Saturday, December 31, 2011

Perfectly Imperfect


With the New Year fast approaching, I’m becoming a little introspective as the rest of the world I suppose. I have been hearing lots of New Year’s verbage lately such as… resolutions, goals, quitting bad habits, starting new habits, and making fresh starts. Each New Year promises to bring positive changes for us all or at least we hope it does.

The biggest resolution I hear about most is losing weight and getting in shape. Maybe that is because I work at a fitness center. I work in the children’s area so I am expecting to see first hand floods of children being dropped off come January. The place will be filled with masses of people working toward their goal of the “ideal” weight and shape.

I read an article recently while in a waiting room about “How to look your best in your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.” It sounded interesting. As I read on I learned about the pressure Hollywood puts on actresses to look “perfect” for the world. The ladies interviewed described that they felt most comfortable when they had no make up on, their hair was out of place, and they were dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt. That definitely isn’t the picture that is presented on the red carpet for everyone to see.

The world’s view of beauty is an image of perfection and Barbie is their model for inspiration. I watched a video recently that tore into this whole idea. Check it out below…

Check out this great MSN video: Barbie’s 39” bust, 18” waist stir body-image debate

Nobody is perfect. Computer programs have been developed to try to present the perfect image, but it doesn’t come close to reality. It can erase our imperfections; take twenty pounds off, darken skin tones, remove blemishes, and even change the color of our eyes. The goal is to somehow present a better image than what was given. The problem with this is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The idea of images of models, actors, and actresses needing “touched up” implies that nobody is perfect. Even Hollywood needs help looking pretty.

Have you ever felt imperfect? ...Overweight or underweight, too short or too tall, the wrong hair color, skin color, or body shape. It’s hard to be comfortable with ourselves in a Ken and Barbie world. Feeling “not good enough” can consume us, as we compare ourselves to Hollywood’s version of beautiful or handsome. The only problem with our measuring scales is that we can never measure up to that kind of beauty.

I have had to learn over the years to become “comfortable in my own skin.” My health problems have had the potential to affect my self-esteem in a negative way. With all of the medication I am on and the side-effects they have, there is no possible way I could ever measure up to Hollywood. My weight and shape change from day to day. At one point I had a variety of totes of different sizes of clothes in my garage. Not knowing which size I would fit into each season, I wanted to be prepared. I’ve had to learn that it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, but what I look like on the inside. The Bible says in I Samuel 16:7…
“People look at the outside of a person, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NCV)

We can become so obsessed with our outward appearance and what people may think about us, that our definition of true beauty becomes distorted. Beauty to us can become not eating or purging to become that perfect size. It could mean working out 24/7 to have huge muscles and that chiseled six pack. Or it could be having the perfect shade of skin and the right color of hair. That may be your idea of beauty, but God has a different opinion of you.

Psalm 139:13-16 says…
“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.” (NCV)

God made us just the way we are on purpose. He likes your hair color, eye color, skin tone, and personality. He loves your voice, your freckles, and your laugh. He loves you… for YOU! As you are preparing to make New Years resolutions for the upcoming year, make it your goal to become beautiful inside first. Learn to become comfortable in your own skin. It fits you well! I pray your new year will be filled with exciting possibilities and incredible adventures.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is God blessing me or punishing me?


Check out this video I shared recently at a Ladies Retreat. I pray it encourages you as you listen. God is BIGGER than any circumstance you may face. He specializes in turning bad situations around to bring about something good. Trust Him with the details of your life today!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie


Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Record of Wrongs

Have you ever offended someone? Have you said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, or simply made choices that others disagreed with and it somehow offended them? I am honest enough to say I have done it. My intentions are never to offend others, but it happens inevitably at times. Sometimes we can offend without even realizing it and other times it is obvious to everyone.

Have careless words from others ever wounded your heart? Maybe it was words spoken by a spouse, friend, sibling, parent, or an authority figure. It seems like those closest to us can leave the deepest wounds in our hearts. What did you do with that offense? Did you stew over it, hold on to it as your “precious,” give the cold shoulder and avoid that person, or let go of it?

In the past I’ve been a person that was easily offended. I’ve learned now that holding on to an offense will rob me blind and lead me to places I never intended to go if I let it. Holding on to that offense, only hurts YOU in the end. Offense left alone will grow and fester like an infected wound. It will cause you to become a bitter, angry person who looks nothing like the person who first faced that offense in the beginning.

An offense is choosing to place a “fence” up in your lives to keep people out. My husband is the most forgiving person I know. He has told me several times in our marriage when I was offended with him that “if you are offended, it’s because you have offense in you.” Good reminder. Who have we placed the fence up in our hearts and lives to keep out?

I read a good book in the past that really opened my eyes to this called "The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. It really helped me see how I had put unrealistic expectations on people that they had no idea about. They could never measure up in my eyes and I never gave anyone the benefit of the doubt. My first thought was negative and the worst case scenario. I learned that it wasn’t fair to do that to others. If the tables were turned, I would never want that to be thought of me.

Why do we do it? Why do we choose to hold on to offense? I remember one night seeing what I was doing in a picture in my mind. It was as if I was a prison guard and each person that had offended me was locked up in their own cell with me holding the keys. The problem was that I was the ONLY one allowed to guard them and be in possession of the keys that held their freedom.

As I began to pray and ask God to search my heart, He convicted me of my behavior. My passion to punish those who offended me was paralyzing my ability to be used by God. My life was consumed with retribution. God convinced me that He would do a better job at that than I could. He wanted the keys and He wanted to transfer ALL the prisoners I was holding into His capable hands. The day I gave the keys to God was the day I was set free from years of offense. What a feeling! I felt lighter inside… the burden I was carrying was GONE.

I can’t say that it’s been easy since then. Habits were formed, but God is bigger. I am LESS likely to choose to be offended now, because I’m not willing to pay the price to hold on to that offense. I like to choose to give the “gift” of the benefit of the doubt to others. It’s the gift I would like to receive from them.

What do you do when you are offended? Are you are “record keeper” or a “gift giver”? Record keepers keep track of how they have been wronged or how others have “failed” them. They keep a mental list to track any person that has ever offended them. Gift givers give freely the gift of the “benefit of the doubt” and a second chance. They have learned that life is short and it’s not worth holding on to an offense. How do you want to respond the next time you are offended?

I Corinthians 13:4-6 says…
“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.” (GNT)

Choose to show love to others by letting go of offenses and loving them unconditionally. No matter what the offense, let God have the keys to the prison doors you have locked them up inside. We need to trust that He knows what is best for them! God always has your best interest at heart. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Under Lock and Key


God has been really weighing on my heart lately the desire to help others build healthy marriages. So many people are tossing in the towel and giving up on the “love” of their lives after years of commitment. Why do they do it? There are many reasons given, but regardless of those don’t let the next marriage to fail be yours. If we believe God can heal hearts and lives, we have to believe God can heal broken marriages too. I dare you to trust your life and marriage to God. He specializes in making something beautiful out of brokenness.

