Saturday, August 30, 2008

The catchphrase “It’s not about me” has become quite popular in our current world today. What does that phrase mean to you in your personal life? Explain.

I first read that phrase in Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." It has caught on and I'm glad. The phrase it's not about me takes focus off me and drives me to focus on others. It's forced me to focus more on Christ, of course, but I have taken it also to personally to adapt to life circumstances.
When I'm mistreated, I try to consider what the other person is going through. For example, at McAlister's one day the waitress was in a horrible mood, I thought, and was taking it out on me. My gut instinct was to take it personally and I briefly considered calling the manager and telling him how rudely I had been treated when I got back home. Instead, I asked, "Are you not feeling well today?" You would have thought I'd lifted a 10 lb. brick off her chest. She emotionally unloaded on me. They had been busy for several hours straight, she hadn't had a break, some customers had been rude to her and she was extremely tired. After she spilled her guts and got some words of empathy and encouragement from me, she perked up and life was good again. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I don't take it personally. I am sure they weren't sitting there thinking, "Okay, here comes Laurie Ann in that Kia again. I am not letting her over no matter what!" No, they probably didn't even see me or they're just in a bigger hurry than I am to get somewhere. That's fine. Gives me more time to get where I'm going safely.
Other times, when I'm recognized at work or lauded by kind words and rewards, I thank people but make sure they know it's Christ working in me. Without Him, there would be no "me" to do the things I do. I also make sure others who have helped me are recognized first and foremost.
Life is not about me. Not about me at all.
God deserves all recognition and honor and praise. He deserves to be the one being praised and talked about. I'm just me. And it's so not about me at all.

I love this piece of Scripture, describing Christ...

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! ` Philippians 2:6-8

Christ knew what it was to make Himself nothing and be a servant to others. That's how I want to be. Just live to reflect God's glory. Nothing for myself. It's Him we're going to be glorifying when we get to Heaven anyway. We may as well get our practice in here on earth.

Please visit Cafe Chat to participate in this meme and read what the others have to say.

Gustav is in the Gulf

He's a Category 4 hurricane now and mandatory evacuations have begun in some of the areas expected to be hit. Unless he turns and heads more toward Mississippi (where I live), it looks like Louisiana and Texas are in for it.

We are as prepared as we can be. We have plenty of everything we should need. We expect more rain and tornadoes than anything else. My heart aches for those on the coast who are going through the evacuation process. When Katrina hit I worked in a Red Cross shelter our church had set up in our family life center. It wasn't home, but it was comfortable. Many had no homes to go back to. It was a sad sad time watching the concern of the people there, especially those who had relatives who had opted to stay and ride it out. Many who did stay last time have said they won't do it again. Who can blame them?

I would pack up what I could (including animals, important papers, pictures, as many books as I could - yeah, I'm like that, but we have room since there are no kiddos to pack) and head inland.

Homes are replaceable, lives are not. As far inland as I am, 2.5 hours, I have felt the ravages of the wind and rain and gone through the power outages, etc. I just can't imagine staying in harms way, but many do. Why is that? What are they thinking? I'm sincerely asking, not putting down anyone who chooses to stay...I know the methods of transportation are there for those who cannot afford it. They took school buses from our state, and I'm sure others, down today and had trains ready to take people out. I just can't wrap my head around it and was wondering what some of your thoughts were.

What's a home, really? What are you staying for when you choose not to evacuate when you know in advance that a major storm is headed your way? Would you stay? Why or why not? If you had a day to pack, what would you carry with you if you chose to leave?

Friday, August 29, 2008


Click on the above link to find out more about the Fall Giveaways...

Prayers & Praises

Update: Steve's dad is in ICU. He has sleep apnea and had some breathing issues. The surgery went well. It was difficult to do because it should have been done 6 months ago. He had a knee replacement about 15 years ago and it just gave out. This one should last the rest of his life. Projections are that he will be out of ICU by noon tomorrow and into a room, then home Sunday afternoon. Too soon, IMO, to go home, but what do I know, LOL.....Also, the projected path of Gustav has changed and looks like MS may just get some strong winds and rain, a tornado or three may pop up. We are stocked up just in case it changes it's mind and have plenty of gas in the vehicles. We are so far inland that we won't have to evacuate - our potential problems are power loss, wind damage, etc. Like I said the other day, though, I am praying for God to still the storm to a whisper!
Steve's dad is scheduled for a knee-replacement surgery today. This is a fairly routine operation most of the time, but in this case there is a lot of concern because of the heart problems Steve's dad has. Please pray that he will do well for the surgery and that his recovery will go well. We are praying specifically that he does not have any heart complications and that he recovers from the anesthesia well. He's 72. His mom is not in the best of health. February 14 of this year she went in for a routine endoscopy and her esophagus was punctured from the procedure. She spent several days in ICU on a ventilator and has still not fully recovered from the operation she underwent to repair the hole and issues it caused with lung problems, etc. Please also pray that she does fine in caring for him. He was a trooper throughout her ordeal. They still love each other today as tenderly and sweet as they did when they married over 45 years ago. It's amazing to see their love for each other as active as it is through the way they speak to each other and the things they do for each other. It's a true inspiration to me. We will be with them tomorow and are hoping and praying for the best! We know God is able and are trusting that He will guide the surgeon and caregivers in giving Mr. P. the best care.

Many have prayed for my nephew Ethan's eye. I have good news. My sister is noticing improvement! He goes to the opthamologist Wednesday. He turned a whole week old Tuesday this week.

My grandson is celebrating his first year of life yesterday. He turned 1 at 3:14 p.m. It hardly seems like a year ago that he was born. He's stolen my heart! I love him so much and am so grateful God has provided such a sweet sweet baby for my bonus daughter and son-in-law. We praise God that he's so healthy and strong now. His birthday party will be a pool party held at our house Saturday. We're ready, as long as Steve's dad is doing well and we are praying the weather cooperates, as is forecasted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." ~ Psalm 107:28-30 (Emphasis, mine)

I live about 2.5 hours inland in Mississippi. For those of you who might not know, Gustav is a tropical storm that is projected to become a category 3 hurricane in the Gulf early Sunday. It's a little early to tell, but projections for landfall have it heading more toward N'Awlins (that's New Orleans to those who don't speak Southern), which we are also about 2.5 hours from.

This week, I am thankful that God is ABLE to still Gustav to a whisper, if He so chooses. My full confidence is in God. I know that He will do His will, and although I am praying hard that the storm does turn to a whisper, I am waiting with anticipation to see how He, in His sovreignty, will act.

I am also thankful for the lessons Hurricane Katrina taught me. I will be better prepared at home in case we do have power outages and aren't able to get many places easily. I will have full tanks of gas in every car, more ready-to-eat food at home, and not complain when I have to sleep outside on air mattresses under the carport because it is so hot in the house.

Because we had no power, we had no idea of the devastation sustained down on the coast. We saw some of it on our way to check on some family members an hour south of us, but we really had no clue. And I complained, I grumbled, I moaned and whined. I was hot! Hot, I tell you! Miserable. But I had a home to live in, I had my loved ones around me, I was safe. I have learned not to complain.

I'm also thankful for the little things in life that we sometimes take for granted...air conditioning, ice, gasoline, a cold deep freezer, electricity, clean water, cold sweet tea, shelter from storms in a sturdy home...I could go on and on.

I'm mostly thankful this week for the complete trust I have in God, knowing that He is able and He can do the impossible.

"Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

~ Luke 18:27 ~

Please join me in praying that He does the impossible with this storm. Pray the storm fizzles and doesn't build up strength in the Gulf. Most of all, pray that God's will be done, and if He chooses not to still the storm, that He will provide for those in its path.

Finally, please visit Iris, the hostess of Thankful Thursday to read what the she and other participants are thankful for this week. I hope you'll participate, too!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

Acknowledging Christ as Lord is something we will all do one day. I rejoice in that and used to wonder if it would be something we would do individually or collectively. I acknowledge Him as Lord each time I pray, but what a privelege it would be to bow with everyone on earth and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, all to the glory of God!
Can you imagine? Not only Christians, but people who have mocked or denied God, finally acknowledging Him as Lord? Oh, the glory that will be brought to God to see His precious Son honored! My heart breaks each time I see Christ mocked or denied. I am not smug when I say that I'm looking forward to the day when I see Christ acknowledged as Lord, but humbled at the thought of what it will be like for those who have scorned Him.
Somehow, someway, we need to reach and reason with people and take every opportunity we can to witness to them before it is too late.
Witnessing is not one of my strong suits. But reaching out to others doesn't have to be about knocking on doors and going down the Romans Road of Salvation with them, although that's a good thing, if that's your gift!
R - remember to pray for others.
E - encourage others by your daily walk with the Lord.
A - accept the opportunities God places before you to share Him.
C - care deeply and passionately for the lost.
H - help others in any way you can - even the small ways count!
O - open your eyes to see those who need the Lord.
U - utter His Word to them through song, prayer, a card, or a note.
T - talk with them - converse about *your* relationship with the Lord.
We just have to be on the lookout and be willing to reach out. Will I be able to say I never let an opportunity pass me by?
I will reach out to others more and more, realizing that I'd rather be confessing You as Lord with fellow Christians than non-believers who I had the opportunity to share You with but never did. May I never miss an opportunity to share my faith in ways that please You and honor You. May you give me the words to say and the grace to live this life so that others may come to a saving knowledge of You through me. May I be willing, Lord, to reach out.

WFW is hosted by Amydeanne each Wednesday. Please visit her and also the other ladies who have posted. You will be blessed, indeed!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In "Other" Words - Give Me a Hand

“Dear Lord, I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me
some high work of thine, some noble calling or
some wondrous task.
Give me a little hand to hold in mine.”

"Sarai was barren; she had no children." - Genesis 11:30

We know how God blessed Abraham & Sarah with Isaac...

"Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant." - Genesis 25:21

We know the answer to Isaac's prayer. God blessed Isaac & Rebekah with Jacob and Esau.

"When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren." - Genesis 29:31

She and Jacob had lots of children. Rachel did not stay barren but went on to mother Joseph and Benjamin.

Hannah had Samuel, David's wife Bathsheba went onto have a son Solomon, even after they had lost one, Elizabeth had John, and on it goes.....

So why didn't God answer my prayer? Was I not contrite enough? Did I not pray enough? Was it not worthy? Not mommy material?

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21

I may never know why God didn't answer my prayer, but I knew from the moment I began trying to conceive that I had to trust God's plans, and I knew He loved me. And when I heard the words, "I'm sorry, it's infertility," I prayed. Hard. More. I committed my life to serving Him and seeking His will, and trusted that He would provide for me and not forsake me.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." - Psalm 9:10

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13

I was living the life of the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Well, I wasn't a widow, but I knocked on God's door faithfully every morning. For 8 years straight.

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:1-6

I thought surely God must be tired of me praying the same prayer. Did He even hear me? Yes. A thousand times, yes! He heard! He cared. I remained faithful in prayer just as that persistent widow did to the unjust judge. Praise God that He is just! He cares. He loves. He hears.

"but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." - Psalm 66:19

And then we conceived and I miscarried.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

And then He answered.

"He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD." - Psalm 113:9

I have praised the Lord for hearing my prayers through the years, for settling me in my home, for blessing me with children, though they were not children of my womb. I have a bonus daughter, whom I raised from the age of 6 to 20, a grandson who is almost 1, another grandson on the way, a nephew who is a week old today, and a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends I have seen grow up from 0 to now. He has settled me, indeed! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

I wanted all God had to give me, and in being willing to accept it, I have received more than I ever could have dreamed to have asked for.

My soul is satisfied. God's will was okay with me. Why? Because although each and every time I prayed, "...Give me a little hand to hold in mine." I added, "But your will be done, not mine, Lord." And I meant it. It's good to be centered in God's will. It's humbling, it's a privelege, and it just feels "settling".

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - John 10:10

Those are the words of Christ. He has given me a very full life.

I don't feel barren anymore.

Our hostess this week is Nina at Mama's Little Treasure's. Please stop by her blog and see the different "other words" these women have shared on this quote.

Award Day

Jen, at Reflections in the Window, has bestowed upon me 2 awards and said some really nice things about my blog in this Monday's At The Well post's comment.

From Jen

From Jen

Blog awards are nice. They let you know that you're really making a difference with your blog. When I write, I write what's on my heart. My dream is to write for God, devotionals, I think, and while I am in the baby stages of that dream and really don't know where God is going with this dream He has laid on my heart, I do know that I absolutely love blogging.

I love the serious meme's throughout the week that inspire me to bear my soul and hopefully encourage someone along the way. If I can bring one person closer to Christ or even to Christ with a post, then my dream is fulfilled, because my heart beats to glorify God. That's all I want to do. Live in His will, walk in His will, serve Him wholeheartedly.

I see others doing this and it means so much to me. They are miles ahead of where I want to be and I really look up to them and admire their walk with Christ and their writing.

I'm going to pick everyone who reads and comments on this post to share these awards with.

Share the love with others. God bless you!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I love the topic of conversation At the Well this morning. We're talking about Worship. I have enjoyed sitting back, taking in the encouragement, wisdom and inspiration from everyone who's shared so far, and look forward to reading more.

Everyone's thoughts on worship have been great. I long to stay faithful in worship.

As Chelsey shared with us, worship, as a verb, means to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power and to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion

Why do we worship God? We are wired to worship the One who created us.

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under His care." - Psalm 95:6-7 (Emphasis mine)

How do we worship God? We worship God with a heart that is full of reverence and awe as well as a heart that expresses praise and joyful songs.

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:28-29

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." - Psalm 100:1-2

When do we worship God? We worship God continually.

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." - Hebrews 13:15-16 (Emphasis mine)

Laura Lee asked, "What do you do or think you should do at the start of each day to prepare your heart and mind as a woman living a life of worship?"

Personal prayer time for me is important, including committing my heart, mind, words and actions to glorifying God is so imporant to me.

Psalm 51:10 is a verse I pray at the beginning of each day. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Also, reading His Word each morning is key. It sets the tone for my whole day. I always read something that is relevant to helping me in the day ahead.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Emphasis Mine)

Throw in a good praise and worship song heard on the drive in to work and I am good to go!

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." - Psalm 95:1-2

Do I always do this? No, and I tell you that on the days that I don't, I struggle.

Laura Lee also asked, "If you were to gather at the well with women younger than you in the faith, what would your call to worship be for them?"

My response: I would say, "Be still before the Lord. True worship will come to you."

Laura Lee's Bonus Question: Do any songs come to your mind when you think of living a life of worship?

I forgot about the song part when I was posting. Mine would be Agnus Dei by Third Day. Just so full of praise and worship and it's what my heart beats to do. It's my goal in life for everything I do.

Thanks for stopping by At the Well today. Join our host, Laura Lee, and visit with the other ladies standing around talking.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Prayer Request for Baby Ethan

My sister had her son on Tuesday, August 19. He is a healthy baby boy and is eating, burping, sleeping, tinkling and pooping just fine, you know, the things most 3 day old babies do, I guess.

I just got back home from a visit with him. He is adorable. He sucks down a bottle like he's just sure it's the last one he's ever going to get. It's a sight to see! Mother is sleeping over and gets up with him at night, cooking supper for Jenn and doing all the things doting grandmothers do for their daughters. She fixed a great supper tonight.

But this is not about that.
Ethan was born with a birth defect. I have a strong dislike for that phrase, but it is what it is. It's called coloboma, I believe. It's like his pupil is running down into the colored part of his eye. It's only in his left eye. The right eye is normal.
It looks something like this, only picture a baby with it...

Ethan's is almost exactly like that, only it's his left eye. I was looking at him tonight and you'd really have to know it's there to notice it. Jennifer and Nathan are handling it well. They are concerned, of course, but know that God will use this for His glory somehow someway. The doctor they saw in the hospital said worst case scenario, he'll have to wear glasses as a child and will have vision problems. Yay!!!! It could be much worse and we are grateful that it's not more serious. This is a hereditary defect and not something Jenn did that caused this. I was glad he assured her of that, because I knew it might be in the back of her mind...
Ethan goes to a pediatric opthamologist in 2 weeks and he's the best in the state. I saw him years ago when he treated me for a viral eye infection and my doctor had gone out of town - he referred me and this man met me before church on a Sunday morning to debris my eye! He's a fine Christian man, I do know that, and we have full confidence in him as a doctor. He is the best.
However, God is better than the best, and can heal any vision problems Ethan may suffer as a result of this. My prayer is that this will clear up before he even goes to the doctor. If God chooses not to allow that to happen, I pray He will direct Dr. M. in treating Ethan and that Ethan will have no major long term problems with his vision. Most of all, I praise God for the health of this precious baby boy and the gift of life He has blessed Jenn & Nathan with. Each little life is a miracle.
Please join me in praying that Ethan will be healed of this eye defect and that Dr. M. would be directed by God in treating him if God chooses not to heal Ethan. I know He can heal him, but sometimes His ways are not our ways and all that. We want God's will to be done for Ethan, nothing more, nothing less. Please entrust with me Ethan's welfare into the hands of the Great Physician if you will.
Thank you so much...

Twinkle Mom of Sunflower Faith has so humbly made my afternoon! She has passed along an award she received from Rebecca.

Twinkle Mom is super sweet. I love her to death and first got to know her through a yahoo group. She re-introduced me to blogging a few months back and I haven't stopped since. She is one person who inspires you to walk closer to God just by watching her in her own walk with our precious Savior. She also says really nice things about those to whom she passed this award to. She's a dearheart.

I'm going to pass this award on to 3 women who have truly inspired me in their blogs. All three women have a close walk with the Lord and are just truly sweet and special friends.

Lea at the Shabby Olde Potting Shed

Chelsey at Joyfully Living for His Glory

Lori at All You Have to Give

Chapters Twelve and Thirteen

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith Bible Study

Chapter 12 - Learning to Lead

The title scared me. Me, a leader? Yuh-huh!

Then I kept reading.

Lysa wrote, "As we seek to believe God like never before, we will set an example for others to follow. I never pictured myself as a leader until God revealed to me that like it or not, people were watching and modeling my life." I want to set a good example for others. It's so funny how we don't realize the influence we have on others or are aware that they are even watching us. Case in point: I work in a 15 story building. One afternoon, on the elevator, a friend got off on another floor and said bye and called my name. I heard a voice call out on the packed elevator, "So you're Laurie Ann! I talk to you on the phone all the time!" As we walked off the elevator together, she went on to say how she had seen me in the building and admired me because I was always speaking to everyone and was always consistently nice to people. (People are my heart and I have to be nice to them!! Who couldn't use a smile and a friendly how are you sometimes?) But then I began to wonder, had she ever seen me on my worst days? Days where fibro keeps me just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other on the long walk from the garage to the elevators? Days where my head hurt so bad the ding of the elevator made me wince? How am I on those days? Do I speak to others and am I friendly, modeling good behavior? I must have been on some level. I am conscious of it now. Very very conscious. People watch the way we live and we need to be sure we area walking worthy of people saying, "That's God's daughter! I know her!"

Lysa talked about actions and reactions, also. She mentioned, "The way to be a good leader is for your actions to be reflective of God reigning inside you. But to be a great leader is for your reactions to be reflective of God reigning inside you. Did you catch that? Your reactions are key. We can easily choose to act obediently to the Lord and honor others in times of less stress." That's good preaching, Lysa!! Our reactions are key. How do we react in times of major stresses? When my earthly father shows up, the anxiety comes out in me and I don't model good behavior. When I'm given 5 projects at once and they're all due "now", my hair somehow gets messed up because my hands run through it a million times. That must change.

Lysa says, "Nothing will make God so real to you as seeing Him change your character. Not change who you are - your personality, your strengths, and your abilities - but how you are - your character." God change me! Help me be consistent and not act on emotion. Make my character disappear and Your appear and shine before everyone.

"However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Chapter Thirteen - Death Does Not Mean Defeat

That was encouraging! The first thing this title made me think about was the victory gained from the death of Christ, which certainly did not end in defeat!

Lysa writes, "Death brings about a new life that can't be found any other way. Indeed, death does not mean defeat." Isn't that a comforting thought? As Lysa said, some things that happen are not a death of sorts but are victories in disguise.

She also wrote, "The very things that feel like death are really a birth of something so much better." Have you ever had a dream just die what seemed like a horrible death, only to find that God had a purpose in the pain and whether or not you could see what He had for you on down the line or not, you knew it held promise? I did. When I had trouble conceiving I thought that was the death of a dream. The birth that came was something so much better - a closer walk with God in prayer. I prayed faithfully for 8 years and although I initially prayed for fertility and a healthy baby, I used that prayer time also for others. I discovered prayer with God in a whole new way. I grew closer to God, was a happier person, had my eyes opened to all sorts of things around me, and most of all, became burdened for someone other than myself.

Lysa also wrote, "The children of Israel were led by God, not on the shortest route but rather the ordained route." Which route would you rather travel? I'd go the route with God every time. God's ordained route for me in my dream of old was not the most easy road to travel, but it was His best for me. I had only to look up and there He was. He walked beside me every step of the way, and is still with me today, even though He has changed dreams for me. Lysa continued, "God has not only defeated death but is providing victory through it. This is not your defeat; it is your valley in the shadow of the mountain your soul longs to climb - a mountain of greater faith and closer intimacy with God than you ever thought possible." While I no longer dream to be a mother, I dream to be a writer of devotions. This dream has also expanded to include God's will for me, that whatever He inspires me to write would encourage others. I love my dream because I feel it is His dream for me. I have a lot to learn, a lot to work on and a mighty God pushing me up a path of greater intimacy with Him as I surrender my dream to Him.

I love the verse Lysa shared in this section.

Psalm 16:8-11 - "I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

How beautiful is that verse?!? What a mighty promise it holds.

Lysa writes, "When you die, your body will go to the grave, but you can rest assured that with God your soul will never taste defeat." Amen!

In the personal Bible study section, Lysa encouraged us to pray Ephesians 3:20-21.

Father God, You are able to do immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine, according to Your power that is constantly at work within me. I give You alll glory and honor and praise through Christ Jesus my Lord, for years and years to come! Amen.

In closing, a verse Lysa shared describes my God. I praise Him forever for it!

Jeremiah 23:23-24 - "Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.

God is not only aware of but is in the midst of every death we face. I praise Him that as I learn to walk in faith with Him that each step brings me closer to Him and moves me to learn more about His precious character and how much He truly does love me. I rejoice that my dreams will be fulfilled one day, and pray that they are for His glory and never for my own. Like Jesus, I want do the Father's will.

What I loved most about this chapter was being reminded that death does not end in defeat!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I’m back! I have been stalking hanging around the hospital, anticipating the birth of and then holding Ethan and spending time with family. I love my new nephew. I have really been spotty on commenting on everyone’s blogs but life is returning to normal and I’ll be back to normal starting tomorrow! I cannot wait! I’ve missed all ya’ll! Now, on to Thankful Thursday!

Oh, the joys of Thankful Thursday!

Iris chose Peace as the theme for Thankful Thursday.

“There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” ~ Psalm 4:6-8 (ESV ~ emphasis Iris')

I am so thankful for God's peace. I have finally felt some peace tonight from a very hectic week. A flurry of emotions has sent me craving God's peace, the gift He promises us.

This week I want to focus on one thing that has brought me peace. For the last 10 years, I have prayed that God would allow Jennifer, my beloved sister, to be able to have children. My prayer has been that she would be fertile and that whomever God chose as her husband also would be. I was not, so this was something that really tugged at my heart strings to pray for her specifically about, primarily because we are so much alike in the other health problems we have faced.

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him." Although this was Hannah's prayer in I Samuel 1:27, I have praised God and made it my own. Yesterday God gave me the peace that passes all understanding in fulfilling my heart's desire.

I'm a bona-fide Aunt! Ethan Randall Johnson was born 8/19/2008, 9:33 a.m., 7 lbs., 15 oz., 20 1/4" long. He's simply a miracle and is peace personafied.

God has filled me with peace this week, peace that Jenn's C-Section would be overseen by God, peace that Ethan would be born healthy, and peace that God would help me deal with some anxiety issues surrounding the birth event.

I am so thankful, so awed that God has chosen to bless us with this miracle of life. A tiny bundle of joy just brings peace to my heart when I think of him and of Him.

When I focus on my own problems and the things of this world and people in this world who really make the fruit of peace and patience hard to bear, I am crippled inside. When I focus on God and the miracles He provides, the calmness and serenity of knowing that He truly has us in His hand, that He truly loves us and has *everything* under control, the things of this world grow dim and I just feel the true definition of peace, as Iris said, "from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions."

Abba God, I thank you so much that You are my true Father, that You will truly keep me in perfect peace and will deliver me from disquieting and oppressive emotions. Thank You for holding me in the palm of Your precious hand, for sending Your Son to bridge the gap between us, and for loving me. Thank You for having a perfect plan for my life, and for giving me the peace that passes all understanding when it was *so* not the plan I had for me. Thank You for the health of Jenn Jenn and Ethan. I am reminded of when she was born and that You truly are the giver of life. Thank You for Jennifer and her husband Nathan. Thank You for answering my prayer for the fertility of my sister and her husband, for giving me peace all these years that no matter what, You were ultimately going to impart Your good and perfect will for her. I praise You for the peace of having this prayer answered. I can lie down and sleep in peace tonight because I know You are here among us through Your Holy Spirit, not in some far off galaxy where You are unreachable. Thank You for Thankful Thursday, Lord. Please bless Iris for hosting this meme each week, Father. You know how much this has meant to me, how I can pour out my heart in gratitude to You and hopefully encourage others to do the same. Please keep me in Your will and in Your peace. Pull me back when anxiety in the form of my earthly father or in the form of emotions from the pain of the past threaten to suck me under. I know You are always willing to draw me back and I pray my arms are always outstretched, ready to take Your hand when I go astray. Thank you for friends who understand where I've been and do not judge me for my tears. Most of all, Lord, bless the child You have given to Jenn and Nathan, and help him to grow up to be a man after Your own heart. In Jesus' name I pray..."

I will sleep far better tonight, wrapped in the arms of God's peace and love.

It is my heartfelt desire that you'll visit Iris' site and join in on Thankful Thursday. It is a blessing, indeed!

One WFW, I began a Fruit of the Spirit theme. My first post started with the verse, and each week I have been led to post one on each fruit. I have posted on love, joy and peace. This week's fruit is patience.

All my life I was told not to pray for patience, because if I did, then God would give me something to be patient about. Now that I think back on it, I find it funny. If we prayed for rain, would God send a hurricane? If we prayed for just enough to get through to the end of the month, would a man show up at our door with a bill we owed from 54 years ago, demanding payment now? It could happen but it's not likely. That's not my God. I cannot imagine that God would "teach us a lesson" just praying for patience. After all, it's a fruit of the Spirit! That means it's a good thing to have!

I looked up patience in the and found that it's original greek word is "makroqumiva" and learned that it's a compound word, made by combining the word "makro", which means long, and "thumia", which means anger.

Patience is a hard fruit to cultivate, not only in a world of instant gratification, but also in a world where we may be or feel like we are wronged on a daily basis.

We have a wonderful Model of patience, though.

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." ~ Psalm 86:15
God is patient toward us, and He expects the same from us. We are instructed in Colossians 3:12-13 - "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
How has God been slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness in your life? I know in my own, just merely waiting for me to come to salvation.

How do you see God being patient in this world we live in? Our nation still lives under His blessing of prosperity and He hasn't sent another flood like He did in the days of Noah to make a clean start. That's a good sign!

Finally, how can you clothe yourself in patience when you're walking your walk for Christ?

I read somewhere that patience absorbs irritants without letting them paralyze you. I love that statement!

LIFE Statement's for a More Patient You and Me

L - Love God's people. See them through His eyes as the same child of God you are. Is there a problem that you just don't see a short-term answer to? Love the people dealing with the problem, whether it's your spouse or someone who may owe you money. Pray for them and ask God for a fresh vision of them. Try to love that dog that barks incessantly all night long and find out if he's neglected. Love the one who cuts you off in traffic, take the opportunity to pray for their attitude. The people they go home to will appreciate it!

I - Ignore the need for instant gratification or a feeling of "im"patience that may crop up when you're faced a pressing issue. That's a whole lot easier said than done, but we should try our hardest to walk by faith and not emotion.

F - Feast on God's Word. Read your Bible daily and spend time in prayer with God regarding His Word. He will give you patience to endure the things that are coming up that day, perhaps through something you read in a letter from Paul or from the Psalmist.

E -Evaluate the issues at hand. Consider what others may be going own in their own lives when they cut you off in traffic, step ahead of you in line, or are slow in responding to you. We had a rude waitress the other night and she took her time doing everything. My first instinct was not to tip her. Instead, I said, "Are you not feeling well tonight?" It was as if I had said, "Pull up a chair and tell me your life story!" She unloaded about the stressful day she had and it really put some perspective on why she behaved the way she did. If I had done that sooner rather than later, we'd have had a lot better service sooner! Also, if it's a case of waiting on something you need, do you really need it or desire it? If it's a true need, trust God for the outcome. If it's a desire, pray for God to show you clearly how you should proceed.

Please visit Amydeanne, the host of WFW, to receive a wonderful Wednesday blessing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“Order my steps, in Your word
Order my tongue, in Your word
Guide my feet, in Your word
Wash my heart, in Your word
Show me how to walk, in Your word
Show me how to talk, in Your word.
I want to walk worthy, my calling to fulfill
Please order my steps, Lord, and I’ll do Your blessed will
The world is ever changing, but You are still the sameIf
You order my steps, I’ll praise Your name.
~A hymn by Glen Burleigh~

I love the quote chosen by
Lori at All You Have to Give. It's from a beautiful hymn. Visit her site and be sure and be blessed by her encouraging and inspiring post, as well as visiting others who have posted for In "Other" Word's Tuesday.

My first thoughts on this were of the Bible. God has ordered through His Word our every step.

John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

Proverbs 14:15 - "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."

Proverbs 16:9 - "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Proverbs 20:24 - "A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?"

May these words be my hymn today and throughout the rest of my life! God has ordered our steps, but we, as humans, try to plot our own course. When we do, we fail. We simply do not glorify God.

GHe wants us to remain in His Word and in Him. If we do, our steps will surely never fail. What more could I say?

Monday, August 18, 2008

At the Well

This week's At the Well topic is Sweet Talk, and is hosted by Cindy Beall.

How do you talk about your husband? Do you build him up or tear him down?

I love the verse Cindy shared.

We should always be our husband's biggest fan, especially in his hearing. We need to build him up and speak positively about him to others. Not only is it a directive from God, but it's an esteem booster for our men.

I learned this lesson the hard way. A long time ago, I used my mother and sister as a sounding board for everything negative in my marriage. Our road was rocky and I said some majorly things I shouldn't have. I nearly lost my relationship with my family because of it. It was so bad that my sister chose not to invite my husband to our marriage. I had a choice to make. How could I attend without him? And holiday events? Oh my!

It took us a long time to get back to the place we were, God was faithful and I learned my lesson. My family now re-adores Steve, and I speak only the good and wholesome things about him, which there mostly are!

My husband is a great guy. He is my knight in shining armor, my best friend, my confidant, my lover, he can fix anything, build anything, and does kind things for me.

My husband is the love of my life, and I want him to be well-liked by everyone. He's a great guy!

A word of warning, never join in on husband-bashing. It can creep into conversations before you know it.

Her: "My man never takes out the trash."
She: "Yeah, well mine leaves the toilet seat up *all* the time!"
I: "What is up with men? Can you believe mine won't even...."
She: "Yeah! I know! Last night my husband said...."
Her: "What a jerk, I asked mine to do the dishes and he said..."

And it is on, my friend.

Instead, build him up. Walk away from conversations where other women begin to tear their men down, unless you intend to offer words of edification and steer the topic back toward the good that our husbands do, which I highly recommend.

Cindy asked: What are some things you can say TODAY to let your spouse and others close to you know that you think the world of them?

Here are just a few of my suggestions...

1. Speak favorably about him and to him. Tell him what you admire about him.

2. Text him or leave him love notes somewhere where he is sure to see them. My friend sent her husband a text the other day that said something to the effect of, "You will be the sexiest man today wherever you go." I thought that was cute! I think she texted him back later and said something like, "Look around....yep, still the sexiest..." I love it!

3. Be quick to say, "Thank you!" for even routine things he does around the house.

4. Tell your children what a great guy Daddy is. Ask them to think up one kind thing to do for him when he gets home because he's Daddy and he deserves it!

It was nice visiting with you At the Well this morning. Please be sure to visit Cindy's blog and share your ideas for how to build up your husband and speak positively about him to others. Also, follow the instructions she has there for the Mr. Linky thingy deal.

Blessings & Love,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

200th Post Celebration Giveaway Winner

Step back, folks, we have a winner!

My post on this week's WFW also included a giveaway of this pitcher.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness," ~ Galatians 5:22

I have *so* enjoyed doing the fruit of the Spirit theme for Word-Filled Wednesday's meme.

It's funny how the Lord led me to do that. My first post started with the verse, and each week I have been led to post one on each fruit. What is God up to? I don't know. I just post what I pray about. I know He's cultivating my garden, and cultivating includes plowing, which is sometimes painful, but the soil must be broken up for the seed to be planted. He's definitely planting the seeds and showing me where I need to work on the fruits I've written about already, which are love, joy and peace. Next week's post will be on patience.

The very scientific process for choosing the winner was almost the way a friend did it on her last giveaway. All the names of those who had left a comment and verse on the 200th post went into an empty box and my husband, who was to draw the winner, konked out on me. That's okay. Wilson and I are still up, and with Wilson's honest eyes watching, I drew (with my eyes closed!) and without further ado, the name chosen is.........

Congratulations, Susan! You bless my heart, sister! Send me your info in a private email to and I'll have the Fruit of the Spirit pitcher on the way to you soon!

Everyone else, check back for other giveaways. I love giving. It makes my heart feel full.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Who are some of your favorite "self-help" authors and speakers?

Paul was such a great encourager to young Timothy. As Paul prepared to die, he left some final instructions for Pastor Timothy. He knew the culture of the day was going cause many to be headed away from wanting to hear the gospel of God, the true conviction story of sin and redemption, and would be moving toward a new age.

I'm concerned that new age has dawned in our society. Which messages would you like to hear?

Develop Your Potential vs. Develop a Relationship With God

The Secret to Financial Prosperity vs. Lessons in Giving: A Widow's Mite

Encourage Yourself vs. Serve as Jesus Served

Your Time is Coming vs. Christ's Return - How Not to be Left

Expect Good Things for Yourself vs. Loving Others as God Loves Them

I'm not a preacher so I could have done better on the sermon titles, but my heart is just heavy over seeing the vision that Paul had come to pass in this world. When I go to church, I want to go to hear the Word (the meat and potatoes), not a motivational speech (dessert). I could go to a conference and get that! I did, not too long ago, and loved it. Now I'm wondering if the too much of a good thing, the dessert, could cause me to stumble. I don't want to do that, so I think I'll lay off on watching him.

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." ~ 1 Timothy 4:1-5

I am all about bettering myself - as long as it's for God's glory and service. I love to read books on how to become a better me by authors who have sound biblical knowledge and teach the true gospel of Christ.

It dawned on me the other day that one who I thought was one of my favorites to watch on television has never preached a sermon that ended with an invitation to know Christ! It may after the show itself ends, but not on television.

Who are some of your favorites to watch, read or listen to?

Some that I know are real are:

Charles Stanley

Lysa TerKeurst and other authors of the Proverbs 31 Ministry

Charles Swindoll

Stormie Omartian

Greg Laurie

Elizabeth George

Who are some of your favorite Christian authors and speakers? I don't want "prosperity gospel", I want "Jesus gospel", if that makes sense.

Wolves in Sheeps Clothing

Sometimes it's just hard to know, so I appreciate your input!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith

Chapters Ten and Eleven

I'm behind....I have been so busy that it's been unreal. I love this study and I'm not behind in my reading, just my posting!

Chapter 10 - Roadblocks and Reassurances was a wonderful chapter. I love the way Lysa starts off, "What exactly are you up to, God?" I have asked that question many times! Yet no matter how many times I run into roadblocks, the reassurances follow.

Lysa wrote: Our spiritual life is very much the same. We must continue to grow and embrace God's plans for the life we've been given. We don't grow by changing the adverse circumstances. We grow by embracing God's plans for the circumstances and allowing Him to have His full way in us. Allow Him to work out kinks and imperfections in the core of your soul. Let Him help you find a perspective beyond your own. Only then can you find incredible peace in the storms of life.

She is so right! Growing and embracing God's plans and allowing Him to work make the roadblocks not seem as huge in our own eyes and it does give us a peace that passes all understanding. I faced a huge roadblock in my life in the summer of 1998. It was not one that I could have changed on my own and my own resistance of it certainly wouldn't have changed the outcome. I had to embrace it and let God help me find a perspective that was certainly beyond my comprehension to understand. I lost the only child I had ever carried. Because I said Yes to God and allowed Him to work in my life, the peace that I had for the journey I was on opened the way for blessings on down the line. No, I never had biological children of my own, but God opened my eyes to let me see the blessing of the children around me, and to conquer the Enemy who tried to fill the core of my soul with doubt. I resisted and God won that victory.

Lysa also wrote: You have His peace because you have His presence. Give your heart permission to grow in fertile soil by making right choices that honor God every step of the way. Take your eyes off the problem and focus on the good and loving God who has great plans for you.

God knows everything that is going to happen in my life - He has known it from before I was born. I pray that I practice the presence of God and of honoring God every step of the way in my life and focus on Him, allowing my heart to be fertile soil for Him to use as He wishes in His dream for me. I believe that He wants me to write devotions. I do not feel called to write a book, I only feel called to right now to just write. He has assured me that He will provide the media for me in His timing and not my own. He has assured me that as long as I honor Him and stay knitted in His precious presence, that He will use my writing for His purposes and not my own. What does that mean exactly? I'm not sure, but I trust God for the outcome and realization of my dream.

This chapter was primarily on trusting God to lead us through the roadblocks in our lives. The Enemy causes our enemies to throw up these roadblocks and speedbumps in our lives, but the choice is ours in how to react to it. Lysa did so by seeking the Lord and by trusting Him. Yes, she was still shaky but she offered her enemy a cup of water. The verse in the personal Bible study section Mark 9:41, really spoke to me, "I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." These are the words of our Savior! My earthly father can be a huge enemy in my life, and in my responses to him (for Christ) I must "give Him water" in God's name. This means that when I am with him all day on Tuesday and he makes cutting and hateful remarks to me, I must measure my responses to him and try to remember that there is more than meets the eye to this man. I will choose to have the attitude Christ mentions above, not only for my sake and my sister's sake, but for the sake of Christ.

Chapter Eleven - God Will Make a Way - don't you just love the promise that the title to this chapter holds?

Lysa wrote, "Yes, we will suffer in this life. Something may be causing you to suffer right now, but the pain has a purpose, and you aren't alone. Jesus is right there with you to comfort you in a way only He can, for He knows what real suffering is like." I have no idea! I cannot compare any kind of suffering on this earth to the suffering Christ endured on the Cross for not only the world but for me! I am humbled and trust that God does have a plan and will never abandon me. I trust His comfort to come just when I need it.

Lysa also wrote, "Yes, indeed, we have no way out except through the blood. This blood-stained path is the way God has made. Through the blood of Jesus we can be saved, we can be healed, we can be taught, and we can be part of an eternal glory that we can't even imagine. Second Corinthians 4:16-17 assures us, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." Can I get an "AMEN!"? Truly!

Lysa also wrote, "I experience Him because I choose to. I make choices every day to look for Him, listen for Him, and acknowledge Him. Even though the world tugs at me to serve many lesser gods, in the depths of my heart, I choose Him." As do I. I have the choice to experience God or just experience day-to-day life, and frankly, experiencing any day in my life without God terrifies me.

Lysa reminds us in the personal Bible study to "Seek God with all of your heart, and don't be satisfied with merely paying lip service to having a relationship with Him." Admit it, we've all been there. We've all had our days where we haven't practiced what we've preached. Lysa is telling us *not to be satisifed with that*. I'm not. I choose this day to live hyper-aware of walking my talk. I may not always be perfect, but I will try. Oh, how I will try. Then His best will shine through for me! And it will for you, too.

Lysa wrote, "We don't need to worry about our abilities or our shortcomings when we know we already have all we need through Jesus." Jesus has already overcome all our shortcomings. HE has our back. Whatever is holding us back we need to do as Lysa recommends and make a list of them and cross them out. What holds you back? What's your fear? Mine is of sounding like a dork. Crossed out. I won't sound like a dork to Him! He loves what I write. Another fear I have is of being excluded because I don't fit in. In His eyes, I am a part of the body of Christ. I fit in no matter how I look! Whatever our fears are, we need to lay them on His altar and leave them there.

And now I'm going to go pray about practicing what I just preached.

Night, all.