Thursday, December 13, 2012

Breath of Heaven

Luke 1:26-38

Breathing is a natural thing.  We've been doing it since we came into this world.  What happens thought, when events or life circumstances stop you in your tracks and suddenly breathing becomes something you have to think about?  I know what that feels like-stress and anxiety and what once was natural feels a little unnatural.  Think about it.  How often do you find yourself stressed and you realize you may have been holding your breath or you're at the doctor's for a checkup and he says, "Breathe naturally".  When I begin to think about it, I can't breathe naturally anymore.  It's funny how breathing, just breathing becomes difficult to do, especially when our world turns upside down.

In Luke 1:28, Gabriel says to Mary, "The Lord is with you," and Mary was greatly troubled.  Imagine being by yourself, quietly involved in something and being visited by an angel.  He tells her something that is beyond anything she has ever dreamed.  She hears the news that she will give birth and Gabriel tells her the baby will be Great, Son of the Most High, and His kingdom will last forever and ever.  I call that life altering, don't you?

Confused, Mary asks, "How can this be?" and Gabriel explains how she will conceive and her response is simple.  Verse 38 says, "I am the Lord's servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."  Such momentous news and such humble acceptance has inspired many over the years to look at Mary in awe and wonder.  How could such a young girl be so mature in her faith.  How amazing she must have woefully inadequate I am in comparison.

Amy Grant's song, Breath of Heaven, is the songwriter's interpretation of Mary's thoughts as she awaits the birth of her son, Jesus.  Here we see someone who is questioning why she was chosen, how she will cope, and what it means for her future.  Look at these words....

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of Heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of Heaven

Yes, Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."  But, that didn't mean she wasn't afraid and that doesn't mean she didn't question her part in God's plan or feel inadequate and unworthy.  We can only imagine her thoughts and her worries since they are not written down for us.  We can put ourselves in her shoes and think how we might have we might have responded.

The song continues....

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am,
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Sometimes our cries to the Lord don't go beyond that.  Help me.  Help me.

Last week, I had news that two of my high school friends have breast cancer.  Got the word on the same day and my heart broke for them and their families.  Their lives are changed and perhaps they are having trouble remembering to breathe right now.  Some of you reading this have had similar conversations with your doctors recently.  News that has cut right to your heart in its immensity and meaning for your future.  Perhaps your response, like Mary's was, "How can this be?"

Gabriel says THIS to Mary in verse 37.  "No word from God will ever fail."  I have read this chapter over and over since I was old enough to read and I don't think I've ever really let those words soak into me before.  "No word from God will ever fail."  The King James version says it this way.  "For with God nothing is impossible."  God keeps his Mary and to us here 2000 years later.  He promises to never leave us and forsake us.  He promises to walk with us through the fire and the floods so we won't be burned and we won't drown.  He promises to be the right hand that holds us up when we can't go on....when we forget how to breathe, HE will be our breath.  Job 33:4 says, "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.  Gabriel says, "No word from God will ever fail."  Ever!

So, as you face your life changing news, whatever it is or is to be, remember the words of Mary and the angel Gabriel and find the hope and the courage to go on.

Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me,
Breath of Heaven

Monday, November 19, 2012

Renewed Health, Renewed Strength, Renewed Faith!

Today's post is by Suzanne VanDyke.

In the spring of 2009 I had just come out of one of the toughest seasons of my life. After struggling through a rare gynecologic cancer, I was finally cancer free! The chemo drugs had worked and I finally felt like I had my body back. I felt like I could be a wife and a mother again without my health holding me back. I also found myself yearning for a way to honor my faith and thank God for bringing me through this trial. This is when God brought Body & Soul fitness into my life. God showed me a renewed strength as my body felt stronger and my faith grew stronger at the same time. I also found a way to spend time with my Mother and sister outside of a traditional "health club" where everyone can participate. Regardless of fitness level, or where you are in your own faith, Body & Soul has something for everyone. We are blessed with one of the most caring and challenging instructors, Mrs. Linda Seagears. Linda has a God given ability to challenge individuals at their own unique levels in both faith and fitness. Many bonds and lasting friendships have formed and have made Body & Soul not just an exercise class, but a true blessing in my life. Last week we talked about the scripture, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). No matter where you are God desires for you to experience joy. Body & Soul has been a joy to me and I'm so thankful for the continued blessings of this ministry. P.S. Come give Body & Soul a try at "Turkey Boot Camp" this Monday, November 19th at 7pm. Regular classes meet every Monday at 7pm and Wednesdays at 5pm in the Grace Life Community Church Gym:)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

He's Working On It

Today's post is by Alana Bell

I was in a funk. I knew it and I was sure everyone around me knew it. I was constantly irritated by people in traffic, at the gym, at the bus stop, at home. My attitude toward my daily routine and responsibilities was becoming increasingly negative. Any little thing that went wrong had me cursing the situation under my breath. My patience for my children being children was next to nothing and I found myself shouting and losing my temper constantly. I had been trying to fix it, but it just wasn't working. Every morning I would wake up and remind myself to try to do better, but I just kept failing. One evening after a particularly bad day and a rough bedtime routine that left me feeling like a mean mommy, I sat down and cried. "What is wrong with me?? Why can't I snap out of this??" Usually a few hard workouts, an evening out with my girlfriends, or a drop-everything-and-just-play-with-them session would do the trick. But I had tried all those things and I continued to feel terrible. That evening I heard that ever quiet voice whisper to me, "Proverbs 31." I could've gone straight to my old fashioned paper bible, or to my Bible app on my iPhone, but instead I plugged it into Google. I had heard of the "Proverbs 31 woman" and was a little unsure if I was ready to read a passage about everything I was not but should be. So instead of looking it up directly, I thought, let me get a little background on this. What I realized was that was exactly what God wanted me to do! The first link that came up was for the Proverbs31 Ministries. "Articles and Resources to Encourage Women in their Everyday Lives." Wow, God! That's totally what I need! I quickly came across a series of power verses that spoke to me and I felt led to write them down and meditate on them. My husband saw them sitting out on the counter the next morning and asked me if I was okay! To him the verses sounded depressing because the writers were coming from such a bad place. But in them I found hope. God was there with me and would help me to endure and become stronger. I also found a link to sign up for daily devotions and have found them to be a blessing every morning since.
That Sunday, by the grace of God, we had an easy morning getting ready for church and were actually running early. Everyone was in a good mood, and as we listened to WPER on the way to church, I was able to focus on God instead of the usual, "hurry up and turn green!! We're already late!!" A song came on that I had probably heard before but didn't notice, and it was like God said to me, "Hey, I've got something for you today, so listen up!" The girls and I belted out the song and truly worshiped the Lord on the way to church. When Kayleigh and I got into service and that very same song came on, we audibly gasped. God was really laying it on me thick. The sermon was the first half of the Fruits of the Spirit mini series. Love, Joy, Peace, and Patience. All the things that were so sorely lacking in my life. Pastor Bob really emphasized that these are not things that we can create or strive for. I realized that because of the love of Christ and grace of God, these things already exist in me. It was my flesh preventing them from growing. My own selfish tendencies and desires for everything to be my way were drowning out my ability to enjoy the multitude of blessings in my life. I left church that day actually feeling changed. The song played again on the way home, and I thought, I've got to remember this so I can tell someone, or play it at home. For the life of me I couldn't remember the title or artist after that day. It was like God was reminding me, it's not about the song. It's about you and me. I'm working on you. That's what you can tell people.
I felt that God wanted me to share my experience on the ladies blog, but I was afraid. What if I put myself out there and don't improve? What will people think? I procrastinated a bit, until today. I opened my daily devotional from P31 Ministries and it was entitled "Surviving Mommy Stress." I knew my friend was struggling after the birth of her baby and decided to forward it on to her. I had never shared anything like that with her before and was a little nervous about how she would receive it. Almost immediately, she responded to me, "You have no idea how much I needed that today." No, I didn't, but God did. He's working on it. He's working on me, and I'm learning to trust His direction, accept His grace, and let His fruit grow in my spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Get Plugged In....Family Festival

Today's blog post is by Hannah Montgomery....the illustrious leader of the GLCC's Family Festival.

The yearly Family Festival never fails to excite and bless me. To many it’s just an event the church has to bring in some community people and show everyone a good time. To me it’s a chance to put my all into creating a fun and safe place for our church members and our community to come together and have fun. It’s a time to connect people who may have never met before. It’s a chance to offer a good time for free to some families who may not have the money to go to Chuck E. Cheese or House of Bounce. It’s an opportunity to collect food for our food pantry, to offer a warm and inviting smile to a child or parent who just needs a moment of being happy. It’s being real, authentic, community minded, carefree, and just plain crazy!
You can’t downplay how much of an outreach it is. I used to wonder what kind of impact we were actually having with this event. I mean, there is no preaching or curriculum or anything like that. But there are smiles given out at every booth, there’s a puppet show sharing about Jesus, there are prizes given out that make a child feel special, there is an invitation to come in and see our church without the uncomfortable feeling of being out of place. There are so many people that come through our doors on the day of the Family Festival that would have never come here on a Sunday. It’s our chance to show them what we have to offer and then in the long run, what God has to offer. It’s getting our foot in the door. An opportunity to make a little crack so that God can step right in and continue to work in those lives.
The one thing that does put a damper on things for me each year is the lack of our own church community at the Festival. We scrounge up volunteers and the majority of the people enjoying the games and events, I have never seen before. This is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but I wish more of our own church family would join in on the fun… on the opportunity to connect with others in the community.
I always struggle with the sign up part of this planning process. Not trying to guilt anyone or anything, but we have upwards of 600 people in this church. We advertised via bulletin, a movie clip and a long announcement on Sunday and we had about 10 people sign up… 4 of which are teens. What in the world?! One day of the year… 2 ½ hours of your day, actually… and out of at least 600 we get 10. I honestly just don’t get it. What does it take to interest people? To pull them in to this great opportunity? I have so much passion for this event and I so badly want to be able to transfer that to the rest of the congregation. I want to throw it out there and have God put that desire to be involved in your hearts.
I haven’t been able to control that frustration yet. My flesh gets frustrated every time. I never understand the lack of volunteers. But I constantly try to let go and give the frustration to God. I pray that He will move those in the congregation to sign up. To take action. To give of their time for God and for others.  In the end, I want others to volunteer for that reason. For God and others. Not because they feel guilted or because they want some credit for volunteering. It has to be a God thing. But that doesn’t mean I’ve come to terms with that yet… my controlling flesh wants to guilt you like crazy!! J
I do still want to challenge you. Is God asking you to become involved? To take action? Maybe not even in this event (though I hope he is!!) There are so many places in our church where we need volunteers and it seems like we get the same handful of people every time. How awesome would it be for everyone to be plugged in somewhere. Just one place. Receiving and giving. I mean, that’s what it should be. So what in the world is holding us back…

Saturday, September 15, 2012

RGIII or Tebow? Wear Your Sign

I was trying to make a turn at a stoplight yesterday and there was this man in my line of sight.  I couldn't see around him to save my life.  He was wearing a sandwich board with instructions to "Follow Me to the New Car Wash-------->"  I craned my neck, inched out a bit in the intersection, but no luck.  Finally he moved and I could see, so went on my way.

A bit later I was listening to ESPN radio because that's what I like to do occasionally.  The topic of conversation was RGIII.  We are in the suburbs of DC so who is NOT talking about RGIII?  This conversation gave me pause for thought and maybe you'll think along with me.  The commentary guy said this...."Tim Tebow is a crap quarterback.  There's no two ways about it.  All the hype, all the promises, and we are left with the truth that he simply can't throw.  Besides that, he wears his faith around like a your face with all of this God stuff.  Now, RGIII, he's a good guy.  He likes God too, but he doesn't wear it around like a sign, like Tebow does".

Hmmmm.....I had just seen this man with a huge sign on, walking up and down the street in order to be noticed.  I noticed and maybe other people did, too.  That was the purpose.  I got the impression from the sports guy that RGIII was somehow better because he didn't advertise his faith and that Tim Tebow was somehow a lesser man because he did.

I know neither of these young men....surprises you, doesn't it?  I know what everyone else does by watching a Sunday game or looking them up on Wikipedia ( I did to see what RGIII's faith was before I wrote this.)  My conclusion is this.  What God has given them to do and the way God has given them to do it, they are doing.  If Tim feels like he should be out in public in a very obvious way, then he seems to be doing more of that.  John 3:16 on the eye black during a game is his thing....or at least used to be his thing.  Robert Griffin may be called to be more quiet about his faith, less talk the talk, and more walk the walk.  Whatever they have been asked to do, they might very well be doing that.

Back to my sign guy.  His job was to wear that sandwich board and walk down the street advertising the new car wash.  He did it and I suppose people will get their car washed because of his hard work.  It made me think....What am I willing to do for Christ?  If I was asked to wear a sandwich sign advertising new life in Christ, would I?  If it advertised the message of hope in a risen Savior, would I be bold enough to do so?  Do I walk with God every day, in such a way, that others know my faith and are pointed to Christ through me?  Thoughts to ponder, for sure.

Tomorrow we'll watch two young men on different teams, in different towns doing what they do best and what they love to do.  I trust that when the Lord moves them, they wear their "sign" in whatever way they are asked, not for what glory it might bring them, but for the glory it might bring to God.

Now, go watch some football.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Grass is Growing

Note: This was written last fall during a rainy spell, but never posted and still applicable, in spite of not having an abundance of rain.

The grass is growing!! “Well, of course it is,” you say. “What did you expect with all the rain we’ve been getting?” Honestly, not much. You see, I’ve been pulling weeds for a year with visions of grass dancing in my head. Even when I’ve put down grass seed, not much has happened. But I’ve learned a lot.
§  Years of neglect will turn a yard into a haven for every known weed in the region.
§  The yard can look good from a distance and still be full of weeds…they’re green, too.
§  Some weeds are more troublesome and relentless than others.
§  Some seasons are better for eliminating weeds than others.
§  If weeds aren’t deliberately and swiftly replaced with something else (like grass seed) they will return with a vengeance.
§  The more established a weed is, the harder it is to get rid of.
§  Grass seed needs to be nurtured in order to take root and thrive.
So why am telling you about the mess of a yard that came with the house we bought two years ago? Because the Lord has been using the weeds to speak to me about the difficulties of life…sins, wounds, lies, and labels to use the *Soul Restoration vernacular.
Another way to tell you what I’ve been pondering is this:
§  Years of neglect will turn a heart and mind into a haven for every lie or label known to mankind.
§  We can look good from a distance and still be full of sin and wounds…we know how to smile, too.
§  Some sins and wounds are more troublesome and relentless than others.
§  Some seasons are made for dealing with sin and wounds. Sometimes God lets us avoid these things and sometimes He won’t let loose.
§  If sins, wounds, lies, and labels aren’t deliberately and swiftly replaced with something else (like honesty, grace, forgiveness, and truth to name a few) they will return with a vengeance.
§  The more established a sin, lie, or label is, the more entrenched it is in our hearts and minds.
§  Our relationship with the Lord needs to be nurtured in order to take root and thrive.
Could the Lord be calling you to take a closer look at your life and relationship with Him? If so, you may want to consider coming to the Soul Restoration Open House on Sunday, September 9 at 6:00. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about an opportunity to more freely and fully live the life you’ve been created for and to talk to people who’ve been through one or more seasons of SR. Hope to see you there.
*Click here for more information about the Soul Restoration ministry.
Jeremiah 29:11 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."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wait For Me

I watched the two women make their way to the entrance of the store, one taking small halting steps, the other taking more deliberately slow steps.  Ever so painfully they inched toward the automatic doors and I could feel myself wishing they'd go a little faster, move a bit more quickly.  I watched the younger of the two...maybe the daughter...firmly hold her mother's arm and very patiently wait for her.  Step...step....step...until finally they were by the carts.  I took a breath for them and remembered my own times walking by my mother.  I had not been so patient with her.  There were times my hurried steps had gone ahead and her little voice had to remind me to wait for her.  "Please slow down" she would say, "I can't keep up with you",  and I would hold myself back while my mind whirled ahead to all of the things I needed to accomplish.  Please slow down.

In our Christian walk, God  has placed us alongside individuals who may be taking faltering steps toward Him.  He has given us the role of supporter and encourager and we are holding the arm of someone who might be a bit more fragile than we are, a bit more hesitant in their steps.  We might be walking by them thinking in our minds, "I wish they would hurry up already and mature in this area or the other."  "I wish they would quit fooling around and get a bit further down the Way than they are!"  "Why do they keep on doing that THING that is so destructive in their lives or that THING that slows us down?"  "We seem to have to revisit that same old spot again and again and again.  I am then convicted of how often I have to revisit that same old spot again and again.  Of how often I stumble on my Way and how the Lord picks me up and holds me fast.

I was reminded today, as I watched the patient younger woman walking with the frail older lady, to take time.  Be patient.  Lend an ear...a shoulder...and thank God that we are in a position of strength that we may help others.  Listen to the little voice when it very quietly asks, "Please slow down....wait for me."

The Lord says....

Isaiah 41:10  Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Fresh Start

One of my fondest memories of starting school was buying a new notebook.  I loved the kind that had 5 subjects and had pockets on the dividers....suited my inner organized girl.  I would get that notebook and sit with it for a bit.  Call me strange, but I would almost talk to that notebook. This year I promise I will write neatly in you.  This year I promise I won't have big scribbles and big mess-ups.  This year I won't have to tear out one page due to my lack of effort and self control.  I will NOT doodle while the teacher is talking, honest!

Reality hit hard and it hit fast.  The first day of school would arrive and I took out that notebook. I opened it with fine intentions and took a breath and wrote my name.  ARRRGHH!  I hated the way I wrote my name. I messed up on it and it was the only thing written in it.  What a failure to mess up before I had even had an assignment.  Rip....out goes the page and a fresh one was there for the using.  Get it right, girl!

Think I'm extreme?  Maybe...but I've talked to other women who had the same ambitions on the first day of school with the new notebook.  I think there are a bunch of us out there, desiring perfection....even in a notebook....and having to rip out and start fresh over and over.  Or....I'm crazy and I'm the only one who talks to their notebooks on the first day of school.  Help!

All of this makes me think of God's mercy and forgiveness.  Every day is a brand new page in our notebooks.  We get up early and say, "Today, I'm not going to mess you up."  "Today, I'm going to live right and be kind to others."  "Today, I"m not going to yell at my kids or argue with my husband."  The alarm rings....our feet hit the floor....and before we know it, RIPPPP, there goes our mouth or our mind or our wayward flesh.  Today's page has a big scribble on it and we've messed up.

I'm so thankful we serve a God who is all about mercy and grace.  We don't have to live with our heads hanging down in shame or beat ourselves up.  God has forgiven us our transgressions and every day is a new beginning a new page with all the lines clean and waiting for what we will write on it.  Take heart!

Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ladies Game Night Part 2

We had such a fun time at our most recent game night.  God blessed us with some new faces and some "old" friends, too.  It was awesome to see how the Lord mixed us unto seating arrangements that were just perfect for getting to know others.  Carol and Sue learned they both had lived in Germany for a while!  Imagine that.  

 We had some young ones join us this time and in the above photo, we see Kelly Wayland wearing a big smile.  She's blogged for us occasionally here at Grace-Lifeline, so it's neat for me to be writing about her!

 Sarah, in the above photo, is saving money to travel with her husband as a missionary in the group Cadence  The mission is to be support for chaplains in understaffed US military posts.  I so enjoyed getting to know Sarah and look forward to great news of how God is providing for them!
Jessica Kolbe was our official youngest at 16.  We're thrilled that our younger ladies are getting to know our older ladies.  We are sisters in Christ and there are many more things we have in common than not!  We can learn so much from an inter-generational gathering like this.  

A little chatting....

....... some story telling and some game playing and I do believe some new friends were made.  We're all looking out for each other on Sunday!  Game night has great benefit in allowing us to meet new friends and find them again at Sunday services.


Next Ladies night is September 28th.  It may be something completely'll have to come and find out.  Stay tuned for more announcements, and for emails from the Women's Ministry gals.   

Proverbs 17:22  A cheerful heart is good medicine!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tori Spelling and God's Word.....Yes....I Said Tori Spelling

Saw an article this morning that is so in line with what I'm studying right now that I had to share this bit.  Tori Spelling, actress and daughter of one of the most wealthy men in Hollywood before his death, told of how her boyfriend would tell her 10 times a day how ugly she was.  She confesses in the article that the verbal abuse shattered her confidence and hurt her for years.  She wrote a letter to her younger self, saying what she wished someone had told her then.  Her words,  'I would tell 21-year-old Tori that she's strong, beautiful, smart, and can do anything that she sets her mind to. At 21, my biggest obstacle (well, aside from a bad boyfriend) was myself.' 

Words can build up or they can tear down.  Have you even had someone in your life use hurtful words against you?  I know I have, and like Tori Spelling (funny to think I have anything in common with her) it has taken me years and God's help to overcome them.

This Sunday, our connect group will be starting a study series entitled Soul Detox.  The first installment has to do with life giving words, or life destroying words.  The pastor speaks of a man who came to the church office and he was down and depressed and had nowhere to go but up.  One on one, they sat and talked and the pastor asked him to list 100 things about himself that were positive and the man immediately said he couldn't do it.  The pastor got a piece of paper, numbered from 1-100 and looked the guy in the eye and said, "Let's get started."  At first it was a struggle, but after a few minutes, the ideas started rolling and before long, they had added to the list...eventually making it to 100 positive things.  He left that office a man who had turned some lies into truth and had begun taking the steps toward freedom from hurtful words.

Years later, the man showed up in the pastor's church with his wife and young child.  He came up after the service and said, "Do you remember me?  I'm the guy you sat down with so many years ago and made that list.  Here it is."  He pulled a much folded and unfolded piece of paper out of his pocket and he gave it to the pastor.  "I don't need it anymore.  You can have it.  I know all of these things now and they are written on my heart."

What words are written on your heart?  Are they mean words someone spoke to you telling you how stupid and ugly you are?  Are they words that are crippling you....words that are tearing you down?  If so, know this.  The Bible is God's true word and it says this:

Psalm 139:14  You are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Zephaniah 3:17  He takes great delight in you!
1 John 4:16  God loves can rely on Him!
John 3:16  God loves you so much....He gave His son for you!

So, maybe you have something in common with Tori Spelling and it isn't her money.  Maybe you have been beaten up with words too often and you are feeling pretty low.  Don't believe the lies.  Listen to God's truth and know He loves you and you are dear in His sight.  Get out a piece of paper and number 1-100 and get started.....maybe you'll be able to give the list to me someday and tell me you don't need it anymore.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Comfort Food....It's Not What You Think.

A few July 4ths ago, we were out enjoying the day and the fireworks later on that night.  We laughingly poured into our house through the front door to be met by our sheepish looking dog in the foyer.  She was so glad we were home and we realized the fireworks must have upset her.  We gave her some love and went our ways only to reconvene with a big question for each other.  What in the world had happened while we were gone?

All through the house, from the basement to our master bedroom on the upper level, were gift bags.  I keep them in the basement for when I need one and they were there when we left.  Somehow, someway, the gift bags were dragged through the house and left all over the place.  No wonder Daisy had looked sheepish!  The closest we could figure was that in her stressed out state, she had done some redecorating and had festooned the house with gift bags.  Weird!

Yesterday we returned from vacation.  Instead of kenneling Daisy, we hired a house sitter and Melodie was very gracious to come and spend lots of good time with our pet but she didn't stay the night.  Daisy has never been alone overnight in the 8 years we've had her.  I knew she'd be fine because she's a good dog, and she was.  One thing was strange....kind of like the gift bags from years before.

We sent our oldest to the basement to check things out (to see if she'd had any accidents) and he came back carrying a sad little bundle of paper.  In his hands were the remains of a small Bible my youngest has been using for Bible study.  The interior pages were completely fine, but the leather binding was chewed to bits.  All of this, believe it or not, has caused me to think about how I handle stress.

Do I run around in a panic when things get harried?   Sometimes.
Do I find "busy work" to occupy myself when I'm worried about bigger things?  Sometimes
Do I go to God's word when I'm feeling anxious and afraid?  Sometimes, but not enough.

So, maybe I'm stretching my crazy dog and her panic attacks into something they're not, but it has caused me to look at my "panics" a little differently.  Next time I'm feeling stressed, I'm going to skip the running around and the busy distractions, and I'm going to head straight for God's word.  I'm going to "tear it up" in a different way from Daisy, but I'm going to dig in nonetheless.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anniversary Gift

 This past Thursday my husband and I reached our 9th wedding anniversary and we celebrated the day at the Global Leadership Summit. My husband said it was the best gift we could have given each other and I agree wholeheartedly.    
When we began attending this church in early 2007, I would have never guessed where we would find ourselves 5 years later. God has done a work in our lives and transformed our marriage and the blessings we have seen in our family are just astounding.  So when our pastor told us about this coming Summit and his desire for all the leaders within GLCC to attend we knew we were going. Pastor Bob gave us the dates of the summit which coincided with our anniversary, Richard and I looked at each other and had no doubt that we were meant to be there and we both wanted to be there. We have so much to be thankful for and the Lord deserves our participation in response to our transformation.
There was so much valuable information from all the speakers. As I ponder the Summit today, what comes to mind in regards to GLCC is a quote from Jim Collins “productive paranoia compels us to be ready today for tomorrow.”  It is important in order to avoid becoming a complacent church we get clarity and direction today. A complacent church has a relatively satisfied congregation, but has the lowest faith in action and personal spiritual practices. This is not where we want to go.  In order for us to avoid that pitfall the congregation must have a higher level of ownership.  We must all have the mentality that we don’t go to church, WE ARE the church. We are the body of Christ!  
I agree with Bill Hybels when he says “The local church is the hope of the world.”  That’s how I came to Christ, visiting the new church built near my home.   I knew I was missing something in my life and this church was fundamental to my walk with Jesus. Everyone’s life would be better if God was at the center of it; our family is proof of that.  It is my heart’s desire that every member in our congregation prays for clarity in their individual roles so that we can all become a body of believers in action.  Please read the Morning Prayer from the conference below. Join me in this prayer?


Matthew 28:19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

God's Masterpiece

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

Saturday, August 4, 2012

An Unhurried Life: Conference Opportunity

One Day Conference for Women:  An Unhurried LifeOctober 27, 2012
8:30 am - 3:30 pm


Do you feel like your life is stuck on fast-forward?  If so, the Unhurried Life conference is for you.  With biblical truth, practical advice and a good dose of laughter,  Glynnis Whitwer from Proverbs 31 Ministries will share how to have a productive, yet unhurried and peace-filled life.  She'll cover topics such as identifying priorities for this season of your life,  managing an over-loaded schedule and learning how to press "pause" or "stop."  This conference is for busy women who need some peace, especially those who feel like they don't have time to attend.   You'll be glad you made this investment in yourself!

 Click here to visit Glynnis' website and learn more about her.

Register online or pick up a conference brochure from the Welcome Desk in the foyer. With the opening of our new facility we are excited to have a seat available for anyone interested in attending, so please invite your friends from the community and area churches.  Any area church groups interested in reserving a private room during lunch for enhanced discussion and fellowship can contact Kelly in the church office.

Conference Schedule:
8:30 am     Welcome and Registration
9:00 am     Session I
11:00 am   Break
11:20 am   Session II
12:40 pm   Lunch/Group Time
1:50 pm     Session III
3:30 pm     Closing

Conference Cost:
$13 Early Registration per person through 9/30/12
$16 Pre-Registration per person through 10/26/12
$18 Walk-In Registration at the door

*OPTIONAL pre-purchased Lunch available through 10/19/12 for $9 each:*Bag lunches that do not require refrigeration or reheating can be brought from home.

Lunch boxes from the Corner Bakery come filled with a Specialty Sandwich, bakery chips, fresh seasonal fruit, and a fresh baked cookie.

Sandwich Choices:
Chicken Pesto on Ciabatta Ficelle
Mom's Turkey on Whole Grain Harvest

Corner Bakery Signature Salads come with freshly baked Foccacia Bread

Salad Choices:
Santa Fe Ranch--roasted all natural chicken, corn and tomato salsa, cheddar cheese, corn tortilla strips and ranch dressing on iceberg and romain lettuce

Harvest Salad--roasted all natural chicken, green apples, toasted walnuts, bleu cheese, currants, harvest crisps and baslamic vinagrette with mixed greens.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mom's Birthday

Today my mother would have been 89 years old.  It's been a bittersweet day remembering her and thinking about her and the impact she had on my life.

My earliest memories involve church.  She would get us up and dressed and ready and then take care of herself.  We'd get to church, sit on the pew and she would vigilantly watch us to make sure we were paying attention and not distracting those around us.  I remember my feet swinging.....swing, kick,thump, swing, kick, thump... on the pew in front of us and my mother's long arm that could reach over several children to THWACK! lightly crack me on the knee to remind me to be still.  I laugh when I think of it because within minutes, my legs were swinging again to the rhythm that played in my little head.

She took me to a quilting bee at church and rather than letting me run around, she had me pitch in and do something useful.  What might a little 6 year old do to help out at a quilting party?  Why, I threaded needles.  I stood at the corner of the table between several older ladies and threaded needle after needle.  I learned from her and them that no matter how small a job, it can make a big difference.  Now I'm the one needing help threading needles.

No matter how tired my mother was, she would read to us from a little devotion book called, Little Visits With God.  I loved those stories and looked forward to having her sit with us and read.  I always wanted more than the book had to another story, Mama!  Sometimes she would but more often she would save it for the next night.  From her lap, I learned to love God.

We didn't have much money but my mother could work magic from very little.  She could make the best biscuits and the best pot of pinto beans.  The door was always open and was never too tired to "stir around" and make something hot and tasty.  So many fun times were spent around our kitchen table or under the trees in the yard.  I learned that simple is best and good laughs and fun times make a meal special.

Once I came home from school, with friends, to find my mother sitting in her largest mixing bowl in front of the television.  Daytime television had something on about how a woman could reduce the size of her backside by wallowing around in a bowl.  My mother wasn't afraid to try anything and loved to have a good laugh over her adventures. I learned that adventures don't have to cost money and can sometimes be best right at home.

So many memories have flitted in and out of my mind today.  Mom was a remarkable woman, born in a home most would call a shack (she even called it a shack), sent by missionaries to private high school, self taught in so many things, passionate about life and her family and her flowers....and fishing.....Most importantly, though, Mom loved the Lord and served Him faithfully throughout her 87 years.  If I can be half that woman, I can be content.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Buenos Amigos!

This past Sunday our guest speaker, Pastor Pimentel from Brazil, spoke on friendships. What makes a good friend? How to be a good friend and the way Jesus modeled to us what a friendship should be.  It was an encouraging message and as the day progressed I was able to see how my husband and I and our kids had been blessed with friendships that our whole family could enjoy.  What a blessing it was!  We had a full house and we LOVED it!
See, I’ve never had any problems with friendships and being a friend. I believe that quote that says: “People come into your life for a reason, a season  or a lifetime “ and in fact I have people in my life that I have known since middle school. In all honesty it’s sometimes hard to maintain those friendships, especially when everyone doesn’t live next door anymore and each person has their own lives. For us though making the time for dinner once a month has continued to nourish that friendship and keep us bonded. Then there are the friendships that have run their course and I can honestly say I am ok with that too.
But after marriage finding mutual friends had been a challenge. My husband moved to Virginia from Montreal and so all his friends were mostly lost to distance and mine were all from the single scene and he wasn’t able to form a connection with them.  So for the first few years of our marriage I felt I was my husband’s only friend.  I started to feel guilty going out with my girls and when he would text me a question “what time do you think you will be home?” I would read “when are you coming home?.”  I wasn’t able to enjoy my time out with my friends as I felt I had to hurry home. It wasn’t really something that my husband had ever said to me, just something I felt inside. 
Fast forward finding ODBC (now GLCC) and beginning our walk as a family with Jesus. We were invited to a dinner a few years ago and something so simple was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with this family.  They are very special to us and have helped us in ways they probably don’t even know. The wealth of knowledge they shared on marriage and the time we spent over coffee talking about couple things are priceless. Just watching their easy going style, sharing their home even playing their family games have been wonderful memories for us. We even spend New Year’s Eve with them this year!  
They were at our house for a BBQ last night and my good friend tells the Pimentel’s how my husband and I are examples of the friendships he spoke on to them. I was so blessed and touched by her words. I just told the Pimentel’s that they were the same for us. I didn’t elaborate, because I don’t think I could have even begun to explain in words what they mean to us without crying and not making any sense at all. I hope they know that we feel the same way towards them and their family and that they have made a deep impact in our lives ♥  This song says alot of whats in my heart and what I wanted to say:

We have been so blessed in the friendships that we have made as a family in this church.    Our children and my husband look forward to the weekend so that we can spend time with these friends. The couple last night and another couple we spend time with almost every week have been so wonderful and a gift to our family as well. I will have to write about them in another blog as they are also so special to us J .
I thank God for these lovely people and that through them we experience love and friendship as well.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't be Discouraged

My heart has been heavy for a while now.  So many friends and acquaintances are going through such scary things and every day someone new is added.  Have you ever felt like the Titanic is sinking and  you're bailing with a teaspoon?  That's sort of how I feel, overwhelmed and worried, and fretful for my friends.

I read this today.  It's from Jesus Calling and I think it sums up what to do quite well.  I hope it brings you a measure of peace the way it did me.

I AM ABOVE ALL THINGS:  your problems, your pain, and the swirling events in this ever-changing world.  When you behold My Face, you rise above circumstances and rest with Me in heavenly realms.  This is the way of Peace, living in the Light of My Presence.  I guarantee that you will always have problems in this life, but they must not become your focus.  When you feel yourself sinking in the sea of circumstances, say "Help me, Jesus!" and I will draw you back to Me.  If you have to say that thousands of times daily, don't be discouraged.  I know your weakness, and I meet you in that very place.

Ephesians 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

Matthew 14:28-32  28 Peter said to Him, "Lordif it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 And He said"Come !" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lordsave me!"31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faithwhy did you doubt ?" 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Monday, July 23, 2012

God Uses a Different Tree

Today's post is by Christi Hrin.

It seems to be a theme with Him I guess.  He started the entire perfect relationship with man and that wonderful Tree of Life.  Then we tore ourselves away from him with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and yet, miraculously, Christ repaired our mistake with the tree that made the cross.

Today, God used a young maple tree to whisper quite powerfully to me.

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt of being a mom.  Of course I wanted to be an Olympic Gymnast, a missionary in Africa, and perform on Broadway, but at the core, more than anything I wanted to be a mother.  As time passed I grew from a child into a young woman and though I never trained for the games, or saw the Safari, or sang beneath the bright lights in New York;  in the year 2000 I was given my heart’s deepest desire, a precious baby boy.  In fact, by the year 2004 I was a mother of three beautiful children, two fun lovin’ boys and one beautiful little girl.  

I set into my role with enthusiasm.  My three kids were days of play dough and Crayola and nights of bubble baths and giggles.  I was “Mom”.  I kissed the boo boos, ran the nightmares away, conquered pacifier problems, and created kingdoms with sheets and chairs.  If you were looking for me, you would find me either in the cul de sac playing with chalk and bikes or in the kitchen cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the right shape for each child. I could sing the opening tune to every cartoon on PBS, Disney Playhouse, and Nick Jr. and could make a cape out of any fabric.  I knew our favorite books by heart so I could read them from the front seat while my helpers held the book in the back. 

Years kept flying past and the shows changed from Bob the Builder to Ben Ten to Good Luck Charlie.  Games switched from Go Fish and hide-n-seek to Wii Bowling and Black Ops.  Lessons progressed from “because I said so” to “I trust you to make the right choice”.  Today I find myself the mother of a kind hearted yet stubborn 12 year old, an actively silly 10 year old, and a developing diva at age 8.  They are all capable, independent, and strong.  They can handle themselves in a crowd, alone, and one on one. 

If you are looking for me today, you might find me standing a little lost in my kitchen that I don’t want to clean again because it’s not that messy anymore.  There are many days where I am actually alone for hours as those perfect babies of mine are off conquering boredom and creating friendships on their own.  I have had to learn the difference between helping and hindering, supporting and spoiling, and the hardest, loving and letting go. 

-Enter the tree. 

I was walking home after dropping my daughter off at her theater camp (God be with the director), and I was kind of whispering in my heart to God.  My older son was at his friend’s house creating Minecraft kingdoms, and my younger son was again at the playground with two of his pals.  I, the “MOM” was once again, alone.  No little people to play chalk rockets with.  No potty songs to sing or black and white pictures to create colorful creations with.  What was I supposed to do with myself?  Was this really already happening?  Independence and strength in my children kind of hurt a little. 
As I walked and quietly shared my heart to God, I saw this young maple tree.  Just like many others that were planted at the same time as it, this maple still had wooden stakes on each side of it and a strong wire holding its trunk.  This tight system securely held this tree when it was young.  It helped to allow the tree to grow straight and strong through wind storms and blizzards regardless of the age or strength of the sapling.  The only problem was, the tree wasn’t young anymore.  In fact, it only looked young on the base of the tree.  Around the wire I could see where the tree was trying to grow out of its’ hold.  I stared with understanding as God was showing me that the same wires meant to hold the tree in its youth were actually stifling the tree’s growth and at the root, killing the tree.  All of the tree’s potential to be the brilliant maple that we would all stand in amazement of in the fall, was being denied by the very thing placed there in the beginning to keep it safe.

I took a deep breath as I felt God’s comfort come over me.  My children would grow.  My children would leave.  But my God would always be with me and I could trust that He would be with them too.  I felt a gentle reassurance that just as He had been with me through each age, he would be with my kids and I could let go a little.  Back when I was in pig-tails dreaming of being a mommy, He was whispering to me about my destiny.  In college when I met that tall and handsome Marine who would become my husband, He was whispering to me about love, desire, and honor.  As I parented toddlers He whispered daily to me about trust and mercy in my new role. And even now in learning the first steps of letting go, He was telling me, it was okay, He was big enough, and I really could Trust Him. 
I walked from the tree and smiled at my God’s beauty.  From this suppressed tree He had spoken a powerful message.  I ventured home with a new rhythm to my stride and a deeper understanding of not only my role, but my God and his deep, deep love for me.