I will be touching on this topic quite a bit in the upcoming posts. I want to give you some resources to help you set healthy boundaries to protect your life and marriage. These were given out at a youth ministry retreat we helped with years ago. There are practical ideas listed below for men and women. I pray this helps you begin the process of protecting or restoring your marriage.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie


FOR MEN

Keep everything in the LIGHT!
L – live above reproach (become a person of integrity)
I – imagine life differently if you acted on your impulses
G – guard your heart (from sin)
H – humble yourself (find some accountability partners)
T – talk openly with God and your spouse


The cost of giving into your impulses is not worth it!
1. lose respect for yourself
2. lose the respect of your spouse & children
3. loss of ministry credentials
4. lose your ministry position
5. lose the respect of your church

When you are tempted to give in to temptation, ask yourself the following questions:

What consequences could I face by acting on this now?
What could I lose?
How will this affect my future?
Is it worth it?
Who could I ask to help me prevent this from happening again?


PROTECT YOURSELF

1. Stay connected with God

2. Stay connected with your spouse

3. Find some accountability partners

4. Never be alone with the opposite sex

Meetings - have them with the door open, or in an area where you can be seen or interrupted.

Rides home - don’t give the opposite sex a ride home alone, take someone with you.

*Make sure all of your leaders know not to leave the church until all the kids are gone so you aren’t left alone with anyone.

5. Steer students of the opposite sex with unhealthy attachments to you, to your spouse or another adult leader of the same sex

6. No two-handed chest to chest hugs with the opposite sex
(One arm side hugs ONLY)

7. No extended times online with the opposite sex

8. Keep your computer in a public place where you can be interrupted

9. Make time limits for yourself when it comes to free time spent on the computer online

10. Find and install accountability or filtering software to protect your computer and to guard your integrity


FOR WOMEN

1. Be supportive & encouraging to your husband
(Or someone else will)

2. Make your house a “home”
(Your home needs to be a place of refuge for your husband not another battle ground)

3. Communication is the key
(It is the life line of a marriage)

-take time to clarify (nobody ever catches the hints dropped)
-openly share your feelings (there is no room for guessing)
-watch your tone (how you say it makes a difference)
-timing is everything (when and where you share makes all the difference)
-learn to listen (hear his side with out reacting)
-learn to accept your part in any disagreements

4. Keep your marriage alive
(Don’t let the romance die!)

-keep flirting, holding hands, hugging, sending notes, etc…
-find what says “I love you” to your spouse
-start each day out by saying “I love you”
-do something for your spouse that he could do for himself
-go along to get along on occasion (compromise)
-learn to look through your husbands eyes

5. Win his heart and turn his head
(Work to keep him turned toward you)

-keep your husbands attention (do new things like when you were dating)
-take care of yourself (hair, make-up, dress, etc…)
-if you don’t win his heart and turn his head someone else will

6. Protect your treasure
(Realize what a treasure you have in your husband)

-be thankful for what you have
-imagine life with out him
-help protect the gift God has given you

Internet (put your computer in a public place, get a filter)

Help keep him from being alone with the opposite sex (be sensitive)

Stay intimate so he won’t be tempted sexually

Stay connected spiritually (Don’t keep your relationships with God hidden)

Carry each others burdens (create a safe place to share struggles with out judgment)


7. Guard your heart
(Strive to keep your heart tender towards God)

-confess, ask forgiveness, and turn from sin on a regular basis
-wash in the word daily (allow God’s word to cleanse you of sin)
-learn to forgive and forget the past (when it comes to others)
-stay connected to God by talking to Him on a regular basis
-take time to listen to God and allow Him to direct your steps
-choose to continue to grow in God
-choose to avoid criticism, comparing, bitterness, anger, resentment, jealousy, etc… from dwelling in your heart
-don’t allow yourself to be put in a position to fail
-reserve your heart for God and your husband alone

Monday, October 17, 2011

Talking Out Loud!

My life is a balancing act and I’ve discovered that I’m not the “expert balancer.” I’m really good at juggling, but in the end something always ends up falling to the wayside. My life has been crazy lately with having to move unexpectedly, packing, and still unpacking. There is work, household chores, school work to help with, the dog to attend to, the boys sporting events, and financial obligations to keep up with. I’ve got to spread out family time, personal time, “God” time, and… FREE time… when does that happen? Boy, have I ever wished for more hours in my day? Or maybe I should say less “things” to do… it’s a toss up.

I have many things I “want” to do, but not enough time to do them and lots of “things” I don’t want to do that steal away all of my time. Does that make any sense? Right now my life is consumed with work and my boys sporting schedule. My health has also been suffering some. It’s so hard to balance working the right amount of time as to not wear myself out, but make “enough” money to help with our monthly budget. A life long battle I’m sure. I’m sure glad God always makes up the difference. A verse comes to mind as I share this…

Matthew 6:33-34

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”


I heard a quote recently that speaks volumes about this verse… "Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles... it empties today of its strength." Corrie Ten Boom

I know, I know… God is in control and I do trust Him! It’s always easy to say, but hard to do when you are living in the thick of it all.

I’ve wanted to write more on here, but time hasn’t allowed many "extra" things lately. I have had some topics brewing in me though that I’m sure you will be seeing soon… “Fire-walling your marriage” – protecting it from the attacks of the enemy and “Image/Do you measure up?” – whose measuring stick are you using when it comes to how you feel about yourself? Just thinking for now… more to follow.

Balance, trust, priorities, pushing forward… all things I’m striving to live out today… just talking out loud. I hope you are enjoying the journey you are on and letting God walk through it all with you.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Down-size me PLEASE!"

“Down-size Me Please!” I’m sure this will not be the next slogan lined up for McDonalds any time soon. Bigger is always better, right? They have super-size drinks, fries, and lots of extras. What more could a person need to feel complete?

Could you imagine if major corporations adopted this motto of down-sizing? We might hear things like… “Would you like a SMALLER portion size?” or “Would you like a smaller, simpler style of vehicle, plain in color that won’t draw attention with absolutely no perks or extras? That’s just not the picture of success one would imagine.

Well, somehow recently my family must have requested a “down-size” from GOD. Not sure who put that order in, but God answered it. The order was a down-size for our home. The request was a SMALL, compact cozy space to live in with ONE bathroom at the most, little to no yard, neighbors as close as you can get them, and a small one car garage (that won’t really fit a car safely inside if I am navigating it there).

Do I sound like I’m whining? I don’t mean to be. I’ve actually learned a lot about myself in the midst of this move. One thing I’ve learned is that I like my “things” a little too much. Because of the down-size we’ve had to get rid of A LOT. We’ve adopted the policy of… “If it doesn’t fit, we can’t keep it.” I’ve had a hard time with this.

Do you have anything that you own that you absolutely LOVE? What do you have that would be hard to let go of or give away? If you had to separate your earthly treasures to a pile of needs and wants, what would it look like? Having lots of “things” isn’t necessarily bad. It’s our attitude toward those things and how it affects our heart that makes the difference.

Matthew 6:19-21
"Don't store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is.” (NCV)


I guess I’m a packrat of sorts and we packrats don’t LIKE to get rid of ANYTHING. I have discovered in this process that I treasure more things than I thought. In the middle of my whining to God, He spoke something to my heart.We need to see ourselves as missionaries on assignment to our new neighborhood.” Hmmm…never thought of that. I was too worried about losing all of my “things.”

If we were missionaries going overseas to another country, we would have to get rid of most everything. It would be hard, but necessary to accomplish the task God put before us. This mindset has helped me to loosen my grip on my “stuff” enough to allow God to do some de-cluttering of my life. Look at what the Bible says about our things.

