Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Captive to Christmas

The Holidays can be stressful.  It starts right before Thanksgiving.   There is an under toe of things to do.  The last few years I have struggled with the holidays.  It begins with gifts.  Did I get the right thing?  I don't know what to give so-and-so.  Oh NO!  I forgot about so-and-so.  Then it keeps going, work gets busy as we try to squeeze in all these things before Christmas.  Then there is baking and cooking and eating.  I look down at my waist line and shrug it off because I know there are more parties and food to come.  Then there is a little sadness.  I am sad because there are people I want to see but can't.   As I looked through my address book this year, I saw addresses for family members who have passed, and I miss the tradition of Christmas with them.  This time comes every year, but this year I was caught off guard.  As though I was just not paying attention to the time.

Some where in the middle of all this chaos, the Holy Spirit began to move.  My daughter won an award at school.  She was given the Fruit of the Spirit award for Peace.  I was so proud of her and her beautiful accomplishment.  However, I didn't really consider what God's PEACE really meant.  As I continued to stress over the Holidays and life's little struggles,  I felt like God was telling me, "I have come to set the captives free." 

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
Isaiah 42:6-8
I was being held captive by all the Holidays of this world.  I am struggling with the things of the season that are not of God.  My internal debates about Santa, or my worries of the family get together, who will be there and who will not, are all consuming brain space, and worry.  None of those things are important, if you are focusing on what and who the celebration is really for.  Then the Holy Spirit brought back the subject of peace.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7
....Prince Of Peace, of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  WOW!  No end to the peace found in Jesus.  What a story.  God sent His only son as a baby to free the captives, to give righteousness to a sin marred world, and give us PEACE. It started with a baby.  A baby that would grow into a man that would give us freedom from sin.  He would offer the Holy Spirit to each of us who just believed.
You may be thinking duh, I have heard the Christmas story a million times.  I find that as my belief and Faith in Jesus grows, the more distractions and distortions try to invade my life.  After this year, I am not sure I will ever feel the same, this year there is a new level of personal connection.  A new stronger belief that Peace is possible to an extent I never quite grasped before. The peace found in the gift of Jesus.  Going forward, I will remember that I am FREE.  I no longer need to feel like a captive to the stress of the season.  Jesus came to release me of my stress and worry.  He says in Matthew: "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  My answer is NO.  I can say that by adding more Jesus to my Holidays I can add more PEACE.  Now for the hard part, let go of the control and hand it over to the Prince of Peace!
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:9-14
This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 20, 2013



Lately it seems as everywhere I turn, I am reading blogs and hearing mumbles around the Christian community of exactly what is on my heart these days.  My heart is convicted that as Christians we are missing the biggest mission opportunity of our lives.  That "Secret Mission" field is our children, our homes, and the body of Christ, the church.
If you read my blog then you know the impact the Beauty From Ashes Ministry has had on me.  The Lord has used this to open my eyes to the hurting.  He took that ministry and transformed me from the self-centered worried about all that was wrong with me life, and showed me my worth in Him.  He has shown me the importance of my words, and the love that I give and the love I receive.  He has opened the doors to show me all the need and all the hurting around me, and taught me how to care about it.
In the beginning, as I first started to write this blog, I was looking to serve.  I was looking in essence for purpose.  A place to matter and a place to be needed.  I can remember my mother in law saying to me once that I had that  very place in my own home.  At the time, I really had no idea what she meant.  I thought that mattering meant I was suppose to be serving in a big way.  I thought making a difference meant that I had to be in the middle, the center of some great movement brought on by my tireless efforts to help people.  I could not have been more wrong.
 As I said, the ministry of BFA, taught me something very important.  It taught me how to apply the scripture to my life.  While it is said to be a ministry for Abused women, I firmly believe that everyone should experience this class.  It is the perfect class to apply to the broken world we live in today.  If you have never been abused, I guarantee you are among the abused every day, and you don't even know it. 
As part of the Lord's plan, he not only took me into a classroom as a facilitator for Beauty From Ashes, but he also gave me a part time job at a Christian school.  This is my second year "teaching", and  as I continue in a school setting this is what I know to be true.  I know that the students that I have had last year and this year, come to school with a wide variety of stories.  As children they already have so many things to overcome.  I have in my short time, spoken with children who have been abandoned by their mothers;  I have comforted those who have lost a parent;  I have listened to grandparents who are parenting their grandkids.  I have heard and seen so much need and hurt that it occurs to me that "the secret mission" is in our homes.
Life is busy.  We get wrapped up in work, paying the bills and maybe even in serving, BUT I wonder, how is our family?  As a result of this busyness how is the body?  If our home is eating fast food every night, and having half conversations, what does that mean for the combined body of the church?
I believe everything starts at home.  It is home where we should learn to love and how to love others.  It is home that should be our safe haven, a place where we can find trust and love.  It is home where we should look forward to being everyday, surrounded in the security of our loved ones.  Home should be the happiest place, because our homes should be filled with Jesus, and our hearts should long to be with him.  We need to love and encourage our families first, so then we can go out and shine a light to the body.  I am curious, do you love to be in your home?  Surrounded by your family?  Do you include Jesus in your home?

Regularly, I see that the home is not always a safe place.  The home is not always the place we learn about love.  Often the home is filled with busyness and neglect.  Sometimes the home becomes the place to vent and complain, and the appreciation and love get left out.  The love is assumed, but never expressed.  As a result, we have children looking for love, what it means, what it is, and how to show it.  We have churches filled with people who want to do good, be good, and help others, but have NO IDEA how to love.

I have said it many times, the Bible says we are to LOVE one another, but so few know how to love and show love.  We are so use to empty words and promises, that showing love means saying you are going to call, and not.  I am pretty sure that is not what God had in mind.  I am going to share with you a few things I believe are good ways to show and give love.

  • Be considerate/serve of others first
  • Pray for others...actually pray, really pray, don't just say you will
  • Ask how other people are doing, and mean it.
  • Say I love you excessively don't assume your kids know or believe you
If you want to know what God's definition of love is, see 1 Corinthians Chapter 13

It may seem silly to see that bulleted list, but think about how often you do these things?  What an amazing body we would have if we all took the time to love each other.  I challenge you to "The Secret Mission" this week.  I challenge you to put more love in your home.  I challenge you to put more love in the body.  This week, take the time to make your words a blessing, not a curse.   This week, take your words and give life; not death.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours.

See these other great blogs:

A Holy Experience:


Chance Scoggins:


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The truth about stress

I had an epiphany tonight.  While it has been obvious that I have been stressed out lately.  I have not been able to get over my funk.   I have been sitting on feelings of crying and feeling lost, wallowing in my sad little pity party.  Only I can honestly say I have nothing to feel sorry over.  The truth is, I am struggling with the unknown.  I am struggling with change.  I am in a place where I feel I have no control.

Then I read this:

"Remember: Satan loves to make us focus on the little that’s wrong so we miss the big picture of all that’s right."
                                                                                                                                                       ~Lysa TerKeurst
I have great opportunities in front of me, and I am going to miss the fun and excitement if I don't get over it.  I realized, that my biggest problem is me.  Here I am, in the way again.   I am thinking of me and it is backward, doubtful, and critical.  When I get wrapped up thinking of me, I often find myself in a sad state.  I can see all the bad stuff.  My insecurities and mistakes find their way to the front of the line, and I am missing the picture of all that is right.  I am stuck in the land of  would've, could've, and should'ves.  I don't like that place.
We have been reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes in Sunday School.  So far, it can be described as a meaningless chasing of the wind.  Solomon the author of the book talks about all the things he did to find happiness, meaning, and joy in life.  In the first few chapters he describes all the things he did in search of these things, but in all his toil he found it was meaningless.  What I have discerned from this part of God's word is this; when you are doing something for your own interests and gain, the feelings of joy and happiness are fleeting.  However, when you are serving God via serving others,  when life is not about just you, then there is meaning and real joy.
I only mention this, because here I have been stuck in this stressed out mess, thinking only how I feel and what I have to do.  I could go on for hours with more I's and me's.  The point is, I need to think about something bigger.  I need to stop looking at just me, I need to stop chasing the wind.  If I am going to get out of my stress rut, I need to get focused on the bigger picture. 
What is the bigger picture you ask?  Well, for me it is my family.  That old saying "if mama ain't happy then nobody is happy," well, it is totally true!  I need to focus on how I can comfort my daughter who has totally picked up on my edgy attitude.  I need to ease her transitions, and not focus on mine.  I need to give more of myself to the people who give themselves to me.  I need to focus on what God has laid on my heart.  God has told me, I am in a season of trust.  He is asking me to trust Him for all the good things that I can not see happening because I am not able to imagine them as reality.  While good changes are coming, He is saying let me work it out.  He continues to whisper trust me, while I am stuck in my corner listening to the little wrongs.  I have taken those little wrongs and made them into mountains, that I have predetermined I can not climb.  ( At this point I will just add that fat people, can't breath in the mountains!)
This is a battle of FAITH. The point is not to climb alone, but to include and rely on God for what I can not control nor do on my own.  I have to decide, trust God on faith alone, or listen to the condemnation in my head.  As a Christian, I try to walk by the truth of God's word.  Here is what I've got:
  1. "There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
  2. "For we were not given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self discipline." 2Timothy 1:7
  3. "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." 1Peter 5:7
  4. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise worthy think about such things."  Phillipians 4:8
Using these scriptures as truth, I need to set my mindset as follows: 
  • God does not condemn me.
  • Fear is not of God.
  •  I must continue to tell him what matters to me, because I matter to him.
  • Stop thinking negatively and start thinking about God and HIS truth, all that is good, noble, lovely, and most of all PRAISE WORTHY!
I am on a journey with God, and this season is a hard one.  Trusting and letting go of my perceived control, are not easy.   I am going to do my best to take my new adjusted mindset accept the good and just enjoy the ride.
This IS my mindset, now let me hear yours!

A journey to Baptism

I have to share this sweet story with y'all.  This past weekend my daughter was Baptized.  It was a very special moment for our family. 

It was last summer that she asked my husband and I to pray with her, so that she could take Jesus in her heart.  We prayed that simple prayer with her.  She then proceeded a year long discussion about being Baptized.  As her parents we were not sure what to do, it was our belief that she was too young to get Baptized. 

The Holy Spirit had other plans.  He continued to stir her heart.  She continued to talk about it, and she continued to ask questions and insist on being Baptized.  She attends a private Christian school, and during a chapel, she accepted the altar call.  She took that opportunity to tell the Administrator that she wanted to get Baptized.  Because I work at the school, the Administrator then asked to speak to me.  The Administrator reminded me, that Jesus said," let the Children come to me," and to consider her child like faith, and not to be a hindrance.  In the end, my husband and I decided we would move forward.

In our church, she had to attend a Children's new Christian class before she could proceed with Baptism.  My husband volunteered to be her partner in the class.  He attended every class with her.  On a side note, this was a really cool and really special thing, and I am so honored to be married to a man who is committed to his daughter this way.  They told me about the class, and they had a wonderful time.  My husband was amazed at how much she already knew.  She just amazed us.

