October 31st, 2012
The pictures of devastation from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy fill website after website.
Ground zero in New York transformed into a rushing waterfall overnight.
Many highways, once filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic, are now filled with water.
Tops of cars peek from water that now fills the roads on which they were parked.
Piers lay in rubble.
The Eastern coast of America faces a long and difficult journey and will lean on the rest of the world for assistance, strength, and prayers.
But as I was clicking through photos this morning,
these two struck me in a significant way after reading of one of Jesus’ last conversations with the disciples before the intense moments of his betrayal were to begin.
In the midst of all the preparations for Hurricane Sandy, some people knew what they really needed in order to survive a disaster in life……
bread and water.
Even in the town where I live, the bread aisle seems to empty first when a snowstorm is predicted.
And water goes almost as quickly.
People seem to have a sense of what they will miss most if food runs short.
And in a spiritual sense, things aren’t much different.
Jesus explains it this way to his disciples in John 6,
So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you?
What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven,
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
In John 7, Jesus sits by a well waiting for his disciples, and as He is waiting a Samaritan woman comes to the well to fill her jars.
He takes this opportunity to teach another lesson.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This morning if you feel as if you have reached the spiritual bread or water aisle and found it coming up short,
take a minute to tell God how you feel.
Ask Him to send an extra-special measure of Jesus into your life today.
God longs to restock, restore, refresh, and reenergize our souls………..
Even in the midst of hurricane-destroyed lives, God is there.
This world and all of its temporary pleasures will one day be a foggy memory.
The only thing we will need for eternity is the bread and water Jesus offers through a relationship with Him.
Praying you turn to Him and satisfy a longing deep in your soul.
October 30th, 2012
This weekend my friend’s daughter and son-in-law brought me a gift from Canada.
When I read the words on the sign, my eyes filled with tears.
This may be my very favorite message sign ever………
When I think of Adrienne and Nick not being here, my heart can become very heavy.
But when I think of the joy they are experiencing in Heaven, I have a feeling of peace.
Reading this sign took my peace-filled thoughts to a whole new level!!
A little bit of Heaven in our broken homes?
That’s the gift we receive in our grief!
Who could ask for more!?!?
Thank you, Josh and Kate!
I love you…..even when you make me cry!
Adrienne and Nick. I miss you both so much, but I’m thankful for the “peace” of Heaven you have given to our home.
October 29th, 2012
Olivia found a cute idea on Pinterest to take the place of a guest registry at a shower.
Every guest writes a little note on a stone and places it in a jar.
We couldn’t find stones, so we changed the idea a bit and used flat, glass beads instead.
The messages were short, but the memory jar still turned out sweet.
We added a candle for a little touch of light.
I think it will be sweet sitting on my soon-to-be nephew’s dresser as a memory of the love shared at his baby shower.
This is a couple of photos of my brother….almost 40 years ago!
My brother, Cy, writes his own little note of love to his coming son!
I can’t wait to see Cy as a daddy!!
My dad (Papaw) wrote a note of love too!
In this day of technology and busy schedules, I’m thankful for ideas like this that cause the world to slow down and think about the power of just a couple words.
I’m thankful that just as in Bible times stones were a way of signifying a powerful moment,
we can use stones today to create a visual reminder of a very special event.
I wanted to share this in case you are planning a little event and would like to try something just a little different.
Have a happy Monday and a wonderful week!
October 25th, 2012
I’m serving in a different role this year in education.
I have the privilege of working with teachers within all ten schools in our district.
I get to go in lots of different classrooms and be a part of many hours of after-school meetings and professional development opportunities.
As I interact with teachers, observe successful classrooms, and even spend time with students in conversations in and out of their classroom walls, I am reminded of what makes a great teacher.
Great teachers care.
Great teachers build healthy relationships with their students in spite of the multiple demands that walk side-by-side with their career choice.
When students know that teachers have more than “I can” statements on their mind when a lesson begins, they react more positively, they listen more attentively, and they learn more deeply.
I think that’s what made Jesus such a great teacher.
His life goal was to pave the way for lost people to get to Heaven, but His heart goal was to show people how loved they were by His Father.
Even on the way to the cross, Jesus had compassion on people, healing them all along the way of illnesses and diseases.
Teachers have daily goals for their students; but along the way, if they can master the technique of helping students with those more “immediate” concerns/needs, they not only show students that they are at work for more than a paycheck but also that they value the student as an individual who matters.
Jesus did this every day of His earthly ministry.
He came to save mankind, but while doing so, He impacted people one person at a time.
Jesus saw each tree in the forest of life as a single important part of the landscape.
He knew each trees branch formation, struggle to thrive, and potential for growth.
In being so “in tune” with the world around Him, He was able to impact thousands as a single person in an era with no Internet, no cell phones, no means of mass communication.
I am thankful for the things I am learning this year even as I am stretched in so many different directions.
But more than anything in my life, I am thankful for a Savior who knows me personally and cares.
I think that’s what we all long for in life, isn’t it?
Someone who knows us and still loves us.
Great teachers know their students and love them anyway.
I had the blessing of sitting in the classrooms of many great teachers throughout my school years.
And I am thankful.
But most of all, I am thankful for Jesus, the Greatest Teacher to ever walk on this planet.
I want to learn from Him how to change the world one person at a time.
Praying your Thursday is a great one!
October 24th, 2012
I never would have predicted that this morning as I read further into the Gospels that I would stumble upon a moment in Jesus’ time on earth that bothers me.
I’ve read it many times.
Actually, I remember writing about this very passage several years ago when we were praying for Nick’s healing.
I remember telling God over and over again that I believed He could move a mountain.
I had enough faith to believe without a doubt, even to the very last day of Nick’s life, that God could heal him of his cancer.
So, this morning as I read the passage where Jesus caused the fig tree to wither and then turned to the disciples and said, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it,”
my heart sunk………
Questions ran through my mind just like the did in the months right after Nick’s death.
Did I really have faith?
Did God hear our prayers?
Did I do something wrong?
Did I have unforgiveness in my heart toward anyone?
Was there a sin in my life that was blocking my prayers?
And on and on and on and on………
It would be easy to throw in the towel sometimes and just say, “This religion stuff doesn’t make sense.”
But there are several reasons why I never will.
First, throwing in the towel wouldn’t bring Nick back. It would actually put me in a place of no hope, no future, no promise of seeing him again.
Second, even Jesus prayed for his “cup to be removed” when the cross became a very-near reality. Jesus prayed in faith and did not get the answer He longed for, even as He prayed with sweat drops of blood.
Third, Paul prayed for a thorn to be removed from his flesh, and the answer he received was “my grace is sufficient for you.” I know Paul had great faith, and yet his prayer was not answered in the way he wanted.
Fourth, I prayed for Nick’s complete healing. In reality, that is exactly what he received. Earthly healing is temporary. Pain and death still await all who are healed while they are on this planet. Even the people Jesus healed eventually passed away. So, if I think clearly and logically, my prayer was answered completely.
Today, if you stumble upon hard teachings, don’t throw in the towel.
Remember, there is a bigger picture than today.
Trust God anyway.
Praying your Wednesday is a great one!
October 23rd, 2012
As Jesus enters His time of ministry, the pace of the Gospel message seems to kick into high gear.
Miracles, teachings, deep discussions with His disciples, and special encounters with all sorts of broken people fill the last three years of Jesus’ life with intensity and purpose.
Reading about this time in His life from the perspective of one who knows what is about to happen on the cross, you can almost hear the swelling of music as each page turns.
This morning, I read about His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His weeping over their lack of understanding of who He truly is.
Jesus knew so much more than the people knew about what was coming next, and yet He moved steadily forward, knowing that with every step He not only neared His death…..He neared His resurrection.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life on this planet and forget what happened years ago in a tiny town in a far-away country that changed mankind forever.
There’s something about reading the Gospels that reminds me that everything I do here on Earth has no real meaning unless it’s tucked inside a greater purpose.
There’s something about understanding that Jesus willingly did for you and for me exactly what needed to be done in order to cover the cost of all our sins and shortcomings.
I’m thankful that excitement grew as Jesus neared His time on Calvary.
Even though it’s difficult to imagine how a crowd went from cheering Him into town while waving palm branches to screaming, “Crucify Him!” just a few days later, I’m thankful it’s all recorded for us to read today.
Reading it reminds me of how fickle human beings can be.
Reading it reminds me of how easy it is to flip from being a friend to a foe.
Reading it reminds me of how much I love Him, because I see Him on the donkey in my mind and I want to run and hug Him.
I want to step out into the crowd of mockers and shout, “WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU THINKING?”
At the same time, I am struck with how often I have that chance and do nothing.
I realize how quickly I flip from being passionate for Him to preoccupied with worldly concerns.
I see in me the very things I don’t understand about the crowds in Jerusalem, and I understand why Jesus wept.
We live in an intense time in history.
While we can’t see the future, there’s a lot of reasons to believe that Jesus will surely come back soon.
Just as we have no idea when that day will be, neither does the devil.
And I have to wonder if he is a little panicked lately.
It’s almost as if everywhere you turn, the devil is trying desperately to steal, kill, and destroy as much as he can as quickly as he can…….
before his time runs out.
I don’t want to be one of those people in the crowd who sways back and forth depending on where I am or who I’m with at the time.
I want to be a sold-out, 100% follower of Jesus.
I want to keep my palm branch waving.
I want to shout, “Hosanna in the highest!” no matter how beaten down Christianity may look in the world’s eyes.
The Gospel message is intense.
So is life today.
Don’t get so caught up in the happenings around you that you forget who rode into town on a donkey years ago for you………..
Knowing that as He entered this chapter of life, He was entering a season of rejection, pain, and earthly death.
He saw the cross, but He also saw the resurrection.
Today, if you face things that are hard, if you face things that are confusing, if you face things that make you want to quit,
remember Jesus did too.
But He kept pressing forward knowing victory was on the other side of all of it.
It’s on the other side for you too!
Have a wonderful Tuesday and know you are loved deeply!
October 22nd, 2012
I’ve spent a lot of years struggling with the fact that “I am what I eat.”
I’ve always had a weakness for sweets, a love for breads, and a desire for diet pop.
About five weeks ago, I gave up pop all together.
It hasn’t been the easiest transition, but I’m finally learning to love water……….
About two weeks into my “no-pop life,”
mom introduced me to a blender called The Magic Bullet.
You literally fill it with your favorite fruits and vegetables and within seconds have a delicious drink.
At this stage of the process, it doesn’t look very promising……..
And it doesn’t look much more promising when the lid is screwed on tight.
But the final product truly is a delicious drink that has become mine and Olivia’s new morning ritual before school.
If you want to know the exact ingredients we place in our smoothie, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reason I share this, though, is not because I trying to transforming my blog into a health blog even though that might be a great idea.
I really shared all of this to make a comparison to our physical life and our spiritual one.
The saying, “you are what you eat,” runs much deeper than the food we consume.
Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life in John 6:35,
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
In Hebrews 5, we are warned that as we grow in our Christian life we have to live on more than “milk” so that we can learn to distinguish good from evil.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Paul wants to teach the Corinth church more than he can, but he explains why he can’t in the beginning of chapter 3 of I Corinthians,
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly……
Today, I challenge to look at both your physical and spiritual lives.
Where would you put yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.
I have a long ways to go in both areas, but I am feeling challenged lately to move up the scale in both.
I want to be balanced.
I want to physically and spiritually fit.
I want to grow closer to God from the inside out.
I want to be able to handle the hard teachings.
In order to do this, I have to give up some things……….
maybe it’s time with some people who seem to pull me away from the person you want to be,
maybe it’s things I think about when my mind is idle.
I want God to make very clear the areas of my life where He wants to step in and push other things out.
I’m ready to go up another level.
I hope you are too!
I love you all!
Have a wonderful Monday!
October 18th, 2012
I didn’t take my camera last night.
I’m not sure why.
I looked at it several times sitting on my kitchen table, but I decided it would be nice to just watch a game for a change and not be hidden behind a camera lens.
I’ve taken so many soccer pictures this year, and after a while they all start to look a like. One girl kicking the ball and then another.
But who knew that last night the regional play-off game was going to go into double overtime and end with penalty kicks?!?!?
Honestly, I don’t think a camera could have captured the intensity of the night.
And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to focus on taking pictures as we screamed and clapped and cheered our girls on in the most exciting game I’ve been to in a long time!
At the end of the night, our girls won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4 to 1!!!!!!!!!!
Looking back on the game, I think the suspense is what made the night so amazingly fun!
Sometimes games can become so predictable when the score is 7 to 1 at halftime.
People end up visiting with the person in the next lawn chair about recipes or what happened at work that day.
But not last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everyone was on their feet.
The focus was totally on the field.
If you turned to a neighbor, it was to high-five or hug or scream.
Oh, if we could gain this kind of attitude about our spiritual life.
WE ARE IN A SUSPENSEFUL GAME!!!!!!!!!!
I think it’s easy to think “God already won the victory,” so we get side-tracked and off focus.
While this is true in the “end of the world sense,” it is not true in the day-to-day sense.
The devil is still at battle for individual souls.
He is still winning small skirmishes all along the way.
People are believing his lies.
People are working for the enemy.
And we cannot afford to sit in lawn chairs and turn to our neighbors and only talk about meaningless stuff like our day at work.
It’s time to be on our feet.
We are in a spiritual war.
Our kids are in a spiritual war.
If there was one thing I could say that matters more to me than anything, it is this:
THE ETERNITY OF MY CHILDREN
As a mom, I have got to be on my feet or on my knees, cheering or praying.
As a friend, I need to be doing the same thing for my friends and for their children.
Today, I challenge all of you to remember that God has placed us in a suspense-filled story.
Don’t get too comfortable.
Stand up or kneel down today and remember, God will win in the end but we have battle to fight all along the way.
I am thankful for a suspense-loving Author of life.
I wouldn’t want to spend a lifetime in a lawn chair.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
October 17th, 2012
I’ve always been drawn to written communication.
Mom reminds me that when I was young, I would often choose to write letters to her and dad and lay them on their pillow when there was something big I wanted to say but struggled to get out through spoken words.
As a young girl, I remember writing to them about wanting to move from Kentucky back to Oklahoma, and I’m pretty sure that at another point in high school I wrote about the exact opposite.
I love to write.
I read a lot about the art of writing in magazines and books, and I’ve thought that someday I would love to write a novel.
Something totally made up yet powerfully moving.
One thing I’ve learned about writing through my reading of the subject is this:
Even in fiction, characters only have depth when they have a well-developed background.
As the writer, you have to know what makes your characters do what they do, think what they think, feel what they feel.
Their reaction to every other aspect of your story line has to come from something in their past.
I love the thought that even in imaginary characters there is an imaginary background.
That intrigues me.
And I think it speaks to the very core of humanity.
We all enter this world as part of God’s big story……..with a background.
Not that we have already lived.
Not that we are imaginary.
Not that God pens every word of our existence, controlling our thoughts, our suffering, our success, our failure.
But God is the author of one critical part of our life, and that is our faith.
And as the author of our faith, He began our story long before we came to be.
I love that when Jesus walked on this planet, God knew that He was walking here not just for the sake of the disciples or the people of that day.
Jesus walked on dusty roads for you and for me.
And when He walked to Calvary, carrying His own cross, our story was being written.
So today, as you and I move through our day, we react to life not just from the story that has been written since the day a doctor said, “It’s a boy or It’s a girl,” we react from the story that was written long ago when Jesus said, “I have come to give life..and life abundantly.”
I love that we have been born into a great story.
We are fully-developed characters even when our lives feel void or empty because the Author of our story knew us before He made us.
I love to write.
I am drawn to great authors.
And this morning, I am thankful for the first Author.
Even though I don’t understand every chapter of the life I am living, I trust that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.
Because of that trust in Him, I can face today with a smile and a sense of great expectation.
You can too.
I am thankful that you and I have stepped into His great story at this specific time in history and because of that, we are able to share this chapter of life together.
I love you all,
October 16th, 2012
As I read through the Gospels, I’m almost overwhelmed as I realize how the crowds pressed in on Jesus every chance they could.
Remove this evil spirit.
Raise this person from the dead.
Constant requests for personal, yet very temporary, earthly release from pain and suffering.
I’ve been those same people time and time again, believe me.
But this morning I’m struck with the absence of crowds who came to Jesus just to be near Him.
Sit with me.
Talk to me.
Listen to me.
You don’t read of many people who had those kinds of requests for the Savior of mankind.
I’m wondering today what is more important to me.
Answered prayer or time with the One who holds the answers.
I hope it’s the second.
I hope I’m growing close enough to Him that I’m beginning to grasp the reality that any suffering here pales in comparison to the glory stored up for us in Heaven.
All Jesus wants from us is love.
He demonstrated this love for us by suffering.
Maybe He chose suffering because that was the one thing in this world that might keep us from coming to Him.
He wanted to walk all the way through pain so that in the willingness to walk we would know and believe that He understands our hurt and that we are not alone.
I’m reading Philip Yancey’s book, When Life Hurts, and in it He writes a paragraph I love.
I shared it on Facebook this morning as a status, but I want to share it with you here today also because I feel that so many of us are hurting or have and need to know that God is there even in the darkest hour.
Determine today that your greatest request from Jesus is the one He desires most from you…love.
“The fact that Jesus came and suffered and died does not remove pain from your lives.
Nor does it guarantee that we will always feel comforted.
But it does show that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer alone.
He joined us and in His life on earth, endured far more pain than most of us every will. In doing so He won a victory that will make possible a future world without pain.”
(From Philip Yancey’s book When Life Hurts)