Friday, December 21, 2007

No Ordinary Goal

every week i get a little dose of wisdom from they're all pretty terrific and today, i got one that i'd love to share so here goes!!

No Ordinary Girl

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” —Luke 1:45

At our church Christmas program this last week, the little kids sang a song describing Mary as an “ordinary girl.” I know what the song meant. She wasn’t rich or famous or glamorous. Like lots of other teenage girls, she was in the engagement stage of an arranged marriage to a much older guy. That was ordinary in her culture.

But Mary was no ordinary person. She would stand out in any generation, including yours and mine. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe she was anything more than a regular, sinful human girl. But she was also a girl who was willing to believe God with her whole life. That’s not normal.

Look at the verse up there at the top. It’s a sentence that comes at the end of a paragraph in which Mary’s much older and also pregnant cousin Elizabeth is having an excited moment about this unbelievable thing that has happened to them. Notice what she praises Mary for -- not for being rich or talented or smart or pretty -- for believing that God would actually do what God said He would do.

It seems like a little thing when you say it that way, but I think it might be the biggest deal to God of all the things He asks us to do. From Genesis all the way through to Revelation, the Bible urges us to believe God. Take Him at His word. Show our belief in the choices we make, in the thoughts we think, in the words we say. God wants us to trust Him with every corner of our lives.Mary did that -- and Elizabeth was one of the first to call her “blessed.”

Another weird thing about young, pregnant Mary: She knew God’s Word. Right after the above verse, we’re treated to Mary’s famous song. The girl who said very little when the angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah now reveals how deeply she understood what was happening. The girl knew the Book.

It’s not really trusting God just to say, “Yes, I believe everything He says.” People who really believe everything God says sink hours and days and years into reading, studying, understanding what He said. If it’s really God’s mind on that paper, what could be more valuable that putting it in our own heads? Studying His Word is an act that shows we really believe Him.

Nope. Mary would stick out in any demographic. She believed God so much she actually took the time to know His Word deeply -- and to accept His Word with humility.Mary would have made a lousy rap star or self-glorifying NFL player.

She carried God’s Son in her womb and refused to make that about her (as most of us would do, at least in private). Instead, she made it all about Him. She praised Him for His loving, powerful, promise-keeping plan that just happened to include an unordinary girl.She believed. She studied. She was humble.

I want to be weird like that. You?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seven Sacred Ways to Live Your Best Life

my friend valorie burton wrote this for her audience. i love the simple truth of these words and am thankful for her willingness to let me share her message. (

Seven Sacred Ways to Live Your Best Life
In the midst of the shopping, parties and cultural focus on gift giving, it can be tempting to miss the purpose of this holiday - to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

My message to you this week is simple. In fact, it isn't my message at all. I'd like to share seven messages that Jesus taught during his three years of public ministry. As you celebrate Christmas, and reflect on the holiday's true meaning, consider these words of wisdom that Jesus offered for living your best life.

1. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. (Matthew 6:34) Too often in life, we worry about issues that work themselves out over time. Worrying does not change anything. It is a waste of time, energy and life itself. Plan your steps, but refuse to allow fear of what might go wrong to consume you. Instead, focus on what you can do in the present moment to create the kind of future you want.

2. Do not judge and you will not be judged. (Luke 6:37) There may be people in your life right now who are doing things you don't agree with, perhaps even engaging in behavior that is destructive to them. Choose to love them and pray for them, without judgment. Choose compassion and empathy, perhaps even tough love, but reserve judgment.

3. Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. (Matthew 6:1) Do good and treat people well because it is the right thing to do, not because of the accolades or rewards you might receive from others. Make sure your motives are pure.

4. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12) Humility is freedom - freedom from the pressure to be perfect, keep up appearances, or be better than everyone else. Success is a combination of working hard and being blessed with opportunities, abilities and people who support you. None of us achieves or succeeds solely by our own power. Don't worry about taking credit or making yourself look good. Focus on serving, learning and loving, and the rewards will come.

5. Everything is possible for him who believes. (Mark 9:23) Consider your biggest dream for your life. It is not enough to say you will achieve it. You must believe it. You may not know exactly how it will become true for you. Your first step is to simply to believe it's possible. Say it out loud and often, It's possible! With God, all things are possible.

6. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Most know this scripture as a foundational statement for the Christian faith. But there is something I find intriguing in its wording. It is the connection between loving and giving. God loved us, and therefore, he gave. When you love others, you give of yourself, sometimes in very unselfish and sacrificial ways. Saying you love someone is not enough. Give of yourself - your time, energy, affection and resources and they will truly know you love them.

7. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32) The truth sets you free in many ways. Be truthful with yourself about the issues of your life. Speak your truth in your relationships. Countless relationships fail because one person or both are unwilling to speak from their hearts. Be truthful about what you want and what you are afraid of, and you will gain the strength to step fully into the rich, abundant life you were created to live.

My challenge to you this week: Use divine wisdom to guide you in your interactions with others and the decisions you need to make. Choose to live and love fully and freely.

Journaling assignment:What have you been trying to figure out? What relationship is stuck in a rut? What dilemma are you facing? What does God's wisdom tell you is the right next step for you?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Add to Your Faith

I read this one today and loved it! What a great reminder that I already have ALL that I need to live a powerful life for His Glory ... and what better life could there be?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. --2 Peter 2:5-7

In the passage before this one is an amazing idea. Peter told us that we have everything we need right now for “life and godliness.” We don’t have to wait. We’re not missing any pieces to be everything God wants us to be. He has made us alive and given us access to all His power. Sin can’t stop us.

Today’s passage is the first part and it starts with “make every effort.” In other words, it’s time to get to work. God gave us this “access to the divine nature,” this spiritual power, as a gift. Our effort didn’t earn it for us. We didn’t work for it. But now, Peter says, it’s time for us to work with it.

Imagine if Superman never flew. Or ran faster than a speeding bullet. Or jumped higher than the tallest building. What a waste of power!

Peter next describes how to make the best use of ours -- by adding to our faith in God the following qualities one on top of the other.

Add to your faith . . .
GOODNESS: Because I have faith in God -- because I trust Him -- I need to add goodness, the desire to do the right things and not the wrong things. That’s what a good person is like, right? We can be good people with the power God has given to us in Jesus.

KNOWLEDGE: But just wanting to do the right thing isn’t enough. I need to know the right things to do. I need knowledge of God’s standard for right and wrong. It’s all right there in the Bible in front of you (or on your computer), but it’s going to take work to get it off those pages and into your head and actions.

SELF CONTROL: Wanting to do good and then figuring out what is good -- that’s a great start. But it’s not worth as much if you can’t make yourself do it. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that doing good doesn’t come naturally. Peter says I have to work on my self-control -- overcoming my tendency to stop doing hard good things or to start doing easy bad things.

PERSERVERENCE: Self-control + time = perseverance. The 400-meter runner’s body tells him to stop. He exercises self-control for a minute or two, ignoring his body’s impulse, to complete the race. The marathon runner’s body tells him to stop. He ignores that message for hours. We can do the same in choosing to do good. That’s perseverance.

GODLINESS: Our God is good, knows the good to do, and exercises self-control in getting the good done. All the time. Godliness turns a week’s worth of good intentions into a lifelong commitment to using our power for God's good. It’s what we become known for as “imitators of God.”

BROTHERLY KINDNESS: Now it’s time for me to work to focus that goodness on other people. I’ve got two brothers. They can expect that I’ll be there for them in a way I wouldn’t necessarily be available to "just a friend." Peter says I have the power to treat everyone as a brother, to give away my time and energy and money to help those in need.

LOVE: Now we’ve reached the top of the pyramid. It’s one thing to sacrifice an afternoon to help out a brother. It’s another to sacrifice my life -- my agenda, my rights, my personal space -- to give myself away heart and soul to those God brings me into deep relationship with. This is the way God loved me in sacrificing His Son to buy me back from death. I can’t love like this without His power in me. With it, I can work toward loving that way. And it will be work.

This list isn’t just a good way to live. It’s not just some rules for Christians. Peter makes it clear: If you are in Christ, this is who you are destined to be. It’s the life you were meant for.

You have to participate in this process, though. You have to organize your life to keep building on these qualities. But God will give you the power to be this person.

Why not try it? Go ahead. Step on the gas.

Friday, November 2, 2007

26 days ...

it hit me yesterday that i'm leaving for cebu city, philippines in 26 days ... WOW!!

God has provided financial support for our team in amazingly wonderful ways! now we're down to the brass tacks of planning out our time there, then doing whatever prep is needed before we take off on 11/28. i'm hoping we'll nail the plan down this sunday when we meet with pastor les & 2 others from the church. it's gonna be FUN to start seeing the trip unfold before us.

at the beginning of october, our team did a day retreat on the lake. it was simple and incredible. we took a couple hours and each got a piece of dirt somewhere to read the Word and talk with God. it was a glorious day & His presence was real and powerful. i found myself crying a bit as i realized our time with God was up .... and i've been craving more time like that since then.

so YAY for thanksgiving weekend being right before our trip. that will give me a chance to steal away again (hopefully to some peaceful woods or lake) and simply be STILL with God.

my wonderful friend kathy will be back in town tomorrow. she's sold her place here and will be packing, closing and heading back north to KS in a few days. i'm looking forward to just hanging out with her while she's here; we always find a million random things to talk about and i've missed her tons!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


i LOVE how God is so wonderfully consistent & faithful. i especially love it when He speaks to me soooooo clearly that i CAN NOT miss it! check out the article i read this morning ....

Hearing God
Have you heard from God lately? Has he sent you an email, a text message, a voicemail? While that sounds silly to us, wouldn’t it be so much easier? Do you even know what the sound of His voice is like?

Unfortunately God doesn’t use our modern technology designed to help us multitask and use every minute of our day to the fullest. God doesn’t want us to be so busy. He wants us to take time to listen and be attentive to Him…and that comes in the silence.

So how do we listen for the voice of God when we don’t even know what it sounds like?

The first step in listening for the voice of God is to begin a relationship with Him. Learn about who He really is; study His character.

Sometimes our view of God is distorted by images from what other people say about Him: God the policeman, dictator, grandfather, old man, Santa Claus. We put Him in a box and only see one part of Him whether it is based on anything real or not.

We need to look to scripture and find out who He really is. Only then do we get a true picture of who God is.

I Kings 19: 11-13
“The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”

Elijah found out that God was not in the things he would have thought, the wind, the earthquake, the fire. He had to wait to see where God really was. God was in the gentle whisper.

What if Elijah had been in a hurry or busy- would he have missed it? Do you?

Sometimes we make our spiritual lives about what we can get from God. We come with our Bible study and read the passage, answer some questions, pray our laundry list of requests and then we check the box that we are done.

We have spent our entire “quiet time” doing and asking and never actually being quiet.

Right now stop everything that you are doing and sit absolutely silent for 15 minutes. Set a timer if you have to. It will feel like a long time. But just listen to see if you can hear God’s gentle whisper.

Allow yourself to wait out the discomfort and distractions…and just listen.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


one of my brothers - the one with 5 kids - is coming for a visit tomorrow. YAY!!! i'm excited to see them and just hang out. they'll only be here until sat afternoon & then have to finish the drive back home to MI but it will be a blast no matter how much time we have. :-)

their visit has "motivated" me to get unpacked (yes, ALL the boxes are gone!) and to actually hang pictures and really MOVE IN. i've live here since september and just haven't ever quite finished. the REALLY crazy thing is that this is the most "moved in" i've been anywhere since sept 2001 when i moved from sandy springs and bought my townhome. there are 8 million reasons why that's the case .... and i won't even start that list here .... but i will say that i'm LOVING my place and excited to finish off a couple last things.

our gaggle started basic training last night. nope, we are not in the military! it's a class based on the beautitudes (ya know - "blessed are the poor for they will inherit the earth ... " and all that). it's a HARD class for me to sit through - it's 2 hours of mostly sitting & listening AND the guy who teaches is great but sometimes i feel like he's speaking in a different language than i do.

it' s my 2nd time in the class (no, i did NOT flunk out the 1st time!) and i'd forgotten how challenging it is for me. TRUTH: a huge part of why the class is challenging for me is that it CHALLENGES me. it makes me think about my heart, my head and my soul and the connection between them all. YES, i do believe there IS a connection.

it's not easy for me to examine those places .... really truly examine ... because it means acknowleding my imperfections. actually, i know i have imperfections (no comment required here!) so the real TOUGH part isn't in seeing them but in DOING SOMETHING to work on them.

letting the door to my "ugly side" swing open so that light can shine on it - OUCH!! and then asking Christ to help me make something beautiful - something like him - out of that darkness. THAT is the part that's really really tough. that's the part that challenges me and in many ways, simply brings me to my knees both figuratively & literally.

the part that AMAZES me in all of that is how Christ uses that process to draw me soooooo very close to Him. it's like He's nudging me along, whispering encouragement to me and then hugging me BIG as i inch closer and closer to Him.

incredible awesome amazing and wonderful GOD!!

oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ...
john hallam - the BEST brother in law EVER!!
and gary delaney - one of the nicest, funniest & coolest guys i know!

LIVE BIG today!

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Message in The Message

so i just finished reading a part of the bible i never really thought about before and WOW was it ever worth the read! the intro to "the message remix" talks about an ancient practice called "lectio divina" or spiritual reading. it caught my attention so i kept reading ...

there are four components that make up lectio:
*read * think * pray * live*

there's a couple pages about all this and it's actually really good, meaty (yet easy to read) stuff. i was reading along, nice & relaxed and then i got to the LIVE part. it challenged me. what if i do the reading, thinking & praying and never allow all that to change my life? then i miss the whole point - ugh!! here's the part that really kicked me in the belly ...

"not only is the sin that you leave in place ugly & damaging, but it stands in the way of your relationship with God - in a much bigger way than something hanging off your face. for God to share His mind and His heart with you, only to have you do nothing about it, implies more than a self-destructive choice. instead of doing what God says, you have chosen yourself as master, as God."

YIKES! i soooo do not wanna do that but i do - every day - and it's only with God that i can stop. (philippians 2) so reading God's word means that He becomes more and more and more a part of me. just like every human relationship forever changes us & impacts me, my relationship with God does that same thing on a much grander scale. WOO HOO!!!

"Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:30)

oh how that statement just feels refreshing. like my load is lighter already. like someone cares.

today, i'm thankful for The Message translation and the fact that God pointed me to that little thing called "Intro".

Thursday, April 5, 2007

day 2 - kinda

so i missed a day but after gaggle i had to eat and then just got lazy. or maybe i was just pondering the great many thoughts to blog about. (way too easy to get LOST in my own mind!)

gaggle was fun last nite. they are officially the 1st people to hear about my blog. we finished up (almost) our study on living victoriously and sheila brought a rob bell dvd that ROCKED and summed up that study better than anything else could have.

check out - we watched RAIN last nite and they are all super great!

i had lunch yesterday with the high school director (inside out) and i guess it's OFFICIAL that i'm moving UP with my girls. YIKES!! i'm excited and scared all at the same time!! i try not to think about the fact that it's another 4 years with the girls.

i'm praying that God will show me exactly who the very best co-leader would be & that He'll lay that call upon their heart so it's HIM doing the convincing & NOT ME. (that's gonna take some serious prayer!) :-)

hanging out with a couple of the girls tonite - yay!! also talking with one of the moms at some point today. her daughter is new to my group and there's a lot of stuff playing out in this family so i want to be a good listener & also have discernment about how to encourage my 8th grader in the midst of what's going on in her world.

i'm thankful thankful thankful for gaggle!! i love that God let's us get to know Him more by getting to know others and seeing Him through their eyes and their hearts.

my devo time today was on forgiveness and i am SO THANKFUL for that precious, amazing gift!! really & truly, where would i be without forgiveness??? from God, from family, from friends .... and what a perfect devo for the Easter weekend coming up.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

can i really do this?

the debate in my head wont stop so i can go crazy or just get busy with the blogging business. i have NO idea what to expect. i just know i want an outlet for the random thoughts running through my brain and i type faster than i write.

i guess this will be part blog, part journal, part conversations with God and hopefully, i'll get here just about every day to make a quick record of the things i'm thankful for. probably way too ambitious but hey, dream BIG!

today i'm thankful for blogging & getting started. i'm thankful for time spent with quim. for my friend cindy who always makes me laugh. for my dog who is THE sweetest & most lovable dog on the planet.

OH!!! i can't forget that i'm WAY thankful for my family and the SUPER FUN voicemail that i'm going to have 16 niece/nephew types by christmas 2007. WOW!!!

so that's day 1 blog. how fun!!!