Colossians 3:2
“… Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (Msg)

A de-cluttered life… what a concept? He is working on the outside of me, but I think the inside of me is getting re-arranged as well. Do you have any clutter around you that needs to go? Is there anything that might be getting in the way of you and Jesus? Maybe it’s time to down-size or de-clutter some areas of your life.

I believe God allows things to happen for a reason. I am not sure what He is up to most of the time, but I trust Him completely with my life. I am confident that God already knew my “new” address before I did. I'm excited about this new chapter He is writing for me. The possibilities are endless and my load is already a lot lighter to carry.

I pray today you will be stripped free of anything that may be restricting you and all weights will be lifted off of your back as you pursue JESUS with your whole heart.

Romans 12:1-2
“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (NLT)

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coming Soon!!!

Hey Everyone~

Sorry for the delay in posting on here. We are moving... again. Long story short, the house we are renting got sold and we were given 30 days to move. Needless to say, I have been a busy bee lately preparing for everything in the midst of my kids starting school. God is faithful and we are trusting Him to take care of all of the details. The move to our new home is this weekend and then hopefully after that I will be able to post more frequently. I obviously have lots of material to write about, just not a lot of time right now to do it. I hope all of you are doing well. Hang on... the best is YET to come! God is good!

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Someone is watching YOU!

Recently one of my sons lost his money… well actually he put his extra change in his pocket and forgot about it. The only problem with that is that he and his brother share clothes. My other son was surprised after putting on his laundered shorts to find $4.00 in his pocket. Score! Oh, no… I had a parenting dilemma and daddy wasn’t home to help give input. One child clearly found the money. The other wasn’t sure it was his, but did lose the same amount that was found. What would I do? Who should get the money?

I reached out to my Facebook friends for parenting support only to find a variety of opinions. Here are a few of the responses… “you should adopt the rule… finders keepers losers weepers”… “the laundry lady should get the money and count it as a tip”... “the money should be returned to its proper owner”… and lastly “it should be split so nobody fights over it.” There was even one response that said “the money should go to the owner of the home.” Hmmmm I wonder who wrote that (Mr. Davis).

I decided that when daddy got home we would determine the outcome. Later that night the boys went to court with “judge daddy.” They each defended their side and made their claim on the money. In the end, the “judge” decided to award one dollar to each son, one to the cleaning lady, and one to the owner of the home. But the latter two decided to give their winnings to each boy to reward them for all of their hard work doing chores that week. The boys were lectured on the importance of taking care of their money and the lesson was learned (I hope).

Wow… being a parent is hard work! You never know what they are going to throw at you, what questions they will ask, what choices they will make, or what things may come out of their mouths. There is no training for the job of a parent. We learn as we go. Some follow the rule of simply doing what their parents did whether it was good or bad. Others read parenting books to try to figure it all out before hand to do it perfectly. There are even some who never wanted to be parents and don’t even try at all.

I remember thinking when I first got married that I didn’t know when I would ever be “ready” to be a parent. I was afraid that I had to make myself perfect before I could have a child… that way I wouldn’t mess them up. I needed God to fix me first. The only problem with that thinking is that we will NEVER be perfect. God assured me through prayer that I didn’t have to be afraid to be a parent. I didn’t need any prep time. He promised to be available every day as I parented to help me along the way. Wow… what a relief. I’m not in this alone.

What a responsibility we have as a parent to shape the hearts and lives of our children. They watch us and learn. They learn all kinds of things… how to talk, what is acceptable, what we value, how to show love, how to react to stress, and how to live. The best gift you could give your child is becoming the best YOU, you can be. Asking God to become the center of my life was the best decision I could have ever made. He has made all of the difference in my parenting.

God is the best dad you will ever have and His love is unconditional for us. The more we become like God, the better parent we become. We are more able to show God’s love, patience, kindness, self-control, etc… (the fruit of the spirit) as we grow in our relationship with Him. God’s fruit shines through us to our kids as we live for Him daily.

Galatians 5:22-26 says…“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. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Msg)

Our children and those we come in contact with catch things from us. One thing they can catch is our view of God. They watch us and learn. They learn how to get to know God through us. They see how to love others, how to forgive, and how to keep God first place in their lives. They learn the importance of church attendance, reading the Bible, praying, and more as they see you model it before them.

My kids are growing so fast. I know once they become teens, time will go by quickly. I know now is the time to get them grounded in God so that they can form good God-habits that will last them a lifetime. Before thirteen hits, I want to be ready. Here are some things I hope they “catch” from us before then…

~I want them to have their “own” relationship with God
(not just a habit or a routine of going to church with mom and dad)

~I want them to “want” to read their Bibles

In order to foster this, I have created a time each day for them to read their Bibles (before bed) so it will become a God-habit for them. They read what they want I just give them the opportunity. When they get older, they can choose their own time.

~We don’t ever let them “skip” church to stay at a friend’s house or do other things… we want to show them that it is important by making it a priority as a family to be there when we can.

~We encourage them to talk to God and ask them to do it often (praying over meals, in the car on the way to different places, and before bed). We also pray with them each night… more like blessings over them.

~We have “family devotions” weekly at the kitchen table. We share about our day, prayer needs, and read out of a book that gives spiritual life lessons for boys. We want to foster an opportunity for them to share their needs with us.

~We lavish them with hugs and kisses… and the words “I love you” are used every day in our home. (We want them to hear and feel our love for them).

I’m sure there are lots more things I can’t remember now, but you get the point. Be an example of God to your kids. Just like when we get a cold, those around us can catch it… let your kids catch God-habits from you.

Proverbs 22:6 says…
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (NLT)


Be the best you that YOU can be! Someone is watching you. Let them “catch” all the good in you and reflect it to others. God has amazing things in store for you, choose to let Him join you on this journey and your life will never be the same!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Events... (Part 2)


Have you ever faced difficulties before? Does it seem like you can never get a break? Is life overwhelming you? Could it possibly be that some times when things go “wrong” that it’s in fact a sign that you are doing some thing “right?” When you choose to live for God, it doesn’t guarantee you a happy go lucky life with no problems. The opposite can be true at times. When difficulties knock on your door or overwhelming circumstances flood your home, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips to help you out…

The first area we need to check when taking action is…



1. Check your vision

Whose lense are you looking through at your circumstances?

I was told recently that I have cataracts over each of my eyes in the center of my line of focus. They cloud my vision and prevent me from seeing things as clearly as I should. My vision was impaired by circumstances beyond my control however I have a choice. I can focus on what I CAN’T do or celebrate what I CAN DO. The choice is up to me. We face choices everyday when it comes to our circumstances. The choice of what attitude we carry as a result of those circumstances is up to us.

Often times we can look at our circumstances through our own clouded eyes and miss the “big picture” of what God is doing. Our eyes can miss things like God’s inner workings behind the scenes of our lives. Whether we “see” it or not, God is at work on our behalf. He has our best interest at heart. Things do not go unnoticed to Him.

Next time you face a difficulty, try to pull yourself back from your situation and see things from God’s perspective. What is going on that is GOOD that the devil may be upset about? When we choose to see things this way, it changes our whole outlook. It helps us to know how to pray and gives us a reason to keep walking forward no matter what is thrown our way.

“Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:2 (MSG)

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is…


2. Check your thinking

Has your thinkin’ been stinkin’?

Our thinking can affect things. Negative thoughts breed worry, fear, insecurity, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Thinking positively is not living in denial of the truth… it’s believing God for the impossible! It’s grabbing on to faith, hope, and peace.

Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed by the worries of this life, we can begin to start having “stinkin’ thinkin’.” All of those negative thoughts can rise to the surface… all the “what if’s” of life can hit us hard and make us feel as though we are drowning. Instead of lowering your head in despair as you look at your insurmountable circumstances, lift up your head and focus on your amazing God. He is the God of impossibilities!

Mark 10:27 says…
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (NLT)


The next time you struggle with negative “stinkin’ thinkin,” you need to take captive of those thoughts and give them to Christ.

II Cor. 10:5 says...
“Take captive of every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(NIV)


Give those negative thoughts to God and allow Him to replace them with a concrete trust in Him. His overwhelming peace will consume you as a result. The trade is worth it! Focus on things above not on earthly things. Try to have an eternal perspective… ask yourself, “Does this really MATTER in the light of eternity?” This can help you evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to GO in your thinking.

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is our thinking, and the third area we need to check is…

3. Check your heart

We can’t necessarily change what happens TO us, but we can determine what happens IN us as we respond to our circumstances. Whether we see Him, feel Him, or Hear Him, God is alive, well, and working in our lives. Knowing this fact and believing it affects the condition of our hearts when we face difficulties.

When troubles come many choose one of two routes… they either blame their problems on God and run AWAY from Him, or give their problems to God and run TO Him. Our hearts are affected by our decision. One choice brings bitterness, anger and resentment while the other brings peace, faith, and a confidence in God’s ability to provide. Guard your hearts from any dangerous parasites that may attach themselves to you in the midst of your struggles.

Matthew 12:34 says...
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)


What is inside of us comes out whether we like it or not. Listening to our vocabulary and our conversation can be a good way to see what is hiding deep in our hearts. It is sometimes in the midst of our struggles that we have the opportunity to see our “ugliness” in all of its glory. Unguarded hearts can face many dangerous foes along the way. They sneak in undetected and seek to destroy us from the inside out. Beware of the poison of bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and pride… they will eat you alive. Guard your hearts!

Trust God… He has a plan and He is working it out for YOUR good.


Philippians 4:6-7 says...
“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)


What should we do when we face difficulties?

Trust our father

God is not surprised by what we are facing. Trust Him with the details of your life. Invite Him to join you on your journey. He is a great source of strength and encouragement. No matter what we face, He can turn anything bad that happens to us around for good. If we let Him, He will use our struggles to help minister to someone else along the way.

God has used many instances in my life to help others in their time of need. One such instance is close to my heart. My first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage after four months. It was difficult for us, but with God’s help we moved forward walking in God’s peace. One night later that year I was attending a ladies retreat and had a divine appointment. While in the restroom a young lady at the retreat miscarried. It was her third attempt at a child. Her heart was broken and I was there to hold her, pray for her, and encourage her. Because I gave my pain to God, He was able to use it to in turn help someone else.

The next time you are hurting, struggling, and feeling weighed down, remember this verse…

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." (MSG)


When we choose to trust God and realize He has everything under control, we can rest in His peace no matter what comes our way.

What should we do when we face difficulties?

Tell our story

Find someone to share your struggles with… a circle of friends who can pray for you and with you. Just like before and after pictures… when we share our struggles and then our victories over those hurdles with others, it encourages them.

When we share our story with others of how God provided and we made it through, it helps them to know that they can make it too no matter what happens! Your life can become an inspiration for someone else.

Revelation talks about how we can defeat the devil… check it out.

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and BY THEIR TESTIMONY.” Revelation 12:11 (NLT)


Your “testimony” is your story of how God came through for you. Every time you share those instances, you are overcoming the devil and his attempts to win in your life.

The next time something goes “wrong” remember to look around to see what you may be doing that is “right.” God is working behind the scenes. Don’t give up so quickly. I can’t wait to hear all of the stories of His provision in your life. Let your life inspire someone else today!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"A Series of Unfortunate Events..."


Have you ever faced difficulties before? Does it seem like you can never get a break? Is life overwhelming you? Maybe it’s time to change your thinking. God wants you to flip the lense and see things differently today. Could it be that some times when things go “wrong” that it’s in fact a sign that you are doing something “right?”

When you choose to live for God, it doesn’t guarantee you a happy go lucky life with no problems. The opposite can be true at times. The Bible says ... "In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world" (John 16:33). In case you have ever wondered, there is a real God and a real devil. God loves you and wants what is best for you. The devil hates you and wants to destroy your life.

Check out what the Bible has to say about the devil…

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 (NLT)

“...He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (NLT)


The devil is in hot pursuit and he has the wanted signs out. "They" are wanted dead or alive! His FOCUS is not on those that have walked away from God or are “living in their sin.” It’s those “reflections of God” all around him that he despises. The devil is out to capture their hearts and lives at any cost. The more of God we get inside of us, the more we begin to look like Him and reflect Him each day to those around us.

Sometimes the devil likes to stir up trouble to try to get us to walk away from God. He likes to throw pipe bombs of sorts into our daily routines to disrupt our peace. He is hoping that by his attempts, he may in some way cause us to turn our hearts far from God and eventually blame Him for all of our troubles. Instead of reacting and retreating when problems come, we need to get stubborn and start fighting back.

I’ve had a lot of unfortunate things happen to me in my lifetime, but I choose to see things differently. I’ve had technical difficulties lately… many things have broken down: vehicles, washers (2), water heaters, and lawn mowers (2) to name a few. I’ve had health problems, money problems, ant problems, and family issues. My life is not a perfect picture from the worlds view, but I am doing my best to live for God each day. From the outside it can look like I may be doing something wrong, but through God’s lense we can see something totally different.

There is a man in the Bible that faced HUGE obstacles as he endeavored to live for God. His name was Job. In fact there is a whole book written about all of his struggles and how he over came them. He lost everything… children, property, wealth, his good name, and even his health, but continued to trust God. God challenged the devil with Job’s obedience and faith. Take a look at his heart from the middle of his horrible circumstances…

Job 19:13-20 (NLT)
“My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth.”


One of the most important lessons to learn from the book of Job is that God is always good, and the devil is always bad. The devil always intends to destroy the lives of God's people, but God's desire is to bless and prosper His people, even to the end of restoring back to them what the enemy has stolen. Job was blessed in the end for staying true to God through it all.

Job 42:12-13, 16-17 (NLT)
“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters.”

“Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”


The next time something goes “wrong” remember to look around to see what you may be doing that is “right.” God may be up to something good in your life! Get stubborn today… don’t let the devil win in stealing your peace. God has amazing things in store for you! Hang on… it may be a bumpy ride.

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Finish the Race"



I finished my first official race recently. It was a 5K run/walk… I was walking of course. Running is NOT my thing. It has been a huge goal of mine since January of this year to do this. I wanted to prove to myself and be a testimony to others, that “I can do anything with God’s help.” It may not be a big deal to most, but this was a HUGE accomplishment for ME!

