Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gift

When people ask you
What you'd like for Christmas every year
Do you stop and wonder if
Mere gifts could stop the tears?

Have you held your heart inside
A fist so tight and strong
That nothing and no one could help
You heal from someone's wrong?

You did not come by twist of fate
Nor earthly invitation
Not even kindly words of friends
Did beckon to this station

This Christmas you will find a gift
That's ready for you now
The simple gift of sacrifice
That slept on bed of straw

It is a holy incident
When people find the peace
The simple gift the Christ child is
He is the Sweet Release!


This Christmas, may you find the Joy youv'e been searching for in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It was a dark and stormy night aboard a cargo ship in the Irish sea. Eight men on board a vessel containing 3 tons of limestone...when the hull cracks and they begin to take on water. A 2:00 am mayday call was sent out and area ships answered to provide shelter for survivors. The men donned their immersion suits with strobe lights and found themselves in the chilly waters off the coast of Holyhead Wales.

The Royal Air Force sent a rescue helicopter with a crew of four to the scene of waves, winds and many would they save? Out of the eight, two were airlifted to safety aboard. The difficulty was described as, "challenging at best."

What amazed me most about this exciting news story was that there was royalty on that helicopter. The Prince William himself was copilot for that mission. I wondered, did the rescued men recognize him during all the tension? Did they realize who was on board with them? I doubt they knew until afterwards, with a hot mug of tea and warm dry clothes on...someone let them know that the man who would someday be King of England had risked his life to come to their rescue.

How do you think those two men felt? Do you think they were amazed that he would step into that danger to save them? Why would Prince William risk his life for another? I wonder...

I have a message for you dear reader. Have you got your warm mug of tea and a blanket around you? There is a storm brewing out there in the world. Do you have that sinking feeling that your job is not going to save you, your friends are not able to save and you don't even have the strength to save yourself?

When you send your mayday call, make sure it's to the One who can rescue you. And don't expect Prince William to fly in on his RAF Helicopter and lower a basket!

Two thousand years ago God stepped out of His throne room and onto this earth as a man called Jesus. He came to earth to save us all from a death that no one should suffer from. It is nothing we can do ourselves to save us. Every time a person prays to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, another soul is plucked from the storm of sin. Are you still treading water dear reader? How much longer do you think you can do this all on your own? Do not waste a moment to send out your own SOS (save one soul) prayer to God and He will.

How do I know that? Because I myself am a witness to my own rescue...and it was no "man who someday would be king" was Christ who IS KING!

I wonder...who do you say that Jesus is?

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's Cookin?

Here's a cooking tip for you if you need an easy way to peel garlic: turn it on the flatter side and press with the heel of your hand until you hear a "pop". That loosens the outer peel that contains the clove inside. You can then peel the garlic clove easily so it can be prepared for cooking.

So why would I put a cooking tip in my blog? Well, sometimes when I am doing the most mundane things like peeling garlic, God says "Write this!"

As I was popping and peeling my garlic cloves a verse came to mind from 2 Corinthians 4:8 "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed".

The weight of that verse sat on my many have felt something heavy in their life. Sometimes it's just this old broken world that we live in. But could it be that sometimes, the loving Father in Heaven is causing this pressure? Could it be that the all-loving Creator literally has his child in a tight spot on purpose? Would God do that to His kids? Of course He would.

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed.

How else are we to grow stronger? If he doesn't remove that tough outer husk of "self" after some pressure, how are we going to enjoy the real flavor of life?

Garlic is most pungent when it has been broken off the whole bulb, pressed and peeled...and yes crushed. And the more you break down that tiny piece of plant, the "louder" it gets with the fragrance. Pretty soon someone in the other room can smell it!

Have you ever met a real Christ follower who has had an easy life? A life of no problems, no issues, no sin? I think not. If you are a Christian and haven't come upon hard times, well then you better get ready!

My dear reader, one day you will awaken and find yourself in God's kitchen and He's stirring the pot of your life. And you will find yourself like that little garlic clove, getting pressed until you feel like you're going to break. But remember, this recipe is not for disaster but a magnificent culmination of His will intersecting with your life. And what an amazing recipe that is!

So when that day comes, pray, seek His will, ask others to pray that you will persevere and that your life becomes so fragrant to others they will be drawn to Christ from near and far!

As some comfort remember this: He wouldn't ask you to go through anything that Jesus had already been through Himself. (Check out Isaiah 53:5)

I'll get back to my roasted tomato and pepper salsa...and garlic cloves. Why don't you check out your Bible today and see what He has to share with you?

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalms 34:8

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eat Cake

"It was the best of cakes, it was the worst of cakes." That was a pretty good synopsis by my husband as we celebrated our son's birthday.

You remember the scene, either as a parent or as a child...a lovely concoction called a "cake" and enjoying a slice with them. Memories of a pink and purple strawberry cake with thick pink icing comes to mind...a sugar bomb if ever there was one. Or, a different kind of cake--a pancake--made in the wee hours by a youngster using chocolate milk, chocolate chips and flour...then you awaken to sticky fingers requesting your assistance to fry up the batter because they're too short to use the stove. (Thank you Lord for short 5 year olds!)

So there we sat with our son and his "cake". Let me describe it to take one vending machine and order up a honey bun, and squash it as flat as you can in the wrapper. Then you drop another couple coins in the food machine for a squeeze tube of peanut butter. Then one more handful of coins for a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.

The wrapper is opened and becomes the platter for the cake. Peanut butter is squoozed (yes squoozed) out over the top. A cookie is used as a PB spreader. Then you crumble broken up cookies over the top. The flaps of the wrapper is closed over the top again and used to press the cookies into the honeybun. We all had a slice and quietly sang "happy birthday".

It was the best of cakes because it was not my son's 6th was his 20th. And it was the worst of cakes because it was created inside a prison visitor room.

But you know what, the more I think about it the better that cake is getting. Because I got to hug my son for the first time in over a year and a half. No more video visitation for us!

The Bible says we are to visit those who are in prison. And I can see why. They are spiritual prisoners of war. Should we just leave them to the enemy to do as he wants with them? Or shall we visit, write, send books and accept the collect phone calls to let them know we are still here? We need to let them know the world is still turning and we will be here when they get out.

Someone has come to mind for you. They are either in a physical prison like my son or they are in an emotional or mental prison--which can be just as dark. It's time to reach out...and don't forget to take a cake!

Matthew 25:31-46

To the one you visit, it might be a far, far better thing that you do, than you have ever done...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wake Up!

I was sound asleep one night while my dad was visiting. He sleeps on the other side of the house in my son's old room. This night I was awakened out of a deep sleep. I clearly heard my dad's voice call my name. It was like he was just outside the door! (Yes I heard him above hubby's snores.) It was so loud and distinct I almost stood up in bed...dropping the chains of a deep sleep on the covers.

I thought something must be wrong so I immediately threw on a robe and rushed to his room...where I heard nothing but even breathing of a person sound asleep.

The next morning I asked if he had any dreams or if he called for me. We were both stumped. Because the call was so clear to me!

The next weekend after he was gone I was still puzzled and had the hubby go in that bedroom, close the door and say a word with the same loudness. I didn't hear anything from our bedroom. We both wrote it off as a vivid dream.

The Bible tells us a story of a young boy who was resting in the temple and heard his foster-father call for him. Three times he got up to ask him what he needed. The third time, his caretaker told him the next time he heard his name called that it was actually God calling and to say "Speak for your servant is listening." (1 Samuel 3:1-10) The young boy did and became a great servant of God and annointed two kings of Israel because he listened to his heavenly Father.

Last weekend in church, we were enjoying a sermon with our church family. We had a few visitors and as always, our pastor invites anyone to give their life to Christ.

Recently he has been quickened to make a bold request. Normally it's heads bowed, nobody looking and you slip your hand confrontation but then little accountability as well. This weekend everyone was alert when he gave the invitation. It was pretty amazing to see a young man boldly stand up after a pause and speak out loud his decision for Christ.

Think about it, this young man was sitting in church last week. He listened to music and a sermon like everyone else did. When our pastor gave an invitation to accept Christ, he didn't call this young man's name. But something made him stand. Could it be he heard his name called? Maybe like me hearing my dad's voice call while I was sleeping, could this young man hear his name while he was spiritually sleeping?

For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5:14

Make no mistake dear reader. God still speaks to us. He is calling His children by name and they are standing up. Could you be hearing your name as well? Have you ever stood to publicly proclaim Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Do not let the sun go down until you make sure of that.

Pray and ask God to forgive you, tell Him that you are ready to make Jesus Lord of your life. And then listen to that other amazing sound with your soul...the chains dropping to the floor! Make sure to speak to a pastor or Christian friend about your decision and find a church family that will hold you accountable and help you learn more about this decision.

It is time to wake up!

{Do} this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to {its} lusts.
Romans 13:11-14

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hard Way

The easy way out is never easy in the end. You always have to play some kind of catch-up or pay a huge fee of some kind.

My Dad always says, "Do the hard stuff first." Then you could take it a bit easier as you get older. That wisdom is true for schooling, work and even taking care of your health.

Instead of taking a year off before starting college, jump in with both feet--work through summer school and finish early. Even some high schools have ways to dual enroll in college--that way your two year degree is free!

Instead of waiting by the phone and computer for that job to pop up after sending out hundreds of resumes, volunteer in your field and do all the hard work. It builds up your experience, gets your mind off the wait, and you might catch some employer's eye with your dedication.

Start the day with something healthy instead of a doughnut or sugar bombs. By 10:00am your body will thank you by not crashing and you can reward it with a healthy snack before lunch. Avoid elevators and close parking spots--make those legs work harder and you'll have more energy by the end of the day, and a healthier heart in your 50's.

Taking the harder road is normally best these days, especially with all the time-saving, sweat sparing gadgets out there. Someone is always ready to take your money in exchange for the amount of time it might take you to work and get a better result.

The discipline muscle is the hardest and also the most rewarding part of your self to exercise. If you can conquer that, you will win whenever your body or emotions whine to pull over and take the easy escalator to what you think is the next level.

There is One who is the model of discipline. His name is Jesus and He knew what obedience of the will was all about. Even as a child, He hit the books. Later on a trip to Jerusalem, His parents found Him in the temple--debating scripture with rabbis when He was 12. There was no begging for sight-seeing jaunts to the pyramids or the camel farm! (Luke 2:41-52)

When He stepped up to the challenge God had for Him, He went toe-to-toe with the devil himself and won. (Matthew 4:1-11)

And even in the garden, when His path was clearly laid out for the cross and Death was near, He prayed to God, "Not my will but Yours." (Luke 22:39-46)

Think about it. The only time God ever asks you to take the easy road is in accepting His gift of His son's sacrifice on the cross for your sins. Because there is no amount of schooling, overtime hours or strenuous physical activity you can do to attain that forgiveness.

The hard stuff was already done by Christ. The only difficult part left to do is accept the free gift He offers. And to some, that seems too easy to believe.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, February 07, 2011

Prayer Call

My brother and I had a little bit of an anxious weekend. You see, we both tried calling Dad and didn't get an answer. In fact, his phone machine that normally answers with it's generic male voice (that sounds like a robot on too much caffeine) didn't even pick up like usual. We called and listened to the line ring and ring and ring. It seemed like nobody was home.

We wondered, did Dad pick up and go visit a brother? Did he go birdwatching on the West coast? Is he at a Superbowl party somewhere? When time ticked away, the fears started to pop their ugly heads. I did my best to play "whack a mole" with them by checking in with his minister, emailing my dad and listening to hubby say, "He's OK, he's probably busy."

Finally I got an email from the Reverend. "He was at choir Sunday, things are fine."

But I wasn't consoled until I finally got an email from him, "The phone line is down, it will be repaired on Tuesday."

I could stop obsessing...he answered and all is well again. It seems an old tree in the backyard had been removed, and so had part of the line. That tree had been growing for a while in the backyard...slowly reaching towards the lines. Before we knew it, the tree had engulfed the cables and all it would take was a good windstorm. (Now that I think about it, that tree had been growing taller for over 20 years!)

So the question that came to my mind was, have you ever felt that sometimes nobody is listening when you pray? Are there are times when you're trying to get through to God and the line seems too quiet? What do you do when that happens?

First, is God expecting your call? As a Christian, you can expect unlimited minutes in prayer with your heavenly Father. But if you have not accepted Christ, your call could be dropped. (John 14:6)

Next, make sure your connection is solid. Like a downed line, sin that is not confessed can break that connection as quick as a 50 lb tree limb on a cable. (John 9:31)

Sometimes we allow a dark thought to be planted in our mind. This thought, when it sprouts, can be easily plucked and dealt with early. (2 Corinthians 10:5, Psalm 86:5) Left to grow, it can turn into an action. Temptation itself is not a sin, it's acting on it that germinates the seed and growth is immediate. (James 1:13-15) Before you know it your lines to God are caught and it's best to deal with them as soon as they appear.

Do you only pray when you need something? Or prayed and prayed and then later in the day realized you didn't stop to hear a reply? Have you ever tried sitting quietly and sending up a quick, "I just prayed to say I love you, God"? Then sit and'll be amazed what your heart hears.

Did someone tell you that He hears you, just try again another time God is probably busy with the unrest in the Middle East? Know this dear reader, God is not human. He is God and He is omnipotent. That means He is everywhere all the time. There is no war or even a hungry crow that He ignores. (Luke 12:24) And as His children, so much more is His ear tuned to our call!

Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call {upon Him} as long as I live. Psalm 116:2

Don't forget that the line goes both ways. Make sure you listen for Him. It could be as simple as waking up at 3am for no reason, or maybe a song in your head when you awaken. Seriously...He loves you and will call you. The question is, will you answer?

How do you pray? Get to a quiet place, bring your Bible, close your eyes and either talk to Him out loud or within your heart. If you need a bit more instruction, check out how Jesus answered His disciples when they asked the same thing in Luke 11:1-13.

I hope you are blessed this week as you earnestly "reach out and touch" God in prayer. It's better than texting, chatting and even skype--and you'll never get a bill for going over your minutes limit! (Because Jesus already paid that bill.)

...So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. Isaiah 45:3b

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life's If

As I was grocery shopping the other day, I overheard a conversation between two little girls that almost floored me. One asked the other a very simple question...but the weight of a two letter word slapped me in the back of the head.

The little girls where trailing their mom's cart and were deep in conversation. As I passed, the taller one asked the smaller one, "If you grow up, would you rather live in an apartment or a house?"

Simple question yes? But why "if"? Isn't that question usually started with a "when"? Don't children normally think they'll live until as old as their parents? Why "if"?

With the breaking news of the day still swirling in my worries, I asked God why that hit my heart so hard.

He reminded me of a bedtime prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

Wow...could it be those little girls understood this childhood prayer better than I did? You see, we are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised another breath on this earth. Nobody knows when their time is. You can guess by looking at your family tree, or listen to what your doctor tells you...but nobody but God knows the exact date and time you will come face to face with Him.

So then, how should we live? The book of James says:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are {just} a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, {you ought} to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
James 4:13-15

There's that little two letter word again, "if". Such a tiny word, but it carries the weight of humble obedience. Those little girls did have it right...and so does my grandma.

One of her phrases is, "Lord willin!" Which in Wyoming jargon means--whatever God wills! She knows all about that child-like obedience to "the Good Lord".

Can you say that today? Can you truly say that you want God's will in your life? Imagine that...even the word Life has that humble word "if" in it. God is awesome. Life is short and it can be hard, but with Christ you are promised to face the ifs of Life with Him--never alone.

If we were to live today like tomorrow wasn't coming, what would you want to change?

As the stars come out one by one tonight, I hope you will consider a new rendition of that bedtime prayer:
"Before I lay me down to sleep, I pray that Christ my soul does keep. And IF I die before I wake, I pray my eyes behold His face!"

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keep the Fire 2

I had a few more thoughts on our campfire experience. I decided, it's all about the marshmallows. It's not the chocolate or the graham crackers. They are just the vehicles to get the wonderful sugar napalm to your taste buds.

When we stopped at the grocery to pick up s'mores supplies, there was literally one bag of large marshmallows left. We made our way home with our bag of inedible looking white sponges. Little did they realize what was in store for them!

Hubby went out to where the palmettos and palm trees grow and selected some long green palm sticks. These he sharpened down to a point at one end. We stoked the fire a bit and watched the coals grow orange. Then one by one we parked a marshmallow on the end of a long stick and held it over the fire. Very carefully we held it near the coals, not taking our eyes off of it. One centimeter too close and whoosh! We had an instant torch on the end of the stick. No matter how quickly we blew it out, a charred smoking husk dangled from the end of the stick.

As we gained expertise, we figured out the best coals for slowly toasting a marshmallow. We'd turn it near the glowing ember, watching for a lick of flame to tease us with a flame-out. We kept it just out of reach, always watching, always turning. Sure, our faces felt warm and we might've singed some hair on our hands...but once we proclaimed it "Perfect!", the humble marshmallow was elevated to a gourmet experience: campfire brulee.

It's the same with me. If I realize when life gets hot that I am in the hands of the Master, I will trust that He is always watching and will never drop me into the flame. Because He knows just how much heat I can well as how much more flavorful my life can be. Why should I be satisfied with what the world calls "normal life"? --when I can step into the amazing purpose that God has in store for me...dancing just inches above the fire!

Life is sweet...why not ask for s'more?

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Keep the Fire

We had small group tonight and decided campfire therapy was needed. The weather was cool with a spritz of rain that kept us just chilled enough while the fire burned. (Yes January in Florida can be warm!) We had glowing coals, green palmetto sticks, soft marshmallows, sweet chocolate and crunchy graham crackers. It was a good night for this.

We talked about everything and nothing, we talked about deep subjects and silly jokes...and we shared our hearts for our family and friends. Our small group is small, but we're big enough to hold each other up through the hard stuff. And that's what a church family does...they do life together and they do it well with Christ.

As I sat there in the glow of the fire light and laughter, I saw the logs on the fire shifting and sending up sparks now and then like shooting stars. The new branches would burn brightly when first tossed on the fire--our faces lit up with the dancing flames. Then as the fire changed to blues and orange, the coals started to emerge...toasty grottoes formed and we deftly roasted a few marshmallows--and flamed a few more than we intended.

I realized as we shared and bolstered each other up, I saw ourselves as those logs on the fire. You see as new Christians, we ignite with the fire of the Holy Spirit...burning brightly with the excitement for Christ. But as time wears on, some days the flames burn hot and our lives seemed to be forever scarred, blackened and broken--this is where some want to escape, until we realize the fire is a crucible. God is purifying our lives. We watch as others come closer to find comfort in that warmth. As those glowing coals render up ash and a few sparks in the sky...we continue to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to the One who burns in our hearts.

As we prayed before our group went home, the sweet taste of burnt marshmallow and the smell of smoke in our hair and jackets lingered in our circle. And I had just a twinkle of an idea of what maybe Daniel experienced in the furnace...because Daniel had his small group who went through the fire together, and so do I.

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10

for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29