By her lead, we let her pick the date of her Baptism.  She decided, she would wait until the weekend after her 6th birthday, that just happened to be Father's Day weekend.  Father's day has come and gone, and she is now Baptized.  She practiced her testimony all week.  She stood under the lights and in front of the congregation and exhibited 1 John 4:18:
           Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.

 She struggled a little reading it, but she made it through with such courage.  I imagine that Jesus and the heavens rejoiced as she made her proclamation that ,"Jesus Christ is Lord."

The love of the Lord then materialized.  I have never been in a church that "LOVES OUT" the way our church does.  The members of the body reached out to our little family.  We had so many encourage our daughter and congratulate her.  There were hugs and well wishes all day long.  The Lord poured out his love on my daughter through the Holy Spirit, and he took it a step further by giving us a real life out pouring of love.

This was a proud moment for our family.  This is a moment that I will remember forever.  I have  a deep love for my daughter, one that drives me to make decisions based on what is best for her first.  This love that I have for her, my only child, is the same type of love that God has for each of His children.

God desires each of us to know this great love.  He desires all of us to have the comfort and safety of parents who adore us.  I know that there are many who don't have this kind of family.  There are many who feel alone, scared, and wonder what love feels like.  The truth is, in the absence of a family filled with love, there is a heavenly father who longs to show you great love.  While you may wish for it to be different, I challenge you to let him show you great love through the body of His church.  He will meet your needs, when you ALLOW him in and let him be in control.

Take a journey with him, and in the meantime take this encouragement:

 "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."   Ephesians 3: 17b-19
This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

***Just a note to say I wrote this back in June.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love through God's eyes

Love.  I can not talk about it enough.  1 Peter 4: 8 says,

" Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Love is something on my mind quite a bit these days.  I guess it is because the Holy Spirit is giving me a new understanding of love.  God realizes that I am hard headed and not naturally inclined to obedience.  It has not been enough to hear the story of Jesus over and over again.  He has began to open my eyes to identify when people are giving love unconditionally and with true sacrifice.

As a child, love is something that you just do.  I don't know that I ever really loved anything actively.  Then as an adult, I found active love.  I married my husband, I found myself doing things I would never have done before, mainly house work.  I can remember right after we were married, I had a day off, and I cleaned the bathroom.  When my darling husband came home, he took his finger across the counter top and said, "you call this clean?"  My reaction was to stop cleaning the bathroom.  It took a few years, before I began cleaning the bathroom again. 

Just like cleaning a bathroom, love is something I have struggled with.  The story of Jesus' love is about sacrifice.  Sacrifice is not a word, that is easy to use in reference to me.  However, God has a way of getting his point across.  There is a true blessing and lesson in having children.  When I became pregnant, I knew that my selfishness was going to have to take the back seat to a baby.  I can remember praying, " Lord, give me a servants heart."  The Lord in turn made me a slave to a baby!  The beauty of it, was that it did not feel like slavery.  I was doing everything out of sacrificial love for her.  I had a glimpse of the love of Jesus, internalizing the love of a parent for a child.

Giving sacrificial love to someone as loveable as my daughter was easy.  However, recognizing it and offering it to others (my hubby), has not been so easy for me.  I find that I am skeptical of the motives of others, and if I am being honest, I often think of what is best for me first.  I even sometimes struggle with missing a party or God forbid a BUNCO in the name of staying home with my family.  Writing that "out loud" makes me cringe a bit, because the truth is I dearly love my family, but I find myself wanting to "have my cake and eat it too."  I have to actively remind myself, that my presence at home matters to them.  If I miss a social event, I won't die, and more importantly, it shows my husband and daughter that I put them first.  That sometimes feels like a huge sacrifice.

The Lord is faithful and continues to show me sacrificial love, and what it really looks like.  He continues to tug on my heart that sacrificial love should come easier.  He continues to urge me: " Love never fails."

The best example of love is of course, Jesus, sacrificing his life for our sins.  However, here on earth and in my everyday life, I can easily think of a great example:  My mother in law.

I know there are some of you who are cringing at the thought.  I know that not everyone is as blessed as I am.  From the beginning of my relationship with her son, she decided she was going to like me, no matter what.  From the beginning, I included her in our life together.  I even invited her to go wedding dress shopping with me.  Through her, God has shown me a wonderful example of true sacrificial love.

She does not have to love me, but she just does.  Here are a few ways that she sacrifices on my behalf.  For those of you who don't know, I work with my mother-in-law. (Part-time, Part-time is what we call it.)  She owns a small business and just her and I work in the front office.  When I became pregnant, we changed everything for me and baby.  Now that my daughter is 6 she still works around our schedule.  She works overtime and takes care of things, so I can go and be mommy when I need to be.  As a result she doesn't get much time off.  She gives and gives of herself and her time and does not ask for much nor does she complain often.  In fact, she often gives us days off in the name of play dates.  She has sacrificed her time, so that I get to be with my daughter when she needs me.  I can be with her after school, on a field trip, or just to have a mommy daughter lunch.  I am not sure that I know anyone else, who gives of themselves the way she does for the sake of me and my little family.

Her example makes me question, the way I show my love.  Do I love sacrificially?  Do I love unconditionally?   Well, as far is my daughter is concerned yes, that is easy and quite natural.  However, I find that giving sacrificial love to other people is more difficult.  I always find myself in the cross-hairs of what I want, verses what my husband would like for me to do.  While these questions may sound silly: should I clean the house or go shopping?  should I let him have the first shower? can I take his plate to the kitchen without rolling my eyes? they make a point.

The point is, I struggle with the every day minor things that need to be done to care and show love for my family.  I struggle making the bed, unloading the dishwasher, and putting up the ironing board.  They feel like terrible meaningless chores.  I never consider how my husband feels about them, or what would make him happy.  He is a bed maker, and I am not, but is it sacrificing to much to take 4 minutes to make it?  These small things show him that he matters to me.  I admit, I have not been very good about making the little things a priority.  It is all the little things that add together to become the things that show love.

Think back to your childhood, who and what were the things that meant the most to you?  If I look back at my childhood, I immediately think of my grandmother.  I loved her dearly.  Why?  I loved her because she always made my favorite snack.  She took the time to teach me silly songs.  She took pride in keeping the small details of the things I liked; always having what I wanted when I needed it.  She kept a record of all my good stuff; she did not keep a record of my wrongs. 

I Corinthians 13: 5-7
Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.

It occurs to me that in order to see love through God's eyes, you have to love sacrificially.  Scripture tells us, that to follow Jesus is to die to this life and walk in a new life with him.  Love does cover a multitude of sin, because true sacrificial love puts me last and others first.  My experience with personal sin, usually starts with a selfish or self serving desire.  So I ask, how do you love?  Do you love in the small details of everyday life?  Do you always trust, always hope, and always endure?  or do you keep a record of wrong?  This week I challenge you:
                           " Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

This week, take a look at love through God's eyes.  This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trust Me

When I was a teenager I had this poster, and I loved it.  The toad says, "  Trust me, I swear I am a prince, just one kiss!"  The  poster continued with all of the stereotypical, pick up lines until, the text just faded away.  This poster hung in my room until I left for college.

When I think about trust now, this poster automatically came to my mind.  It was like even as a young girl I was weary of, "too good to be true."  I was skeptical of almost everything.  I grew up in a house where it was common practice to be "realistic", and being realistic meant that you can't expect the natural outcome to always be in your favor, or good for that matter.  The house was divided: the glass was half empty on one side; and half full on the other.

As I examine my ability to trust, it is directly correlated to my ability to have faith.  "Trust me," is something that has been echoing in the back of my mind.  I hear God's voice telling me, "trust me, trust me."  It is almost and everyday occurrence right now.  It is like all of the sudden God has revealed to me that I need to trust him completely, NOT half way.

CONFESSION:  I have trust issues.  My husband would say,"UM, HELLO, you are just figuring that out?"  He would say from the time he met me, I had to ask an opinion of anyone else, instead of just listen to him.  This of course comes from the same husband who in cahoots with his father, fooled me into believing that the chubby weather man was really the Spurs Coyote mascot.  After that, how could I have trouble believing him???

As far as the real world is considered, I believe that the world is filled with lies.  The ruler of this world wants us to walk around thinking that the class is half empty.  The thought is so flippant, we don't see the deep repercussions it actually has on our ability to trust and have faith in something unseen.  It is one of the many tiny twists Satan uses to separate us from God.

You see the premise of Christianity is that Jesus came and died on the cross to save us of our sins.  The fact is, we did nothing, and we continue to do nothing to deserve God's love and sacrifice.  Now put it into reality, you are asking me to believe that I have done nothing to earn or deserve this wildly extravagant sacrifice, but it is mine out of love alone.  Is the class half empty?  or half full?  TRUST ME, he says.

Here I am today, and I find myself listening to that voice.  I am choosing to trust.  In that act of obedience something incredible is happening.  " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  This verse has come to life in me, in a new way, all because I decided to listen to that voice saying: TRUST ME.

I have prayed many things in my life.  I can see the answers of my prayers unfolding before my eyes.  The answers are things that I can say, have nothing to do with my ability, but rest solely on the sovereignty and faithfulness of God's love.  I have prayed for years saying: "Lord, I want to serve you, take my life and make it yours."  The Lord has given me opportunities to serve.

I did not imagine that where I would serve would be so far out of my comfort zone.  Beauty From Ashes ministry has blessed me, but the original thought of serving in it was outright fear.  God said, "Trust me.  Please sit in this room and listen to real life horror stories about how people were abused and destroyed emotionally and physically, and I will show you what to do."  Then the Lord said, "I will be with you."  I remember thinking, this is what I prayed for, a place to serve.  God has answered my prayer, I need to see where God takes this.

God showed me that after the 12 week class and sometimes sooner, he can take the mountains that some women are carrying and HE CAN MOVE THEM.  I have seen a few seasons of this class and with each class and each precious woman, I see God showing me amazing things.  I not only see the changes and hope in the eyes if the those women, but he works in me too.  I see that I can trust him.  He is faithful and he NEVER FAILS.  I find that God is showing me this scripture nearly everyday:

"..... so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
                                                                                                                           Ephesians 3:17-19

God is moving in my life.  He is filling me to HIS MEASURE, not my own.  He is changing things all around me.   I will be teaching pre-school in the fall.  Another place, I feel He has called me to serve.  I will be in a Christian school teaching about Jesus.  A couple of years ago the thought of being in a classroom full of four years olds would have scared me to death.  Today,  I hear God saying, "Trust Me."  I am not afraid, but truly excited. 

I am not sure where this road is going, but I continue to hear trust me.  There are other areas of my life that are churning with change, but in the moments that I feel fear creeping in, there is also now a new reaction.  The new reaction is the decision to just trust God. 

I loved that old toad poster, but going forward, I think I am going to trust.  Don't get me wrong, I am not going to trust that toad.  I am going to confidently trust my Father in heaven who has time and time again shown me in life and scripture that He is completely trustworthy.  Even if I have to remind myself every now and then; or every few seconds!

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Not Good At Anything

There was a time in my life where I was just sure I was going to try out for American Idol.  Don't misunderstand me, I can NOT sing.  I was intrigued by the fascination of the try out, and well, I really just like to sing loud to annoy my husband and family.  It began with a: "mimimimi...uh-hem,  The sun will come out tomorrow, betch your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there will be sun!"  The immediate response from my family was, "Oh no not again, she wants to be the next American Idol."

After a while, I decided that Idol was not my thing, I was going to be the Last Comic Standing.  I got jokes!  Really, I could tell you a few stories based on my crazy family that would make you laugh.   Then my husband and in-laws decided that I could not do that either.  "Your timing it just off, Miranda,"  or so they would jokingly say.

I moved on, I decided I wanted to be a speaker on the Women of Faith Tour.  The only problem was that I didn't have a tragic life, or a theology degree, so I settled that I had no qualifications for such a position.

God has a funny way of changing my perspective.  As I look at the things I have wanted to do in my life, the common denominator is that they were all about me.  I wanted fame and success, because something I did.  I wanted to be on stage because of something I said.

I have learned something, that has changed my life.  The way to find what I am really good at, the way to find real happiness in my life has been in obedience to God.  You see,  I believe God gives everyone gifts.  The key is that when you are given a gift, it is to GLORIFY GOD, not yourself.  The major flaw in all my life "plans" so far have been that they were to glorify me.

Fast forward to today.  I am staring down a new path. I am now a facilitator for Beauty from Ashes.  That means I lead a group for the ministry, and the reality is, I just ask God to give me everything.  I do nothing, and HE accomplishes everything.  I pray, I ask for his guidance.  He shows up every time and gives me and the ladies everything we each need to accomplish HIS GOALS.  It is like what Hebrews 2:10 says:  "God is the One who made all things, and all things are for HIS glory."  All I have to do is be faithful and obedient.

My next great adventure starts in the fall, Preschool teacher!  Yes, you read that right.  I am going to be in a room full of four year olds next year. Never in a million years, would I have imagined this is where God wanted me, but here I stand ready to serve God.   I feel a calling to be with those kiddos.  I feel as though God is trusting me with planting the seeds of His love.  He has shown me great love.  While I am sure there will be days that  I will wonder what I have gotten into; I know that based on his word, He will equip me for what lies ahead.

For years, I always wondered how I would know what my calling is?  How do I know what I am good at?  It has taken me awhile, but I have discovered that finding what I am good at has nothing to do with me, it has to do with serving God and serving others.  I have said many times over many blogs, that the Bibles says we are called to love one another.  It is interesting, how much I have loved worrying about me, and what I need and what I am gong to do.  The minute I stopped and focused on what God wanted and what God has called all of us to do and be, the good just happened.

This week, I would encourage you to look past yourself and love out.  Offer your time to someone other than yourself, and maybe you will stumble across the same thing I did.  I found that I am no good at anything, when I am not including and glorifying God.

Philippians 1
9 This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love;  10 that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good;

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A bad day

1 John 4:7-8

"Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

This was the verse of the day today on my Bible App.  I have to say today was a really crummy day, that just added to the crummy day that was yesterday in light of the Boston Marathon and the terrorist attack.  Today I was bombarded with bad news.  Turn on the TV and there is the carnage of the marathon, the lack of answers, and the weak sounds of the government.  Frankly it concerns me when our President says, "they will feel the full weight of justice."  It is because my definition of justice is completely different then his.  That is for another blog though.

The bad news begins.  I get to work and learn the daughter of a former co-worker has been abused by someone who worked at her school.  Tears filled my eyes, and my heart sank, thinking of the devastation and shame she must be feeling.  If my memory serves correctly, she is only in the 2nd grade.  My work with Beauty for Ashes, an abuse ministry, gives me unique insight as to the road she will have to walk because someone stole her innocence.

The day goes on.  An email about the pending death of a friend of my mother-in-law.  A sweet woman who has lived with Alzheimer's for quite sometime.   Then a message of another friend who has survived cancer once before, to find two new tumors.  After work I got a mysterious email from the son of an old friend of my mothers who is looking for my mom.  He wanted to tell my mom about the death of his mother.  This news does not even include the death of my husband's uncle, or the dear friend who was in a car accident on Monday.

I stand and say....NO MORE BAD NEWS!!!!

As I prayed through out the day for all these needs.  I asked God, what am I suppose to do?  I start thinking of scripture.  The first  the verse that comes to mind says," Count it all joy when various trials......"  Then I think, no that is not right.  In my heart I hear," Shine the light."  Prayerfully I confess, I am sad, I am tired and in my state, I am not sure how I can get it together and shine the light.  How do you shine the light when things seem so sad?  How do you show God when the world around you is so broken and you feel broken and your heartaches for the lives of the people around you.

The answer came to me quite clearly: LOVE!

That brings me back to the verse of the day. "Let us love one another, love comes from God....God is love." It also says, " whoever does not love, does not know God."  I look around at the people I know, the community I live in, and so-on and so-on.  It is easy to say that the world needs God, but I would like to interchange the word God with what the scripture says God is, and that is LOVE.  The world needs love.  If you are like me you are thinking of old song right now.  But can it really be that simple?

The Bible says, "...the greatest of these is love."  When I say love, I don't mean the worldly view.  As a matter of fact that is our problem.  It is like love is assumed to be this great one night stand, or the complicated dragged out romantic relationship on a sitcom.  Don't even get me started on the Twilight series!  I know there are many of you that love that series, but I am sorry to say I am stuck thinking that it is not only disgusting to love a vampire, but I find it even  more disturbing that he is like 500 years old and she is like 17. 

Love is so much more than we think or give attention to.  Everyone uses the love chapter in their wedding, 1 Corinthians 13, but how do we really love each other.  In my house, love often comes out in frustration; have a bad day, take it out on our safe people instead of cherishing them.  We often hold records of wrongs long after we say we have forgiven.  How many times do we sacrifice something we really want, for someone else?  Can you imagine the bright light we could shine if we spent more time loving and sacrificing for one another?  The key, less me, more sacrifice, more love, and more GOD.

As I wrap up a long day filled with bad news, and heartbreak, all of the sudden, I can't help but feel loved.  God loves me, because, "love comes from God and God is love."  It doesn't matter, what news I hear and the sadness that may follow.  God is mighty!  I know that I am not alone, and that I am loved greatly.  "So let us love one another" and shine the light of God in the darkness and sadness around us.   I choose to love and forget whatever sadness I may have, and let go of the "ME mentality."  I am going to shine the light and love others, even on days when I don't want to.

The bible says:  "Love never fails,"  because, "God is love."  I am going to trust in God who is love no matter what the news of the day brings.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Friday, February 22, 2013

To Settle or Not To Settle, that is the question.....

Lately I have been thinking about the issue of settling.  The Lord has put this on my heart and revealed a real truth to me through my daughter.  First let me tell you a true story:

I was 17 when I met my first real boyfriend.  In my teen mind, he was so dreamy!  He was exactly what I thought I wanted and loved.  He had dark hair and green eyes, and that was my teen definition of handsome.  He was interested in me, and gave me lots of attention.  You see, at that time of my life I was home alone a lot.  I was constantly sick.  I had chronic strep throat, and that aggrevated my type one diabetes.  I was put on a program called Homebound.  Homebound was when a teacher would come to my house once a week, bring me school work and I was to complete it.  My parents would work all day, and I was just home.  This handsome 19 year old, was out of school, so he had plenty of time to call me.  The first few months were great.

Then that is when things changed.   I can't even tell you when they changed, but they changed.  He all of the sudden he had opinions about my friends.  He also had opinions about my hair, shoes, and clothes I wore.  He was a jealous guy.  It was a subtle transition from being my first love to being someone who controlled me.  I thought this is the way it was suppose to be, I thought this was as good as it gets.  He never hit me, he just loved me or at least that is what I told myself.

About three years into the relationship, I knew something wasn't right.  I could feel it, but could not quite put my finger on it.  I began to pray about it.  It took a year, but the Lord gave me the strength and courage to break up with him.  It was then that I began to realize what I had lost, and what he had controlled.  He continued to call me to try to get back together.  It took the following exchange for him to finally leave me alone.  I was home from college.  He came to my parents house, and we talked outside.  I got a glimpse of what could have been really bad situation.  He grabbed my arm, and pulled me very close to him, squeezing my arm, and threatened me, by saying, "I know your schedule.  I can come into your apratment and get you."  Then I am not sure this was the smartest move I ever made, but this was my response,"I dare you!  Come for me, I f''ing dare you, come for me, I will be waiting."  (Sorry, I was a foul mouth teen!)  At that point, he backed down, and I only had one call after that.  It was the, I am going to kill myself call.  He didn't kill himself, but it was finally over.

After the break up, I was lost.  I spent a lot of time asking myself, why and how this could have happen.   It was years later that a friend said something to me, that always stuck.  She said, "y'know, my mom always told me not to settle, to just wait until I got everything I wanted."  I realized I had settled.

There are so many reasons in life to settle.  I can think of many situations where I can say now that I settled.  I accepted what I thought was good enough.  Over the years he Lord continues to reveal problem areas in my life that I didn't see before.  The Holy Spirit continues to refine me.  The latest is,  I tend to settle.  I have always fancied myself incrediably confident and I tell myself, that some things just aren't that big of a deal.  That is just simply not always the truth!

You see here is where this whole thought meets my daughter.  I think to understand God's love, it helps to have kids.  It is at that point that you can start to fathom loving someone enough to die for them.  God has given me a beautiful daughter whom I treasure.  I find that I only want the very best for her.  This is exactly how God feels about  me, and all His children.  God gives us so many great scriptures about love, and His love for us.  This is one of my favorites, Isaiah 49:16 "See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."  I love the imagery of always being at the palm of his hand.  There is nothing more comforting than the simple action of holding a hand.  God took the time to reassure us.  He took the time to write about His love for us, and to give us instruction.  The next logical question is why?  Well, because God wants the best for His children.  He wants us to strive to be holy, and sanctified unto Him.  GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS!

Now I stand asking myself, what am I teaching my daughter?  Am I teaching her to settle for good enough?  or am I teaching her to reach for the very best?  I would say that in American now, we have an epidemic of settlers.  We strive for just enough.  Why work for the best, when we can get the minimum for free from our Government.  I think about my attitude and actions and wonder what have I taught my daughter about achievement?  What have I taught her to accept in the name of "keeping the peace," or "showing kindness and giving grace" with a disregard to what is best for her?  What exactly IS good enough?

I know this is a lot for one little blog, but my whole point is that we need to remember that the BEST is what God wants for his children.   The BEST is what I want for my child.  The BEST is also what God wants for me, and I should too.  There should be no sense of guilt for asking too much.  After all, God is the God of big miracles.  Just take a look around, there are miracles happening everyday all around you.  God is bigger than my little box, and better than good enough.

Now in everyday life, to settle or not to settle?  I think I will strive for the what GOD wants for me, and remember what HIS promises are for me.

I Corinthians 2:9
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

I read that and think, God wants what is best.  His best is bigger and far greater than my simple good enough, and He wants all this good for me, my family, and ALL His children!  I need to agree with God, and not settle for less.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My funny valentine...a tragic bug story!

I have to tell this story, because you just CAN NOT make this stuff up.  This was how my valentines day started.  I woke up about 5:30am.  (Yes, that is AM.)  My daughter woke up before her alarm, came down and got in my bed.  I turned on a cartoon, while I went to get my shower.

I thought it felt chilly in the house.  I checked the thermostat and it read 64 degrees.  I proceeded to click on the heater just to get the chill out of the air.  I went and took my shower.  It was after the shower, that my morning became like a scene out of a movie.

I stood in front of the mirror, thinking, it is Valentine's day.  This is a sexy day, maybe I should have shaved my legs, when all of the sudden a BUG fell from the air vent!  I am in my towel and bug fell first in my hair, then on my shoulder as I began to yell.  There I am, ALL OF ME, flailing around the bathroom.  My towel flailing about as I try to make sure the BUG is off of me, and out of my hair.  I stand still, as I eye it on the floor, towel in hand.   At 5:45ish in the morning, my reflexes are slower.  I stand there looking for signs of life, towel in hand.  Then, I say to myself out loud, because talking to myself makes sense at this point.  "I need a shoe, I can't step on that thing with my bare foot!"  I run out of the bathroom, towel in hand, grab the nearest shoe, scream a little and mush the bug.

At this point, my daughter says, "Mommy, what's the matter?"  I mention the bug and she comes running.  She has to see the descimated bug on the floor.  Satisfied, that I had killed the bug beyond coming back to life she retreats to her cartoon, I stand there towel in hand.  I continue to twitch the twitch of the bug is still on me.  As I get dressed, I occasionally brush my hair and shoulder and shiver that, "EWE a bug was on me," shiver.

It occurs to me, that this is pretty funny.  I mean it is around 6am, and I am wide awake.  I have been assaulted by a bug and survived.  I should let my family know that I have survived.  So I text message my mother-in-law and husband.  This is what I got in response:

Mother-in-law:  LMBO

A few minutes pass and then there is this text:

Mother-in-law:  Still LMBO

Then this text comes across:

Husband: What kind of bug was it?

Now, I love that man, BUT REALLY?????  I could have been killed by this tiny bug.  I could have slipped on a wet floor and been laying there with a broken bone.  Need I mention, NAKED!   All I got was what kind of bug was it!  While the fairtales don't describe it this way, this is true love, I swear it is.  There is no one in the world that makes me happier, laugh harder, or madder than that man!  It makes me want to move his boots, so his morning routine will be thrown off!  (You know, the boots I trip over nearly every night!) 

Well, I survived my valentine morning and guess what was on my desk when I got to work:


I guess I will be able to change the world!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ode to Valentine's Day

Oh Valentines, the day of love, hugs.... and chocolate
Oh Valentines, you make me think of the things I love the most:

I love driving fast, rock music blaring on the radio.... and chocolate
I love the refreshing wind before a storm, the smell of rain..... and chocolate
I love the joyful sounds of kids laughing.... and chocolate
I love payday ( the day and the candy bar for that matter)...... and chocolate
I love BUNCO night, with its code language, roaring laughs..... and chocolate
I love the smell of a clean house I have NOT cleaned....and chocolate
I love the ache in my belly after a good laugh..... and chocolate
I love excitement of a holiday....and chocolate
I love a lazy Sunday afternoon.... and chocolate
I love a warm day at the ranch, bugs humming, cows mooing........ and chocolate
I love the idea of loosing weight, but then there is....... chocolate
Most importantly, I love my husband and daughter EVERY SECOND, of EVERY DAY..... and chocolate!

There are 365 days in a year.  How many days do I spend more time talking about the little irritations, rather than enjoying the things I love?  I think I am going to take this Valentine's and stretch it out.  I am going to take it past the greeting cards, and make the LOVE real.  I am going to step it up a bit.  I think instead of "buying the world a coke", lets make it real and buy it a bag of M&Ms!  One day, one bag.....CHANGE THE WORLD through chocolate.  Isn't that what Valentines day is really about?

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Play ground conversations; the definition of marriage?

Because I can't get these things off my mind, I thought maybe writing about them, would give me some peace.  My heart aches over some of these circumstances........

I have never worked in a school before.  I have always been in the business world.  As far as work goes, it has always been customer service, or keeping an eye on how much production we have or don't have, and will sales be good or slow this month.  When I stepped out in faith and took a second part-time job at a school, I did not realize the things I would hear or see.   I believe kids deal with more than we did growing up BUT I had no idea the extent of how life for a child really has changed.

It was a little over a week ago that I had this conversation with my daughter.  She is five.  "Mommy, can a girl marry a girl?"  Me: "Why are you asking?"  Daughter: "Well, so-and-so asked so-and-so if a girl could marry another girl, and then so-and-so said you go to hell for that."  In my head I am having a moment of sheer panic.  I stood there, and thought, " Why are Kindergarteners having this discussion?  Why do they even know anything about gay marriage?"  My answer to her was simple and rooted in God's truth.  "Well, honey, God designed marriage for 1 man and 1 woman.  Marriage is something that happens when you get much older, and when the time is right God will show you who the right man is for you."

This conversation bothered me, because, I thought kids hear these things, worry and take it in, and then what?  I know that this is a controversial subject.  I know that some of you will read this and think of me as a hater because I define marriage as between 1 man and 1 woman.  I will say this then move on:  I believe that the Bible is God's Holy word.  In believing that, I believe he is clear on his opposition to this behavior, but I also believe that this sin is no different than any other sin.  The sin in my life is only different not any better.

Fast forward, one week, and our playground conversations have changed,  This time, it is two little girls.  They are upset because, one has asked about the other's mother.  Both girls do not have their moms.  Each of them have a different story, but still the same the mere mention of the word "mom" brings heartache to them both, and squabble on the playground.  I stand there, thinking to myself these poor babies, how can they function with such loss and confusion?  After it was settled, I spoke to each of them individually, to encourage them,  Right or wrong, this is what I said,"  God did not intend for you not to have your mom, he wanted you to have a wonderful mom, but in the absence of your mom, he will give you everything you need.  It may be found in your grandma, your aunt, your cousins, or your teachers, but he will give you all the love you need, because you are so loved by him."

I have also had to answer questions like, what happens if my dad gets shot?  This was asked after the news of an impending deployment came. My answer for this was given to me ahead of time, in the form of their weekly memorization verses.  Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you?  Do not be afraid, nor dismayed because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  This is the same for deployed daddies, God is with them wherever they go. 

While I have had many silly conversations, I am astounded by what the kids of today hear, know and deal with.  My only conclusion is this we need to spend more time with our kids,  We need to teach them about God's unfailing love.  We need to be the example by which they set their standard.  There are so many children who build their ideas of right and wrong from television shows.  They take a little from here and there, and then build their own version of a moral compass.  The Bible says that we are to be the light.  It is in fact a very dark world out there and if our kids are going to learn to be the light, we must shine, and we must shine even brighter than ever before.  I heard an evangelist say in a sermon once, that we live in a critical time, because the signs are so clear that the end is near.  He proceeded to say it was no coincidence that God had selected us to live in such a time.  While the idea of the end, use to be a very scary subject for me, it is no longer.  I was inspired by this sermon, as that I was chosen to shine light at such a time as this.  I can't help but think of Esther 4: 14b
"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

It is a hard world out there.  We spend a lot of time earning money to give our kids the best of everything, but are we giving them the best of us?  Our world needs more love.  As I write this , I think it needs more forgiveness, but then I cringe thinking of the things I have a hard time forgiving.  There is a reason the Bible says, faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love.  If you LOVE with a true heart, love will keep you from wanting to hurt some one.  That is a good way to start shining the light, LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 

As you go through this week, I hope you will think about the world our kids live in.  I pray that you will be motivated to change it, and I suggest you start with more love.  Give your family time, try loving even when you are too tired.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year, New Prayers

Today our Pastor talked about something that has been on my mind.  He asked, how are you going run the race?  He was referring to the race that is the new year,  He asked if we were going to just finish, if we were running to win, or if we wanted to not only win but take home the reward. 

If  you have been reading my blog, you know that it is not likely that I am going to run anywhere.  However, it does have me considering my life and how I am living it and what I want my goals for the new year to be. 

I had a pretty amazing second half of last year.  I found myself training to be a facilitator for a women's ministry.  A place I never imagined I would ever be.  I also found myself in a classroom full of Kindergarteners, learning about love. 

Last year I wrote a blog about new year resolutions and what I thought about them, and what mine were.  I went back and looked at that post.  I said my resolution was to be in service some where to God. I had no idea where that was going to take me,  That is what I prayed.  I prayed God would use me,  of course when I imagined being used by God it was on a stage for Women of Faith.  I realized that my idea of serving God was often more about me, then about God,  I found myself thinking that if I was not serving in this HUGE capacity that it was somehow not serving.

God has worked on my heart.  He opened the door for me to be part of Beauty for Ashes.  A ministry for abused women.  It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and the funny thing is that it has nothing to do with me.  Beauty For Ashes works because God is the center and focus, I have never been in a place where Gods presence is more apparent.  It has been service done in obedience to his calling.  It is no place I would have ever taken myself.  There were days I thought I don't have time for this, or I am so tired, BUT God was faithful.  I left every meeting more energized to serve and secure in my calling.

God also gave me a second job last year.  In addition to working with my mother-in-law, I now also work with kids.  If you go back and read my post last year about service, it specifically says, I didn't think my calling was KINDERGARTEN.  I am now the before and after school Kindergarten teacher at my daughters school.  I think it is pretty funny how God works.  I have never been happier, than I am with those kids.  I love listening to their conversations.  I love hearing them learn, I love watching them grow.  I believe God wanted to show me love, and he gave me a class room full of kids that give great hugs.  They amaze me everyday.  They are the perfect place to see God, to teach God, to be an example of God, and how much He loves them, and each of us.

So as I think about how I want my new year to go.  I think my prayer is going to change.  I want this year to be about obedience to God's will.  I want to live like God has called me to, even if it means I am completely out of my comfort zone. I want to pray and live like this prayer in Ephesians:

Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

To answer the question of my pastor, do I want to just finish, win, or take home the prize.  For those of you who know me, its easy, I want to take home the prize!  I want this new year, to be the first of many years where my service is in obedience, my will is more God less me, and my life is filled with the "wide, long, high, and deep" love of Christ, filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I can't wait to come back and read this next year, and see what kind of adventures the Lord takes me on for 2013.  I am sure that it will be a road I wasn't planning on traveling.  May God give each of you great adventures wrapped in love this year.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!