Monday, December 31, 2012

A Thankful Heart

My husband has a new name for me… he calls me the “Pinterest Queen.”  I finally gave in to join the Pinterest craze in the fall.  I kept seeing posts on Facebook of creative ways to do things, fix things, clean things, or make things and I couldn’t take it any longer and gave in to join.  Since then I have made SO many awesome creations.  Some have gone well while others have ended terribly.

 One of my projects could have ended disastrously, but luckily didn’t.  My goal was to do something creative with a mason jar.  I had seen pictures on Pinterest of candles placed in a mass of coffee beans which peaked my interest.  I decided to attempt it one night.  I poured the vanilla cream beans into the jar to fill it half full and then added the votive candle.  I pushed it down into the mixture of beans just like the picture.  It was perfect and smelled awesome.  I lit the candle and walked away to allow the aroma to fill the kitchen.

Later my husband exclaimed, “Why does the kitchen smell so strongly of coffee?”   He is a coffee drinker unlike me, but hadn’t made any.  He knew I had the candle burning, but it was EXTREMELY strong smelling.  He rushed into the kitchen to find my jar of coffee beans… ON FIRE!  It didn’t smell like smoke, or anything burning, the smoke detectors didn’t even go off… it just smelled like strong coffee.  We snuffed the “small” fire out with the lid and went on with the night.  My husband looked at me with a smile and said, “I think you need to chill a little with the Pinterest thing.  I don’t know if I can leave you unsupervised in the house again. Who knows what might happen.”

 I have steered away from candle projects for now and have moved on to new things.  I saw something awesome on Pinterest that I am definitely doing this year.  It’s a “blessing bottle” of sorts.  It’s a way to collect and record all of the ways God has blessed us over the year.  God has done some amazing things in 2012 and I don’t want to ever take His blessings for granted.

The boys and I have a morning routine we started over the past year.  Before they leave for school each day we read a devotional book together and pray for needs.  I ask each boy what they would like to pray for and then we all take a turn praying.  Some things we have prayed for over the past year were needs, some were wants, some were healing for the sick, new jobs, and more.  The boys have been persistent in their prayers each day.

They were shocked when God started answering their prayers.  The blessings started to pour in… free camper, free flat screen TV, larger house, new job, money given anonymously when we needed it most, the sick getting well, people we prayed for who didn’t know God giving their lives to Him and more…  They were so excited!

Philippians 4:6 says…
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT)

That is what we are going to do this year!  We are going to plan ahead to have thankful hearts.  My “blessing bottle” is made now it’s time to start collecting.  This is what the excerpt from the Pinterest post I read about this whole idea said…

 “Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Year's Eve, empty it and re-read all of the amazing things You have done in your life that year...I love this!!!”

I challenge you to find a way in 2013 to be thankful for all that God does in your life.  I don’t want to miss one blessing.  Happy New Year friend.  The best is yet to come!

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ME... It may not be pretty!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write on here. I thought I would give you an update on what’s been going on with me.  As some of you may know I have an autoimmune disease I have struggled with for the past seven years.  It is not necessarily life-threatening, but definitely life altering.  We have tried everything to get it to go into remission with no luck.  I have had seasons of good health mixed in with others that were pretty bad lasting longer than we expected.  Recently I was approved to have special treatments that could possibly throw me into a long-term remission (1-3yrs).  The treatments started the end of September and lasted four weeks.  I was told I wouldn’t start to notice the improvement until six weeks later which would be this week.  The treatment was risky, but worth it.  The downside has been the side-effects I have struggled with since then. I am thankful they are only fatigue and some occasional chest pains (not heart related).  It could have been much worse.  These have kept me up and down quite a bit this past month.  Hence the delay in writing… it’s hard to focus when you are so exhausted.
So here is the scoop on me that you have missed…  I am giving you the raw and real details of my journey.  It may not be pretty!  I have had my ups and downs over the past seven years.  It’s been pretty rough at times.  I have felt forgotten by God and overlooked.  I have been depressed, disappointed, and overwhelmed.  I have felt with out purpose and hope.  I have wondered “Why me?” often and have prayed desperately hoping to hear God’s voice… waiting for a miracle.  I am human just like you.  I struggle.  I worry.  I fear. 
BUT… through this journey I have also learned that looking back at my past has helped me trust God with my future.  Each time I prayed and felt like it was hitting the walls, I remembered all the times God moved on my behalf in the past and did amazing things.  Each time I felt like I didn’t have purpose or that I was forgotten, I was reminded of how in the past God used my failures, unfortunate circumstances, or heartache to touch and inspire someone else to keep moving forward.  Why would God do any different with this situation now?  I needed to trust Him blindly and believe He would be faithful.
In my lowest moments (being sick)… when I got to the end of myself I found that God was all I needed.  He makes all of the difference.  His peace goes beyond our comprehension and is priceless.  My relationship with God has changed so much.  It has grown deeper and more personal.  He has become so real to me.  It’s more than going to church.  It’s more than something I do or say that I am.  It’s personal.  I don’t want to play games… I want the real thing or nothing at all.
I have watched a couple movies recently that have touched me deeply.  Some phrases spoken in them have jumped off the screen and settled into my heart.  The first was from the movie Courageous.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet you need to… it is so inspiring.  There is a point in the movie where a grief stricken father goes to visit his pastor for counseling and this is what the pastor shares with him..."you can be angry for the time you lost or grateful for the time you had." This is paraphrased of course, but can apply to so many areas of our lives. SO true!
This quote is something I have struggled with off and on in the past.  In a sense the past seven years have felt wasted to me… being sick.  BUT… I know God doesn’t waste anything if we give it to Him.  I have to admit I have stewed over what I couldn’t do feeling I had no purpose.  In other moments I have been thankful for the simplest of tasks I could do no matter how little.  Sometimes we take things for granted.  I guess I did… talking, seeing, walking, driving, eating whatever I want, the ability to minister to others through teaching or preaching, and so much more.  After wasting a lot of time stewing, I have decided to be grateful for whatever God has allowed me to experience instead of angry for the time lost.  I have placed my life in God’s hands and I trust Him with it and the details.  I am not saying this has been easy… it is a choice I have to make daily.  Some days I choose well and others I choose worry or fear over faith.

The second movie I saw recently was Soul Surfer.  I highly recommend it!  It is based on a true story.  It’s about a girl who loses her arm in a tragic shark attack while surfing.  After the attack she eventually works her way back into surfing and even competing.  Reporters swarmed her after one of her competitions asking all kinds of questions.  One asked this… “If you could go back to that horrible day and surf again, would you do it?” This is what she said… “Surfing isn't the most important thing in life. Love is. I've had the chance to embrace more people with one arm than I ever could with two.”
Wow… how powerful.  What perspective!  That’s how I want to live every day… looking for the good in even the most difficult situations I face.  God has the ability to turn any bad situation around for good when we give it to Him.  I can’t tell you how many people I have been able to minister to, love on, encourage, lift out of their pit of despair, and pray with since being sick.  For some reason people feel more comfortable and connect on a different level with me now.  My sickness has affected many areas of my life opening doors to share and identify with people I never would have dreamed.  I share openly and honestly about my journey.  I have nothing to hide… I think that is why others feel safe to share their lives with me.  If God can use these past seven years of sickness to touch even one person for Him, I cannot count them as wasted.
I am grateful for the chance to have even the hope of a symptom-free year.  Many don’t have this option.  I am blessed to have a family that has been so supportive through all of this.  My husband has been amazing!  He carried our household in many ways taking on the role of mom and dad in a very crucial time for our boys.  He has loved me through all seasons, all shapes, and sizes.  He is my hero and inspiration.  I hope my boys have been watching all of these years the depths of his love for me lived out on a daily basis.  It is immeasurable.
So… this is me right now in a nutshell.  Hopefully as I start to feel better I will be writing more.  I am still working on finishing up my book called… “Surviving Life’s Mudpuddles”…  only three more chapters to go.  Coming soon!
I hope you have been encouraged in some sense by my honest attempt to share the real me with you with all its imperfections.  If God can use me to touch even one person for Him, He can use you too.  I am always available to talk or pray with you.  Be blessed today my friend!
Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I’m sorry I haven’t been on here much lately.  I’ve had a rough time health-wise.  Most of you know that I have an autoimmune disease.  It limits me at times.  I have good days and bad days.  My health is up and down.  It is very unpredictable and extremely frustrating to say the least.  The disease is not necessarily life-threatening, but life-altering.  It is called Myasthenia Gravis.  I have a worst case scenario of it according to my neurologist.  To sum it up it weakens all of my muscles… affecting my vision, ability to swallow, talk, walk, stand, lift my arms, etc….   Some times I am ok and other times I have flare-ups where everything is weak.  I was bed-ridden for three months at the beginning before I was diagnosed.  I am on medicine to help make things more stable and normal for me, but the meds I take to feel better all have side-effects that make things worse.   

My doctor is amazing and has done everything possible to try to get me into remission.  He has even consulted other specialists for alternate options to get me healthy.  We have tried most everything.  Currently I am having a special treatment that could throw me into remission for one to three years.  There are risks involved, but the possible benefits far outweigh those risks.  I have to go to the Indy IU Medical Hospital one day a week for four weeks to have these IV treatments.  I will not feel the full effects of the treatments until about six weeks after the last one (which is tomorrow) putting it around Christmas time.  That would mean by the first of the year I could have a new me… YAY!!!

As I have been reflecting lately about all of this and how long I have been sick, something interesting came to mind.  My boys were talking recently about something and I heard one of them say to the other… “Didn’t you know God’s favorite number is seven?”  I thought about that for a minute and realized.  The first of the year will mark seven years having been sick.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to experience God’s healing touch this Christmas and begin a new year symptom-free?  I believe God can use doctors to heal.  Lord let it be.  You might be surprised the next time you see me in 2013… I might be a lot perkier than you remember.  One thing I have missed the most being sick is the “energy” to do whatever I want whenever I want.  I definitely took that for granted in the past.  My boys drive me crazy with all of their energy at times.  I wish I could just have a portion of it to ration out each day for myself to use and save in reserve.  It could make all the difference some days.

This sickness has wreaked havoc on my life, but it has not won.  I chose from the very beginning to give it all to God…. the good days and the bad.  I can’t say that it has been easy, but with God’s help daily I have continued to move forward.  I have held onto the scripture found in Genesis 50:20…

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT)

I believe God can turn any bad situation around for good if we let Him.  I can’t believe all of the people I have been able to encourage and pray for as a result of my experiences being sick.  I just want to be a tool in God’s hands through all seasons of my life… the good and the bad.  For some reason it seems God touches others most during our seemingly darkest and lowest times.

Since being sick more people have opened up their lives to me.  They share openly and I have heard more than once recently… “I have never told anyone this before.”  Why me?  I don’t know.  They must feel bad for me or something or they are drawn to God in me and the faith I draw from within.  No matter what the reason, I am ready and available to be a vessel for God to use.  If this sickness can be a tool to minister to others so be it.  I never want to waste a moment I can be using for God.

We are each given one life to live.  I want to make mine count for something.  I want to leave behind a legacy… a trail of faith to believe God for the impossible.  Seven… I am already excited about 2013.  I am filled with hope for the future.  How about you?  What will you do with your one life?  I encourage you to make it count for something today.

Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living with Heaven in Mind

Have you ever seen the movie “The Bucket List?”  I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it, but it seemed interesting to me.  Here is the synopsis of it…. Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die (according to their “bucket list”).  They embark upon a journey that brings friendship, discovery, and redemption.

Sounds like an interesting concept.  Making a list of things we want to do before we die.  These men waited until the deadline had already been given before they got started, but we can start today.  I watched an episode of the television show “Everybody Loves Raymond” that had a similar concept.  Ray was going through a mid-life crisis because he was getting shorter or shrinking and decided to make a “bucket list” of things to do before he died.  His list consisted of… eating things he had never eaten before and to never throw up again.  I guess your list is what you make it.  His wife tried to convince him that a proper mid-life crisis is living in denial not planning out your death.  What a funny way to convey the concept of living with the end in mind.
Being sick a lot gets you thinking of all the things you can’t do or those things you really wish you could do.  I haven’t made a “bucket list” of sorts yet, but I am thinking about it.  I have done a lot of amazing things already on the dream list in my mind.  I married the man of my dreams, I have two amazing boys, I have a cute dog, I went to college, I have been overseas to El Salvador and Mexico, I have lived in and visited several states, and I have met some pretty awesome people along the way. 

If I were to make a bucket list there are a few things I might want to put on it. One place I would like to visit is Prince Edward Island.  Ever since I saw the Anne of Green Gables series that island has intrigued me.  It is so beautiful!  My mother in law loves it too.  It would be awesome if some day we could go visit it together.  I also want to go to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and publish a book or two.  Beyond that I’m not sure what I should add to the list.  Not throwing up ever again sounds pretty good.  I’ll have to put some thought into this.  I love making lists and more than that I love marking things off when I complete them.  It makes me feel like I have accomplished something.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about living with purpose…  “Living with Heaven in Mind.”  We aren’t promised tomorrow, but many of us live as though we are.  Some scriptures come to mind as I have thought about this.

James 4:13-15 says…
Some of you say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money."  But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, "If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that."  (NCV)

 Matthew 6:33-34 says…
“Seek first God's kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well. So don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NCV)

Colossians 3:2 says…
“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” (NLT)

Being a person of purpose and a planner can be my downfall at times.  Because God has been filling my heart with this concept of “Living with Heaven in Mind,” it has been eye opening for me.  How can I live like this and not plan for the future?  I am not promised tomorrow.  That has never felt more real to me than now.  That being said, I want to plan for that possibility for the sake of my family.

I have set aside purposeful time lately to write out personal letters to my family in the event that my tomorrow isn’t promised to me.  I know it may sound a little morbid, but the reality is true.  We will all die some day and God only knows when.  This whole process has ripped my heart out to put it all on paper, but I want to be ready.

One of my son’s and I talked about this recently.  He said, “Mom I’m afraid to die.”  I asked, “Why?”  It seemed he was more concerned about how he would die than the whole idea of dying at all.  I communicated to him that we are all going to die someday.  The important thing about it is that we are ready.  Our hearts need to be right with God… the rest of the details are up to Him.  He seemed at peace with that.

What if instead of writing out all the things we would like our loved ones to know some day if we passed, instead we lived them out daily?  What if we were the person we wanted them to remember today?  How much different would our lives be?  How would that affect our families?  How much richer would our lives become if we lived with Heaven in Mind?

My challenge to you today friend is to Live with Heaven in Mind.  Make the changes you need to in order to live this way.  Live with purpose on purpose to impact your world for God. 

If you feel your heart isn’t right with God, it’s time for you and God to do business.  It’s never too late to settle things with Jesus.  He is ready and waiting for you.  He will meet you right where you are.  I would love to pray with you.  Please contact me via e-mail, facebook, etc… I am always willing and available to talk, listen, and pray with you friend.  May today begin a new journey for you of "living with heaven in mind."

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stop and Smell the Daisies

My life is unpredictable.  At times that can be frustrating.  Because of the autoimmune disease I have I never know how I will feel from day to day.  Sometimes I wake up and feel strong and know it will be a good day health wise and other days are more difficult. They start out good and go down-hill fast.  Those days generally hit when I have free time to do what I want or have a list of things I would like to accomplish.  Most of my time ends up being spent resting in bed.

I was at a worship night at our church recently and the pastor shared a passage from the Bible that jumped out to me.   Actually a specific number jumped out to me.  It is found in Matthew 9:20-22

Then a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came behind Jesus and touched the edge of his coat.  She was thinking, "If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed."

Jesus turned and saw the woman and said, "Be encouraged, dear woman. You are made well because you believed." And the woman was healed from that moment on. (NCV)
I thought as the passage was shared… this woman had been “sick” for 12 YEARS before she ever got better.  Wow!  That is a LONG time.  As I thought a little longer I realized something.  I have been sick for SIX years now with this autoimmune disease.  A thought came to my mind…  Would I be willing to wait SIX MORE years to be healed from this disease? 

I thought about it with a lot of emotion attached.  This has been a rough six years on me and my family.  I have had a lot of ups and downs.  There have been lots of scary moments, lots of frustration, frustrating side-effects (too many to list), memory-making events I have missed with my family because I was too tired to go…. the list goes on.  I have felt near death more than once and my family has had to watch it all. 
I have also seen God work amazing things as a result of this sickness.  He has spoken to my heart in my deepest, darkest hours and comforted me.  He filled me with peace and gave me the strength to go on.  He has opened up many doors for me to share with others of His love and never ending faithfulness.  So, would I be willing to “wait” six more years.  By the end of the service I had to say “yes” to God.  He knows what is best for me whether I like the process or not.  I’m in for the long haul with Him… in good times and bad I will continue to cling to Jesus.

You know when you are sick, you have a chance to sit back and think about what is really important.  Everything slows down in a sense and you begin to re-evaluate your life.  What is really important takes precedence over what needs to get done?  I remember when I first got sick learning this lesson the hard way. 
My friends set up a schedule of sorts to help my family out.  I had two kids under the age of six and a family household to balance.  I definitely needed help.   They helped with cooking, cleaning, and watching the kids while Al worked and I sat on the couch.  The hardest thing for me ever to do was… “to sit.”  Watching someone else do what I wanted to do and do “my” way drove me crazy.  The bad part was that I couldn’t even tell them.  My voice was weak at that time and every time I talked my speech would slur.  It was very frustrating.  It was so hard to sit while someone else took care of me.  I learned in that moment that some things didn’t matter as much as I thought they did.

As I got better little by little, I tried to keep that mindset.  There were moments
when I didn’t want my boys to see me sick, but Al would bring them upstairs to lay on the bed with me and watch TV… just so they could be with me.  Their hugs and kisses brought a smile to my heart.  My facial muscles were too weak to allow me to smile physically at that time.  I learned that the floor could be dirty, the sink could be full of dishes, the laundry could overflow, but what mattered most were the memories I was making with my family. Those are what they will keep forever when I am long gone.

It is a constant battle for me to keep things in perspective.  The necessary things versus those tedious distractions battle for my attention.  I try to be sensitive to my family and their needs and strive to “stop and smell the daisies” in a sense.  Meaning to not be in such a hurry in this thing we call life.  Life is precious and fragile.  What we do with it matters and impacts others for all eternity.  I want to make my life count.

All that to say… some things aren’t that important to me anymore.  Rushing home, passing cars on the road carelessly to save a few minutes… Not important.  Having the perfect, clean, house… Not AS important (LOL… I can’t help myself), caring what others think of me… Not important.  Trying to make everyone happy… Not important.  Making lots of money…. Not important.  Being gone every night of the week doing something… Not important.  Having all the coolest or trendiest things…. Not important.  Where we live or what we do career-wise... Not important.

What IS important to me is… spending quality time with my family, making life-long imprints on the hearts of my kids, using my circumstances to touch the hearts of others to draw them closer to God, making my life count for something, and living each day with purpose knowing it is a gift from God.

I don’t want to get so busy that I miss God moving and working all around me.  Do you know how many sunrises and sunsets I have missed?  How many changing of the leaves or blooming of the flowers in spring have I rushed by?  I want to enjoy every day with my kids and never miss out on one special event they experience.  Don’t be in a hurry friend.  We only have one life to live.  Every day is a new start.  Make today your best adventure yet!

Living to leave a legacy,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Side Effects

 Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been on here friends.  Recently I had cataract surgery on my left eye.  Cataracts… one of many side-effects that come from the medications I take to help me feel better.  My life balances between just maintaining this autoimmune disease (Myasthenia Gravis) and really feeling normal.  Cataracts… I thought I was too young for this.

It was kind of weird after surgery to be given a wallet-size card that showed I had an actual implant in my eye.  I was encouraged to put it in a fireproof safe for future reference.  It felt like a “Bones” episode from television.  If anything were to happen to me unexpectedly, Temperance Brannon (“the Bones Doctor”) would be able to discover my identity quickly.

I now have an implant.  I never thought I would ever be saying that.  Side effects… weight gain, weight loss, facial swelling, hair loss, insomnia, heart burn, headaches, overall achy ness, forgetfulness, and the list goes on.

Even though the side effects can be frustrating, I am daily thankful for what I CAN do.  When the disease flares up and the side effects weigh me down, I try to remember how far I have come.  I think about what I couldn’t do at one point and how sick I was.  This immediately changes my mindset and lifts my spirits. 

Life can be overwhelming if we let it.  I could easily allow myself to sink into a deep depression over what I am missing out on or what I CAN’T do.  BUT I choose to live differently.  What kind of life would that be for me or my family?  There are a lot of things I CAN do!  Yes, I do have limitations, but life is full of creative possibilities.  I just have to be willing to pause every once in awhile to manage the randomness of this disease.

Occasionally I have flare ups out of the blue where my symptoms rise up and stir up trouble.  It usually occurs when I am busy and have things to do.  It happens when I am unprepared and my schedule is full.  It happens when things are tight and I NEED to work. When my schedule is free and the stress is low, it never strikes.  Isn’t that the way it goes?

Since my cataract surgery I have experienced a side-effect that has really frustrated me.  I haven’t been able to write.  I have been waiting for my eye to heal enough to get glasses.  That has meant no study time, no reading, and no writing on this Blog.  That has made me one frustrated cookie.  I finally tonight found a pair of reader glasses that work for me.  You know those old lady glasses that sit on the end of their noses to read.  I may look silly, but I’m SO excited to SEE! 

My life has been an interesting ride so far to say the least.  One thing I know is that I could have never made it without God.  With all of the circumstances I have faced, He has been my strength.  My all time favorite verse in the Bible through all of this has been… Philippians 4:13, “For I can do EVERYTHING with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I NEED.”  How true!  I can do nothing with out HIM!

As I have recently been thinking of all of my side effects, I realized something.  A life WITHOUT God is full of side effects as well.  A life without God experiences the side effects of: emptiness, loneliness, addiction, broken relationships, bitterness, anger, turmoil, despair, heartache, hopelessness, and feeling unloved just to name a few.  A life without God is NOT the life for me.  HE has made all of the difference.

He has brought peace to my heart and life when I was worried, fearful of my future.  He wrapped His arms around me when I have felt forgotten and unloved.  He filled my heart with a deep joy within that sustained me when sadness surrounded me.  He has given me patience to endure through all of this and encouragement for others following behind me.  He is my source of strength and reason for being.  I am alive for a purpose and as long as I am able I will do what I can do to serve that purpose.  Even if I have to be creative to accomplish it!

Where are you my friend?  Are you struggling to get by because life is overwhelming you?  Reach out to Jesus, He is there.  Have circumstances crushed down on you and you chose to walk AWAY from God instead of run TO Him?  Come back home… He is waiting for you.  YOU are NOT forgotten.  YOU are loved!  Maybe you have NEVER even thought about this life I am talking about WITH God.  If that is you, I encourage you to invite God into your life.  Start living life WITH God and your life will never be the same. 

Wherever you are in life, I want to be there for you.  Please let me know how I can pray for you.   I am available to you and want to be a resource for you.  I can assure you that I don’t have everything figured out.  All I can say is that I’m doing my best to pave the way for others to follow Jesus behind me.  I have learned that He is faithful through every season of my life.  He is available and good at all times.  May His peace consume your life and His strength lift you up today. Blessings my friend!

Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Radical Dad

Recently I had the opportunity to visit an assisted living facility.  I must say I was amazed at what I saw.  I was filling in for work in helping an elderly lady with Alzheimer’s.  My job was simply to follow her around to all of her activities and make sure she didn’t wander off.

She is one of many of the people there who is in her nineties.  One couple I met during my visit had been married sixty-seven years.  Wow… what a legacy.  I was impressed at how active, alert, and engaged everyone was.  I felt old compared to them.

I spent two days there following Miss Polly around.  We worked on puzzles, went to several meals together, played cards, watched movies, played bingo, and even hit up an ice cream social.  She is an active old lady.  I had a hard time keeping up with her.  I kept asking her if she needed a nap, but she kept going like the energizer bunny.  Nothing stopped her or slowed her down.  On the other hand, I could have used a nap or two while I was there.

Miss Polly had a “special friend” who joined us often.  He picked her up and escorted her to each activity.  It was cute!  He was half blind and she had trouble remembering things.  What a pair they make!  She leads the way and he helps her remember where to go.

On Saturday we headed down to a special Father’s Day event.  The activities director brought in for the morning a Model T and an old fire truck… the very first one ever made for their town for everyone’s viewing pleasure. They sat in lawn chairs eating ice cream on the front lawn reminiscing about the good old days.

I sat back watching the people come and go.  Some talked of times they had actually participated in being on the volunteer fire fighting teams.  It was interesting.  There was no organized program of sorts, but after a while I noticed Polly’s friend stand up at the front.  I wondered what he was doing so I moved closer to listen.

Polly’s friend shared of how he was a part of a volunteer fire fighting team of sorts in the past.  He related this helping others to God helping us.  Wow… I don’t think this was planned.  He was preaching to the people!  He said he could remember four generations back and has four generations forward now of family.  All of his extended family were gone, but he was still alive for a purpose. 

He shared of how we all have a purpose in living.  He said…“We will all die some day.  It’s going to happen.  But God has a plan for us.  God knows the number of hairs on our heads and He cares about us.”  He encouraged those there to choose God and ask Him into their lives.  It was awesome!  Some listened intently while others were distracted or ignored his heart felt words.

It was a divine appointment!  An eighty-nine year old father took his moment to shine for God to impact his generation.  That just shows we are never too old to be used by God.  He was a radical dad!  I thanked him later for his obedience to God.  He took the opportunity to obey God and he will never know how many people were touched that day.

I learned a long time ago that if I feel God leading me to do something that I need to obey.  I may never know the impact my obedience could make on the life of another.  When we share the good news of God’s love with others, seeds are planted deep within their hearts.  Some day those seeds will be harvested into changed lives.

Take a lesson from this “Radical Dad” today and learn to listen to God, obey His leading, and be available to help bring people to know Him.  Your life will never be the same and neither will theirs!

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feed Your Spirit

Summer break has officially begun.  Yesterday my boys were home from school and so was I.  My husband’s truck broke down, so instead of getting up with him at 4:30 a.m. to take him to work, I stayed home.   The boys slept in and we took our time getting around.  One important priority of the day for me was to have some God-time with them.  It is a time where we can spend talking to God and reading his word… the Bible.

My husband and I have been trying to teach the boys at a young age how important it is to feed your spirit daily.  Everyone focuses so much on feeding their bellies that they forget about their spirits.  Each time we read the Bible and talk to God it helps us to grow inside.  When we neglect this important element of our walks with God, we starve ourselves spiritually.  Eventually we can begin to die inside.

It says in Matthew 4:4
“People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (NLT)

We want the boys to have their own relationships with God.  They can’t live on our faith alone forever.  A personal relationship with God is just that… personal.  We want them to experience God for themselves.  We have given the boys tools to help them grow in their walk with God.  They have Bibles that are easy for them to understand and we encourage them to read them.  We also try to carve out time to make it happen.  Kids have good intentions, but they don’t manage their time well (or maybe it’s only my kids that struggle with this). 

We don’t want our boys to just know about God, we want them to know Him personally.  We pray with our boys every night and give them opportunities to pray and talk to God too.  They pray for us, the food, the day, and one is even the chaplain of sorts for their Boy Scout Troop.  But talking to God goes beyond saying a simple prayer, it’s communicating with Him daily.  It’s sharing the good and the bad.  It’s talking to God like you would a best friend.  We encourage the boys to seek out special time to be alone and talk with God daily.  We know if they will draw closer to God on their own that they will experience Him for themselves.

James 4:8 says…
“Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you…” (NLT)

Yesterday I decided to help the boys facilitate time with God.  We met in their room and I had each of them ready with their Bibles and instruments.  My oldest is learning to play the keyboard and my youngest is learning the guitar.  I decided since they both each knew one song pretty well that they could lead us out in that particular song for a worship time with God.  Gavyn played “How He Loves” and Trey did “God is Able.”  It was amazing.  They did such an awesome job!  It touched my heart to hear them sing and play for God… such sweet, tender hearts hungry for God.

After we finished singing I had each of them read part of a chapter in the Bible and then we prayed.  It was a simple, yet powerful way to start the day.  I want them to learn that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but feeding our spirits is important.  It builds us up on the inside and makes us stronger, so we are ready for whatever may come our way that day.

When we neglect to feed ourselves spiritually we become weaker by the day and when Satan comes to attack, we are defenseless against him.  Learning to feed our spirits and help others do the same is a process.  I remember the long process of teaching my children to eat by themselves unassisted.  They were messy and uncoordinated, but eventually they figured it out.  I couldn’t spoon feed them meals forever.  Eventually they would have to grow up and learn to do it on their own. 

The same is true with feeding our spirits.  Our children, spouses, friends, and family have to learn to feed themselves spiritually on their own.  One Sunday morning message from a minister at church isn’t enough to last us all week spiritually.  Would one big buffet dinner one day a week keep our bellies full all week long?  I don’t think so!  We need to feed our spirits daily!  Our faith needs to rub off onto others so much so that they want to grow their own.  I feel at times like a mother bird watching my babies jump out of the nest and learn to fly.  It can be painful, but that’s how they learn and grow.

You may be reading this and you are at a place where you don’t even know God or maybe it’s been awhile since you have been close to Him.  I encourage you to draw close to God and experience Him for yourself.  There is more to God than you realize.  He is alive and real and you can know Him personally.  I encourage you to get a Bible and start reading in the book of John (the story of Jesus).  Learn about God and start to talk to Him.  Share with Him the good, bad, and ugly of your life.  I think you might be surprised at what happens.  I am available and ready to talk with you anytime.  Send me an e-mail and I would love to share with you my story.  I’m excited to see what God has in store for YOU!

If you have a relationship with God, then it’s time to get busy.  Think about it!  Who are you helping grow in God?  If you can’t think of anyone, perhaps it is time to get creative.  You need to find a place to use your giftings to help others grow.  It could be a children’s ministry, youth ministry, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or prison.  The list is endless.  God has the perfect fit for you to pour into others and help them grow.  As you begin to pray and pursue God in this area, He will reveal to you where you need to be.  You will be impacting your world for God one heart at a time!

Feed your spirit today and find someone else to teach to do the same.   But don’t stop there… teach them to find someone else to teach as well.  It’s a domino effect of growing in God!  Simple truths, but they bring powerful results when applied to our lives.

Living to leave a legacy,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"A Focused Heart"

I came across a message I shared with a group of college students almost ten years ago that still speaks volumes today.  I thought it was worth sharing again.  Be blessed as you read.

(Let’s look at someone who had a heart completely devoted to God)

Luke 10:38-42 says…
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)

How can we have a “Mary Heart” in a “Martha World?”

1.  Quiet your Spirit

Martha was all wrapped up in doing “things.”  She was distracted and not fully focused on Jesus.

Some times we can get distracted by being “too busy” doing… attending church activities, family obligations, work functions, hobbies, etc… We may not be doing things that are necessarily bad, but we are missing the point of taking time to be with JESUS!

Mary set everything aside to give her complete attention to Jesus.  Nothing else was more important to her at that moment.  We can take a lesson from Mary.  When Jesus is there, give Him all of your attention!  Nothing else matters!

How can we have a “Mary Heart” in a “Martha World?”

2.      Be content with “Just Jesus”

Mary didn’t want to be anywhere else or with anyone else, she was content with just Jesus.

Martha thought doing something for Jesus was just as important as being with Jesus.  But she missed the boat.  Jesus was the main course and nothing else really mattered.  Their spirits needed food more than their bodies or flesh did.

Mary recognized her need for more and sat at Jesus feet.  She wanted to be as close as she could get to Him so she wouldn’t miss a thing. She soaked in His presence taking it all in, hanging on His every word.

Being content with “Just Jesus” is hard.  It’s easy when you are single because He is all you’ve got, but when you add a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, and then kids, it gets even harder.  But the question you need to ask yourself is:  If everything in my life was stripped away from me, would I still be content with Just Jesus.  That is the place He wants us to live daily.

How can we have a “Mary Heart” in a “Martha World?”

3.      Throw out YOUR agenda

We all have our own idea of how we think things should go in certain situations, but we’ve got to throw our agenda out the window when it comes to being with Jesus.

Jesus just wants to be with us… what happens after that is a surprise.

Martha couldn’t let go of her preparations that in the long run wouldn’t even matter tomorrow.

Mary let everything go.  Whatever she had planned she set aside to be with Jesus.  She gave Him her complete attention and it changed her.

Sticking to “our agenda” can get in the way when it comes to our relationship with God.  If we do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always gotten and no more.

BUT, if we do what we’ve never done, we are going to experience
God in ways we never have before!

How can we have a “Mary Heart” in a “Martha World?”

4.      Seize the Moment

We need to seize the moment when it comes to moments of intimacy with Jesus.  There may never be another opportunity like today to experience Jesus in this way. 

Mary took advantage of every moment she had with Jesus.  She expressed extravagant love in extravagant ways.  She wasn’t in a hurry!  She was on His schedule and stepped into His flow for her life.

John 12:3 says… “Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.” (NLT)

For a whole day I’m sure wherever she or Jesus went, people associated them together by the smell of the beautiful fragrance that was soaked into them.  What an awesome picture!  We should smell of the fragrance of Christ each time we are with Him.  Others should notice and associate us together.  They should see evidence of our time spent together shining through us without us ever saying a word.

How can we have a “Mary Heart” in a “Martha World?”  Focus your heart on what is really important.  Think about it.  What are you wasting your time on?  What is making you too busy to be with Jesus?  Seize the moments you have to be with Him.  It could change the whole course of your day and maybe even your life!

Living to leave a legacy,