitute his or her individual personality for life. We wear many hats that define us and add to our identity. I am a daughter, wife, mother, sister, grand daughter, niece, house keeper, cook, teacher, referee, chauffeur, counselor, friend, and CHILD OF GOD. Whatever we do or don’t do and whatever title we carry seem to determine our view of ourselves… and our identity. For instance many stay at home moms feel their jobs are insignificant. Their days consist of dirty diapers, messy hair, puked on clothes, and crying babies, but they are shaping tomorrows leaders day by day.

We can’t define ourselves by what we DO, but instead by WHO WE ARE. When everything is stripped away and all of the titles and hats are thrown aside, what is left… the REAL YOU! What happens when we lose our job, relationships fall apart or things change? Our identity can not be based on the titles we have because they aren’t what is permanent. I have found for myself that true identity can only be found in Christ. He does not view us by our title, but instead by our testimony. Think about it… What has God done for you and in you? He sees beyond our title to our hearts. God sees us differently than we see ourselves. That is one reason why we need to seek to find our identity in Him. He has a different perspective… take a look!

~I am a child of God (Romans 8:14-15)
~God made me on purpose (Psalm 139)
~God has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11)
~I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
~God will give me the strength to do all I need to do today (Philippians 4:13)
~I am a reflection of Jesus to the world (Colossians 3:4)
~I can conquer anything with God’s help (Romans 8:37)
~I am a new creation in God (2 Corinthians 5:17)
~God completes me (Colossians 2:9-10)
~God forgives and forgets all of my mistakes (Jeremiah 31:34)


The list could go on of how God views us and how we can find our identity in Him. If you have been seeking to fill the empty spots of your life by career, relationships, successes, or gaining money and titles, I pray today you will re-evaluate your life. When all the titles and hats your wear are stripped away, what will you be left with? I hope it will be Jesus. He is the only thing that lasts forever. If you don’t know Him, I challenge you to invite Him into your life. He can make a masterpiece out of anything we give Him. He is very creative! May you be challenged today to discover who you really are beneath the surface of your life.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Life is in Boxes


We have entered a new season, started a new chapter and... I AM EXCITED!!! Our life is in boxes because we have moved. All this to say I will be posting as I am able soon. Let the new journey begin...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Can I have a DO OVER?


Have you ever wished you could go back and do something over again? I wish at times there was a big remote control for life. Some things I would rewind and do again, the good times I would pause to enjoy longer, and the difficult times I would fast forward through. As I was pondering this thought, I thought of some things I would do differently if I had the chance to go back to school and have a DO OVER. May you be challenged as you read on to redeem the present and strive to make a difference today no matter what your life has looked like in the past.

If I could go back to school I would…
1. SEEK TO FIND MY VALUE, WORTH, AND SELF-ESTEEM IN GOD.
We all have an empty spot inside of us. Friends, fitting into the right social group, boyfriends & girlfriends, getting good grades, having the right clothes and enough money can not fill that “empty spot”.

God alone is the only one that can fill the empty spots of our hearts and give us purpose. He made us on purpose with a purpose.


If I could go back to school I would…
2. CARE MORE WHAT GOD THINKS THAN WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT ME.

I wouldn’t allow others opinions of me or what I do to sway my decision daily to live for God.

I would choose to focus more on growing in God. I would keep God first in my life and not let anything distract me (not even good or little insignificant things). I would be at church every time the doors were open and go on every missions trip I could.


If I could go back to school I would…
3. DO MY BEST AT EVERYTHING REALIZING I WAS DOING IT FOR GOD.

I would have a spirit of excellence! I would try harder at everything… home work, tests, at my job etc… I would realize that I was reflecting God in everything I did and I would want to reflect Him well.


If I could go back to school I would…
4. REFLECT GOD WITH MY WORDS AND ACTIONS EVERY DAY.

I would have public and private integrity. I would live for God 24/7 realizing someone was always watching me. I would keep my word and follow through on what I said I would do. I would be who I say I am all the time. I would not be afraid to speak the truth with boldness in class speeches, with friends in conversation, with teachers, or those opposed to God.


If I could go back to school I would…
5. CROSS BOUNDARIES AND BUILD FRIENDSHIPS

I would step out of my comfort zone and meet others I don’t know. I would sit with different people at lunch and in my classes. I would talk to people in different social classes, races, and grades. I wouldn’t prejudge people based on which social group they were a part of or how much money it seemed they had. I would accept and love everyone for who they were and I would cross traditional boundaries to go out of my way to build friendships.


If I could go back to school I would…
6. LOOK FOR HURTING PEOPLE

I would see each day as a special assignment to love someone for God. I would look for divine appointments. I would try to see my world through God’s eyes. I would look for opportunities to help meet the needs of others. I wouldn’t be so caught up in my own world that I missed the hurting people all around me. I would look for ways to love and serve others on a daily basis. I would choose to be selfless instead of selfish to reflect God well to the world.


If I could go back to school I would…
7. BE A MISSIONARY TO MY CAMPUS

I would see my 40 hour a week job as a missionary to my campus. I would be a messenger to my school of the love of God by living it, showing it, and sharing it with others. I would do my best to reach my campus for God by any means before I graduated.

These are some of the things I wish I could do differently. I can’t go back again now, but I can be who God wants me to be today and so can you. God is real and wants to be real in your life. Begin to really know God and make Him known to others and you will change your world one person at a time! It’s never too late to change your future! Let today be your DO OVER!

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Calgon Take Me AWAY!!!"


Do you remember the old Calgon commercial? It shows a lady’s life spinning out of control… the pressures of work, home, kids, her spouse, the dog, and life just press in and overwhelm her until she screams out, “Calgon take me away!” Then somehow everything becomes peaceful and you hear classical music playing, birds twirping, see butterflies flying around, and she is laying with her eyes closed relaxed in a bubble bath. Wow… that is some powerful bubble bath. If I could get my hands on that kind of peace in a bottle, I would be stock piling.

Peace is something that everyone wants, but it’s hard to find. I remember hearing when I was younger as you may have…. “Leave me alone, I need some peace and quiet.” Peace and quiet seem to go together. It is in the quiet and stillness that you notice the peace. We can manufacture physical peace by making it quiet around us, but inner peace is harder to come by. It is a quiet confidence that everything will be o.k. True peace is found in God. He is the prince of PEACE.

I’ve faced many storms in my life… storms can be scary at times. I grew up in Missouri where the storms we faced could change into tornados at the drop of a hat. Every time it rained and the winds picked up, I was prepared to take shelter to save my life. Life can throw at us lots of scary things that we feel unprepared to face. They may feel overwhelming, pressing, and squeezing the life out of us, but calling out for Calgon will not change a thing. God is the only one who can bring peace. He wants to be there to calm the storms of our life if we let Him. When you learn to trust Him with everything, you will not be shaken no matter what life throws your way.

Years ago, I faced a personal storm in my life that seemed overwhelming. We were just married five years and expecting our first child. We were very excited. We had big plans for this little bundle of joy. All our hopes and dreams were wrapped up into little Kayden McKinley… he just hadn’t arrived yet. The first three months of the pregnancy went well until I entered the fourth month. We were on staff at a church and hit a very busy season. We were doing a huge outreach/production in our church that went almost every night and kept getting extended each week. Many were giving their lives to God and it was awesome. I am a person who doesn’t like to sit around and watch the parade go by, I like to be in it or helping make it happen. Needless to say, I was very involved. By the middle of the series of productions, I found myself growing very tired. At one point at the end of a production I thought I was going to pass out, so I quickly grabbed a seat to catch my breath. That night after making a trip to the emergency room, we discovered that I was having a miscarriage or losing the baby. It was hard to swallow. All our hopes and dreams for this child were gone in an instant. We were in shock and disbelief. Why? I didn’t understand why this was happening, but I had enough of a foundation in God to know that He was in control and I trusted Him.

Immediately when we got home from the hospital I went to my place of PEACE… the bath tub. I don’t know why, but that was the only place I could stop and be quiet enough to hear God when I could hear Him no where else. I cried, vented, and poured my heart out to Him… the good, bad, and ugly. In return I received… HIS PEACE. It rushed all over me… it was a sweet feeling of contentment, quiet confidence, steady resolve, an unshaken and unmistakable trust in God and His ability to take charge of my life and the circumstances at present. I knew I felt it, but I didn’t know it showed on the outside.

Later, we had to go back to the hospital for me to have a procedure done to remove the baby. My husband was very worried about me because my reaction wasn’t as he expected. He thought I was going into depression so he had the doctor and our pastor counsel me, but it was God’s PEACE shining through. I didn’t understand WHY, but I knew WHO could walk with me through it all and I trusted Him.

We will ask through out our lives many times Why???... but if we don’t know the Who, that can help us through it all, we will be crushed under the pressures life sends our way. God makes all the difference! It’s not just knowing about God, it’s knowing Him personally. It’s not having religion, but a relationship with Him. Relationships take work, but it’s always worth the effort! God wants you to know and experience Him personally. His peace comes as a natural outflow of your relationship with Him. God’s peace is an available resource to you if you take the time to tap into it.

If you aren’t feeling God’s peace you may need to ask yourself a few questions…


1. Have I met the PRINCE OF PEACE?
If you don’t already know Him, invite God to be a part of your life. He wants to know you personally. He wants to give you a fresh start, a blank page, a new beginning. It’s never too late when it comes to God to start over. Just take the first step by inviting Him inside the door of your heart… His PEACE will follow. Meet the Prince of Peace today!

Isaiah 9:6
“And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NLT)


If you aren’t feeling God’s peace you may need to ask yourself…

2. Am I plugged into the SOURCE OF PEACE?
If you know Him, then plug into the source. Take time to be with Him. Read the Bible, talk to Him, Go to church where you can be with other believers that love Him. It’s so easy to get busy and set God aside. He can become a routine to us, but He wants to be the main attraction. Many of us are going through life with out the connection we need to God. Have you ever tried to connect to the internet and your connection failed? No matter what you did, it wouldn’t work. Just like our computer won’t work properly unless it is connected to the source, our relationship with God doesn’t work well unless we are plugged into Him. Don’t get too busy that you don’t take time to connect with God. Your busyness will end up becoming a waste of time leaving you drained and your work ineffective. Time with God will bring you peace. Connect to the source today!

Colossians 3:15
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Msg)


If you aren’t feeling God’s peace you may need to ask yourself…

3. Am I seeking the HOPE OF PEACE?
We have the ability to experience the hope of God’s peace each time we invite Him to help us make decisions. Are you asking God for His direction in all areas of your life? His peace will overwhelm you and be an outflow as He leads you. He wants to be involved in determining your next steps as you walk with Him each day (in the little things and the big things). We have a choice each time we make a decision… we can go it alone or ask for God’s help. Taking things into our own hands does not produce peace. It produces… stress, fear, anxiety, worry, depression, and more. Many times we forfeit God’s peace because we never ask. I challenge you to ask for God’s assistance and see what happens. His peace will guide you the way you need to go. Seek the Hope of Peace today!

Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

God’s peace passes all understanding… we can’t comprehend it, but it is life-changing when we experience it. I pray that you may know, experience, and have that unexplainable confidence in God when you face overwhelming circumstances in your life. Please let me know if you have asked God to come into your life for the first time, recommitted your life to Him, or you are praying for His peace in a certain situation. I want to be able to rejoice with you and pray along side of you as you seek God’s best for your life. God is faithful. May His peace consume you today!


Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Sunday, August 22, 2010

God Knows Your Address

Did you know that God knows your address? He even knows the city and zip code. Even if you’ve moved a million times, He knows how to find you. You can’t hide from God.

I got a new address book at the first of the year. I put it on my project list to transfer all of the old addresses over to the new address book. For one thing, it was outdated and another it was marked all over. My book was filled with usually the same people who moved several times and filled up a whole page of my address book with their various locations. For some reason I always put it in pen and assumed I wouldn’t ever have to change it. That left a mess in my book as I scratched each old entry out and listed the new one. I’m so glad that no matter where we move and no matter how many times we change locations, that God knows where to find us. He is always up to date in His system with all the details of our lives.

Sometimes life can be challenging, difficult, and even a little overwhelming. It may be so much so that you want to go hide from the world to recover… to go where nobody can find you. It feels like at times we are facing this life alone and it is winning, but that is not true. God is near. He knows where you are and what you are going through. If you invite Him to, He wants to walk through it all with you. He will even carry you when you don’t have the strength to go on.

As many of you know, I have struggled with my health off and on for the past four years however the past year or so has been VERY difficult for me. I had a relapse in my condition and my health went into a downward spiral. It seemed like nothing was helping turn it around and day by day I was getting worse. It is a scary place to be… having no control over what happens to your life. There were times in the last year when I wondered what the outcome would be… Nothing was working. My energy was drained, I dropped weight drastically and couldn’t keep it on, and I was physically exhausted. I remember telling Al one night that “I was done… I give up.” I didn’t have anything in and of myself left to give.

My husband reminded me at one of the lowest points in my life that God will give me the strength I need to carry on. My theme verse for this season of my life has been…

Philippians 4:13
”For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

It is God who gives me the strength I need for each day. It’s a strength that is given one day at a time. As I focused on that fact and a few other things I will mention below, it helped carry me through one of the darkest seasons of my life. God knew my address and He knows yours. Be blessed and challenged as you read on.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

1. Think about the Past

It’s easy to focus on the present thinking about how difficult your situation is, how bad you feel, and maybe even how it feels God seems to be no where to be found. You may not feel like you hear Him or feel Him, but He is there. It is at these moments that you need to take time to remember how God provided for you in the past. What victories have you and He had together? What has He done in you previously? What battles have you won? What issues have you conquered? He hasn’t forgotten you… He is there. He didn’t forget you in the past and He won’t forget you now. Choose to Remember.

When I was sick laying in a bed 12 hours plus a day, it was difficult for me to remember the good. “Stinkin thinkin” always tried to take over and consume me, but I tried to push past it to think on positive things. God had been faithful to me in the past and I trusted Him to come through for me now. I clung to that! Take time to remember all the good God has done in and through your life. He has been there working all along whether you realize it or not.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

2. Celebrate the Present

Focus on the positive things of each day. Negative thinking doesn’t help anything. There is always going to be something bad to focus on, but that doesn’t help or lift your spirit. In most cases negative talk is the vocabulary of fear. It is voicing out all those things that are feared instead of believing and speaking in faith for what God can do. There is a battle daily within us. We can choose to have faith and trust God with the outcome or be filled with fear and worry which eventually will consume us. I choose faith.

When I was sick the only way I could keep from being consumed by fear and “stinkin thinking” was to focus on daily wins. I was looking for the good things in my day… what positive things could I be thankful for today? Today I can… eat more, my voice is stronger, I have more energy etc... These were “daily wins” for me. I celebrated them knowing these were positive moves forward for me. The victory over the battle you are struggling with is made up of a life time of “daily wins”. Don’t miss out on the journey because you are so caught up in the destination. God is there and has been faithful… take time to look around and see HOW He has been taking care of you.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

3. Focus on the Future

When your head is down because you’ve been focusing on all of the negative things surrounding your circumstances, it’s hard to see beyond today to the future. But God does have a future for you and me. He has a plan. We need to look toward the future with hope and expectancy of what God may do in and through our lives.

When I was sick the only things that truly helped me press forward when I was wavering in my focus, energy, and overall health was my family. Every time I saw my boys it lifted my spirits. I had to push on and get well for them… they needed me, my husband needed me… God had plans for me. I didn’t know or understand what He was doing, but I knew He could always turn things around. A scripture comes to mind that says that…

Romans 8:28
”And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

I started setting little goals for myself to push toward and attain. These helped me to have something to look forward to and celebrate as I reached each one. One of the goals I had was to be able to go to one of my boy’s baseball games. When I first got sick I couldn’t go to any games or practices. The ball park where they played was a long ways from the parking area which meant a lot of walking. When you struggle with energy and have muscle weakness, walking can be difficult. My goal was to make it to at least one game and walk myself there with no assistance. By the end of the season, I reached my goal.

It is important to have something to shoot for and look forward to… set some goals (small goals) to help you keep your focus on what is most important. What could God be up to? What could He be planning for your life? Take some time to dream about it and imagine how creative God could be with the canvas of your life. He is a great artist… trust Him with the details.

When facing difficult seasons in your life… remember God knows your address. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 139. It speaks of how God knows us inside and out. He is interested in what is going on in our lives and is concerned with the details. Trust Him, He is trustworthy.

I heard a song years ago that has stuck with me. It reminds me that God’s presence is with us through all seasons of life…

“The Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I have to do is follow…”

God knows where we live, where we’ve come from, and where we are moving to… as long as you are following Him, you have nothing to fear.

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie