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!

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 on my project list to at some point... 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. The scribbles and marked out sections consisted of mostly the same people who moved over and over again.  For some reason I always wrote 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!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are we there yet????

Are we there yet? When will we get there? How much longer? Why is it taking so long???? Do any of these questions sound familiar to you? These are traveling phrases. We traveled a lot this summer and it seems like this is all we heard. Our boys don’t like to wait. They are too excited for the adventure to begin to enjoy the idea of waiting in a car for hours on end. We had to constantly assure them that we’ve got things under control, we know where we are going, and we will get there eventually… just relax!

Sometimes it can feel that way with God. We are ready for the next stretch of our adventure with Him, but the ride is taking too long. We begin thinking… When will we get there? Why is this taking so long? How much longer? We have to remember that God is driving and He knows the way to where we need to be. He has it all under control and we just need to trust Him. Easier said than done!

I am not gifted in “waiting” that is for sure. I am a patient person to a point… as long as it doesn’t take TOO long. It seems like in society today, we have to learn the art of waiting. We have to wait for our food, we are put on hold waiting to speak with doctors, set appointments, and pay payments. We wait in lines to pick up our kids, buy souvenirs, get our pictures taken, and go to the movies. We have learned to entertain ourselves while we wait: cell phones have been an amazing time killer, texting, e-mailing, reading… we multi-task well! No matter what we do to distract ourselves, we still have to WAIT.

Waiting is no fun. Recently I had the privilege of waiting in line for my boys to get autographs of the Colts players. We went to the Colts Training Camp in Anderson, IN. Al and the boys went to watch the practice while mommy volunteered to stand in line in hopes of getting an autograph when the practice was over. When the practice was over after an hour of waiting, my family joined me. We stood 30 more minutes and made it almost to the autograph table when they decided to shut the line down when we were only 10 people away from the front. Needless to say it was disappointing. My waiting was in vain.

Sometimes I feel like asking God, are we there yet? Are we at the next spiritual destination you have mapped out for me? Sometimes it can feel like your “waiting” is in vain, but God never wastes anything.  God has plotted the course, sees the map, and knows how far we have yet to go. As long as we are in the car, God is driving, and the car is moving… we will eventually get to where we need to be! Whether you are waiting on a job, a dream to be fulfilled, the perfect spouse, money to be provided, or the gift of a child… God is aware and concerned about your needs. I hope you are challenged in some way today to wait a little longer for His perfect provision as you pursue His best for your life.

Here are some things to remember as you “wait” on God.

1. God has a plan

Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

God has a plan for our lives and we have not been forgotten. He is working out the details… be patient as He is perfecting everything. He knows what is best for us! Our plans don’t even come close to the incredible destiny He has for our lives. Don’t rush the masterpiece He is creating in you!

2. God’s timing is perfect

God sees the big picture. He sees what we can’t see and knows what we don’t know. Our waiting is a part of the plan. He is trying to get the timing right to bring everything together to completion. God’s timing is not our timing. It’s a good thing because if we went on our timing, we may mess up the plan. We are an impatient people!

2 Peter 3:8
"But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day."

3. God wants the best for us

Romans 8:31-39
"So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?"

God has our best in mind. When we choose to give up, stop waiting, and take things into our own hands, we choose to forfeit God’s best in this area of our lives. God’s best is always worth waiting for!

Put on your traveling shoes. God is about to take you on an incredible journey. There will be some ups, downs, valleys, mountain tops, good days and bad days, but no matter what you face God promises to walk with you through it all. Remember God is faithful and you have not been forgotten. Whatever step you are on the journey and whatever area you are waiting on, God will come through for you.

One thing I’ve learned if nothing else about “waiting” when it comes to God is that it helps develop stronger character within us. It chisels at the core of who we are and helps us to become a better reflection of Jesus to the world. Take this time of waiting to allow God to mold you and make you into the man or woman of God He has called you to be.

Living to leave a legacy!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste

Have you ever looked at your tongue before? It’s definitely not the prettiest part of our bodies. Our tongue is the organ of taste and speech. James 3 talks about how hard it is to control our tongues… one minute we are speaking good and the next evil. One minute we are encouraging others and the next minute we are tearing them down. It’s a mystery. I learned when my boys were young that they struggled with this immensely. I immediately set out on a mission to “fix” their ugly talk and teach them to speak words of life.

I decided the best way to teach my boys how to control their tongues was with a visual reminder of it’s ugliness. I chose to use vinegar. I told them every time they chose to speak ugly or yucky to others that yucky stuff was going to be put in their mouths. Yucky talk = Yucky taste. It seemed to work to some degree. I threatened vinegar and they would “try” to do better. The taste lingered in their mouths as a reminder of their bad choice of words. To this day, we sill use the vinegar reminder to help them control their speech especially with each other.

The boys really don’t like vinegar. Once I was at the grocery store and needed vinegar for a cooking project and asked one of them to get me some from the shelf and they said, “no, mommy we don’t need anymore vinegar… PLEASE. We promise to talk nice.” I was cooking in the kitchen recently and had a bottle of white vinegar set out on the counter. It was turned so you couldn’t see the label. I didn’t realize it looked like a water bottle until my boys came in hot and thirsty and one went to grab it to guzzle down. I guess the bottles do look similar, but they taste very differently. I stopped him just in time.

Vinegar… a visual reminder that Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste. I wonder what God would choose to use with us. What if every time we spoke negative, harsh, or ugly words God gave us vinegar? It doesn’t taste very good by itself… just ask my boys. I surely wouldn’t want to have it all the time. Sometimes I think we need a visual reminder of some sort to help us with our speech. There are some things that I have noticed that can make all the difference as we speak to others: how we say things, the tone, the attitude behind the words, the words chosen, and the timing. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but all the ugliness seems to come out most with our family. If we are spouting out ugliness to strangers, there must be a lot of ugliness in our hearts.

Hmm… think about it. If your speech had a taste, what would yours taste like? Sour, bitter, sweet…

Psalm 119:103 says
“How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey.”

Lord, please help us speak sweet words like you. It seems like our families see us at our best, worst, and know just how to push our buttons to make us explode. If we can control our tongues at home, we should be able to control them anywhere. What a great place to practice making your speech sweeter. They may think you are up to something, but with God and His help all things are possible!

I’ve noticed that words and habits are transferable to our children. Some families are yellers and they produce children that yell back. Others are quiet and the children have never even heard their parents argue in front of them. Negative parents produce negative kids and positive parents produce positive kids. With God’s help, you can stop the transfer of negative qualities and pass on a fresh, healthy, and godly heritage for your family.

With that in mind, I am choosing to work on my speech daily and strive to speak words of life to my family. I want to be their biggest cheerleader. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I strive every day to do it. I have posted a note on my mirror as a reminder to me that says, “Choose to be a Life Giver today.” I catch myself in the middle of sentences realizing… maybe the tone, attitude, or timing is off on this encounter with my family member. When I change my words to make them sweeter, I have noticed that I get a better response from everyone in the house. I have not arrived. I’m on a journey of trying to become more like Christ in this area of my life. Here are some things that may be helpful to you as you endeavor to gain control of your tongue:

Bite your tongue! (Prov. 21:23)
You’ll never be sorry for the hurtful words never spoken. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say nothing and pray. Let God guide your tongue.

Be positive!
(Phil. 4:8-9)
Being positive is a part of having faith. Faith is believing God for what seems impossible. The Christian walk is a walk of faith. We need to believe God for the things we can’t see. If we are constantly looking at things through a negative, critical lense, our Christian walk will become a defeated one. If you have been raised in a negative home, this is something that will take time, but with God’s help you can do it! Positive people rub off on to others. Make friends with some positive people or marry one like me and it helps make the difference!

Be purposeful! (I Thes. 5:11)
Look for opportunities to build others up (especially your family). A lot of people have low self-esteems because they are torn down so much that they can’t lift their heads. The world is an ugly place. I want my home to be a safe, refreshing, and encouraging place for my family to be. Don’t withhold speaking words of life daily to others. Say, “I love you” often. Use words like please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Live a life of no regrets when it comes to your words.
Be purposeful and intentional about building others up!

Luke 6:45 says…
“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Fill your heart and life with more of God and you will have words of life to give to others. Remember it’s a journey. It’s not easy, but with God’s help and lots of practice we can tame this ugly tongue.

Choose to speak words of life today… give someone else the gift of a kind word, build self-esteem, and learn to sweeten your words. You have the ability to change your world, one word at a time. Be intentional!

Living to leave a legacy!