I’ve struggled with an autoimmune disease for the past 6 years. It is a disease that affects my muscles. At it’s worst I had trouble swallowing, talking, walking, lifting things, and seeing. The disease weakens every muscle in my body when it’s not under control. I have struggled with these symptoms and more in variations off and on for the past few years. With medication and lots of prayer, it has been under control for the most part. However just a month and a half ago I was in the hospital for a week because of a “flare up.” Some of my old symptoms decided to come back out of the blue to torture me.

No matter what I struggled with symptom-wise, my eyes were set on FINISHING “the race.” I trained the best that I could. Sometimes exercising can make things worse and sometimes it makes things better depending on the day. I spent several months in preparation for the “big day,” not really knowing if I had in fact prepared enough. My goal was to COMPLETE the race and finish strong!

I felt an overwhelming flood of emotions on race day. I was tired, nervous, excited, anxious, proud, and uneasy all wrapped together. The one thing I wish I would have had with me was a walking buddy. But Jesus was with me. As we walked, He reminded me of how far we had journeyed together so far in this life. There have been a lot of ups and downs for me, but He has always been my constant faithful friend.

The race starting line was jammed full. There were wall to wall people. The place was packed with all different ages decked out in their racing attire. The people pushed in at every side waiting with anticipation to begin. It felt like a corral of wild horses about to be released as we started. When the countdown was completed, it was every man for himself.

As we walked you could hear music along the way… small bands were stationed along the path to encourage us. There were signs posted to show us how far we had gone and how far we had yet to go. The streets were filled with people cheering everyone on and encouraging the tired. They were the military, students, grandmas, police officers, mom’s and dad’s. We even saw some “elderly” street belly dancing. I’m not sure that motivated me… but it did bring a smile to my face.

When I got tired, I stopped for a pit stop… a short break to catch my breath and be refreshed. We were given cups of water and sent on our way. The encouragement increased as we reached the end. I’m not sure why, but knowing I was close to the finish line made me pick up the pace. I think it was the idea that it was almost over that propelled me. I pushed through the pain and meditated on the fact that I was a “walking miracle.” Without God’s help, this wouldn’t be possible!

When I crossed the finish line, such a feeling of relief and pride filled my heart… “I DID IT, with God’s help. We make such a good team!” What a sense of accomplishment to know that I finished the race I set out to and I finished strong. This race reminded me a lot of another race that is talked about in the Bible. It is found in …

Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.


And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)
“You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.”

“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.”


We are all in a race… a race toward heaven.
Make sure you are headed the right direction and you are on the right path. There are those ahead of you cheering you on and those behind you following your lead. There are signs to show you where you’ve come from and where you have yet to go. People are pushing in all around you as you journey. Be strong. Push through the pain and link arms with Jesus. He knows the way to the finish line. You can do it! Finish the race and finish strong!

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, May 9, 2011

"The Game of Life"

Have you ever played the game of “Life” before? It’s an oldie, but a goodie. For those of you who have never played, this is how it works. Each person is given a little car with one stick person in it… YOU. You travel around the board facing the ups and downs of life at every turn. You never know what will happen next. You are rewarded for the good things and penalized for the bad. The goal is to be the first person to make it around the board and to the end.

Recently I played this game with a bunch of elementary age kids who had never played before. It was very entertaining. One boy didn’t like the game so well. Just after a few spins, he ended up with a wife and two sets of twins. He was given a job that didn’t cover his bills and he kept having bad things happen to him that emptied his bank account. Needless to say he wasn’t happy.

Have you ever felt like “life” had dealt you a bad hand? It hasn’t turned out the way you expected it would. We all have our “ideal plans,” but detours tend to come along and mess them up. That pretty little picture we have painted in our minds can get a little distorted after awhile when we face… unexpected health issues, cars break down, family members pass away, jobs fall through, babies surprise us, taxes are more than we thought etc... When “Life” happens, it can become overwhelming at times.

The object in the game “Life” is to make it to the end. The same is true in real life. Don’t let the circumstances you may face in this life cause you to give up all together. God has a plan. He wants to walk through all of life’s difficulties with you and carry you if you can’t go on. He is ready and waiting for you to call out to Him in your time of need. Instead of running away from Him, try running to Him. When life starts to feel beyond what you can bear… hold on!

Matthew 11:28-30 says it perfectly.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Msg)

We will all face difficulties at some point in our lives. It is what we do with the detours along the way that makes all of the difference. It’s all about our attitude. No matter what we face in life, we have a choice. We can allow it to make us bitter or better. If we let it, good things can come from the bad we face. If we let Him, God will use the circumstances we face in life to help someone else. If we choose to allow the circumstances we face to make us bitter, it only hurts us and will become like a poison eating us from the inside out.

Positive results can come out of some of life’s hardest moments. It is sometimes in the midst of our darkest hours where we truly see how strong we are… inside and out. It is during the times that we run to God that our faith is strengthened and our anchor is fastened tightly to Jesus. Difficulties, hardships, trials, and struggles… WILL COME. Have you had the chance to discover what you are made of on the inside? Facing difficulties can help us really see how strong our faith is in God.

James 1:2-4 says…
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows you its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (Msg)


I read a story recently that inspired me… it tells of a woman who chose to see the positive in her circumstances no matter what. Check it out…

“Shirley is a woman who won’t let her disease beat her. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Shirley went from an athletic and active life (she was a piano teacher and a Bible teacher) to lying in bed with only the use of her right hand and her mouth. For a time, she continued to teach Bible studies in homes with the help of a specially designed car. When her body no longer allowed that, she became a phone counselor for a TV ministry. When her voice grew weak, she took to writing hundreds of notes of encouragement each month.”

Shirley wouldn’t give up no matter what happened to her. Wow… can you say that about you? No matter what you face, do you keep moving forward? Have you looked for the good in your situation? God will use the bad experiences we have faced as a tool to help inspire someone else to keep going. You will be their inspiration!

Is “Life” becoming overwhelming for you? Are you feeling burdened down and you don’t know what to do? Run to God, He will give you strength. Are you ready to give up? Don’t, God has a plan. You faith is growing stronger each day as God is giving you material to use to inspire others on their journey. Don’t let the circumstances of life consume you, use them as a tool to impact your world for Jesus.

Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

Monday, April 4, 2011

Are you a Worry Wart?

I think if we grew warts for every time we worried, that I would be covered. Have you ever had a wart before? They really aren’t pretty. It takes a long time to get them to go away. Sometimes only freezing it works. I think the same is true with worrying. Sometimes we have to freeze our worrying (or stop doing it) and give it to God in order to experience His peace. That’s what we really want anyway, right...His Peace.

Why do we worry? Is it a control issue? Is God not doing things the way we would expect Him to? Is He moving too slow for us? Are we filled with doubt that God will ever come through for us? What is it? I think it can be a combination of the above at different seasons in our lives. Does our worrying really change anything?

I am doing a book study presently and a phrase I read in the book has sunk deep into my spirit and won’t leave. It is, “When you hit tough circumstances… What attribute of God do you struggle to believe?” Hmmm…. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What leads ME to worry? What attribute am I not believing God for when I worry? I finally realized what it is… it is believing for His provision.

Even though God has provided over and over again for me, I still struggle in this area. I’m being open and honest with you. I guess I’m a control freak. I am also very protective and motherly. I always want to make sure everything is taken care of, but when it comes to God I need to chill. I guess it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to mother God and take care of Him. He doesn’t NEED my help. Sometimes I struggle with God’s timing. He doesn’t do things the way I think He should and I need to learn that it’s O.K. He obviously has everything under control and can see the big picture. He is trying to protect me and do what is best whether I like it or not.

Many scriptures come to mind when I think about worrying. If I am not speaking to anyone today, I am speaking to me.

Matthew 6:33-34
”Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (NLT)

Hebrews 12:2
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever…” (MSG)

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

How often do we only depend on our own understanding? In the long run, who would you trust more with your life? You or God? I guess I would have to say God, but my actions and attitude don’t always show it.

1 Peter 5:7
”Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” (NLT)

Do we trust Him with the DETAILS of our lives? I think that is my biggest hang up. When it comes down to the details, I like to worry. He can have my life, my family, my future, but I just want to help Him with the execution of it all. Couldn’t I just be His personal assistant when it comes to my life? I am really good at assisting. But I guess God never put out a help wanted ad. He has it all covered with out me.

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 wants to make a trade with us today, our worries for His peace. It sounds like a good trade, but it’s hard to let go of what we hold onto so tightly. Making the trade means giving up the actions of worrying, the thoughts, the worry verbage, and the worry attitude. It’s an all or nothing deal. But in return, we get to experience His peace that passes all understanding that will run through every part of our being. It’s transforming.

So, what will it be? The choice is ours. We can choose worry or peace. I think I’ve decided to go for God’s peace. Worry seems like a waste of time and energy. It’s actually a trap set by Satan to distract us and pull us away from God. He will not win with me. I pray God will fill you with His peace today. Give all your worries to Him and you will never regret it.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simplify

Simplify, de-clutter, re-organize… these are all words that have been running through my mind lately. With spring coming and my garage full of boxes, I’m thinking some deep cleaning is in order. I have too much junk! I am a packrat I confess, but I’m really getting better. I watched that show on TLC called “Clean Sweep” and it’s almost cured me. I guess I don’t need to save EVERYTHING for some rainy day in the future. I suppose if I haven’t used it in the last 5 or 10 years, then maybe I really don’t NEED it.

I’m sure many of you have taken the time to clean up and reorganize your houses, but have you ever thought about simplifying or de-cluttering your lives? Sometimes we can get too busy for our own good. Most of the time, it’s busy with things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of life. Running our kids to all kinds of sporting events, watching that favorite TV show, catalog parties, shopping, hunting, reading, etc… What pulls you away from what is important and steals your time?

Not everything is bad for you, but there are a lot of good things that can pull us away from God’s best for us. At times we may need to give different areas of our lives a “time out” to help us reprioritize what is best for that season. For instance, my husband loved basketball in college and played every chance he could. He even played when he was supposed to be studying, doing homework, or other important responsibilities. In a time of prayer, he felt like God was leading him to set his basketball down for a season to focus on Him. He took a “time out” for awhile and when he felt released by God, he picked it up again. He was better because of it.

I Corinthians 10:23 (GNV) says…
“We are allowed to do anything, so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. We are allowed to do anything…but not everything is helpful.”

To de-clutter our lives is to re-evaluate what we are doing and see why we are doing the things we do. Think about it… What is taking up all of your time? We are all given the same 24 hours each day, but each person spends it differently. How do you spend your time? Map out a week for yourself… what do you do? Where do you go? Who or what is getting the majority of your time? In the light of eternity, will all the time you are spending doing what you are doing really matter? If not, you need to make some changes.

I want to encourage you to re-evaluate what is really important to you. What do you value? Set some goals to make these things the core of your life…“Your Core Values.” You may need to change some things in your schedule, cut something out, add something new, or give some “time outs.” Do whatever it takes to make God your number one priority and He will help you take care of the rest. How we spend the majority of our time generally shows what is important to us? What is important to you?

Colossians 3:2 helps us see where our focus should be…
“So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (NLV)

My husband and I decided a long time ago to make some tough decisions to keep first things first when it comes to God and our family. We wanted to make sure God was a priority no matter what. Here are some things we are doing to keep God the focus of our home.

Church- It is our job to raise our children in the ways of God, so we guard our Sundays. We don’t ever allow the boys to spend the night at a friend’s house on Saturday nights, because we want them in church with us on Sunday mornings. We also made a commitment to never allow our kids to miss church because of sports. We want to help them to grow by putting them in an atmosphere that encourages growth in God weekly. By our actions, we want to show our boys how important it is to guard Sundays as a family.

Sports – Early on, we decided that we were not going to allow sports to rule our lives and our schedules. We have done our best so far to limit the sports our kids play. They have also been on the same team so far. This has limited practices and games to attend. We know that this will change in the future, but our goal will be the same. We also have them choose one sport per season so we aren’t always on the go. Occasionally we may even take a “time out” from a sport if things become too busy.

Family table – We do our best to have at least two sit down meals a week with our family. This gives us a chance to hear about each person’s day and we read a devotion book with the boys. We love the One Year Book of Devotions. This helps us to pour into our boys godly principles in a light hearted way.

Family nights – We try periodically to have family nights with the boys where we all plan to go out and do something special or stay in and watch a movie. This cements our relationship with our kids and builds memories to last a lifetime.

Bible time for the boys – It is important to us that our boys have their own personal relationships with God, because some day they will have to walk on their own spiritually with out us. We want it to be personal for them. In order to foster that, we have tried something new this year. We send them to bed 30 minutes early each week night to read their Bibles and any other books they want before bed. We emphasize the importance of feeding their spirits to make them strong. We noticed that they had a desire to read their Bibles, but didn’t follow through in doing it on their own. They needed us to create the opportunity for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. So far it has been a success.

Prayer before bed – We pray every night with each of our kids before bed. This is something we started when they were little. Al and I each pray for them separately. It is important to them and they won’t even go to sleep unless each one of us comes in to do it. We also call to pray with them if we are away. Prayer cements us together as a family.

These are just a few ideas of how we have tried to keep first things first in our home. I pray God will lead and guide you as you endeavor to simplify your life. May He direct you as you determine what needs to stay and what needs to go for you. As we clean up the clutter in our lives, we make more room for Jesus. I can’t wait to hear all of the incredible things God is going to do in and through you, as you open your hearts and lives up to Him in a new way. Bring it on!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Are you a "History Maker"?

Have you ever pondered your life? What do you live for? Who do you live for? Why do you do what you do? Are you living a life that is fulfilling? Is your life inspiring others or are you just living in survival mode hoping to make it through another day sane?

I want my life to count. I desire to make an impact on my world for God. How about you? Are you living with purpose? God wants to use you to impact those around you for Him, if you will let Him. He wants to make you a “History Maker.” He wants to change the lives of your friends and family through you.

You have the ability to influence those around you for good whether you realize it or not. People are learning from you. But the question is… what are they learning and where will it take them in life?

Think about it… what kind of legacy are you leaving for those behind you? If others followed the footprints your life has left, where would it take them? What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? These are all important questions to think about in pondering what we are truly living for.

When I was in Bible College my life was consumed with becoming the woman of God I was created to be. I wanted to live with purpose and make a difference for God in my world. I wanted God to be magnified through me to the fullest capacity. I wanted my life to count for something. All this passion was stirred up within me and found root deep in my heart to grow.

I learned how to become a woman of God by watching and learning from others around me. Whether they realized it or not, I was watching… those in leadership in my church, school, and work place. I watched how they reacted to their circumstances, how they treated their spouses and children, and how they expressively lived out their love for God daily.

