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If any of you lacks wisdom,

he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault,

and it will be given to him.

James 1:5

In every aspect of my life, I find one common need arises daily.

The need for wisdom.

Being a wife, mom, friend, and teacher calls me to deeper and deeper levels of realization that without wisdom, it is easy to fail.

I am so thankful that God promises that He will give generously if I simply ask.

He promises the same thing to you.

I don’t know what you’re longing for today.

I don’t know what kinds of issues you are facing.

But I do know this:

God longs to be right there beside you, leading you and providing the wisdom you need to make the right choices and glorify Him all along the way.

Today, as you venture into this last day of April, I pray you will seek His wisdom in all things.

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Where are you suppose to be?

April 26th, 2012

 

I don’t think David planned to have an affair with Bathsheba,

become the father of her child,

and then eventually have her husband killed at war so that she could become his wife.

I don’t think David realized that his sins would lead to great punishment for his people and the death of his new infant son.

Sometimes, though, we find ourselves in a big mess simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I Chron. 20:1 says,

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war,

Joab led out the armed forces.

He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it,

but David remained in Jerusalem.

David was the king. 

He should have been at war.

But because he stayed home while most men were gone,

he found himself wandering around on the rooftop of the palace one day, looking out over his city, and discovering a beautiful woman.

One thing led to another and before David knew it, he was penning a Psalm of repentance because Nathan had arrived and announced all of the wickedness David had done in God’s sight.

Even though David wasn’t where he was suppose to be, he quickly learned that God had been exactly where He was suppose to be all along.

See, God never left David even though David walked away from God.

In life, we’re going to find ourselves wandering from time to time.

Sometimes our wandering can lead to little mistakes.

Other times it can lead to total disaster.

No matter where we end up, though, in these times of wanderings, one thing never changes.

God is still there.

We can run.

We can try to hide.

We can pretend He’s too busy to notice.

We can even hope that somehow He’ll look the other way.

But in the end, we’ll always learn.

God never left us alone.

Night and day.

Good and bad.

He was there.

Today, I’m not sure where you’re suppose to be.

But I hope you’re in the right place.

At the right time.

If not, I hope you’ll remember that you’re not alone-

even in this season of wandering.

God is with you.

He is always where He is suppose to be.

And I’m so thankful.

 

ecms football

A Thumbs Up Reminder

April 25th, 2012

 

If you have never heard the story of the thumbs up cloud that became the inspiration to our family, friends, and the world during Nick’s fight with cancer, please CLICK HERE and go to “Nick’s Story” and “Thumbs Up” to read more.

For some reason this morning, I felt the need to share these photos.

Praying someone will be encouraged by God’s gift to our family.

The photo below is one my mom snapped while on the interstate traveling to our home.

Can you see the thumb and hand behind the trees?

This is a cropped photo that zooms in on what she saw!  Other than this cloud, it was a cloudless day!

We had taking pictures of friends with their thumbs up before mom saw this cloud!

This cloud gave us hope!

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After I shared the cloud with the world, we began receiving photos from all over the world of people with their thumbs up cheering Nick on in his fight!

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jason and yvette west's daughter

jason mcglone

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megan lemaster class

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Thumbs Up for Nick2 from africa

thomas remke youth group thumbs up

thumbs up coke bottle

 

Thumbs up for Nick made from a tree

 

thumbs up nuns

thumbs up standing alone

thumbsupfor Nick from africa

 

walter williams thumbs up_resize

young thumbs

After Nick passed away, we were confused by the cloud but still chose to use the thumbs up in the logo for his foundation.

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When we traveled to India several months later, Tim received a thumbs up rupee in his change on the first day of our visit.

india 1 rupee thumbs up

I later researched the coin and learned that in a remote part of India there is a mountain in a city called Manmad which is called “Thumbs up Mountain.”

thumbs up mountain

I still believe God led us to India so that I would understand a passage I had clung to all along.

Psalm 121

 I lift up my eyes to the hills-
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven (the cloud) and earth (the mountain).

 

 

As I continue to walk on this planet, I cling to the Maker of both.

I pray you do too.

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When David became King and reached a place in his leadership where he was finally living in a beautiful cedar palace instead of hiding in behind rocks in caves, he realized that the Ark of God was still being held in a tent and it bothered him.

God, however, made it very clear through Nathan that it wasn’t David’s job to build a house in which He could dwell.

God went as far as to say that He would raise up one of David’s descendants and through Him, build a house, a temple for God’s name.

As I sit in a hotel room this morning an hour and a half from home getting ready to prepare for a day visiting another high school as part of an accreditation team, this passage has really spoken to me.

God knew what David didn’t know:

Jesus was coming.

Followed by the Holy Spirit.

And in time, Christians would become the dwelling place for them.

Like tents, we are temporary shelters.

Like tents, we are frail.

Like tents, we can be moved from place to place easily.

And yet, we have been given the wonderful gift of carrying within us God Himself.

When we give our lives to Him, He dwells within us.

So, even though, I have gotten in my car and travelled from my earthly home, He’s still with me.

I still have the same Comforter, Protector, Peace-giver………..

inside of me.

And because I know that my earthly tent is temporary, I don’t have to fear death.  Because God has big plans for me..and for you.  We have a heavenly dwelling waiting!!  An eternal Home!

Until then, though, we don’t have to worry about the place in which the Holy Spirit lives.

Just as in the time of David, God had a plan for the Ark …….. that sat in a tent outside a palace,

God has a plan for us.

II Corinthians 5 says,

 

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Today, as you move from place to place within this world, remember that if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to live within you, you are His dwelling place, His earthly tent, and you are enough…God has made you His sanctuary.

Live a life worthy of Him who lives within you……

And never feel alone.

Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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Friday at the high school where I teach, our community came together to help students realize the serious consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.

From judges to state police to ministers, our gymnasium was lined with officials who were ready to explain to the students what would happen to them if the scenario on their slip of paper were true.

Crimes ranged from showing up at school with alcohol odor on your breath to breaking into a pharmacy to steal prescriptions to having a meth lab at your house.

Once students were given their scenario, a volunteer “parent” walked them through the steps that would be required of someone who had committed their given crime.

Many students ended up facing jail time, and I snapped this picture of one of my students not realizing until after I took her picture that her shirt had a peace sign on it.

Peace……..

The opposite of chains……..photo (9)

I showed her and her friends this picture and said, “This is what you lose when you end up in jail.”

I know, because every Friday night I sit in a jail cell with women who have traded peace for bondage………………

And they live in regret.

This past Friday night, I challenged the women in pods J and H to write their life story so that they could see the places along the way where they made small choices that pushed them in the wrong direction,

I asked them to try not to blame people along the way but rather note possible obstacles or situations that may have made their bad choices easier to make.

My dream is to see these women’s stories shared with students who are at critical places in life.

Places where bad choices sometimes seem “cool” or “easier.”

There’s something about being in bondage that creates a desire to help others not end up there.

And that’s where the women in jail cells find themselves today.

Wishing they could say to their kids, “Don’t do what I did.  Don’t end up here.”

In reality, all of us are in some kind of bondage from time to time.

Maybe it’s a stronghold of fear, worry, doubt, grief, anger, an inability to forgive, or something else that is keeping up from feeling peace.

I’ve been in bondage many times.

I think that’s one of the reasons I blog.

Hoping to show others the freedom that can be found, even in our darkest times, if we allow Jesus to rule our hearts.

Jesus.

The Prince of Peace.

He longs to release us from the chains this world so easily wants to slip around our wrists.

Last night, we went back to the jail and baptized two more women.  Fourteen women have now given their lives to Christ in our city jail, and the difference it has made in their smiles, their perspective on their future has been amazing.

Watching the women go under the water and then come back up………….

I wish I could express in words the joy that fills our souls and their faces as they realize that have died to the “old self” and have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to walk with them along their not-so-easy roads.

It’s as if God unlocks their handcuffs and says, “You have now freedom in Christ.”

Today, if you find yourself feeling restrained and held back from being all you can be, I hope you can look at this picture and realize that there is NO PEACE when a stronghold is holding you captive.

Allow Jesus to release you from whatever it is that is holding you back.

I’m praying for you as I head into a very busy week.

You are always on my heart.

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A Barry Manilow concert on a school night probably isn’t a good idea. 🙂

My alarm just wasn’t enough to push me out of bed this morning.

I’ll write tonight and share pictures.

Have a wonderful day.

I’m praying for you all.

Love,

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Needing a Post-It Note!

April 19th, 2012

 

Have you ever had a big decision to make and longed that God would send you something as tiny as a Post-it Note sharing His plan for your life?

I feel as if I have walked in need of a Post-it Note for years now, and so far one has not appeared.

I try not to talk a lot about how I struggle with big decisions.

I’m thinking you probably have enough big decisions in your own lives and hearing about mine may be more than you can bear.

So, rather than talking about me, I’ll talk about David.

As I read about him hiding from Saul and traveling from one rocky ravine to another to find safety, I wonder if he ever stopped and asked God for some kind of sign.

Well, actually, I know he did.

The Bible doesn’t say that he asked for Post-it note (I don’t think they had those around yet), but he did ask for the ephod so that he could seek God’s guidance about what he and his army should do after their town had been burned to the ground and their wives and children had been kidnapped.

After being gone for three days with his army, he came home to find total devastation.

He looked around and realized that because of him, all of the men who were following him had lost everything.

They were crying.

They were angry.

They had made a decision to follow David because they felt it was the right thing to do, and now they found themselves in the middle of a nightmare.

I love that in this critical moment in David’s life, when he had to be wondering what in the world God’s plan was for him and his men, the Bible says,

David was now in great danger

because all his men were very bitter

about losing their sons and daughters,

and they began to talk of stoning him. 

But David found strength in the Lord.

(I Samuel 30:6)

I can almost hear the music swelling as David’s head had to be spinning with fear, questions, doubt, anxiety…………..

I am sure there was part of him that wanted to run from these men just like he had ran from Saul.

But he didn’t.

He turned to God and asked, “What should we do?”

God told them to go get back what had been taken and what happens next just amazes me.

As they set out on their journey to regain their family, they stumbled upon a weak, starving Egyptian man in a field.

Now I’m just thinking that they had every reason to justify ignoring this man, justifying their actions with the knowledge that God has told them to go get back what they have lost not stop and take care of hungry Egyptians.

But they do.

They stop and give him bread to eat, water to drink, part of a fig cake, and two clusters of raisins.

The man regains his strength and Providentially is able to lead them straight to their missing family members and the enemies who had taken them.

What does any of this have to do with Post-it notes?

What does any of this have to do with making hard decisions?

For me, I sense that sometimes God sets us out on a journey but along the way, He places opportunities for us to minister.

If we are able to minister right where we are, then maybe, just maybe, those very moments of seemingly unconnected service lead us to the next step in God’s plan for our lives.

I can almost visualize David and his 400 men (200 of the men were too tired to cross the brook and go with them..and that’s a story for tomorrow) sitting around this starving Egyptian, watching him gobble down their food, and wondering how in the world this moment was part of the message from the Ephod.

Little did they know that they were feeding the very man who would help them recover their family members.

We don’t have ephods  today to turn to for God’s direction.

And we probably won’t see a Post-it note floating from Heaven with a message from Him either.

But who knows how God will use our small acts of service to lead us on in His will for our lives.

Today, you may find yourself doing something that seems very far from the road you think God wants you on…………..

But if you are finding your strength in the Lord and you are going to Him daily for guidance and direction, TRUST HIM.

Your choices today may be a huge part of His plan for your tomorrow.

I love you all so much.

Praying for you as I get ready for school,

 

 

 

Erich called bright and early this morning to let us know that their U-Haul was reserved for 8 a.m. May 30th!  He was so excited, especially because he found a $100 off coupon for the rental!

As I listened to his voice, I could tell there was nothing but joy in his voice!

On a very shallow level, I felt a twinge of sadness thinking of Erich and Mallory boxing up their life in Nashville and setting out for Dallas, Texas.

Partly because Dallas seems so far away and partly because I know that this is just the beginning of a journey that will take them all the way to the other side of the world in just two years.

Working as Bible translators on the mission field is not something you can do from home.

It requires learning a language and then being able to put this language in written form.

Once the language has an alphabet, they can begin writing the Bible for the people group they are serving; and this project takes 15 to 20 years.

I take a deep breath as I type those words.

I’m so proud of them both!

So excited for them!

But, I can’t even put into words how much I dread the hugs as they venture off.  The first goodbye will be the most difficult.  I know that from experience, but I also know that it is never really something you get totally use to doing.

So, a reserved U-Haul has me feeling all sorts of things this morning.

Excitement

Sadness

Pride

Fear

Joy

Anxiety

And in a strange way……

Peace.

 

Because deep inside I know that God doesn’t place this kind of passion in the hearts of two people without having a big plan and purpose!

And if God is for them…..

WHO CAN BE AGAINST THEM?!?!?

I’ll keep you posted on their big adventures!!!

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Please keep them in your prayers!

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This morning I find myself needing to listen more than speak.

I know that the sharing of “my heart” never compares with the power of “His Words,”

and today I’m especially feeling the need to step back and allow God to have all the room He needs to speak to you and to me.

Praying you will take a few minutes to simply close your eyes and……….

“Be still and know” that He is God.

(Psalm 46:10)

I love when stillness speaks.

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As we hugged goodbye in the driveway yesterday, I realized that I had not been taking pictures since Erich and Mallory arrived on Friday evening.

I snapped a few with my phone, but I never actually got out a camera!

I remember thinking, “I should take a picture,” as Erich and I were working in the memory garden Saturday morning.  I had looked up from my work to see Erich moving a bag of mulch.  He looked like a man, and I had a flashback to the little Erich who use to spend his time running through this back yard without a care in the world.  Hands too dirty to even think about capturing this with a camera, I snapped a photo in my heart.

Olivia plopped down on Mallory’s lap at one point over the weekend, and they giggled as they talked.  But again, I was in the midst of some activity that kept me from being a photographer, so I snapped another photo in my heart.

Todd and Erich hung out and played some video games……brothers who are now friends……and not wanting to ruin the moment, I stayed clear and allowed them space to just laugh and visit.  Another heart photo taken.

Through the kitchen window, I saw Tim and Erich talking on the deck about the plans Erich and Mallory have to move to Dallas in just seven weeks.  Serious, yet smiling and talking, I watched a father and son have a conversation like two adults trying to solve all the problems of the world. 

Click.

Another memory stored within.

I thought of all of you as I missed these moments in photograph form, because I wanted you to see what I saw.

But then I realized…….sometimes memories are just that.

Memories. 

Special treasures for the person living them.

I stored up lots of special treasures this weekend, and I am thankful.

I think Mary was taking lots of heart photos as she raised Jesus.

Luke says several times, “his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

I am sure that as Jesus hung on the cross, Mary was reliving Jesus’ life through a sort-of mental photo album. 

What pictures she must have tucked away in those 33 amazing years!

Can you imagine the memories etched in Mary’s mind from the day of Jesus’ birth?  The joy, the wonder of that day!

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,

and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:16-19

Remember the time Jesus was separated from the in a crowd, and they searched for several days before finding Him at the temple?  The fear, the relief of that day!

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

Luke 2:51

 

Be aware of all the heart photos happening around you today, and take a minute to snap a few.

Treasure them in your heart.

Store them up.

I love you all so much,