Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Triple Threat

When I think of trios, the 3 Amigos certainly come to mind.
As do the 3 Muskateers.
In It Works we have the Triple Threat - greens, fat Fighters, and thermofit.
And then, of course, there is the most famous triad of all - the Trinity with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Christian world, another trio should sound familiar too - faith, hope, and love.
You know the "3 that remain."
We see them mentioned all throughout Paul's letters.
As I opened to 1 Thessalonians 1 this morning, I say the triad in the first few verses.

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.  As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yep, there they are again!
The believers in Thessalonica were known for these 3 qualities.
These 3 traits defined them.

That's how I want to be.
How I want to be known, remembered, spoken of both now and long after I am gone.

Here's the deal - these 3 characteristics of a Christian are POWERFUL.
Faith, hope, and love are a Triple Threat as we fight our enemy every single day.
Satan KNOWS that.
And so he does his absolute best to keep us from developing these traits, to distract us, to occupy us, to discourage us, and eventually defeat us.
BUT, it does NOT have to be that way.

In fact, we have already won the war.
It's those day in and day out battles that we struggle with.

At Winter Jam this past weekend, something one of the artists said really stuck out to me.
"We don't fight FOR victory.  We fight FROM victory."

Talk about perspective.  Mindset is everything.
We MUST remember that we ARE victorious, overcomers because of Christ.
We can confidently declare our victory and stand firm in our position as winners.

Peter must have known we would need reminding.
He writes and urges us to keep in mind that God has given us everything we need to live for Him.  He goes on to encourage us to never stop growing, but rather "supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self- control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone."

Did you see how faith, hope, and love are woven throughout there?!

Peter promises us, "the more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The better equipped we will be to defeat Satan on a daily basis, putting him back in his place time and time again.

We have access to this Trile Threat at ALL times.
The Holy Spirit lives inside of us!!!
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and well in you and me.
Right now.

Let's take advantage of that and live in such a way that like the believers in Thessalonica, we are known for our "faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope."

As we do, God will use each of us - you and me - to CRUSH SATAN!!!
The Triple Threat is no match for him!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


This morning I was feeling really good about myself.
I got up early.
I worked out, hard.
I journaled, with pen and paper, for the first time in a long time.
I was about ready to pat myself on the back, but then I opened my Bible and picked up in Colossians where I had left off yesterday.

Let the message about Christ, in all it richness, fill your lives.  
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.  
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

This is a pretty familiar passage to me, but this morning it hit me like a rock.  It put me in my place, if I am being honest.  I got knocked off the high horse I was climbing up on just minutes earlier.

You see, I have NOT been a very good representative of the Lord Jesus lately.  Not in ALL I do and say.  Instead, I have been an easily flustered, easily angered, quick to raise her voice mother.  I have spoken to my children harshly.  I have NOT been patient, or compassionate.

Yesterday, when my 4 year old whined one too many times, I didn't take the time to ask her what the problem was or how I could help her.  I told her, "STOP IT!"

And when my 2 year  old started crying, I was more annoyed than anything.  I didn't check to see if she was hurt or how I could soothe her.  I rolled my eyes and demanded that she too, "STOP IT!"

When my 6 year old got home from school, and I was busy making supper before we needed to rush out the door - to church of all places, I didn't sit down to listen to her tell me about her day.  Nope, and when the girls were not responding to my requests to clean up before eating, my stress came out in my words.  Granted, they didn't listen to me the first 5 times I asked them to put the crayons and toys away, but I could have done a better job of getting their attention.  I should have KINDLY asked them to come over to where I was, GENTLY reminded them that I needed their help, and CALMLY sent them on their way while I finished getting our food ready.  Instead, I was stern.  Mean, if you ask my 6 year old.  She even asked me why I was yelling at them.  I didn't feel like I was yelling.  I wanted to tell her, "Trust me, I CAN yell if you want me to. THAT was NOT yelling."  Instead, her words pierced my heart.  Humbled, I answered, "I am sorry.  I shouldn't have talked like that.  I will try to do better next time.  You girls work on listening the first time, and I will work on saying things nicer."

As I sat there and read Paul's instructions to do EVERYTHING as a representative of Jesus, I almost started crying.  A representative doesn't get a day off, or even a lunch break.  A representative ALWAYS represents their country, store, namebrand, etc.  Hence, their title.  At ALL times a representative is influencing the reputation of whatever or whomever they represent.  They can enhance or harm that reputation.  I had to admit I was probably doing more harm than good to Jesus' reputation.  If someone saw or heard me with my girls, they might not want anything to do with Jesus.  NOT what I want at all!

So, I took a good look at how I could do my "job" of representing Jesus better.  Paul gives us the two-fold process right there - "let the message about Christ, in all its richness, FILL your lives..."  I need to be in the Word, letting it DWELL in me, taking up root in my heart and mind.  I can't be reading the Bible all day long, but I CAN be meditating on what I read that morning.  I CAN listen to music that will keep my heart soft.  I CAN pray without ceasing.

The second part stems directly from doing all those things connected to God's Word filling my life.  "Give thanks..."  As I speak God's Word and lisetn to God's Word and pray God's Word and sing God's Word, I can't help but give thanks.  That thankful heart will flow into all I do and say.  And THAT will definitely help me become a much better representative of Jesus.

My prayer is that at ANY time someone can look at me and see Jesus.
Even when no one IS looking, I need to represent Jesus.
And as my daughter reminded me yesterday, even behind the closed door of our house, I AM being watched.  4 little girls are watching my every move.  I certainly want to represent Jesus well so they know who He is, what His heart is like, how much He loves them.

At Ponca Bible Camp, when we want the campers' attention, my husband and I will shout out, "Represent!"  The campers take that as their cue to stop and listen.  To let us know they are ready, they respond, "Jesus!"  This morning, it was as if God had needed MY attention and through Scripture yelled out to me, "Represent!!!!"  With a repentant heart and thankful I serve a God of second chances, I answered back, "JESUS!"  And I pray I do just that today and represent Him well, in ALL I do and say...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

X Marks the Spot

On a treasure map, X marks the spot.
How fitting that X in Latin stands for Christ.
Indeed, Christ IS our treasure!

Paul confirms this in Colossians 2:1-5,

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally.  I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.  I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself.  In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.  For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

We can search and search and search for wealth, riches, possessions, happiness, peace, strength, wisdom, knowledge, power, the perfect job, a dream house, popularity, fame, fortune, and so much more.  We think that all that "stuff" will satisfy us.  Yet, we are left wanting more.  Or we feel eluded in our search, never finding what we truly want or need.

That would be because we are looking in all the wrong places!
Our treasure is not in a place at all, but rather a person!
Only in CHRIST will we be content and complete.
HE is our treasure.
HE is what our hearts long for.
In Him and Him alone is absolutely everything we need.  And then so much more!

1 Corinthians 2:9 reminds us, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Paul assures us in Philippians 4:19, "God will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus!"

And if we are faithful to trust Him with all we have, God turns around and blesses our faces off.  He promises this in Malachi 3:10, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in!  Try it! Put me to the test!"

So, what do you say?  Will you take God at His Word?
Every day this is a battle I fight, a choice I must make.
I am certainly not perfect, but I am growing.
If I am honest, today - and the past few days and weeks - have been hard.  I am struggling with a few things and feel as though I am coming up short.  I am confused and frustrated, discouraged and even a bit defeated.

Maybe I am the one to blame.
Perhaps I am looking for treasure in all the wrong places.
I needed the reminder this morning that CHRIST is my treasure, my prize, my goal, my desire.
And so I work once more to fix my eyes on Him as I run the race of life, following after Jesus one step at a time.  Giving it my all, pouring myself out, knowing that God will fill me back up.  And then keep on pouring so I am overflowing.

As David wrote in Psalm 16:11, "You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Sounds like a treasure to me.
I think I hit the jackpot!
Even though I did NOT have one of the 3 winning lottery tickets from last night's 1.5 billion dollar drawing!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shhhh!! I've Got a Secret

I'm not usually one for sharing secrets.
You know what they say, "Secrets don't make friends."
BUT, in this case, telling you the secret is the BEST thing I could ever do for you.

This secret can change your life.
In deed, it WILL change your life if you let it.
If you believe it...

It's a pretty incredible secret.
When I read about it this morning, I was taken aback for sure.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was determined to find time to blog today and get the secret out to you too!  The news was soooooo good I couldn't keep it to myself a moment longer!

So before you explode wanting to know what in the world I am talking about, and before I explode from keeping this to myself, here's the juicy secret:

This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people.  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too.  And this is the secret: Christ lives in you.  This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.

I told you it was GOOD!
Life-changing, right?!

First, the riches and glory of Christ are for EVERYONE, including YOU.
And as if that wasn't enough, Christ can live IN you!  Yes, YOU!
Then, there's the cherry on top of the already piled high cake and ice cream: we have the assurance of SHARING His glory!

Say what?!
Share Christ's glory?!!!!
ANYONE who believes in Him?!

That's crazy talk!!!!!!
But it's TRUE!

This is the secret God couldn't keep quiet about any longer.  From the Old Testament to the New Testament, there were 400 years of SILENCE.  God broke that silence with the birth of Jesus.  Talk about making some noise!

Then, as we read yesterday, Jesus reconciled us to God by dying on the cross for our sins.  His blood paid our debt and washed us clean so that we can stand before God holy and blameless, without fault.

And now God goes on to let us know that all the glories and riches of Christ are OURS.
That Christ lives IN us.
That we will SHARE IN HIS GLORY!

It's almost too much to handle!
We deserve death, but are given life - abundant, glorious, eternal life in God's very presence.

No wonder Paul committed his whole life to spreading this Good News.
Once his life was changed that day on the road to Damascus, he couldn't stop talking about Jesus and His transforming power at work in him.  He told everyone he could about salvation through Jesus and invited them to join him on a life-long journey of pursuing Jesus with every fiber of their beings.  Compared to Jesus, everything else was a pile of garbage!  Exactly why Paul himself left everything behind and RAN towards Jesus, pressing on for the prize awaiting him.  And I am confident when Paul crossed the finish line of his life, he was greeted by Jesus Himself with the best reward anyone could ever ask for - a hearty "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Paul urges US to live in the same manner, putting everything else aside and focusing on Christ alone, giving our all for HIM.

He rounds out Colossians chapter 1 with this:
So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.  That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works in me.

Paul poured himself out so that as many people as possible would know this life-changing secret.
I want to do the same.
And so I tell you the secret today.

YOU can have eternal life.
YOU can share in God's glory.
He invites you to do so.
He has given you His only Son that you might not perish but have eternal life.
And He wants you to tell everyone you know that they can join you.

ALL are welcome!
Spread the good news!
Share the secret!
Change someone's life, today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Divine Magic

I think God might be a magician.

He can speak anything into existence, creating EVERYTHING out of nothing.
He can make the invisible visible.
And He can make ME faultless.
(makes me think of that song about being flawless)

I read all about these divine magical powers this morning in Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through Him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can't see -- 
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through Him and for Him.
He existed before anything else,
and He holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is His body.
He is the beginning, 
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So He is first in everything.
For God in all His fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God.  You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body.  As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are hold and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it.

So, let's go over those magic tricks again.
First, Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
Until Jesus' birth no one had ever seen God.
BUT, when Jesus left heaven and came to earth as a tiny baby, born in a stable, everything changed.

Somehow Mary held in her arms the Creator of the universe, the One who had been before time began and spoke creation into existence.  That would be the second divine magic trick we see here in this passage.  God made everything out of nothing.  And then proceeded to hold it all together.  Check out Genesis 1 if you don't believe me!

And of course, God being the master showman that He is, saved the best trick for last.  Through Christ He has reconciled everyone to Himself!!!  He has turned enemies into friends.  He has made completely clean what was rotten, disgusting, and full of sin.  By means of Christ's DEATH, He has given us LIFE.  That's a pretty impressive trick too, if I do say so myself.  

But here's the amazing part - it's NOT a trick at all!  
Salvation is the real deal.
The bee's knees.

We who were doomed to die and be forever separated from God are now invited into His very presence and stand before Him holy and blameless and without fault.

It's no doing of our own.
Left to ourselves, we WOULD perish.
In Christ, and Christ alone, can we have eternal life.
His BLOOD, shed upon that horrific cross, has washed us clean.
We are white as snow.

I don't know of any magician that can do that!

As I read those verses this morning, I was taken aback.
I deserve to die, yet today I stand in the presence of God.
Without fault.

I shake my head even now as I type out my amazing reality.
I am forever grateful for this gift of life.
And I plan to do as Paul urged the believers in Colosse to do all those years ago - stand firm in this truth that I have heard and received.

As I sang with my girls in the car earlier today,

No magic required...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Faith, Hope, and Love

If you have ever been to a single wedding, you have probably heard the phrase, "but these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is love."

Almost every wedding I attend, someone reads the "Love Passage" from 1 Corinthians 13.
Or the verses are printed on the wedding program.
The emphasis is on love, as it should be at a wedding.

This morning, though, as I was reading in Colossians 1, I noticed that faith and love stem from HOPE.  So maybe HOPE is the greatest of the 3?

Take a look at these words from Paul and see what you think.

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For we have heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus and your LOVE for all God's people, which come from your CONFIDENT HOPE of what God has reserved for you in heaven.  You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

Did you catch that?
Did it stick out to you like it did for me?

Our faith is a result of our hope.
We can live out our faith because we are confident that God will do as He has promised.  We look forward to the future with HOPE.  We are expectant, excited for Jesus to come back.  We anticipate His return.  While we wait, we have HOPE and that equips and empowers us to LIVE BY FAITH.

Our love also stems from our hope.
We can love other people because we know God has reserved a special inheritance for us in heaven. No one can take that away.  No one steal that from us.  AND there is no comparing or fighting or trying to outdo each other.  God has something reserved for EACH of us, so no need to compete or argue or show off or keep up with the Jones.  Instead, we are FREE TO LOVE.

Isn't that wonderful?!
That can seriously be LIFE-CHANGING.

In fact, Paul says it IS.

Read on to see what he says in verse 6:

The same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is BEARING FRUITS everywhere by CHANGING LIVES, just as it CHANGED YOUR LIVES from the day you first heard and understood the truth of God's wonderful grace.

When we know the truth, we understand who we are.
As we let the truth work its way into our hearts and minds, we are changed.
We can't stay the same as we were.
We bear fruit.

"The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and self-control."

Paul goes on to explain in his letter to the Galatians,
"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in EVERY part of our lives.  Let us NOT become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another."

Instead, we LOVE one another.
And Paul seems to think faith and love are connected.  He writes in 2 Thessalonians, "Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your FAITH is flourishing and your LOVE for one another is growing."

Jesus tells us in John 13:35, "Our love for one another will prove to the world that we are His disciples."   If love is our defining feature, it must be pretty important.  Hence, it's the "greatest of these."

YET, if our love stems from the HOPE we have in Jesus, I am thinking that HOPE must be pretty darn important too!

So, I ask you today...
In what or whom are you putting your hope?

ONLY as you hope in Christ, trusting HIM alone, will you be able to live by faith and truly love others.  ONLY as you hope in Christ, believing Him at His word, will you be FREE to enjoy the life God has planned for you.  I assure you the blessings and gifts He has for you are amazing, beyond anything we could ever begin to imagine!  I encourage you to put your HOPE in Him today!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Living Nightmare

I was thinking today...
If you are afraid to dream, does that mean you are living a nightmare?

Not necessarily.

BUT, you are missing out, I do believe.
And that is terrifying.
To think you are letting life slip by simply because you are scared to do something new or different or unknown.  THAT breaks my heart.

Hear me out, though.
While I am an optimist, I have NOT always been a dreamer.
I never thought I was worthy of a "dream life."
I thought it was SELFISH to dream.
I didn't want to be greedy, or too unrealistic.
I do have some practicality mixed in with my "let's try it and see what happens" mentality.
I like to have fun, but be "safe" too.

However, I am learning that playing it too safe is NOT good either.
And so I am starting to "let go" and step out to pursue my dreams.
Even the big, scary ones.
The ones that seem absolutely ridiculous and humanly impossible.
I am realizing those are the BEST dreams.
Sometimes, I am too scared to share those dreams with anyone, for fear people will laugh at me.
Or worse yet, question my intention, my heart.

I had to do a check in my own spirit just this afternoon.
A fellow teammate in my upline shared a picture of her dreams and goals for the year.

Lori and Quintin are in the top 5 earners of the company.  They are "big shots" and millionaires.  YET, they are humble and down-to-earth and REAL.  I've been to their house, had lunch with Lori, our girls have played together at Chick-fil-A.

When I saw Lori's dreams, I questioned why in the world they would need a second house.
I made all sorts of assumptions and judgments in my head.
Who are they to think they deserve to make $150,000 a MONTH?!
Why do they think they need even MORE when they already make so much and have so much?!

I stopped myself.
Know what was happening?

Not necessarily jealousy of their specific dreams.
More so of their COURAGE to dream SO BIG.
They have freed themselves from the chains of what others think.
They have decided to go after what God has laid on their hearts, regardless of what other people say.
They have learned that other people's opinions don't pay their bills or fund their children's college savings or help with retirement in any way.  Other people can say what they want, think what they want, BUT Lori and Quintin are the only ones who can DO anything about their dreams.  And so they choose to pursue them.  ALL out.

And even better, they turn and help others do the same.
They have inspired me so much in the past 3 years.

So have people like Rachel Williamson.

It's like she shared the other day:

I was feeding the baby and trying to get some work done, but when I saw Lori and Quintin's goals, I had to stop in my tracks.  I felt like I was supposed to share this idea of living a nightmare because you are too scared to pursue your dreams, or too afraid to even begin to dream in the first place.

Having finally woken up from that nightmare myself, I want to help as many people as I can do the same.  I hope to inspire people to dream BIG and realize they ARE worthy - worthy to dream and worthy to enjoy God's blessings.

I have also realized it's more fun to dream WITH other people, other dreamers.
So, if you want to go at this together, I'd love to have you join me on this crazy adventure that 2016 is going to be as I pursue JESUS, pour myself out, and live in expectation of HIM doing incredible things in my life.

Craedyn Esther {2 Months Old}

How has 2 months passed?

You know the saying, "The days are long, but the years are short."
It is true, so very true.
The months FLY by apparently.
Because my baby girl is 2 months.  2 months.
If I keep blinking, she's going to be graduating from college and walking down the aisle.
Pure craziness, I tell you.  Craziness.

Let's back up and hold my horses for a bit though.

Craedyn is only 2 months old.

She isn't a huge fan of tummy time, unless she's sleeping.  Then she digs it.  She slept like a champ last night.  9 pm to 4 am!!!  MOST nights, she will give me a 4-5 hour stretch, then be up every 2 for a quick snack.

During the day, she LOVES to be held.  My biceps will be like steel before she is a year old!  I really don't mind all that much honestly.  Because, like I said, time is FLYING BY, and she's only going to be little once. AND this is probably the last baby I will get to snuggle with so much.  I want to soak up EVERY moment I can!

Craedyn has discovered her fist and likes to suck on it now, which is actually nice since she refuses to use a pacifier.  Apparently, she finds them repulsive and gags any time I try to put one in her mouth.  BUT, this whole self-soothing thing is quite wonderful!

She has also started smiling at us, which of course we love.

Speaking of love, there is no lack of sister love in the house.  Coralyn, Kellah, and Kyiah all adore baby Craedyn and fight over who she is looking at and "talking" to.  Coralyn has taken it upon herself to help Craedyn learn how to suck her thumb and was teaching her by example the other day.  But hey, she stopped crying for a bit, so I'll take it!  Kellah asks repeatedly each day to hold her sister, and Kyiah INSISTS that no one hold her but ME.  When someone else does "take" Craedyn, Kyiah screams, "Craedyn wants YOU, Mama!  Craedyn wants YOU!"  I assure her our friends at church can hold Craedyn for a minute or two and won't take her away!

Daddy will be sure to fight off anyone who tries to "steal" Craedyn!

Craedyn celebrated her first Christmas and is very thankful for all the diapers grandparents and aunts/uncles got her. :)   She's also digging her cute new clothes!

She may be 2 months old, but she still fits into most newborn outfits just fine.  We are venturing into some of the 0-3 month onesies just for fun and to try something new.  What can I say, the Young girls start small and seem to stay that way for a bit.  I LOVE it.

I will take all the baby snuggles I can get.
Craedyn may be 2 months old today, but I swear she will be crawling and walking and running and climbing all over the place before I know what to do with myself!

I am sooooo very blesssed to be her mama!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mary Did You Know

The Christmas season is over.
However, I couldn't help but think of a popular Christmas song this morning during church.
We didn't talk about Mary, or Joseph, or Jesus' miraculous birth.
We spoke nothing of Bethlehem, or any other aspect of Jesus' life here on earth for that matter.

Rather, praying for a young woman in our church family brought Mary Did You Know to mind.

As we circled around Amanda and prayed for her upcoming mission trip, I couldn't help but praying for my own daughters.  All 4 of them.

I prayed they would grow up to be like Amanda.
Willing to go wherever God sent them.
Passionate about reaching the lost.
Purposeful in making each day count.
Prepared to travel to the deepest, darkest corners of the world to share the Gospel.
Ready to serve anyone and everyone, spreading the Hope and Love of Jesus with people HERE and far, far, far away and everywhere in between.

I wondered if Amanda's mom knew her daughter would grow up and want to serve God in this way, go on this type of mission trip?

I wondered if she looked her baby girl in the eye and saw a woman who would change the world?

I wondered if she rocked her baby girl to sleep dreaming about all the things her daughter would grow up and do?

I wondered if she held her baby girl tight and whispered in her ear that she could do anything God put on her heart to do?

I wondered if she would sneak into her room at night to watch her baby girl sleep and pray for God to use her daughter to do a mighty work?

I wondered if Amanda's mom knew the impact her daughter would have on MY daughters.

I wonder all the same things as I look at and hold and kiss my baby girls.  Only one of my 4 girls is really a baby now.  But still, I watch them all and wonder...

I KNOW God has a beautiful plan for EACH of my girls.
I KNOW He created each of them in a special and unique way for a very specific reason.
I KNOW He has a purpose for each of them.
I KNOW He can and will use them to accomplish BIG things, to build His kingdom here on earth, to bring the lost to Himself, to restore hope and spread joy, to instill peace and stir up a fire in people's souls so they too will want Jesus more than anything else.

I don't know exactly how or when He will do these things.
I DO understand it's a matter of WHEN, not if.
I realize He can do anything He wants, whenever He wants.
And I am beyond excited to watch and see His plans unfold.
Even better, I am blessed more than words could ever say that I get to play a role in the life God has for each of my girls.

As we prayed for Amanda, I prayed for MY girls too.
I encourage you to pray for YOUR children.
Be BOLD in your prayers.
And be willing to hold your children in open hands so God has total freedom to work in and through them as He desires.  We can't keep them safe.  We can't protect them.  We CAN trust God with them and KNOW He will do amazing things with them.  We CAN believe He loves them even more than we ever could.  And thus we can pray in such a way for them...

I invite you to listen to the song again and this time, think about your own children.
We can't ever know God's full plans for them right this minute, but I ask you to dream.
Dream for your children.  Of what God can do in their lives.
And how He can use YOU in that process.

Oh the wonder!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Mind Shift

2016 is HERE!!!
2015 is old news.
The calendar reads January 1.  A new day, a new year.  A clean slate.  A fresh start.

This is when people tend to set goals and make resolutions.
This is when people dream.
We look to the future and for some reason at this particular time of year, we feel the freedom to think BIG.  All other times we tend to be practical and reasonable.  Realistic.  Down to earth.  We have to be, right?  Bills to pay, responsibilities to fulfill, family to care for, job to work.  We don't have the luxury of dreaming big or thinking outside the box.  We are trapped.  Sadly...

What if 2016 brought about a MIND SHIFT?

What if we didn't just write down some goals, set a few resolutions, and reminscence on some childhood dreams that seem to crazy or impossible now that we're all grown up and more mature?

What if we changed the way we think?
And thus the way we live...

What if we started believing we ARE capable of more?
What if we started trying new things, outside our comfort zone?
What if we stopped playing it safe?
What if we stopped holding back, avoiding risk at any cost?
What if we looked at life in a new light?
THE Light.

Yesterday, as my husband and I talked about the year ahead, he shared how dreaming BIG is foreign to him.  He didn't grow up being taught to dream big.  Instead, you work hard, earn every penny, and are a good steward of what you have.  All good things.  I want our girls to have those principles, BUT I also want to instill in them the belief that they CAN do BIG things.  I want them to know that if they put their mind to something and work hard at it, they can accomplish ANYTHING.  I want them to understand there are NO limits to what God can do in and through them as they open themselves up to Him and give Him the freedom to be the BIG, powerful, generous God He is.  I want them to know we will support them as they pursue whatever dreams God lays on their hearts.  I want them to recognize that if God stirs something up within them, He has a reason for that and will supply ALL they need to make that dream a reality.  He wants to build His kingdom here on earth and in some way my girls will play a part in that.  I am excited to see their role both NOW and as they grow up.  I certainly don't want anything to hold them back.  Especially not the mentality that the extraordinary is impossible.

Because it's not.
Not when you serve a God who excels at the impossible.
And then works within us to enable us do ALL things through the power of Christ.

Unfortunately, too many people can relate to my husband.
Not only is dreaming BIG absurd to them, but they feel UNWORTHY of such lofty goals.
Who are they to make 6 figures?
Who are they to travel the world?
Who are they to have a nice house?
Who are they to not have to worry about finances in any way?

You see, FAR too many people believe that lie.
I'm not anyone special.
I don't deserve such a good life.
I'm not worthy.

Straight from the pit of hell.

I want nothing more than to throw them back into that blasted lake of fire and watch them melt in the flames.  I want nothing to do with these lies that chain us down and prevent us from experiencing and enjoying the ABUNDANT life Jesus left heaven and came to earth to make possible for us.

As God has worked in my heart and mind to help me change the way I think, I have become quite passionate about helping others do the same.  I have been freed to set others free.

My heart breaks when I hear people talk the way my husband was the other day.
I want to speak TRUTH into their lives, to show them how much God loves them, and to help them realize how He DELIGHTS in blessing His children.  I want them to understand that they may not be worthy, BUT God doesn't see their faults or shortcomings.  Oh no, He looks at us with LOVE.  We are His children.  He sent His only Son to DIE in our place so that we might be reconciled to Him and have a personal relationship with Him.   If He would do THAT, why would He then not want to bless us?!!  Makes NO sense.

Indeed, God DOES want to bless us.
Just as I explained to my husband how we delight in doing things for our girls, God takes pleasure in blessing us.  He finds joy in our joy.  Like yesterday - we took the girls to Chick-fil-A for an ice cream treat.  They had done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to deserve this.  To be honest, they probably needed to go home, clean up their rooms and put away their toys, take a nap, and go to bed.  BUT, we took them to CFA instead and watched with DELIGHT as they smiled from ear to ear holding their ice cream cones.

We may not be worthy of anything on our dream board (if you have never made one, I encourage you to do so).  BUT, that doesn't matter.  GOD loves us, more than we could ever even begin to fathom.  As the apostle Paul reminds us, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him."

As we begin this new year, more than anything I want to encourage you to have a MIND SHIFT.
Stop believing the lie that you aren't worthy.
Every time Satan whispers that lie in your ear or shouts it in your face, you fight back.
You tell him to SHUT UP.
And then start speaking God's Word.  Boldly. With confidence.
You let Satan know the truth about who you are.

The more you say it, the more you will believe it yourself.
So post these truths where you can see them every single day.
Repeat them to yourself.  OFTEN.
Pray and ask God to help you believe them.  Not just in your head, but in your heart of hearts.

As you do, everything will change.
The way you think about yourself.
The way you see others.
The way you look at situations.
The way you set goals.
The way you dream.
The way you LIVE.

I understand this can be difficult.  Like my husband and I talked about, this is a new concept to him and so many of you.  It's not going to happen overnight.  BUT, we MUST let God do this MIND SHIFT if we are to become the people He created us to be.  We MUST let God out of the box we have trapped Him in.  Then, He can free us from the box we have climbed into ourselves.

Oh the possiblities once that happens!
I get goosebumps thinking about it!

I'll be writing more about this whole idea of dreaming big and understanding who you are in God's eyes.  I truly believe you can't do the former until you grasp the latter.  I want 2016 to be the year things change, the year we have a MIND SHIFT.  Fling open those gates, let the King of Glory come in and watch in amazement as He blows your mind and uses YOU to accomplish things you never imagined possible!

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