I learned a lot as I watched about who I wanted to be as I grew in God, how I wanted my marriage to be, how I wanted to raise my children, and what kind of person I wanted to become. Many godly men and women have shaped my life by their example. I am forever grateful for their consistent lives of integrity lived out before me.

One of many of the people who influenced me in the past, passed away recently. He was a professor at my college and a great man of God. I was able to watch the funeral celebration online last week and my heart was stirred with emotion. The more I heard about him from family and friends, the more I respected the life he chose to live. Here is an excerpt from one of the articles written about him…


Springfield, MO —
Long time Central Bible College coach and athletic director Forrest L. Arnold passed away Saturday of natural causes. The 77-year old Arnold was born on October 14, 1933 near the small southeast Missouri town of Qulin.

Arnold was an outstanding basketball player in his younger years, becoming Memphis State's first All-American in the early 1950's. By the conclusion of his career, he held twelve all time basketball records and remains in the top ten of eleven of those categories to this day. In 1984, Coach was elected into Memphis State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1995 his jersey (#13) was retired. He is only one of eight players to ever receive this distinction from Memphis State University.

At the conclusion of his college years, he was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks) to play professional basketball, but he chose, instead, to enter the ministry. In 1958 Arnold moved to Springfield where he became CBC's first Athletic Director, developing the physical education, intramural and the intercollegiate athletic programs. He served CBC for 42 years. Thousands of students have been challenged by the commitment and gentle spirit of Coach Arnold in fulfilling the call of God upon their lives.

Central Bible College awarded him the Distinguished Educator Award and he was a professor emeritus. His heart was in missionary work. He and his wife have ministered extensively in the countries of Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Russia and Ukraine.


You would never know by meeting Forest Arnold of all the great accolades he had received. He was a very humble man who gave God all the credit for everything he did. What I remember most about him was his relationship with his wife. I watched and learned as they showed all the students by example how to have a godly marriage.

I was amazed as I listened to his son speak about him at the funeral. I was blessed to hear that what I saw every day at school that he had witnessed on a daily basis. He shared this at the funeral, “…as many times as you saw my dad stand outside of my mom’s class waiting on her to finish waving at her and winking through the window, I caught them at home kissing.” “…As many times as you saw them holding hands as they walked across campus, I saw them cuddling on the couch…” “…As many times as you saw dad carry mom up a flight of stairs to her class because she was too weak to walk (she has rheumatoid arthritis), I saw him get her up, put her in a warm bath, and dress her to get her ready to teach a class for the day.”

He was the same man at home that he was everywhere else. Wow! That is powerful. So many people were impacted by his life. Not only his life, but his marriage, ministry, and life decisions. The things I learned “by watching” will stick with me forever. Forest Arnold made his life count.

He passed up fame and fortune for a simpler life that changed those who came in contact with him forever. I heard through testimony at the funeral that he traded making $3000 a month as a professional basketball player to make $85 a month to pastor a small church. Most people wouldn’t make such a trade, but he was confident that God knew what was best.

When we are obedient to God, He will bless us. Forest Arnold’s blessing shined through every time he smiled. He was living his dream and his heart was content. He wasn’t about big numbers or large salaries; he was about making a difference in this world one heart at a time.

Forest Arnold was a true “History Maker.” I pray you will choose to make a difference in “your world” for God. Someone is watching you. Where will the footprints of your life lead them? Choose today to live with purpose and make your life count!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"My Passion is..."

My boys have been getting ready for a Science Fair this week. I discovered in the process that my passion is not science projects. They are definitely up there with my least favorite things to do. What is your passion? What do you love to do?

I have been reading a book recently that has been challenging me in the area of passion. It is called “Woman of Influence” by Pam Farrel. It’s one of my favorite books and a good read. Did you know that God has placed passions inside of us to do great things for Him? It’s a gift from God.

How do we discover that passion? Here is a great quote from the book: “When we seek to be intimately connected with Him (God), He will use the desires of our heart, the circumstances of our life, and His confirming Word to solidify and reveal our passion.” God uses everyday life and events to show us what He has created us to be and do for Him.

God has consistently used the circumstances I have faced in life to help me be able to identify and reach out to others. He is really good at taking bad situations and turning them around to bring good. We can allow the storms of life to make us bitter or better. Let me illustrate this for you.

My husband and I decided to wait five years after we got married to have a baby. We wanted to give our marriage and our children a strong foundation to stand on. When I finally got pregnant, my first pregnancy ended in four months with a miscarriage. It was very hard on us and the church we were youth pastors at, but God was faithful.

One night at a retreat I attended for Minister’s wives, God surprised me. While visiting a bathroom there, God put someone in my pathway. A lady miscarried her baby just as I entered the room. This had been one of several attempts to have her first child. I don’t think it was by chance I was there. It was a divine appointment. I was able to at that moment pray with the lady and comfort her from my open wounds. God planted a passion in me through experiences like this to love and minister to hurting women.

God has filled my heart with many passions over the years. I have a passion for discipling and helping people grow in their walks with God. I love to teach, write, and mentor others. My heart is blessed when I see lives changed. I am very passionate about my family. I want to be intentional and purposeful about raising my boys up in the ways of God. I also want to build a solid relationship with my husband that lasts the storms of life. All of these passions have grown through me seeing a lack in my life or others, experiences I have faced, or dreams God has placed in my heart.

I want to use my life to make an impact on others. I want my words and actions to count for something. I don’t want my life to be wasted on meaningless things. I want to live to make an impression and imprint on the hearts of those I meet for God. What do you have a passion for? Where do your daydreams take you? What breaks your heart? What do you talk about most? What so beats in your heart that if it were to vanish, you would no longer be you?

God has placed a passion inside of you that is uniquely for you and you have the joy of discovering that. Another great quote from the book is this… “God is the master of calling the unlikely to do the impossible. Out of pain he creates a platform.” What could God do with the pain you have faced in your life? How could He turn it around and use it for good? What impossible things could God do in and through your life?

I pray God would unleash His passion in your life for whatever it is He has designed you to do. For Mother Theresa it was a heart for helpless orphans, for Billy Graham it was reaching hurting people, for Beth Moore it was creating Bible study materials to help women grow closer to God. What is it for you? What is God birthing within you to do for Him? He will use the circumstances of life, the desires of our hearts, and His Word to confirm it. I’m excited to hear all about what He has in mind for you!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LOVE DARE

Did you know that this is the month of “Love”? The stores are stocked full of candy, flowers, chocolates, and big heart balloons. The color red is everywhere. The greeting cards are even positioned close to the front of the stores, so no one will forget the big event. It is monumental. If you have found love and forget this day, the world as you know it may never be the same. The big day I am speaking of is “Valentines Day.”

One day each year is set aside for us to lavish our love on the one we hold dearest. We are encouraged to give cards, buy chocolates, eat out, and be romantic. It is as if society is so love starved all year long, that this is their attempt to remind themselves to show love and appreciation to those closest to them.

I sat in a drive-thru recently and watched as a young man rode his bike with a huge red helium filled heart balloon attached to it in the middle of winter. Undoubtedly, he was on a mission to deliver a token of his love to his sweetheart. What extravagant measures will we take to show our love to others? Imagine what could happen if instead of waiting for February 14th each year to show our love to others, that we did it early.

I want to challenge you this month to a “LOVE DARE.” I dare you to express love to those closest to you more than one day this year on purpose. Instead of waiting for Valentines Day next year to show love to someone, I dare you to make it your goal this year to love beyond the “love month.”

Here is an idea… how about making every 14th of the month your Valentines Day? Wouldn’t it be awesome to take this challenge each month and be able to say next year this time that you showed love to others all year long.

Who could you show love to this year on purpose? Think about it. Could you show love to a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or a co-worker? How could you creatively show them love? Have fun with it! Surprise them, shock them, make them wonder why you are doing what you are doing out of the blue.

What could showing love to others look like? …saying “I love you,” giving hugs and kisses, doing something nice for someone else… “just because,” sharing kind words with others, and sending an encouraging note just to say a few. Love is not an event that is promoted once a year on a special day. Love is a verb… an action. Listen to what I Corinthians says about love…

“… Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and it’s faith, hope, and patience never fail.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 (GNV)

Make showing love more than a holiday… more than a commercialized expectation… be intentional about loving others for Jesus this year. That is the kind of love that lasts forever.

I dare you to receive God’s love and let Him love through you this year. Your life will never be the same!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Feel Blue (Part Two)


Have you ever felt down, depressed, alone, or disappointed? If so, you are not alone. All of us at some time in our lives have to face these feelings. It is what we choose to do with these feeling that can make us stronger or plunge us deeper into the pit of despair. During these seasons of our lives, we need to turn to God for our strength. If we don’t, it can feel like the circumstances of life are drowning us from the inside out.

Life can feel overwhelming and unbearable at times and if we aren’t careful, that time of discouragement can turn into a serious bout of depression. If you are feeling “blue” or know someone who is, be sure to check out all of the “blue’s clues” mentioned in the previous post (I Feel Blue~ Part One).

For most people, depression leaves as quickly as it comes with the support of friends and family. For others, the symptoms persist and worsen. In these instances, medical attention may be needed. Here are some tips to help you or someone close to you overcome “the blues.”

6 Tips to overcome “the blues”:

1. Give it to God (that issue that is causing you to feel down)

I remember a time in the past when I started to feel depressed and down. I had two kids under the age of two. They were sixteen months a part and I felt overwhelmed. I lacked sleep, a balanced diet, and any alone time which didn’t help the situation.

One day when I was sitting in my living room feeling sorry for myself, the doorbell rang. My front porch was filled with a group of elementary age kids. They asked if they could all quote a scripture to me for their Vacation Bible School contest. It was my job to listen to each child quote the verse and sign their paper to give proof they did it. The first kid rattled off their verse as I stood there disgusted that they were interrupting my day…

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matt. 11:28


It wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th kid said it that I got it… God sent a group of kids to my door to speak for Him. I guess that’s one way to get my attention. I was weary and needed rest, but I hadn’t gone to God with any of it. After the kids left, I sat on my couch and cried inviting God to help me. Immediately His peace entered that room and filled my heart. Giving it all to God made all the difference.

James 1:2-4 says…
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”


I don’t like it, but struggles and challenges in our lives can make us stronger. They help increase our faith and the faith of others. They inspire others to keep moving forward in their walks with God, as they see God’s faithfulness to us. Keep moving forward trusting God and He will come through for you. I guarantee it! It may not be in our time, but in God’s perfect time! Give it to God!

Another tip to overcoming “the blues” is…

2. Talk About It

Friends are there to help you carry the load… Let them!

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:13-16


Spending time talking with friends about life in general is usually a mood-booster. Find some people you love and trust to share all the areas of your life with… the good, bad, and the ugly.

Even though you may not feel like socializing, it's important that you continue to talk to your family and friends. Call them to talk, meet them for lunch, or go to a movie. When you are struggling, if you remain isolated there is a greater risk of you developing severe depression. Talk about it!

Another tip to overcoming “the blues” is…

3. Take a Time Out

If you feel yourself getting stressed about something, take a time out. Go for a walk, play sports, let off some steam. Just going outside can sometimes improve your perspective and overall sense of well-being.

Sometimes just putting things in writing can help. Journal and keep track of your moods and feelings day by day. This can help reveal patterns that may help you in beating depression.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39


Nothing can separate you from God when you are struggling, but you. If you feel the blues coming on, take a break. It can give you a new perspective. Stop “the blues” from coming before they even have a chance to grab hold and latch onto your life. Take a time out!

Another tip to overcoming “the blues” is…

4. Make a Change

Sometimes just changing things up can make a difference in your outlook. The human mind is designed to think. If there is nothing positive and engaging to think about, the mind tends to drift back to old things from the past--remembering old wounds and losses. One positive change you can make is to take up a new hobby. Hobbies are one way to help fill your thoughts with a new and positive perspective on life.

Some thing else you can do to lift your spirit is to change the channel. Set a new and improved tone in your life. Start watching light-hearted shows and movies, read books with a positive theme, and take time to laugh. Laughter is good medicine for the soul. Make a change!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22

Another tip to overcoming “the blues” is…

5. Stay Active

Keep doing what you normally do daily. Don’t run away, hide out, or avoid those that love you. When you pull yourself away from everyone, nobody can help. Plan each day to do at least one activity that you would normally find enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying (this may be reading, listening to music, watching movies, going to the park, gardening, taking part in sports, or seeing friends).

Avoid staying in bed… it's best to get up and on with your normal day as soon as you wake up - whether this is going to work, school or university, or meeting up friends or family. Avoid napping during the day, it can upset your body clock and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Napping can provide an abbreviated escape from reality, but it doesn’t fix the problem or take away those feeling completely. When you wake up the world is the same, you just experienced a pause in your day. Be sure to watch your diet too. This can make a big difference in our overall feeling and mood whether we realize it or not.

Staying active is important in overcoming the blues. At first you might not find things as enjoyable as you normally would, but if you persist, the enjoyment will eventually return. Stay active!

Another tip to overcoming “the blues” is…

6. Get Help!

If you start feeling worse, or you've been feeling miserable for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing something beyond “the blues.” It's important that you act early and let someone know how you are feeling.

Tell your parents, a leader, a counselor, a teacher, a friend, anyone before it overwhelms you. Depression is a sickness that sometimes needs professional attention. Don’t be afraid to get help.

We will all face ups and downs in our lives and with our relationship with God. We need to learn now how to deal with “the blues,” so we can walk in joy no matter what comes our way. I read a poem recently that really spoke to me about the thought of letting go and letting God.

“God Boxes”

I have in my hands two boxes
Which God gave me to hold.
He said, “Put all your sorrows in the black box,
And all your joys in the gold.”

I heeded His words, and in the two boxes
Both my joys and sorrows I stored.
But though the gold became heavier each day,
The black was as light as before.

With curiosity, I opened the black,
I wanted to find out why,
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole
Which my sorrows had fallen out by.

I showed the hole to God, and mused,
“I wonder where my sorrows could be,”
He smiled a gentle smile and said,
“My child, they’re all here with me.”

I asked God, why He gave me the boxes,
Why the gold, and the black with the hole?
“My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,
The black is for you to let go.”
(author unknown)


May you feel inspired today to let go of what is hurting you and let God have it all. He is able to heal us inside and out. I pray for God’s healing on the inside for you today.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie