Welcome Y'all

Hopefully the name of this blog speaks for itself. I envision it being one of humor, exhortation, random musings, theological discussion, sports, and things that impact my life and could bless yours. Sometimes it might be a verse or a funny story, a sports score that has me up in arms or a profound truth that has hit me. I pray you find your visit here blessing your heart.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Heart Has Been Moved....

beyond the obvious....

the status quo.... 

the convenient.

In some ways, it makes me a little mad.  Maybe not mad, but maybe somewhat (and perhaps embarrassingly) frustrated.  I have been anticipating this current season of my life and now it has been "intruded" upon by this "jaunt" of support for my sister to Africa.  It has helped me think bigger, look deeper, love wider.

I find myself feeling, in some ways, trapped between the now and the not yet.  By this, I mean that I see my world around me and know that we are not created for this world and yet also know that we are to move and breathe about in this world impacting those around us in preparation for our eternal home out of this world.  I know we, as believers, will one day all surround His heavenly throne and in robes of white, and ALL the nations of the world will proclaim his greatness and holiness.  These will include some of those I met while in Africa last week.  The anticipation of "not yet" is not one of morbidity but one of hope of things to come.... and what my role is in this hope.

Over the next several weeks, I hope to post more thoughts and revelations about what I saw and how that impacts my journey here while in this world.  I expect it will look very different than what I had planned.  Isn't that just like the Lord to surprise us in ways we would never choose for ourselves and yet, it is always the best for us?  I am trying to hold on to memories made there and imagine a bigger picture than I have seen in my personal lens. I have seen snapshots of what I think my life has been, what is should be and things that are to come.  I think I needed a wide angle as I have strictly been using the telephoto setting when it comes to my life.  I had my camera set and was shooting all different angles but should have broadened my view.

Walk with me on this journey of discovery and ask yourself if your lens is set on zoom.  Depending on where you are pointing the lens, you might be missing out.  For now, here are some pictures of moments I don't want to forget on my first journey to Ethiopia.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Well, in 3 days, we will be starting our journey to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  It is an exciting yet sobering thought.  Lots of things go through your mind when embarking on something like this.  In our case, several family members are traveling with my youngest sister who will live overseas for at least one year at this writing but you know, things change  God is funny like that sometimes.  There aren't always clear answers.  But there is always faith.

The road is long and rocky
The path is sometimes steep
The light is inconsistent
But there's no time to weep

The ebb and flow of life
The chain of wild events
Even the quiet moments
Can sometimes feel intense

But in these highs and lows of life
I'm choosing not to waste
'Cause God brings some unlikely things
To strengthen my shallow faith.

As your life goes through ups and downs  - from children leaving, families breaking, sickness lingering, hearts aching, questions wondering, time marching, employable looking and words smarting - you have the option and ability to choose what you will do with the hard times.  

Will you sit and wallow?

Will you  talk it to death with friends, family, colleagues?

Will you withdraw from your family, church community, your spouse?

Will you talk to the One that has everything to do with where you are in life
What you are doing in life
Where you are going in life
Who you are going to impact (and who is going to impact you) and 
How long you are actually going to be in life?

I speak from experience... the best advice doesn't come from human words but from the Word of God.

There is a reason you are who you are,
where you are,
where you are going,
who you are going with,
who is not there with you,
how long you are going to be there,
what you are doing,
what you will be doing....

Don't waste the moments of uncertainty.  Press into Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith and know that He has brought you into this season for such a time as this.  It is not random.  He is with you and He is for you and He has gone before you.  Trust Him and know that He is always working to build your faith in Him.  He is serious about that.  It is your lifeblood for abundant life in Him.  

There is NO abundant life outside of Him.

Your direction in and quality of life is determined where and in Whom you place your faith.

Where are you placing yours?

My sister has placed hers in Jesus Christ and the life He has moved her into a place that looks very different than what she thought it would look like even 1 year ago!  However, in her 24 years, I have never, NEVER seen her this happy.  Walking in the footprints of Jesus gives you a confidence that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, what you were created for.  Faith got her to this point of walking in His way.  She is living life abundant and though it will be hard, her faith is strengthened everyday that He has brought her to this place.

Where is your faith and the path of your life?  Where is your trajectory of life focused?  Christ is the only long-term fulfilling place for your faith to settle. 

Love to hear your thoughts on how faith has impacted your life!  Until then....


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kings Harbor Concert

Thank you to everyone, all 750 - 1000 of you, who braved the heat and came down to the harbor the other night for the community concert in Kingwood!!  I got the privilege of working with the greatest band, PIERCED GRIP, and they were wonderful!  Shout outs to Eddie B. (lead guitar), Casey H. (acoustic guitar), Mario P. (bass), Davin B. (drums), Sean B. (sax) and Donald J. (keys).  All of these guys are fantastic musicians but more than that, men of great character and integrity and I am happy to be associated with them.

Most of you know, my album is solidly in the christian genre of music.  Nine times out of 10, I will sing primarily christian music but this opportunity was different in that I was asked to sing a good mix of music including country, pop, oldies, and patriotic in addition to christian.  I had so much fun breaking out of my box and stretching myself physically, mentally, and vocally to watch how the Lord allowed this concert to succeed.  We ended up singing for about 2.5 hours or so which was by far the longest I had ever sang at one event.  I sang some Kelly Clarkson ("You Found Me", "Breakaway"), Carrie Underwood ("Temporary Home"), Pat Benetar ("Hit Me With Your Best Shot"), Sugarland ("Everyday America"), fun oldies ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Walking on Sunshine"), "We Are the World" and also sang a set of patriotic music just to name a few dittys.  I sang a few songs off the album but also got to sing several christian songs that I had not recorded that I just love!  I can't believe my voice held out because a lot of those are some BIG songs but I give all credit to the Lord, He totally brought me through and I actually had comments that my voice sounded stronger near the end than it did at the beginning.  That was totally the Lord!  

The turn out was GREAT!

The weather was HOT!

The band was FANTASTIC!

The opportunity was INCREDIBLE!

The blessing was UNDESERVED but I am so grateful!

Thank you to all who came out and sang along, clapped, helped set up and tear down the sets and stage. Thank you to the wives of all the band members and your willingness to sacrifice your guys for a lot of rehearsal time!  You and your families really gave up a lot and I realize that.  Thank you!
Thank you for the businesses who promoted the concert and the promotion staff.  Great people!

Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity to do what I love and providing more than I ever thought or imagined.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Are The World 2010

Sean Belcan - Horn player from Trinidad
I have started preparing for the Kings Harbor concert on June 18 at 7 PM.  I am so excited about this concert though it is becoming more and more of a realization about how l-o-n-g this concert is going to be. Three hours is what they have asked of me and that is what we will be providing.

Three hours is a long time to do anything... much less sing your guts out! :)

I was told by a guy in the music industry that I respect very much and will absolutely tell it like it is these words...

"If ANYBODY asks you to sing a two hour show, YOU SAY 'NO!"  Absolutely do not do that unless your name is Prince or Springsteen.  Nobody can get away with that much show unless you have a body of work like they do."

To this, I asked... "What about a three hour show?"   His eyes bugged out and then he rolled them ... all the way across the floor.  I took that as another absolute "no-no."

Oh well.... three hours it is.  I have already committed.
Canta la amiga (Does this make sense?)

Anyway, one of the reasons I am so excited about this concert is that I have gotten a lot of my friends and family together to sing with me.  Some of these friends are friends I had in high school and others are friends that I met a couple of months ago.  There are family members that are second cousins and great aunts as well as brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews participating.  Young and old, far and away and near and dear... all coming together to help me out and I am so happy to be part of this group of people.
We Are the World -Ethiopian Constituent
  Fast forward to 2010.....
When I was in middle school, I remember getting the piano sheet music to one of my favorite songs, "We Are The World."  I totally loved that song and would sit down to play and learn parts by plinking them out on the ivories.  My sister and I would sing together and just made good memories.

In honor of the devastation taking place in Haiti, they have re-released the song which I think is better than the original, IMHO.  Hearing it brought back such good memories and I knew I wanted to sing it for the concert.  THANK YOU to all who helped out and sang, played, directed and or supported us in this special endeavor.  I think it is going to be great!!!

Granna and Cousin Rosslyn

Family and Friends coming together for a great cause!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Precious Memories, Indeed

"Mama, it looks like you're gonna have a baby!!!"

In that moment, a quarter of a century ago, it was like the shot heard round the world.  It was my little world but "the world" nonetheless.  And it was approximately 6 months later, that we were given one of the most precious blessings our family has ever received... a new sister.

I remember when she would dance in her crib in the mornings while she waited on someone to come get her for breakfast.

I remember when she got a cute little page-boy haircut (that she would look back at when she was older and despise what my mom had chosen to do with her hair) and how her big brown eyes would open really big when she learned something new.

I remember when she used to write me letters when she was in Kindergarten and I was a freshman at Baylor about how she missed me and told me about what Kodak (the dog) was doing and how she learned to spell a really long word.

I remember when she came up to me mortified after the "birds and the bees" talk with Mom and how we all laughed when she recounted a few phrases that Mom had used.... because WE were mortified.

I remember planning her 16th birthday party with a Survivor theme with my brother and sister and making shirts for them all to wear.

I remember her winning  Homecoming Queen her senior year and her being salutatorian of her class and how that felt to see my "real-live baby doll" get ready to grow up perfectly normal despite the physician recommendation to abort the fetus while she was in utero.

Yes.  She is a miracle.  A miracle which makes these memories precious, indeed.

About 6 months ago, Mom and I were asked to come and speak about the miracle that God had performed in our family by giving us another daughter and another sister.  The banquet coincided with Mother's Day which made the topic all the more poignant.  As we wrote and remembered funny things about her humble beginnings and her aspicious middle years, we both contemplated her future and what it would hold.

I should let you know that Brittany has been an independent girl.  She does things on her own.  She is a  smart (both common sensically and academically speaking), beautiful, healthy, and strong young woman, perfectly capable of handling her life in ways that 24 year olds can.  She makes choices and then stands behind those choices.  She is not typically a follower of the crowds but tends to blaze her own trail as desired.  She is a blessing who has been given the strength by the Lord to handle whatever may come her way.  I expect this will come in handy in the near future.  Our presentation was about the goodness of God and how in all His supernatural wisdom, He stunned the doctors attending her birth and revealed somewhat incomprehensibly that she was physically, developmentally and seemingly genetically perfect despite what tests had clearly predicted.  She was miraculous healed by the hand of Almighty God.... a true gift.  One can only imagine great things in her future.

And in God's perfect timing, the day of our presentation, she revealed to us that she had decided to move to Ethiopia in view of God's calling on her life to work with orphans in Addis Ababa.

Yes.  She was healed for great things. 

They look different than expected.  They often do.
They are more substantial than expected.  They often are.
They're happening in different timing than expected.  They often will.

All the precious memories are God's ways of reminding us that she is His.  He has brought our family more joy from that one life.  It seems that in His infinite wisdom, He sees fit to bring enormous joy into a whole country of lives far away.

Precious memories will be the link to a work that He started 25 years ago.  May the memories that hold her close to our hearts also be the memories that allow us to let her go to touch the lives of others.  As we well know, when she returns, she may be the best memory that those lives will ever have encountered.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

...And the Rain Came Down

We just didn't realize how bad it would be.

The Flood of 2010 on May 1-2 is still on the radar of many Nashville families because they are still waiting.....

The lucky ones are waiting on the final signatures of the contractors who have by now, finished re-constructing and/or refurbishing their homes.

The unlucky ones are still waiting for places to live and regroup.

The lucky ones are going back to work.

The unlucky ones are waiting for their place of business to be reopened or relocated back to the area where the commute is within a fair distance and the monthly gas bill can resume more reasonable percentages of the weekly budget.

We are all waiting for OpryMills Mall to re-open, The Grand Ole Opry to start hosting our stars again, and the Nashville Symphony has lost it's home in the Schermerhorn until at least January 2011.

I was actually planning to participate in a community effort called the Great Day of Service which had to be changed to the Great Day of Swimming.  I have seen that much water in Houston before.... in the form of Hurricane Rita.  The flood that Nashville experienced was one of the greatest natural disasters not caused by a hurricane in at least the recent history of this great city.

Go to fullsize imageAs a Texan by heart and Tennessean by choice, I believe that whoever chose the motto "The Volunteer State" for this small but hearty piece of land, knew what he was doing.  The Great Day of Service turned into the Great Quarter of Service as things are continuing to be done for those who are still doing without for one reason or another.  The clean up is not done.  It is an ongoing process.... and so, Tennesseans everywhere are out and about helping their families... but not only their families.  They are helping friends, neighbors, local businesses, strangers even.  They are organizing, laboring, calling, providing, and still showing up in droves to help out the city that everyone loves.  Nashville is giving back to its own... and its own is so thankful.

Go to fullsize imageI am proud to live in this city.  It is more of a blessing than I ever expected when I chose to leave Texas 8 years ago.  Thank you to those who have helped recreate and restore the city to be a place to be proud of.  It is in this journey that you have made me even prouder to have chosen Tennessee as my home away from home.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Works of Art" Brunch for CERI

This morning, I was honored to have been asked to sing at the Children's Emergency Relief International (CERI) Work of Art Brunch.  What a great turn out and what a great organization!

I had met with Dr. Dearing Garner, my previous pastor from when I was growing up and neighbor, about the possibility of me coming to sing for this great organization for the first annual brunch to honor the children, workers and to fundraise for the work that is happening on the other side of the world in plaes like Sri Lanka and Moldova.  One only has to see the faces of these children who have been touched by the work of CERI and consequently, the hand of Almighty God, to know that this ministry is doing amazing things overseas.  I am blessed to be able to know of the great group of people as well as its current director, Dr. Garner.  He is special to me in particular because he was the pastor that talked with me when I was called to become a christian and he baptized me and my brother.  I was great friends with his only daughter, Laura so I spent many nights over at their home and I many summer days skating in our driveways together.  In a way, as he has raised his family, he is now raising up families all over the world in practical ways to be productive members of their culture and investing time and energy into these faces who need Christ.  He is a man of great integrity and is lending these character qualities to this great ministry.

Please, if your heart has been softened by the words you have read, you have been intrigued by the increasing pace of international adoption in the States, or you just want to love on those precious faces you see on TV, in the grocery store and at your child's school, there might be a place for you to be a part of those children's lives through CERI.  I would love to talk to you about CERI and can put you in contact with Dr. Garner directly so that he can help you find a place for your heart and hands to make a difference in lives that God is so acutely concerned with .... just as He is with you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So Much Activity and So Little Publishing

I have been keeping track on so many things going on but I haven't had time to post about these great things so I am going to try and post events over the last several months and provide a little backstory as we go.  I will try and date them according to appropriate timelines so that you can walk along beside me, albeit a little later, and experience life along this road I've been on now for almost a year!  Crazy!

First up, Children's Emergency Relief International (CERI)

Tune in, I'll have something up later on today.

Blessings abounding to you all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Annnnnddddd... We're BACK!

Good News!!!!  

I've started back on my personal training again.  (OK, so maybe it's "meh" news.)

No.  Not with Dimples.  (It's a long post but WELL worth the time if you would like to laugh at my expense!  HEARTILY laugh at my expense... heading into a guffaw.  Do not drink milk while reading it...  Don't say you haven't been warned...)

I'm back to John.  He's the best and once you have the best, well, settlin' for second best isn't in the plans anymore.  I have strayed once and never again.... John K. is where it is at for me.  Who wants to come with me?  What?  NOBODY?

I try to get others to come and get healthy... not working.  I tell them his price (FREE!!!!!) ... nobody shows.   I tell them his credentials and experience.... not cutting it.  I tell them great central location... I got nothin', I tell ya.  It's unfortunate because he has so many credentials and is giving too-good-too-be-true- deals right now to get this new independent training business started but alas, no takers ... except for moi.

Just wanted to let you know what is going on.  If you have read this blog for awhile, you know of my adventures with the gym, personal training, bootcamps and my ongoing disdains of "planks".  I expect, after my deviance from the narrow way of all things gym-related for the last couple of years, this training period will result in more stories that I will recount here for those looking for a laugh... again at my expense.   I am serious once again about the training and now have a little of my time back to really do this.  I have committed to begin the bootcamp regimen at 6 AM MWF.  

Yes... I AM that crazy.  

Tune in for additional information about the ways I will fall, my misuse (and subsequent potential to break the equipment), the people I am able to lure and those that will be chased away .  

Good times.... good times ahead. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hope is Coming!

As we have been thinking this week about Christ and His sacrifice, I wanted to post this video by S.M. Lockridge.  It has been posted many times before in many other places but I just love the passion and reminder he brings to us in his life-giving words.  Think on these words today and look forward to the weekend because "Sunday's Comin'"!

(Be sure and scroll down and turn off the music player so you won't miss the video.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hiding Out with a Book

As I have been out of commission regarding internet connection and capabilities, I have been reading more than I normally do.  (Carrie, I know you can hardly comprehend that there would be MORE reading than usual but alas, there has been more.)  I love reading and how it allows to you to visualize for yourself the way stories, timelines, characters, scenes play out.  I think movies have made us somewhat lazy and stolen much of our individual imagination, especially as children.  Reading opens up a whole new world and allows you to move at your own pace, mulling over the nuances that the author infers and the word choices which turn "a flower garden" into "a space tucked away behind a potter's cottage carpeted with jewel tones of jade, amythest and crimson buoyed with fragrances of lilacs, roses, and freesias alerting winter that spring is here.

It can also elaborate on "bad circumstances" as being one characterized by phrases like "eight acrid and overflowing toilets", "lice-bitten skin", "bedding was soiled and rancid", "someone's elbow dug into my back, another women's feet were two inches from my face"... and that is about all I need to hear to get the intensity of the bad circumstances.  

In a previous post about one of my favorite books, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, a friend of mine made a comment on here about her favorite book, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  It brought back memories of my mom telling me how she used to just love that book and how she encouraged me to read it from the time I was in elementary school.  I always put her off telling her I didn't want to read about a watchmaker's daughter.  Over the years, she has asked from time to time if I had ever read that book.  Until last week, I had always answered "no."  

Oh, how I wish I had NOT waited until now to read that beautiful book....

The trials and "bad circumstances" Corrie and her sister, Betsie, had to endure during the German occupation of Holland in the 1940's have lived on in the pages of this autobiography to serve as a poignant perspective in the face of suffering.  The courage they demonstrated and the awful, disturbing things they had to endure over a period of several years are both at levels almost incomprehensible to many, especially to me.  

I live a sheltered life.  
They did not.  

I complain.  
They did not.  

I take things for granted.  
They did not.

I forget about Jesus.
They did not.

They lived harmony.
I do not.

They had bravery.
I do not.

They lived with thankfulness in all circumstances.
I do not.

They trusted God at all times, in all things, for all reasons great and small.
I do not.

I am altering my post about far and away my favorite book being Redeeming Love.  This book, The Hiding Place, is every bit as compelling and impactful.  The testimony of God's provision is awe-inspiring.  He is in every detail of every life and our very present Help in time of trouble.  

If you have this book on your shelf and not taken the time to read it... do it.  If you have not taken the time to go out and purchase this book... do it.  If you have never heard of this book and need to find additional references and recommendations... do it.  If you need to see if it is on an audiobook... do it.

I will not request my daughter read this book.  I will insist upon it and hopefully we can read it together as I know I will be looking forward to the time I can re-read this book... over and over again.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marching Onward


The last few weeks have been trying in that I have been dodging bullets in just about every form and fashion.... but really, I guess I expected the onslaught of difficulties to come swiftly and powerfully given what I have committed to full time.  A few things...
- computer hard drive crash
- denial of health insurance due to unfounded (and unbeknownst to me) medical diagnosis
- ministry website elements still remain unfixed after months
- cancelled and/or rescheduled conferences/concerts
   ... and the list goes on....

However, there have been lots of wonderful opportunities presented in this season of serious faith walking...
- Fantastic performance workshop with Tom Jackson where I sang for some Nashville A&R, management companies and consultants... resulted in positive feedback and follow up meetings.
- Offered several great opportunities to sing, speak around lots of different regions in the country, a TV show in Atlanta and radio opportunities in South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky.
- New connections every day in women's ministries across the country - Kay Arthur, Kim Bolton, Kay deKalb Smith, Ginger Moore, Alice Breuer, Jennifer Devlin, Linda Goldfarb, Joyce Oglesby, Patty Mason, Jane Pistole, Erica Lane and so many more...

I am blessed.  Of this, I am sure.

I ask for continued prayer as I am faced everyday with the fact that I am that jar of clay as Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians but I know that inside is where the good stuff is.  The treasure of God's word and His work in my life serves as an example of what He is able to do... immeasureably more than we can ever hope or imagine.  In the practicalities of life that seem to get in the way of ministry and at times, seem to bog down and even stagnate my heart, we remember that ...
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are not destroyed but being fashioned into a more hearty and readily available follower of Christ.  I find warfare around every corner.  This ministry thing is not easy nor is it just for "funsies".  It makes me have to be brave and walk straight up the middle of the battlefield.  He is requiring more faith and dependence from me that He WILL get me, bruises, band-aids and all, to the other side of that mountain I am climbing. 

"I believe, Lord please help my unbelief."  I get that guy in Mark's gospel now.  I think the present day translation might be... "I DO believe, but Lord, I'm skeered!!!"  I know this is what I am called to do but even in the confidence of this knowledge, how is it that fear is always right under the surface making me question the words I hear, the calling I know, the choices I make...  Does anyone know what I am talking about? 

And so I walk, one step at a time, slowly ambling the path laid out for me, trying not to lag behind and run ahead of Him and tempted to do both... each step further along my journey and closer to my Lord.  I see joy and tears, highs and lows, life and death, fruit and baggage... it's all there.  And so is He.

I am blessed.  Of this, I am sure. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Ruthless Trust

RUTHLESS TRUST by Brennan Manning

Are you in a point in your life where things are pretty comfortable? No major crises… no health issues… economy is tough but seems like you’re gonna make it ok… kids have settled into second semester of school. It’s comfortable. You’re comfortable.

This book will disturb you and your comfort. It will not let you sit back, relax and enjoy it. It will not tickle your ears and it will not paint pretty pictures. This is not a package held together by a perfectly tied grosgrain ribbon.

At Christmastime, it might look like one of those packages that’s been wrapped by your 4-year-old - paper not fully covering the gift inside, excessive tape everywhere, edges that just don't match up. There is a string tying it together but you know that the thing that bonds the package to the gift inside is love. It’s your favorite present, isn’t it?

That's what this book is.

Lest Manning think I am insulting him in any way, I most definitely am not. I find myself a bit of a mess after reading this text, kind of like that present wrapped by my sweet little niece, Scarlett Paige, at Christmas. In opening myself up to the honesty found on each page, I sense the “order” I have worked so hard to attain where every emotion has a place and each customary act or tradition has a time and place, is coming apart. It is scary but it is freeing. In allowing myself to become this mess, there is a beauty in which the Lord can create. It's a timeless wonder how God allows shards of truth turn us into slivers of our human selves and then recreates a different kind of beauty, though not as "perfect", as scars will surely tell the story, but stronger, more dependable, more useful as well becoming more pliable in the Hands that truly mold us.

The author’s words, "impoverished imagination" fight to keep us “alive and well" albeit sedated to the awe-inspiring, Almighty, Omnipotent, Incorruptible God. I have a box for Him. I bet you do, too. To be fair, the box is very, very big so He can do all the things in which I want Him to do, but the box, of course, fits within the constraints of my own impoverished imagination. I am totally fine with having Him join me in the place that I have carved out for Him. Plus, it would seem that this is where He would feel most comfortable, of course, in my opinion. I think it begs the following questions....

What if He is not comfortable or complacent enough to just stay in our box? What do we do with Him when He spills over the top, busts out the seams and oozes out the bottom? What do you do with the part of Him that doesn't fit in that box? Well, this brings up all kinds of “uncomfortableness”, now doesn’t it? How do you deal when God doesn’t answer your request the way you’ve asked? How do you deal with waiting … and then waiting some more for Him to move? How do you deal with the necessary choices – most of them no good? The unexplained scenarios? The unexpected occurrences? The unanswered questions? The most agonizing of all - unheard cries for help? When you are bumped out of your comfort zone, what secret part of you is exposed? What do you do when He has exposed you for who you really are, not who you proclaim to be?

These inconsistencies become stones along our journey … stones with the weight of hypocrisy, fear, ingratitude, unbelief, pride… They are not insignificant and neither are they moving. These rocks in our pathway are to be dealt with. Sure, we can initially avoid the stones by walking around, stepping over, or standing on top of, or even moving them to the side of the path. Be assured, the stones put in your path are not there by accident. They were purposefully chosen for you and they are yours to deal with. Some of these rocks look like pride masked in poor self-image, a steady focus on our relationship with God rather than God Himself, "moralism and its step-child, legalism", our sense of entitlement that infers we get to describe who God is rather than His Son, Jesus, to name a few. Friends, these are not small pebbles that annoy us as we walk. These are major road blocks that keep up from getting where we need to go. These are stones on which we should admit our ignorance and arrogance and apathy and build an alter right in the middle of the path.

Once we've purged our soul of maladies that threaten to envelope us individually as well as corporately, we must replace that void with something else. This is where Ruthless Trust comes in. "Trust does not demand explanations but turns to the One who promised, 'I will not leave you as orphans' (John 14:18)" (95). Do you demand explanations of how, when, where and why before you are willing to trust?

This trust requires sacrifice of the most debilitating kind, humanly speaking. In God’s eyes, this trust is the most healing. It means death to self and complete betrayal of who I am in favor of who He created me to be. The honesty it takes to expose the discrepancy between the two “ME’s” is a necessity. Manning states, "Raw honesty with Jesus about our doubts and anxieties, our lust and laziness, our shabby prayer life and stale religiosity, our mixed motives and divided hearts is the risk we take in the certainty of being acceptable and accepted. It is the full and mature expression of invincible trust." (103). There are no orphans of God. He will not leave you there undone but will consecrate you to Him in a bond that cannot be broken.

He requires ruthless trust. "Ruthless" means without pity. This trust is not martyrdom. This trust is "not an abstraction but a concrete visible, and formidable reality. It gives definition to our lives, reveals what is life-giving within us, shapes the decisions we make and the words that we speak, prods our consciousness, nurtures our spirit, impacts our interaction with others, sustains our will-to-meaning in life, and gives flesh and bone to our way of being in the world." (166)

This book wreaked some havoc into my soul as I read his honesty word by word. It speaks of one man's struggle to admit the very thing he is trying to protect isn't himself but the imposter of himself He has spent years trying to create. The Christian calling and subsequent walk isn't encapsulated to one part of you. It metastasizes into every area of your life. The irony is that we try and fight the very Cure for our own souls by spiritual posturing and pleading for worldly approval.

We are ruthless anyways…

....ruthlessly trust in the One
ruthlessly beaten, pierced, hung and glorified for you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Best Equation: Faith + Hope = Trust

Faith arises from the personal experience of Jesus as Lord

Hope is reliance on the promise of Jesus,
accompanied by the expectation of fulfillment.

Trust is the winsome wedding
of Faith and Hope.

-From Brennan Manning's RUTHLESS TRUST: The Ragamuffin's Path to God

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Timely Perks of Singleness

To continue the theme of singleness, let's cover a few more things that could be a productive use of your time while you are single.  As a single person myself, I have had this argument with quite a few married people and I think to a degree it stands strong; however, there are some caveats that I am willing to concede to a married person which have been pointed out rather strongly to me, the single person "with nothing else to do than take care of yourself"....

Yes.  That was actually said to me and I'm willing to bet that you, if you are single, you have heard that as well.  Comments?

I have been told that a married person with children does not have the time that a single person has.  It is on this premise that I beg to differ.  We all have the same amount of time... we just choose to spend it differently due to priorities.  I know I am probably only representing the single person's side but in my defense, I am not married nor have I been so I am only talking about what I know first hand.  I have thought about how life would be different for me if I were married and so I can integrate that perspective as well though thinking about a scenario and actually living a scenario is quite different.  Let's just say that there are perks about being married such as having another adult around to help with chores, someone to help provide financially, help with homework, do the household errands, even stuff as silly as fastening bracelets and zipping dresses.  The perks about being single include, not picking up someone else's dirty clothes :), not having to provide financially for anyone else but myself, arranging my schedule around what works for me rather than someone else, generally using my time in the way that I deem important rather than how my husband or children deem important.

There are perks to both sides and cons to both sides... If they are both gifts from God, then there will not be one that is far and away better than the other, though it might appear that way based on where we are standing. 

Anyway, the crux of this entry will be about T-I-M-E - amounts, management, wasters and priorities.

First,  every person has the same amount of hours in a day.  Every one - married or single.  Your marital state does not whether or not you have more or less time than anybody else.  It all comes down to management.  How do you manage your own 1440 minutes per day?

Management of these precious minutes can be one of the greatest obstacles to the growth of the Kingdom of God.  It can also devastate your own personal productiveness in life.  There are a portion of those minutes that will and should be spent sleeping (7-8ish hrs), eating (2-3ish hours), and getting ready for events of the day/evening (1-2ish hrs).  These are things that everyone does (should do) everyday.  Taking the high end of time towards those activities, it still leaves 13 hours of remaining time to manage out.  If you don't manage your time, someone else will manage your time for you.  For example, I remember in college having a difficult conversation with my parents because I had not done well on a pretty big test.  My reason was because I had sat up listening to two different friends having very "traumatic" events... I believe one girl was distraught because a guy didn't call her back and another girl was failing a class.  I remember feeling very sympathetic at the time for their plights and yet, none of this was reciprocated the day I got my failing test grade back because they had to go get ice cream and because the other one had a date (ironically with the other girl's guy... we now know why he didn't call her back.)
Bottom line... they were managing their time in the way that they wanted to... and they managed MY time in the way they wanted to... I, on the other hand, did not manage my time, did not do well on my test because I listened to them instead of studying and then did not have the sympathetic ear in return.  Tough lesson to learn but one desperately needed.

I still struggle with that at times.  I can get overwhelmed and feel like I am just spinning my wheels not accomplishing anything.  However, I have tried to implement strategies that work for me... daytimer, calendar, setting time limits, measureable goals/objectives, PLANNING... Is it easy?  For me, absolutely not.  I am not wired that way.  It is a discipline to do that every day but if I want to make my life count for something, management of time is crucial for success and fatal of not implemented.

Here is a link for further information on time management.

Let's talk about time wasters... there are a lot!!!  I'll put some down that are prevalent in the world that I live in - in my own life or those that I love...

Facebook, excessive sports watching events, emails, surfing the internet, TV watching, procrastination, reading innumerable blogs/internet sites, excessive texting that interrupts a mind's train of thought, excessive shopping, mindless unintentional reading, etc...

I'm gonna be honest, I really enjoy doing many of those things I mentioned above.  I do.  I think the question to determine if these things are time wasters are:
1)  What is this doing for my overall productivity of my day?  Is it adding to or distracting from?
2)  If this is a productive activity of my day, is it in excessive amounts?  Too much of a good thing is not always a great thing.  Sometimes it is just too much to fit into a day meant for working and productivity.
3)  Does it negatively impact your other prioritized activities for the day?

This brings us to priorities...

What are your priorities?  When you take an inventory of your activities, do they equal the kind of person that you want to be?  Everyone has different priorities and we aren't required to have the same ones.  What are your priorities?
- To be top salesperson of the firm
- To be in a position of leadership in order to faciliate change
- To make more money or a certain dollar amount
- To be learning a new skill to make you more marketable in this difficult job market
- To be a parent
- To be a good friend
- To be faithful to your personal charities/churches through giving
- To be President of the US
- To be more open about your faith with your colleagues
- To be married

There are hundreds of thousands of priorities and you can choose what you want those to be.  I think that is part of the problem is that many people haven't set priorities and they are going to realize too late that the world has set their priorities for them and they aren't at all where they want to be. 

If you want to be in a position of leadership, what are your practical steps on getting there?  Are you showing up to work on time?  Are you doing the extra steps that set you apart from the crowd?  Are you doing research about what could revolutionize your field and trying to align your skill set and giftings in the convergent path as much as possible?  

If you want to be married, what are your practical steps in getting there?  Are you where you want to be emotionally when you Mr. or Mrs. Perfect-For-You shows up?  Physically?  Spiritually?  Do you have mounds of debt that will assuredly impact your spouse?  Do you take care of yourself?  Do you have unrealistically high expectations for your soon to be spouse to meet ... and then expect that they accept you "as you are"...  Is that the equivalent to saying "I am looking for the crown jewels for which I will trade you a broken gumball machine necklace"?  We are not perfect and have definite flaws, but we have a responsibility to do the best with the strengths and weaknesses that we have been given.  Work hard to stretch yourself.  Think out of the box.  Do something for someone else.  Quit focusing on what you don't have and focus on all the positives that you do.  You become more attractive and more like the person that Mr. or Mrs. Perfect-For-You is looking for in the first place.

I guess this post is an encouragement to take an inventory of your life and how you spend your time.  Does worrying about tomorrow add a single minute to your day?  I think we all know the answer.  Does your daily use of 1440 minutes each day reflect the microcasm of character you want to exude?  Prioritize.  Get the big stones in the jar before adding some much sand that the big chunks won't fit.  When the big things are taken care of, the littler things are much easier to fill in.  What are your big things?  If I looked at your minute by minute time schedule, would I think that you are the developer of Facebook?  Would I question your commitment to Christ and easily believe your commitment to the Kardashians?  Would I think you talk like Billy Graham but act more like Alexander Graham Bell with your love of the phone?

Same amount of time in everyone's day... how are you spending yours?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Best Blessings In Being Single

I know in the last post, I presented a side of singleness that is more spiritually focused, mentally disciplining, and just plain hard to do sometimes.  I wanted to follow up with more practically positive things about being in an single state, possibly extended beyond what you've imagined should be "fair".  Primarily for my own mental peace and as an act of disciplining my mind to focus on whatever is pure, lovely and true, I have a running list of "blessings from God in my singlehood" for a woman (or male) to ponder while living life in an unmarried state.  These may or may not appeal to you, so feel free to chime in with your own list of blessings.

1)  My time is my own to choose to do what I want to do with it
2)  I don't have to watch the hunting channel ever, if I don't want to.
3)  I don't have to share the Wii.
4)  I always get to spend every holiday season with my family without having to spend it with in-laws.
5)  I get to pick my own radio station and leave it there for as long as I want and listen to it as loud or soft as I want to.

I want to put a little caveat here... I have been told before by a married man who, honestly, has shown himself to be fairly foolish with his time and his relationships that he, in a way, envied a single person because it gave license to be totally selfish and focus on doing whatever YOU want to do.    

Let's be clear... being single does not give you license to be selfish anymore than having a pool justifies you drowning someone in it.  (How 'bout THAT analogy?)  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Period.

6)  Spend time with friends without having to pass it by anybody else
7)  I love having more time to read and study uninterrupted by the pitter patter of little feet... or the shuffling of dusty, adult-sized Redwings across my newly mopped tile floor. :)
8)  I can make dinner consisting of what I like to eat... which might be a bowl of cereal or an apple.  Only. Or, a three course meal with friends!
9)  I think being single allows me more time to dream dreams for what I believe the Lord has for my life.
10)  I get to pray and praise outloud anytime, even if it is 2:27 AM on a week day and not worry about disturbing anyone.
11)  I get to spend more time doing ministry with and towards other families because I am not, at this time, having to take care of my own family.
12)  Singleness provides more time for preparation for the season of life that might include a spouse and possibly children.  This preparation time might include taking cooking classes, learning more about health and wellness, learning to garden or basic mending, learning and maintaining financial responsibility, picking up a new craft for bringing in household revenue later on, or spending time investing in other married couples and learning what are some big hurdles that married people go through no matter your race, culture, society, or age.
13)  Usually there is a lot of silence or quiet time where I can spend just thinking, which after talking to many married women with children, it seems like thinking without interruption is a luxury.  :)
14)  Travelling at any time, planned or unplanned, alone or with friends or family.
15) I think that periods of singleness do include times of loneliness.  However, I have had married woman after married woman tell me that loneliness is NOT specific to singles.  It is the white elephant in the living room of many married people's homes... and can actually be the cause of people leaving marriage to become single once again because their needs are not being fulfilled in the way they would like.  I choose to look at these moments, periods of loneliness, as building up my character.  A lot of times, loneliness provides an emotional impetus for me to seek out Christ more urgently, more frequently and find Him in the tightest of places and in the vast expanse of life.  It is in those moments of finding Him when no other person is around, I am changed for the better.

One of the greatest blessings the Lord has provided for me in prolonged singleness is the fact that, if and when the Lord provides a godly mate for me to do life with, I will be so grateful for our time and my season of waiting will enhance the time eventually spent together. 
"Wait on the Lord; Be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord."  Psalm 27:14   
Waiting is not bad.  Unfortunately, we are culturized enough, Christians included, that we believe that waiting for any length of time at all is a punishment of sorts and immediacy is our entitlement.  This is simply not truth.  God has plenty to say to us while we are "in the waiting".  Maybe we should take this time to listen... really hear what He is saying when you're by yourself, uninterrupted, quiet.  Appreciate the silence and intimate time with Christ and realize, more than likely, there will be a time somewhere down the path you are travelling where mere seconds of uninterrupted time will seem like a Godsend.  What is He trying to tell you as a single person?  What lessons are being taught in the quiet moments of your day in possible preparation for marriage?  Can God trust you to be thankful in times that don't look exactly like you'd envisioned or prefer?  Take an inventory of your thoughts and actions and conversations... what percentage is spent on complaining over the state of your life or the lack of your preferred provision?

My mom has said this for years that in a lot of cases, NOT ALL, but a lot of cases, a depressed or unhappy person is one who is entirely too self-focused and spends time wallowing in his problems rather than helping others through theirs.  I think in many cases, this is the truth.  If we would focus on others and do what we can to serve them, our own "plight" really comes becomes the tool Christ uses to minister to others.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6
Until whenever, enjoy your singleness... use your time wisely... serve others graciously... give of yourself generously... love selflessly ... and above all, trust Christ ruthlessly.  In these things, you will become a woman who pleases the Lord and the benefactor of God's very best gifts... perhaps in a tall, dark and handsome package.  :) 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Being the Best at Being Single

I know a lot of single women and I'm gonna be honest about it... there are a lot of them that are NOT happy about being single.  I am one of them sometimes.  I think we deal with "marriage MUST be better than this" thought process when you are trying to bring all the groceries up three flights of stairs after working all day to come in a find that your pooch has relieved herself on the newly cleaned carpet.  Some days, it is the "it would be so nice to always have someone to go to my office party with".  Other days, it is "honestly, I just wish I had my own personal snuggie - and we ain't talkin' about that lame blanket"!  I think we as women, probably all at one time or another suffer from "the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence" syndrome on some days.  I don't know... I am not married so I would love to hear feedback from the married readers. 

My most courageous and sober thoughts about being single help me realize that being married is not the answer to all of life's ills or problems nor does married life always consist of chocolate, flowers and back rubs for most people at all times.  In fact, at times, it compounds life's ills and problems and though flowers make an occassional appearance, so do double amount of dirty dishes, unfolded clothes, and a few too many in-laws.  :)  I am not bad mouthing marriage at all and I sincerely believe that God has us in godly marriages for sanctification and to be an example of Christ and His bride, the church.  That is kind of a weird concept on some level but such a beautiful picture when you allow your mind to envision what that looks like.  Such love and such compassion.  The lucky thing about this love and compassion is that it is available to single women in the person of Christ.  He loves us enough to give us this time of sanctification for ourselves without someone else hindering our sanctification process.  It takes a lot to get to the point where this is really what we long for, I know.  However, when it is revealed that another human, man or woman, is not the solution to your time management issues, your financial concerns, your problems with your family and your sin issues, it helps bring the right perspective to the situation. 

So, how do we embrace our singleness and enjoy this time the Lord has given us to spend with Him uninterrupted and unabridged?  How do we keep our minds and hearts engaged in the thought that minds and hearts singly engaged with Christ is just as much a gift as a godly marriage is?  How do we not fritter this precious time away waiting for the next season that may (or may not) look exactly how we want it to look?  Ladies (and gents), the solution here is contentment and focus.  And YES, it is VERY hard!!  I know it is.  I am there now and have been here for some time.  It is an act of discipline to focus on what Christ wants us to focus on and not what the world/society throws at us through a myriad of images, promotions, available goods, etc.  A few verses to help us through this...

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,"   2 Corinthians 10:5

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and haracter produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Romans 5:3-5

"...Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that..."  1 Corinthians 7:28b

"And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.  But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to 'please' her husband...(my personal paraphrase:  pick up his socks on every day ending in "y", visit his mother every weekend, clean up buttery popcorn stains and vacuum up salty pretzel crumbs off the newly reupholstered couch after THE game... from him and his eight buddies... among other things that are not delineated in Scripture and usually not found out until after "I do". )   1 Corinthians 7: 34

Just a few Scriptures that can encourage us to continue to walk in faithfulness and see where this journey takes us.  It is not easy - you will never hear me say that walking the path of singleness is easy.  It is definitely hard.  It is just not too hard for you if you are currently single.  If you were to be married at this time, you would be.  If you are not, don't waste your life.  Do something constructive while you are waiting on "The One".  You really don't know how long you have left.  Don't sit around and wait for Mr. Perfect - he is not out there.  There is only a potentially Mr.-Perfect-for-you and right now, choose to serve others while being actively seeking.  Engage in hospitality of your single friends, invest in godly marriages by volunteering to babysit for their children so they have a night together uninterrupted. Go visit the elderly for a few hours on the weekends.  Go on a youth-led  mission trip.  Live life as it is supposed to be lived and maybe, just maybe, there might be someone who comes along beside you pursuing the things of the Lord that He has placed in your path.

Trust Him to do with your life the very best thing possible.  Timing is everything.  Don't ever think He has forgotten you.  You are His prize creation.  Deny yourself and follow Him with everything you have and the rest... is already taken care of.    

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Best Irony

Here is a question that will make many of you laugh out loud if you know me at all...

How in the world does anybody live without a daytimer? 

I think I might be addicted to the organization and the fact it yields me a much more organized life.  It only took 30+ years to come to this conclusion.  I think that there might be hope for me yet.  :) 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prayers for Haiti

Please join me in praying for Haiti for today has seen some massive devastation in the 7.0 earthquake. 
Lord, we ask that you be with these Haitian people as a country and as 10 million individuals living in probably the greatest nightmare they have ever imagined.  Wandering around, homeless, no clean water, no food, dirty, no loved ones within arms length in streets littered with bodies cracked and broken by this catastrophic event.  We don't presume to understand why these things happen but we pray for provision both practically, emotionally and spiritually for these people and that after all is said and done, Your name will be glorified in ways we will probably never comprehend.  

Monday, January 11, 2010

"ATTITUDE" - by Chuck Swindoll

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. 
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. 
It is more important than the past,
than education,
than money,
than circumnstances,
than failures,
than successes,
than what other people think or say or do. 
It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. 
It will make or break a company... a church... a home. 
The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. 

And so it is with you...
we are in charge of our attitudes."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best Ways to Pray for the Next Generation (Part 2)

Pray for a spirit of HOLINESS manifesting in Christ-like behavior
...1 Peter 1:16

Pray for a spirit of RELIABILITY manifesting in a depth of dependability
...1 Corinthians 4:2

Pray for a spirit of REVELATION manifesting in learning to listen
...Ephesians 1:15-18

Pray for a spirit of DENIAL manifesting in a sacrifice of surrender
...Luke 9:23

Pray for a spirit of  CONFIDENCE minfesting in a baptism of boldness
...Philippians 4:13

Pray for a spirit of INTEGRITY manifesting in quality of truthfulness
...Romans 12:17

Pray for a spirit of REPENTANCE manifesting in a willingness to change
...Luke 3:8

Pray for a spirit of TRUST manifesting in a fearless reliance
...Psalm 125:1

Pray for a spirit of SUBMISSION manifesting in choosing to yield
....Ephesians 5:21

Pray for a spirit of TEACHABILITY manifesting in a quality of meekness
...Titus 3:2

Pray for a spirit of PRAYER manifesting in a longing to wait
...Isaiah 40:31

Pray for a spirit of UNITY manifesting in a respect for others
...1 Corinthians 1:10

Pray for spirit of RESTORATION manifesting in a ministry of healing
...Isaiah 61:1,2

Pray for a spirit of AUTHORITY manifesting in a capacity to command
...Matthew 16:19

Pray for a spirit of GENEROSITY manifesting in a desire to give
...Matthew 10:8

***Taken from Dick Eastman, President - Every Home For Christ, (C) 1988

This list was originally titled "31 Ways to Pray for Our Youth".... Oh, what I would give to be prayed for in these 31 ways as an adult.  Lord, please let it be so in my life as we pray for our upcoming generation of political leaders, teachers, pastors, community builders and parents.  We need so much of these qualities in our own lives everyday.  Thank you for forgiving us for our character gaps when we don't act at all like how You want us to act.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best Ways to Pray for the Next Generation

Pray for a spirit of REVERENCE manifesting in fear of the Lord
... Proverbs 9:10

Pray for a spirit of HUMILITY manifesting through the willingness to submit
....James 4:10

Pray for a spirit of PURITY manifesting in a desire to be clean
....Matthew 5:8

Pray for a spirit of PURPOSE manifesting in the wisdom to set goals
....Proverbs 4:25

Pray for a spirit of SIMPLICITY manifesting in an uncluttered life style
....Romans 12:8

Pray for a spirit of COMMITMENT manifesting in a dedication to "the cause"
....Joshua 24:15

Pray for a spirit of DILIGENCE manifesting in the willingness to work hard
....2 Peter 1:5

Pray for a spirit of SERVANTHOOD manifesting in the ministry of helps
....Galatians 6:9, 10

Pray for a spirit of  CONSISTENCY manifesting a quality of faithfulness
....James 1:8

Pray for a spirit of ASSURANCE manifesting it a depth of faith
....Hebrews 10:22

Pray for a spirit of AVAILABILITY manifesting in a readiness to go
..... Isaiah 6:8

Pray for a spirit of LOYALTY manifesting in a zeal for fidelity
.... Ruth 1:16

Pray for a spirit of SENSITIVITY manifesting in openness of heart
.... Luke 10:30-37

Pray for a spirit of COMPASSION manifesting in love in action
....Mark 8:1-2

Pray for a spirit of TENDERNESS manifesting in a willingness to weep
....2 Kings 22:19

Pray for a spirit of MATURITY manifesting in the capacity to grow
....Hebrews 5:12-14

***Taken from Dick Eastman, President - Every Home For Christ, (C) 1988

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Best Fiction

I am a big reader and let it be on record that I think I have identified the best work of fiction that I have read in as long as I can remember...

Redeeming Love
By Francine Rivers

Ladies (and gents), this book is one for the ages!  I know I am dramatic but I have read this book twice and I can't wait to read it once again.  It is one of the most powerful books I have read in that it will bring out emotions that no other fiction book has brought out in me... awe, sympathy, compassion, anticipation, disappointment, optimism, trust, and gratefulness.  It is amazing and one I would recommend to either male of female but it is a HOME RUN with every female that I know has read it. 

It is the fictional story depicting the book of Hosea that takes place in California's gold country around 1850.  It is a story of redemption and selfless love of God that changes lives in the most powerful ways.  I can't say enough about it.  A must read for anyone who likes to read fiction, spiritual books, historical books, love stories, or just interested in seeing how in the world God can take a prostitute and all the baggage that comes with that and changing her from the inside out through the love of a good Man. 

I don't want you to think it is your typical romance because it is far more than that... it is the story of a wandering soul.  A soul like mine that wanders from place to place looking for something that can only be filled by One thing.  A soul that knows deep down that it can never be more than it really is... a dysfunctional and dirty blemish amidst a myriad of pitiful, self-seeking, love starved stains on the garment of Christ.  And yet, there He is... wearing our sin and then washing it away.  A soul maybe like yours who knows there is more but doesn't want to find it there.  A soul that looks under every rock, behind every door, around every corner, in every person, at the bottoms of every bottle, and at the top of every heap always searching for that Thing that will fulfill.  

You will keep looking until you find Him.  

And when you do, He will fill you to the depths that you never knew you had and your cup will be running over.  It's joy, it's safety, it's faithfulness, it's beauty, it's love... nothing can compare.  In this book, we see her learn this life changing truth through the depths of despair to the heights of joy and everywhere in between.

You won't be able to put it down ... and He's not gonna let you leave without teaching you something powerful about Him.     

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who's the Best: A Study in Comparisons

I just heard a sermon recently that focused on comparisons of ourselves to others versus comparisons of ourselves to Christ.  John Piper was quoted as saying to always compare yourself to Christ first because it will humble you as there is a vast distance between you and the great God we serve.  Then, upon realizing our rightful place in comparison to the King of Kings, it allows us to view others as greater than ourselves rather than finding areas in which we find ourselves "blowing out" the competition whether than be in physical appearance, talent levels, personality characteristics, knowledge and wisdom, academic excellence, or spiritual maturity.  It serves us well to remember Who the standard is... and it is not us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top 5 Worst Places to "Travel" (..Again, IMHO)

Not to complain, but there are some places that are just not fun to go... I actually can't stand doing them.  I would rather eat chocolate ice cream than go to these places... and if you know me at all, THAT is saying something!!  Among those are:

The Doctor
(and certain ones are worse than others!)
(typically unpleasant, wouldn't you say?)
(good people, but bad experiences keep happening there)
L  o  n  g, d r a w n out, emotional discussions that don't solve anything
(Oh, for the love...)
Grocery Shopping!
(The WORST kind of shopping!!!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top 5 Best Places to Travel (...In My Humble Opinion, of course)

I love to travel!  It is such a great opportunity of living in this day and age to be able to travel for relatively fair prices with such ease and accessibility generally speaking... I have been blessed to take time away and travel to many different places - some for school, some for vacation, some for spiritual purposes, some for work.

My Top 5 Travel Destinations are:
(in reverse order)

Alaska, US
(I prefer by cruise, if I get to choose)
Vancouver, Canada
(Lake Louise is worth the trip itself)
Paris, France
(Try to time with the Bastille Day Parade through the city)
Hvar, Croatia
(surprisingly beautiful and not at all like I envisioned)
Ambergris Caye, Belize
(Yep... sweating it out for Jesus in Central American resort)

I have also been to 37-38 states and I love seeing new parts of the country where I live and love but there is something about leaving American soil and seeing the rest of the world... maybe it is the fact that when I finish seeing international beauty and culture, I get to come back to the greatest country on earth!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Seven Best Practices of an Effective Woman

1. She rises early.

2. She maintains the spiritual disciplines.

3. She focuses on relational priorities for every season.

4. She sets up regular times for planning.

5. She develops an effective to-do list system and calendar/planner system.

6. She establishes an efficient routine for managing her home.

7. She organizes her house systematically.

I found this random list that I had written down and stuck in a notebook and I don't know the original source of this list compilation.  It is one which I need so much work on!  Wow... unfortunately, I could get stuck on number 1.  I thought this was an excellent list to get us thinking about starting the new year off right as the best and most effective woman.  Good luck!  

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wisdom in Doing Your Best

Here are a few quotes about doing your best and becoming all you can be and what the Bible has to say on the subject of doing your best:

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news.
The good news is that you don't know how great you can be!
How much you can love! What you can accomplish!
And what your potential is! --Anne Frank

God does not judge us by the multitude of works we perform, but how well we do the work that is ours to do. The happiness of too many days is often destroyed by trying to accomplish too much in one day. We would do well to follow a common rule for our daily lives--


Go out and change the world. The more you study, the more you should have
A GOAL you should be pursuing;
A DREAM your should be launching

A PLAN you should be executing;
A PROJECT you should be starting;

A POSSIBILITY you should be exploring;
An OPPORTUNITY you should be grabbing;
An IDEA you should be working;
A PROBLEM you should be tackling;
A DECISION you should be making.
~ Anonymous

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.--Les Brown

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."--Erma Bombeck

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered (including me).

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down

by the littlest people with the littlest ideas.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them.

Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you will get kicked in the teeth.

Give the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway. -Kent M. Keith

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men. --Colossians 3:23

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who handles the word of truth. --2 Timothy 2:15