Sunday, May 31, 2009

God Given Gifts

Do you have a certain talent or gift? Something that comes easily for you, easier than it does for others? Each of us is given a certain "special something." That something sets us apart from everyone else. I've been thinking alot about God given gifts. Those talents that God places within us before we even take our first breath.

A few days ago, I read the story of Daniel and the writing on the wall. I was especially struck by Daniel 5:17 "Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation",

I'm sure there are many ways to view this particular scripture. Many pastors and evangelists have preached on Daniel and his ability to read the writing on the wall. I agree with their views and love that Daniel used his gift for the purposes God intended.

For me, this passage tells us even more than Daniel was using his gifts for God's perfect plan. It also tells me that he did not want to be rewarded for doing so. Daniel told the king to keep his rewards. He didn't want them or need them in order to do what God had called him to do. Daniel was blessed to be a vessel. Fulfilling God's calling was his desire.

Reading this scripture reminded me of a recent conversation. A friend and I were talking over my desire to write. I'd been struggling with ... should I write, did God intend for me to use this gift, was I following a selfish desire? She presented me with a question. If I could never make a living writing, would I still write? I won't lie to you, there's no point in trying. In more ways than one, I am an open book. If I could have my choice, I'd want to write stories that change lives and make a living while doing it. But, if there were no guarantees ...

After thinking it over, I felt certain I would still write. I love "spinning a tale." And, I love even more the thought that someone might read one of my stories and find God somewhere between the lines. If only one person read my stories and found a reason to live for God, it would be worth every page of writing.

So, I ask you ... what are you doing with your gifts/talents? Are you using them as God intended? Maybe you're the woman that sits with a friend suffering from cancer. You hold her hand and pray for her as no one else does. Are you the farmer that plows and plants your friends field because he suffered from a heart attack and can't do it himself? Are you a prayer warrior, teacher, preacher, doctor?

Whatever your gift, use it for God. Our rewards are stored up in Heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy (Matthew 6:19).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Divided Path

Have you ever stood at a "fork in the road" of your life? Imagine you're walking through a beautiful woods. The path your on is clear and bright. The walk thus far has been enjoyable. On this walk, you've met people that have given you both joy and grief. Each person and experience has somehow changed your character. Without realizing it, you've been made a better person because of each encounter. Perhaps the path has taken a few curves or bends but in all the journey has been easily traversed. Out of a seeming nowhere, you come upon a divided path. One that isn't marked on your map and no one around seems to know which way will keep you on the comfortable journey. You stop and stand at the fork. There are no clear signs saying ... "This way to God's purpose for your life" or "Don't take this path, you'll be forever sorry if you do." Neither one is more or less attractive than the other.

Maybe you're the type of person that has always had a clear plan for your life. Perhaps you've always known exactly what you want out of life and you've obtained those wants by the hard work of your own hands. Then, just like the rain on a warm summer day, indecision soaks you to the bone. There's no warning. It just happens.

Have you ever been at that point in your life? In that moment, what did you do?

I made the decision to pursue my dream of writing by stopping and listening. In the middle of what I felt was a woods and at a divided path, I stopped and prayed. Then, I listened for the voice of the One that looks straight into my heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

If you're standing at a divided path and you feel God calling you. Take the path that leads you to His voice. Then, commit that path to God. He blesses the path chosen in prayer and with a heart that is fully committed to Him.

Psalm 37:5 "Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Toy Soldiers

What's in your toy box? My boys have army guys. You know the ones I'm talking about. The big gallon size tub of army green guys that you can pick up at any dollar store. Little boys can play for hours setting up battle scenes and playing out a make believe war. I think each little guy has their own "sound" for war. The noise they make when bullets are flying and bad guys are taken out. After the battle is over, the army guys are piled back into the tote and, the next day, they come out alive and well, prepared for another war.

How do you feel about children playing war? I hadn't really thought about this subject until several months ago while saying night time prayers with my boys. Each boy was snuggled deep down under the covers, stuffed animals and pillows placed just so in the manner of a fort.

My youngest started with his "thankful list". His eyes squeezed tight and little hands clasped in front of his chest. The list was one that made me smile. He loves all kinds of food. So, his thanks included all his favorite dishes. He ended with his requests ... bless Mommy, Daddy and brothers.

Then, we moved on to my middle boy. The room was dark and held a magical sort of feel. That's how my heart is while I listen to their prayers. There's no better sound than the quiet prayer of a child. That boy shot straight up in his bed and with a tone of absolute confidence, he said .... "Mommy, I just knowed what I want to be when I growed up! I'm gonna be a soldier!" My heart skipped a beat and I was both proud and fearful. I loved that he wanted to be a soldier, an honorable choice. Also, I was afraid. What if he kept with that choice, what if our country remained at war until he was of age? I asked him how he had come to that decision. His answer was a matter of fact ... "Cause Mommy, I can shoot people with my gun and I really want a gun!" My heart sunk and I felt as though I'd been punched in the gut.

At what point did my son become infatuated with guns? And, why would he think that was the "best part" of being a soldier? We talked about those things for several minutes. I tried to explain that being a soldier is more about courage then carrying a weapon. We decided that the best thing to do was pray for our soldiers. That they would have courage enough to know when to use their gun and when they shouldn't. We prayed for their safety and thanked God that the soldiers were protecting us.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a conservative parent. My younger boys don't play violent video games, watch movies with violence or movies that include blood/gore. That night, I realized that no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can't protect my children from the war. It's everywhere. Not talking about it, trying to ignore it or protecting our children from the reality of war isn't the answer. As parents, we must educate our children of the sacrifice each military staff and family makes to provide us with freedom.

My husband served in the United States Air Force for 4 years. We lived on a military base and had our first child during that time. He was blessed to serve during peaceful times. We made wonderful friends and memories. I can't imagine being the wife/spouse of someone serving during war times.

Today is Memorial Day. A time when we honor those that gave all for us to have all. Today, I'm remembering them and the One who gave absolutely everything for me. While you spend your day cooking out and playing with your family/friends, take time to think of those that are nowhere near their loved ones. Then, say a special prayer for them and their sacrifice.

My boys still play with their army guys. They still pray for those that fight in the war. Now, we talk about the war and those that give the ultimate sacrifice.

How does Memorial Day make you feel? Are you a veteran, active duty or civilian? What decisions have you made about raising your children in a war time America?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

With All Your Heart

How much time do you spend looking in a mirror every day? If your a woman, it could be quite a while. Between, fixing our hair and make-up and then checking our clothes fit just right ... we might be in front of that mirror for an hour. When I was younger, my mother shared something with me that her Grandmother told her. It's a challenge. For every minute you spend looking in the mirror each day, spend two minutes looking in your bible. I know, you're thinking ... Might be kind of difficult when your juggling the schedule of a full time job, raising children and keeping house.

At the time, I didn't take the words to heart. However, a few years ago, I started thinking about this challenge. Did she really mean that I needed to spend twice as long reading and studying my bible? Or, was there a meaning that I had somehow missed? After considering these questions rambling in my mind, I picked up my bible and found the popular verse of Psalms 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

This verse in Psalms is common among Christians. When I read this, I feel like I'm reading a promise directly from my heavenly Father. It lets me know that He hasn't forgotten me and that He has a perfect plan for my future.

Then, I read beyond that verse. Have you ever gone past this verse to read what follows in the next three verses? 12 "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord."

After reading those verses, I realized that the challenge did go farther than the amount of time in scripture and prayer. While the time is extremely important, the quality is profound. In your time with the Lord, are you seeking Him with all your heart? Do you seek Him out on a daily basis?

Since that time, I have found that my days are much better when started with my Father. I'm not certain that I've attained the double time of my Great Grandmother's challenge. But, I do know that I've changed the quality of that time.

These verses hold both encouragement and a promise. I love that I am told to seek my Father will all my heart and He promises I will find Him. Doesn't that do your heart good? These scriptures tell us that He knows us, has plans of peace for us and that we WILL find Him.

The secret is searching with all your heart. Where is your heart today? Is it lost in the battle of an overwhelming schedule? Maybe your heart is broken and weary from failures, disappointments or dreams that have gone up in smoke.

Whatever your broken heart needs, our Father is there in the midst of those discouragements to comfort you. He is ready and waiting for you to seek Him. Take that first step, open your bible to the wonderful promises of Psalms 29:11-14. Then, open the door to your heart and let the peace He provides wash over your soul.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Game Called Life

"Hey batter, batter!"

"Swing, batter, batter ... swing!"

Ever heard this before? I think all of us have either witnessed a baseball game in person or on the television. The chants are meant to distract the player that is batting.

Last night, as I watched one of my boys play Little League, I found myself loving the team aspect of the game. All of the positions have to work together for the best outcome ... a win.
In baseball, there are players in the outfield and infield. In Little League, the more experienced players are given positions infield. The newbies are placed outfield.

One of the girls on my boy's team hit a home run. You know what I noticed? She ran those bases without ever looking at the other players or slowing down to see where the ball had gone. She kept her eyes on the coach and followed his instructions. The entire time, our opposing team yelled at her trying to make a distraction. Didn't work, she ran fast all the way to home plate. Then, raised her victory fists high about her head. The team and everyone in the bleachers cheered in an extremely loud fashion.

When my son went up to bat, he swung and missed several times. My heart sank because I knew how much he wanted to hit the ball and run those bases. One of his coaches came up and helped him position his hands on the bat and showed him where to plant his feet. Still, no hit. As he walked off the field, the fans clapped and the team cheered. The coach clapped and yelled "good try."

After the game (we lost), the coach took the entire team up to the concessions for a drink and piece of candy. He told them it was because they showed up to play ball.

I found myself thinking of my walk with God. As Christians, we are a team of players following one Coach. Sometimes, we are infield, making the plays, catching the ball and in general being a big part of the action. Other times, we play outfield. Sure, we may see a little action. That all depends on how far our opposition hits the ball. But, for the most part, we watch as our teammates shine in the spotlight. When we're up to bat, there are times when the "enemy" yells to distract us. And, yet times when the ball is thrown just right and we hit a home run.

I can imagine our Father cheering us on as we take all the pointers he's given us and we hit the ball out of the park! I can also see Him patting us on the back and saying "good try" when we strike out. And, I believe there are times when He is just pleased because we showed up and gave it our best.

My question is, where are you at in this game called life? How do you fit into the team? If you're in the outfield, are you cheering for your team? Maybe you're infield and God is teaching you to keep your eyes on Him.

Maybe today you got a curve ball, you lost your job. Or, perhaps your marriage is struggling and you feel like you're about to strike out. You might be balancing your checkbook and have no idea where the money will come from to pay the bills.

No matter where you're at, keep your eyes on the Coach. He'll get you to home plate!

Psalms 25:15 "My eyes are ever toward the Lord."

Monday, May 18, 2009


Have you ever struggled with words? Maybe been in a situation where you can't find the words to convey your feelings? Have you felt called by God to speak up but didn't because of your own fears?

As an aspiring writer, this happens to me more than I would like to admit. This struggle has also found its way into my career and personal life. Sometimes, I even plan my words and then second guess them over and over.

I want to share with you a few verses from the book of Exodus (4:10-12). These verses are found in the middle of the Lord speaking to Moses through the burning bush. After being called by the Lord to go to Egypt and free his brethren, Moses becomes insecure in his speech. "Then Moses said to the Lord, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."

This portion of the story has given me great peace. I believe that the Lord blesses the tongue of those He has chosen. When Moses is afraid, the Lord gives him encouragement. I love this, don't you? Moses tells the Lord of his fears and insecurities. In the midst of urgency to release the Israelites from their bondage, our awesome God takes time to ease those fears. Even then, Moses fears weigh heavy and he asks the Lord to send someone else. Here's another great thing, the Lord provides Moses with support. He sends Aaron with Moses. Verse 14 tells us that when Aaron sees Moses, Aaron will be glad of heart. In that moment, Moses is to speak the Lord's words to Aaron and allow his brother to "do the talking."

Doesn't this give you peace? Think about this. Even when we allow our fears to keep us from the words God would have us to speak, He provides another way. Our Lord doesn't give up on us. Just look at how He used Moses.

The next time you are left speechless, remember these verses. Know that your Lord loves you and created you.

"I praise You, Father, that You made my mouth, Teach me how to speak and what I should say."

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Who do you go to for guidance or wisdom? I have several people that I go to for this. But, the first one that comes to my mind is Mary, my sister. We share everything. Joy, sorrow, hardship, victory.

In the first few chapters of Esther, we learn of her relationship with Mordecai. Several days ago, during my devotions, I read the story of Queen Esther. I was struck by their relationship. The way that he gently guided her. The way she respected his wisdom. They valued each other.
I am in awe of the way that this biblical story transcends time and place. In each of our lives, there are choices to be made that change the course of our future. How do we make those choices? For me, any major decision involves prayer and many of them are made after talking with my sister.

What would've happened if Esther had chosen to remain quiet? Think about her position, what would you have done? Esther's decision weighed so heavily on her, she asked for fasting. Have you ever fasted while facing a difficult choice?

Mordecai makes a profound statement in Esther 4:14 "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" It is clear that Mordecai felt Esther was brought to the position of Queen during that time for a purpose. Have you ever thought about that? God placed her there to fulfil His purpose. When she was asked to save her people, she was willing to give her life for them.

Generations of women look back in adoration at Esther's strength and faithfulness. I pray that those who come after me will say that they found me faithful.

Are you struggling with a decision? Is your heart heavy with a burden that seems overwhelming?

I pray that you have someone you can go to for guidance and wisdom. As in every decision, come to your choice after careful prayer. Read the story of Queen Esther and be encouraged.

To my sister... Mary, thank you for your wisdom and guidance.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Do you have a special treat that takes you back to your childhood? Something that as soon as you smell it or taste it, you're 5 years old again? Mine is carmello bars and chips. Anyone else remember those huge carmello bars they used to sell at Christmas time? I always felt like the little boy in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You know, the scene where he peels back the foil wrapper. He was looking for a golden ticket but I was always looking for the chocolate bar. I love the chocolate and salty chips. When I was a little girl, my Dad would have this snack. I remember crawling up on my Dad's lap and sharing his chocolate and chips. It always "hit the spot." That and a big glass of Pepsi. Maybe it was the time with my Dad that made it taste even better. Every Christmas, there was a king size carmello bar stuck in the top of my sister's stocking and mine.

I was thinking about that today. I had a hard day at work. I am employed at a credit union where I spend my days investigating and dealing with fraud cases. I enjoy this work but some days are more difficult than others. I tend to let my work come home with me more than I should. Today was one of those times. When I got home, I was hunting for something to eat and taking my frustrations out on my cabinet doors. Upon raiding the cabinets, I found a carmello bar. I hid it so well that even I had forgotten it was there. (in my house anything found is open season, I have boys, enough said.)

I tore into the chocolate bar and grabbed a bag of chips. My husband and I sat next to each other on the couch. We shared my favorite childhood snack and the details of my "bad day."

Then, I started thinking where that chocolate bar came from. My mom. It was tucked into a gift bag she gave me for Mother's Day. I realized, she's probably the one that made sure my Dad's favorite snack was in good supply during my childhood. Which took me to another thought... what am I doing for my husband and children that will stay with them? What things have I done that will show them my love?

I hope that when my boys are grown, they have those special memories. Things that I've done or said that are specific to me as their Mom. Love is in the little things. Like carmello bars, chips and Pepsi. But, more than that ... love is sharing a snack with your Dad or finding that same snack in a gift bag 20 years later and knowing why it's there. It's there because your Mom knows how much it means to you.

Tell me about a favorite snack from your childhood and why it's special for you.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I had a conversation with a friend of mine today. The entire thing started with my worrying. This seems to be a pretty common topic for my friend and me. My worrying, not hers. I was stewing over a decision I had made. Had I acted on my own selfish desires or had I followed God's guidance? I always share my concerns with her because she has a way of helping me to see things more clearly.

Today, I was concerned that my decision had been made in hast and possibly may have hurt someone I care for deeply. My mind was racing with the possibilities of what could happen and how this particular someone might have taken my words or actions. Would this person I care about see my good intentions and my heart?

My friend listened to my rants and ravings for a good deal of minutes. She interjected with a quiet ... I see, how do you feel about that, have you prayed about this ... and so on. Then, after several moments of silence, she prayed for me. She claimed the scripture found in 1st Kings 19.

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. "

I was struck silent. Which doesn't happen very often. Then, she asked me what I was listening to. Was it the whisper of the One? I had to admit that I was listening to the wind, earthquake and fire. I stopped and realized that I needed to be quiet enough to hear His whisper.

As always, I felt much better after talking with my friend.

If you've found yourself desperately seeking God's voice, I encourage you to read this passage. Then, be quiet enough to hear Him whisper.

Am I still concerned about my situation? Yes, but I've given it over to the One who whispers peace to my soul. I'm trusting him to calm the wind, earthquake and fire of my worries.

To my faithful friend ... Thank you for your obedience to God's calling on your life and thank you for always being my friend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Journey

Have you ever sat in the midst of an anniversary party thinking about the happily married couple? I have. Do you ever watch the way they look at each other and wonder what secrets they share? I do. I'm talking about the "mile marker" anniversaries. The ones that are filled with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. How did the couple mark their miles together? I can tell you of one particular couple that marked their miles with the love found in 1 Corinthians 13. My grandfather and grandmother on my mother's side. I remember sitting at family gatherings and watching them. The way they finished each other's thoughts, laughed at a joke only they understood and smiled at each other with their eyes. They lived miles away from my family. So, I wasn't able to see this from them regularly. But, I caught on to it just the same.

Just before I was married, my grandmother gave me some advice. I took her words to heart because I longed for a marriage that would model the one I had watched for so many years. She encouraged me to make the journey count as much as the destination. Marriage is a journey shared by two people with a common destination. There are detours, bumps, bridges and mountains.

Last year, my husband and I marked our 15th wedding anniversary. There is no other person I would want to travel with on this journey. We've been through good and bad. I'm sure there will be more of each along the way. I find myself finishing his thoughts and laughing when he makes a joke that only we share. And, the best part for me is when someone compliments me on our marriage. That tells me that they see us smiling with our eyes.

I am marking our miles with 1 Corinthians 13. If you are newly married or celebrating a mile marker, I encourage you to savor the journey.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pictures Say A Thousand Words.

5/11/2009 - Any other moms out there? Today, as I searched for pictures to add to my website, I made a discovery. I have numerous pictures of my children, our families and the places we visit. Nothing of me. I had to run to my sister's for a quick set of pictures. Why is that moms? Share your thoughts with me on twitter.
I could come up with a number of reasons this might happen to us mothers. We don't like the way we look in pictures, we're too busy taking the pictures, no one takes pics of us with our children ... the list goes on. But, honestly, think about it. That is a sad thing. When I'm gone from this world, I want my children to have pictures of me with them and their father. I want them to remember my hands. That may sound silly but, again think about it. I want them to remember the hands that wiped their tears, touched their faces, made them snacks and folded in prayer. I want them to remember the eyes that looked on them and their father with love and adoration.
So, I guess this is me saying to you ... hand over the camera! Let someone else take the pictures!