Monday, January 31, 2011

A Story About Words

Image taken from

"You are a terrible are a terrible are a terrible friend." "You are not a good are not a good are not a good person." As much as I tried to ignore the words in my head, they kept repeating like a bad song that I couldn't forget. They were words from The Letter. The same letter I told everyone meant nothing to me, did, after all, mean something to me. And I hated that it did.

Words. Put them together in the right way, and they have the power to destroy...or to heal. Words are powerful. I have a great weapon for overcoming negative words. It is my overcoming weapon number five! But before I share it, I feel like telling a little story.

Over the Christmas holidays, Bob and I packed up the kids and headed off to Branson--the land of family-friendly fun and entertainment. We are thankful we live close enough to go often. One afternoon we went to an indoor water park, but I was feeling decidedly non-swimmy. So, while Bob and the kids frolicked about like little ducks, I sat at a table and read one of the books I got for Christmas.

The author was explaining how God would give new names to people after a life-changing experience with Him. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter, and Saul became Paul. These new names had prophetic meaning that released God's power into their lives and caused them to step into the destinies God had called them to. Revelation 2:17 tells us that when we get to Heaven, we will receive a new name written on a white stone! That is so cool. I can't wait to find out what mine is.
As I pondered all this, I looked up and watched the kids splashing and screaming with joy. I thought to myself, "I wish I could have a new name before I get to Heaven, like Abraham and Jacob and the others. If God did give me a new name down here, I wonder what it would be, though?" And just like that, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Right in the middle of the noisy water park, I had an encounter with the real, living God! He cannot be stopped by rowdy kids on slippery slides. I sure do love Him.

I heard Him, not with my ears, but in my spirit, say, "I have called you Friend. Your name is Friend." Stunned, my response was, "How can this be?" I had known for a long time that having friendships was not one of my strengths. I had always looked on wistfully while others with the "gift" of friendship made it all look so effortless. I had decided I could be good at other things, but I just wasn't cut out for friendship the way others were. 

And then I wasn't seeing the water park anymore. The Lord was showing me flashes of my life. I saw myself as a girl of ten, crying on my bed, clutching another letter in my hand, written by my best friend. The letter explained in fourth grade language that I was no longer her friend. She had moved on to a new best friend, and I was yesterday's news.

I saw myself turning down invitations and protecting my heart all through elementary, junior high, and high school. I saw myself in my twenties, wounded by a friend who had rejected me by cutting off all forms of communication.

I saw myself standing in church singing "I am a friend of God" along with everyone else, but not really believing it. I remember inwardly groaning a little every time we sang that song at church, because I don't like singing things I'm unsure of. It makes me feel like I'm lying to a pretty tune. It wasn't that I didn't know what the Bible says about our friendship with God. It was that I was fully convinced that friendship was a disability of mine. If I couldn't manage human friendships, how could I possibly qualify for friendship with God? I had no problems being His child. But friendship--that's reserved for the big wigs like Abraham.

I saw myself unintentionally but repeatedly hurting my friends and chalking it up to this deficiency of mine.

And I saw myself opening The Letter, and having the cold, hard truth engraved in black type before my very eyes: "You are a terrible friend."

I saw all these things flash before me in a moment, and then the Lord spoke to me again. He told me that Satan had been convincing me of a lie in order to steal my God-given destiny. Jesus has called me into friendship with Him. But Satan does not want me to believe it!

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:15-17

All this time, all these years, I had believed the lie! I'm so grateful I finally saw the truth revealed so kindly by my good friend Jesus. He has always been a good friend to me. I've never had a problem with that truth. I've just never considered it in the reverse. But since that day at the water park, I've been trying on my name and feeling giddy about it, kind of like the bride who loves the way her new name sounds. I am a friend of God. God calls me friend! I am His friend! He is my friend, and I am His friend. Okay, you get the idea. I'm getting silly, but this has changed my relationship with Jesus in a way I can't really describe.
I can't wait to find out what this means. How will my destiny as God's friend unfold? And how will it shape my earthly friendships? These are things I don't know yet, but I'm looking forward to the journey. I'm ready to take back what Satan stole from me! I'm choosing to believe my Friend's words about me. Those words are life and health to me and also to you, my overcoming friends.

And this takes us right into weapon number five--coming soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Manna From Heaven

Three years ago we parted
when you stepped over that great, mysterious divide
between our world and reality.
Though I have not seen you since that day,
you are.
You are there,
more like yourself and Him than you ever could be here.
My longing for you has not lessened, only deepened,
for you know things now I want to talk with you about.
I want to ask you questions as a little girl does to her father.
"What's Heaven like, Dad?"
"When Jesus talks, does he have a voice like yours?"
"Will He look at me the way you do?"
"What about His hands, Dad? Will they swallow mine up in that warm way yours did when I was little?"

My grief is no longer raw, exposed as it was to assault by the thought of you. I am healing and learning.
You are only a breath away from me,
separated by just this physicality of mine.
And I am learning about the manna that comes down
from where you are.
It falls down around me during the night,
settling all around me.
 I am learning to gather in the morning
before the midday sun burns away
this Jesus bread.
It is always enough to sustain me
 for another day here away from the Promised Land.
It nourishes me, heals me, and fills me with hope.
I am full of the hope of being home with you someday,
not so far away.

Jesus, rain down on me,
manna from Heaven.

(written in reflection on the third anniversary of my dad's homegoing)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Do Not Be Overcome! The Power of Humility

Have you ever seen a flower put a paper bag over her head? Have you ever heard a flower say, "I am nothing; I am no one. I am a miserable, no-good loser who can't get anything right. But that's okay; it doesn't matter, because I don't matter"? Have you ever looked at a flower in appreciation for its beauty or fragrance and heard it say, "Oh, no, no. Don't look at me. Look at her. She is so much more lovely than I. She is everything a flower should be, but I am hopelessly flawed"?

No. Flowers do not talk. If you have heard flowers talking, please seek medical help immediately. If flowers really said those things, wouldn't we think them foolish? Flowers astound me, making me think of the amazing work God did when He created them. I have not, however, considered how wonderful the flower is at making itself so enjoyable. That is absurd. The flower has nothing to do with it. God gets the credit for that.

And He gets credit for this, too. How much more intricately and specially designed are we than flowers? Yet, how often do we say things like those foolish talking flowers? I have often been guilty of saying or thinking things like that. We are called to be humble, but that kind of talk is just self-depreciating, self-centered, and insulting to the One who created us. Am I being too harsh? Well, too bad. It ticks me off the way Satan always distorts the very things that are intended for making Christians powerful and effective. And I firmly believe that true humility is a super-powerful weapon of mass destruction against evil. It is a mysterious cure for the disappointments and discouragements we face in this life.

How is this possible? It is because when we truly humble ourselves, we are free to be all that we are called to be in Christ. He is calling us out to be overcomers! My prayer is to be truly humble before my Creator, not in a self-depreciating way, but in His way. How freeing to be able to honestly say with gratitude, not pride: "I am pretty fantastic. I am an amazing creation, and I get to do amazing things thanks to Jesus."

I think one of the keys to becoming truly humble is to realize that we are nothing, but not to stop there.

Jesus said,
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5
Apart from Christ, we are nothing of eternal significance, but in Him we are fruit-bearing plants--useful, beautiful, attractive, fragrant, nourishing, and productive. When we humble ourselves by drawing our nourishment from Him, not the soil of the world or of ourselves, we bring Him glory the same way that a beautiful flower does. Others see the fruit of our lives, and it is a credit to the One who made us. It is not for us to cut ourselves down. Neither is it for us to exalt ourselves.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:10

Truly humble people are not insecure. I believe they are the most confident people on earth. Understanding that I don't have to conjure up greatness on my own is a relief. I love to start off my days agreeing with Jesus when I pray: "Jesus, You are my vine. I can't do anything today without You, and I don't want to. Teach me to stay connected to You so that I can bear fruit today. I humble myself before You, and know that You will lift me up in Your perfect timing."

When you come into agreement that apart from Him you can do nothing, it's nice to know what you can do with Him. Here is just a small list of who you are in Christ. If you already know all of this, be newly encouraged by these truths. If this is news to you, soak it all in and believe it, because it's true!

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, then:

You are immeasurably loved with a love that passes
Ephesians 3:19

You are the apple of God’s eye
 Psalm 17:8

God takes delight in you and rejoices over you with singing
Zephaniah 3:17

You are redeemed and forgiven
 Colossians 1:14

You are healed
1 Peter 2:24

You are free from condemnation
Romans 8:1-2

You are the head and not the tail
Deuteronomy 28:13

You are a conqueror because of Christ
Romans 8:37

You are a friend of Jesus
John 15:15

You belong to God and have been bought with a price
1 Corinthians 6:20

You are accepted
Ephesians 1:6

You are cared for
1 Peter 5:7

All things will work together for your good
Romans 8:28

You have not been given a spirit of fear
 2 Timothy 1:7

You are led in triumph
2 Corinthians 2:14

You are a precious child of the Most High God
 Romans 8:16

You are a citizen of heaven
Philippians 3:20

You are complete in Christ
Colossians 2:10

You are no longer cursed
Galatians 3:13

God has a good plan for your life
Jeremiah 29:11

You can do everything through Christ
Philippians 4:13

You are God’s workmanship
Ephesians 2:10

You have been chosen by Jesus
John 15:16

You are God's special possession
1 Peter 2:9

In Him you are above only, and not beneath
Deuteronomy 28:13

You cannot be separated from God’s love
Romans 8:35-39

Anyone else have ideas for cultivating healthy humility? I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Little Winner

I have a little winner, but first I would like to say that I wish I could give everybody a present. I love each of you and treasure you in my heart, even those of you I've never met! I pray for you and think about your lives and what they might be like. God is at work in your lives and hearts in different ways, unique and specific to each one of you. In my mind, you all look like fabric. Each piece is it's own pattern, texture, and color. And each one is completely beautiful, woven by the same creative Master. In this amazing fabric store in my head, it's impossible to pick out just one. I want them all! I want to take them all home with me and watch them become what they are intended to be.

I will continue to daydream about you, my fabric friends, but in the meantime, I must announce the winner. I prayed and used the random number generator thingy as always, and the lovely lady is my dear friend Amber! She is a friend from my years in Kansas, and the funny and very wonderful thing is that she is here staying at my house this weekend! I love it when life works out that way.

Amber and I met back when we each had a one and two-year-old. We became fast friends and now between us have two 8-year-olds, two 6-year-olds, a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a one-year-old. We have encouraged each other through pregnancies, births, deaths, and moves. We have experienced life together, and I am better for knowing her. She is a tiny little person, but she is big in the Lord.

Congratulations, Amber! Love you.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't Miss the Boat

Don't be like my three pitiful waifs, standing forlornly at the cold, lonely dock, watching their ship go by. Don't let the tears stream down your face as you lament over how heavy your giant Disney bag of toys is. No, no. Do not even think of rending your garments in regret.

There is still time to enter the giveaway.

The End.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Spy Free Stuff

I spy with my little eye...some gifts for you! Let's get started, shall we?

Bob and I were so in tune with each other this season, we both gave each other this CD for Christmas. Rather than go through the hassle of sending one of them back to Amazon, I thought it would be fun to give the extra one to you! 'Cause you should have this thing! I received other Cd's for Christmas, but I cannot stop listening to this one long enough to pay attention to the others. Michael Gungor and his band have a unique sound. I love their choice of instruments, including a glockenspiel, horns, strings, banjos, a melodica, and a toy piano. And, oh yeah...foot stomping. These people are fun, funky, and they love Jesus. I find the lyrics of their songs floating through my head throughout the day. 

There are some things I want to know about their album picture: What deeply hidden meaning lies behind the rapidly beating wings of the hummingbirds? Do the two hummingbirds in the foreground know that they're not supposed to eat seed? Does the guy in the back know that we can see him slurping the nectar? Is that shirt borrowed? Does he need some Spray 'N Wash?

This is getting really deep. Let's move on. 
I gave these SEEDS Cd's to my kids for Christmas. Please stop and say "SEEDS Cd's" ten times fast. Ready? Set. Go... now stop. You sound like an insect calling for its mate in the summer.

This music is pretty much straight Bible verses, which I love, because it's the easiest way to memorize Scripture. But what I really love about these SEED people, is that the songs are actually enjoyable. They are not verses set to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Old MacDonald". We have those already. They serve their purpose, but they do not make you tap your toe, unless you just really dig nursery tunes.

Inside the album, the SEED people tell the story of how God inspired them to create the packaging in such a way that a duplicate copy could be torn off at the perforated crease and given away, further spreading the seeds of God's Word. I just know you must be quite charmed by my stubby finger pointing out the second CD.

Just tear off, and you have two Cd's. Pretty cool! I'm including this extra one in my gift to you. Bible songs are for grown-ups, too!

And that's not all! If you win, you will also receive this pile of fabric scraps! Somebody stop me! This giveaway just got insanely awesome!

I'm just joking.
I actually took that pile of scraps and made this cute little pouch. has a back, too! I know, how much more can you take?

Let's pause for a moment and look at this fabric together. What does this mean? Does it mean, "Thumbs down on Mary Poppin. We don't like her. We are superior to her in our umbrella flight skills." Or does it mean, "We are going to fly around the sky until we see Mary Poppin and then scare the daylights out of her by saying boo." If you can't figure this out, you may not deserve this gift. Did that scare you? I'm just joking! I love you! Of course you deserve this gift!

Okay, that's it. Here's my stubby hand putting your Cd's in your cute new bag. It's all ready to mail.

But to whom shall I mail it? Leave me a comment, and it might be you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bad Hair Day

If you think this is bad, you should see the back.

P.S. I think I'm going to give a couple things away this week! We have some duplicate gifts from Christmas. Stay tuned. Gotta go fix my hair first. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do Not Be Overcome! The Power of Thanksgiving

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)
"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (words of Jesus, John 16:33)
Greetings, Earthlings.

I am longing for my heavenly home. I am an alien here. But as long as I'm down here, I want to learn as much as I can how to live the way God intended me to live. I'm excited about this third weapon we have for overcoming the evil things of this world: Thanksgiving. This is a fun one. It's a favorite of mine because it's so simple. It's quick, easy, and effective. Use it in a jam, a pinch, a bind, a pickle, or a gigantic fish.

You heard me right. We can be thankful anywhere! If Jonah can be thankful inside a whale-like creature, then we can be thankful whether we are cleaning up puke or sitting in traffic or getting really bad news on the phone. 

I've heard or read the story of Jonah dozens of times. I've known it since I was a wee tot on my mum's knee. This makes it seem so common and matter-of-fact. But when I read the book of Jonah without a children's Sunday School story mindset, it is rather mind-boggling. Jonah's story is anything but common. It's crazy, man! 

Imagine God has asked you to do something you don't want to do, and in an attempt to run away from Him, you take the next ship to anywhere opposite of where He wants you to be. Now imagine the storm. God is trying to get you to turn around! Imagine the wind, the waves, the thunder, the lightning, and the terror. And now, imagine confessing to everyone else aboard ship that you are the guilty party. You are the one who caused this terrible storm, and the only way to save the lives of these people is to sacrifice your own. 

And so, in desperation, they throw you into the sea. The cold, dark, swirling water engulfs you, sucking you down into the deep. The storm stops. The ship sails on it's way in peace and safety once again.

But you are alone. Alone in a body of water so big, you are just a speck of dust. There is nothing to grasp. No solid thing to hang on to. Nothing but water surrounding you, threatening to pull you down forever. You have seaweed wrapped around your head. And you are alone. Or are you?

Imagine seeing this guy swim toward you, black and massive. He opens his mighty, titanic mouth and swallows you in one gulp like a little raisin. Now what? Anybody ever been through this before? What's it like in there? Dark... wet... suffocating? Would your skin be burned by stomach acid? And would you be able to pull your wits about you enough to pray? Would you be thankful? Jonah did. And he was. 

The great thing about Jonah was that even though he was in a terrible spot, he was able to recognize it as his salvation. Running away from God is running toward destruction. God could have let him go destroy himself. But, in His wonderful mercy, He rescued Jonah. His methods of rescue weren't rainbows and sunshine. They were terrifying. A storm on the open sea and a gigantic fish. Just the thought of it makes my pulse pick up. 

But Jonah recognized these things for what they were. And instead of despairing, he managed to be positive and thankful! Check out what Jonah prayed in chapter 2 of the book of Jonah:

 " From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said:

'In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
 When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
 Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’

 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land."

Isn't that a beautiful prayer? How many times have I gone through a storm in my life or been in a dark place only to be overwhelmed by fear or complain at the injustice of it? How many times have I failed to recognize that perhaps I was being rescued from something far worse, had I continued on my course? 

When Jonah recognized God as His salvation and gave thanks, I believe his faith released more of God's power and grace into his life, and the next step was fulfilled. After three days and nights, he was puked up onto dry land.
 He may not have smelled very good. But in a manner of speaking, he was born again! He was given another chance to fulfill his God-given destiny, and he did it this time. He still had more lessons to learn along the way, but God is a patient teacher, and Jonah eventually got it!

Have you ever wondered what God's will is for your life? We all do, don't we? There are so many books written on the subject of discovering His will for your life. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is one of my all time favorite verses: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." There it is! There's God's will for us, plain as day. Give thanks. I know what you're thinking. This verse doesn't say who you should marry, or what job you should take, but I firmly believe that being thankful in everything is a fabulous start! Begin by being thankful, and the rest will follow. Be thankful right in the middle of your storm. Give thanks to the Lord right in the middle of your own stinky whale innards. Then you'll get puked up onto dry ground, and God will show you what to do next!
I don't know about you, but I'm excited about this. For me, giving thanks became like breathing when I went through my illness. It kept me from sinking into despair and giving up. And I am determined to give thanks to God today! Yesterday was one of those days that a mom hopes her children will never remember. I was a really mean mommy. But last night, as I laid my head on the pillow dreading what today would bring, the Holy Spirit prompted me, and I just said, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you for these kids." And this morning when I woke up I said, "Thank you, Lord, that you have given me everything I need to be the mother of these children." Just those simple little thank yous have encouraged my spirit and given me hope for a better day today!

So, are you with me? Whatever you are facing today, I want to encourage you to be thankful. We can do it!

We are overcoming!

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.~2 Corinthians 2:14

Monday, January 3, 2011

Burning Questions of 2011

Is my kid normal?

Do these boots make my legs look orange?

Why doesn't Lambert's accept credit cards? Is that normal? We had to wash a ton of dishes before they let us go home.

Is it normal for people to be this pretty when they're on the phone?

Is it normal for people to smile this much when they can't pay for their food?

Is it normal for two-legged carrot people to show up at your door? Or am I the only one?

Am I normal if I put Barbie pants and a wig on my vegetables?

Where's my sink?

Is he normal? Did I ask that already?

Since when do I have such crinkly crow's feet?

These are my deep ponderings. These are the things I really want answered in 2011.

I'm glad I got that out. 

avandia recall